It’s officially been two weeks since I have arrived here in Oaxaca, Mexico. It feels like I’ve been here for months! I wish I can say I have became comfortable here in my new environment but that would be untrue. The truth about the study abroad is that you never really become comfortable; you just learn to overcome the hills. You learn to adapt because it is truly a matter of life and death.
For example, this entire week I have experienced an upset stomach and constant diarrhea from the food here. At first, I was very sad because my stomach wouldn’t allow me to truly immerse myself into the culture. I felt like I was missing out on so much because of my health so you know what I decided to do? Adapt to my environment. I bought anti diarrhea medicines so before I eat, I take a pill to ensure that I won’t become sick. I quickly became use to the food so much so that I rarely have to take medicine before I eat. While taking medication constantly wasn’t something I was comfortable with, I realized that in order to make the best of my time here I had adjust my level of comfort.
Another hill that I’m trying to overcome is the language barrier. While my Spanish is becoming increasingly stronger, I still struggle in confidence when speaking it to locals. I worry that I’m pronouncing something and they misinterpret what I meant. However, instead of letting this beat me, I’ve been forcing myself to practice speaking so that I could receive feedback to be stronger. Although I prefer speaking in my native tongue, I had to quickly realize that my new environment required something else from me.
This week I was able to really enjoy the beauty and culture of this country. On Wednesday, I attended a really popular salsa dance class. It was so much fun to learn something new and to actually be good at it! The music brought over a new attitude and perspective over me. It made me feel special to be able to study abroad and explore a new culture. It made me realize that the hills we face in life are all perception based. If I see the hills as impossible to overcome, they will always be in my way. However, if I see the hills as something challenging but not impossible to overcome, I am able to find alternative solutions to overcome it. I used this brand new mindset to inspire the local children that I volunteer with to continue to study hard and to never stop chasing their dreams. Their smiles and well wishes are my primary motivation to keep striving, to overcome these hills.