This past weekend we went on our last excursion to Ampefy. It was really beautiful – we stayed in bungalows with an amazing view over a huge lake surrounded by rice paddies and hills that used to be volcanoes way back when. We had a number of opportunities to go hiking in the countryside, and it was a really nice peaceful way to end what has been a truly incredible 3 and ½ months in Madagascar.
I feel so blessed by this whole semester – the caring staff, the unbelievably good group dynamics between all us students, three amazing host families, and the million unique opportunities I had to see and learn things. Looking back, I’m realizing that there’s no way I could have experienced this country in the same way, and in as much depth, if I had come for any reason but this study abroad program. Not in such a short amount of time, in any case. In a way I feel ready to go, but only because we’ve been talking about leaving and saying our goodbyes to various people and places in stages for a while now. Two weeks ago was the last time I saw my Betafo host family. Last week I moved out of my Tana host family’s house. Last night we took the staff of our program out to dinner to say thank you and farewell. Today I waved goodbye as 3 of the students in our group took a taxi to the airport. The end is imminent, and everyone can feel it. I imagine this is kind of what graduating feels like, but it’s different in that it seems more permanent, more final. When I leave Madagascar, I’m not just leaving a country, but I’m leaving a way of life, a language, and all the people I’ve met here, potentially forever. I really want to come back, and if it’s in my power I will. I won’t deny I’m already thinking of ways I might be able to spend a gap year here after I graduate. Of course, regardless of whether I come back or not, next week at this time I’ll be the US. I’m sad to leave my new family and friends, but excited to see old my family and friends back in the states.Veloma, Madagasikara. Amin’ny manaraka indray.