Reflections – Looking back

As of today, I have been back in Canada for exactly 5 months and 12 days.

It’s crazy how the time has flown, that 5 months have passed already. But then I think about how much I miss my Shekina family, and I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen them.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my time in Guatemala, and over the past couple of days I took some time to re-read the blog posts I had written while I was there. I think I forgot how much I learned. About Guatemala, about poverty, international aid…somehow now I feel like I always knew these things, even though I was SO ignorant before going away. Re-reading my blog posts has really reminded me how much seeing and experiencing what I did changed my perceptions and my understanding of these things.

When I came home from France/travelling Europe, I missed the place. I missed my lifestyle, I missed speaking French. Those were, and have remained, the number one things I miss from that year. A close number two thing I miss is the people I went with/met there. What I’ve noticed is different about the Guatemala trip is that those things are reversed.

I miss the people I lived with SO MUCH. Of course, this was an aspect of my trip that was really different with Guatemala – I lived with these people. But what are the chances that when you live with more than 20 people, all at different places and stages in their lives, that they could become so close. It’s crazy to me how close I still feel to all of these people. Even certain people who I wasn’t as close with when I was actually in the house. I still miss them and want to talk to them and know that they unconditionally support me. When I got medical school interviews, I wanted to share that with them. One of them actually called me, from the States, to congratulate me, then helped me to prep for interviews. When I found out I got into medical school, they were the first people that it came to mind to tell. When I’ve had personal issues over the past months, they are some of the few I feel comfortable to share that with. If you asked me what my ideal night would be right now, it would be one where we all got together, drank some Quetzalteca and laughed/cried/danced til we passed out from exhaustion. THAT would be a damn good time. I really wish I could properly put into words how I feel about these people. They are my family, and the connection I feel to them is strong despite our distance and despite time. I can’t describe how amazing it feels to know you have that army of support behind you.

Both times that I have traveled, I have felt AMAZING during the time that I was there. On top of the world, 100% fulfilled, absolutely full of joy. France really changed my perspective on life and how it is meant to be lived. Guatemala reminded me of that, but I’ve had a hard time applying it to my life here at home since being back. Partly it’s because of different, difficult circumstances in my life. But my experiences in Guatemala also taught me a lot about my flaws. About my attitude, my outlook. That even that positivity I tried to hold on to and apply after France hadn’t really permeated all of my life. Reflecting on my time in Guatemala, I have also given a lot of thought to the contrast between how I live usually here at home, how I lived while travelling, and how I would like to merge those together. I’d really like to get back to feeling that positivity. Especially the part about remembering how lucky I am to live the way I do, to have the opportunities that I have. I’m not sure what exactly it is I need to do to get there, but thinking about all this has really opened my eyes to the fact that a drastic lifestyle change is in order – and that is totally in my control.

So thanks Guatemala. 5 months later you’re still teaching me things. About myself, about others, about community and about what is possible. Here’s to even bigger, better and more exciting things in the future.

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