This first week in Mexico was quite the adjustment. It’s one thing to learn about culture shock, but another to go to a third world country and experience it. Seeing small children being “street performers” on the side of the street gives you a new perspective and appreciation for everything we have in the states.
Every day I basically have to pinch myself (multiple times in fact) that I’m actually here LIVING in Spain. For as long as I could remember, I knew I always wanted to study abroad in Spain and, to me, it always felt like a dream of the distant future or a day that would never come.
In the weeks leading up to my flight, I was asked multiple times, “What made you want to study abroad?” Almost instinctively I’d give the same generic response of, ”To see ways of life different than my own. I want to experience other people's culture on their terms.”
When I signed up for World Youth Day in Kraków last fall, I never expected “fear” to be in the equation. I had been to Poland several times previously, and I had never been overly concerned about my personal safety or the safety of others on my trips. Poland, and the rest of Europe, seemed to be a very stable area and so I never gave terrorism another thought.
This trip to World Youth Day (WYD) 2016 in Kraków, Poland, seemed to come quite suddenly. I had just gotten back from Rome on May 29. However, college is all about making memories and doing as much as possible.
The past week has been entirely devoted to directed research. The complement of 22 students in the program were broken up into six different groups whose research groups included both physical and social science topics. Some of the most interesting projects, in my opinion, were: biodiversity in local forests, the growing cordycep (an extremely valuable Himalayan fungi) market, conservation around religious sites and, my own research project, the effects of forestry management practices on local forest stands.