This weekend, I pulled off what could quite possibly be one of the biggest surprises of my life, even though my surprisee claimed that he wasn’t that surprised. Since coming to England a little over a month ago, I have not seen any of my family in person, and have only seen other students that I knew from home once. For the past year or so, I have known that my 15 year old brother, Seth, would be on a school trip to Germany during the same time period that I was in England, and I had planned for about that long to surprise him while he was there. After communications with Seth’s German teacher (who also used to be mine), and struggling to find a flight time that would work for me and my school schedule, I booked my tickets and made a plan to surprise my brother at the Cologne Cathedral. I arrived at the cathedral a little before Seth’s school group got there, and waited anxiously for them to appear. Unfortunately, Seth got his first glimpse of me before I could get my camera ready, but I heard him say “That’s my sister!” and even managed to capture him on camera with the biggest smile on his face after seeing me – I could tell by his reaction that he genuinely wasn’t expecting to see me there, and that he was happy that I was there. I actually was somewhat worried that he wouldn’t want me tagging along in the city with him all day.
After being reunited with my brother, we took a walk through the cathedral and then climbed the 500-600, uneven, narrow, spiral stairs up to the top of the cathedral, which is something that I had vowed four years prior that I would never, under any circumstances, do again. But, I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity with my brother, and I wanted to make sure I took it. After our trip to the top of the cathedral, we walked around the city, going into a few shops, eating breads and ice cream from street vendors, and spending time catching up after not seeing each other for a month. Then, we went to the Lindt Chocolate Museum, which, honestly, was pretty underwhelming the second time around. (Like the cathedral, I have been there before.) But, I would not have traded the opportunity to spend that time with my brother for anything.
As odd as it may seem, in the moment, it was just another typical day with my brother – we just happened to be in a different place than normal. But, after saying goodbye, which was literally one of the hardest goodbyes of my life, and thinking more about what I had just done, I realized how amazing this experience was. Not only did I get to spend a little bit of time with my brother, but I got to spend time with my brother in a foreign country – a country for which we had both studied the language, and a country which I have come to love and didn’t know if I would ever get to visit again. I got to climb up to the top of one of the world’s most famous cathedrals and have that experience with my brother by my side. I will never forget that day, and I am extremely glad that I put my reservations about traveling to a foreign country by myself aside and decided to make the trip. It was definitely worth it in my opinion.
I will leave you with a (not so great) picture of Seth and me standing outside the Cologne Cathedral – I was too busy having fun with my brother to worry about getting amazing photographs.
Until next time,