Ally Malone is studying Chemistry and is in the Honors College at Oregon State University. Currently an ambassador for the OSU Office of Global Opportunities, Ally is a travel enthusiast. In fall of 2014 she went on exchange to Lancaster University in Lancaster, United Kingdom. Read on to hear about hiking, exploring and learning abroad!
The Lake District in Northern England is known for its tremendous views, rigorous hiking and stormy weather. Luckily for me, Lancaster University is situated right on the outskirts of this National Park. Although I wouldn’t call myself an experienced hiker, I was determined that the best way to see the English countryside would be to join the Lancaster University Hiking Club.
The first trip to the Lake District proved quite challenging. We took a large coach down windy cobblestone streets to the small town of Langdale. There were three hikes to choose from with varying levels of difficulty. Being ambitious and a little clueless of the length of a kilometer, I excitedly chose the hardest hike and was soon on my way down the rolling, green hills to the trail head.
The first three kilometers were up make-shift granite stairs that climbed over 1500 feet to the top of the small mountain. The heavy morning fog clouded the entire view of the valley and made it seem like I was floating amongst the clouds. Despite my gasping for air and the persistent stich in my side, I found the strength to continue to put one foot in front of the other.
At the top, the fog had lifted with the defrosting of the morning and the view of the cascading valleys below was astonishing. It was here that it dawned on me just how outrageous it was that I came to England, utterly alone, and felt at ease and comfortable.
The journey of this hike stands as a symbol for my entire experience in England. It wasn’t always easy and I had to constantly work to survive in the new culture, but the ups and downs made the experience richer and more rewarding than I could have ever hoped for. If I had to take away just one thing from my time abroad, it would be to take chances on new experiences that challenge my knowledge and body and trust myself to succeed.