Before and Now

            My number one fear about this trip was the idea of traveling to India with strangers. In reality, these people are not strangers to me as we all go to the same school, and at Andover, you feel like you know everyone. But I am an introvert at heart and have always had social anxiety, so talking to anyone I haven’t known the majority of my life can be stressful. I worried I would never feel settled on this trip. 2 weeks later, I couldn’t imagine traveling across the world with anyone else.

            During my time at ESI, I was able to have a single, and I thought this was the best case scenario. I imagined at the end of a long day bonding with our group and meeting new faces, coming back to my own space would be just what I needed. Within the first two days, I avoided my room at all costs because I didn’t want to miss any time I had with our group.

            In Ahmedabad, I bonded with our group, but I felt as though we were all focused on our personal journey. And we needed to be, because the time there was so emotionally intense, that it was difficult not to get wrapped up in all the new emotions you were feeling and thoughts you were having. We still all found places in our hearts to care so deeply for one another however, but we had to focus on our own learning first.

            In Pune, we are one unit. In the times where one of us has been sick or gone for the day, it is so evident that something is missing. All of our personalities mesh so well together and I have a different appreciation for each person here, so when we aren't all together, it just isn't the same experience. However, it is rare we are no together. And with this togetherness comes laughter, smiles, tears of joy, and sometimes even shushes from the people around us. At home, I count down to the moment where I can reside back to my own room and bed, but now, I fight to keep my sleepy eyes open to hear one more joke and share one more laugh with one another.

            I used to think knowing someone was knowing every detail of their story but on this trip, I have learned how to know people without words, but through laughter, eating, and silence.