Hello again from London!
When I first began to write about my experiences with FIE and study abroad, I set some personal goals. I’ve surprised myself with my new confidence and my ability to navigate large cities with different languages, to try new foods and activities, often by myself, and to feel comfortable making decisions. The weekend trip to Wales was actually the most challenging of all my goals. I’ve travelled practically non-stop since my midterm break started and this tested my stamina and courage in new ways. This was a true adventure including hiking, coasteering, and surfing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Our train left from Paddington Station en route to Fishguard and Goodwick in Wales. After a six-hour ride with a change in Swansea, we headed to Preseli Lodge located in the National Park in Pembrokeshire, situated along the Atlantic Ocean. It was pitch dark when we arrived and we had no idea what our surroundings looked like so we were eager for daylight. I enjoyed meeting the staff and hanging out with other FIE students in the common area and we had a filling meal that night. We played card games and got to know each other, which I really liked since there were many students attending that I didn’t have class with.
At daylight we finally saw our surroundings and realised how far away from London we truly were. We made friends with a local horse and enjoyed seeing the sheep and cows from the region. We soon met up with our guides and were given wetsuits to start our first activity of the day which was surfing for me. This was nothing like surfing at home in Florida. It was cold, but exciting and really fun. I was able to catch some great waves. The instructor was great at helping everyone get up on their knees and I even managed to stand up a couple of times.
Then it was time for coasteering. I had never even heard of this activity until I read about it through FIE. The Welsh coast is rocky, with cliffs and paths and caves. We were outfitted for this not only in wetsuits, but with buoyancy vests and helmets. Coasteering is about using the rugged landscape for an adrenaline rush! We climbed up the face of cliffs and jumped into the ocean from 30 feet. I felt the best way to accomplish that was to not hesitate so I went first and felt like I was flying before plunging into the water. We made about 8 jumps and then floated into caves. Some of these blew water and spray up from holes and there was one that had a natural slide that took you in and then pushed you back out with the waves. It was so amazing to experience the power of nature in this way. The guides took videos and pictures they will later post on the Preseli Facebook page but there was no way we could have taken cameras with us without losing them. After an exhausting but absolutely amazing day we were ready to relax around a bonfire and warm up.
Before leaving for London, there was one final challenge. The guide took us 7 miles into the wild countryside and told us to find our way back. We set off on muddy trails and went up and down the hills to finally arrive back at the lodge and prepare for our return to the city. I am happy to report that I did everything I set out to do in Wales and can honestly say that I was braver than I have ever been in my life. It really was an adventure weekend.
Until next time,