Sophomore Hannah Johnson grins as she chats about the study abroad trip to Guatemala she recently returned from outside Arden Village Thursday. Upon her arrival, firends and family rushed to greet her. “It was like I was put in a time capsule and brought back into the moment,” Johnson said. | Photo by McKenzie Van Loh

Tales from finals: Back to the bubble

Bethel University students return back to school after traveling to Guatemala for the semester.

By Hannah Gomes, Godfrey Mpetey and Aimee Cottrell |Royal Report

Sophomore Hannah Johnson’s plane comes to a stop upon the black tar lining at the Minneapolis airport. It is 1am and the adrenaline is rushing through her veins. She is more awake and anxious than ever. She steps through the metal tunnel, flickering with fluorescent lights, the last obstacle separating her from the life waiting for her on the other side. Screams flood the gate as Johnson’s roommates run to meet her. They all embrace, overwhelmed with emotion, reuniting after three and a half months.

Many of Bethel University’s students go off to see the world at one point in their college career. A team of eighteen students traveled throughout Guatemala spending their spring semester doing missional work. Living within a different culture brings challenges which the team tackled head on.

“It was like I was put in a time capsule and brought back into the moment,” Johnson said.

Guatemala serves as a change of lifestyle for the students. The smell of burning garbage, new foods, strange languages and living with Guatemalan natives added to the culture shock. Coming back to Bethel was a good breath of fresh air. The pine trees, Dining Center, green grass and familiar faces felt like home. Johnson was happier than ever to return back to the familiar, comfortable, Bethel bubble.

“It was like I was put in a time capsule and brought back into the moment,” Johnson said.

The team of eighteen traveled throughout towns in Guatemala, working and exploring. Junior Andrew Thomas traveled with seventeen other women this semester, the only male on the trip. He didn’t mind the disparity.

“It wasn’t bad,” Thomas said. “I just spent more time alone than the others.”

Junior Andrew Thomas cracks up after looking at a picture of his split eyebrow outside Arden Village Thursday. Thomas got this injury after jumping through limestone pools in Guatemala. “I let it be cause I had to take a picture of course.” Thomas said. | Photo by McKenzie Van Loh

While Thomas didn’t feel left out, he missed the comfortable life back home. Unfortunately for Thomas, he did not just come home with memories, but also a scar. He had split open his left brow while swimming in the Semuc Champey limestone pools. He was not able to be seen by a doctor for two days. He should have gotten 7 stitches, but it was too late by the time they got back to town.

Sophomore Aleisha Bielenberg reminisces about her study abroad trip to Guatemala outside Arden Village Thursday. Bielenberg and the 17 other students from the study abroad trip returned last night at 1am. “I have a new perspective on random things now,” Bielenberg said. | Photo by McKenzie Van Loh

After four months of service in Guatemala, the students returned back to Bethel amidst their peers studying for finals and packing their belongings to move back home. They hope to put what they learned through their experiences into action.

“I have new perspectives on life, inequality and poverty,” said sophomore Aleisha Bielenberg. “I hope to bring my new perspectives to my work at Cityfront.”

— Additional reporting by McKenzie Van Loh

About Guatemala term Spring 2016:

Purpose: Worked in schools, clinics and with disabled children

Location: Antigua, Guatemala and Magdalena, Guatemala

Climate: Tropical

Average temperature: 64 degrees