Claire Ballor, Contributing Writer
What would you do if all of your responsibilities were temporarily postponed and the world was waiting at your fingertips? This was the fortunate but daunting question that Rome students were faced with as 10-day approached. For 10 days, classes were cancelled and the Rome campus was closed. For some, this was an opportunity to travel to as many places as possible, while for others, it was an opportunity to get to know one specific place intimately. Some students planned their 10-day months in advance, while others simply jumped on a train to see where it took them.
Sophomore Jordan Carlson decided to take the more intimate approach and spent ten days hiking a 10-square-mile portion of the Swiss Alps on his own.
“I love the outdoors and I have always wanted to hike the Alps, so I knew that was what I wanted to do for 10-day,” Carlson said. “It was great to take a break from the tight-knit community back in Rome and travel on my own, but I definitely gained an appreciation for friends and camaraderie after being alone in the wilderness.”
In addition to hiking the outdoors on his own, Carlson had another formative experience. He rescued a paraglider who had crashed on the side of one of the mountains. It’s fortunate for the paraglider that Carlson had wanted to explore the Alps.
Although Carlson may not have taken the common approach of making a mad dash around Europe and traveling to a new country every other day, he was able to experience something that many people will never get to in their lives.
That isn’t to say that the mad European dash is unreasonable. For the majority, this was the chosen approach for 10-day. Sophomore Margaret Wellman, like many, spent her time traveling all throughout Eastern Europe.
“I traveled to Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and finished by meeting up with most of our class in Munich, as tradition has it,” Wellman said. “I think that knowing I had a short time in each place really made me take advantage of every moment and every opportunity. I loved being able to experience so many different cultures and meet so many new people in the short time that I was traveling. It really was a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity.”
As students gathered to share memories and tell embarrassing or outrageous stories at the end of 10-day, there was a silent recognition of the rarity of the opportunity they had just been given. As Rome students teeter at the brink of entering “the real world,” they realize that it’s unlikely they will ever be able to toss aside responsibilities and so easily travel the world again. While this realization comes with a brutal, bitter sting, it brings with it a certain sweetness, and lends importance to the memories and stories gathered on this journey of a lifetime.