Student Spotlight: Alicia’s Underground Caving Adventure

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“I’m so lucky that I have this opportunity to do something so different from anything I’ve ever done before and that’s what studying abroad is all about.” -Alicia Glidden

Studying abroad offers you the wonderful opportunity of not only experiencing a new country and new culture, but also exploring new interests and hobbies offered at your host institution. Make the most of your time abroad by getting involved in some way on your new campus!

Current UCEAP Ireland student Alicia Glidden is making the most of her time abroad and challenging herself to explore new interests during her time at University College Dublin! Follow her weekend away with the Caving and Potholing club in her featured blog post:

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Alicia and UCEAP friends on their caving trip.

An Underground Adventure by Alicia Glidden

Before I even came to UCD, I knew I wanted to join the Caving and Potholing Club. Studying abroad is all about pushing you to try something new. And exploring Irish caves sounded pretty new to me! Along with two of my friends from UCEAP, I went on the caving trip to Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. And Fermanagh is a beautiful place. Even just exploring around the hut where we were staying was breathtaking.

We all woke up early on Saturday morning to begin a day of caving. As everyone had a cup or two or three of tea (the Irish really do love their tea), we began to prepare for the day. We got into our gear: rain boots, a fleece onesie for warmth, a tough over suit, and a helmet with a light.

 We followed our cave guide to the first cave’s opening and I didn’t believe him when he brought us to a small hole between a few boulders. Despite an initial moment of uncertainty, I squeezed through the hole and the cave quickly opened up. As we walked past groups of tourists, we got quite a few stares. They didn’t know the crawling and traversing we just did to get to the path! The coolest part of the first cave was the water- the water was so still and reflective that it looked like a mirror.

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The next cave we went into was a bit different. It began with a 10 foot decline through a hole that was maybe two feet wide. This time, looking at this tiny cave opening, I definitely had more than just a moment of uncertainty. “It’ll be grand” my friend Connor on the Caving committee told us as we all mentally prepared for this entrance. This was when I realized that “grand,” a common term used in Ireland, might just be the most reassuring word. It is basically the equivalent of “fine” in America. Each of us made our way through this same opening. Finally getting into the cave was an incredibly satisfying moment. I was faced with a challenge that scared me but I pushed myself to try it. After exploring the cave, we made our way back out through the tiny entrance.

Overall, the entire trip was an incredible bonding experience as we each guided each other throughout the adventures. I left sore, bruised and tired. But excited for the next caving trip. I’ve found that caving forces me to push myself, even if I might be hesitant at first. That moment where I’m out of the cave and I get that feeling of accomplishment makes it all worth it. I’m so lucky that I have this opportunity to do something so different from anything I’ve ever done before and that’s what studying abroad is all about.