Into one country, and out of another. Inesha and I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.
I can distinctly hear the Rascal Flatts crooning that song, “He Ain’t the Leavin’ Kind“ (I can’t remember where I heard it first, but most likely blasting from Inesha’s room) and I can’t help but think about it now, as I picture the pile of boxes sitting innocently amidst the bare walls of our small suite storage room. Stuffed and stacked, they are alien to my now-empty dorm room.
It’s the start of the spring semester of my Junior year at Harvard. Deep breath.
But on Monday morning bright and early, I left. I left the hustle and bustle of a typical semester behind. I left my room empty and boxes stuffed. I left my friends and family and the Cambridge winter.
But here’s the thing–this time, everyone else is staying. Including Inesha.
I’ll be spending the spring term in Mexico as a Global Health in Equity Option (GHEO) Scholar. I’ll still be taking my Harvard classes while working with Partners in Health’s sister organization, Compañeros en Salud, in the beautiful and rural Sierra Madre region of Chiapas. And leaving though I may be, I’m terribly excited about all of it.
It’s been hard to explain this experience to my friends and classmates because, after all, this program really is quite the newcomer on the “study abroad” scene. I think the technical term for it is “sorta studying abroad” :) It’s my chance to explore the field that I want to go into via both my books and my feet.
I know, I know, I won’t drink tap water and I’ll keep my money in multiple different places. I’ll have all of the emergency contacts written down both in my phone and in my travel notebook. I’ll call or text whenever I get cell reception just to let you know that I’m OK. I reassure my mom of all of that. But when I try to squint into the future and imagine what I’ll be thinking and writing three months from now, I feel both excited and scared because in my heart, I know that I ain’t the leaving kind. The traveling kind, maybe. The sitting-and-staying-for-a-while kind, always. But the leaving kind?
No, that’s just not me. Even as I think about the countries I’ve visited and the people I’ve been blessed to meet during these past 2.5 years, I know I’ve never viewed my travels with the idea that entry into one place inevitably means exit out of another. I realize now that this was because everyone else around me was moving too. My friends and roommates and sister would scatter to different parts of the country and the world as the summer months set in and we all began our next adventures. But this time, as February sets in and my friends begin their classes and readjust to the college dining halls on Harvard’s campus, I will be setting foot in a new country and settling in amidst tortillas and rolling hills.
Even as I sit here in Mexico City today, and get ready to board my flight to Tuxtla, I know that I didn’t really leave my crazy college world behind. I didn’t leave the friends and roommates and sister who have kept me warm even when the temperatures dip below freezing. I didn’t leave the learning I’ve done there or the growing that inevitably came with it. I’m just making this semester my own in a new town and a new time zone.
That’s not leaving–
nope, it’s more like using my creative license.