As I write this, I’m sitting atop the mountains in the southern part of Virginia, looking out at the lush, green valleys and endless, rolling horizon. Knowing I’ll be placed in the mountainous region of Ecuador, I can’t help but think how my view will differ in the upcoming weeks and months.
Will there be patches carved out of the mountainside where hidden communities reside?
Trails to explore and wildlife to watch?
What will the walk/bus ride to my apprenticeship look like?
I’m so curious, so excited to finally arrive in the unknown destination I’ve been dreaming about for months. If you ask my about my upcoming plans, I could drone on for hours about the anticipation and travel jitters.
Yet, I’m going to miss home – the emotions come in waves. Sometimes I wish I could click my heels and be in Stanford with the entire GCY cohort and staff, while other times I freak out and think, what in the world am I doing? If you asked me a year ago, I’m pretty sure going to Ecuador for eight months would not be in my realm of possibilities after high school.
I’m going to miss driving past the “rabbit bush” outside my neighborhood with my mom, watching it sprout up with each passing month. I’m going to miss driving to Raleigh and keeping my eye on the constantly changing rock stack across from Meadowmont. I’m going to miss cuddling with my dogs on the couch and singing – off tune – with my mom. Surprisingly, I’m going to miss my older brother, Andrew, messing with me as I offer to cook for him or clean his college house. And who knows, I might even miss my dad’s corny jokes – although I‘ve heard enough the past 18 years to last me a lifetime. The little things are going to make me miss home, yet they hardly compare to my excitement.
More than anything, I’m absolutely psyched. I can’t wait to meet my host family for the first time and embarrass myself with my shaky Spanish introduction. I can’t wait (okay, maybe I can) to try the guinea pig delicacy as my host family watches expectantly. Even more so, I can’t wait to meet my GCY cohort and talk about how we’re feeling about the upcoming year. And later, empathize with them when we experience the same culture shock, the same panic that time we got lost, or same frustration when we weren’t able to effectively communicate what we wanted to say.
With all the speculation about what’s to come, it’s tough to pause and live in the present. Yet hopefully, I’ll be doing just that as I embark on my next chapter of life.