Gracias a Dios y Gracias Adios

Studying abroad in Mexico has been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my life and I was truly blessed with an amazing host family. One thing I didn’t expect, was to feel  so welcomed by everyone I met, from the faculty members and students at UAQ, the nurses and doctors at the hospitals and my host family. I didn’t want to say goodbye today, I don’t think any of us were ready to leave Querètaro. I fell in love with this beautiful city and the beautiful hearts of the people here. For this, I want to say, “Gracias a Dios,” Thanks be to God for this unforgettable experience, before I say, “Gracias Querètaro, adios,” Thank you Querètaro, goodbye (for now).

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(A bridge near our house that we walked over everyday to get home)

Last night after our dinner, Becky and I came home to find all of our aunts, cousin, and grandma there to say good bye to us.  I can’t put into words the amount of warmth and kindness I feel from my new family. They all made sure that Becky and I new that their house was our house, and that we need to visit again soon. I really felt like I had become part of their family. Last night Gaby, Dani, Becky and I stayed up until 2:30 or 3:00 am goofing around with each other in the kitchen. I think we stayed up so late because we didn’t want our time together to end. It is awesome that I have friends in another part of the world. Even through language barrier, I’ve grown close to my host mom and sisters over time. I have two brothers at home but I think I finally got to experience what it would have been like to grow up with sisters!

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Today our mom cooked us a delicious breakfast of fresh sliced fruit (I’m going to miss the mangos here) which we ate every morning, and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich which was another dish we ate frequently. We said our final goodbyes, which is symbolized by a cheek to cheek kiss and a strong hug to our families and UAQ faculty. I remember thinking this greeting was awkward at first coming to Mexico but I really like it now; it’s warmer than a hand shake and I think it really reflects the friendliness and warmth of the people here. Then we hopped in a van which took us to the airport.

While we were sad to be leaving, we made the most of it and played the Español version of Banana Grams on the airport floor while we waited for our flight to arrive. It was a long day of traveling but we made it to Dallas and finally to Grand Rapids safe and sound.
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Some funny realizations we had as we returned to the States were: that this was the first time we had been cold in three weeks as many people don’t have air-conditioning in Mexico, that there were no trashcans for toilet paper in the bathroom since we could flush it again, and that Coca-Cola is not as sweet here in the United States as it is in Mexico.  When we landed in Michigan,  Kyrian’s family and friend greeted us at the airport with a welcome home sign!

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Tonight after we returned to Hope, we all went for a walk in the pleasantly warm night air which smelled fresh and sweet like summer. While three weeks seems like a long time to be away, I can’t believe how quickly it went. I won’t forget the new friends I have made (both from the US and Mexico), the different foods I tried, or all of my incredible experiences like learning to salsa dance, assisting patients in the various hospitals, hiking Bernal or the Temazcal.

Thank you, Hope College, for providing me with this opportunity to spend time in another culture which I realize in some ways not all that different from my own. It was truly special and is definitely something I’ll always remember!

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. God’s presence was unquestionably present in this marvelous city and the compassion of the wonderful people there.

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Thanks for listening!

-Brittany

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