There is nothing I can say or do to convince my family that my five years in Europe haven’t “changed” me, that this time hasn’t made me “liberal.” They will believe about me what they want to believe, whether they really listen to what I’m saying or not.

Isn’t it true that you should never talk about religion, money, or politics? Yep, to avoid confrontation and strife and heated debates, yep. I wish people were capable of having in-depth discussions about their beliefs without getting riled up. Listen to each side of the problem, consider the other person’s thoughts and feelings, and then make an informed decision. Or perhaps agree to disagree and then move on to other topics without anger or emotion. On the other hand, without anger and emotion, we have no joy and also no passion. So perhaps I like it this way.

What I do want to say is that Europe has made me open-minded. The challenge of living in a different culture, of integrating, has forced me to look at life more analytically. I’m a diverse person. I’m willing to look at both sides of the story. I enjoy research and learning. That is what I’ve taken away from my five years in Europe.