What It’s Like to Work for an NGO

I roll out of bed around 8:15–or 8:30, or 8:45, as the case may be. I get dressed, put some amount of makeup on, and schlep to the 2 or 3 train station–whichever one Google Maps tells me has a shorter wait. I try and guess which car will have less people so I can…

Going Abroad with Anxiety

Students with a history of emotional disorders are advised to consider carefully joining the [program]. Such challenges are inevitably aggravated by the new demands and personal responsibilities of a foreign setting… Recent withdrawals from the Program for psychological reasons including breakdowns and panic attacks, attest to the fact that failure to heed this warning may…

Does Language Immersion Work?

When I was a junior in high school, a former student visited my Spanish class to talk about his study abroad experience in Spain. He hadn’t taken a Spanish class or spoken the language in two years by the time he decided to go. He’d essentially lost any proficiency in Spanish his high school classes…

What It’s Like to Live with a Host Mom

In order to know what it was like to spend almost five months sharing an apartment with a woman who makes a living taking care of foreign twentysomethings a semester at a time, you need to know a little about my host mom, Pilar. Like a lot of the madres that worked with my program, Pilar is…

Staying on Top of Staying on Top of the News

Over the past few months, I‘ve become intimately aware of just how much I don’t know. If it’s not a shocking headline (of both the wait-when-did-this-happen-this-is-the-first-I’ve-heard-of-it and I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening varieties) making me feel like I’m out of the loop, it’s my sheer lack of knowledge of how to respond to said headlines making me feel powerless. How…

I Went to Madrid and All I Got Was a Huge Reduction in Crime Rates

During orientation for my semester abroad, we were told that the biggest danger to us here in Madrid is pick pocketing. During orientation for my first semester at Hamilton, we were told that one of the biggest dangers to us was sexual assault. Honestly, I’ve felt physically safer here, in a foreign city speaking my…

¡Estoy en Madrid!

Yes, I made it. I figured out the airport,1 the metro,2 and the door to my host mother’s apartment, and settled down in Madrid with all of my luggage and most of my wits about me. I’ve been here just over 24 hours3 (I think–who knows what happened when I crossed all those time zones)…

Why I Spent My Birthday at the Hospital

It had a lot to do with the fact that my doctor only performs surgeries on Mondays, and my birthday happened to fall on a Monday this year.1 It also had a lot to do with the chronic pain I’d been experiencing for the past year. Ever since the Fall Break of my sophomore year,…

Does My Lipstick Match My Identity?

Earlier this week I had to get a surgical procedure done (more on that later, I promise), and the nurse prepping me for it asked that I take my piercings out. I declined at first, insisting that I didn’t know how to take them out–which wasn’t exactly true. The truth is, I could take them…

Switching Focus

I find life overwhelming. Sometimes I simply cannot believe that the world exists, that it holds war and pollution in pain, people that die too young and people who don’t bring themselves to care, alongside activism and nature and love, people that write poems and people who help each other for no reason other than…

Recognition

I don’t know what sets it off. One minute I’m enjoying dinner with my friends, squished together in a booth in the dining hall, and the next I’m panicking. I need to leave. Right now. My heart starts beating faster as I’m struck with the thought that I need to be doing something else, anything…

Update

I’ve been off schedule with these blog posts for the past couple weeks, which means I can no longer pretend that everything is okay. I can no longer point to my timely publication of thoughts and say, “my life is a mess, but if I can make time to post something coherent each week, it…