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Notes from Abroad: Stuck In The Middle

It’s getting to be about that time of the semester. Midterms are upon us, there are glimpses of warmer weather — at least here in Mexico — and weekly routines of class, work, and extra-curriculars are well-established.

I shouldn’t be surprised—at this point in my education I’m more than familiar with the even strides of mid-semester. But, of course, this is my first semester in Mexico. I never thought I’d get “used to it.” When our director claimed during orientation that we would establish a routine here, that things would soon become commonplace, I thought, “Yeah, sure, I doubt that.”

Well, now I can eat my words just like I eat more or less the same thing for breakfast every morning. More than two months in, the “firsts” are fewer and fewer and farther and farther apart. Managing to take the right bus and get off at the correct stop no longer fill me with a disproportionate sense of pride and accomplishment.  I don’t think twice about going into a store and asking for something. I’m not a newbie at salsa, looking around furtively and wondering who the heck you pay.

And it’s not time for “lasts,” either. No, those are a long way off.  I refuse to even think about those.
It’s just middle, middle, and more middle. The nougaty, comforting center of the semester. The meaty, hearty bulk of an experience with finite start and end dates.

This can also be the most exhausting part of the semester, with its endless litany of five-day weeks leading up to spring break, and all of the reserve of energy you accumulated during winter break is long gone. That horrible panic that comes from feeling adrift, equally far from the shores of starting and ending, presses in.

I wish I could say I’ve stumbled upon some great wisdom about how to conceptualize this time, how to cope–but no. I know the beginning. I can imagine the end. It’s the middle we muddle.