After being back at school for just a few weeks my university hosted a meeting for study abroad returnees. As we went around the room talking about everyone’s adventures from last semester, I realized that I hadn’t experienced nearly any of the symptoms of culture shock that they described. Sure, there are a lot of things that were quite different about being in the Yucatan – but if anything, the semester was really a lesson in just how similar things and people can be – even across language barriers and cultural borders.
I have never been one for staying within my comfort zone – yet I’ll admit that I was nervous arriving in Mexico five months ago, knowing only that I didn’t know a single soul in the whole country. Looking back though, I’m amazed by how quickly I found my place in such a new environment – and how attached to it I grew. (Believe it or not, I’m already planning a trip back!) It helped a lot to be taking classes there, and to have a welcoming host family, of course. But I definitely came back from this semester with a sense of mobility and independence that I’ve never quite had before – spending one semester in Mexico no longer seems like an isolated experience, but just one of so many places I could go. It turns out that it doesn’t have to be that hard to just get on a plane, end up in a brand new place, and within just a few months build a new life for myself.
These are a few last pictures from trips I took over the course of the semester – trips organized by IFSA to Yaxunah and San Cristobal, and trips I took with friends to Tulum, Cobá, Palenque and Campeche.