This is the morning most of us have been dreading. Departure day has arrived and it is quite bittersweet to say the least. However, I am happy to say that I am leaving this place with lots of memories and a new perspective on life. I may not fully realize how much I learned while being abroad, but I feel like it is more than I could have learned sitting in a classroom for 3 hours a day. I am extremely thankful and feel very blessed for getting the opportunity to not only travel, but to learn and observe a new culture as well. The experience itself was priceless and is not anything that could have been written in a book. That is the beauty of traveling abroad to learn. I will try my best to express my thoughts about the trip, but I know I will forget something due to the fact that I took full advantage of my time here and could not possibly remember every detail.
Going to a new country with new faces is always a little nerve wracking. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I chose to take part in this study abroad. However, spontaneous me was craving adventure. So, why not? Our first meeting was a little bit awkward because it was my first time seeing the other students that I was about to spend 3 weeks with. Then we had our first official class session and even then I had only met one guy. Finally, we were in country and we had gotten to know each other a little bit better. The first week was all about Panama and adventuring around the country. Our first weekend during our little beach getaway was the weekend that the whole group really bonded. It amazed me how well we all got along and I knew it was going to be a wonderful 2 more weeks.
The second week was super exhausting. Meetings every other hour, all day long. I went into the week without knowing a single thing about Panama’s economy or banking system, but by the end of the week after hearing the same information over and over I was an expert. I loved every minute of it and later in life I will be so thankful for having so many meetings every day. I came to learn and boy oh boy did I learn! After each lecture and because the material was all new to me, I would ask my roommate a million questions to try and fully understand everything that we had just discussed. Week two flew by so fast that it was hard to keep up with updating family back home. I would get back to the dorms so exhausted from the day that I just had to take a nap. Nap time was essential for the long learning days. Week 2 went by even faster than week 1.
Week 3, our last week in country. This week consisted of 3 lecture days, 2 free days, and one final exam day. Two of the three lecture days were spent in Colon. We got to ride the train to our first lecture and I felt like I was in a Harry Potter movie, but who is Harry and who is Potter anyways? Hehe. It was an awesome experience! The night we stayed in Colon was the night our group had to throw together a presentation for some executives. The meeting was at 10am and we got the requirements at 4pm the night before. Wow, talk about stress! When the meeting came, we were ready and we killed it. I actually really loved this “real life” business situation. After the big presentation came the big final, which was on Friday. After the final, I realized I learned so much material over the last 3 weeks in country.
Not only did I learn from the lectures, but most of all I learned from my own observations and experiences. I was living in the now, which sometimes put me behind on my blog posts, but I had to enjoy my time because of how limited it was. I only wish all of my friends could have gone to gain the priceless experiences that I will remember for a lifetime. It is simply not the same when I tell them about my time in Panama. This trip has shown me how beneficial it is to travel abroad. I am ready for round 2… and round 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. Heres to Panama and to my future traveling experiences. Salud!