Saturday, December 18, 2010

21 = 19/23 (...and other surprises!)

Well, I warned you all that posts were gonna be few and far between this year! Time is moving so quickly! I'm a second-semester college senior already, with post-grad plans and "real life" not far off on the horizon. In a few short hours I'll be 22, so I'd like to use them to reflect a little bit on this past year. Since last December 19, I've moved around the globe quite a bit. On my last birthday I was pretty heavily jetlagged from Brazil; this time it's from the East Coast. On my last birthday I was looking forward to flying to Italy in two weeks; this time it's Cancún. Over the course of the past 365 days I've sung with mariachi groups in Guadalajara and Madrid, I've played soccer in Boston and Bologna, I've sunbathed in Morocco and Greece. During my 21st year, I traveled to 19 of the 23 countries I've ever visited. And two in the middle of my Harvard senior fall semester, which I think is pretty sweet.

This past year was also marked by literally hundreds of new friendships that continue to bring me enormous joy. From incredible poets and aspiring filmmakers to enviable dancers and budding comedians, all of YOU made 2010 arguably my best year yet! I look forward to strengthening all of these relationships in the year- and years- to come.

Since we left off at the end of summer, I guess we should start at the beginning of the semester. I'm gonna do this in bullet form for the sake of speeeeeed, so here goes nothing:

* My first weekend back on the East Coast, I went to Brazilian singer Ivete Sangalo's DVD-recording concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was completely sold out and simply amazing. Special guest artists included Juanes, Nelly Furtado, Seu Jorge, and Diego Torres. The next day was the Brazilian Day parade in NYC, which was a big enough event to air live in 115 countries.

* In October I went back to New York for the East Coast Chicano Student Forum. The bus trip there was a traffic disaster- we left Boston three hours after our 5pm expected departure and didn't arrive to Columbia University until almost 4am! The Saturday conference was fun, but us Harvard kids got locked out of our host's room and instead slept in the reception of Columbia's Governmental Studies building until 5am. We were knocked out all the way back to Boston on Sunday morning, then arrived and took naps, then went to bed. Still, I consider the trip a worthwhile adventure because I met several friends from other schools with whom I'm still in close contact. :)

* The next weekend I went to a Tyrone Wells concert in Boston with some friends. He's a fantastic singer songwriter- check him out if you don't know his music. The concert was intimate and even better than I expected, so two thumbs up.

* The following weekend I took a road trip with my friend Yesenia, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend to Montreal. The three-day excursion was absolutely marvelous, and it put me right back into spring semester of last year. We stayed in a hostel, spoke some French (and Portuguese!), and pretty much explored the entire city on foot.

* I went to the Harvard Arboretum with Eliot House and Diego (my Mexican brother from springtime Eastern Europe madness), and experienced real fall foliage for the first time in my life.

* On Halloween night, I was surprised by a phone call from my Santorini-ferry-friend Marely saying that she was in Cambridge. We ended up partying with hundreds of Harvard kids and several of her roommates in the dorm room next to mine. I had originally wanted to escape the Halloween frenzy, and that night ended up being one of the semester's most memorable!

* In a fit of wonderful spontaneity, I bought a plane ticket to Spain five days before Thanksgiving and went across the pond to spend the holiday with my brother. In addition to seeing him, I also saw Madrid, Oviedo, Santander, Bilbao, and Barcelona! And to top it off, the night before my flight home I got to be in Barcelona as the home team- my favorite club in the world- demolished Real Madrid 5-0!

* At the beginning of December I was awarded a generous 9-month post-graduate traveling fellowship to Brazil through Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. I'll be mainly based in the São Paulo office as I support national educational and public policy endeavors, but I'll also have an opportunity to travel and work on various projects throughout the country. Out of all the places I've been, Brazil continues to enchant me the most and I couldn't be more excited to return next June!

* I finished all my finals two nights ago and feel very confident about each of them. For those of you that don't know, I took Intensive French this semester just for kicks. Le français n'est pas difficile!

* This morning I gave myself an early birthday present and bought all my tickets for January travels. I haven't told anyone as of this moment, but starting January 5th I'm headed down to Los Angeles for a few days, then over to Cancún! I'll spend a few days on the beach there and in Playa del Carmen, then I'll bus it to Belize, maybe take a ferry into Honduras, make my way back up through Guatemala to visit a friend in Mérida, and do some pyramid-climbing at Chichen Itza before flying up to Boston out of Cancún on January 20th. The best part about the trip is that the average January temperature in the region hovers around 82 degrees! It's gonna kill me to fly straight back into the Boston snow, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there...

So there you have it. Last semester in a pretty legit nutshell. Life is so much better than I ever imagined it could get, and all praise and glory goes to God! I pray that 2011 brings you all immense love, joy, and peace. May it be a fresh start for each of us, and may we enjoy health and harmony to the fullest. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!