It is Friday morning and my Canadian family and I walk into a restaurant in Sidney for a Last breakfast on the way to the ferry. At another table I see one of our students. They are sitting with family as well. Sad to say goodbye to our loved ones, excited for the weeks to come, our adventure begins!
A large group meets at the ferry, others join at the airport in Vancouver. The flight is delayed, so we have extra time to sit, chat, have coffee and learn about each other. They have Italian coffee at the gate, giving us a little taste of more to come.
As we land in Munich and meet at the luggage belt, everyone stays close to each other. We walk out of the airport and enter the train station and slowly realize: we made it across the ocean! From now on we are explorers, learning about European history, culture and memory.
Slowly we transform into a group, everyone is looking out for each other, helping each other with luggage and finding directions. The first challenge awaits us already at the train: the conductor asks us to leave the first train, as our ticket is only valid for the next train. Quickly we pack our things and leave the train within minutes. No one left behind!
After more than 24 hours of travel, we finally arrive at our hostel in Vienna. Tired and hungry we find Beate and Oliver, welcoming us with pizza.
What a great start!
Janine Wulz is the Instructor and Co-ordinator of the Study Tour in European Memory Politics at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria.