The trip is only just beginning and I can’t believe that I have 3 and a half months here. It still hasn’t sunk in that I am living in another country. Maybe it’s because I have become so used to traveling or maybe I just like the feeling of never being in the same place. It’s somewhat satisfying to live a mystery where you aren’t sure what tomorrow will bring.
It’s certainly a strange feeling being away. As each day passes your life doesn’t seem to change much, yet the others that are close to you back home are forever changing. When you return, everyone may seem different in a way. This is only because you’ve seen, heard, and experienced so much. It’s definitely an interesting thought.
I realized just the other day that while I’m living here I’ve become very detached from my original life. As president trump was inaugurated, I was enjoying life as a jungle warrior. While he is beginning his reign, I’m unaware of the things that he is doing until I intentionally look for them. I’m happy that I am able to live this way. I’m experiencing the country for what it is and not letting technology infringe on my trip. I check in with loved ones, post my pictures and stories and that’s the extent of it. I hope to bring this mindset back home with me.
Living in another country is never easy. There are plenty of obstacles that can hinder your experience if you let them. That’s the key, however, you need to keep an open mind and be ready for anything. The first biggest barrier will always be language (If it is a country that speaks another language). If you can’t communicate with others you will easily become frustrated and they will not know how to help you. It’s always best to at least learn the basics if you don’t have time to fully commit to the language. However, if you plan to travel there on your own, you need to learn a decent amount of the language to get around. Ecuador, for instance, still has a large indigenous population in some areas. You’ll want to make sure you can survive on your own. If you’re going there to learn the language, even better, submersion is the best way!
All the differences will begin to annoy you and homesickness will set in. The simple fact that people stand too close to you may start to get on your nerves. You need to remember that this is their culture. You are a guest here and they are showing you their ways. You have no place to judge right from wrong and therefore need to just roll with it. It will be difficult at times but you’ll end up appreciating all the differences in the end. Whether you enjoy the differences more than your home country or less, you’ll be thankful for the experience.
It’s difficult to be in a new place in general. If you’re anything like me, you’ve lived in the same place for most of your life and know your way around. When you go to a new country, you don’t know where you are or how to get where you are going. In most cases, google maps is less than helpful. It’s more helpful to use a map and use the road names. Don’t make it obvious that you’re a traveler though, it’ll make you a target for thieves.
Aside from the barriers, there’s plenty of amazing things about studying abroad. If you have the pleasure of living with a host family you’ll get used to them and become comfortable in the home. You’ll be able to go and talk about your day with them and just talk in general. I’ve noticed that I observe my family often in an effort to understand what they are saying. I’ve gotten very used to random Spanish songs being sung, as well as two adult Spanish women yelling even louder than usual over a card game. I’ve noticed that they speak very loudly sometimes and they like to use their hands to act things out even when they are not talking to me.
You need to be very adventurous throughout a trip. If you don’t try anything new, what’s the point of going? I try everything and anything. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m eating (Don’t worry, my host family wouldn’t feed me anything unsafe). Keep yourself safe and don’t do anything questionable. However, try all the new foods that you can. Every country specializes in different kinds of food. Take advantage of the new styles and try to learn a few recipes to bring home. Chances are, you won’t be eating that food again for awhile or ever.
Everything takes my breath away and seems overly fun. I went to the market today to look at stuff and ended up buying stuff because it was so gorgeous and the people were so friendly. The locals just want to make a living and love to barter with you. I love bartering and feeling like I got a deal on something. It’s fun to interact and laugh with them over little things.
It really is the little things in life that matter. When you’re abroad, your time will fly by. You need to make the most of every second and I intend to do just that. I worked long and hard hours throughout my summer and semester of school to pay for my trip. I intend to do and see as much as I possibly can.
Stay tuned for more, as always.
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