By Julia Allen-Pi’ilani, Foster Undergraduate and Global Business Center Scholarship recipient who participated in the Foster Exploration Seminar to Brazil.
We boarded our bus for the three-hour drive, and one-hour boat ride toward our Amazon lodge.
Four hours is long time to reflect, but what was I thinking about? My cell phone.
My phone company kept canceling my service, thinking someone stole my phone and ran off to Brazil. I’d been communicating with everyone back in the states using Wi-Fi. Obviously, there was no Wi-Fi in the middle of the Amazon. To top it off, the lodge only had electricity for 4 hours during the morning and 4 hours at night. Basically, our access to our precious phones was extremely limited during this trip.
I’m embarrassed at how much of a hissy fit I was throwing internally. The people who lived and worked at the lodge certainly didn’t mind the lack of cell signal and Wi-Fi. They smiled as they taught us and shared their stories. They said and did everything with purpose. I could only hope to possess the kind of happiness they exuded. By the end of our time there I found myself wanting to stay forever. Being unable to talk to the outside world was strangely peaceful. It allowed me to enjoy my environment, and reflect on my time there without distractions.
Everyone looks for an “aha” moment when studying abroad. A moment that changes your outlook on life, shifts the way you think, and gives you a true feeling of happiness. I found my “aha” moment in the Amazon, and I took off running with it. For the rest of my time in Manaus, and on to Rio de Janeiro, I paid more attention to the things around me. Every company visit, beach day, and group activity made a lasting impression on me because I spent
time actually appreciating it and reflecting on it. This not only added value to an already amazing trip, but taught me a lesson that I’ll carry with me all the way back to Seattle. Thank you Amazonas, for an absolutely life-changing experience. Obrigada!