How will I measure my experience?

I want to think back to the beginning of this whole experience, which isn’t too long ago.  I decided I would like to do a field study last semester and was accepted to go mid-January.  I don’t consider this experience to be made up only of the days I spend in Mexico, because the more and more time I spend in prep class, I realize that it has already started.  I am preparing myself for the research, for the culture shock, for the friendships I will make. 

The first reading we were assigned for class has really stuck with me as I prepare for my time in Guanajuato.  It was titled: “What Students Don’t Learn Abroad,” if I’m not mistaken, and it talked about how students seem to misunderstand the true purpose of studying abroad.  Most students, when asked what they learned on their experience, reply that they have greatly grown as a person, and that they learned how they react to certain situations.  They learn more about themselves than they do about the country or the people.  I will admit that this is what I thought we were supposed to get out of such an experience, and I was embarrassed when I found out that I was wrong, but I am trying not to fall into this mentality.  I do want to learn about the people and focus on them and their experiences instead of spending my time trying to make a memory out of every minute.  I’m sure that if I focus on them, I will have amazing memories of the people.  I’m pretty confident that if I have an eager mentality for learning, I will not only learn about the people, but come to know more about myself.  But if I go into this hoping to learn only about myself, and forget about the people, I will not learn as much as I could.

I don’t want to look back on this experience, measuring it’s quality only by how much I learned about myself.  Truth is, these people remind me of who I am, of my heritage.  If I learn about them, I will learn about myself.  That’s the neat thing about an experience like this.  If we go in with the right mentality, everything else will fall into place.

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