A world view: Both outside and within
By Ben Goodwin, ‘16
Summer school at Gonzaga is really great. A sprint of six weeks, get some credits out of the way and still have half the summer left. Studying abroad during that time is something unique because there is so much fun to be had but ONLY six weeks to do everything. We take almost as many trips during our summer session as students will over the course of the semester here because we’re trying to take advantage of every bit of time in Europe as we can. Students have taken weekend trips to the Amalfi coast, Venice, Maranello, Barcelona, Croatia, Amsterdam, the French Riviera and Interlaken, just to name a few. And that was just in the first three weeks. Pretty amazing how many things there are to see and do. But my very first weekend trip gave me a new perspective on my time abroad and of the world in general.
That first weekend a couple friends and I took a day trip to Cinque Terre (Five Lands), just off the northwestern coast of Italy. This is the place pictured on postcards portraying Italian villages built snuggly into the side of a mountain, each house a different pastel color. Cinque Terre is a series of five little towns that all have a unique style and feel, but all overlook the Gulf of Genoa and Mediterranean Sea. There is a hiking trail that you can walk between all of them, but that entire trip is not for the faint of heart (there’s a train, don’t worry). This also is the birthplace of pesto so when we took the train to the fourth city, around lunchtime of course, we had to chow down on the best pesto in the world.
After our stomachs’ were full we decided that was the best time for a hike. For the sake of time, we decided to take just one leg of the hike, from the fourth to the fifth town. It wasn’t that long of a hike but it took us almost two hours because: 1) It was straight up and straight down this mountain, and 2) We were forced to stop every 100 feet for a new, spectacular view. It was amazing the beautiful views of the water, towns and hills surrounding us leading right up to the water. We were on a path with a bunch of other people, out enjoying the sunshine on a pretty day. It felt like any other hike I’d been on, except with a little better view at each vantage point.
What really struck me was when we finished our hike at the fifth town. This town was a bit more touristy than the others. It was bigger with more souvenir shops. There also was a very nice beach there. As we arrived the wind started to blow and we felt a few sprinkles. So instead of lying on the beach in the rain, we climbed a huge rock that hung out over the gulf maybe 40 feet high. When I made it to the top I was completely blown away. I’d seen great views all day long, but nothing like this. There was nothing but open water in front of me – the pure power of Mother Nature on full display as the sea stretched further than the eye could see. It hit me, as the waves crashed up against my perch, just how big this world really is. I could spend several lifetimes discovering new things and places. But as I stood there I realized I don’t have to go everywhere and learn everything. The most important thing is to enjoy the journey that’s in front of me, because life is really the grandest adventure of them all.