Contradictions

As each day passes I am approaching the end of my stay in this island of paradise. To say that I am feeling sentimental about this chapter of my life ending, is an understatement. I don’t know where to start because I can easily contradict what I say with another thought. For example, I am thankful for all the experiences I have had in Puerto Rico. I got lost in Old San Juan, explore and watch monkeys in a forest in Cabo Rojo,  enjoy the beautiful bioluminescent bay in Parguera, celebrate Oktoberfest in Bavaria, jump from old ship docks at Crashboat, Aguadilla, celebrate a beautiful wedding in Mayagüez, and not to mention sunbathe in various beaches. However, I was not able to travel to as many places as I would have enjoyed to go. I  failed to visit the caves, go zip lining, explore the Yunque rain forest, and see many Puerto Rican cities. It did not take many days to live here to realize that it is necessary to buy/rent a car in order go to places; because the public transportation here is non-existent and nagging your local friends only works a few times. I cannot blame them, for they have lived here their entire lives and have many more years to visit the places they have not yet seen, whereas I have until December 22 to do so. This is why I always tell myself that it is necessary to do as much as possible in a country that I am visiting because I would rather be content with what I have done than regretting the experiences that I failed to complete. Before traveling I always tell myself that this is a one in a lifetime experience, and I do not know if I would be able to return again. By convincing myself of this uncertainty, it helps my motivation to adventure as much as possible.

Being an exchange student also brings in another factor. In reality, I came here to study and perfect my Spanish. I should be giving school my first priority, not traveling. However, what is the point of doing an exchange program, if the entire time you are stuck in school or your apartment? It is a fine balance that I feel so many people struggle with when they go on exchange. As I look back on my entire semester, I can admit that there are multiple instances where I should have focused on my school career and failed to do so. Because I did come to Puerto Rico to help my knowledge in another language, I luckily do not need just a classroom to accomplish this. As I am sitting and writing this I can say that my Spanish has improved since I have been here. Sometimes it has been difficult because so many people start speaking in English because they can see that I either have difficulty speaking in Spanish or that I have said a word in the conversation because I am spending the entire time translating. I enjoy that they speak to me in English because it is a lot easier talking in my native tongue; however I did not come to Puerto Rico to do so.

Overall, Puerto Rico has treated me well. Although I cannot wait to see my family at home and see my friends I have abandoned, I will be very sad leaving this island. It will forever be a part of my life, for it has given me so much. I knew coming here I would have an experience of a lifetime, however I am pretty sure I didn’t expect it to be this great. This only makes me crave to be finished with school so I can travel even more.

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Second Time Traveling?!

I have not traveled many places before coming to Puerto Rico, but the places I have gotten an experience to travel to (outside of mainland USA) are Costa Rica (6 months) and Nicaragua (2.5 weeks.) I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to say I have been to these beautiful places and hopefully my travels will not end anytime soon.

As I was preparing to come to Puerto Rico I was mixed with many emotions (and no it is not because I am a female.) Meeting new people, adventuring to new places, eating/trying new food, the thrill of it all are what I absolutely love about traveling. As time progressed to my departure date, I started realizing I was experiencing more anxiety rather then what I should be…excited. Considering that this was not only my second time leaving Colorado but also when I left for Costa Rica I only felt excited, it did not make sense to me that I was so anxious. As I laid in my bed countless nights (due to insomnia) I realized I was scared due to the fact it wasn’t going to be the same. It wasn’t going to be Costa Rica, I wasn’t going to have the two best friends, it wasn’t USAC, I don’t know who my roommate is, it just was not going to be the same. To be completely honest it took me a couple days to admit that I was even experiencing this problem. I kept saying to myself, “You knew it wasn’t going to be the same,” “You say you like traveling, but your scared of going to Puerto Rico.” and it kept going on and on.

On top of the argument taking place in my head, I had spent less time packing and more time in preparing for my trip by buying things (shower necessities, sunblock, etc.) Typically I would say doing both is very beneficial because if you spend too much time packing it is worthless because you are bound to forget something and if you buy too little then you have to go to the grocery store a lot. I have heard various people from both Costa Rica and Puerto Rico say they have wished they brought more things from home once the first month rolls by. However, there is an amount that is NOT ok. I was so confident that my both of my suitcases were under 50lbs, it hit me like an unexacting bat to the face to when I got to Denver International Airport and both weighed around 80lbs. Luckily, I was about 2.5 hours early and my flight was at night so it was almost deserted. Thus meaning, it was a lot easier to frantically go through my bag and determine on the spot what I needed and didn’t need while occasionally looking up at the people working and the people in line giving me the “I pity you” stare.

Now I am sitting here in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico in my apartment, right next to my roommate (who I absolutely adore) and I have LOVED everyday I am here! It has reminded me to why I absolutely love traveling and makes me crave to do more!

My tips for future travelers who are planning another excursion:

  • It is ok to be nervous when traveling even if you have gone somewhere before. You are only human, and if the place you are going to is completely foreign to you, you have a right to be nervous. People are naturally very unsettled about the unknown.
  • What ever you do, DO NOT compare. It will only end in disaster and will only promote bad thoughts and experiences.
  • Make sure to pack light but not too light. You don’t want to be like me in the airport but you also don’t want to come here realizing you only have two pairs of underwear either.
  • It is normal to be nervous and excited at the same time, although it is rather confusing at times.
  • Try to not overthink, everything tends to get more complicated when you over analyze.
  • Everything will be just fine, and just remember to have fun!

Until next time mis amores! I hope this helped!

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Puerto Rico

Today marks the eleventh day I have been on this beautiful island, and the more time that passes, the more I do not want to return home. However, that is not possible..so I will enjoy my time here while it lasts (which will be very easy.) For those who do not know, I am studying in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico for the Fall semester of 2015.

When I first arrived to Puerto Rico, I was experiencing a bit of culture shock. I found this rather surprising because I had lived in Costa Rica for six months in the year before. I think this occurred because Puerto Rico is a latin island but at the same time there is a lot of American influence here. For example, there are signs in Spanish and then on the same sign there is the English translation, or the fact there is Burger King and Church’s chicken located in many areas in the city I am currently living in. However at the same time there are so many differences. But like I kept chanting to myself on the plane to Puerto Rico, “I CAN NOT COMPARE!”

The people here are amazingly nice. They speak rather fast with a thick accent so it makes understanding them rather difficult at times. Sometimes when they realize I am not a Spanish speaker they will resort to english, which I love and hate, because all I want to do here is learn Spanish not practice my English. The last program I did was through USAC (which is amazing for people who leave the country the first time and don’t speak another language well.) This time I went through NSE and I am so glad because I am WAY more immersed in the community and language here. There are only 5 Americans here, which makes it necessary to speak Spanish to communicate with everybody in the exchange program. Also I am enrolled in classes that only speak Spanish. With being here for only eleven days I am already thinking way more in Spanish and find it hard to put my brain back into English. Which makes writing this even more entertaining because I want to say some words in English and Spanish…One would say I am currently perfecting my Spanglish haha.

It is a bit difficult because I currently do not have any internet at my apartment because internet companies down here want you to be involved for an entire year and not just a semester (which makes sense.) This makes doing any homework difficult and makes my motivation to complete it, very low. At the same time I like not having that much connection to the internet and keeping more to myself rather then always being on the phone.

I feel as if I have so much to say and explain, and I don’t know where to begin or end.  I want to talk about how different everything is and how beautiful is but there are so many that I would be writing for many hours everyday..

But I will end my rant on this note,, Puerto Ricans are amazing people and they remind me why I love traveling because if you are open to meeting people and getting out of your comfort zone, one can meet so many great people and have countless adventures! IMG_4816IMG_4833

PS. I know I am not that great of a writer however I do hope I can convince/inspire somebody out there to travel/study abroad. It is the best decisions I have ever made and I know it is hard and scary (The first time I ever left the US was when I went abroad to Costa Rica and I am the only one of my family to do so.) but I promise it is an experience of a lifetime!