The past week has been a stressful one, but my worries were washed away in Costa Brava. Costa Brava, is a beautiful coastal region in Catalonia. The water is as clear as crystal but you see a completely different person in the reflection. There was no connection to home through mind or matter, which was bliss within itself.

A window into the homes nestled in the hills of this coastal region surrounding sandy beaches and fisherman filled waters.

We began our 8-mile hike. The path was not tedious, but it was not easy either. Throughout the walk, I was constantly reminded of this first year of college at UIC and the “rocky” start I had. I moved out of my home after 16 years of living there, only to move out a few weeks later to my dorm on campus to begin freshman year. I ended up meeting my cluster mate who has become my very good friend, after being surprised to find my original roommate didn’t fit that role. In a way, it was the balance between the rock and sand: I dealt with the easy shifting sand, but finally found my stability in the rocks.

In the middle of the hike, we ended up took a break to have lunch and swim. In my mind, I was hesitant to go into the water, because I was afraid of drowning or needing someone come help me. I surprised myself with my swimming abilities, including swimming 100 yards from shore. After our hour was up, we continued our hike.

Members of our group coming towards the end of our trek.

Once we finished the 8 miles, we transitioned to sailing with our captain Joan and his friend Jessica. We each got a chance to sail the ship. In the middle of our voyage, Juan stopped the ship and dropped the anchor. He offered the chance to dive off the boat and into the sea. This was another moment of hesitation to take a chance and jump. I didn’t see any rocks to stand on, and I definitely did not want to put the 4 student lifeguards in our group to work either. Without thinking, I took a chance, I jumped in, and am still amazed at the happiness it brought me.

I have felt an increase in my confidence, which I haven’t felt lately. I think first and act later, but while in Barcelona, doing the opposite has been best. I didn’t give myself time to doubt myself or think about what could go wrong. Potentially, this is powerful in developing my skills in qualitative research. The excursion proved I can push myself. Often, I find that I’m surrounded by a lot of negativity, preventing my full application in personal tasks. Being a part of this excursion, I was surrounded by nothing but potential for new challenges, and having this back home would be wonderful. To have Costa Brava in Chicago would mean being physically active by desire, not by necessity. This has been a common theme thus far; From the wine and olive excursion to this, we have seen countless moments where the people fuel action through passion and desire. I want to have the fire to pursue what I like without thought as to limits; In the end, it’s my professional and personal journey, which is like Costa Brava; winding paths and rough stones, but in the end, smooth waves and scenes that make you say, “it was all worth it”.