A Mexican Experience

Joy Ayemoba, '13, studied Spanish in Guadalajara, Mexico.

This morning marked the end of my adventure, and I have to say it was incredibly difficult. I don't know, I'm typically not one for crying, but seeing all the little gifts that my host family had made for me in addition to running into teachers and friends who couldn't help but cry or get teary eyed, it got to me. I didn't sob, but I realized in those moments how much the people here mean to me, and how sad I am to be leaving.

I know I've made my fair share of complaints about Mexico, but the truth is, looking back on it, I wouldn't change a single thing. Every moment good or bad has helped me learn something new about myself and I can honestly say that upon leaving here I will never be the same. I realized how much I took for granted and how privileged I am to live the lifestyle that I follow. There are so many things that I'm thinking of as I'm sitting down right now writing to you all. Before Mexico I had this false sense of entitlement to everything. I felt that I deserved everything, but the truth is I don't deserve anything more than the next person. I was lucky enough to be born in England; I was lucky enough to move America. When I think of all the opportunities in life I will have that many people here will never have, I'm baffled.

For example even this trip is something that when I look back on it, could never happen for most people here. Most people in Guadalajara don't speak English, and when I think of how I traveled thousands of miles to learn to speak another language it's mind-blowing. Seriously, a person never knows how fortunate they are until they sit down and look at these simple facts.

When I go home I'm returning to a lot of small luxuries that I'd always taken for granted: hot water, fresh milk, meat, air conditioning, and so many more things that it blows my mind. I don't mean to say that Mexico is a terrible place or that it's a Third World country and that I'm so glad to be leaving.

Joy in Mexico

No, I'm saying quite the opposite. Although Mexico may not be as prosperous as the US there is something so intrinsically good and enlightening about this country and its people. Being here has taught me a lot of things about life, politics, and survival. When I would pass a homeless person in Chicago I would always try to be quick about walking by, I didn't want to think about it. My life was not connected to theirs in any way. But that's wrong. I see now that what opportunities I have should be used to better the lives of others.

I know I sound very Mother Theresa-y right now, but having met children who have seen the lowest points of life; and having seen people too hungry, too sick, and too tired to even beg for money as they lie on the street....I know I can never be the same.

Words cannot begin to express my gratitude towards the University of Chicago FLAG committee, and to my parents and host family that made this entire journey possible.

When I first entered Mexico I was scared, nervous, and very close-minded. Now I am leaving an older, wiser, more grateful, and much more aware individual. This trip didn't just give me funny vacation stories; it gave me a fresh breath of life and a new perspective of my world, and the people who live in it.

Thank you Mexico. You've been wonderful to me.

Submitted by Joy Ayemoba, '13

Mexico, FLAG