On a cold evening in February, my friend Jack and I took one of our frequent late night walks that are often catalyzed by some emotional trauma. Tonight, however, the walk was to just get out. We sped from Elliott Hall down to Peffer Park, snipped off the end of fresh cigar, took a light to it and caught up. Jack had finally started dating this dynamite chick, Lindsay, and he was over the moon. We eventually made our way Uptown, to meet up with some of my friends at Cellar.
6,594 feet high, standing among wispy, white clouds with the crisp mountain air caressing my cheeks, I looked out and saw nothing but mountains for miles. It was noon, and we had summited Mount LeConte in four hours. Four hours of navigating lush forest, steep sandstone steps and glistening rock faces. Four hours of readjusting the straps on our packs and stopping to chug water and catch our breath as we rapidly gained elevation on our ascent. Four hours of being drenched in sweat despite the shade from the trees and the pleasant summer temperature.
I was exhausted as I made my way across the main floor of Grand Central Terminal, awkwardly pushing through the bustling throng of New Yorkers in my path. Navigating the station's chaotic rush-hour foot traffic had become an annoying, yet necessary, part of my morning routine.
The most striking visuals among the subway platforms and hidden hallways beneath London are not the train cars hurtling miles underground, known affectionately as the Tube, but rather the colorful characters who occupy the winding paths tucked beneath the city.
Trinity College is located in the middle of buzzing Dublin, Ireland, and is semi-regularly swamped with tourists ducking in to see the Book of Kells, or just for a quiet sit. Founded in 1592, the school features Victorian architecture influenced by other institutions such as Oxford (UK) and Cambridge. The grass is cut very low like a golfing green, and the library is the largest in Ireland. In the center of the walled buildings is a campus bar, where students can grab a cider and watch rugby on a massive field. Compared to Miami, where King Library was built in the 1970s, Trinity's campus is a sort of elite utopia without (most of) the snobbery. And the campus life is so nice -- dorms are actually reserved for upperclassmen.
Wanchese is a small fishing village, located on the southern end of Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Roanoke is a curious place -- protected from the Atlantic tides by the Outer Banks, it was home to the first English settlement in 1585. Notoriously, the entire colony vanished without a trace two years later, and many legends circulate as to the fate of the colonists. Today, Roanoke is settled again, with the rather upmarket village of Manteo to the north and the working-class village of Wanchese to the south, where my parents recently purchased a 1910 farmhouse. It was from there I would begin my journey.
HELSINKI, Finland -- I stepped outside in my simple black two piece bathing suit, bare feet and hair tied up. The cold air hit my flushed skin and filled my desperate lungs. I could see my breath cloud in front of me. I walked along the deck, down the steps and to the ladder at the edge.
Just a short 25-minute drive from Miami's campus, metal sculptures dozens of feet tall dot the landscape of the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park. From the bright orange behemoth that is sculptor Alexander Liberman's abstract "Abracadabra" to the monumental bronze and steel of Michael Dunbar's "Euclid's Cross," a walk through this park makes it hard to believe you're just outside Hamilton, OH.
Michael Braegor Strickley and his friends worked two jobs for over a year, saving up to afford the pre-college trip of their dreams.
U.S. Route 89 in northern Arizona is just like most highways in the American Southwest -- barren, dusty, cutting through a vast desert expanse dotted with pale green shrubs and the occasional cactus. Unlike my hometown north of Boston, where the suburbs fill the map like a geographic jigsaw puzzle, this area is hauntingly unpopulated, the roads stretching for miles in between cities with names like Wahweap and Lechee.
As I stood outside the gates and peered through the bars of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House appeared a lot smaller than I expected it would be. For all the hype and hoopla the famous mansion holds in the grandeur of its name and history the actual size of the place was underwhelming.
CARTAGENA, Colombia -- Starting at 6 a.m., "The People's Market" is full of a lot of things: a variety of mostly-unappealing smells, obscure and nameless (well, nameless in English) fruits and native Cartagenos buying their groceries at bargain prices.
SANTIAGO, Chile -- The application closed in less than an hour. Several setbacks had held me back all semester, and now circumstances were hinged on less than 60 minutes. I pulled out my laptop and quickly filled out the application, letting out a sigh of deep relief when I clicked "submit" seven minutes before the application closed. All I could do then was wait.
As I struggled up the side of Blood Mountain, wheezing, barely able to breathe under the pulsing heat of the midday sun, I began to cry.
JOeKULSARLON, Iceland -- I'd never seen icebergs before. I'd always imagined them covered in penguins or polar bears, layered with lazy seals and sea lions, resting. But at Joekulsarlon, an icy lagoon at the base of Iceland's Brei\0xF0amerkurjoekull Glacier, quiet pieces of ice floated bare, decidedly devoid of life. Some pieces, nearly sapphire blue in the haze of the falling snow, cracked and groaned ominously.
I'd been in Europe for two weeks, and I still hadn't had that wow moment. The moment that's supposed to jump out at you and say, "Hey! You're in another country! Isn't this amazing?"