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Junior to Spend Four Months Hiking Through Europe on Pottruck Treadmills


Photo by Supremenutrition / CC BY 2.0

Matt Carpenter (W ‘21) had tears in his eyes when he said goodbye to his parents and friends last week. He wasn’t sure he was ready for an entire semester alone in Europe hiking the foot trails of the Alps. But when the time came, Carpenter had to finally go.

After kissing his girlfriend Vanessa goodbye, Carpenter turned on the treadmill in Pottruck and began his slow, slow hike. He selected Lyon, France as a starting point and looked back at his girlfriend, now crying too as she walked out of the gym. “Bonsoir mon amour,” he murmured under his breath.

While, at first, the culture shock was a bit much to handle, Carpenter quickly adjusted to his new normal. He’d wave at fellow hikers as they walked by him on the screen and try to converse. They never responded.

Occasionally, Carpenter’s friends have spotted him on the treadmill and try to talk to him, but he never answered.

“I’m worried for the guy,” his friend Tommy Chaplin (W '21) said. “He’s gotten totally lost in the countryside. He’s been freaking out and trying to get directions but he doesn’t speak the language.

While Carpenter might be struggling to find his way in France now, soon enough he will be back home with stories to tell about his epic semester in Europe.