These past two weeks, I have been on one of the best vacations I've taken in a while. I have gotten the chance to meet people I wouldn’t have ever met, do things I’ve never given myself time to do, really see Argentina, and speak a boatload of español. I didn’t go back to Iguazú, not to Buenos Aires, Patagonia, or the Andes… I just shut down my computer and set off to conquer the world.
It’s something they preach at every Rotary event and orientation “don’t spend so much time on the computer!” …but they are always talking to a room full of 15-19 year olds living in the 21st century who have grown up absolutely surrounded by this sweet little thing called ‘technology’, so those long speeches aren’t really all that effective.
‘Cause really, technology is AMAZING! This fall, through Skype I’ve gotten to see the inside of more dorms than my entire college search, been able to watch the reconstruction of our kitchen floors, and even see St. Olaf in the fall (a sight I thought I’d miss for the first time in 18 years). Through e-mails, I’ve been able to get important documents from my dad overnight, see adorable pictures of my cousin Brian’s new baby twins, and send birthday greetings to friends and relatives (since postcards are a rare find down here). Facebook, of course, has kept me up to date on all that is going on back home and in the lives of the other N-field outbounds around the globe. Technology is an awesome, powerful thing.
…That’s the problem. Because it is so (pick word: incredible, fast, easy, free, interesting), it doesn’t take much for it to become a boredom-buster, time-filler, or just an escape back to the good ol’ world of íngles… basically, It’s an awesome, powerful thing that can easily get in the way of an even more awesome and powerful experience- and the real reason I decided to sign up this this loco adventure in the first place. I’m sure all you wise Rotarians out there are hoping to hear that I did this because I was listening and just wanted to be the best exchange student I could be. I can pretend if it makes you feel better, but in all honesty, I just did it for myself; for a little challenge, experiment, and a little me-time.
So, I went AWOL, and shut it down: skype, facebook, e-mail, my blog, everything, OFF. And I loved it. One day, I felt artsy, so I went down to the center and joined the art institute where I will now be taking drawing, painting, ceramics, guitar, voice (what?!) and indigenous art classes for the summer and fall. Another day, I felt hungry, so I spent a few days in the kitchen cooking up a storm and have now mastered a number of traditional dishes. I’ve learned (VERY) basic portuguese online, gotten pretty dang good at yoga, and don’t even know how long I went without speaking or hearing English. It was only two weeks, and unfortunately my dream of conquering the world in such a short time didn't quite happen, but I’ve at least learned to see the world around me in a whole new way.
and the world, my friends, is pretty freakin’ cool.