I have never been able to wake up early. I am a nocturnal, sleepy human by nature – probably because I do too much sleeping. In Athens, I go to sleep at three in the morning and wake up just in time to rush to class at ten. By five in the afternoon, I am tired again and wolfing down unhealthy, processed food before booking it up Morton Hill for countless meetings in Baker.
But of any part of me that has changed the most while in Mexico, my daily routine has been most drastically affected. Here, I wake up at six, shower and eat a full breakfast before walking twenty minutes through back-streets to school by eight. For the next three hours, I can hardly think in English, let alone speak in it. My professors speak very little English, forcing me to adapt and not simply translate myself, but explain myself in another language, in another mindset. I then take a break, listen to music with friends and bake in the 90 degree heat. After that, it’s back to class for another hour before returning home to a promptly prepared, enormous lunch at two in the afternoon. From three until five, Mérida shuts down for siesta, or naptime. This is easily the best part of the day. Literally, nothing moves. Everyone sleeps, stores close, and the sun slowly begins to set. After waking up, your night truly begins, whether it is a simple dinner, mass amounts of homework or a discoteca with loud techno music, some American and some Mexican. Then you’re in bed by one, wake up in five hours, get up and do it all again.
Classes here are not a joke. In addition to my intermediate/advanced composition and conversation classes, I am also studying Mayan legends and Yucatecan culture, which includes learning to speak Mayan (which sounds like a robot: “bix u k’aaba’ a kaajal?” Try saying that five times fast) and the jarana, a traditional dance complete with costumes and chants. While difficult, I cannot explain the sentiments associated with looking at a worksheet and seeing three very different languages scribbled in the margins.
Related to school, our program participates in excursions to some of the most historical and some of the more gorgeous sites I have ever seen. An average weekend with OU Mayab includes climbing pyramids, jumping in cenotes (sinkholes of natural spring water) or crawling through caves alongside stone carvings and handprints from the days of the Mayans. These excursions are not only educational, but truly eye-opening. Who else can say they saw one of the seven wonders of the world last Saturday? I was lucky enough to stand right beneath it.
When I’m not in school, I am trying to travel to the far corners of the Yucatan, whether that includes more ruins, the beach or a village. On these days, I wake up early and go explore, because there is no time to be a Lazy-Lindsay here. It is far too beautiful and there is far too much to see to waste my days laying in bed or watching television. These days are my favorite because I know that I’m making something for myself, seeing things that, without this study abroad program, I would probably never get to experience. There is no greater feeling than feeling like a tiny part of this world, because then you know there is so much more to see.
Every day in this life, I can feel myself learning. I’m not listening and translating anymore, I’m simply listening and understanding. There are still words I do not understand, but that’s what dictionaries are for. I am traveling, conversing and witnessing little miracles every day. This, mis amigos, is the life.