Monday, July 18, 2016

Views from Costa Rica

"Poor Man's Umbrella" 
Two weeks ago, I returned from my first study abroad experience in San Jose, Costa Rica. I will attempt to succinctly surmise my reflections on this yet another amazing experience of my summer.

First of all, check out the photos for all the natural beauty of the country. So much vegetation! Also, I was glad to truly immerse myself into the culture of 'pura vida'. The following video describes this further:

I can also honestly say it was interesting to not be able to speak the national language. I mostly felt lost and a little bit embarrassed when I could not communicate. It really opened my eyes to the vulnerability one could feel in any unfamiliar environment. 

Hanging out with a toucan
Finally, the most intriguing phenomenon I experienced was that after only a little while, I felt like I could have easily been at home. Not because there are oh-so-many similarities between America and Costa Rica or anything like that, but because the saying "home is where the heart is" actually really rings true.  Another phrase that comes to mind is the title of Jon Kabat-Zinn's first book, "where ever you go, there you are". See, the thing is I was in a new environment, but I was still me. Still Jasmin. With all of my memories carried over from past experiences and hopes for the future. Therefore, my internal environment was a very familiar one. This feeling also brought comfort when I longed to be with my family and friends back home. When I tapped into this inner, familiar feeling, I felt that they were  there with me. Becaus
Sloths are a pretty big deal in the country
e the truth is I carry them with me wherever I go.

I hope to travel abroad again someday. Not sure I know where to next, but I'm sure it will be a uniquely enriching experience in and of itself. And, I look forward to that. Until next time, enjoy the views from Costa Rica below!   


Great shadowing experiences 

We got to stand in on a maxillofacial surgery!

Road trip to beautiful beach town Manuel Antonio

And I got to celebrate my birthday there! 

Could not have enjoyed a better trip in a beautiful place.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Who can remain silent? Insights on Peace

I've just come back from my adventure in Costa Rica a little over a week ago, and I was looking forward to sharing my insights and pictures from my travels.

But, then, all the tragedies of last week occurred. I'm posting on social media, so I don't need to rehash any of the specifics here. But I did want to say this.

Usually I don't speak on political or social commentary, mostly because things move way too quickly for me to keep up. But, then I thought to myself: how can I stand silent with sadness, frustration and fear?

I reflected: the name of my blog is Finding a Better Way. Currently, I'm personally trying to figure out how to find a better way to cope with the feeling of despair while trying to maintain hope for a better future. It can be tricky to remain optimistic in the face of tragedy, but I think I've found a way to invite peace into my heart. In doing so, I have to sometimes unplug from the news, from the Facebook posts, etc. Not to remain uninformed and ignorant, but to maintain my own sanity and peace of mind. For me, finding my own peace allows me to visualize long-term, effective solutions to the root of these issues. For me, peace delivers clarity that leads towards social change. The type of peaceful change that will ensure that the slain and their families are never forgotten and everyone's efforts towards change are not in vain.

I just wanted to share a few insights in case there's anyone else out there like me trying to find a better way to cope, a better way to process, a better way to heal and move forward.

Bearing this in mind, throughout the remainder of my summer, I hope to share more insights that were gathered in my travels and experiences. Until then, peace, my friends. :-)