12.28.2012

A Letter to Myself

one of the small assignments we did during our pre-departure orientation was to write a letter to ourselves about our thoughts, worries, wonders, hopes and goals for studying abroad to read and reflect on when we return in may. when first faced with the assignment i took a few minutes to stare blankly at my computer screen and ponder.
blink. 
blink. 
what did i really want to get out of my experience? how could i face my emotions for the first time and give thought to what i'm feeling?
so i tried putting all of this jumbly nonsense into words. and i did! and it actually felt rather terrific to do so. and relieving. yes, wow! and so here it is! i can't wait to look back on this this summer and smile and sigh and giggle and maybe even cry a little? a happy cry, of course. {i hope}.
Dear Summer of 2013 Self,
          It’s November 20, 2012, and in exactly two months I will be jetting across the continent to begin an experience of a lifetime. I’m scared. I know deep down somewhere within me there are little cells bursting with excitement, but right now, they’re being outweighed by a tummy full of nerves and thoughts consumed by fear.
          I think one of my greatest fears as of late is just getting there. You know my lack of common sense can be rather extreme at times, and traveling (in a foreign country, ehem) is one of said times. I’m afraid of missing my family. What if I can’t be there for them and communicate with them like I can in the states? I also worry about the unknown, but I am just sure that once I step foot in Merida and can picture my new life there I will feel right at home, and you, you old experienced Merida local you, will look back at this and laugh.
          This study abroad adventure will aid both my academic and personal growth. When I found out that Dr. Mena was going to be traveling abroad with the Merida group of spring 2013, I knew I had no other choice but to go. Not only does Mexico give me the opportunity to fulfill my goal of becoming fluent in Spanish, I will be able to further pursue my degree in biology by taking the classes offered by Dr. Mena (who is fluent in Spanish, by the way. Is it perfect, or is it perfect?) It will allow me to overcome that awkward limbo that I feel like I’m in with my Spanish speaking. Remember that feeling you had, about six months ago, where you could listen, read, and understand Spanish quite well, but when it came to speaking you turned into a bumbly, twitchy, uncomfortable, can’t-form-a-sentence-or-think-of-this-conjugation-to-save-your-life-how-do-you-say-hi-again kind of girl? (What’s that? You don’t remember what that feels like? Oh good. Good.) Well, I hope know you’ll overcome it. What an accomplishment that is.
          Most importantly, I hope I take advantage of the situation and make connections – connections with my peers and the other students occupying the Central house, connections with the locals and my host-family that turn into life-long friendships, greater connections with my faith, and stronger connections within myself. I expect that I will truly, truly find myself on this journey (and even though I believe I already have a pretty strong idea of who I am, I know that if I say that you, future reading-this-right-now Rachel is rolling her eyes and sighing, What a na├»ve little girl! She had so much yet to learn! So I will refrain from any additional thoughts on this here subject).
          I cannot wait for this adventurous expedition. I can’t wait to travel. To explore. To listen. To speak. To eat (a lot). To learn. To experience a new culture and traditions. To take lots of pictures. To be put out of my comfort zone. To create a new comfort zone. To sleep in a hammock. To adapt. To learn to not be afraid of fish or getting shanked. To sweat. To watch Spanish soap operas. To meet William Levy (fine, this isn’t guaranteed but he HAS been spotted in Merida, therefore I am DETERMINED – you better work on that future me!). To grow. To write all of this stuff down so I can relive it forever and ever.
          ¡Buena suerte!
                   Rachel

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