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Soaring in Switzerland

By Andrew Polack, For The Miami Student

When you think of Switzerland, you imagine green trees, calm lakes, snow-capped mountains, and sharp breezes running through your hair as you admire the natural beauty of a place that looks virtually untouched by industrialization.

Switzerland is a place that makes you want to be a new person. An adventurous new person. One who actually runs on the weekends. One who says, "No thanks," when offered a refill of soda. One who doesn't pretend to read a text at Subway while ordering two sandwiches so the workers think you're getting a sandwich for a friend when really you're just going to eat both sandwiches in silence as you re-watch, "The Office," for the third time.

When a bunch of my friends and I booked a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland during my semester abroad last fall, I was so excited for the adventurous opportunities.

We ended up booking an adventure at a ropes course in the heart of Interlaken's forest and even made plans to hike up the famous Harder Kulm Mountain, the 4,337 foot-tall summit overlooking the town between two lakes.

When we rolled into town via Switzerland's phenomenal train system, it was dark as could be. We could only see the silhouettes of the mountains that surrounded us on every side. We could see interesting architecture, but couldn't appreciate the vibrant colors or minute details that made up every façade.

When we woke up in the morning and looked out of our hostel window, we were stunned.

We were nestled in the valley between countless mountains chock full of evergreens and green pastures. From our hostel window, there were multiple bright, red Swiss flags waving proudly, contrasting with the autumnal tones of the mountains behind them.

The ropes course we signed up for ended up being the highlight of my trip to Interlaken, but it required that I throw my debilitating fear of heights right out the window.

Like I said, Switzerland me was a new me, and this me does things that his insurance company would not be happy with.

We had free time after our scheduled adventure package to explore the other courses at the park, so we headed straight for the one that was strictly zip lining.

"Minimal effort, maximum fun" is my motto no matter where I'm at in the world.

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Almost immediately I had an equipment malfunction and was left clutching for dear life 18 meters above the ground. Meanwhile, our "helpful" guide, Xavier, assured me that a crucial part of my harness had come undone.

There was no way for anyone to come and help me, and no way for me to descend to the sweet safety of solid ground.

The guides insisted that the piece of the harness wasn't "technically" crucial, so I could still finish the course and they would replace it with another harness that had all the right parts and pieces.

Terrified, I continued on with the course.

Because this was a new me. And, apparently, new me had no appreciation for caution. But, let's be honest, if there's one place to fall to your death, it doesn't get much better than the middle of Switzerland.

In the end, I was fine. The guides explained that there was a double-harness system, so I really had no reason to worry.

It was an adrenaline rush like no other, and it was that same lust for adrenaline that led me to rent a scooter in Croatia, walk around the entire city of London in one day, and hike for four hours by myself just to catch a glimpse of Neuschwanstein Castle at sunset.

While my love for humble bragging is incredibly apparent, my newly discovered love for exciting adventures and experiences is 10 times as strong, thanks to that moment in Switzerland where I just put one foot in front of the other and jumped into the unknown.