Seth Johnson in Geneva

Friday, September 11, 2015

The six weeks I spent in Geneva as a part of the Duke in Geneva program offered some of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences of my life. Although I had been out of the country before, this was the first time I had ever visited Europe or spent an extended period of time abroad. One of the most memorable moments of my trip was hiking in the Alps with our program directors—an experience that embodies the challenges I faced and the worth of it all.

I believe that our weekend hiking trip in the Alps is analogous to the Duke experience, especially the abroad experience. Sure, the ascent is difficult, and there are obstacles along the way, but once you reach the top, the beauty of it all is breathtaking.

As a Duke student, classes are challenging, workloads pile up and students find themselves struggling to find time to just enjoy the simplest things in life on a day-to-day basis. I struggled with this in Geneva especially, trying to manage my studies while being away from home and enjoying the new experiences around me. But like our hike, the challenging ascent is worth every bit of joy and beauty once you reach that goal—sitting atop the peak.

At the same time, climbing the mountain has its own rewards despite its difficulty, just like the Duke experience and being abroad. If I could offer any advice from my trip it is learn to enjoy life around you and do not let it pass by without embracing the ups and downs. Learn from both. The ascent may be challenging, but the journey and the top are both worth every obstacle that may cross your path.

--Seth Johnson, Political Science, Duke in Geneva, Summer 2014