Don’t Forget to Turn Around, or You Might Miss Something Beautiful

Written by Dillan Trojan, (Wofford College) Student Correspondent Middlebury School in China: Kunming, Fall 2015

Throughout the last several weeks, I’ve done my best to make the most out of my study abroad experience. I’ve gone to places that I never knew existed and new absolutely nothing about. My first thought when I look back to the experiences from the last week or so (what an incredible week) is that people have highly mislabeled this program and its opportunities. I just want to make it clear that I am absolutely not trying to build this program up for more than it is  – this is purely my own observation.  Middlebury is well-known because of its stringent language pledge, and students from other programs like to make comments like, “Do you want to put your head in a book for the semester, or do you want to travel and see China like I get to do?” If you’re going to choose to learn a language ranked as one of the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn, why on earth would you limit yourself by not trying to get the highest level possible within your means during your four years of college? That’s why I originally chose this program, and I was completely fine with burying my face in a book for a semester. However, I’m able to get the most out of my language learning experience while still getting some experiences that could easily be labeled as once in a lifetime.  In less than two weeks, I’ve made memories that I’m absolutely certain I’ll never recreate.

Well this is a funny looking book that my face was buried in.

Well this is a funny looking book that my face was buried in.

It’s not easy. Not all the memories and impressions that I make every day are good.  Some hurt and some are rather depressing. What also really sucks is that I can’t share all the wonderful memories with the people that I want to.  I find myself taking hundreds of photos to try to recreate the priceless moments for the ones I love.  But we have to think, why do we create memories?  They’re personal and they’re made for us to learn from. For us to look back on and maybe even re-imagine.  But if we don’t look back and try to find something to learn from, we’re wasting a major opportunity.

Exploring the JiuXiang Caves near Kunming

Exploring the JiuXiang Caves near Kunming

One think I keep trying to remind myself as I keep up with these blogs and write these stories are what have I learned from each of them.  That’s where the title of this blog comes from. I’ve always believed that when you’re walking a path or hiking a mountain or what have you, that it’s important to turn around see something you already believe is beautiful from the other side.  I’ve also learned it’s just as important to do after the memory is already made.  What could you have missed? You might have missed something beautiful.