By Timothy Purvis
The end to my two terms in Europe was an adventure in and of itself. To celebrate the two and a half months I had spent in France on the LBAT and the six I had spent on the EPFL exchange program in Switzerland, I went on one last hike through the snow in the Swiss Alps. It was an experience I never could have dreamed of when I first came to Georgia Tech.
I grew up in places that were hot. The ten years of my life leading up to my arrival at Georgia Tech were a testament to that. I had lived on the equator in Brunei for five years before living in Houston, Texas, for another five. Needless to say, when I came to Atlanta I was used to the heat. The semester in Switzerland was anything but. In my time there I had my first real interactions with snow that I can remember in my life. But I took this culture shock in stride. I hiked through the snow, had snowball fights, made snow angels. It was certainly one of the most unique times of my life.
Unfortunately, my time in the cold and the snow was coming to an end, and I knew that I’d be coming back to the heat again. Wanting to leave Europe with one last adventure, I agreed to go snow-shoeing with a friend on some mountains near Interlaken.
We set off in the morning from our hostel and were immediately greeted by the picturesque peaks of Switzerland. We ran off to rent our snowshoes and hopped on a gondola to get to our basecamp for the hike. To anyone who hasn’t been snowshoeing before, I have a few words: It is one of the strangest means of transportation I have ever seen. It is also one of the most difficult. The trek we made that day was immediately difficult and tiring from the weight of the shoes. After an hour I was already exhausted, but we were just starting. We ended up following a small path with a few cross-country skiers for the first two hours, which included what seemed like a thousand hills.
Storm rolling in
Then our paths divided, and my friend and I were the only two left on the path, alone, just when a snowstorm blew through. We “quickly” trudged over to a shelter to get out of the storm for lunch and lots of chocolate. As exhausted as we were, the view that greeted us once the storm let up was unbelievable. An entire valley blanketed with fresh snow. I was not prepared for this. It was one of the most beautiful scenes I had ever witnessed, making the difficulty of the hike leading up to it absolutely worth it.
Chocolate never tasted so good!
In all of my time spent abroad, I had never felt so far away from the seemingly continuous hot weather that I had grown up with. While it felt so strange to me, it also made me exceptionally pleased with my decision to go abroad with Georgia Tech. And with that, my last European adventure was over. At least for now…