I have been sitting in my tent for the past hour trying to figure out what to write – trying to brainstorm ways I can promote my school, promote this trip, be insightful, sound learned and earn a good grade all at the same time. Writing a blog to be published on my university’s website is daunting – there are expectations, naturally. For this reason, I thought the best course of action was to put my best efforts toward making my school and this trip sound appealing. Sadly, my ‘Look at all the fun you could have!’ attempts at blogging all sounded phony and unrealistic. I have gone through several drafts depicting the experiences, joys and successes I have been blessed with on this trip, and then quickly proceeded to scrap them all.
Instead, I’ve decided to be honest. (After all, SSU teaches us to think outside the box, so hopefully I’ll be forgiven for throwing the rubric out the window.)
The truth is, this trip has been mentally and emotionally draining. On many occasions I have tearfully uttered the words, “I can’t do this anymore!” and “I just want to go home!” (though most of this wishful energy has been spent dreaming about having a real bed.) Difficulties I couldn’t have even imagined have reared their ugly heads and forced me far out of my comfort zone.
But really, why would I expect any different? Living in a tent for two months and traipsing across 8 different European countries is not something casually done, just for the fun of it. This adventure is not for the faint of heart. We have learned the hard way to expect the unexpected (this includes two hailstorms in one day with hurricane strength winds. Featuring: a leaky tent and a lot of rain-soaked clothes) and that even your best friends, the ones you love the most, will inevitably become your punching bag when stresses are raised too high.
This trip is hard, much more than I could have imagined going into it. It’s hard (literally) sleeping on the ground every night; it’s hard to be around the same people everyday with no time to yourself; it’s frustrating having to cook your own meals with very few options or appliances; it’s stressful to pack up camp and move to a new country every 2-5 days and adapt to new language or currency; it’s sad leaving behind the friends you’ve made so soon after meeting them.
But despite all the difficulties and beyond the physical/emotional/mental stresses we have to deal with on a daily basis, I can’t help but believe that it’s worth it. I can feel myself gaining renewed insight on this trip – a broadened worldview brings me one step closer to seeing the other and becoming a global citizen (and for this I do have SSU to thank; yay! promotion!)
Will I ever again spend two months living in a tent? Probably not.
But maybe once is all I need.