I am cold. I am tired. I am wet. But as I sit on the bus on my way back to our hotel, I am also the most content that I can ever remember being. River rafting down the River Tay in Scotland has just become my favorite sport and joking about it with my fellow People to People Student Ambassadors, my new favorite past time.
We laugh about how much we all hated our wet suites because they were awkward and we all looked ridiculous, but how much we loved them when we were thrown into the seemingly freezing river during rounds of “King of the Raft” or “Raft Wars”. I tell them how my leg is searing from Bobby accidentally kicking me in the shin, as he struggled to pull one of the leaders out of the raft and into the water. But I don’t mind the pain in the slightest because Bobby succeeded and we won. We are smiling as we remember the look on Greg’s face when he realized he was going into the river. Amber tells us that she couldn’t have wished for a better birthday as the entire group sings Happy Birthday on the ride back to the Fisher Hotel.
We are waiting for dinner and sitting on the hill out back of the hotel, next to the small fountain and pond. The sun is setting behind us and it is warm, but not unpleasantly so. The moister in the air and ground is keeping us cool.
I lay down in the cool, damp grass and listen to everyone talk about everything — today, yesterday, tomorrow, families, friends, and it is in this moment when, as I breathe in the cool sunshine and look up at the oddly clear-blue sky, I realize that, over the last few weeks of our trip, our trip across the United Kingdom and Ireland, that we have become a family. We have argued together, we have laughed together, we have rebelled together, we have celebrated together, we have comforted together, we have explored together, we have shared together, but above all we have bonded together. We have banded together in this strange and wonderful place, 4600 miles from home, a place that many of us only ever dreamed of going. We banded together over events that many of us never even dreamed of doing, like river rafting through the Scottish countryside, or repelling down a castle tower in Whales.
So as I sit on this hillside in Pitlochry, Scotland, 4680.471 miles from everything I knew, with forty-five people who have become my dysfunctional, makeshift family, I know that this is truly what happiness is and that being in this place, with these people, is home.
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