Until May 2017, Riva San Vitale will be my humble abode. I have the incredible, once in a life-time opportunity to live in a small town in Canton Ticino, Switzerland; when will I ever be able to live in a small town abroad with my college friends ever again? By the end of this week, I will have lived in Riva for a month, and throughout that month, I have had the opportunity to explore and embrace the town. Through my experiences, I have also forged bonds with new friends, learned the intricacies of traveling in Europe, and reflected on my time here thus far. This blog post is dedicated to Riva and the significance of my late night walks in Riva.
I love venturing out late at night in Riva. When most of the town dies down, the paths less traveled illuminate and radiate an inviting glow. The picture above was taken on January 19th, 2017, my 2nd late night walk in Riva. My friends Erin and Parker accompanied me on this walk and we decided to see how far we can venture out without leaving Riva. We occasionally go on walks to talk about what’s on our minds, and while doing so, wander around Riva. This particular night, we walked towards the Italian border and eventually, we had to navigate through this tunnel to keep progressing. This was the first walk in Riva I went on with either Erin or Parker, and even though we did not know each other well prior to this trip, we were able to take the leap of faith within each other as travel companions and venture away from our home at night. In my experience, not many people take that leap of faith in others but when they do, I respect them tremendously as it demonstrates to me that they are not afraid to be vulnerable or take the initial step in really getting to know someone. While this wasn’t the most breathtaking or scenic walk, it offered the thrilling element of uncertainty, and uncertainty coupled with companionship is how adventure begins and bonds are forged.
Many people ask why I chose to study abroad and honestly, it was not and probably will not be to “find myself” or excavate some suppressed personality traits within myself. Not that I don’t expect to grow or adopt new perspectives on life through my study abroad experience, but I am confident and secure about who I am and in my abilities that the self-growth portion of PGS isn’t my main priority; I studied abroad mainly to make life-long (hopefully) friendships through new experiences and adventures. Anyone who has listened to me for even 15 minutes knows how much I love the thrill of adventure and pushing the limits; after all, only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. At least 10 people within the first week in PGS have heard some of my stories and should be able to tell that I am adventurous, ambitious, confident, courageous, daring, loyal, and resourceful. Those traits outline my character and are also traits I treasure and often look for in others. In my opinion, the best way to explore is to get lost, disorient yourself with your surroundings and realign yourself by venturing out into the unknown, and what better way is there to do that than by going on late night walks?
Someone taking the first step and accompanying me on late night walks by venturing into and exploring new areas is a crucial stepping stone in a life-long friendship as it reveals to me that they have many, if not all the qualities I treasure in a person. If my past is an indicator of anything, it is that my late night walks are excellent gauges of who might become a life-long friend, and the late night walks in Riva are exceptional indicators because of many factors that amalgamate to produce a unique experience that will never be replicated again. Everything from the nestled, surreal location abroad perfect for reflection to the hidden trails carefully designed for ventures rank Riva as a perfect place for late night walks.
I’ll be honest and admit I don’t have that many real friends. I’ve met many people through my life experiences but I have only kept a handful of true, life-long friends. Yes, I have been throwing around the phrase “life-long friendships” but I am being completely honest when I say that. Those friends will be the ones who I grow old with. Those friends will be the ones who are going to be the aunts and uncles to my kids, and honestly, some will be god-parents. Those friends are my pseudo siblings and people I will do anything for. Not surprisingly, every single one of those friendships has blossomed through late night walks. Who knows, maybe some of the relationships through late night walks in Riva will be ephemeral, leaving an impact on just one chapter of my life, but maybe some will be timeless and redefine my entire story.