I’m staring at the four tan walls that surround me in my room with the shudders still closed and the blue blanket on my bed contrasting with everything, yet even 24 hours after one of the best adventures of my life, I still can’t fathom that it was real. I hiked the Pyrenees Mountains this past weekend, and while I thought I understood the beauty of nature since I am familiar with famous beaches on the East coast, the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains, and the Grand Canyon, this was unlike anything you could find in the United States.
Once again this trip consisted of many firsts for me: I stayed in a hostel, I ate veal, I went 24 hours without any access to Wi-Fi, and I completed a hike. Each one leaving me more cultured and astounded at how much I haven’t experienced. The hostel was adorable and centered in a beautiful valley, the veal was delicious and ground with local spices, unplugging from my phone was unusual and allowed everyone in the program to connect even more with each other while playing board games for entertainment, and the hike was worth every minute and made me grateful for the planet I live on.
France’s outlook on making relationships is so different from the United States and what I learned this weekend is that while it is fun to experience the night life in Toulouse and try different foods at the supermarket, playing board games surrounded by mountains with no one attached to their cellphone and being one of the 11 to make it to the top of the waterfall during the hike is how you meet and make friendships that are lasting.