Today there was a post bubbling up inside of me all day. I hate to say it, and I don’t mean to brag, but I have the best job in the world. I got paid to gush about one of my favorite places in the world – Peru – for four hours today. As a student at a fairly competitive university, it can be hard to find a decent job on or near campus. Somehow (SOMEHOW!) the position of student marketing coordinator at UW’s International Academic Programs office opened up at the end of the semester, and I got it. This position is a perfect fit for me for a number of reasons:
– It allows me to keep my mind internationally-centered. Working with people who have spent time all over the world (studying abroad is a requirement to work in our office) reminds me that any place in this big, beautiful world can become home.
– It is helpful as I experience the trademark signs of reverse culture shock. I spent August to December 2009 in a country whose culture and values are wildly different from those of the United States’, and being surrounded by others who have been through the same things is a comfort to me.
– It helps me to keep up my Spanish skills, as I present our programs to different language classes and student groups across campus. Something I will talk about later is the importance of being bilingual in today’s changing world, and how I feel extremely lucky to be well on my way to accomplishing that goal.
Between classes today, I gave private orientation for a student who missed the Peru spring program’s orientation in December. Talking in-depth about Peru for the first time in a while, and feeling like my input was valuable, was a huge boost for me. I’ve been having a few typical reverse culture shock symptoms lately – feelings of social anxiety, and not fitting in with my new (but old) surroundings. Today made me realize I can be at home and make valuable contributions in the US while still drawing from the incredible spread of knowledge I built up in Peru.
After the personal orientation, I assisted one of our study abroad advisors in an information session on all of our (20+) Latin America programs. This was the high point in my day – from somewhere deep within me, the old me came back to life. The me I am proud of – not the Leia of late, who shies away from conversation and social interaction.
To clarify, I had a rough time readjusting to American customs and have spent time in stores and coffee shops agonizing over what to order, what the best way is to ask questions without offending someone, and, well, all of that (over)thinking just exhausts me. So that’s why I’ve recently been shying away from interaction. The old me, the comfortable me, made it a point to reach out to people I didn’t know, and had easy, friendly conversations with anyone I came across.
That’s the me that came out to play today, for the first time in months. I was in the freaking zone, and it was awesome. After talking about Peru for a few minutes, I felt pretty confident that I’d left a good impression of my new favorite place on the interested students. And that simultaneously newfound but familiar feeling? It put a bounce in my step for the rest of the day.
During the next 28 days I’ll be writing about what I’m learning in school (only three semesters left!) and what it’s like re-adjusting to This American Life (shameless plug for one of my favorite radio shows). Last semester I had the perfect inspiration for blog posts – the biggest adventure of my life. I’ve decided to begin again because I’ve decided it’s time to stop writing about what I’m going to do, and just write about what I’ve done. That’s what people want to read, and that’s what I want to write. So sit tight and I promise (promise) it will be worth it.
PS: Specific goals on these 28 days of writing are on their way to fruition. You can see them tomorrow!