Traveling Change

zameena mejiaOn Dec. 22, 2013 I took a straight eight-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Madrid to New York City. With my family, my three adorable dogs and my new beautiful baby niece to welcome me back home, everything felt right.

Come Christmas Day, my family surprised me by saying we’d be off to the Dominican Republic right after ringing in the New Year. My last couple of weeks in Madrid were riddled with finals and last-minute runs around the city, so hearing I would spend the first couple of weeks of 2014 in the Dominican Republic was a huge relief. After spending an amazingly relaxing 15 days on the island, it was already time to return home and pack for my move back to New Paltz.

Within the past year, I’ve left the country three times and traveled countless miles by land, sky and sea. For someone who likes to be on her feet, I’ve been very lucky, but I’ve also come to terms with something I’ve tried to run from for a long time — everything changes. In the past, I often turned my comfort zone into this lovely lounge space where I wanted my emotions, friends and memories to stay.

Then spring 2013 came around. I spread myself thin between work, classes, extracurriculars, friends and weird relationships. The fear of missing out on things while studying abroad loomed around me. My best friend since the beginning of college was transferring and I felt like I was losing him. I felt like I was losing a lot. Life was sort of swirling around me.

At the spring study abroad pre-departure orientation, the fact I wouldn’t be in New Paltz the following semester became a reality. By that time, I accepted that all I could do was finish the semester in the best way possible for myself.  I woke up and allowed myself to enjoy the rest of the semester. I spent one night in the soccer fields watching a meteor shower with good friends, another night running through the rain. As the semester came to an end, I slowly said my goodbyes to graduating Oracle staff, faculty on campus and dear friends. Soon enough, I was off and away.

Literally. I spent a few weeks down in the Dominican Republic, interned for a couple months then flew off to Madrid in August for a whole other growing experience. Not even a month into my time there, my iPhone 5 was stolen. Siestas were at 1 p.m., dinner at 9 p.m., people went out at 1 a.m. and I clocked out at crazy a.m. Here it was again, that thing I fear — change.

Yet again I had no reason to worry. I quickly made Spanish and international friends, became close with my Spanish roommate, learned the public transportation system, stayed in a hostel for the first time, explored Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Toledo and Granada, got along with my professors and the list goes on.

Life is unpredictable and you shouldn’t be hard on yourself when things don’t go your way. It’s important to let yourself go but don’t lose yourself. It took a lot of ups and downs to get where I am today, but I’m so happy to be back.

I’m a junior back in America.