There’s No Place Like Wisconsin

June 25th, 2014 – Boarding Flight

Again I fell asleep. This goes to show the restless nights in anticipation of leaving. It is not Ecuador that I will miss, but the sense of exploration and adventure that I have been receiving from this program. Constantly we were in pursuit of a new location or sight to set our eyes upon. There were no times where I was disappointed to go somewhere. I may have been eager to leave once we got there, but the spirit of adventure always beckoned me towards the newest experience and uncharted land. And about those instances of initial discontentment with my surroundings you ask, I stand by them. But I realize that it was all a growing experience. Had I possessed more background knowledge of the natural history of the country or even a mediocre mastery of the language, I may have been more saddened to leave. But I think I have gained all that I could here. This was not merely a study abroad program, but a session of self-discovery in the classroom of life. I have learned things beyond the scope of ecology and that holds value that cannot be measured by a tuition amount.

Sitting in this plane and being forced to listen to the calming neutral background music accompanying the slideshow of tourist traps in various areas of South America, I realize just how rewarding I have found this experience to be. I have the desire to study abroad again, in a different locale, where I can sail the seas and explore every corner of the world. My spirit of adventure cannot be tamed. It will be carried by the winds of unknowing, nurtured by the breeze of mystery blowing in the directions of the future. Hope will carry me far, further than this plane ever could. But Madison, WI is a good destination for now.

Ahhh… This continual lapsing in and out of consciousness must be my body’s way of desperately informing me of its need for quality sleep and relaxation after the duration of my international experience. Upon arrival to the United States, I will be inundated with paperwork, applications, forms, and procedures. All these are just alternative names for the overarching being of obligation that bears over me. I have left this behind for too long. Ecuador was a relief because it was an escape from all the responsibility I have obligated myself to in Madison. But I am glad to be going back. All good things must come to an end.

June 26th, 2014

After my 5 and a half hour wait in the airport, it was only three more hours to Madison. It is no surprise that I fell asleep several times today in the airport and on the bus. I even awoke to an angry bus driver. Even further evidence that my body is in urgent need of uninterrupted rest. Hopefully my apartment can deliver.

One thing I must note is that upon my arrival to Madison, the campus looked abandoned. What was once a city filled with the hustle and bustle of over-anxious middle-aged adults scrambling to get to appointments, classes, work, or target lap times now felt like a scene from some generic post-apocalyptic thriller. The protagonist observes the desolate ruins ahead, trying to comprehend the destruction and chaos that must have ensued here. This comparative analysis of the campus may be unfair because I was stuck in the dog days of temperate zone solar radiation, but I had grandiose assumptions that I would come back to a lively city overflowing with curiosity and cleverness around every corner. I was deeply mistaken.

Like me, many other students on campus opted to have their own internships and research programs and classwork and summer vacation trips to enrich their experience of life, broadening their prospects beyond Madison, WI. It is very selfish of me, but I would like nothing more than for this semester to begin. I need the obligation of study and work to pull at the strings of time that control my life. The perfect puppeteer to keep my mind rooted in place and away from insanity.

I am glad I got to visit old friends today. The month went by so fast. It is hard to explain everything to everyone. I am tempted to direct everyone to the blog so I do not have to tell them myself. The eagerness to read through my experiences again keeps me driven. This project is not only for study abroad participants to become informed, but also for myself. I wish to recount what I was thinking in the passing hours directly after my journey. To measure the change that has happened within. To view myself in a new light.

I am in conflict of whether this is something that I need to do again or if the study abroad experience is generic across the board. Ecuador may not have held a unique key to life that I was destined to wield. Do I attempt to go to sea? Bridget would likely recommend that I do, but I must consider my professional career. Will I be losing out on life if I don’t go? Will I always regret it if I don’t go? Is it realistic for me to leave again?

These questions plague me like the mosquitos of the Amazon, eternally stinging me with their pricks of confusion and transmitting their contemplation and indecisiveness to my mind for primary inconsideration. This summer experience has made me realize that there is no doubt that I want to do it. It is just a question of whether or not it is realistic. Wherever I do end up going, I know it will be where I let my mind take me.

As it was in Tiputini, it will be in America.

A final goodbye to Ecuador.
A final goodbye to Ecuador.