By Patrick Garrod ’18
My Study Abroad experience was an adventure. I went to the UK for three weeks, three weeks that felt like a lifetime, but three weeks that went by in a moment. Journaling felt like a hopeless attempt to capture my experiences in a form that I could look back on with fond memories. I was lucky enough to be traveling with 24 amazing people that helped me to feel at home, finding my way through a world that was new to me for every second. I think it’s through these friendships, and the way that we’ve impacted each other that I can best hold on to this fleeting memory. One of our last adventures together was our final hike in Scotland.
We were headed back to London for the last few days of the trip, but we had to soak up just a little more countryside. We were riding a bus from a secluded town tucked away in the mountains of north Scotland, but we stopped at Dunsinane, which was technically just a big hill. We approached an empty field. “Beware of Bull.” On we went into the unknown, not entirely sure of what awaited us. Traveling on this trip has been a bit like that, we know a little of what to expect; we’re going to see a castle, a mountain, a big clock, or an empty field… but what we find at our destination is more real than those simple abstractions.
The “Hill” we climbed had a history to it. There were no walls left, but a series of small lumps scattered in a sort of building like fashion on the peak helped to outline the story of its past. The story of the fortification that once stood there. Nearby, Macbeth (the real Macbeth that actually existed) had been defeated in battle. In honor of the history that had taken place here, we performed a few sparse scenes from Macbeth. I was delighted to take part. Our reading felt right, it tied together the history, despite the liberties taken by the bard. This outing had a little taste of everything that made this trip so special to me.
This really wasn’t my favorite excursion by any means, but it was particularly special to me. I was adventuring in the British countryside, a place that was both simple and complex, littered with mountains, and patchworks of different greens and vibrant yellow against a blue sky that you could swim in. I was surrounded by my companions, my connection to home and to reality, but also my crutch, allowing me to move forward into new and amazing experiences. Moreover, we could pay homage to the Bard while soaking in the rich historical significance of this green-world. And lastly, we were lucky enough to avoid an awkward encounter with the bull!
This is just one infinitesimally small part of a grand adventure, and it happened to be the last page in my journal. If I want to look back and see how my trip ended with all 24 of those wonderful schmucks, I’ll see this moment. I will realize that the uncertainty, the adventure, the countryside, the Bard, and the history would have been nothing without my friends. If there is anything I pulled away from this trip other than a love for travel, a better understanding of my culture and my place in the world, an appreciation for the wise and worldly words of Bill the Bard, or the history that lives and breathes in his plays… It would be some sappy stuff about cooperation, understanding, empathy, and the importance of forging bonds with people you’re forced to be around for three weeks. So, go out and travel, study abroad, and then hopefully you can look back at an amazing trip and the beginning of an amazing friendship.