With only three days left here in Jamaica I figured it would be as good a time as ever to write my final blog, thinking about everything I have done here and how I have changed because of my experience. It is hard to believe everything I have seen and done in just five short weeks. Culturally, I feel like I have been exposed to more than I ever thought possible in such a short time frame. I have eaten jerk chicken, curry goat, salt fish, ackee, and fried dumplings. I have learned some Patois (Creole language of local Jamaicans). I have listened to Jamaican reggae and dancehall music, and even learned some dances moves to go along with it. I have experienced being a college student in Kingston, but also being a teacher in St. Thomas. I visited the Bob Marley Museum, ate Devon House Ice Cream, shopped at the Coronation Craft Market. Beyond all the cultural learning experiences (the main reason why I chose to study abroad), I have tested myself physically and emotionally, learning a lot about myself as a person. I hiked 10 plus miles through the jungles of Cuhna Cuhna. The Cuhna Cuhna hike was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I love hiking too! I don’t think I have ever sweat so much in my life. In fact, just being in Jamaica I do not think I have ever been more physically exhausted. My whole body aches sometimes and is always drenched in sweat. Naps by the fan are crucial. Emotion wise, I have never been on such a roller coaster, I’ve been frustrated, confused, angry, sad, excited, happy, tranquil. Everything! I think about visiting the Mustard Seed Community for example, where children with disabilities whose parents cannot take care of them are sent to live. Seeing those children with such severe disabilities in such tough conditions was so hard for me. I wanted to cry, but I also wanted to be strong for them. I wanted them to see how happy I was to be able to spend time with them and put a smile on their face if only for a minute. After I left I felt happy and sad at the same time. And although I knew these kids were in good hands, I was frustrated that disabilities like theirs existed at all. And working at Yallahs Primary School; boy was that an experience. It broke my heart to see these kids come to school ready to learn everyday, but to have a lot of that learning fall short because of such low resources. A handful of the children did not even have their own pencil to use. And the fighting! I still do not think I ever got used to that. I have never seen kids so full of anger and confusion. They fought constantly, but it was not out of hate or anything, it was because they have never learned to express or understand their emotions properly. But at the same time the happiness and energy out of these children was simply contagious. I loved spending time and working with them everyday. It made me feel so good, like I was making an impact on each of their lives. They sure made one on me. And the pride they had for their school, the sense of community, it was a beautiful thing really. Overall, I cannot believe I went all the way to St. Thomas, Jamaica all by myself for five weeks and did all that I did. I am beyond proud of myself and most importantly have learned that I am an independent person; that I can do big things on my own. I did all of this without my parents or my support system back home. Originally, I did not think this separation would be that hard, but it really was. I felt alone a lot of the time, but I was able to make a great group of friends who helped me through the worst times. Throughout this entire experience I took risks and did things I never would have done at home. These were things that put me way out of my comfort zone, but things that taught me a lot about myself. Like I said, I developed a sense of independence and inner strength that I never really recognized I had in me before. I think this Jamaica study abroad session has opened my eyes to a whole new me: a me that is growing up and expanding her horizons, one that is willing to try new things, take big risks; and do them alone too. At the end of the day, this experience put me through some crazy times and some very difficult times, but I grew from all of it. And I can safely say, I would not change any of it for the world.