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Watch his video here: Camping on the Great Wall of China

The best experiences in life are those that others don’t believe actually happened. Experiences that seem so surreal that you aren’t even sure if it actually happened, or if it was a dream. Studying abroad in China can present you with opportunities that you never otherwise would fathom.

A few weekends ago, a friend asked if I would be interested in camping on the Great Wall of China. Obviously, never having been asked a question of this sort, I was a little taken aback. Is it even possible to camp on the Great Wall of China? Is it legal? Is it worth it? I had never even imagined this as a possibility! Looking back now, I can say it was one of the most amazing adventures that I have experienced.

Myself and seven other international students began our journey early on a beautiful Saturday morning. As we began our hike, we noticed that parts of the wall had visibly been forgotten about and had begun to crumble, while other parts of the wall had been beautifully preserved throughout all of these years. The higher up into the mountain we got, the more the vast landscape around us began to open up, and by the time we reached our destination we could see all the way to the city of Beijing. After about a two-hour hike on the Wall, we reached a watchtower where we set up camp for the night. The guides prepared us dinner of fried rice over a fire, and we sat around the campfire playing guitar and talking until we receded to our respective tents for the night.

In the morning, I had some time alone. I woke up before everyone else and sat atop the watchtower watching the sunrise. Never have I been in a better spot for reflection. At that moment, I realized the magnitude of what I was experiencing. Not only was I halfway across the world from home, immersing myself in a completely different culture, but also I was camping on one of the world’s greatest wonders- The Great Wall of China. Something that I doubt many others has done in their lifetime.

Moments and realizations like these are what make studying abroad, traveling, and immersing yourself in different parts of the world so important.

To give you an idea of what this experience was like I created a video so you can follow our journey up the Great Wall of China. Enjoy!

By Jacob Voss, Loyola University Chicago, Fall 2015 Student