Looking Back

End of the Line — Once More but Slowly


As this chapter of my life is slowly drawing to an end, I embarked on a life changing study abroad trip. It was meant to be ‘going out with a bang’ and a trip to Europe would certainly do the trick. When I signed up for this particular study abroad, as a second choice behind the Madrid trip that would have completed my minor, I didn’t understand that a pilgrimage was anything more significant than any old hike. Not relating to my degree, it made no sense for me to go on a Department of History led trip. But I have always loved hikes and thought perhaps it’d be good as a last ditch effort to branch out of the science field I fell into as a high schooler. I’ve never known anyone who has gone on a pilgrimage, so I went in with a media-shaped perspective of pilgrimage consisting of a faith strengthening religious journey.

Students resting at the top of the hill in Roncesvalles
Resting at the top of the mountain in Roncesvalles

But the lessons I learned along the hike were not spiritual. Instead they centered more on social interaction and my personal identity troubles. The brief month made it clear that I need to accept myself. Along the Camino, I began to confront deep-rooted issues I have always had. I know that one of the goals of this class was to whet our appetite for travel and personal pilgrimage. And it did.

Gold Camino shell mounted on iron gate
The iconic symbol for the Camino, the scallop shell is found often on the journey

Although this time I often felt rushed and distracted, I plan on taking a pilgrimage alone so I can really disconnect from all the distractions and social drama and move forward with my future by slowing my pace. I know it will be hard. It will be hard moving every night and not having the comfort of my own bed. But I think that struggling by myself and building on what I took away from this Camino, I can begin to find contentment in any circumstance, will make it possible to be happy in every circumstance, as a matter of control over perspective.