A Weekend of Adventure
Each semester the IFSA office puts together an extended weekend trip for students which involves tons of options for activities throughout the weekend. Our weekend was in Snowdonia, which is located in Northern Wales and about 4.5-5 hours away from Cardiff. We all headed to the train station to meet up with some other students who had trained in and were sharing a bus with us for the trek North. The drive was immaculate as we went winding through mountain ranges, past sheep farms and through a multitude of towns. This was my first time really venturing outside of Cardiff besides going to London, so the scenery was much appreciated!
For the weekend the whole lot of IFSA students from the UK (including Leeds, Wales, Bristol and London to name a few) stayed at The Royal Victoria Hotel. Dinner there was incredible, but the queues got long quick! We learned fast that arriving early to breakfast and dinner was a must if we didn’t want to get stuck waiting around for forever.
Saturday was our first day of adventure for which we could choose either one full-day activity or two-half day activities. The full-day activities included things like going through mines or hiking to the top of a local mountain, while half-day activities consisted of mountain biking, visiting a castle, a high ropes course, rock climbing, hiking and go-karting. Wanting to try something new I opted for rock climbing and the high ropes course.
I can easily say that I have never tested my courage as much as I did that day! I figured being pretty athletic and coming from a gymnastics background the two activities would be challenging but nothing major. However, when I was in the situations of scaling a towering rock wall and attempting to walk across wires 150 or so feet in the air, with brutal winds to increase the challenge, I found myself testing my endurance, self-confidence and courage. Although I shook like a leaf at points (in all honesty more from the cold temperatures than the fear, ha), I was extremely happy with my choices. I felt so proud at the end of the day to be able to say I had made it to the top of a difficult climb and that I had jumped off a huge totem pole to catch a trapeze bar. The adventures were an awesome experience to force myself out of my comfort zone.
The following day we all went into a city where we got to explore tourist shops and venture to the beach of the Irish Sea. It was cool to finally see the water (a part of home I am missing daily). After some time in the city, we were due to head home. However, this proved to be easier said than done as the “adventure” wasn’t quite over yet. Prior to leaving we realized that our turbo had gone, so we planned to travel around the hills rather than through them. But as we began our journey and drove to a petrol station we quickly noticed the small bus smoking. The latest discovery that our mini-coach wasn’t having it meant a rapid change of plans to get us all home (which on a Sunday afternoon is not an easy feat). Our IFSA leader did some quick problem solving and got us on a train to Cardiff instead.
The weekend was full of adventure from start to finish. It challenged me in ways I would have never imagined, and ending up being an unexpected growing experience for me. The extension toward the out-of-reach rock and the initial step onto a wind blown wire proved to parallel my experience with studying abroad. The idea of leaving family, comfort and normality is frightening and overwhelming. The courage to take the first step makes us question our choices, while the challenges in the middle force us to go beyond our comfort zone. But the ending, a euphoric moment of accomplishment and pride, makes us wonder why we were even scared in the first place. As I face challenges throughout the coming months, I know at the end of this amazing journey of adventures there will be no regrets, tons of accomplishment and growth to reflect upon as well as memories to last a lifetime. So, although adventure weekend may be over, the reality is, the adventure has only just begun.