The usual questions I’m asked are “do you know any Spanish,” “have you ever been out if the country before,” “do you know anyone else in the organization.” My answer has so far been a huge grin and a laughing “no.” For a while I couldn’t understand why it might matter if I know people or not, if I’ve traveled a lot before or not. I’m excited to see new things and this is a brilliant chance, so it doesn’t make sense that I’d be wary.
Now that I’m down to the last couple of days before I leave the US, I’m definitely realizing that I’ll miss it and the friends that I have here. There were a few last minute photo shoots as other people grasped the reality of my trip, and my sister and I put together prints of photos into an album for Ecuador. Even as I look through these photos now, it’s hitting me that it’ll be May or maybe later before I can see cousins and extended family. Helen, my younger cousin, tackled me with a hug the last we saw each other and said “You’re gonna be away for Thanksgiving? And Christmas?! How about Easter? I’m never gonna see you again!” I am definitely going to see her again, but it’s really odd as I “realize” that I won’t see familiar faces for eight months.
Technically though, I won’t be without familiar faces. On Monday everyone and everything about being here at Stanford was new, so I wasn’t bothered by the unfamiliarity of it. On Tuesday, groups of people were shifting and changing and I got to meet a lot of people. But today is Saturday and I already feel like everyone here is absolutely a familiar face. Once I get to Ecuador, it’ll be odd for a bit, but the act of living with other people automatically brings a sense of closeness. As I go through this experience, I’ll get to be introduced to new people a lot. But those “new” faces will inevitably become familiar for me and *that* is what I am most excited about.