Standing back on solid ground with my hands shaking, a classmate asked me, “Is this what you imagined studying abroad would be like?” I replied, “No, I imagined myself in the library doing homework!,” to which our international student support manager overheard us, laughed, and smiled.
I had just completed the second part of that day’s activities after archery, and zip lining. Both of which I had never done before, and each filled me with varying amounts of fear.
This was just one-days worth of activities, all completely out of my norm. Apparently, archery is something everyone has dabbled in at some point in their life, according to every other member of my archery team. My friends back home exclaimed, “Wow!!!!! … Like through the trees and stuff?,” and “Can’t believe you went into nature for the first time and didn’t take me with you.”
And to top off all of this exciting newness, this was all happening in Wales. I was in Wales!! The international students had taken a trip to Plas Caerdeon Outdoor Education Center within Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. This trip turned out to be one of the best 2 nights and 3 days I’ve ever spent being outdoorsy.
Studying abroad is continuously proving to me that I am more than capable of stepping outside of my comfort zone, and that when I do that, there will be a group of kind, encouraging friends stepping alongside me. I clipped on my carabiner knowing my group would catch me on the other side of the river. I pulled back on the bow string knowing “Team Mid West” would cheer for me even if my arrow only hit the blue circles.
The leaders of Plas Caerdeon were amazing with teaching safety and general outdoor skills, as well as encouraging everyone to push our personal boundaries. I mean for Pete’s sake, on the very first day our group activity was to build a raft using planks of wood and empty 55 gallon barrels…and then race them down the pond.
Overall, my little visit to Wales was a rush of adventure and adrenalin. A welcoming and familiar feeling on this international journey.