Spring Encounter as Text
By Majo Chavez
Change is challenging, but it forces us to explore new paths in our lives and get to know yourself better. Do you really love living in Miami or have you never experienced life anywhere else? You can’t answer that question until you’ve experience what it’s like to be a citizen anywhere else in the world. If you go into the cereal aisle, you see tons of different options on the shelves. Yet most of us will always pick the same brand and flavor because it’s what we’ve always had and we know it’s pretty good. You know that if you try a new flavor, you might not like it and then you’ll have wasted $5. But there’s a possibility that this flavor is exactly what you were looking for and you’ve discovered a whole new side of yourself that you didn’t know was there. As silly or simple as this may sound, the metaphor applies to all areas of our lives; food, music, friends, hobbies, and more. Sometimes we do the things we do not because it’s what we know is best, but because it’s what we’ve always done or been taught to do. I want to experience what the world has to offer, and understand what I really want from my life.
As someone who has always struggled with anxiety, I don’t often live in the present. I’ve caught myself asking: What experiences in my life will shape me into the future me? To answer that question I should probably figure out what experiences have already shaped me into who I am. Having lived in 3 different countries has inevitably played a big role in my philosophy on change, but I was very young and have trouble remembering what I really felt like in those moments. I’ve also been privileged enough to have a father who has always understood the importance of travel and has shown me the world from a very young age. But I can safely say that one of the most life changing experiences I’ve had happened at 16 years old, when I participated in an exchange program to Madrid, Spain. At this point in my life, I had already travelled to 10 different countries with my family, but nothing could have prepared me for the cultural shock and immersion I would experience on this trip. It gave me a taste of Spain, and it left me wanting more.
4 years later, 20 year old me is preparing for a study abroad in France. Although I’ve visited France when I was 14, I’ve learned that traveling with your family for a couple of days is completely different than living there for a month and experiencing it independently. Living there provides a much deeper understanding to the country’s culture and allows you to see the differences it may have with your own. As you can probably gather, I have pretty high expectations for my trip to Paris. These expectations come from my past experiences and are more placed on myself rather than the course. I want to be able to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between France and Miami, whether they are positive or negative. I want to get a taste of Paris, and determine if it’s a place I could see my future self in. This is why out of all the places we’ll be visiting, I’m most excited to walk along the cities, meet strangers, visit small bakeries or cafes, and maybe even get lost in the metro. I expect this course to make me explore the unknown and dive headfirst into France. I want to be uncomfortable, I want to be vulnerable, and most of all I want to destroy and replace any preconceived notions I might have of the country. I’m ready to embrace change with open arms, and try out this new box of cereal.