You haven’t experienced culture shock until you can’t flush toilet paper. That was the first thing I learned upon landing in Mérida, México for Jan Term 2015. Seriously. The pipes can’t handle it, so you have to throw it away. And that was only the first in a laundry list of things that are different from good ol’ North Carolina. “It’s an adventure,” my dad said when I told him how strange everything seemed. But was it? What is even qualified as an adventure?
Now, forget the class, because, let’s be honest, that’s definitely not the reason any of us came on this trip. We came for culture. We came for language and food and music. We came for adventure. And over the course of the trip, I think I’ve found what adventure really means. Adventure is killing and cooking your own chicken for lunch. Adventure is holding on for dear life as you ride shotgun through the city because–holy crap–these people drive like maniacs. Adventure is taking pictures of every colorful building you see because “No, I swear that pink is different than that other pink.” Adventure is the car overheating in some middle-of-nowhere town and introducing your host family to “Don’t Stop Believin’” to pass the time while the car cools down. Adventure isn’t just observation. Adventure is the willingness to try new things and take risks and mess up and get some great stories out of it.
And the best part? As I write this, we’re not even done. There are still many more adventures, mishaps, and stories to come. The possibilities are endless. And I would encourage everyone to take a trip somewhere new. Maybe it’s not a new country; maybe it’s a new state, a new city, a new part of town. Explore, and always, always, always look for a new adventure. I hope everyone’s Jan Term was amazing, whether you were freezing your fingers off with your sisters on campus, rocking an amazing internship, or exploring the world, one street at a time. ¡Amor de México!