In the days leading up to my departure from home, I kept catching myself adding to a mental list of “lasts.” As I walked my dog around the block I would think about how this is the last time I will be doing that exact activity for the next eight months. My last time eating homemade granola, buying gas at Sam’s Club, and babysitting my neighbors. Or eating at Taco Diablo and Noodles and Company, and buying a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream from Hartigan’s. Seeing familiar faces as I ride my bike wouldn’t happen for a while, nor would drinking from the tap, or shopping for shampoo, granola bars, and sunglasses at Target.
But as I noticed this ever expanding list of “lasts”, I realized there was a flip side. My pessimistic list has an alter ego. And so I began to add to my List of Firsts. I started this list while still at home and have added to it every day since. Hopefully this list will give you a taste of how my life has been changing and how much incredible opportunity I see before me.
1. First time I have decided to take a bridge year!
2. First time I woke up at 3:00 am for a flight
3. First time I have been to Stanford and seen such consistent beautiful weather
Walking through Stanford after a seminar
4. First time I have felt so much genuine acceptance and motivation in a group of teenagers
All of the Brazil, Senegal, and Ecuador fellows
5. First time I’ve visited Google
6. First time I have watched Craig speak (ever heard of Craigslist?)
7. First time I had a conversation with an 18-year-old EMT about watching death
8. First time flying to South America
First time living in a bright pink house!
9. First time being part of the chaos that is Quito traffic
10 First time having cheese filled banana and tree tomato juice for dinner
Drinking fruit juice, a staple of the Ecuadorian diet
11 First time getting caught in the closing bus doors on my first ride on Quito public transportation
1. First time I have felt truly independent
13 First time seeing parking lots in the middle of the street
14 First time living underneath an active volcano
Indigenous dancing on a Sunday afternoon
15 First time I have slept in a religious retreat center
16 First time understanding what THE HECK I signed up for
17First time that I have been totally confident that I can do this
This ever expanding list has kept me going. I remind myself of the List when tasting suspicious meat, venturing out to tackle public transportation on my own, and misusing “embarazada” (I accidentally told my host mom I was pregnant, not embarrassed). I strive to keep myself moving through the culture shock and emotional roller coasters by noticing that I am always being exposed to exciting, new opportunities. My goal is to constantly add to my List of Firsts as the year progresses and my life continues to change.
Here I go!