In 2006 I embarked on my first journey as a solo traveler at the mere at of 16. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but looking back realize it was the greatest starting point for what would later become my life’s passion. It wasn’t living in another country, experiencing a new culture, or learning a new language that did me in, but rather the people.
I was blessed with the opportunity of taking part in Rotary International Youth Exchange. For those of you who don’t know what that is, its a program where youth from all over the world go to different countries to study, experience, and live in a foreign country for one year.
My exchange friends were my life line in Mexico. They knew exactly what I was going through and were along for the same bumpy, crazy, mess of a year that I was. Of course I had Mexican friends, but I identified much more with the exchange students. Apart from that, these kids were from all over the world so I got an insight to not only Mexican culture, but about 15 others as well.
My first friend in Mexico was Ilona, from the Netherlands. We both spoke English so we kind of gravitated to each other. We were inseperable..always spending the night together, going shopping, and eating! 😉 We ended up hanging out with different groups of exchange students in the end, but stayed close as we were in the same city.
Low and behold, 4 years passed..she’s back in Amsterdam getting her 2nd university degree and I’m in Thailand living the nanny, expat life. It just so happened, 2 days after I came back from Chicago she was passing through Bangkok after a month-long Thailand excursion with her friends and boyfriend (same one from exchange!! GO ILONA! =) )
We got to hang out multiple times, have some drinks, laugh, and catch up. It felt like no time had passed at all. There’s nothing I love more than seeing an old friend after a long time and feeling like you just saw them yesterday! Ilona is only the second person I’ve seen from my exchange and it makes me want to see more. When we were all saying our tearful goodbyes that year, we kept saying “we’ll visit..we’ll see each other soon!” but alas, life happens and before you know it 4 years goes by..soon to be 25..
My goal: See as many of my beloved friends as possible from that amazing, unforgettable year.
Les Amo muchisimo amigos..ahora y siempre! Estan en mi corazon! Pura buena vibra a todos! xx