It’s that time of year again. We’re beating the same familiar paths back to the biology building, moving into new apartments or dorms and realizing we remembered to bring the decorative pillows but forgot the kitchen knives, and running into close friends and awkward acquaintances.

Sometimes it can be hard to get back to classes after a summer of adventuring and exploring, especially when you realize you’ll be confined to a concrete jungle for the next four-ish months. However, there is hope! This past summer I went on a brief but memorable two-week trip to the Alps in Switzerland and Italy to study Geology. The trip opened my eyes to an important concept: school and spending time outside are NOT mutually exclusive. I had some great experiences on this trip, both academic and otherwise. Learning about the formation of glaciers is always interesting, but it is really helpful to have a life-sized example in front of you. And munching on your anything-and-nutella hiking snack while you listen to your professor doesn’t hurt.

We did a lot in two weeks, from hiking up 1000 meters in five miles (and then allll the way back down), to eating three very rich Italian courses and then being served dessert (not to mention Italian wine), to spontaneously jumping into Lake Como on a brief car ride stop (then running back out when the sky flashed with lightning ten minutes later), etc. The whole trip got us out into what scientists dub “the field,” our beautiful planet Earth.

While we can’t always listen to lectures on mantle rocks and then actually go see exposed mantle rock, we can add a little of the outdoors into our course loads. Consider taking a biology class next semester that takes you on field trips. Or look into studying abroad in a great outdoors-oriented location. Even start looking for a class or research opportunity abroad for your next big break. Doing stuff like this can count towards academics, and towards that “Major in Mountains” (what we really want).

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