What Goes Up Must Come Down

A few weeks ago, sitting in on a Sorrento meeting, our co-director, Cinzia, told our class about a hike called the Path of Gods. It struck me with its stunning pictures and what seemed to be ten-out-of-ten views. I knew I had to do it when I touched down to the area of Southern Italy. Next thing I know, myself and two of my classmates, Claire Darnall and Maggie Leigh Faulk, embarked on the seven-kilometer journey from Angerola to Positano. We began by taking a cab to the top of this magnificent hill headed to the Path of Gods. We began the hike with confidence, no hunger, and little water. When we turned the first corner, we were in complete awe of the ocean views and Earth’s art before us. It was strikingly beautiful. As we continued on the hike, we encountered steep rocks, muddy terrain, cliffs, and more that made the hike more than worth it to all of us. We were so thankful we did it. After we completed the hike, we were anticipant for food and water, skipping along to find the way to Positano.

Conked out and tired, we moved quickly to the town, only to come upon TWO-THOUSAND STAIRS. Down, thankfully, but still two-thousand stairs. We held our breath, knowing what comes up must go down, and started sprinting down the cemented-in staircase. At the time, it was a mystery that it would be so difficult. Anyone can go down some stairs, right? Wrong. By the end we were wiped out, numb, sweaty, and parched. Surely we were in Positano by now, right? Wrong. At the bottom of these two-thousand steps, we came upon a couple who pointed us toward the town that was a 45 minute walk. We realized then that those ocean views and Earth’s beauty during Path of Gods was maybe a little tad not worth it, something we should have Googled.

We finished the last 45 minutes with smiles on our faces and true joy in our heart. This is when I realized the real lesson I was learning here. Not regretting the hike, but having immense gratitude for the journey; the positivity, endurance, and determination it took us to get there. Not that we had a choice, but I was close to glad we didn’t have another way out because it forced us to take the slow and hard way. I figured out quickly that this day was a huge lesson and reflection of so much I have learned here while in Italy. The views, hike, stairs, and walk to town reflected the reward, adversity, learning, and fight for positivity in the midst of all the temptations to complain along the journey.

What a summer.  I never knew how much I would learn through this study abroad experience. I was introduced to JSB as an incoming freshman at Auburn University in 2015. I was immediately drawn to it and in awe that my university in small-town Auburn, Alabama had a campus in Ariccia, Italy! How amazing! Little did I know four years would pass and I would embark on this journey and wow am I thankful I did. Through the uncomfortable, comfortable, exciting, and anticipant days here, I have taken so much away from this study abroad. I can confidently say I will never have an experience again quite like this one. JSB has taught me what comes up must come down, and it’s up to our mind set and gratitude on how we handle it.

Signed, Liz Phelps

Claire and Maggie Leigh racing down stairs in Positano