How can I possibly attempt to put these last four months of living in Mexico into words? Neither words nor pictures can come close to doing this experience justice. As I rack my brain in search for the most adequate and correct adjectives to describe this semester, I can’t help but feel a aching sense of heaviness, anxiousness, and emptiness in my chest when I think about leaving this experience and life here behind; however, I also feel a strong love and fondness for this severely underrated country that has been my home since January. When Saturday morning comes, and we board our bus to Mexico City at 3:00 am, I know I’ll deny this harsh reality of leaving and hold back my tears as much as I can. I’ll do my best not to break down when we say goodbye to our Mexican dad Ricardo, when we leave our home in Celaya to go to the airport, when I board my separate flight and say good-bye to the incredible girls that I’ve lived with, made irreplaceable memories with, struggled to communicate to the locals with, enjoyed tacos and empanadas and elotes with, had movie nights with, complained about our always-broken apartment with, and with whom I’ve been able to go through this unbelievable experience with. Side note: I love you girls very much.
Even though I am ready to go back to America, the nagging pain in my chest still remains when I think of going back home. I think back to the beginning of the semester– meeting my girls for the first time, driving to our apartment through the dark streets of our city and finally being in Mexico after months of anticipation, receiving lunch for the first time and being proud of myself because I was able to partially communicate with the delivery man, having our teaching meetings, going on our first weekend trip to San Miguel de Allende– and it all just seems so far away. The beginning of the semester had such a completely different feel than this point in our semester has now.
We’ve gotten comfortable trying to speak in Spanish to the locals, we’ve gotten used to the bus system and finding our way around new cities, we know the foods we absolutely love and the foods we definitely do not (ahem, menudo), we know the way around our city, we’ve grown accustomed to the way we’ve been living here, and this place has never felt more like home.
Four months in China was extremely transformative for me and genuinely changed my life and myself as a person. When I came to Mexico, I feared it wouldn’t live up to what I experienced in China. I feared that I wouldn’t grow or change or that it wouldn’t have the profound effects that my previous semester abroad had on me. I can’t see any changes from where I am at now, but when I look back to where I was at in the beginning of this semester, I can feel and notice a great change. My experiences here were also just as great as my experiences in China. Here in Mexico, I’ve gotten to snorkel, lay on beaches, parasail, swim in the ocean, go dancing, lounge in hot springs, practice my Spanglish, eat freaking amazing and authentic tacos, swim with dolphins, make temporary friends from people all over the world and all over Mexico, ride mules, rappel, and zip-line– most of all these experiences are things that I didn’t even think about taking part in when I thought about coming to Mexico. As an individual, I’ve been able to exercise my leadership skills and decision making. I’ve improved in self-confidence, independence, and competency. Due to circumstances outside of being in Mexico specifically, this semester I’ve still been able to become less dependent, realize my own worth, know what I deserve out of life and deeply appreciate those people that truly love me and are always there for me– my family and friends.
I’ve said before that deciding to come to Mexico was a split decision. The head teacher spot to go to my first choice of the Dominican Republic was taken, but they still had a spot for Mexico. I couldn’t be more grateful that I came here instead. I can’t imagine my life having never experienced the things that I have this past semester with my girls and the friends I’ve met while here. Thank heavens that my home in southern Arizona shares qualities similar to Mexico: Mountains, cactus, mouth-watering Mexican food, and Spanish-speaking individuals. I’ve been able to understand and appreciate the true Mexican part in my Mexican-American culture so much more and get a long glimpse into where my family originates from.
I am absolutely in love with Mexico. Despite the fact that I’m eager to return to Arizona for the summer, I will still miss this place and my time here with every single ounce of my being and I know for a fact that a piece of my heart will be left here in Mexico when my flight takes off on Saturday.