8.23.2009

afterthoughts

so it's been a little over three months since we disembarked the MV and tomorrow i pack my bags and head back to school.

but before i fall into the pleasantly hectic rhythm of life at school i wanted to take the time to think back on my trip and how i feel about it now, three months out.

coming home was easier than i thought it was going to be in some ways, but harder in others. i didn't hate home or find it utterly boring. i love reconnecting with my friends and family. but at the same time i was really prepared to talk about my experiences and when no one asked i was really bummed out.

but life went on and i got into the routine of being at home, working and living post SAS. it was only in the past few weeks where i had two experiences that really impressed upon my how much my trip means and how much it is still a part of me.

the first experience came during our family vacation this year to loon mountain in new hampshire. one morning my dad and i decided that we were going to go and hike loon mountain, a pretty steep ski mountain about two miles up. we started getting up the mountain and i am getting seriously tired. my dad is patient, we take breaks, but i am seriously out of shape. finally about 2/3 of the way up i stop and let my dad go ahead, telling him that i was going to rest and i would meet him on his way down and hike back. as i am lying in the grass catching my breath i think about the day that greg and i hiked table mountain. the sun was in the middle of the sky in capetown, we got passed out by families carrying babies and we took break after break, but greg and i hauled our asses up that mountain, stone by stone, for four miles. and i knew that if i could drag my lazy self up table mountain, i could get up loon. so i got up and went one check point to the next, very slowly, until i finally made it to the top. i was red-faced and sweaty and certainly grossing out everyone who had taken the gondola to the top, but i got up there. and i don't know if i would have pushed myself if i hadn't spent that day in capetown with greg.

this made me realize that there was something about the things i did on SAS that will stay with me, despite the fact that i no longer call the MV my home. SAS made me realize how much i was capable of. i now know that i can naviagate a foreign city without being able to read the signs. i can jump out of a plane. i can start a philosophical conversation with a stanger on a train, in french. most of the time the only thing holding me back is myself.

is this a new revelation? of course not. as kids we are always told that we can do anything we set our minds to. but as we get older we put up walls around ourselves. we decide that we can't do things for one reason or another but most of the time we're just afraid. SAS showed me that i can be fearless.

the other post SAS experience i had was a reunion with a bunch of my ship friends in pittsburgh. spending time with my friends all together just reinforced how much i love and appreciate the people i met on my trip. they've seen me sweating in vietnam, bartering in morocco and rolling out of bed for global studies. they have seen me at my best and worst and i really feel like i can be wholly myself when i am with them. not to mention the fact that they are some of the most hilarious, daring, silly, loving, thoughtful and fun people i have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

which is the other thing that SAS taught me. that the world is full of amazing, caring, funny, intelligent people. from the students and professors on the ship to the hotel owners, meditation instructors, elephant tamers, and students that i met in the countries; i encountered people who are truly incredible. this is what les meant when he said ubuntu. that we are all shaped by the people we meet. we all teach each other what it means to be human because we cannot do it alone.

i have no doubt that i will travel in the future. i think anyone who goes on SAS and has had their fill of exploring probably had too many cases of TD. and while i know that no experience will be the same as SAS i hope that i can hold on to the best parts of my journey and keep them with me, no matter where i go next.