Back Home

by Mikel Quintana

After a seemingly eternal journey back home, that provided almost too much time to reflect and get emotional about my 9 months in Spain, we arrived in Boston. Passing through security a TSA officer said welcome home Mr. ‘Quintana’, crudely mispronouncing my last name in a very Bostonian accent. It was a subtle yet strong reminder I was back in the US.

When we arrived on campus we were joyously received by the Brazil fellows, signalling the start of the retreat. Being on campus with the other fellows, Jessye, Mindy, and other familiar faces, all interested in talking about our time abroad, created a small bubble that removed us for a few days from our new reality; being back home, being back in the US. It was helpful and at times emotional to reflect on our 9 months with people who went through similar experiences, but was also a perfect time to share fun and crazy stories from our 9 months. We were able to reconnect with fellows from other countries and reinvigorate an important bond that will surely connect us in some way during our time at Tufts and beyond.

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Dear Seattle

by Jiyoon Chon

Dear Seattle,

How are you? It’s been so long. A little more than eight months, to be exact. I’ve thought about you a lot. Back in August, I was so excited to leave. I didn’t think you had much more to offer me. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t satisfied with myself and blamed you for my inability to break out of my shell. I wanted to leave and see the world, to find a different, exciting, and passionate self.

And so I did. I experienced a whole new world, and I changed.

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How to Pack Your Suitcase

by Jordyn Voss

1. Dig Out Your Suitcase

No one likes living out of a suitcase. When you fumble through asking your host parents where you may have put that huge bag (honestly, where could it have gone in a house this size?), set it on the floor of your bedroom and open that sucker up.

2. Regret Choices Made by a Stressed Out, Eight-Month-Younger Version of You

Seriously, why did you think you needed four full, gallon bags of feminine products? You still have a bag and a half left. And why did you bring three sweatshirts to Brazil when you knew you would be there during the summer? How come you didn’t bring more mosquito spray? August you was an idiot.

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Me, a Teacher??

by Jiyoon Chon

Throughout the past eight months, I’ve been constantly reflecting and thinking about the usefulness of my presence in my volunteer placement. To be honest, a lot of the times I actually didn’t feel that useful at all. A lot of the times, especially towards the beginning, I just sat on a chair off to the side of the classroom watching as the teacher gives class. During English classes was definitely when I felt like I could contribute the most—I jumped up at every opportunity I got when it seemed appropriate for me to get up and help. Even then, it was difficult finding the right balance between giving useful help and creating a dependency on my help. This was more apparent when I was in the first grade classrooms: some kids were brilliant and only needed a small clue to continue on their own, whereas others were completely clueless and lost all of the time. This got better as I got to know the children better, but I also had to learn how to see past the mischievous manipulation of some of the kids (a lot of them fake not understanding something so that I would help them and are REALLY good at it).

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Last Five Weeks

by Rebeca Becdach

With the last month of my time here in Madrid approaching, I’m constantly thinking about what I want to accomplish with the short time I have left. Yet, I have realized that I’ve accomplished so much this year. I have been able to switch the country I live in, my home, family, and way of life to the extent that now I feel totally normal living here in Madrid. My Spanish is better than ever before and I feel very comfortable speaking it all day with everyone. I’ve put a lot of work into making activities for the girls at the Montoya home and do my best to help every afternoon I spend with them. I’ve begun giving English classes at the Neighborhood Association of Ventilla and have taken it upon myself to spread information about the workshops offered and find someone to help us with the English classes in the afternoons. Through traveling I’ve seen more of the world and in doing so have made meaningful connections and friendships in Madrid and all over Europe. I know the district of Tetuan and the center of Madrid very well and have been a tour guide for friends who have visited. I have become immersed in the Spanish way of life (not sure how I’ll go back to eating meals at the normal time) and have learned how to make some Spanish dishes!

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