Trevor Ludden, Vadnais Heights,MN, '12
On the second weekend of our most fantastic stay in England, I found myself on the rocky shore of Lindisfarne: a sandy, windy, and lonely spit of land off the coast of England. As I stood watching the sunset dance over the waves of the North Sea, wind almost blowing me off my feet, I swiftly lost myself in thought. We had arrived on the island the day before, the coach bus striving to beat the tide that would inevitably swallow the narrow causeway that was the only access to Lindisfarne. Our hotel lay on the outskirts of the quaint, touristy village that sat on the southernmost point of the island. Though we arrived late in the afternoon after a full day of travel, I did what any good student studying abroad would do: I explored. A group of us wandered the streets of the village, looking in shop windows and delighting in what lay around the next corner. Soon, we worked our way past the ruins of the priory, an institution that had been a presence on the island since the 600's. It overlooked the coast, and as I stood in the sea winds, I could begin to understand what drew St. Cuthbert to seek a life of solitude on these islands. We were able to make our way to the rock where he held his first hermitage, marked now with the shadow of a small foundation and a giant cross planted in the coarse soil. There was something about that place, something calming about hearing nothing but the crash of the surf, the call of the birds, and the howl of the ever present winds.
I began to understand the allure of being so completely alone, and after a week of essay writing and almost nonstop classes, the seeming solitude was a welcome change. It truly allowed me to unwind, and see the beauty in a landscape so far from that I have known. The solitude, the momentary peace in a trip so hectic, was fantastic. Though it refreshed me, I do not know if I would be able to be alone for years as was the hermit Cuthbert. Actually being in his place, it allowed me an insight to what his life may have been like. It gave me an understanding of the material much deeper than I would have otherwise had. That is what is truly fantastic about going abroad-- that ability to actually be there and experience what you are learning firsthand. That is what study abroad is for me, and standing there on the island, I was glad that our class was only half over. We have experienced so much, and yet there is just as much to come. And that, was a great feeling.