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My unforgettable summer
Last spring, I accepted an internship in Vermont for the summer break, where I would spend several months working for an outdoor organization as a backcountry caretaker and a member of their trail crew. This felt like a great opportunity for me, and I was thrilled to have committed to my first-ever internship.
However, a few weeks into the summer, my confidence in the decision to come to Vermont had definitely changed. I found myself immersed in an environment that was totally different from what I was used to. The remote backwoods of Vermont were a far cry from the familiar and supportive atmosphere of my small college community. However, it wasn’t the isolated location or the demanding physical labor—hauling rocks, digging holes, and building staircases—that made the experience so trying for me. I found the greatest challenge to be my social interactions with my fellow workers.
My co-workers on the trail crews were all in their mid 20s—at least five or six years older than I—and had a “work hard, party harder” mentality. They were certainly knowledgeable, hardworking, and friendly on the trail, but I soon found out that alcohol was the main form of recreation for these crews. In fact, when I first arrived for the summer, an alcohol-soaked party was already in full swing. My co-workers welcomed me as a potential drinking buddy, but their inclusiveness quickly turned to indifference when I told them I chose not to drink. I began to feel like an outsider, and even found myself excluded from conversations. Every weekend, I was left to my own devices while the rest of the crew drank heavily. It was enough to make me feel desperately lonely and discouraged.
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About the author
Steve Bailey is a junior at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. He enjoys graphic design, poetry, hiking, and camping.
Cicely Gallagher, Madelon Maupin, David Thorburn-Gundlach, Virginia Stopfel
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Name removed by request
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