A New Reality

I came into this program with virtually no expectations whatsoever. I had no idea what would be in store for me, how I would react to it, or what I would get out of the experience. However, one thing that I did not expect to happen was to love the experience as much as I did. The way of life, the language, culture, food, and many experiences that we were exposed to are things that I will never forget.

It’s weird to think that only 4 days after returning, I went to work at Santa Clara’s Office of Undergraduate Admission where I was talking to new, prospective students and families about my experiences. Having an 8 hour work day with a half an hour lunch, commuting from my home to work, seeing old friends and going to our usual hang out spots — it all feels a little off. I guess some of the biggest differences that I immediately noticed was the pace at which we go at here in the United States. I guess I’ve never really noticed but our days go by incredibly fast. Everything seems to have an allotted amount of time that needs to fall into and everything needs to be crammed into a very short amount of time. That’s something I miss from Bolivia. Having the chance to just sit and read a book sometimes. Being back at home, I have found that it has been really easy for me to get back into a very lazy routine. I wake up, go to work, go to the gym, go home, eat, see friends/watch TV, and that’s pretty much my day. Boring right? I guess what I miss is the excitement and the idea that everything in Bolivia was a new experience. I miss the idea of the unknown.

Reflecting on my time there, I think the biggest thing that I learned about myself is how ignorant I am. I know so little about other places outside of the United States, and honestly, it’s kind of depressing. Imagine if I had never had this experience and gone through life only staying within the US. Think of all the different people and ideas that my mind would have been closed off to. This is what scares me the most. I have this idea that I want to innovate and create medical technology that is available to populations across the globe, but looking back to my idea of other places in the world before I actually left the US, my conception of other countries was a complete fallacy. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I felt that the US was the greatest place in the world. Now, I can admit that I don’t know. I’ve never been to Europe, Asia, Africa, etc., so I can’t really say anything besides I don’t know. This has really been one of the biggest eye openers. I don’t know. I don’t know what people struggle with in different countries, I don’t know how some governments work in certain places, I don’t know the complete history of somewhere else, etc. I just don’t know. So I guess my biggest take away is that I have a lot to learn, and I that I want to learn. I want to see what the rest of the world has to offer.

So what are my next steps? I go to school, to class, to work — but I will do so with a new mindset. There is so much I need to learn, and so many people who can teach me. As cheesy as this sounds, the world is my oyster. So the only thing left to say is: Thank you. Thank you to this program for giving an opportunity that few get to experience, thank you to those in Bolivia who showed me the error in my perspective, and thank you to those who I was able to share my experiences with who made this one of the greatest events of my life. It has been life changing.

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