Travel Courses? YES!

Ever thought about a travel course even if it’s only a few weeks? Don’t question if you should take one, DO IT. This winter I spent 3 weeks in Arizona with 2 professors and 9 other students from my university and it was one of the best experiences I ever had. I barely knew anyone going on the course with me, so going into it I was a tad nervous about being alone. Little did I know I was joining an awesome group of people who made the experience 100x better. 

            We spent about a week and a half in Tucson, Arizona. We visited the University of Arizona to do some base line testing so we could see how our fitness improved over the course. The course I was taking was extreme physiology, so our plan basically was to hike and bike our entire trip! We went on several hikes, all with beautiful sites and views. We would spend most of our day on a hiking trail that definitely pushed all of us out of our comfort zones. I climbed to elevations I have never been before.  What helped the most to get through all of these hikes was everyone’s positive attitude. Everyone was so up beat and encouraging that it was hard to not be negative. The only time we saw some doubt was on our unexpected 12 turned into 14-mile hike and 2 hours in the dark but that is a whole other story I won’t get into. 

            Each hike was a long way up, and it felt that it took forever to get to the top. The taking forever part was really peaceful though. Never have I had such an opportunity to just think. I got to think about where I was, how I was, and kind of who I am. It was a great opportunity to just clear my head. After my session of deep life thoughts, I would be at the peak of the mountain and every single time it was totally worth it. I could see for miles, the curvature of the earth and scenery. A picture could never do any of the sights I have seen justice. 

            After our week and a half in Tucson, we traveled to Flagstaff for a week. In Flagstaff we mixed up our workouts a bit; we mountain biked, went skiing and snowboarding, and trekked the highlight of our trip. The Grand Canyon. I saw two sides of the Grand Canyon that many people probably don’t have the opportunity to see. On our way down, we hiked through the snow. Yes, the snow. All of those glorious views you would expect to see at the Grand Canyon, completely covered by a white cloud. We literally stood at a point where a sign said “Ooh Ahh Point” and it was just white in front of us. It took us 6 hours to get down, and with 3 miles left in our trail is when we actually got to see the Grand Canyon. It was beautiful. We camped out at the only Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon, where you have to book your stay 14 months in advance. Fortunately, the next day was gorgeous. We finally got to see the Grand Canyon for what is was! I took as many pictures as I could but still feel like they cannot compare to the real thing. Everyone was swamped when we got back to the top of the Canyon. But now I can say I am part of the 1% that actually hikes to the bottom. 

            After our week in Flagstaff, we headed back to Tucson to retake our initial base line tests and complete our data from our course. So, we sent our last few days hanging around the house, writing up reports and creating presentations. Super chill, but a good way to rest our muscles from 2 and a half weeks of working out every single day. 

            Taking this travel course is something I would completely do again. I do not regret anything about it. It was definitely a big step out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself, how I can push my limits. I developed more of a mindfulness on this trip that I never expected that I would. There were no distractions on the hikes, just what was in front of you and your thoughts. Even though it was intense, it was relaxing and peaceful. I want to travel more now, and I’m not afraid to do it on my own anymore. I also learned that I kind of like to be alone and in the moment, I am no longer afraid of it. Now I am spending a week hiking in Death Valley over spring break and am planning on studying abroad in Australia in the fall of 2019. This travel course was just the beginning of my travels.