This is the final week of my study abroad trip to Oaxaca and I have so many mixed emotions. I remember back to when I first started this experience, I felt scared, nervous, and mostly excited. I was worrying about my classmates, homestay family, and my experience at the clinic. As I quickly found out, these were trivial things to worry about, and the real thing I should be concerned about is taking in every moment. In other words, to not be concerned with the past or counting down the days I have left in Oaxaca, but to live in the present.
Before I started this journey, I lived inside a bubble. I had never traveled outside the country before, let alone the tri-state area. My perspective on life was purely one dimensional and I had no idea what the world had to offer. That was one of the main reasons that I joined this study abroad program, so that I would have the opportunity to experience a different side of life. My first impressions of Oaxaca were that of intrigue and wonder; I became so fascinated with their lifestyle.
I have also had a lot of first-time experiences, some of which were completely unexpected. I left America for the first time, swam in the Pacific Ocean, saw wild dolphins and sea turtles, gave injections at a Clinic, took vitals, and saw breathtaking sites. I think one of the most important experiences that has happened to me in Oaxaca was seeing a baby boy born in the clinic. I never anticipated that I would be able to hold the hand of a mother giving birth. The experience was incredible, one that I will never forget. To be able to witness the first moments of someone’s life in this world was such a grounding experience. I was reminded of how precious and fragile life is. I am incredibly thankful for that experience.
There is another occasion that I will hold in my heart with pride. Before I start, I should mention that my Spanish skills when starting this trip were next to nothing. Thankfully, I have been taking Spanish three times a week in Oaxaca. Well, this week I went into the Zocalo (town center) alone, something that I have never done before. While I was there I managed to use my Spanish to change money for smaller bills, buy some books, and order some food. Towards the end of the day, I was reading and this older man comes up to me and tells me that he is a professor. In Spanish, we proceed to talk for a half an hour about several different topics ranging from his culture, Shakespeare, hippies, and Obama. Although I had to intermittently use a Spanish dictionary, I had never been so proud that I was able to communicate with a native speaker. Before starting this trip, I thought I was a lost cause when it came to learning and applying a new language. During the trip, I have heavily depended on those who speak Spanish to make my way around Oaxaca. For me to be able to go most of the day relying on my Spanish is a huge step for me in my life. I always thought that if I were to travel I would be limited by the language, because I thought I would never be able to pick up any language. It gives me so much hope and pride about my future to know that I can do things I put my mind too.
As the trip is coming to a close, I remind myself, as I said in the beginning, to live in the present moment. It is hard to not get upset when I think that I will be ending this journey shortly. But all things must change otherwise they would have no meaning or value. I hope with all my heart that someday I will be able to come back to Oaxaca, and I encourage anyone who is reading this to travel there. I have had an experience of a lifetime and have gained so many new experiences and perspectives on life. I want to thank Rutgers and Proworld for this amazing opportunity! Adios!