This is a guest blog post from our student social media ambassador, Jaida. Currently studying abroad on the semester program, “New Activisms, Human Rights and Social Justice” that travels to Guatemala and Costa Rica. This semester the itinerary also included a visit to Chiapas, Mexico.
Hey there, it’s Jaida checking in from San Jose, Costa Rica! I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my semester with the CGEE Central American program. Reflecting on my journey so far, I can confidently say that I’ve not only expanded my academic knowledge about the region but also experienced tremendous personal growth, especially in my interpersonal relationships.
Back home, I was comfortably nestled in my circle of friends, but studying abroad in a foreign country with just six other people challenged me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. At first, I felt overwhelmed by the small size of our group, doubting my ability to form genuine connections amidst unfamiliar faces. Hearing stories from others about lifelong friendships forged during their study abroad experiences, I skeptically brushed them off, thinking it was just an exaggeration.
As it turns out, I was mistaken. I realize now that I was clinging onto the safety net of my existing friendships, hesitant to step out of my comfort zone. It took time, shared meals, laughter, and numerous adventures, but eventually, we found our rhythm and became a tight-knit community. Our shared experiences, whether visiting a mass grave or learning from human rights organizations, have transformed our surroundings into an extended classroom.
The beauty of our bond lies in our collective journey. We’ve navigated the challenges of adapting to a new culture and language together, which has only strengthened our friendship. Our interactions have moved beyond the confines of the traditional classroom, expanding into the vibrant communities we’ve explored. The shared learning and growth within this unique setting have made our connections all the more profound.
I’ve come to appreciate the importance of embracing the unfamiliar and allowing myself to be vulnerable. In doing so, I’ve discovered an unexpected family in this faraway land. Our little group has become a support system, a source of inspiration, and a network of friendships that I believe will last a lifetime. I’ve learned that genuine connections can sprout from the most unexpected places, and I am grateful for the enriching experience of being part of this incredible community.
Thank you, Augsburg, for giving me the ability to learn more about what friendship and community means to me. Here’s to more shared adventures and meaningful connections in the second half of my semester abroad!