It’s the end of week two here and I am really struggling. I am trying to make the most of this experience but these first two weeks were very trying. When I first arrived, the change in air and altitude hit me instantly. As an individual with really bad asthma and one fully functioning lung, I should’ve known better. It took about almost two weeks for me to breathe easier. As soon as my breathing improved, I developed food poisoning. I must admit, I was so upset with myself. I felt like my body was intentionally trying to betray me. Fortunately, I was able to get through that down-spell as well. My host family was really accommodating and understanding to my issues. During my food poisoning stint, I visited the family doctor. Jokingly, he said to me, “You have asthma and still came to Mexico?” Yeah, where else would I have gone?
Daily life was the most difficult in the first week. My Spanish is mediocre at best. I long to hold a complete conversation with people I pass on campus or stand next to on the sidewalk. My homestay is the furthest from the university and would take an hour to walk on foot. For the first three or four days, me and my roommate were told to take public transport. I am used to public transport in Chicago, so I assumed it would be no problem. I was utterly wrong. We had to walk three blocks, take two trains, and walk one more block to get to school. Meanwhile, I am struggling to walk at a normal pace. I informed the program coordinator, Senora Norma, to which she responded right away. For the rest of the program, we will get picked up and dropped off at our homestay. Bless her heart.
So far, I have attended two field trips and each of my classes. The rotating course topics are not something I am use to. At Northwestern, a class can spend up to a week on one topic. Here, there is a new one every day, for two of the courses. However, I know I will get used to it. The group has been on two field trips, one of which was physically strenuous, yet beautiful. I got to see the pyramids at Teotihuacan, a reminder of the ancient Mesoamerican culture that lived here before this time. They were beautiful!! We also visited a rural clinic. This trip was very emotionally charged and thought-provoking. One question that still lingers is the following: How can you make effective change with a system full of lapses and inequities? I am not sure now, but I hope in eight weeks I’ll be closer to an answer than I am today.