Time is just whizzing by up here in suddenly warm, sunny Ithaca. I’ve always hated how spring semester finals seem to perfectly coincide with nice weather, forcing me to lock myself inside studying when I’d rather be hiking, horseback riding, or even just relaxing outside with my dog.
And then there’s also the fact that in exactly two weeks, I’ll be arriving in Kigali.
So amidst all of my studying, I’ve also been packing and finalizing everything for the summer. It’s really difficult, trying to figure out what stuff I’m putting in storage, what stuff I need in Rwanda, and what stuff I need for the short time that I will be home this summer!
And besides all of the physical planning, there’s also the mental/cultural preparations. I’m oscillating between being EXTREMELY excited for the summer and questioning how any of this is actually going to work out and what if the whole thing is just a big mess? I’m no stranger to traveling, so I know that things will work out in the end, but that doesn’t seem to be calming the butterflies at this point.
The biggest change I’ve made in my own life in preparation for this summer was giving up my vegetarianism. This summer, I am giving it up so as not to impose on my hosts while I’m in Rwanda, and also because acquiring high-quality vegetable protein in a developing nation that barely has enough food to go around is at best selfish, and at worst actually impossible. I’ve been vegetarian since high school when I took AP Environmental Science and learned about the impacts of animal-source food production on the environment. To me it seemed like a relatively easy change that I could make in my life to try and be “greener.” But as I have grown and learned, I am beginning to pull away from the vegetarian movement because I’ve realized that it’s not as simple as that.
As far as I know, the Rwandan diet is not extremely high in meat, anyway, and because one of my main reasons for being a vegetarian has been in protest to the typical American “meat at every meal” diet, I do not feel the need to maintain my vegetarianism. I’m not sure whether I will choose to revert to vegetarianism when I return, but there is no need to decide on that now.
Other than that, my life has been full of lists. Lists of clothing to bring. Lists of supplies for my research. Lists of emergency numbers to have on-hand. Lists of things I need to settle out before I leave. Lists of things I still need to buy.
If you know me, you probably know that I am not exactly the “list” type. My dad (who has a degree in engineering) has tried for years to make me into a “list person,” whether it was a packing list for horse shows, traveling, or even just a grocery list. But to me, lists are just meant to be broken. I often make a grocery list only to go to the store, never look at it, and end up buying completely different things.
But I’m giving it a try, because otherwise I can’t imagine how I’ll possibly pull this thing off.