Out of all the Expeditions I have experienced over the past years, one of my most memorable trips was the 10th-grade snow expedition in Niigata. My family was never the type to go outdoor for skiing or hiking during the winter holidays, so it was such a rare experience for me to spend a week in a snowy environment. It definitely helped expand my comfort zone as I challenged myself to indulge and gain experience in the unfamiliar environment, despite the slight anxiety and worry I had since it everything was so new and foreign to me.
We visited an English camp lodge in Tsunan, Niigata for 5 days and experienced various activities such as the 2-day snowshoe hiking. Contrasting to the restless and busy Yokohama, Niigata was much quieter and peaceful—it almost felt that the place was secluded from the rest of the world. The camp lodge was located deep in the mountains and was isolated from the local town in Tsunan as well.
Additionally, we were also required to stay ‘unplugged’ during the expedition, meaning that we had to detach ourselves from the internet and various social media. Although this was not a difficult challenge for me, it did feel uncomfortable as I felt so detached from my social community and friends outside of the trip. However, at the same time, I realized that this uncomfortableness comes from how much my life has been dependent on internet and social media. It made me rethink my balance in life, and how I should be more aware of how dependent I am on the internet. We were completely isolated from our friends, family, and school; it was quite refreshing to just forget about my schoolwork and my social relationships, and immerse myself in nature.
Over the 2-day snowshoe hiking, I had the privilege to experience ‘true silence’ during the hike. We had times where we separated ourselves from others to sit alone in the snow and quietly meditate for some time. The snow around us absorbed all the sounds we made, and during the meditation, it was a complete ‘silence’. Now reflecting back on this expedition, the silence and the peace nature offered to me was something that I should have truly appreciated; complete silence is something we cannot experience quite easily in Yokohama, or in any of the urban cities. There will always be loud noises of various vehicles during day and night, and within the school, it is almost quite impossible to seek silence when there is every other student is talking all the time and minding their own business. Although these noises sometimes do help me stigmatize my brain and help stay critical and aware of my surroundings, however, when I am constantly exposed to these noises it can always become very overwhelming. The silence I have experienced in Niigata truly helped me disconnect with the rest of the society and reorganize my mind without being overloaded with information. It brought me to a realization on how great the impact of noise pollution is, and how isolating yourself into these peaceful environments can help reduce the stress.
This experience also enlightened me with how ‘silence’ is a very important factor to help reduce stress and become relaxed, and how it can help sustain my wellness in school. Even though I might not be able to experience the same ‘silence’ I was able to experience in Niigata, I learned that detaching myself from everything, and enjoying the isolation for few minutes can really help clear out my mind and reduce the stress I’m experiencing from information overload.