Over the past week, I spent my days in Kingston, logging at the University of the West Indies. It was pretty crazy how different my experience in Kingston was from how my experiences in Yallahs have been. Of course, I cannot say I was too surprised. Kingston is a very urban setting, whereas Yallahs is extremely rural. In addition, the parts of Kingston we visited were much more Americanized than Yallahs and clearly of a higher socio-economic status. Prior to Wednesday June 6, the day we left for Kingston, the trip was all I could think about. All of us felt that way really. We were just excited to get a change in scenery; something that we expected would feel closer to home. I think we expected a little piece of America in the middle of Jamaica. But as I have learned while being here, you have to expect the unexpected. Although parts of Kingston felt more comfortable and more American, it was clear that we were still in Jamaica, a developing country. The dorms were very different than the ones I had been in back home. They were pretty much empty and the rooms were very small. There was also no air conditioning, which really doesn’t surprise me anymore. (I think Jamaicans must like to sweat! It is very healthy for you. Explains why so many of them are much slimmer than Americans) But the thing that was hardest to get used to was the bugs! They were everywhere: ants, cockroaches, mosquitos, you name it…crawling all over my dorm room. It was hard to believe kids lived like this all year round. Thinking that, I knew there must be some awesome things about UWI and the surrounding Kingston area. And luckily for me, I got to experience a lottt of them! At UWI I heard a few amazing lectures from some pretty cool people. Some of the topics were Crime and Community, Public Health, and The Political Economy of Jamaica. I learned about the national debt crisis in Jamaica, about the AIDS epidemic, about homophobia, and about gang violence. It was all super interesting and helped explain a lot of what I had seen and experienced since being here in Jamaica. The students at UWI also seemed really great. We spent a great deal of time with two students, Sherri and Aaron, who were eager to spend time with us and show us the excitement of Kingston. Outside of my UWI experience, the city of Kingston was awesome. We did and saw so many things. On one day of tour we went to Devon House, the National Gallery, Emancipation Park, the Bob Marley Museum, and the Coronation Craft Market. Devon House, home to the first millionaire in Jamaica, had some fun little shops and sold the best ice cream I have ever had in my entire life. At the craft market I bargained with the vendors for some cheap goods for my family. Emancipation Park produced the most famous statue in Jamaica, created as a representation of all the freed slaves. The National Gallery, although much smaller than the one back home, was home to some absolutely beautiful paintings and sculptures. But the best part of the trip was the Bob Marley Museum. I had always liked Bob Marley’s music, but something about going to his home and hearing his life story, made me feel even more of a connection to his songs. I saw his bedroom, the bullet holes from his assassination, his favorite mango tree, his football shorts…it was really cool! We visited ROOTS radio one other day. I got to hear my voice on live radio! We learned that ROOTS, an NGO, is set up to help fund the Mustard Seed community, a place where children with extreme mental and physical disabilities are supported. Seeing Mustard Seed was very difficult, as some of these children had severe cerebral palsy and had to sleep in cage like cribs to prevent them from harming themselves. Being a part of ROOTS and Mustard Seed made me very thankful for my life at home and made me want to help people in situations like these back in the United States. All in all, the entire trip to Kingston was wonderful, but completely and utterly exhausting. (I mean really…one night we went to a popular club Quad with some locals and were not home until 6am.) Needless to say, I was ready to head back to Yallahs, a place were the speed is a bit slower and I always know what’s going on. I am realizing I have become very comfortable with Yallahs and my home on Paradise Lane. It has become my home here in Jamaica.