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FXU RAD: Getting LOST for Mind UK

This Saturday I woke up at 4am, was put in a blacked out coach, dropped off in a mysterious location hours away from campus, and only given a map and two of my friends to get home with. All without using any money or technology. Crazy or what?

This was all part of the FXU’s “RAD is LOST” challenge in aid of Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity and one that I feel very passionate about supporting. The aim of this event was to race the other 7 teams back to campus after we were dropped off at our unknown location, completing challenges along the way whilst raising awareness and funds for Mind. My team – The Hitchhiking Vikings – made it back in 3rd place after 5 hours of walking, waiting and hitching rides back to Falmouth. This event was so much fun, so I thought I would share some of my highlights of the day.

1. “Three tired vikings walk in to a university.”

The day began before the sun was even up, as I was rudely woken by my alarm telling me to get ready and go get a taxi to campus – hell no was I walking to campus at 4am! My housemate (and fellow viking) and I were wrapped up in enough layers for an Arctic expedition. We put on our cereal box viking hats that I had lovingly made the night before, grabbed our giant hitchhiking sign board and made our way to campus ready for the day ahead. When we got to campus there was enough time for a brief safety talk and a few photos before we were piled into the blacked out coach and left to nap for roughly two hours as we drove to our unknown location.

2. “Where’s our boat when we need it?” 

After a fairly unsatisfying nap on the coach we were finally dropped off at our location. Stumbling out the coach we were greeted by the coast, which looked so beautiful in the morning light that I almost forgot we were meant to be ‘lost’. The teams split off, some of us beginning the walk down a country lane whilst others decided to walk back towards the direction we were dropped off. Luckily, my team was map savvy and we eventually figured out we were in Widecombe Bay in Devon from a sign post down the lane. With next to no traffic, we began a long walk through both sunshine and hail storms to the nearest road in the hopes of hitching a lift.

3. “Lark Rise to Camelford?”

After a long time sticking our thumbs out and getting drenched in the rain, we finally got a lift from a local woman and her son, and we met their particularly adorable chihuahua. After letting HQ know where we were (safety first, kids) we settled in to our first hitch. We learnt that our driver was on her way to church in Camelford and was particularly anxious to chat about science and religion with our team mate who studies geology. It’s always important to be tolerant about others views, especially when you’re in a confined space with them for a few hours! My first piece of hitching advice is therefore to always keep an open mind and to be as friendly as possible!

4. “Meeting a legend.”

At Camelford we were dropped off at a garage and were reunited with our fellow LOSTers and taxi buddies. However, we soon learnt that having more than one team at a location was problematic for hitching as drivers were put off by the larger numbers of people to pick up. This wasn’t a problem for long as the other team got a lift shortly after, leaving us eating pasties in the cold alone. Our sorrows soon ended though because we met ‘Legend’, who is quite possibly the most trusting man in Cornwall. He told us he would take us to Truro and directed us to his unlocked car whilst he bought a pizza in the service station. On the way he helped us complete a lot of challenges, such as letting our teammate Tom kiss him, and enduring the trauma of my rendition of My Heart Will Go On. Another fun challenge was to get on the radio, so, at the advice of ‘Legend’, I called up BBC Radio Cornwall and got a shout out. We never found out dear Legend’s name, but hitching with him reaffirmed some of my faith in the kindness of humanity.

5. “A man, a van and making furry friends.”

At Truro we completed some more challenges, such as swinging from a tree and crossing a body of water – aka a puddle. The time was ticking so we stuck out our thumbs one last time. Truro was by far the hardest place to get a lift from as lots of people just sped on by or waved as they went past. Eventually, however, a guy wearing a bright hat in a white van pulled up and we piled in. I ended up going in the back of the van which mostly consisted of a mattress and a wide assortment of cans, clothing and building materials. I was joined by his adorable dog Grit though, so it wasn’t so bad. ‘Hat Man’ was a super cool student who chatted the whole way, even offering us some of his hummus and letting me play fetch with Grit as a challenge. Out of all the drivers we met, ‘Hat Man’ was the most open and welcoming, because as a fellow hitcher himself he was full of advice and stories. He took us all the way to campus where we said our goodbyes and ran straight to the FXU office.

Arriving at the FXU office we were greeted by smiling volunteers with balloons and pasta – always a winner with hungry students – and discovered we were the 3rd team back. We had gotten back in 5 hours! I had an awesome time on the LOST challenge and loved bonding with all the other teams, as well as my own. The challenge also revived some long lost faith in humanity by reminding me that no matter what scary stories we see in the media, there are still plenty of good people out there who still believe in random acts of kindness. If you are considering joining the challenge next year, I would absolutely recommend it.

As a final note, the organizers of the challenge and volunteers tracking us around the county deserve a massive thank you. Kirsty, Hannah and co. made it so much fun and there wasn’t a moment where I felt unsafe. So much love to everyone at the FXU office for giving up their Saturday to run the event. 

English Literature student,animal loving hippy and contributer to Her Campus Exeter Cornwall.
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