"Oh that oughta be interesting!

With the holiday festivities winding down, the phrase that I can undoubtedly say I have heard the most in the past few days is, "oh that oughta be interesting!" This standard Midwestern phrase would be expressed by curious family members of mine right after I explained that I, along with 23 classmates and 3 professors, would be going to Europe to study the political and religious situation of Islam. After that they would share a brief piece of trivia about Islam they had picked up previously and the conversation would move on.
My family always moves through conversation quickly, but I wish I would have been able to go into the details of this course with them. For example, how we'd study Islam and its situation in Europe while keeping our minds firmly planted in historical context. We'd do this in three large metropolitan areas of Europe: Berlin, Paris and London. The three countries that hold these cities each have distinct colonial histories and relationships with Islam. Or how we'd work to talk with muslims, politicians and other people to gain insights into present day attitudes. But instead of telling them all this, I'll settle for making the first blog post of this course about it.
Hi, my name is Lucas Byl and I'll be the blog coordinator for the 2020 Islam in Europe J-term trip! While I won't be writing nearly all of the blogs here, I'll be checking in from time to time so I thought you might want to get to know me. I am a junior, religion and classical studies major. I sing in the choirs here--I'm currently a member of Collegiate Choir--and I am quite involved in Campus Ministries. My free time is spent reading, hanging with friends, or playing on one of my instruments. I hope to one day serve as an ELCA pastor. I'm looking forward to this trip especially because I just finished an introductory course to interfaith studies, and I'm excited to apply all that I have learned.
Check back here often to see what we've been up to! We'll try to send an update every few days or so, and if we don't, rest assured it's because we are keeping our days filled with activities. Talk to you in Europe!

Lucas Byl, blog coordinator