Unsurprisingly, the most valuable lessons I have learned in my long and expensive career as a college student have come from outside the doors of my classrooms and beyond the pages of my books. The most recent, important, and arguably the most eye-opening, is in regards to the concept of beauty.
Although it is most often perceived as one singular characteristic - a beautiful woman, flower, automobile and so and so forth - it is, by Merriam Webster definition, "the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit."
Unlike the American way of Instagram influencers and KUWTK might suggest, beauty, as cliche as it may be, is much more than skin deep. With age comes experience and wisdom, and I can now appreciate beauty, wherever it may be, without falling envious of it.
Although I have only been in Europe for a little over two weeks, I have noticed subtle differences in culture that leave me utterly enamored. There is beauty in the way cheap and efficient modes of public transportation seem to work like magic. There is beauty in the way stores refuse to provide plastic bags to customers in an effort to reduce our impact on the environment. There is beauty in the way so many languages mesh together into one on the crowded streets of touristy areas. There is beauty in "that feeling" of experiencing a new place for the first time.
Another common source of beauty is art, but not simply the pieces with timeless popularity. There is beauty in the way a traditional dinner is impeccably prepared in a busy kitchen. There is beauty in the architecture that lines the narrow streets, steeped in a long and complicated history. There is beauty in the continuous art conservation and restoration. There is beauty almost anywhere if you look hard enough to find it.
There is beauty in the way I smile as I write this, barely awake at 3 a.m. in our hot apartment in Prague, remembering all the things I have seen and pondering all I have yet to see.