“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ― Anita Desai
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ― Gustave Flaubert
Only about 12 hours until my flight at 5 am…! It’s been a crazy journey already. The pre-departure work has been more challenging than I expected when I walked into this, but I’ve also learned more than I thought I would. These past couple of weeks have been some of the busiest of this year for me, and not just because of this trip. Between a move, a Girls State conference, summer homework, and my awaiting college apps, I so want to relax.
But something I need to keep in mind as I prepare myself now is that this trip is not just a vacation. Sure, I will be tasting new food, making friends, learning how to surf, and exploring the idyllic beaches and forests of beautiful Costa Rica…but I will also be challenged physically and mentally as I work through my documentation project and adjust to a new place. I am expectant, worried, alert, exhilarated…a true mezcla de emociones.
Thus far, my day has been fairly normal, which is just fine with me. Did some work on the house, ate some homemade Korean food with my family, packed, volunteered at the local food pantry. As I enter a new and unfamiliar country, I will be taking with me my pocket of this world and the beauty of my home, in hopes that when I return, my concept of home will again be stretched. Hasta la vista, Connecticut.
So approximately 28 hours before take off and I am hiding behind the stress of the semi overbearing blog and twitter responsibilities to escape from the true over excitement of the realities that I am about to embark on an amazing journey never even seemingly possible prior to my acceptance. I am so ready yet also terrified. In my community, it seems to be a habit to simply give up or not try to be great when things get tough. And tough things are a constant. I have pushed for many years running from that stigma of self degradation. Yet I find myself before Senior year afraid of becoming more than is expected, going on a trip many have only dreamed of and I am procrasinating on packing. This truly will help me out of the web fear holding down many individuals in my community and life, while directly showing the possibilites of what can come from pushing through the fear. I am nervous to take this step but….I truly am ready!! Thank you Wandering Scholar for alloting me my first step to greatness.
Now that I am packed, all I have to do now is play the ‘Waiting Game’. I can’t wait to step on that plane headed for Costa Rica, and see and feel, what Costa Rica can offer to me. This is my first trip that I am going on by myself without my parents…am I scared…..NOOO! More like excited, thrilled. I feel like this trip is just the beginning to many new adventures, I will take in the future. Most kids dream of traveling/studying abroad in college or later in life, but why wait? I am worried about my Spanish since it’s not exactly the best…more like helpless, that two years of Spanish class did nothing to prove! But, I am hopeful that I can learn (some) through experience rather than being in a classroom setting. Before I leave, I plan to meet up with some of my friends to go out and eat and spend some time with my parents to convince them not to worry. I still can’t believe I’m getting the honor to going to Costa Rica through Wandering Scholar, it’s like a dream that I don’t want wake up from. The best part is I don’t have to worry about waking up since it’s very real! Well, I do need to worry about waking up since I need to ….catch the plane!!!
If you’re like most people you are probably very worried about what is essential for your baggage!! But wait no more as I will give you a brief overview of what is bare minimum on your trip to any Coastal Equator like place! First things first organize 10 pair of socks! Get a pair of sandals as well, however just in case bring socks for comfort and warmth! Also bring 4-5 shirts, 1 of which is kind of fancy as you may want to look nice for a day or two. Also bring 2 to 3 pairs of shorts for comfort in warm humid weather! Some everyday working pants ×2 for all occasions (not just jeans). Don’t forget hygenic materials as well!! Such as toiletries, lotions, toothbrushes (or bristles), etc. Hopefully it’s self explanatory. Don’t forget a rain jacket and about two long sleeves as well. It would also help to bring along Mosquito repellent and sunscreen as sun burns and mosquito bites are very plausible! As well as other more dangerous possibilites so be safe a bring what you need! Then of course athletic shoes, and hiking shoes accompanied by sandals. A sun hat! And Gloves for service projects. Finally last but certainly not least of the absolute basic minimum of things to bring….A water bottle!! Dehydration is a true ordeal and the best way to prevent bodily collapse is to in fact stay hydrated! In humid places of unknown feeling to your body acclimation takes time and hydration helps your body get on its general flow. read more →
It’s currently hot, humid, and stormy here in Connecticut, so at least the weather in Costa Rica will feel a little bit like home to me. Unfortunately, this weather makes packing feel like a little bit more of a chore than it should…
I’m sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, staring at my suitcase. What to pack, what to pack… There are so many things I wish I could/ need to take, but so little room in my small carry-on (14″ x 22″ x 9″ max size as specified by United Airlines). Here’s a rough list of things I’m thinking I’ll need:
- Passport, student ID
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Sunscreen – SPF 30+, 50 recommended
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash
- Band aids + Neosporin
- Anti-itch cream
- Mosquito net?
- Bug repellent
- Socks – hiking and casual
- Swimsuit – a comfy, simple one
- Towels – Take more than you think you’ll need! My friend in CR told me it’s so humid that nothing really dries.
- Athletic shorts – lightweight and dry quickly
- Pants – jeans, comfy PJs, hiking wear
- Rain jacket/poncho
- Other jacket and/or sweater
- T-Shirts – cotton or quick-dry
- Nice shirt and blouse – for more formal occasions
- Hiking shoes
- Work gloves
- Plastic bags – for trash, dirty/wet clothes etc
- Journal, pen, Wandering Scholar booklet
- Phone + charger
- Laptop + charger – Not sure on this yet, maybe to blog
- Water bottle
- Spending money
The list is longer than I thought it’d be…! I’m hoping there will be enough room between my suitcase and backpack, but it’s a little too hot to check right now so for now, my suitcase remains empty.
Personality-wise, there is much to be taken, much to be left behind. This is a little bit harder than my actual packing list but just as important:
- An open mind
- Spanish skills + ability to communicate wisely
- Pride in my story and culture – as an Asian-American, as a Christian, as a Wandering Scholar
- Caution, but not fear
- Ability to listen
- Flexibility! I want to let go of my need to plan and always know what’s ahead.
Finally, I’m going to miss my family a lot. The familiarity of home, routine, Mom food. There’s nothing tangible I can take of my home, except what’s in my heart, but I wish I can take them all along – none of them have gone abroad for a long time (especially my parents!) and they deserve a fun vacation.
So many emotions~ Only one more full day before I’m headed off to Costa Rica!!! #casi
“No matter how many pictures we could have taken, no matter how high the resolution, no camera could have accurately captured the breathtaking, luminous elegance of the beach sunset. This journey has stripped me of my predictable, surface humanitarian tendencies and aroused my inner global citizen. Now…how’s THAT for culture shock?”— Precious Ekeanyanwu, Costa Rica