Not all travelers are pilgrims but all pilgrims travel. As we herded off the bus in Perugia with our lives on our backs, we began to climb the slow incline of the hill ahead of us. At the halfway point to our destination that was a monastery, we were out of breath and ready to rest. But still we carried on. We did not let our heart rates lessen as we pushed our legs to climb higher despite the burdens that weighed us back down. We laughed when Walter told us that our path would worsen as he pointed ahead to the steep and long hill upwards. But still we carried on. Each of us climbed at our own pace but we made it to the top relatively at the same time. One more step, one more breath, and then we’d find relief.
Although this journey was not the most vigorous physical exertion we have all faced, I could not help but think of it as a pilgrimage. SSU trips enable us to walk in the paths of those before us. We have strength in the certainty that other students have accomplished what we are enduring here. Travelling is often romanticized whether before or after a trip. We anticipate seeing new things and experiences. Afterwards we reflect on the good memories. Yet travel brings us to new places both physically and metaphorically. It is an ongoing journey that challenges our expectations, our beliefs, and our identity.