Author: Delaney Nolin
As I pass the “one month left” point in my study abroad experience, I find myself somewhere between excited to go home and inexpressibly sad about having to leave this incredible place. I will likely not have another opportunity to come to the Galápagos, at least not any time soon, and the government prohibits reentry for at least a year anyway. This realization has pushed me to try and experience all that I can over the next short three and a half weeks before I return to the United States. I had already committed to truly living in the moment here and trying to say “yes” to everything—which shows in my classic college student bank account—but now I have realised that there is still so much on my wonderful island that I need to do before I leave.
I have also grown so fond of the island itself; I never want to leave this wonderful community. There is absolutely nowhere on this island where I feel unsafe, and everywhere I go I manage to see a local who will return my smile with a friendly wave of “hola.” I feel so lucky to have chosen a program where, rather than being lost in a huge city with hundreds of thousands of other people, I have truly assimilated and become a part of the community here. Living with a host family has also allowed me to make real connections with the community because, no matter what, in San Cristóbal, you are only ever one person away from any other person who lives on the island. There are only 7,000 people on the entire island, so it is impossible to be unknown or go unnoticed—something that can be both a blessing and a curse. In the few weeks remaining, I hope to make even more connections and hang out with the friends I have already made on the island. Already, I can tell that there will always be a little part of San Cristóbal that I take back with me and becomes a part of my “home.”
Besides the relationships I now have with local people, I cannot yet think about leaving all of the amazing people that I have met as a part of this program. In a group of fifty 20-something college students thrown together for four months, often hip-deep in mud or sea lions, one would think that we would all have gone crazy by now. Somehow, we managed to land one of the greatest amalgamations of people I could possibly imagine for a small program like this. There are always a couple bad eggs, but I do not think there is a single person who I would not want to spend a day with in this trip. Every person seems to fill their niche perfectly and, therefore, no matter who is there, any activity is always amazing. Thinking that, in a few short weeks, we will all spread to our own corners of the world, be it Germany, Maine, California, or Australia, I doubt we will ever be all together in this really incredible group ever again. While that is incredibly sad, it also motivated me to enjoy every single second with such amazing people in such an amazing place to the very fullest. I want to watch every sunset, count every lobo, and swim every day. Instead of drowning in the sadness I know would envelop me if I thought about it too much, I will flourish in the millions of seconds I have in front of me on my beloved San Cristóbal.
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