The End Is Near
Next week is my last week teaching at UPTC as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Tunja. Next week is also my ten monthiversary in Colombia. I’ll be leaving soon after I finish teaching because the value of the US dollar has shot up drastically, preventing me from spending more time traveling here, but that is not the focus of this post.
Ever since I went to Spain, I have wanted to live and work abroad through Fulbright. Even after submitting my application, it felt like a dream that was beyond my reach. Now, I’ve done it. I am about to become a Fulbright alumni and return to the USA to finish my studies. Sometimes, when dreams finish (as they are supposed to), one is left feeling a bit sad or disappointed. I don’t feel that way though. I’m sad to leave Colombia, obviously (I’ve already written about that though), but I am not sad to be finishing my time with Fulbright. It was a fantastic experience, but I am ready for the next part of my journey in life.
I remember talking to a dear friend in Atlanta early last year. We were probably sitting in a hipster coffee bar drinking overpriced lattes. I remember telling her that I felt that the following school year (2014-2015) was going to bring huge changes in my life. I told her I wasn’t sure what those changes were going to be, but I was confident they were going to happen. Soon after, I received notification of my acceptance as a Fulbright grantee.
This past year has brought so many changes and new experiences to my life although not all of them are due to living abroad. I watched the Harry Potter series for the first time. I took a total of 8 flights in less than two months.I designed class materials. I went to a hospital where nobody spoke English. I took to drinking Chai tea in the morning because it reminded me of home. I found love 4,000 miles away from me. I slept in a place with bedbugs and then poured boiling water over my clothing to make sure I wasn’t taking them home. I accidentally called trash cans “rear ends” in Spanish until my roommate kindly corrected me. I conducted research. I learned to run at an altitude of 9,000 feet. I cut my hair short in a place where most women have hair down to their rear ends. I poured salt all over my room because I thought I had fleas. I rented a washing machine for the day and had it delivered to me on the back of a motorbike. I took a street puppy to class one time. I bathed in hot springs by a waterfall. I learned to drink agua de panela with lime for a sore throat. I took my first taxi by myself (and so many more after that). This week, I will be leading a talk on literature and blues in Spanish.
Some of these changes have been big, while others are small in comparison. That being said, I don’t think size and significance have much correlation. This year has brought many changes, but some things are the same. I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up. I am back to stressing over what classes to take next and how to pay for housing next semester. I am now confident that I love teaching though, and I have realized that living abroad is fantastic but it really isn’t all that different from living in my own country. There are amazing, wonderful and beautiful places, people, and experiences everywhere. It’s just up to me to find them.