From Drive Thrus, Peanut Butter, and Hot Dogs to Real Beer, Chocolate, and Cycling

“Let Your will be done, You can have all us. You are all we need. Your love is enough.”            – the Red Hands 

Hey all, it’s been a while since I last posted: sorry. I’ve been busy settling in another country: Belgium. This is such a pivoting moment in my life that I’ve been in shock this past week. I’m just now processing everything so I’m finally able to write about why I chose such a small, yet central country to study at instead of staying at my home university for another year.

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Majority of you may know, but for those who do not, my parents come from a small, yet poor country in the Caribbean called Haiti. It recently got hit by a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010,  category 5 Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and also by Hurrican Irma in 2017 (barely, thank God). It is also the poorest country in the Americas and in the world, ranking at number 17. Because of my parents, I grew up in 2 worlds: growing up American and having immigrant parents is difficult. I couldn’t live the way my American friends did or do the things that their parents would allow them to do. They would tell me stories of what their childhood was like (still do) and continuously reminded my siblings and I to be very grateful for the lives that we were blessed with. It motivated me to rise above and push forward, despite the adversities that my family has faced throughout these past years. Below are reasons why I decided to embark on a journey of a lifetime:

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My Sophomore Year

My sophomore year was actually the most painful, burdensome, and demanding time in my life. During the beginning of my sophomore year, I had just gotten out of my first relationship and I was an emotional wreck. I’ve never experienced heartbreak before, and I must say…I would never wish it on my worst enemy. My world felt like it was crumbling every single day. I was so emotionally unstable and to be stuck in a convulsive position with another emotionally unstable person is one of the worst positions to be in. Confusion kept us fighting for affection and in the end, it was best that we parted ways. I lost more than I gained my sophomore year, but life has a funny way of smoothing out bumps in your life if you keep pushin’. Sophomore year was the year of back-to-back L’s that I will elaborate on in another blog post (haha). With the support from Father Wil, Residence Life, and a huge number of students from Manhattanville, I’m the first from my college to study at KU Leuven in Belgium.

My Father’s Collection of Money

When I was younger, I used to go through my father’s possessions. He had a book full of money that he collected from countries around the world. He had bills from every continent in the world, interesting right? My father is a traveler; to this day, he still travels! As a young girl, I’ve always wondered what these countries would be like and although we couldn’t go to different countries due to lack of money, I promised myself that I would travel the world someday. I stuck by that decision in middle school, high school, and now in college.

My Mother’s Stories About Belgium 

My mother actually lived in Belgium for a Catholic retreat for about 3 months in her early 20s. She used to tell me stories about the European architecture, the lifestyle, and what it was like for her to live there as a person from a third world country. She told me that she met a love interest, but at the time she had already met my father so that flew out the window (haha). I would always tell her that I could’ve been Belgian-Haitian, and she would always reply with, “But you would not be here today if that were to happen,” so thank God that I am here today writing this. I very proud to be 100% Haitian. Ayiti, nou-la wi!

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Third Party Stories

Throughout the course of my life, I have met countless of people from all over the world. People from a great number of countries within the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and of course Africa. My family is also scattered around the United States, Caribbean, and South America so I’m always hearing stories about what my family is currently doing and where they are currently living. As you can tell, stories are very inspiring to me. If I could accumulate the myriad of stories that I’ve heard, I would. They’re so encouraging!

My Own Drive & Interpretation of the World

There have been people I’ve met that never left America. People that I’ve met from my home state, have never even stepped foot out of it. My mother always told me, “Life is like a book. If you do not turn the page, you don’t know what the next chapter holds.” I live my life by example. I listen to reviews. I follow the example of others. My parents are phenomenal examples in my life, so I take them as a reference in my life. I’ve also developed my own perspective on life, incorporating impactful lessons into my daily life.

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There is a world out there to see. There are people out there to meet. Your life should not be restricted to just one setting. Switch it up. Be spontaneous. Explore places that you’ve never been before. Listening to the opinions of others will limit you. Throughout my study abroad application process, people have tried to limit my big decision. Although they mean no harm and I don’t take it seriously, I know what I want. And although it’s a decision that I made, it’s my will. If I wanted to do something different, I would’ve already. But I had my heart, my soul, my being set on traveling abroad when the opportunity arose. So don’t limit yourself due to the opinion of others. If it’s your will, just do it. Fuck it, who gon beat your ass? (wise words via Kristen Javis)

Best wishes,

~R

 

 

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