This semester, three of our WAM Collective members left us to explore new homes abroad! From Bangkok to Florence to Seville, they experienced new art, culture, and life lessons. We are eager for them to come back and share all of their new knowledge with us so that we can incorporate new perspectives into our programming. They have each shared a sliver of their journeys and a special word from their host countries that embodies their time abroad and continues to influence them in their lives at home in Minneapolis.
tempo (n.) : time
First of all let me start out by saying that my experience in Florence was absolutely amazing. Florence, Italy is a place I can now call home. Florence was the place where I struggled with the language, walked for miles on horribly uneven streets, and watched the sunsets over one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. But upon reflection, the word that best describes my experience is time.
When I was living in Florence, I was constantly aware of time. My friends and I constantly discussed how much time we had been abroad, and how much time we had until we returned home. Since they use 24-hour time in Europe, I was constantly subtracting 12 to figure out what time I had to be places. In Florence, church bells rang throughout the city every half hour. Since the city of Florence is extremely historical, I could not walk down the street without thinking about time. To live in Florence is to be constantly reminded that there were people before you were a person, and then of course that means that there will be people after you. Now this thought can be terrifying for anyone, but I chose to embrace it. This idea is humbling, and reminds us that time is fleeting, but it does not have to be scary. I believe it can work the other way as well. While the constant church bells reminds us that time is passing, it also reminds us to make the most of our time. Florence changed me because it put my time into perspective. My time in Florence was limited, my time in college is limited, and my time for life is limited. Thank you Florence for allowing me to live a dream for a semester, and for giving me insight that will change the rest of my life.
ไม่เป็นไร (mai pen rai) : no worries; no matter what happens, everything will be okay in the end
How can I properly sum up the chaos I felt in the first weeks of really being on my own in a foreign city, or the courage I felt when I first braved the transit system, or the gratitude I felt for my friends who made the big city of Bangkok seem so much more manageable? There is nothing more liberating (read: terrifying) than the idea of packing up and moving to the opposite side of the globe, but I can also say that I have learned more about myself than I could have ever thought possible. As I think about where the future leads, these little thoughts have stuck with me as some of the most important lessons from my time abroad: Do your laundry; people are kind; when in doubt, smile and try again. If the taxi driver doesn’t accept the fare, I smile and get out. If I get on the wrong bus, I laugh and try the next one. The only way to get around a city as hectic as Bangkok is to go with the flow, and I think it is important to be willing to grow from the little challenges everyday. Lastly, I learned that the key to being comfortable anywhere was to first grow comfortable with myself. Because I learned how much I was capable of, I knew how strong and brave I could be when necessary. Studying abroad taught me a lot about pushing through challenges, but I am convinced that these yielded the greatest personal reward.
magnífico (adj.) : magnificent
There have been a lot of lasts this week as I prepare to say goodbye to Sevilla, my home this semester. I feel like it was just yesterday when I groggily got off the bus after my 24 hour journey and met my host mom for the first time, telling her I was “descansada” (instead of cansada for tired) which isn’t even a word in the Spanish language. In the next week I will walk for the last time down the busy avenida de constitucion, weaving in and out of the street performers and tourists. I will devour my last churros and chocolate after a night out. I will walk along the river as the sun sets, watching the sun bring out the pastel colors of the apartments in Triana. I will hear my host dad Rafael excitedly exclaim “¡Hombre! ¡Que me dice Meg!” (What does Meg have to say?) and we will laugh when he tells my host mom Carmen the food is too hot. I will miss their friendly banter for sure. I chose to share the word magnífico because every day whenever I ask my host dad how his day is going, he says it is magnificent. This semester he has constantly reminded me how every day is wonderful and to stay positive always, because life is a gift.