Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Royal Geographical Society Gap Year Scholarship Celebration Day

I know it's a cliché, but hasn't this year flown by? This time last year I was chilling (rather literally) in Alaska, full of expectation and anticipation for the many months of solitary travel ahead. Walking the Golden Gate Bridge was only a dream; I could only imagine ascending the CN Tower. And yet, it feels like yesterday that I was avoiding grizzlies and savouring moose burgers.

Yesterday, I was honoured to attend the 'Royal Geographical Society Gap Year Scholarship Celebration Day' and caught up with so many of my fellow scholars. It was a day packed to the brim with recollections and reminiscing, with each scholar allocated ten minutes to present his or her individual experience, and I was transfixed at the sheer diversity of narratives that emerged. From sitting and listening intently to the tales of hope and courage, I was genuinely inspired.

Travelling broadens the mind, as the saying goes, but I think it also deepens it. After all, a few months of solitary travel makes you engage with your own mind. It questions your own principals and beliefs. It stirs emotions and brings back memories. It forces you to connect with your own soul, and there's no doubt that my American experience did that for me; in fact it still does.

Yesterday, Gap Year Scholars and I celebrated what has probably been the best twelve months of our lives, but that doesn't signal the end. The legacy lives on. There's not a day that I don't think about America, and that's the most brilliant aspect of all. It's been almost ten months since I returned, and yet part of me is still there, wandering the blocks, hiking the mountains, surveying the beauty. My soul is still cruising the highways on the Greyhound; it's still mingling around hostel kitchens.

I've said it so many times before, and I will say it again. Never have I felt more privileged to be existing on such a fantastic planet.