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Gap Year Abroad

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those days pushed into a box in the attic

February 27, 2015 (10 months ago)

“…But, I’m forgetting that there are going to be days where I want to talk in English – with people that know my slang words and inside jokes.  I’m going to want to crash in a room where I feel completely comfortable and have days to myself.  I’m going to want to drive and eat normal food and maybe even go to school where I am comfortable in my routine.  I’m going to wish I was with my family in a house with my phone and computer.  I am so comfortable in the life I have in Brookhaven, a little too comfortable I think.  Nothing is really challenging me here.  I am so grateful for tons of people in my life that I learn from everyday, but I need a change of way and change of pace.  I need to be pushed outside of my comfort zone, into situations where I’m not always going to be happy.   I’m not going to want to get on that bus for an hour every morning and work hard and have kids relying on me to teach them.  I’m not going to want to wake up early.  And there will be days where I will want to be back home because that is the easy way of life.  But, a life that’s beautiful is not usually easy.  I’m going to go to that orphanage everyday because it is going to form me into something that I can’t even grasp right now.  I am fully going through with this for not a single reason, but a feeling.  A feeling that is what is right for me.  And, I have no idea how it will go, who I will be after, or what the effects will be.  But, I do know that it is the right choice for me, and I’m going to discover some amazing people and some amazing things about myself.  In a little more than a year, I will have lived in a country without Americans for an extended period of time, speaking my second language.  I will have seen and done some extraordinary things.  And, I have no doubt that I will have made some lifelong connections that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  This could easily be the most important year of my entire life.  If that isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.”


November 15, 2015 12:56 am

One thing that I pondered before I left for Chile, but could never fully accept, was the fact that I won’t be living in a fairytale.  I’m not on vacation; every day is not full of adventure and travel and bliss.  Maybe I post the pictures on Instagram of my amazing adventures to waterfalls, islands, geysers, and nearby cities and countries.  Maybe I write blog posts about my amazing friends and family and my crazy adventures through Chilean deserts.  Maybe those things are very very real, and amazing, and memories and experiences that I cherish.  But, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t days nearly as glamorous.  In fact, I have had plenty of days quite the opposite.  Some lonely, lazy, upset, tearful, and average days.  When you live somewhere for six months, there’s no getting around that word “live.”  I live here, just like I live anywhere else.  I’ve had days where I am so tired that I have not gotten out of my bed once.  I have been sick.  I’ve had a fever, I have a cold, I’ve had to skip class.  I have had days where I feel like I’m doing everything wrong.  I have had days where I can’t understand a word of Spanish, and nothing makes sense.  Those usually follow a day where I feel like I’ve really improved my fluency (jokes on you!).  I have had days where all I want is to be sitting in my basement with a group of my friends, eating candy, fighting over what movie we’ll watch, chatting about life.  I definitely have had days where I’ve cried, and I’ve gotten a hug.  But, I’ve also had a few days where I’ve cried with no one there to know or understand.  I’ve had days where I don’t want to get up at 6 A.M.  and go on that bus for an hour.  And, I’ve had many a day where I want to get in my car instead of waiting for public transportation (I’ll always love you, micros).

I’m not saying all of this because my life is hard here.  I’m saying this because life is hard anywhere.  And, moving to another country does not cure that, does not prevent bad days.  So, I decided to give my attention to those days, because they are of value too.  Those days that are stuck in between the cracks on the sidewalk, pushed into a box in the attic.  Those are the days that I’m not telling my friends from home about, not how I answer, “How is Chile?!”  They are not what I’m posting on Facebook about.  But, again they’re of value. Because it’s through those days, I’ve learned to appreciate my car, my community at home, my family.  I have seen my patience grow through those days, my ability to change plans, my need for rest, and my realization that I’m not invincible.  And in the end, I am living in Valparaíso; I have gotten to experience good days and bad days in Chile.  And that’s what makes those not-so-glamorous days so very worth it.


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