I can’t recall the last time I missed an entire football season. Traveling on the Around-the-World Semester® II means that there will be one less Steeler fan watching this winter. Ever since I was a little girl, I grew up in Steeler country watching football with my dad, uncles, and brother every Sunday. Not to mention, every summer the Steelers bombard our little town of Latrobe, PA and host their training camp at St. Vincent College right near my house. It’s a Pittsburgh tradition that anytime you travel internationally, you take a picture with your terrible towel. This tradition is a reminder that even though you are far away from home, Steeler nation is represented wherever you go. Traveling with my terrible towel in my daypack, I am constantly reminded of my home culture, memories, and where I come from. Being a Steelers fan is a part of me that cannot be removed and I am proud to carry the towel on this trip.
So far, the towel has been hoisted above a ger in Mongolia, above the Great Wall of China, on top a boat in Ha Long Bay Vietnam, on the beach in Thailand, in the slums of India, in front of an obelisk Ethiopia, at a palace in Slovakia, and many more to come. God has blessed me with this trip in serving him, and I am forever grateful to be trekking around the world with this community, towel in hand.
There is nothing like taking sixteen upper division units, doing constant missions work, fitting in Devotions and Shouts, traveling constantly, seeing a new city, and perform these things all while trying to get some form of sleep. That is the new norm for us on the trip and it didn’t take long for us to realize that completing homework was going to be an incredible feat. Unfortunately, taking class Around-the-World does not get any easier. As a matter of fact if anything they get more challenging. Nightly readings, constant written assignments, test and quizzes all show up in our agenda. The challenge becomes in balancing our schoolwork and missions while trying to get good grades. For me and a few friends we feel as though we cracked the code.
Ellie Johnson and I meet almost nightly. We do not meet to socialize or to play cards (something I haven’t played in months) but we are here to peer edit. We sit down, flip open our laptops, and dive into correcting our papers and discussing the reading. It is a great way to stay on track and turn in solid work even when we are tired or in a bad mood. This really comes from the concept living in a learning community. All of us “Rounders” have the same class and the same schedule. We have graduate assistants who eat and travel with us. We also have the ability to knock on our professor’s door at any given moment, day or night. We have difficult classes, yes, but we have an unbeatable support system. Most importantly we are learning we have each other.
Many adventures come up as we traverse the globe, and some of these are simply not possible in the States. For example, Howard and Josh drove their rented motorbikes around Cat Ba Island in Vietnam for the price of a sandwich.