As I was getting adjusted to my program, and each of my classes, toward the end of the semester I realized that it wasn’t just academia that was having an impact on me but that I was also going to be profoundly influenced by many of the other exchange students. It then occurred to me that I should interview them so that Americans, and SDSU students specifically, get a glimpse of some exchange students from other countries as well as their lives, character, plans and future goals, stereotypes, etc.
Since as long as I can remember, it has always been a dream of mine to travel and explore Japan and, earlier this year, I found out that that dream of mine was soon to become a reality.
When I found out that I got accepted to study abroad in Japan for a semester, I was ecstatic. I could not contain my overflowing emotions of pure excitement and happiness. I had so many hopes and expectations for my study abroad experience in Japan, and I spent countless nights dreaming of the endless memories and adventures I would have in Japan. I thought that everything would be smooth sailing once I made my flight and landed in Japan. “The beginning of a new journey,” is what I thought when I stepped off that plane. And while it certainly is the start of a new journey in my life … it didn’t start off on the right foot.
I wanted to write briefly about a serious topic this week — the terrorist attack that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand.
On March 15, 2019, I was walking to the bus stop after school. There was a youth march happening to fight climate change, so there was even more hustle and bustle around town. I felt a sense of pride that these kids younger than me were fighting for such an amazing cause to better our future. As I was getting onto the bus, I got a text from my cousin saying there’s been a mass shooting in the South Island. My heart sank.
As most every student planning on studying abroad does, I intended on taking every advantage of my close proximity to travel destinations I had always dreamed of visiting. I was convinced I’d be able to drop all my schoolwork and catch the next flight out of London. I kept a list of almost 50 places I wanted to visit before the end of my semester abroad. I was blinded by the romance of exploring new places and ignorant to the amount of work and money it is to spend the weekend in an unknown city.
Art history + community organizing = Yaucromatic
Last weekend our exchange group took a tour through the streets of Yauco, a town also known as “El Pueblo del Café” because of its roots in coffee agriculture. After the destruction of Hurricane Maria in 2017, municipalities all over Puerto Rico were struggling to maintain their small businesses as they recovered. Local artists and dueños de empresas united with the conviction that “art is not only for museums, it is for the people” and formed the organization Arte Para Unir.
As of now, I am about a week away from officially having lived in Georgia for two full months. I will admit I still feel homesick. A few of my peers here who are also from SDSU’s San Diego campus are also homesick, so it’s normal to still feel this. I have three months left in my semester. I’m at the point in my semester here where you receive your first set of midterm grades and you realize how hard it is going to be.
Before leaving home, I was nearly dreading going abroad. I was extremely stressed out, anxious, emotional, and I doubted if I could even do it. I was going to miss my dog, my family, my home, my normal routine — the list goes on. The stress of having a “normal” study abroad experience loomed over me, above all.
This so-called “normal” study abroad experience that I am referring to is one in which you travel to a different country every weekend, go clubbing and bar hopping in foreign places, put school on the back burner and put your social life above all else. This is what I thought every study abroad experience was like, and I felt pressured that I had to live up to that.
Adventures, mishaps, “sweet as” finds are just a few words to describe my first three weeks in New Zealand.
My initial thoughts about studying abroad:
- Byyye San Diego.
- A semester abroad = cake.
- Send it!
Two distant worlds revolve around each other in the solar system of my being. From where I have come to where I will go, my soul shines light on them both. And now I know how to live in two places at once … by spreading my love. Deep in the heart of all Africans burns a light as bright as the sun, as bright as the land from which we come. This light is so bright that it heals my scars, only to reopen my wounds like a third eye to the truth: Our citizenship is our leadership, our leadership is our service, and our service is our love.
Love is the most powerful source of energy that this modern world lacks. Globally, my community is under attack … and so few feel a responsibility to change that. The few that do have transformed my entire worldview.