Bonded over a broken down bus

study3I’ve always loved a good adventure – I read a lot of books when I was young, following lone heroes on brave and arduous quests.

These quests rarely ever started with overheated engines or drunken Spaniards starting dance parties on the upper floor of a crippled double decker bus, but I guess every adventure is different, and that was the start of mine.

A week ago I ventured north to Lapland, which extends through northern Sweden and makes up a good portion of the Arctic Circle.

I went on a bus with 60 other international students, all from varying countries and backgrounds, all equally excited for sled dog tours and saunas and Northern Lights.

When our bus broke down eight hours into our 19 hour drive, we were all understandably concerned.

When we were told we’d have a new bus in “one or two hours, maybe more,” we lost all hope of an easy journey. I spent the next two hours playing card games with strangers from Italy, Denmark and Australia on the greasy table of a Swedish burger joint.

When we were kicked back onto the broken bus at 12:30 a.m., disgruntled and tired, the Spaniards I mentioned raised everyone’s spirits with dancing and music, until we were finally placed in a hotel to sleep through what was left of our night. Our journey started up again the next day.

This adventure of mine was earth-shattering, but honestly, you have to take my word for it.

There is no way for me to explain how the bitter cold of the Arctic circle manages to feel both identical to and different from the winter winds of Lake Champlain.

I can’t clarify why the soft gold light from a cabin window and the electric green glimmer of the Aurora Borealis simultaneously reflecting off the snow makes you feel more alive.

It’s impossible to articulate the feeling of life that permeates the air when you’re running half-naked through the snow after a stint in the humid air of the sauna, with the Aurora twisting above you like a living thing.

I wish I could play you my experiences directly, because being on top of the world is life-changing. I learned so much from every person I met. There is so much to see and so much to do in this wide world of ours.

And I’ve always loved a good adventure.