The end of an adventure

26 May 2023

Holly Hartley loves books. Over the past semester, the English literature exchange student has compiled a reading list about her time in Nijmegen. In her final column, Holly is unleashing her inner hobbit – and looks back at the adventure that was living in the Netherlands.

Life is a constant stream of opening and closing doors. Everyone is continuously venturing into uncharted territories, seemingly without a map or guidebook. It feels like only yesterday that coming to Radboud was my new beginning, and now I’m starting to process that very soon I will be adjusting to UK life again – a new beginning in its own right.

Just like the beloved characters in many of our favourite adventure stories, I have embarked on a personal odyssey of transformation and growth. But what makes a good adventure story? For starters, the beginning of an adventure is rarely pleasant for its protagonist.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo is reluctant to leave – favouring the comfort of Hobbiton over the dangers that lie just beyond the hills. Much like Bilbo, I too encountered a call to adventure and had to step out of my comfort zone – although applying for an OV Chipkaart is arguably less treacherous than facing angry, hungry Orcs.

‘Everyone is continuously venturing into uncharted territories, seemingly without a map or guidebook’

Then, as in every adventure story, the difficult beginning is followed by the inevitable further trials and tribulations. I’ve encountered my fair share of these since moving here last August; whether it was bike tyres exploding on a cycle home at 1AM or getting on the wrong bus and ending up in Lent. But once you have finished facing the dragons (whatever they might look like), adventure novels are also a good reminder that setbacks are merely steppingstones towards growth.

And, of course, one of the most striking aspects of any adventure story is the deep bonds formed between the characters: the camaraderie of The Six of Crows or Harry Potter’s sibling-like friendship with Ron and Hermione. Even Odysseus couldn’t have travelled to lands untold without his crew.

When all hope is lost, it is Samwise Gamgee’s unfaltering loyalty that pushes Frodo onwards. Likewise, the friends I have met in Nijmegen have provided a support system during my times of change and transition. And, looking back at this adventure, I firmly believe to have forged bonds that will last a lifetime.

I wouldn’t be who I am without some of the adventure books I grew up reading. Through the characters’ triumphs and tribulations, I was taught to embrace and navigate challenges and cherish the transformative power of relationships. May we all embark on our own quests, equipped with the wisdom and courage drawn from the pages of our most treasured books – because as the study year and my time in Nijmegen is coming to an end, they sure help in venturing on.

Read Holly Hartley's blogs here

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