Week One: New Understandings

Being almost done with my second week, I figured it was about time to get started on that Week One blog. Therefore here it is a list form of my random thoughts. Enjoy the chaos!

  1. Blogging and journaling ain’t easy. I started this mini-journey thinking that it would be an easy feat to journal daily and blog weekly. But, here I am, the Thursday of Week Two, trying to discuss my thoughts from Week One. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of time in the day. But every time I find myself with some extra time, I also find myself leaning more toward a siesta than a pen or keyboard. And when I am not taking advantage of my siesta time, I am out trying to explore the town or just trying to spend some time with the people I have met here in Merida. So by the end of the day, I am a bit too tired to put my entire day down on paper (digital or physical). But overall, I do think that it is important to express oneself in words, and therefore here I am trying to still capture and solidify past thoughts that I don’t want to slip away as the days continue. My only advice on this front is that if you are really dedicated to journaling or blogging, then set some time aside each day to accomplish this task. Afterall, once it becomes a habit, it will become easier to remember each and every day.
  2. Everyone has their own reasons for being abroad. Now at first this may seems like such an easy revelation, but sometimes (and far too often) it is forgotten. I for one am at fault for this. For me this trip was about finding my culture and discovering where my family comes from. With all of my being, I wanted to learn about the culture, the language, the food, the people. And while I felt this way, of course not everyone I am traveling with seems to. Not everyone wants to practice the language or understand the city’s people. But of course they have their own reasons for being here, some that I may not even know. Yet, the difference in our motives came as a shock for me, as I am sure it has been for others as well. On the flip side, here I am as an English and Global Studies double major participating in a Global Health program. I am sure that students here, who plan on becoming physician assistants and doctors, are wondering why I even came to this program in the first place just as I wonder the same about them. It’s inevitable, however, to predict everything you need to know about being abroad before you are there and I guess this is just one of them.
  3. Tijuana ain’t Merida, and Mexico City ain’t Guadalajara. So another naive point to have learned lies in the fact that Mexican states are not all the same. At first I truly believed that going to any place in Mexico would bring me closer to my roots. But in reality, Merida is definitely not the same place that my family came from. In retrospect this makes a lot of sense. Afterall I wouldn’t consider people from Texas to be the same as those from Virginia. Different states, different cultures. And just like the United States, Mexico is a big country with more than 50 dialects and languages according to our doorman, Frankie. Now I definitely don’t regret coming to Merida, but it has strengthened my longing to eventually return to the states of my family. But I also understand (moreso now than ever before) that I can never truly return to my roots. What my grandparents saw more than 40 years ago probably won’t be what I see today. But even with this understanding I would like to imagine that simply being in the same space that was once occupied by my family in their younger days would be enough to fill this gap in my own comprehension of self identity.
  4. Healthcare advances astound me. As a group we spent our first Wednesday afternoon at a healthcare fair in Plaza Grande. Not only is this healthcare fair held every Wednesday in the downtown area of Merida, but all of the services offered are free thanks to government support. The services offered vary from vision tests to hair cutting stations to blood sugar tests. I was surprised that the government was able to sponsor these sorts of preventative and informative fairs every week, but it is something that I wish existed in the United States. I think that if more people were able to gain access to these types of services, people would probably have a better understanding of their health. And since it would come at no cost, it would decrease the issue of class discrimination in the healthcare system. Furthermore, I have learned a bit about Seguro Popular, which is Mexico’s program for medical assistance for its citizens that don’t have medical insurance guaranteed by their workplace. The people who benefit most from this system are those that have jobs in the informal sector, such as a grocery store baggers or street vendors. Surprisingly, less than 50 percent of Mexico’s working population is part of the formal sector, which pays the taxes that support Seguro Popular. And although the system is not perfect, Mexico is upholding its citizens’ right to obtain healthcare assistance. What confuses me, however, is why the United States suffers with this issue so much. I don’t understand how if U.S. money is more valued, and a higher percentage of U.S. citizens pay taxes, why it is so difficult to provide every U.S. citizen with medical insurance if they lack it. But I figure that it has something to do with the privatization of insurance in the United States, and this will take some more looking into.

For now this is all I have (or recall) from the first week. And hopefully I’ll be better with keeping up with my Week Two blog! Campeche here I come!


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