|Author: Mike|

I had successfully cast aside the emotional burden of writing my final blog by resolving to just write about cultural differences surrounding feet. That was until Ross reminded me my last blog is my final opportunity to address the class all at once, and with that he strapped the heavy load right back in its place. There are plenty of sappy things I could say to each one of my fellow GCILers, but I’ll save those tears for later and just share a few memories. Now is a time when many of us, myself included, are thinking of lasts. I thought I’d share a few firsts instead.

Walking into the first GCIL class fall quarter not recognizing a single face in the room but Julian’s.

Standing in front of the class for the first time to present our $5 challenge: the 1 minute $5 bee garden. Still on YouTube.

Finding Tessa at the CEE social – first time drinking with a fellow GCILer.

First time eating Indian food together and trying to hold a conversation with Thea while my mouth was on fire.

First and last time tipping $15 USD to the man who helped me use the atm in the airport, and the first time getting asked to take a selfie with a stranger.

Meeting Elbin at 3 am and taking my first bumpy ride on Bangalore streets from the airport to UTC.

First bucket shower, UTC bed, medieval room key, and coffee-flavored hot water to start the day.

First morning doing mobility on the roof with Garrett and hoping I would make it a habit – semi successful.

First time calling Cherrish and questioning our decision to part for 10 weeks.

First time reading a blog in front of the class and hoping the sweat on my face wasn’t visible.

First time going to HavMor, Naturals, Cream Chemistry, Ibaco, Polar Bear, Art of Delight, and CornerHouse for ice cream.

First time seeing a cow eat trash in a vacant lot.

First time drinking out of a coconut on our scavenger hunt. I’m sad to admit I used a straw.

First time taking my shoes off to walk into a temple in Nandi and seeing monkeys not in captivity.

First time eating a flaming brownie.

First time running in Bangalore and feeling my throat swell shut.

First time watching a movie in T3.

First time doing laundry by hand.

First time Tristan joined me on the roof for mobility.

Checking out a boxing gym for the first time with Vero and Gavin that would soon become a haven for me.

First time getting kicked in the stomach by a Muay Thai instructor.

First time talking to Deborah about health and human history.

First time getting my food stolen by a monkey.

First time thinking a cow is cute.

First time playing Exploding Kittens crowded on the floor of a government hotel.

First time seeing a garden of Banzai trees.

First time eating Dominos in Mysore, shortly followed by a second time within 8 hours.

First time painting triangles under a flyover, being inside a Google office, and exploring a rainwater harvesting park.

First time thinking my team has a good idea.

First time having my hopes and dreams crushed by Deborah.

First time being the only white person in a club of 200 people and dancing to Bollywood music.

First time leaving my debit card in an ATM machine.

Receiving my first and hopefully not last swimming lesson from Eric.

First time participating in an Impactathon.

First time going to Louie’s and wondering why it was my first time going to Louie’s.

Sparring with a new friend and receiving my first square punch in the face.

First time working this closely in a team.

First time interviewing complete strangers with a translator.

First time cleaning up a black spot.

First time working on a school project that could have an effect on the real world (what a concept).

First time in a traditional Indian kitchen.

First time rolling fresh chapatti by hand and eating it even before it is bearable to touch.

First time spending 70 consecutive days with the same 27 people in an utterly foreign environment.

First time counting the number of days til I see Cherrish on one hand.

First time counting the number of days til I see our apartment on two hands (and maybe a foot).

First time feeling this degree of bittersweet emotions about a season of my life coming to a close.

Thank you GCIL family for all these firsts and many more. These experiences will take a lifetime to unpack. I am grateful for every one.

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