We set out for the longest hike of our trip on a chilly, Scottish spring morning. With 14 miles of trail ahead of us, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
My ankles were still bruised from my hiking boots and the 10-mile trek the day before, and the thought of another hike through the Highlands had me feeling anxious.
The first part of the hike took us up countless steep inclines, and I quickly began to wonder if I had the strength to make it through the rest of the journey.
But as the trail opened up right above Loch Ness and I looked behind me to see the mountains we had surmounted, I felt as though I had the world before me. Never before had I done anything that demanded both so much physical stamina and mental endurance.
That day we walked for 7 hours – enough time to ruminate within my own head between the breathless chatter with friends and faculty.
As the hike went from an insurmountable challenge to the first real moments I had to reflect on my recent graduation from UH and the next chapter of my life, I realized that this trip with the Honors College to the United Kingdom couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.
Within a few weeks, I would be moving to California to start law school at Berkeley, a journey that – as that day’s hike – had me both excited and very nervous. Yet as I put one foot in front of the other until we arrived at the quaint town burrowed between Scotland’s Highlands that marked the end of the trail, I knew that with the support of my Honors family, a little bit of meditation and inward reflection, and a whole lot of determination, no challenge could shake me.
My travel abroad experience allowed me to build both meaningful friendships and a willpower that would carry me through my transition to graduate school. And more than this, it deepened my appreciation for the wealth of history that surrounds us and preserves centuries of the human situation from which we can learn.
I was fascinated by the history we encountered each day of the trip and captivated by each person and event that helped shape modern-day England and Scotland, each in its own particular way.
I was also intrigued by the way the politics, conflicts, and cultures that have birthed the United Kingdom reveal a context through which many other nations can be understood – an insight that fed my interest in the field of comparative law even before I began law school.
Needless to say, my trip to the UK this past summer with the Honors College was much more than an ordinary vacation – it was an adventure into the beauty and history of a country that has been crucial in the development of both our own nation and much of the contemporary world.
I shared many moments of happiness, fascination, and growth with a few old and many new friends, and above all, I deepened my gratitude for the many opportunities and experiences offered to me as a student and proud alumna of the Honors College.
—Mary M. Dahdouh
UH Honors Class of 2015
J.D. Candidate 2018, University of California, Berkeley Law