‘Conquer new horizons’ was the theme for this year’s convocation at VinUni where faculties and students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and look for new challenges. These new challenges can be something big such as founding a club or starting a new business, or it can just be some small activities that we have never tried before. With that spirit in mind, Tra and I kicked off our new semester with a new and exciting sport: in-house rock climbing.
A spontaneous decision
I major in Computer Science and Tra major in Hospitality Management. We have known each other since the National Defense Education bootcamp but have not got many chances to hang out with each other. One day, I came across Tra’s post on Facebook about her trip in Ho Tay and felt amazed. Tra seemed to be an active and confident person, which made me admire her. I asked her if she was interested in trying out rock climbing with me because I thought it would be exciting for both of us. So we set a day and searched for an in-house rock climbing club in Hanoi.
The climbing house was located at 98 To Ngoc Van, Hanoi and was about 18 km from campus. As soon as we stepped in the house, we were in awe. Rocks in various shapes and colors covered all over the walls, and amidst the place was a gigantic artificial cliff that stretched from the ground to the top of the building. The cliff was so tall that we had to tilt our chins up to have a complete view of it. But the thing I liked most about the place was the atmosphere, where everyone seemed so energetic and cheerful.
Together with some dancing music in the background, the sounds of people chatting and cheering each other while climbing vibrated through my ears and got me excited. I felt like a child filled with exhilaration in front of a new toy once again.
First time to conquer a cliff
Climbing was no ordinary experience. It requires special safety equipment such as a harness and a pair of climbing shoes, available for renting at the club. Then there a climbing rope went through a fixed pulley at the top of the cliff and attached me with my personal climbing coach to make sure that I would not fall to the ground while climbing.
Despite having checked all of the safety practice, Tra and I were still nervous as this was the first time we tried climbing. We were advised to put our hands and feet only on the yellow rocks and stay away from the red ones which would require more serious climbing skills.
Tra started first and seeing how challenging climbing could be made me thrilled to start. I climbed through a bunch of rocks and the start was smooth. It was until one third of the cliff that my struggles began as I could not find any yellow rocks to put my feet on and the higher rocks were so out of my reach. I was hanging in the middle of the cliff with my hands clung onto the rocks as my arms started to burn. I struggled to secure a stable position on the small piece of rocks sticking out from the cliff. Felt like I would fall off the cliff the moment I stop trying. The longer I held on to the rocks the more exhausted I was.
I was going to give up on this first try but the coach insisted on my ability to carry on. “Only look forward, don’t look down. Try to put both of your feet on the rock on your left side”, he guided. The rock that he mentioned was so small that I thought I could barely step one foot on, let alone both of my feet. But I tried anyway. Instead of using my whole foot, I put only the tip of my toes on the spot, securing a fixed posture with my feet on the small rock. I did what I thought was impossible. After securing a firm position, I grasped some fresh air, shifted my center of gravity and reached out for the next handrail. Being more confident in my ability, I anchored myself to the cliff, nailing from rocks to rocks until I reached the peak. Conquering the cliff for the first try was something I never thought I could. It was such an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
Dare to explore the new horizons
It is said that in order to conquer new horizons, we must have the audacity to explore first. But stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be scary, especially if you are doing it alone. I would have not reached the peak without the support and belief of the coach. Or I would have not tried rock climbing in the first place without the company of Tra. The support of others can act as a safety net that encourages us to try new things. Just like the safety equipment keeps me from falling to the ground, these social supports lift my spirit and push me when I falter in my belief.
I was glad to be a VinUnian surrounded by a supportive community of faculties and students here at VinUni. A community full of open-minded and courageous people who are always ready to join me in the quest for conquering new challenges. Like the way Tra quickly accepted my odd invitation for rock climbing despite being unfamiliar to the sport. Looking back on the last two years at the university, I have been experiencing more than I did in high school. I have learned to play badminton, to cook, to run and to climb the rock, all with the help and support of wonderful VinUnians.
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