By: Dan Harrison
Calgary is a mid-sized town in the foothills of Alberta, One Canadian Province east of the Pacific. To the west, our horizon is dominated by the towering Rockies, with enormous slopes of scree, limestone, and snow. To the east, prairies and farmland stretch to eternity. It’s a beautiful spot, built on the winding Bow River, just a few days downstream from the Bow Glacier. We have world class climbing, skiing, hiking; everything you could possibly imagine in the outdoors. A few weeks before I left, I hiked Mount Bogart, which stands at an impressive 10,000 feet. At its peak, I could see more mountains than I was able count or hope to climb in a lifetime. I’m so fortunate to have access to that playground, and I’m proud to call it home.
For all this, it was easy to be dismissive of Plymouth, New Hampshire. Why would I leave this outdoor paradise for a place I had never known, or even seen in person? I couldn’t know what an incredible community I would find nestled in these White Mountains. And yes, I now concede that they are in fact mountains. One 8-mile hike up Mount Moosilauke convinced me. I wore running shoes and brought a single bag of trail mix. How could Moosilauke compare to Bogart? But, once again, New Hampshire proved me wrong. The hike beat me down, but the view was amazing. So were the people I met on the trail, and the friends I was hiking with, who I had met only a few months prior. And my favorite part? I wasn’t looking out at a strange landscape. I could see Franconia Notch, where I would train with the ski team in the winter. I could see Burke, Vermont, where I had gone camping only a few weeks prior. When people on the trail asked where I was from, I told them I was from Plymouth State.
Since arriving here in August, I’ve felt nothing but welcome. I’ve found my people on the ski team, in the climbing club, and in the English program. Every person has been proud to share what they have found here. I’ve skied at Mittersill, where many other NCAA teams train. I discovered Rumney, one of the best East Coast climbing crags. I learned how supportive our English department is, met professors like Liz Ahl and Abby Goode, who love the students as much as the material. What draws us together is not only our shared interests, but our overwhelming pride in this small college town and the places around it. We all come from different places: Montreal, Vancouver, Spain, Belgium, but also Manchester, Concord, and Rhode Island. At heart, we never leave those places, but we also engulf ourselves in the community here. I’m proud to call Plymouth home.
My parents came to visit me in October. What I remember most clearly, and what will stick with me, is how much I wanted to share with them. I felt like a tour guide: here’s Rumney, Artist’s Bluff, Monte Alto, the diner. Here’s where I live, and where I walk, and where I sit in the sun. All these places had been unknown to me months before, and now I felt a deep sense of pride and connection to them. I guess what I want to say is this: Plymouth has opened its arms to me. It’s not Canada, it’s something entirely different but equally special. All the apprehension I felt about coming here, the fear of the unknown, and what-if-I-don’t-like-it, and the distance from home, it’s all faded away.