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A Delayed Beginning

By: Camey VanSant

By Mary

Hi! I’m fresh off four months teaching English in Mexico and two weeks into living in London and only now coming around to writing my first blog post.

It’s a funny thing. I’ve learned to do more this year than I could have imagined: I taught five classes a day, lesson planned and graded, made friends across language barriers, and found a home in a place far different from the one I’d grown up in. My days in Mexico were the perfect blog material- filled with funny mishaps and random reflections, but every time I sat down to record them, a white page and a blinking cursor stared back at me. It didn’t make much sense- I’d always been the one with something to say and suddenly I couldn’t string together even a sentence.

Of course, I processed in smaller, more private ways:  I spent afternoons journaling, dramatically recounting every detail of my new life, pretending I was the main character in a great story. I rambled, for hours, on the phone, telling anyone willing to listen all the little moments of my days, silently trying to make sense of the bigger ones. I developed, or rather secured, my love of coffee, and I obsessed over curating Spotify playlists that perfectly captured the mood of a moment.  My thoughts were extensive; they just weren’t quite clear enough to form a coherent blog post.

Maybe it was just your classic case of writer’s block, or possibly this is all just an elaborate explanation for my procrastination, but regardless, I’m back. Armed with my old journal entries, Spotify playlists, and, naturally, a cup of coffee, I will, over the next few months, unpack the moments in my year so far, and take you along through the moments to come.

I’ll start with how it began. My parents had required a gap year for as long as I can remember. I was the guinea pig in their lab of parenting hypotheses- the first child who would test out all their theories and hopefully, though not certainly, come out better for it. I was a skeptical, but willing test subject.

The problem was that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to live in a different country, I ideally wanted to learn Spanish, and I wanted to do something to serve others. That hardly narrowed things down, but it would have to do. I started talking to people and I started saying yes. A friend of a friend needed an English teacher at their school in a small town in Mexico? I’ll do it. An internship at an anti-human trafficking organization in London without a place to live? I’m in. I bundled up all my wild ideas and broad ambitions and decided to call them plans. It wasn’t foolproof in the slightest, but I figured that even in the worst case scenario, I’d learn something.

And so, in mid-August, still knowing little about the school I was teaching at, the role I would play there, or any other part of my life, I filled a big orange suitcase with clothes I imagined would suit a “teacher” and walked across the Tijuana border to catch my flight to Chihuahua. Many unexpected moments and lessons (which I will of course document in the coming posts) would follow.

The only picture I could find of the previously mentioned orange suitcase, now referred to as “big orange” (not all of those bags are mine)
My first view of my new home from the plane
Categories: Mary