On Tuesday, as a group, we hiked 8 miles along the coast of Spain in the Costa Brava region. For those of you that do not know me, I am not an active person and was very nervous for this hike. One reason being, I am the biggest person in the group and have never done hiking like this. I was very anxious that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, let alone finish, and the group be annoyed and have to wait for me to catch up.

Even though I had my concerns, I woke up Tuesday morning with a positive attitude and excitement for the day ahead. The beginning of the hike started off with climbing a hill, I started to feel my chest get tight amy lungs get heavy with each step I took. Once I conquered the first hill, I realized I was keeping up pretty well. After a lunch break, we set out for the rest of our hike that included a lot of walking on sand and climbing up even more hills. Sweat was dripping down my red face while I was struggling to keep up through this portion of the hike. At one point my lips started to quiver as I tried my hardest not to cry. I had to swallow my pride and ask for a break while I was gasping for air. With the support of Dr. Coumbe- Lilley and a couple students, I was able to make it up that incline by taking it step by step, which was the biggest hurdle of the day.

Even though I was ready to drop to the floor and ashamed because I was the slowest person in the group while hiking. What got me through the day was knowing that we had a sailing excursion planned for the afternoon. My dad races sailboats (Lost Boys is our boat) and we share the passion for being out in the open waters. Knowing we had that excursion planned for the end of the day gave me the motivation to get through the hike. I was able to show my strengths on the sailboat when most of the students have never been on a boat before. It was amazing to see everyone have a chance to steer and be nervous about doing something wrong. The captain of the ship found out I knew my way around a boat and let me take over for the way home. As I was sailing the boat back to the harbor, Madeleine asked if she could try it and wanted me to teach her and stay by her side for support. It felt so gratifying to be able to be the expert and confident person in the group after feeling so defeated earlier that day. This experience showed me we all have strength and weaknesses and we can lean on each other for support.

Since I have started in the kinesiology program, I have often been asked if I am nervous or uncomfortable being surrounded by peers that are smaller than me. I knew from the beginning, I would stick out like a sore thumb. However, I realized I would have some days where I felt as if I am on the outside, but I saw that as a good challenge. I still do not regret the decision to be in this field and I think it is very important to remember that what may be easy to you is a challenge for someone else. I hope that sharing my story will help empower those who think they can’t do something because of their size. I want everyone to realize that with strength and determination you can do anything you set your mind to, especially for students who are looking to do something out of their comfort zone.

After hiking up an incline I still have a huge smile on my very red face.

Photo Credit: Ellen Woodcock

This was a beautiful cove that we passed by during our hike.

Photo Credit: Ellen Woodcock

We sailed on this boat that was called Rafael and was built in 1915.

I was given the opportunity to steer the boat which was a lot of fun!

Photo Credit: Courtney Ban

Melyssa and I with our magic backpack! She stayed with me keeping my spirits high and making sure I stayed hydrated.

Photo Credit: Ellen Woodcock

Our whole group that hiked Costa Brava with me!

Photo Credit: Melyssa Pham