Some Reflections After Two Months in Madagascar

In less than two weeks, I’ll board a plane, spend a lot of hours in the air and arrive home in California. It’s strange to think about returning to the U.S. It’s my home country, yet it’s such a different world from here.

I believe that once you have an experience where you learn and grow and stretch yourself, you can never go back to being exactly the person you were before.

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One Year Later, A Reflection On My Time In Germany

A year ago today, I wrote my first blog post on my personal blogging site Einstoss Abroad, and began the experience of a lifetime.

I knew then that I wanted to write a post a year later, comparing the reality of what it was like versus what I thought it would be like. So now that I’ve almost completed my abroad experience in Germany, I came up with the idea of taking my first blog post, and dissecting the post — piece by piece — and offering new commentary.

So here we go!

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Ecuador: Radiating Gratitude

I have observed a different world in just two months of working at a small ecotourism agency, and living completely immersed in the culture of Ecuador. The most important thing I’ve learned is to appreciate the small things.

A mentality that I plan on bringing home with me — and one that we could all benefit from adopting — is that of gratitude. Gratitude for mother earth, gratitude for our successes and gratitude for family.

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Thank You, Japan

Well, my stay in this country has ended.

I have to say that my life in Japan has been absolutely amazing. Though it definitely was not easy at first, I found that some of the most difficult things to do in life are the things that are worth doing. Being as introverted as I am, and having never even left my home state before, it was a big jump to travel across the world all on my own. Yet, I stepped over 5,000 miles outside my comfort zone to live in a country that — in almost every way — is completely opposite from mine.

For three and a half months.

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The Discovery of Meaningful Living through Cena, Antoni Gaudí

I had a melting pot of emotions before going international — this was my first time going abroad and “flying solo” (literally). I had no idea what to expect. All I had brought with me was a suitcase of comforts to remind me of home and the adequate ability to speak Spanish.

I was a bit uneasy and anxious at the thought of beginning this journey alone. However, as I touched down in BCN, all that fear had vanished.

I’ve been living in Barcelona for about a week and already I’ve been humbled by the culture that embraces me with hospitality, kindness and simplicity. If I’m keeping count of the number of touristic activities that served to educate me on the beautiful, unique qualities of Spanish culture, it is of considerable worth. Yet, as I truly reflect on processing the value hidden behind these excursions and my personal interactions with the natives of Barcelona, it carries even more significance.

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A Cultural Illumination in Justice

The recipe of a successful study abroad experience typically carries a checklist of core requirements: enthrallment in culture and society, academic captivation and meeting the right people.

You can have two out of the three and still call it a wonderful experience — but my personal list can go on, filled with checks that have made my study abroad experience one of the most memorable trips in my short but fruitful college career.

As a result, I am coming home with an extra beat and note to add to the incessant rhythm and melody of my life.

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Coming Home; The Biggest Culture Shock of them All

I’m now back home after what was an amazing, life changing experience in Thailand. I know that the people I met will be friends when I come back to San Diego for school and the life lessons I learned will stick with me forever.

After starting the program in Chiang Mai, we spent the remainder the last 5-6 days in Bangkok. Bangkok is, as my former JMS teacher would say, is an “entirely different animal.” Bangkok is much more populated than Chiang Mai and a lot more busy.

Every night the city streets would be bustling with street vendors and tuk tuks and taxi drivers.

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In the End, a New Beginning

I have been procrastinating on writing this last post, summing up my experiences while studying abroad in Haifa, Israel. It seemed so final, especially since I’ve been telling everyone to keep their eyes open for this post because I would be sure to put a kind word in for them. It just seemed so awkward, so absolute, so terminating. The last thing I wanted was to feel — or have any of the associations I made feel — was that this was it. The end.

It is not the end.

It is a new beginning.

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Salida: República Dominicana

“I’m not ready to go back,” I confess while advising Juana, whose wizened hands masterfully craft the petrified cocoa seeds and emblem made from bullhorn I’ve selected into an artful, organic necklace. Yet, I’m not gloomy about returning. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my identity as a leader and the intersections shared between Dominican and U.S. American culture.

I just want to spend more time encountering daily life.

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