January 31, 2022
Hello there, readers!
I’ll be in Croatia tomorrow, and I’m quite thrilled and relieved, but let me explain why. Because there are roughly 300 students on the ship and the virus may be very contagious, we must get tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis while on Semester at Sea. I was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID; therefore, I had to quarantine for five days to be safe. It wasn’t easy, but all the students here understand that we must make some sacrifices for this program to continue.
Movies were the only source of distraction. It wasn’t easy, especially on the third day. I wrote a little reflection about loneliness while being insolated:
“Although studying abroad may be a great experience, it can also be overwhelming. In my case, I am not confined to a single nation. Every 7-10 days, I travel to a different port. It’s hectic, and even though I’m surrounded by people, I sometimes feel alone.
I believe myself to be an independent individual. I’ve traveled before, and I’m also an international student. I was born in the United States but raised in Mexico. I am familiar with culture shock but being in this boat for some reason makes me continuously concerned about what other people think of me or whether I am doing the correct thing. Whenever I’m in my cabin, I wonder to myself, “Ruth, why aren’t you socializing? Is there something wrong with you that keeps you confined to your cabin? When I’m outdoors, I wonder to myself, “Seriously, why are you so wanting to belong? Simply go to your cabin and relax.” My mind tricks on me. I feel like a little hamster racing around in circles in a cage.
I went to the first meeting of the mindfulness group a few days ago. We played a game where we closed our eyes and clapped whenever we related to a question asked. One of the questions was, “clap if you have felt loneliness at least one time while being on this voyage?” I swear I could hear most, if not all, of the attendees, clapping. People were discussing their ideas after playing the game, and I understood that I am not the only one afraid of leaving my cabin, socializing with others, or feeling like I don’t fit in.
My experience with the mindfulness group taught me that my feelings are normal. Semester at Sea is like a roller coaster ride because we encounter a wide range of emotions. We may feel fantastic one day and not so great the next, yet it is important to acknowledge our emotions in order to manage them better. I want to prove to myself that I can manage my anxiety. This will not be easy, but I am confident it will be worthwhile. Following this experience, I will show to myself that it is occasionally alright to be alone, and I believe I will value a more peaceful time to meditate and reflect on what I am grateful for.”
I wanted to share this observation with you since anxiety has been a problem. Even though studying abroad is an incredible opportunity, sometimes we can’t avoid feeling alone. We are experiencing so many things and changes, and it is hard to find a place of belonging; however, you are not the only one experiencing this :)
(The following pictures are from my time being isolated. Like I said before, I didn’t do much. Just watch movies and try to distract myself in any way).