Posted: March 22nd, 2009 | Author: tim.soo | Filed under: All, Panama 2008, Thoughts | Tags: All | No Comments »
Reading my first Japan posts is quite funny.
Not because I’ve become such a mature person and am revelling in the naivete of my former self… nothing so complex. Instead, I laugh at how much my purpose in writing gradually changed. The first few posts include details about who, what, where, when… but ignored the true feelings of defeat and stress I had on those first days. I kept them upbeat and brushed over the internal struggle… b/c it was just the beginning. I can’t wait to read through it all again…
Posted: March 22nd, 2009 | Author: tim.soo | Filed under: All, Panama 2008 | Tags: All | No Comments »
I guess this story will be told in pieces…
The semester had ended. I hadn’t slept, but I finished my presentation, my paper, and had bound and printed. I slept through saying good-bye to my eight semester-mates… I’m not sure I would have known what to say either way. We were brought together by this program, but in any other typical environment, would we have been friends?
I headed towards Nicaragua on a 24 hour bus. 24 hours from Panama to Nicaragua. The entire time I became very aware of two things. 1.) I was alone. By this point I had been alone before in Panama… but always with some guidance here in there. I hadn’t truly been alone navegating a foreign country since Japan. 2.) I just wanted to go home.
Yay, I was meeting up with Chelsea. Yay, we were going to explore Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I just wanted to go home. I began to realize how fragile my mind was. A semester of completely foreign inundation without a true comfort zone, seven months of not having a home, not having the familiar…. I stopped thinking about finally finishing my journey because my eyes would well up at the thought…. I just wanted to go home.
That’s all I’ll put in this post, b/c that’s all that’s necessary for now. I tell people I began to recognize the limits of being human… or rather I better understood my own limits. And these limits aren’t in the sense of “I don’t want to do this anymore”… it was “I can’t”. It’s an odd feeling where your subconscious desires begin to impress completely over your consciousness. Fighting against what you don’t want wasn’t an option. I finally had to admit to myself. I’m done. Let me go home.
It makes me wonder about soldiers. What level beyond my own over-dramatacized perceptions does a soldier reach when drafted into war for years? Granted, I’m imagining soldiers of the more historical wars where drafts were still instituted; but even today, at what point does the mind “break” and permanently change as a result to surviving an environment where your current brain process can no longer easily adapt within its comfortable flexibility? At what point does one begin to change?
For all still reading this blog, I send my gratitude. Writing and reflecting reveals and captures new ideas, new thoughts, and… the essence of experience that isn’t attained just by “thinking back”. I don’t think I would have continued if not for the hope of a greater audience–that my words somehow could minutely affect (positively) the life of someone else. Thanks.
Posted: March 14th, 2009 | Author: tim.soo | Filed under: All, Panama 2008 | Tags: All | 1 Comment »
College life on an actual college campus has brought be back to the “real world”, I suppose. Part of my mind always goes back to the experiences I gained while abroad, and I’ll never forget what I learned.
Maybe one day I’ll get to finish the blog about Panama, but time for now is definitely a limiting factor. During the second half of the trip, we went up to a Banana plantation, where I learned that a huge percentage of banana’s are thrown away because they aren’t the perfect size, or are the extra seventh in a bunch that is supposed to be six. All those banana’s gone to waste… it makes me wonder how many people would suffer less if those banana’s could somehow get transported to the hungry…
We also went to Costa Rica to Earth University, an entire university (headed by Kellogg based on sustainable agriculture. The students work the entire school: the organic farms, the castration of the piglets… everything. We stayed in extremely nice cabins and got to tour the school to see what they do. I actually met a Japanese professor there; unfortunately, most my Japanese had already escaped me.
We stayed with a homestay in La Argentina in Costa Rica. I met some people from a CR program staying with the same family, and we ended up taking a hike and swimming in the mountain river… very refreshing. There I had a pet ocelot (jaguar-like cat), a cat, and a couple birds. Needless to say I was very happy with my stay.
We spent a week in Bocas del Toro doing a Marine Biology course. This had to be one of my favorites. We stayed at the Smithsonian cabins, had internet, and were out on the clearest waters for 4-5 hours each day. And we had a private chef who was quite good in the kitchen. Yum. It was there we watched the elections… Hurrah Obama!
I’m beginning to realize that there is so much more to the rest of this trip that I cannot afford to capture in just a few paragraphs. I will come back and finish it one day. I learned more about myself in those last months than in the rest of the trip. It deserves to be done justice.
Until then, I find it wise to continue blogging, if not for an audience, than for myself. I quickly found myself blanking on details… soon I might forget the emotions I had at each place.. and even quicker as I enter med school and the future, I may begin to view this period in my life as just one event of many.
I will say one thing though. Time passed quicker in the States. I went every week for 7 months without a real routine. Each day was long and pressing… yet exciting. I was exhausted from sun up to sundown… but life passed by slower. Coming back, I felt I hadn’t seen some people, or experience some flavors in years… people were confused why I felt this way.. it wasn’t even a year, right?
Time is relative. Half of the semester has gone by, and I don’t even feel like it has really started yet. That’s two months in. Two months in the Japan trip and I was almost done. In my life I want to live for a long time, not in the sense of second, minutes, hours… but time in the sense of always learning and experiencing. Life should pass me like my two months in Japan, not the two months that have just gone by, that I’ve barely gotten to know.
Welcome home, Tim.
Posted: January 20th, 2009 | Author: tim.soo | Filed under: All, Panama 2008 | Tags: All | No Comments »
I know, shame on me. It’s been a while.
After El Boquete, we opted to drive back to the city (rather than fly). It saved money.. but added time. A 30 minute plane ride translated to 8 hours by bus since we were in the mountains. Eventually we made it back home.
The next day we were off again to BCI (Barro Colorado Island). It’s a Smithsonian Institute where scientists from around the world study the various species there.
BCI a fairly interesting phenomenon in itself. The island was created from the flooding of the surrounding lands when the canal was constructed. Therefore the only way to get there is by boat. Yet somehow, all types of species managed to get on and off the island… including large cats (jaguars, tigers, the like). How? Maybe all species are secretly really good swimmers.
Anyways, highlights of that one night trip. Nice facilities, Spoke English (though it was awkward), had a cool tour guide who’d worked in many places over the years, enthusiastic lecturer on ants, and the bat lady. Gotta say, watching her monitor her equipment that picked up all the sounds we couldn’t hear was pretty cool. We’d see activity on the computer and within seconds a bat would fly by. Cool, neh?