I returned from my South American adventure in December 2010 – over one year ago. It’s been nearly as long since my last update, but given the symbolism of a new year, I it would be an appropriate time for a moment of reflection. From the onset, Margaritaville has always been about achieving a certain state of mind rather than a physical location. Acts such as sojourning or traveling may help you get there, but it’s also possible to find it through random acts of kindness, eating a delicious meal, finishing a great workout, kissing in the rain, or in my current case, engaging in intellectual pursuits.
After two years of professional work and spending a year abroad, I have decided to return to school. Working so closely with university students for the last few years made me realize how much I missed the academic environment. Every time a student would complain about a reading assignment or a demanding professor, I would become nostalgic about my undergraduate years. I would literally long to be behind a classroom desk, and I found myself making excuses to audit or eavesdrop in classes. Even if I was just there for observation or moderating, I was literally trembling to keep myself from plunging into the class discussions myself. Although I would never classify myself as an academic, I will admit that I thrive in the classroom environment. I am an intellectual junkie, a consumer of knowledge, and over the last five months, I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in the realm of ideas at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE, pronounced hug-seeh). My experiences at HGSE and living in Cambridge warrant their own separate entries (which I hope to write in the near future), but in the interim, here are some highlights of my first semester:
- My racial awakening: It’s a funny cliché that kids do all sorts of experimentation and identity searching in college. I have always felt very comfortable regarding my own sexuality, religion, morals, politics, values, etc, but one area that may have been underdeveloped has been my own ethnic/racial identity. I partially attribute it to growing in up in a white neighborhood and attending a white high school with white friends in Central Texas. Back in the days of Xanga and Livejournal, I remember writing some very embarrassing entries about my opinions on affirmative action and minority scholarships. In my efforts to be “race-blind” and judged on my “merits” (which I might add are not insignificant), I denied a very integral part of myself. Although, it took leaving the country and being consistently interrogated about my “etnicidad” for me to realize its significance, it has been illuminating to re-examine my own educational experiences through a racial/cultural lens. As a person who prides herself on an uncanny level of self-awareness, it is incredibly exciting and stimulating to have a new dimension to explore.
- Relationship building: Although I have loved all of my college years and experiences abroad, one by-product of moving around constantly has been the difficulty of maintaining lasting relationships with people. I’m lucky to have formed some very strong bonds with friends from all over the world, specifically ex-roommates and mentors, but I do feel a tinge of sadness for all of the friendships I’ve let go by the wayside. As a fairly independent person, I am especially guilty of losing contact with several of friends from college. Recently, I have been trying to reconnect with old friends by unceremoniously dropping back into their lives years later. I don’t necessarily regret it, since all of the aforementioned experiences were formative to my becoming the person I am today, but honestly, I could have made a better effort to keep in touch. This time around, I wanted to push myself to meet new people and maintain meaningful relationships. It certainly helped that I had no prior connections in Boston, so I had to put myself out there, lest I become a misanthrope. It also helps that my cohort is awesome.
- I got a haircut. Then I got a second one.
Rihanna that I’ve so desperately wanted for the last couple of years. Plus, I was able to help somebody out in the process. Everybody wins.
- Depois de cinco anos, por fim estou aprendendo minha terceira lengua.
- Finally, I mentioned in my original post that among other things, part of Margaritaville was my search for love and romance. I won’t spend too much time discussing it, lest my blog revert to a Xanga/Livejournal of my crappy overwrought poetry, but given how this relationship has etched itself into some of my fondest memories of 2011, I thought that it warranted at least a short shoutout. In brief, I’m in a relationship. He’s wonderful, and we’re very happy. You’ll probably hear more on that front when he becomes my travel companion later this spring, so keep an eye out.
Finally, considering I’ve surrounded myself with a group of internationally-minded individuals, it was only a matter of time before I found myself headed abroad again. Incidentally, I am writing this post on an overnight plane to Morocco. We should be arriving in Casablanca in 2 hours. Check it out: http://chasingbrightspots.blogspot.com/
Given the wild popularity of this site (ha ha), it was only fitting that I would become a blogger for our team in Morocco. Oftentimes, in making polite conversation, well-intentioned people will hear that I am studying “Education Policy” and follow-up with asking whether I plan on becoming a teacher (Oddly enough, I got the same reaction when I studied English). I am hoping that Chasing Bright Spots would provide a better glimpse of the rigor and depth of what I actually study.
Whereas that blog will be more academic and education-oriented, I hope to maintain this site separately. Since it is unaffiliated with the university, and I am not representing any entity other than myself, I can provide a more personal, candid perspective of my travels here. Stay tuned!