Friday, December 16, 2011

Hello, Goodbye!

I love this song (and the Beatles in general). And the title is an appropriate description of my life right now and perhaps life in general.
I am slowly learning that one of the saddest and most exciting parts of life is all the hellos and goodbyes that you have to say. It's why I love traveling and moving--the potential for more "hellos" and meeting more people. But every time there is the prospect of a "hello" it means I must first say "goodbye".

I should perhaps say in interviews when asked "what is your greatest strength": the ability to make anyplace feel like home in a minimal amount of time or adaptability. This skill is what generally makes traveling and moving so effortless for me. I feel as though even a short hotel visit of two nights and I can make that room feel familiar and comfortable. Perhaps it's because usually within five minutes of arrival my belongings have already taken over the room. Perhaps it's my OCD and instinct to immediately create a routine no matter how short my stay is. Perhaps it's my flexible internal clock that generally effortlessly resets itself to local time. And perhaps it's my ability to sleep fairly well in all manner of places--airports, concrete slabs, hard mattresses, floors, futons, bathrooms... All of these traits make moving and traveling fairly simple for me (what's not simple is the packing process--I hate it!). But all of these traits also make leaving difficult.

Because I can adapt so easily, I also get easily attached to the familiarity I've created. Every single place I've ever visited has at least been moderately difficult for me to leave. Even during orientation in Korea, I felt some sadness leaving the familiarity and schedule of the Ramada Inn with my great roommate and the comfort of having a set schedule to follow. Although I knew I would see the people I met there many, many times throughout the upcoming year, and I had lots of unknown things to be excited about, I still felt sad to be leaving a place that I had made my home for a short six days and the longer I stay in a place, the more attached I become. I can recall vividly every single place I have visited, mostly everything I ate, who I met and how they impacted me, what I did and what I loved about that place. In short, I am attached to every place I've been in some way and  feel like I've left a piece of Rachel in each location.

Returning to Darmstadt, Germany for a short visit during my past continent scramble, felt like I was returning home. Familiar foods, stores, restaurants, people and places. It felt comfortable. Well now Botswana feels comfortable and feels like home. Although, I can't say I've met any best friends here or I've done anything life changing, when I leave tomorrow (potentially for good) I will be extremely sad. I will miss lounging by our pool reading, Saturday morning bike rides with a great group of friendly and positive people, Saturday pizza with my dad, 5 am spinning class, chatting with our maid on Wednesdays, laughing about bad customer service, the stunning sunsets and sunrises, seeing cows and donkeys chilling on the side of the road, frequent trips to Woolies and forgetting to bring reusable bags so forcing my dad to carry all the groceries to the car, my bed, and most of all the overall friendliness and laid back attitude of this country.

Saying goodbye is hard. But saying goodbye usually only means that more hellos are waiting in the future and that is what I will be thinking of when Sunday morning, I potentially drive out of Phakalane for the last time. Goodbye Botswana, hello new adventures!   

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Four weeks, seven flights, five cities, three continents, eights beds/futons/couches/mattresses, one wedding and sister-in-law, one almost full passport (no joke here!) and I am back in warm and sunny (well maybe not so sunny now—it’s the rainy season) Botswana. For those of you who are a bit confused about my whereabouts, particularly in the last month here is a visual recap:


And for those of you who keep asking about my life plan. I now I have one! I will be interning with Samaritan’s Purse in Uganda from February to July. Beyond excited, but most importantly feeling extremely thankful. Instead of wasting time with words I will post a few of my favorite photos from this past month and in the spirit of the season I’m thankful for:

Long time and short time friends who provided shelter for me during the past month. I feel incredibly blessed to say with confidence that every place I live I have met amazing, sincere, giving, fun, and loving friends. I’m thankful that these friends are not only generous but also continually inspire me and remind me to make a difference in the world.  I look forward to the many new people in my next destination that I will meet. IMG_0735



My family who has yet to freak out about any of my plans, adventures, and ideas. I’m grateful for both my immediate, extended, and NEW family’s support in all of my endeavors.


I’m thankful for Korea and what it taught me about the beauty of community, about prejudice and racism, the wonderful people I met there and the deeper appreciation for my own country that I gained. And I’m thankful that after much stress I did in fact manage to get my hard earned money out of Korea.

In spite of my so called “homelessness” I’m thankful for the fact that I have not once been without food or shelter throughout this whole year. Nor have I worried about whether or not I would have food or water. This is something that most people in the world can’t say. Not only have I not gone a day without a full stomach, I have also been blessed to be able to have the luxury of eating some pretty tasty foods.


I’m thankful for TRAVEL! I know most people do have the opportunities I’ve been blessed with and probably never will. I hope I can share these experiences and help bring the world together in a small way.


I’m thankful for my health. I successfully ran a marathon this year, get to go mountain biking with the cows on a regular basis, and now can wake up to sunshine almost every day to go running, not to mention the many beautiful hikes I enjoyed in Korea.

I’m thankful for the beautiful world we live in and being able to be close to nature. Let’s not take it for granted and preserve it please.






I hope all you Americans had an equally wonderful Thanksgiving!