At 2 am on 20 August, I finished packing my duffle bag. I layed down in bed, and at 3:30 am my alarm went off. It was my typical alarm sound—the fire alarm that comes stock on each iPod and iPhone. At 6 am, I boarded my flight out of Albany, NY. Fast forward a few more hours, and you will see me walk off my flight from Atlanta, GA to Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Packing situation, 20 August 2012, 2 am.
Packing situation #2. 20 August 2012, 2 am.
First group photo. 21 August 2012.
That was just over 3 months ago. 3 months. Today, I sit in front of my computer in Managua, Nicaragua, two countries away from Guatemala. In between, we have experienced the realities of El Salvador as well. As a group we have come together, and made friendships and connections that will last long after we part ways early Saturday morning. Furthermore, I have grown as an individual. My world view has been expanded, my values have been challenged and reconsidered. At the same time though, I’ve become hungry once again. I’ve become hungry to learn more, to want to see more of the world. My curiosity has been unleashed, and I know that this experience in Central America is only the beginning. The 13 other students I have shared this trip with since 20 August have opened themselves up to me, and have loved me, and I hope they have received the same in return. This semester has not exactly been easy; patience was tested, original sentiments and thoughts were turned up-side down. All in all, we have come to be more well-rounded people, we have seen and lived a different reality.
On Saturday, I will head to Masaya with my group-mate, Anna. Others will be headed back to the States; one will be on a bus to Costa Rica; another to the city of Granada; and another to a small community on the outskirts of Granada.
The transition back to the United States is something that conjures up apprehension for me. How will I truly respond to returning back to the States? What will it be like to go from being part of a group of 14, quickly to just myself. Only time will tell.
In my personal reflection for the class and my teachers today, I rambled on about how I am very confused and simply not sure how to articulate everything that I have experienced in the past 3 months. I certainly walked in circles with my words, repeating that I simply don’t know, a number of times. I know that I have been changed by this semester, everyone that we have met, everything that I have experienced, and by those in my group. That, I am certain. How I can express that impact, remains to be seen. It may take weeks, or even months. I showed a photo of my bed that I had taken while I packed for this semester. The person that I was on 20 August, is not the same person that is typing this blog post that you have been reading.
I will carry this experience with me. I will return to these thoughts and concerns once I have had time to process the multitude of experiences that I have encountered. Until then, thank you to all who have made it possible for me to have gone on this semester abroad, especially my parents; and for those in my group—until we meet again.