By Amanda Worcester ’19
Photo courtesy of Maya Watkins ’17
A few days into the trip we were asked to reflect on what we thought had changed us. I’m sure that quite a few of us thought that a few days really hadn’t had the chance to do much of a difference. It was interesting to ponder the question in order to respond in our journal. At this point we were in Wilderhope and it was the perfect place to think and reflect on the previous few days.
My mind immediately went to the beginning of our trip. One might think that a twenty four hour delay would be a bad start of my study abroad experience. It was quite the opposite though and I think that the entire group got the chance to bond over the experience and we made strong connections early on in the trip. These bonds became important very quickly because not long after we began our trip we had a mountain to climb, and this time it was literal.
Climbing a mountain made me realize a few things. First, that I can actually climb a mountain. I am not the fittest and have lung problems so it was a huge accomplishment. At first I doubted my ability to reach the top. Curiosity won out though, despite the pain. There came a point that I decided that I absolutely had to make it. I was in Wales climbing a mountain. I was probably not going to have that opportunity again. So while I realized that I was stronger than I thought, I also learned something else on top of that mountain.
Looking down at the town makes you realize how fragile life is and how you need to take a moment to appreciate what is around you. There was a silence on the mountain that was incredible; it left you completely with your own thoughts. Seeing the castle and seeing what was left of the fort on top of the mountain also gave me the sense of generations past. It is not often that you think of the people that came before you and what they had to face. Going to the castle and climbing the mountain were fun for me. Then I took a step back and remembered that they were not just places. These were things that people have gone through and it wasn’t fun, it was survival and the reality that people have had to face.
Climbing a mountain isn’t as straight forward as one might assume. There is no straight path up and once you get to one peak you see three more in the distance that are even higher. There were some parts that were easy going and there were others that were a bit trickier. Pausing to regroup and make sure everybody was together gave us a great opportunity to take in the view and realize how much progress we were making. I think that this set the tone for the rest of the trip for me. It made it so much easier to be able to relax and let what happened happen and to be able to appreciate all of the little things.
I learned that sometimes taking a step back makes you see so much clearer. If I had not pushed myself to get to the top of that mountain I wouldn’t have learned those lessons. I think that I need to believe in myself more and take more risks; the world is waiting to be explored. Every moment needs to be relished and seeing the town from a different perspective really changed how I choose to look at things in the future.