Jose Kajatt: Miami as Text 2023

South Pointe / Photograph taken by Jonathan Guerra / CC 4.0

Jose Kajatt is a first generation Peruvian immigrant currently attending Florida International University. Following his six years of service in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, he began work on earning an undergraduate degree in Biology with the aim of pursing his goal to become a practicing physician. While generally reserved in nature, he enjoys the diversity and change in perspective that meeting new people and cultures brings and is excited to experience more of the world outside of the United States. Traveling, photography, film, and hiking are passions that he has carried with him throughout his adult life.

Encounter as Text

“Limitations” by Jose Kajatt of FIU at Modesto A. Maidique Campus, January 26th, 2023

Virginia Key Beach Park / Photograph taken by Jose Kajatt / CC 4.0

              Grief can be powerful. I’ve been fortunate in my own life, in that I have never lost anyone that’s been dear and close to me through death. That facet of life is still foreign. But alongside the ultimate loss of a loved one, there are other reasons, other types of loss that can open a door for grief to walk through. I met grief for the first time when I truly learned what it meant to be heartbroken. This loss was unlike anything I ever felt before. She was in my life for three significant years. We had a dream of what our future looked like together, we had our apartment, our puppy, our daily routine, our love. But love alone isn’t enough to keep two people together and happy. It’s been four months since. And as I’ve carried the weight of this loss, as I’ve experienced the breadth of the emotional spectrum, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect. It was painful to realize how much of myself I lost, with every heavy compromise made, every resignation, every imposed limitation, I lost sense of who I was. Of what made me unique as an individual. But there is power in grief. While I’ve allowed myself to sit with this unwelcome but necessary friend, I realized there were many lessons it offered. One of them being that through this kind of loss there is opportunity.

              Since I started attending FIU, I’d see our school’s study abroad program advertised through flyers and emails. The opportunities and breadth of experiences each program could offer always called out to me. In my life, I’ve found joy in traveling, in being enriched by a new destination, a place filled with the potential for new and unique experiences. And Europe is a part of the world I’ve always wanted to have a lived experience in. But each time I saw them, I felt limited. Constrained even. It had been present in my adult life for the past eight years. And at times, it could be an incredibly frustrating feeling to experience. You see, I spent six years serving our Navy and with that came obvious limitations in that regard. Then, to still feel limited, constrained, two years past my separation from the Navy, certainly wasn’t pleasant. When November came around last year, I received an email advertising the final spots left in each study abroad program and I knew I couldn’t hesitate.

             Now truth be told, I didn’t really have any specific reason for choosing France beyond knowing that it was a European nation with rich history and world class cuisine. I remember looking at the list and thinking, “Well… France it is!”. So, with my paperwork processed and dues paid, I knew this program was an experience that would be right for me. I’m incredibly excited as I look forward to the future. When I think about being in France, of being given the opportunity to be enriched by the history and culture of each location through the walking lectures and the hiking that will be done in the French Alps, I recognize experiences that I know will be meaningful and that will leave an  impact on me. They will be the antithesis of the limitations I felt before.

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