Expedition to Niigata 2018

This year, the concept for field studies changed along with its name to “expeditions”.  In these new expeditions, we explored nature, self-reliance, and resilience. In the Niigata expedition which I attended, we also talked about silence and how it is rare to have absolute silence in the city.

The first day, we traveled a few hours by bus to a rural part of Niigata up the mountains where there was not a lot of civilization around us. There, we met the English Adventure staff and the building where we would be staying at for 3/4 of the nights. After having a long-awaited lunch, the English adventure staff organized a few activities for us to get us started and introduced to the topics we would be exploring for the next couple of days. We tried without instructions tried to build an ice cave, mapped the route we would take on the day of the hike and took a hike into a part of the forest where we could experience silence.

The next couple of days were filled with exciting activities such as sleeping in a quinsy that we built for a whole day, hiking on the very top of a mountain, and lastly skiing. These activities all required a form of leadership whether in groups or in pairs. When hiking, we were forced to decide which direction we would travel when there was a split road based on our map reading skills. In the group, there was an instance where the group was split by two opinions and it took a leader to listen to each opinion then come up with a correct or fair solution. This experiences taught me that leadership can come not from expressing your own opinions but listening to the group.

On the day we created the quinsies, in the afternoon we ate dinner which we cooked on a stand which we made by ourselves out of ice. We were given ingredients, a pot, and a portable stove which we placed on the ice stand. While we waited for the quinsy to harden enough to sleep in, we ate the stew we made and looked at the stars, played games etc.

By experiencing these activities that were out of our comfort zones, I think I developed as a person and became more open-minded. Originally, sleeping in a quinsy was such a foreign thought and I assumed that it would be cold, miserable, and overall a negative experience. However, contrary to my initial ideas, the quinsy was comfortable to sleep in and I even enjoyed the process of making the quinsy as it was very rewarding to see it made. In the future, I think these memories will remind me of the positive that can happen out of a seemingly negative scenario.

Additionally, I think I was able to appreciate nature more. Being surrounded by nature was different from seeing things on a screen as we not only saw but smelt, heard and felt the things we were seeing. Not having access to a phone or any sort of internet connection made us connect with the people around us. Although I am not someone who is extremely addicted to my phone and enjoys being in the outdoors, being outisde with my friends was an even more exciting experience.