The first night I moved into my house in Mexico, some roommates were watching Friends. I’ve watched that show in every house I’ve ever lived in (though it may have been in the womb in my first house) and I absolutely love it. The theme song, which may be stuck in your head by now if you’re anything like me, resonates on so many levels.
In the spirit of my last week here and the illusions of ease that the internet can so easily create, I figured I’d share a big dose of reality about some of the things that have gone far differently than I expected, not to complain but to be honest. I think life is so hard to plan, even though I absolutely love planning and I try to get less disappointed by things going awry every day. It’s hard but more pleasant.
So no one told me…
-That four Penn students could be so different. 4 of us came to intern here and none of us had met before. It’s not a bad thing but it has certainly made me rethink my version of campus and how specific it is to my communities. 4 people can study and live within blocks of one another and have very little in common.
– That having a sommelier roommate does not equal wine access. Such housemate moved out before orders were placed and I have consumed less wine in Mexico than any summer in years. Why do people here drink so much beer?
-That my last week in the office would be marred by terrible wifi service and really loud construction as a floor is being replaced due to termite damage. I fled this morning to Casa del Agua, returned for a meeting and am now at a starbucks where the people at the next table are having a hebrew lesson. Most people are leaving and the expressions on the holdouts’ faces are grim. I also have events my last three days so my last time in the office for a full day of work was supposed to be tomorrow. Now I’m pondering just going straight to a cafe because wifi free work is pretty impossible.
-That people would be so generous. I leave every trip abroad vowing to invite people from other countries everywhere. I’ve been able to visit several mexican homes and tagged along so much with friends of friends and coworkers. This weekend, I was lucky enough to visit Cuernavaca, a town known for its eternal spring weather, about an hour and half from Mexico City. I stayed at Dani’s house, a good friend of Martin’s, who is a good friend of Isa and even got a ride to Cuerna from one of Ramsés’ friends because they were also headed there for the weekend. It was beautiful and relaxing and so lovely. We had no computers and spent the weekend playing board games (monopoly and uno) over drinks, watching soccer, eating (midnight quesadillas are a very good thing) and hanging out by the pool (mexican sunscreen apparently doesn’t go above SPF 15 so I was very glad to have my own). I felt so rejuvenated after leaving the city and am so thankful to everyone who made the weekend possible. I’ve also hung out with a circle of expats, including a 4th of July party that rivaled a penn frat party. Everyone is so friendly even though I’m just here for the summer and some have lived here for three years. It’s so gratifying to be included, even when my stay is so short.
-That a workplace could be so familial. Since day one, everyone at Ashoka has been so welcoming and I appreciate it so much. There’s a lot of turnover there, thanks to international workers and social service volunteers so it would be easy for the long term employees to stay distant, but they’re the opposite. I’ve gotten so many rides home from events, been invited to tag along to so many cool things, and eaten lunch with so many of them. The director greets everyone in every room he enters and I feel comfortable asking any of them questions. That’s a huge difference in culture from other offices, which I attribute partially to the office itself, a converted house that still feels so home-y and partially to the culture here and the type of work they do. #cubiclefreesummer has not made me long for a cubicle, even though it can get loud sometimes.
Lastly, no one ever told me that this summer would go so fast. I left the US about two months ago and I have four days left here. I don’t know what my plans for 2015 hold but coming back here is on my mind. I have so many places left to explore and friends that I’d like to get to know better. If there’s someplace here that would be willing to pay me, it’d be hard to turn down.
Thank you to everyone who has been there for me during my time here, the friends who respond to my weird texts, the coworkers who explain things without me asking, my housemates and fellow interns who help me sample all the restaurants, the friends who let me tag along to clubs and parties and car rides, my parents for their emails and facetimes and support, my sister and our stream of consciousness texts and all the people in Mexico City who make quesadillas, drive cabs, blend juices, start companies, and work their asses off to make this city better. It’s not easy but we’re here and that’s what counts.