Before I get into this post, I want to preface by saying that this post is of my own thoughts. All thoughts and ideas are drawn from my own personal experiences and do not reflect the experiences of others. This is merely my own views and comparisons of two cultures and meant to help spark thought from another perspective.
I’ve had some time to step back and collect all of my thoughts and how the last three months have affected my life. And how it’s created a new wave of thinking.
From when I first stepped off the plane into Miami, I had this overwhelmingly feeling that I was in an unfamiliar place. The country that I’ve called home for the last 22 years suddenly felt foreign. And I couldn’t understand as to why.
I came from a place where people took the time to smell the flowers and went to a place where people shoved you immediately out of the way without looking back. I came from a place where someone, a complete stranger, took the time to ask you about your day and came to a place with people not giving a damn what you thought. I came from a place where people cared nature and went to a place where people destroy to build concrete jungles.
My entire worldview has changed, especially with my view of Americans.
The lifestyle of a typical American is a fast paced mentality. We have to get things done in the fastest way possible and move on to the next task immediately. We don’t take enough time give ourselves a break. There are even studies that show how the quality of life in Americans is declining due to our lifestyle habits. We have to change or we will drive ourselves into insanity.
From my daily life, to school, and living with a host family, I learned more than I could ever imagine. I learned things I wouldn’t be able to learn had I stayed in the United States. I’m actively trying to take these lessons and apply them into my daily life. And I encourage everyone to make these changes in your life as well.
Make the time to be with your family. Family is the one thing in life that we are given from our day of birth. It’s the most important thing we have in life and something no one should take for granted. Call your mom. Go to dinner with your Dad. Take your brother to a football game. Do whatever you want, but do it with your family.
Take a moment from your day to smell the flowers. One thing I would notice in Peru is that people took the time out of their day to go outside. They would leave their job, for just about an hour, and surround themselves with nature. Whether it was around the block or in a park, Peruvians made an effort to be outside in the fresh air more. And that’s something I never see Americans do. It’s something we should be implementing in our lives not just because we live in a beautiful place, but for our own mental health. Taking one hour out of the craziness of life can be therapeutic. Give your brain a break.
Tell the people you care about that you love them. One day, we aren’t going to have our parents. And we aren’t going to have our friends. That’s a hard fact of life we all have to accept. Take the time to call your mom to say that you love her. Or tell you’re friend how much you care about them. Or express it in actions. Buy your girlfriend flowers. Take your Dad out to dinner. There will come a time in life where we won’t be able to tell someone or express our love for those that we care about.
Travel as much as you possibly can. Educate yourself by getting lost in a city. Learn a new language. Climb a mountain. Eat a different type of food. Get out of your comfort zone. You are expanding your worldview. Stop dreaming of that place you want to travel to, and just buy the damn plane ticket. It will be the best money you’ve every spent.
Stop thinking that the world revolves around America. Don’t get me wrong, America is an incredible country and I’m very lucky to call myself an American. But there are so many other problems going on in the world that are far worse than what happens here. And as Americans, we live privileged lives. We also live sheltered lives. And it’s hard to imagine our lives without the luxuries that we have.
To give some perspective, imagine the following situations. Imagine a child sitting outside of a hospital profusely bleeding on the street and denied medical care just because the hospital don’t want to help you. You are given no reason other than they can’t help you. Imagine a family having to walk miles to a river so they could bathe because they have no access to water in their town. Imagine being a woman and being denied service, in whatever facet you think of, solely because you are a woman. Imagine being denied the right to work just because you stay true to your cultural roots. Imagine being denied the right to speak just because of your gender.
Now think about America. Have you ever seen this happen? Have you ever been denied freedom of speech? Have you ever been denied medical care? Have you ever been denied access to water?
Learn how to love. On my last day with my host family, my host mom told me something that I will never forget. She said to me this: “Whatever you do with your life, do it with love. It is easy for us to choose hate. It is hard to choose love. You have seen things some people will never see in their lives. You have seen what real poverty looks like. But you have also seen happiness. You have seen people who are genuinely happy with their lives although they have close to nothing. Take that happiness back to your country and spread it to as many people as you can so that other people can know what it means to love life.”
This summer was an experience unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t thank my parents enough for supporting me to do this. And I can’t thank my host family enough for taking me in as their own and showing me their culture.
So here’s to you Peru. For giving me, and my purple suitcase, the most incredible summer.