11. Berlin, Germany and Padua, Italy

With fifty-four people in a group, it’s a hard task to try and get to know everyone. Coming onto the trip, I already knew who my close friends were, and it becomes a terrible habit to just fall into a pattern of being with the same people all the time. Our professors do a great job with trying to mix everyone up during group projects, but before our midterm break, I felt as though there were walls up amongst people.

The magic of our midterm break? They all came down. And it was a lovely breakdown.

For me, I think it began the night after we got back from Guben. We arrived back in Berlin, and although I did go out to dinner with the same three girls I usually hang out with, we added a new girl into the mix. Dinner included probably some of the best pasta I’ve had this entire trip, but it also included wonderful conversation. I realized on this trip how much I love meeting and getting to know new people and their histories. It’s enriching.

Later on that night as my roomie and I laid on our very nice hotel beds relaxing, one of the girls knocked on our door and spontaneously asked if we wanted to go see the dome. We thought: why the heck not? It was time to get away from the norm and spend it with new people. I was excited and apprehensive all at once. Little did I know, it was going to be one of the best nights I’ve had here.

Wrapping ourselves in scarves and jackets, we headed out meeting three other people I usually don’t hang out with waiting at the dome. Too bad the dome was closed. We had a blast taking jumping pictures off the stairs. One of the more spontaneous girls of our group that night decided that we should just hop on the metro and go wherever. We ended up going to see Charlotte’s Palace that night – a place we had passed by on our bus from the airport to the hotel.

The night was chilly but warmed from our laughter and mugs of hot chocolate. Jumping pictures that took at least an hour to perfect. Quotes from our initial thoughts of Charlotte’s Palace. (“That’s such a girly palace.” “Well, it is Charlotte’s Palace.” “I expected a dark dungeon but I get this girly looking thing.” “They probably throw girly things out of the window.” “Yeah right, girls can be vicious! An ax might fall out of the window.”) Mugs of hot chocolate. Mulled wine. Wonderful conversation. Running up stairs. Watching a couple dance at the train station.

Our happiness and blithe from excitement about further travel and just soaking each other’s presence traveled over the plane and into the small Italian city of Padua, which ended up being quite a jewel. After our thoughtful discussion about the book Complications by Atul Gawande, many of us decided to get a round of gelato before bed and all met downstairs to head out to the main square in Padua. It ended up being a Maastricht student domination party blast. One of the best nights I’ve had as well.

Although we all met there in different groups, somehow, we all ended up accumulating around a statue with several white marble steps encircling and giving room for us pre-med students to gather around and chat and laugh and talk pictures and … well … live. With delicious pizza in our hands and gelato of a variety of colors and flavors in our other hands, we giggled and posed insipidly for the many cameras flashing. I’m sure we were quite the sight for any other person passing by.

I don’t know. It’s just an amazing feeling. To be in the presence of almost fifty-four kids and not feel overwhelmed. There was no stress that night. No pressure to be the best, to pay attention in class, to get the concepts, to obtain the grades for medical school. I think so many of us lose ourselves in the process of this stressful education and we seclude ourselves off into a world of critical minds and books. To be relieved and alleviated from all of that at once couldn’t have been more liberating.

Basically, the point of this entry is my revelation about myself. I’m usually the girl that would rather avoid big groups and curl up near a window, on my bed, or near a fireplace with a book or a journal. I’m not the spontaneous type and I appreciate what is comfortable for me and stay in that zone. My experience here at Maastricht has taught me what more I can be. I can be more of an extrovert and I have on this trip. It’s hard not to when you’re constantly in the presence of the same fifty-four people. I can be spontaneous and while it’s a tad bit scary, it’s exhilarating. The thrill is addicting.

And all these new people I’m getting to know on this trip, I will be friends with forever. It’s the collision of so many worlds and it’s wonderful.

I own all photography except the group one. It was taken by a friend.



  1. Elizabeth
    October 9, 2010 / 14:57

    Hey Monica,
    I’ve been reading some of your blogs and just wanted to comment that they have so much personal voice, and i think it’s beautiful. i especially liked this blog for your description of the collision of worlds for the friendships that we’re forming on this trip. that is all. <3

  2. October 9, 2010 / 22:13


    I loved your description of the night in Padova. So true! Even though there were so many of us, there was no competition or pressure. Just dancing and picture-taking and pizza-munching and gelato-tasting. Such a jewel, as you said. 🙂

    And the Berlin pasta… I agree. I could totally go for that again. 🙂


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