Ashley Falcon has been living in Colombia with WorldTeach since January 2013. Last month, she took the time to think back on how she has adapted to being outside her comfort zone in Colombia. Read on to learn how Ashley has seen the uncomfortable aspects of Colombia turn into rich cultural experiences...
The fact is; I enjoy being uncomfortable. It makes me feel alive and free. Some of my best decisions have been on the brink of a meltdown. My entire college career I was uncomfortable working thirty to sixty hours a week with 16 – 20 credit hours. But not only did I succeed but a few times, I made Deans list. What is the point of being comfortable, if just to be content, if just to be stuck doing the same thing, making the same mistakes. Life has to be more than that. So I left my so-called country and poured into this city right as the sweat poured out.
This city can take a lot out of you. It can get hopped up on the local coffee and make a neighborhood 5 AM wake up call to scream HAPPY BIRTHDAY for the kid five houses away. It sometimes can know all you want is to get to work sweat free and brings a full standing-only room bus stopping at every whim. It can cancel all your classes without a peep, but only after staying up until 3AM lesson planning. It´s sexual innuendos in the street while eating a banana. It´s no water right after your 5k run. It´s running out of your drinking and food stipend after only two weeks of drinking and fooding. It´s all of this.
This feverous city and meat rotting (and or basking) in the sun, as well as the portable existence I have grown accustomed to, could easily be complained about. It can and did consume my life. It will get you quoted as saying ¨I hated everything!!¨ It also will get you telling the same whimpering story to all 12 of your closest, disapproving friends (ahhh the perks of being an extrovert).
Those same complaints, these same complaints one month later are more than vallenato to my ears (especially the wake up calls). I have a giant family five hundred blocks long and wide. I dance salsa in the street at nine AM on the way to school, in the same crowded bus. It´s facing my fears and asking a boy (!!) to dance with me. It´s saying hello to a perfect stranger, and having them say hello back. It´s one or a few cold Aguila Normales after a long Tuesday with co-members of The Cause. It´s a delicious vegetarian Shabat after a sweaty Friday night at Capoeira. It´s all of these things.
But, more importantly, it is a place that has opened his or her eyes, heart, and soul to me in the strangest of hours.
I will not say this is the end to my complaining, because knowing me it is not. I was born this way to quote Lady G. But, I will say that without the small (right guys, SMALL) complaints I have, I might forget to stop and appreciate the reason I am here. I am here to grow and complain and look up at the disgustingly-always sunny sky and feel uncomfortable (especially if I forget the sunblock). And uncomfortable I wish to stay, life is just so much more rico that way. If you want to be comfortable, stay where there are no bugs in your food. Stay where you don´t need to desperately listen for a honk to get out of the street or get run over. Stay where there are four seasons and air conditioning in all your homes. Stay where you have no need for anything, I swear I won´t judge.
But, if you decide being uncomfortable might, in some sick, twisted, convoluted way make you happy, leave your bags and problems at the quadruple pad locked door of the city, and get dancing.
- Ashley Falcon, WorldTeach Colombia 2013
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