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The GW Hatchet

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Laura Castro Lindarte: Feeling at home sometimes means leaving the U.S.

Editor’s note: Laura Castro Lindarte is spending her summer in Bogota, Colombia. She will be blogging throughout the summer about her experiences. Lindarte is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and political science and is a Hatchet opinions writer.

Many students go abroad while they are students at GW, and some may even travel to Colombia. But my experience is a bit different. I’m originally from the beautiful city of Bogota, Colombia, but I have lived in northern Virginia since I was seven. During my abroad experience, I want to explore what life in Bogota would be like as an adult.

Coming back to Colombia for the summer may not sound like the typical “GW thing” to do, since I don’t have an internship or paying job here. But I am here for a reason. I plan to move back after I graduate, so I need to start to build a life here: make friends, learn how to get around and experience what everyday life is like.

Moving back to Colombia isn’t the most traditional decision, especially when I might have more opportunities in D.C. But I feel that Colombia is an extension of myself. It is the only place where I feel invincible – despite living in the U.S. for more than 10 years now.

To some, it might sound off putting for someone to feel such a connection to a country other than the U.S., but for me, it’s natural. I’ve always viewed the U.S. as a temporary residence. I hope this blog let’s me share this part of the world and point of view with fellow GW students.

I’ve enjoyed being a student in D.C. and attending amazing classes taught by knowledgeable professors. But as much as I try, I’ve never felt complete in the U.S. This feeling of incompleteness has even translated to my social life. I have little motivation to make friends or engage with the University through student organizations as much as I could.

I know that in Colombia I won’t have those problems: I’m a true believer that everyone has a place where they belong and that place makes everything better, even in the worst of times. Those of us who are lucky enough to know where that place is, should do whatever it takes to spend time there. That’s what I’m doing.

My first step to experiencing life in Colombia again was to sign up for a couple of courses at a local university, but unfortunately that wasn’t smooth sailing. One of my classes was cancelled and I had to spend hours finding a new one to take. Between class cancellations and challenges traveling to Bogota, I realized it would have been “easier” to stay in the states this summer.  

But thankfully, the beginning of my trip coincided with the Copa America – a soccer tournament between several South American countries plus the U.S. and Mexico — which rekindled my spirit. Almost every single person I saw on the streets the day that Colombia played had a jersey on. Giant screens were set up in the many malls all around Bogota, so people came together and watch the game. This is the kind of spirit that draws me back to Colombia.

While my summer here has just begun, I already know that I am home, and I look forward to my experiences over the next two months.

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