Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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The Fragility of Life

While in Ireland I had the privilege to visit a place called Inishmore, otherwise known as one of the Aran Islands. It is a remote island located near Galway, Ireland and while there I toured a medieval stone fort perched on the edge of a 100 meter high cliff. I took this photo while lying on my stomach, overlooking the edge of the cliff straight down to the water. During our tour of the island our tour guide told us that one year a German exchange student fell off that cliff and died. That moment was pivotal for me as I leaned over and contemplated the fragility of my own life. Studying abroad can be illuminating in many ways but for me it made me realize how fast life can go and how important it is to live the best way you can, every single day. I realized as I was staring down into the depths that had previously claimed a student just like me that I hadn’t been living up to my full potential. Often I allow myself to get bogged down with little problems on a day to day basis that in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter. It made me reconsider what was really important in my life. Relationships and the people within them are what really matter. At that moment I was cold, wet, and fairly hungry but I took a second to think about how lucky I was to even have this opportunity to be in a foreign country with wonderful new people and the chance to form new, lasting relationships that I otherwise never would have had. Studying abroad was an invaluable experience and I came out of it with a new lust for life itself. It’s moments like those, where you’re dangling over the edge of a fatal drop, when you realize just what you’re made of.

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