A Sea of Nevers

By Kamil Krukowski

I sit in a rocking chair on the second floor balcony, gazing out across my neighborhood and the
eucalyptus trees lining the river. The horizon roars with a majestic pink, slowly fading into a
deep orange as the sun kisses goodbye. I strum away to the tune of Vance’s “Riptide” before
swapping to “Seven Nation Army” on my guitar.

Tomorrow I’ll take Bus 22 over by the stadium to compete in my first Jiu Jitsu competition, after
meeting my German coworkers (In Ecuador of all places) for coffee and a bit of European
culture and language exchange.

Three months ago, or even last month, I couldn’t have dreamed of any of these things
happening; I had never touched an instrument, avoided any sports like the plague (much less
full contact martial arts), and didn’t know any other European students around my age.

I had never painted or taught other people.

I had never worked at a professional bakery to raise funds for a special needs school.

Though I had some experience with people with disabilities prior to my bridge year in Cuenca
(mostly blind or deaf), I had never worked with children with disabilities (both physical and

I had never taken a public bus, embraced trying new haircuts or speaking to my barber (I look
back and laugh, but it was a genuine struggle, especially in Spanish), or struck up conversations
with Taxi drivers.

I’ve never lived in a household outside my immediate family.

Navigating a foreign country over 3,000 miles away from home: it’s like taking a polar plunge,
diving into a pool of below freezing water. Once you get used to the shock, the world isn’t as
scary anymore. What was “never” becomes a good memory. Our challenges open new doors,
and define us by how we handle them. If we treat our deficiencies as potentials for growth that
we regularly realize, the world is our oyster and we take the reins of our destiny.

Every “never” is a door waiting to be opened, splitting off into dozens more of potential new

This year is a launching pad. My first time being independent, my first time in an unstructured
environment, my first time bearing the weight of my adult life upon my shoulders. Everything I
choose helps to define the future me, regardless of the past. I’m reborn from the ashes of my
past self in these nine months.

All the lessons I learn will follow me, and my experience will form a cornerstone for navigating
my future at Tufts with all these wild opportunities I’ve held that many people can’t even

I am reborn anew.