Titles are Too Permanent: Change is Always Good

It’s May 2014 and I am just 4 weeks away from moving to Mexico. And I am excited to make this change.

I’ve come to affirm this ideal that change is always good albeit difficult at times. (Sidenote: Hero: the Musical made some major changes that truly developed the story further. You should check it out before it closes in Sarasota on June 1st).

Over the past 8 years, I have changed greatly. It’s weird to reflect on these changes. It was 8 years ago that I made my first ever trip to Mexico. My 3rd year of college. Class title: “Contemporary Mexico”. It was a small group of us with our Spanish faculty, Paco. We went through EF which put us on a trip with several other groups (including an annoying bunch of high schoolers from California).

Day 1: We traveled from rural northwest Missouri to Kansas City International airport, layover in Atlanta (I think), and arrived in Mexico City.

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This was the first time I had traveled internationally that I could remember (technically I had traveled from Philippines and Japan before arriving in the United States when I was 3). It was such an exciting experience. Though I was extremely nervous about passing through immigration/emigration (since I’m a naturalized citizen). I love flying; and so flying with a bunch of my friends was quite exciting.

It was one of the first times that I was truly on my own as an adult. I mean, I had been living away from my childhood home since I turned 16 for school, but I never before had been in this type of position. To be able to explore another country, another culture, was something that I was extremely earnest to experience. This was seriously the foundation for my interest for traveling domestic and international.

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First Leg of Trip: Mexico City

During the first leg of the trip, we stayed in Mexico City for a few days. We explored the city, visited the pyramids in Teotihuacan, went out to the Zona Rosa, and spent some time in a seedy bar. I was 17 which I think was the legal drinking age in Mexico! It was one of the first times I drank alcohol without feeling guilty. It was interesting, though, because this was during a time when I was still hesitant about drinking and I wasn’t fond of how most alcohols tasted (how things have changed). I was able to continue trying things, but sometimes I also felt compelled to participate because of the experience. 26-year-old Stuart would advise anyone traveling in groups to “be okay with your boundaries; don’t give into peer pressure if you don’t wanna”.

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The second monumental experience I had (or didn’t have) was when I visited the Teotihuacan Pyramids. 18-year-old Stuart was extremely afraid of heights. This posed a problem when the group (as they should) expressed desire to climb the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The compromise I made in my head was to climb the Pyramid of the Moon. It’s smaller with a much less strenuous climb. Let me tell you. It was difficult. My fitness ability was way lower than it should have been, and my thighs were screaming at me at the completion of the climb. Additionally, the climb up was taxing physically, but the climb down was taxing mentally. I was more afraid of falling on the way down. But the view from the top was spectacular. And then I waited at the bottom of the Sun Pyramid while the others climbed it. And for 3.5 years, I regretted this (I finally went back for Thanksgiving Break 2009 to climb bothand to be almost stranded at the Pyramids because I didn’t understand the Mexican public bus system). For many reasons, it highlighted what I wanted to change in my life.

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Second Leg of Trip: Merida

For the next leg of the trip, we flew from Mexico City to Merida. And the airport system and staff for Mexican domestic flights were the nicest. I was amazed at how comfortable I felt walking through that airport and how courteous the staff were. It’s fascinating how culture changes the experience one has. Merida was a nice chance to explore other parts of Mexico. Lots of culture. Our faculty member told us many interesting stories. We visited Chichen Itza. A cenote. And some other historical areas that highlighted the Mayan way of life.

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Last Leg of Trip: Cancun

The last leg of the trip was 1 day/2 nights in Cancun. We arrived there on a bus (we’d been on since Merida), and we were unpleasantly surprised to see how much different Cancun was from the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula we had explored. The service, restaurants, attractions, were all very clearly catering towards tourists from places like the United States. We visited Isla Mujeres.

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A whole day of beach fun… turned into my very first sunburn. Apparently, I sunburn. 15 years of living in Missouri, and I had never sunburned. I hardly ever used sunscreen. And I soon realized that I was not immune to those damaging ultraviolet rays. It was quite funny, actually. I did not even understand what a sunburn felt like. Later in the evening I had a weird tickling sensation. I woke up in the middle of the night with a weird back itch. And then the next morning when we were loading up our bags to catch our flight, I yelped in pain when the bag’s straps hit my shoulders. I yelped out loud and in my head for the remainder of the trip home. For the layover while crossing through customs. For each time I had to pick up my luggage and lug it around. For my backpack. It was terrible.

I’m thankful that I have not had a sunburn since then… though I still hardly ever use sunscreen.

Change Is Always Good

It’s a fun exercise to think about how much I’ve changed in 8 years. To think about how 18-year-old Stuart might respond to things that 26-year-old me encounters and vice versa. A lot of the time I romanticize the past, wishing to be back to my college days. But I also have to remind myself that change is always good. The person I am today is a far better than the person I used to be. And the people I used to know have become better people too (hopefully).

 

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3 thoughts on “Titles are Too Permanent: Change is Always Good

  1. Hahaha I love this and YOU my friend! Those were great times and what made me fall in love with NW before even seeing it! I wish you the best on your move to Mexico!!!!

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