Indiana University Overseas Study

Covered in Mud

feustel_ingrid

There was a moment this past week when I was pretty sure I was going to die. Well, not really die, but be really uncomfortable and embarrassed, and also maybe lose one of my favorite pairs of shoes.

View of the water

View of the water

One of the things about traveling in Europe (and anywhere) is that cities are much more accessible than other places. It’s easy to take a train or plane from one city to another, but getting out in the country side can be tough, especially since I don’t have a car. But there are just as many adventures to be had outside of the cities, so this past weekend when I had the chance to get out of Copenhagen with some kids and professors from my climate change class, I took it.

We were going to spend a couple days in southern Zealand, about two hours away from the city on the island of Møns, checking out the national parks and cultural land marks. we hopped on a bus and drove by flat fields, wind turbines, cows, and coastline. Our final destination was Møns Klint, an expanse of chalk cliffs bordering the sea.

The whole class struggling through the mud on the beach

The whole class struggling through the mud on the beach

The cliffs were formed by glaciers, pushing sediments together and on top of each other as they moved forward, and then exposing them as they proceeded. The rocks making up the towering cliffs were actually formed at the bottom of the ocean!

The chalk is made of the shells of dead ocean micro-organisms, who take carbon from the ocean and use it to make their shells. When the organism dies these shells collect on the ocean floor, and are formed into rocks over millions of years. this is a vital part of the carbon cycle that takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it under ground. The rocks we walked by are as old as the dinosaurs, and it’s not uncommon to find fossils there. The white chalk had crumbled into the sea making the water near the coast look an almost tropical blue, despite the snow.

My muddy shoes after the hike

My muddy shoes after the hike

Walking along this beach in the rain and snow, my classmates and I found that what looked like solid ground was often a mixture of mud and chalk from water runoff or a recent land slide. The tide was high, so as we tried to climb over these hills and dunes, we soon all found ourselves sinking up to our knees in mud!

At first I thought this was funny, but after a good 10 minutes of being unable to remove my foot, picturing myself waking the next 4 kilometers with no shoes, I began to panic. Luckily I wasn’t alone, and everyone made it through the day with no real damage (maybe a couple runny noses and some very muddy shoes).

By the end of the day we were pretty cold and miserable. But our professors took us for hot chocolate, and while we thawed out we realized that not only was our messy coastal hike through the snow a great bonding experience, but it was probably a once in a lifetime experience.

I think for me, even though this trip outside the city wasn’t what I expected, I was really glad for the change of scenery. Taking all the opportunities I can to see Denmark in different ways is exciting, but I have to risk being out of my comfort zone and getting a little dirty.

View all posts by Ingrid

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