Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back Home!

Hello! Grüße aus Tacoma! I am not currently studying abroad! I was born in Seattle, Washington and lived there my whole life, until I came to Pacific Lutheran University. I had my first study abroad experience this year - I spent January in Berlin with PLU’s J-term program, February and March on my own traveling around Europe, and April and May in Nepal and Tibet with an organization called Cascade Leadership Challenge. Although it was the majority of my travels was away from an academic setting, I received some of my richest education (so far) during the months February through May, as I met a large amount of people with very different perspectives and temporarily threw myself into other, concurrent realities. I’ve returned home with a much richer understanding of the world and even the people I know and continue to meet at home. Already, I’m looking at international travels for after I graduate so as to further my education outside of school, always with the goal of experiencing parts of the world that are new to me.
A normal train commute in Rome, Italy
Right now, my German host mother is living in Berlin with her children, her boyfriend, and her midwife practice. My friends in Europe are working, going to school, and traveling on their own. In Nepal, I have friends who are building new businesses in the mountains, building a home, continuing mountaineering enterprises, and recovering from a terrible natural disaster which occurred this past May. I say this to point out that my understanding of my own reality is no longer just defined by those people whom I see everyday or even solely those who live nearby - there is a myriad of narratives being built all over the world which, amazingly, have a connection to me as I go to school in Tacoma.
Breakfast with our friends in Namche Bazar, Nepal, a few hours before the second large earthquake on May 11
A lot of people I know don't know where Nepal is. It's squished between China and Nepal, but in its entire history it has never been successfully invaded. The politics are complex and not in anyway friendly, but we found as we went into the mountains, where people are increasingly politically independent, there was an obvious community of hospitality and resourcefulness. We were only in the Khumbu for a few days before a 7.8 earthquake struck and we stayed several more weeks with Nima and Lhakpa Sherpa, doing our best to help from our position. We stay in contact and continue to learn from our friends in Khumbu. Not to mention it's indisputably in one of the most beautiful regions of the areas - the Himalaya.
Florence, Italy; a Napoli woman I became friends with who I sorely miss
Currently, Europe is going through a transformation as immigrants from the Middle East are immigrating to European countries. I was able to experience Europe on the brink of this change, right before its tipping point, and heard many different opinions from people in different countries on the issue. Experiencing other countries’ politics and social atmospheres first hand is helping me to understand my current course work on a deeper level, especially in my Modern World History course where we are currently learning the history of the Middle East. It’s one thing to learn about disparities around the world - it’s another world of experience to meet people on their own turf who are products of those disparities.
Photos with me and my German host family. I felt at home as soon as we met :)
I felt hospitality in every city I went to and feel it a necessary value to continue emphasizing at home. It's a big world out there and we aren't doing much if we aren't jumping into it.

Thanks for reading,

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