Memories of Mexico, Mole, and Marginalization

This past summer (May-June 2014) I spent 6 weeks in the heart of Mexico city on an internship for a Pharmaceutical company. I learned a lot about business in another country, working in a second language, and after living in 4 different houses, I pieced together the cultural norms of Mexico.  I tried (and didn’t like) Mole, a dark brown sauce with a vegetable base that is mashed and simmered together with ground nuts, chilis, and chocolate. I also bribed a police officer and witnessed how corrupt MX really is.

There are many beautiful parts of this metropolitan area like the Centro Histórico, the golden Angel of Independence, Zócalo (central square), the floating gardens of Xochimilco, Templo Mayor – ancient Aztec temple ruins, and many historical churches. Since I had dyed my hair dark before arriving and tried not to dress too flashy, I never felt unsafe walking around to see the sites. Yet, I did have a group of teenage boys ask me for my picture. And, when people noticed my blue eyes, they treated me differently: Some with more interest and others with less kindness.

Anyway, what really got to me was the pollution and altitude. The city is situated in a valley almost 3,000 meters above sea level and is home to 21.2 million people making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world (source). All of this amounts to a huge number of commuters, taxis, and public buses, meaning man made pollutants sit in the air since there is no ventilation in the valley.

The most impactful moment on this trip was when I saw TV interview with a young man, probably in his early 20s, talking about his dreams to go to America and see his family. The crowd awwww’d and the whole thing seemed so surreal and Hunger-Game-esque, he’s trapped in this situation because of his government and not allowed to leave to see his family because of his societal class/citizenship. I remember sitting there with my mouth open not even able to process how the world works. The idea that your citizenship dictates what you can and cannot do is mind boggling to me. Now, obviously I knew all of this. I read/watch the news but this was one of my first real life, relatable experience with marginalized discrimination (besides being a woman). The interview with the boy who had dirt on his face and was not allowed to see his family will stick with me the rest of my life. How the powerful people in this world can unapologetically marginalize an entire population is beyond me.

I am very grateful for this experience but I also have an entirely new (and conflicting) appreciation for my life in the U.S. I cannot help but think of people like this boy and so many others who want to escape their corrupt countries but can’t. It is hilarious to me when American citizens get themselves worked up over immigrants coming here for a better life and “not paying taxes” while corporations get massive tax breaks which have been proven to do more harm than good.

Ending remark: Maybe the reason I went into Accounting is to try to start solving these problems.
Ending remark 2: I hate politics and just wish people could come together regardless of socioeconomic class or race.

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Coasting

This past year I’ve done very little with my life.

I’ve befriended some great people but keep everyone at an arm’s length distance and spent a lot of time on the internet and a lot of time with my own thoughts, indecisive as ever.

I’m on the verge of failing two impossibly difficult Accounting classes and struggling to fully commit to something challenging when everything in my life has come so naturally to me.  Hard work is so foreign.  I’ve never had to study as much as I am now, nor have I ever felt as completely incompetent.  I’m embarrassed that a few test scores can do so much damage to my self confidence.

After a week of soul searching, I’m ready to do something big, new, and challenging.  I’ve been hesitant for far too long and I’d be stupid to pass up the job opportunities that come along with an Accounting degree just because a few classes are testing my mentality.  I might end up graduating late and having to retake a class or two but I’m going to get it done.  I’d hate to be someone that gets weeded out of the class that is designed to make you doubt yourself and your intelligence.  I know I’m better than that.  We all are.

I’m also sick of avoiding people out of fear of getting hurt.  I was recently asked out and said yes.  I’m dating a French Canadian which entirely new.  French.  Weird.  I’m going to say yes to more things and that’s that.  Short and sweet post to commit myself to things that scare me.  Good old Saint Cloud, Minnesota has a lot to offer and I need to stop pretending like it doesn’t.

Go out there and do what scares you.

12 Reasons to be a Night Owl

1) Have you seen the stars lately?  They’re gorgeous
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2) Midnight Snacks
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3) No one will bother you at 3am

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4) Hence, ultimate productivity
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5) You can hide in your cave of darkness and secrets because no one understands youalone

6) And get really in touch with the noises coming from your housegetintouch

7) Time to break out those bizarre dance moves
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8) You can feel somber and contemplate your life, making you wiser

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9) Like this guy

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10) THAT ESSAY IS DUE TOMORROW?!

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11) You’ll never fear darkness again; you’ll embrace itnotafraid

12) The early bird may get the worm, but the owl will eat that bird later when it’s sleeping
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*All gifs were found on tumblr after searching “owl gifs”
I don’t take credit for any of them

Glacier and Yellowstone

I took a weeklong trip out west with two of my girl friends and wanted to share some natural park beauty.  I wouldn’t call it a vacation since hiking, setting up the tent every night, and trying to make fires with damp wood was difficult.  However, I loved every minute of it and the sore muscles were worth the scenery.

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For the Introverts

Naturally, no one is defined by one word.  Introverts come in varying extremes and aren’t as easily figured out as you’d like to imagine – some are spontaneous, some are shockingly quiet, some actually enjoy people, and some need more time alone than others.  Most people know we simply need to harness a little energy via solitude.

My Experience

Personally, alone time has always been crucial.  I’m notorious for disappearing from groups, running/walking/rollerblading alone, and always opting for a solo presentation when given the choice of having a group.  The more I grow and understand myself, the more introverted I become.  Maybe I’ve just reached a point of being comfortable with myself.  I read more, write, travel alone, listen to more soothing music, sleep longer, and can be alone with my thoughts for more than a few minutes.  I never thought I’d survive my entire sophomore year in college without a roommate but here I am.

Plot twist: I’m not shy.  With my batteries charged, I can be a social butterfly.  I actually love meeting new people and learning about them.  However, with a low battery, I’m downright mean to people I care about and apathetic about small talk with strangers.  Too much social interaction is draining and eventually I need to be alone.

I do, however, enjoy going to coffee shops, libraries, walking around a new city, and even taking public transportation.  Interaction drains me, not the presence of others.  I like seeing other people, but I prefer feeling anonymous.

The moments I live for

Two days in Chicago

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– Eating baby squid and stir fried veggies at restaurant in Chinatown

– “Hey miss, can I play rap for you?” The stumbling man asked as I laughed and clung to my cousin.  No.

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– Hostel wall decorations and meeting the Australian and German women in my room

– Asking DQ if they sell coffee at 9pm on a Sunday.  They don’t.  It was a rough night

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– THE BEAN (obviously). This guy was lovin’ it

– My cousin calling his mom to tell her he got a job offer as a stylist

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– Watching the Black Hawks take the Stanley Cup in Gino’s Sports Bar while stuffing my face with deep dish pizza like the American I am

– Sipping coffee in the hostel breakfast lounge while listening to Spanish conversations and watching the train

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– “Can I sit here?” The Russian asks as he positions himself across from me and talks about his country and PHD studies

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– The pier

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– Cultural differences

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– Wading through the freezing waters of Lake Michigan in 92 degree weather

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– The glow of the city at night

What’s your greatest weakness?

That dreaded interview question made me do a little thinking.  

I procrastinate
Who doesn’t?  I make up for it with record breaking productivity the night before something is due.  Plus, there’s a difference between active and passive procrastination and for that I urge you to skim “Why procrastination is good for you” by the Smithsonian.

I’m riddled with self doubt
Making me so appreciative when bosses/coworkers/friends have faith in my abilities.  I’m also able to be more personable with customers when I admit “It’s my first week here.  Let me put you on hold and find someone who can better answer your question, okay?”

I’m hesitant to fully commit to anything
Allowing me to constantly try new things, meet new people, and multitask.  I keep my eggs in multiple baskets.

I mumble to myself
Sorry, it helps me remember things and sort my thoughts.

I get antsy when I feel my life is too stationary
Meaning I will be the first employee to snatch international work when others are nervous about change or being stationed abroad.  I like to keep things moving and I will happily step out of my comfort zone.

The list goes on but the morals of the story (amongst other clichés) are:

1) Embrace what defines you
2) No one is perfect