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A transformative journey: Reflecting on my study abroad experience in Merida

As I step foot back into the familiar surroundings of my home, a wave of mixed emotions engulfs me. The time has come to reflect upon the profound impact my study abroad experience in Merida, Mexico, has had on me. The journey, which went far beyond a mere trip or vacation, has transformed my perspective, broadened my horizons, and left an indelible mark on my being. As I sit down to reflect on my study abroad experience in Merida, Mexico, I am filled with a sense of profound gratitude and accomplishment. Looking back at my first blog, I am struck by the immense growth, learning, and lasting friendships that have shaped my time in Merida.     

Our first walk of the city, exploring vibrant markets and soaking in the breathtaking sunset. The colors of the sky mirror the vibrant energy of the city, setting the tone for an unforgettable study abroad journey.    

Returning home from Merida after my month-long study abroad experience, I bring with me a new profound understanding of the world. As someone who had already done multiple full-semester study abroad programs, I thought I was pretty open-minded to new cultures and learning about different things. I did not know I would come out of this month-long program with a new perspective on life and myself. Who knew in a month, I could learn so much? The city’s rich historical heritage, vibrant art scene, and warm-hearted people shattered the confines of my comfort zone and my preconceived ideas, opening doors to new experiences and lessons. In this short but immersive journey, I have grown more open-minded, receptive to new ideas, and appreciative of the beauty of our global mosaic. Merida has taught me that the value of studying abroad isn’t solely measured by time but by the depth of experiences and connections made. My perspective has expanded in ways I did not expect, allowing me to approach life’s challenges with greater empathy and understanding. I am grateful for the growth and transformation that Merida has sparked within me.     

Me and my classmates learned how to salsa as part of the study abroad program! Laughter, camaraderie, and rhythm filled the room as we learned the steps of the vibrant dance.    

Stepping off the plane in Merida, I was met with anticipation mingled with trepidation. The unknown loomed before me, inviting me to venture beyond the confines of familiarity. Every day presented an opportunity for personal growth as I navigated unfamiliar streets, engaged with the local community, and immersed myself in the city’s vibrant culture. From exploring the enchanting streets adorned with colonial architecture to navigating the dynamic markets brimming with unique crafts, each moment unveiled a new facet of this captivating city. The challenges I faced along the way only strengthened my resilience and expanded my comfort zone. I learned to adapt, communicate effectively despite language barriers, and embrace the unknown confidently and enthusiastically. Through this journey, I truly understood the value of embracing the unfamiliar, for it is in those moments of uncertainty that growth and self-discovery truly flourish.    

We enjoyed a remarkable cenote experience during our homestay in Yaxunah, a tranquil Mayan town. The crystal-clear waters and lush green surroundings provided a breathtaking backdrop for an unforgettable moment.    

Merida introduced me to a community of individuals whose paths intertwined with mine during this transformative experience. From fellow students I befriended to the locals who shared their stories, every connection was a thread weaving a tapestry of unforgettable memories. The bonds formed in Merida transcend borders and time zones, reminding me of the power of human connection and the importance of nurturing relationships that transcend geographical boundaries. One of the most precious aspects of my study abroad experience was the opportunity to forge friendships with fellow students. Reading my first blog, I remember before the program worried if I’ll make friends, but I was surrounded by a diverse community of individuals with unique perspectives and backgrounds. Together, we shared laughter, exchanged stories, and supported each other through the highs and lows of this journey. The bonds I formed will forever hold a special place in my heart, reminding me of the global connections we can foster when we step outside our comfort zones.    

My classmates and I gazing down at the picturesque streets adorned with vibrant yellow buildings of Izamal, an enchanting city, nicknamed the “Yellow City of Yucatan,” which left us in awe of its colorful beauty and historical significance.   

While the academic aspect of my study abroad program provided valuable insights into Mexico’s history and cultural heritage, the actual depth of my learning went far beyond the classroom walls. Exploring Merida’s museums, galleries, and historical sites allowed me to witness and experience firsthand the importance of cultural heritage. This ignited a desire within me to advocate for the preservation and celebration of diverse cultural narratives in my future career as an art conservator.  

A heartfelt moment captured at our farewell dinner in Merida. Our program coordinator, Alina, who has been an instrumental guide throughout our study abroad journey in Merida, is wearing an “I Love Merida” shirt we gave her as a gift. As we bid farewell to this remarkable city and each other, we carry with us cherished memories and lasting friendships.  

Arriving home from Merida marks the end of a life-altering chapter, but it also signifies the beginning of a lifelong journey. The study abroad experience has redefined my understanding of the world, my place within it, and the interconnectedness of humanity. As I move forward, I am filled with gratitude for the transformative impact this extraordinary journey of growth, learning, and connection has had on me. My study abroad experience in Merida was not just a temporary escape—it was a catalyst for personal growth, cultural understanding, and the forging of lifelong connections. As I settle back into the rhythm of everyday life, the transformative impact of my study abroad experience continues to shape my personal and professional growth. I have expanded my horizons, challenged my perspectives, and embraced the power of cultural exchange. I leave Merida behind, forever carrying the lessons learned and the memories cherished, fueling my determination to continue to explore the world with curiosity, compassion, and an unwavering eagerness to learn from every encounter.      

Me in front of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán MACAY, the contemporary art museum of Merida. I think my profile picture for the Study Abroad Blog is a great way to sign off on my last blog of being a storyteller for Temple Summer in Mexico.  

Thank you to everyone who has been keeping up with my blogs! Hope you enjoyed reading about my time in Merida!  

Read all the highlights of my summer in Merida here!

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