The Start Of A New Adventure

I know you’ve all been wanting to hear about my trip, and I’ve been putting off writing this because there is so much to say and so much I can’t yet say. so I’ve wondered whether I should just wait, or tell you what I can now. I'm telling because I know you guys are probably as impatient as I am.

I am just a little fish in a big pond. I guess something about my scales or the way I swam seemed to catch the eyes of the bigger fish, and then suddenly I was on my way to Coll because my application was successful. Strange, I know. But I wasn’t scared or intimidated. All the other fish here might  be bigger, but we’re all just fish in the end, and besides, they must have seen something in me to accept me in the first place.

Let me backtrack a little. A year or so ago, when I wasn't planning on staying at school for sixth year, but knew I wasn't really ready for university yet, I decided to apply for Project Trust, a gap year organisation that specialises in sending school leavers oversees to volunteer for a year. Then, as they do my plans changed, and I decided to stay on at school for my last year. But I still don't feel like going to uni straight after high school is really the best thing for me, and so last year I deferred my application to Project Trust and instead peruse it this year.

Project Trust is based on Coll, which is why at 7am on August 1st,  I found myself surrounded by other would be volunteers at Oban Harbour, ready to get the ferry across to this remote island, none of us really knowing what to expect. We'd vaguely heard that we'd be staying with a host family, that this was the only ferry and by this point I think I'd come to the conclusion that I was, in fact, totally off my head for doing this. But then, getting on that boat (for what turned out to be a three hour sail)and talking to the others more, suddenly that apprehension was replaced by excitement, the kind of excitement that only new adventures can bring. I remember being in the hostel in Oban the night before, completely unfeeling, when I heard someone mention Coll and that was when it became very real to me. I was very cold, shiver-y with excitement. Like I wanted to stand up and scream. I know this is only a beginning, but it still felt amazing.

(L-R) Bethany, Emily, Ella and Me
For the past few days we've trekked through fields and up hills, every night returning to our host families soaking wet and covered in mud. Throughout the trip, we've also built drinking straw structures, given ten-minute lessons and even dug lazy beds, always taking advantage of the nearby beachfront that stretched on for miles, providing ample opportunity for exploring. And as we sat at the top of one of the hills, entirely alone but laughing at what the few houses in the distance might think of seeing high viz pink "sheep" away in the distance at half past eight at night.

A few days on this island have proved unexpectedly charming, a surprising amount of beauty packed into a seemingly humble box. Visual pleasures are everywhere you look. Upon first arriving it was pouring with rain, but as the sun came out later, it was impossible not to notice the shimmering Atlantic as the sea flung its cold arms across the rocks, like the close embrace of a kiss, two bodies morphing into one, the sea disappearing into the horizon.  The others and I live this special, intermediary time of our youth, soon to be  propelled from our hometowns and not yet entirely a part of the world. We stand in a perfect limbo, unsure which way is up and which is down or  which exact path we’d like to take. We’re immensely contented with travel and food and exploring - tasting the next stage but not yet thrust into it.

Away from our family and not yet with a family of our own, loneliness and existential crises can at times be biting, and it definitely  took an unexpected hold of some, but to take on something like this is to see that everyone is a stranger somewhere and deeper issues can be faced in new milieu with new perspective. I've never introduced myself to so many strangers before, but it was entirely down to looking at them and hoping they were also going to Coll and happily being right. I would have never done that before, do it was a great lesson for me personally to be so put out of my comfort zone like that.  It was comforting to be surrounded by people who were in the exact same situation, whether it was considering and hoping to be selected. (I'll be able to tell you in a week or so if I've been selected- fingers crossed! ) Tonight some the other volunteers and I are anticipating our exam results with a quiet nervousness as many suddenly realise they might not even get them because of our remote location. I'm lucky to have wifi, I think in terms of hosts I definitely landed on my feet here!

This morning we all had to do a little community service, and my task was helping a couple called Kath and Crawford, two retired teachers. Crawford is an amazing artist and we were tasked with helping him to tidy and organise his studio, which was surprisingly fun.  Later on we learned a little about fundrasing as volunteers have to raise around £6,200, which is obviously a lot of money. I'm a little worried about that because apparently it doesn't cover all that I thought it would, and they weren't very clear on where all this money goes, something I wasn't comfortable with. I'm hoping they cover more on that tomorrow.

Tomorrow is our last day, before we get the ferry out, and I've got quite a bit of paper work to do, so I'll leave you with some pictures of my trip! Notice  especially the "rock of fertility" and the girls in the photos - they're staying with the same hosts as me so we went a little exploring together and climbed the hill together too. The bunny photo isn't very clear but we have little bunnies in the garden and also hens and there's a lot of sheep and cows nearby us too! 




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