This is my last post from Bhutan, and I’m writing it from my couch at home in Pennsylvania. I got home late this morning after a 52-hour trip from Bhutan to Thailand to Shanghai to New York to Pittsburgh. As of the moment I’m writing this, I’ve been awake for 18 hours straight, and I don’t plan on sleeping for at least another five (take that, jet lag)!
As I finally got off the plane in Pittsburgh today, I had one of the most exhilarating feelings of joy I’ve had in my entire life. I still feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins from getting to see my mom and my sister and my dog. At the same time, I feel like I’ve lost something. Something kind of amazing from the incredible journey I’ve been on. An adventure 7,700 miles away from the place I call home. I’m already catching myself questioning whether all of it actually happened, or if it was just a dream. Deep down, though, I can feel everything that I’ve gained from this experience and that lets me know how very real it was.
On my last day in Bhutan, I hiked to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery near the city of Paro. This monastery is centuries old and home to several Buddhist temples that are held especially sacred by the nation. The hike took several hours straight up the mountainside, but when I reached the top, I was met with the stunning view of the structure perched on the cliff with a waterfall cascading down on one side. For just a moment, my mind wandered to contemplating the journey I’d come on.
I had traveled over four of the world’s oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic). I had flown over 11 countries (Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China, Russia and Canada). By a series of fortunate mishaps, I had the opportunity to explore three of these countries on the ground (China, Thailand and Bhutan). Even after all of that, I got to see in Bhutan, one of the most beautiful places on Earth that few others will ever get to see. I learned something new every day there, and, now that I’m home, I’m bringing back so much more than I left with:
I have been humbled by flight changes, cold showers, new foods, amazing landscapes, foreign languages and by the sincere kindness of others.
My patience has been tested by 15-hour flights, complicated communication with home and testing my limits.
I helped create a community of kind-hearted and supremely unique individuals far from any of our homes.
I’ve emerged stronger and more determined than I was before, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with those around me at home and on campus.
I want to acknowledge the School for Field Studies and my hosts at Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bhutan. I’d like to thank Ms. Sara Hart for all of her help in making this trip possible for me. I’d like to thank Dean Kaylor, the Andreoli family and Saint Vincent College for their generous assistance in aiding me in my study-abroad endeavor. I thank you, the readers of this blog, for making it all the more enjoyable to share my experiences. Lastly, I want to say thank you to my friends and family for supporting me all along this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
All the best,