Written by Mark Sobnosky ’19
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;” Shakespeare’s famous line still rings in my ears even weeks after the trip has ended. This Spring 3-Week I had the opportunity to travel abroad to England, Scotland, and the Wales to study Shakespeare with the lenses of both theater and English, and I learned a lot about just what makes his works so special. The content of the class was worthwhile in itself, but the most important things I will take away from the class aren’t about Shakespeare. The trip overall came with its ups and its downs but ultimately brought me face to face with myself. I feel fundamentally changed after coming home from the trip and it is safe to say it is for the better.
It may seem cliché to come back from a trip abroad and talk about how it changed my life, but I suppose there indeed is a reason that it is considered cliché: it happens to so many people that society discredits the notion because of how overdone it is. I thought the same thing until I stepped back onto American soil after almost three weeks abroad. The trip opened me up to so many different things my lens for viewing the world shifted.
I will start with perhaps the heaviest realization I came into during my time abroad: life is too short and time only speeds up. I have always been a go-getter, trying to squeeze the most out of every minute, day, or year, but this trip showed me just how much there is to see. Moving every 3-4 days to a brand new location and barely scratching the surface of each new location made me realize that the Earth is not small. Humanity tries so hard to take our great big world and shrink it with airplanes and cell phones, but there is more to personally witness than can ever be seen in one lifetime and I feel called to seek out everything I can while I am here. I am already twenty years old and there is no more time to waste. Whether it was walking in the 400- year-old footsteps of England’s famous playwright or climbing to the top of a mountain overlooking Conwy Castle in Wales, the trip made me feel alive in ways that I did not know were possible. I am renewed with a passion for life and I have definitely been bitten by the travel bug.
Another key realization I had was that sometimes it doesn’t come down to what a person does, but who they do it with. This trip tried my patience and the patience of everyone on the trip. There were times when we sort of needed to get away from each other, but mostly the trip brought all of us together way closer than we thought we ever would get to each other. There was one night in particular way out in the English countryside in a building called Wilderhope Manor where everyone on the trip bared our souls out in front of each other and formed connections in one night that we will have until we die. I would not have wanted to explore the UK with any other group of people and as I look back over the journey, I realize that who a person is with is almost if not just as transformational as what a person does. The human element of the adventure is what turned a great time into a life-changing time.
A third and final piece of wisdom I will take from the trip is that self-reflection is critical to my happiness. I can’t say that this advice applies to everyone, but while I was over in the UK, there were pockets of a few hours where we would be free to do what we wanted. Being without cell service, this frequently meant going out and exploring. I distinctly remember the first day we arrived in Braemar, Scotland we were set free until the next morning so we did what any group of people do in the woods, played hide and seek. I ran down the backyard and ducked behind a tree. As I hid, I looked behind me and my jaw dropped. My view consisted of rugged mountains decorated with dark pine trees covering one end of the sky to the other, the sunset glistening off the snow collecting at the peaks of the tallest mountains. The view took me aback and I had to sit down and just think for a while. It is too easy to get lost in the nonstop routines we have built for ourselves, but I learned during my time abroad to sit back and really question whether I was happy. These little moments of self-reflection sprinkled throughout the trip are what ultimately led me to realize the three fundamental truths I have just layed out in this blog. I realized that there were parts of my life that made me happy and there were parts that didn’t, and as soon as I got back I made changes to my lifestyle immediately. These were changes that I never knew I needed until after I enacted them.
The spring of 2017 will always hold a special place in my heart. The experiences I had and more importantly the people I connected with will stay with me forever. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have traveled abroad and I am already looking ahead to see how I can manipulate my schedule to allow for another travel abroad experience. My life has been changed, and I have the UK, Hiram, and Shakespeare to thank.