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Farewell Maastricht!

The Beautiful Maastricht Skyline

These past few months studying abroad have been somewhat like a dream. I had the opportunity to travel to multiple countries. I got to experience and appreciate very historical artworks throughout Europe. Works of art that I would have never thought I would be able to personally experience so soon in real life! I have definitely been blessed with the opportunity many dream about. It was soooo amazing to immerse myself into the culture of the different countries I had the privilege of visiting; rich with their traditions, way of life, bomb local food and the lesson to be learned from my experiences there. 

Although in the beginning of my study abroad experience in Maastricht it was a bit rocky and emotionally challenging, in the end Maastricht kind of grew on me. I will miss this little medieval town with its cobblestone streets, winding roads, fresh clean air, bikes everywhere and bomb authentic Italian pizza at Piano B! I am truly thankful I had the opportunity and privilege of studying Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University. Aside from traveling around to different countries and experiencing different cultures my highlight of studying abroad was the actual studying.

At the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University

Learning about the different underlining mechanisms of the development of the human brain I feel has left the most impact on me.

I grew up experiencing extreme poverty, trauma, violence, adverse effects from incarceration and solitary confinement, being drugged with psychotropic medications during the crucial time in my development, learning to navigate the juvenile justice and foster care systems, and learning to overcome the challenges that come with rebuilding my life after leaving the system.

It all has shaped the pathways of my brain which in return influences my behavior, the way I perceive the world and how I conduct myself in it. Learning about the development of the human brain, specifically experience-dependent and experience-expectant processes, has really inspired me to journey deeper within to uncover the unhealed parts of myself and to begin to really do the work in understanding my psychological, emotional, and behavioral processes so that I could begin to heal and correct myself where needed, put the conscious effort to forming new neurological pathways, and really embracing the intention of learning to transform all the negatives of my life into something positive not just for myself but also to help others find healing, purpose, and passion.

I strive to heal myself and gain all the knowledge I can so that I could help others find healing and I can create a comprehensive art therapy treatment plan that will really help to address the deficits in neurological development due to experiencing complex traumas among other adverse childhood experiences and learning to rewire neurological pathways.

For my Developmental Neuropsychology class I chose to do my final research project on the effects of solitary confinement on the developing brain; which has really motivated me to continue to research in this area.

I feel compelled to contribute to the understanding of the effects of incarceration, solitary confinement, trauma, and other adversities on the developing brain. I plan to continue to conduct research in this area which will help me to better understand myself, others, and manifest healing, compassion, resilience and understanding.

Streets of Maastricht

Being abroad and viewing everything that was going on back home really also helped to put things in perspective for me. It’s hard to really grasp society in the states when you’re in the thick of it but being abroad and kind of having this new perspective from the outside really helped me to reflect on the world we’re living in back home in the US.

Being abroad I could see how people could live in peace among each other. Now I do understand the majority of the culture is homogenous but little differences like the police treating people with respect and humanity, the lack of unnecessary policing, the lack of violence, the collective environmental consciousness, this collective purpose to growth, understanding, kindness and compassion. It’s beautiful but it also made me realize how chaotic it is back home, how divided we are and continue to be, the raising violence, the crucial need for unity, change, education, humanity, understanding, kindness, respect and compassion.

Experiencing this revelation has really helped to add fuel to my fire, it has really helped motivate me to continue to be the change I wish to see in the world, to continue on this path, putting in the work, being the example that it’s possible to heal, to change, to grow, to defy the odds and make it out the hood, to learn, to be resilient and empower oneself and others.

It really helped ignite my light to burn brighter to fight for what is right, to fight for a future where we live in a world of acceptance, understanding, compassion, diversity, inclusion and treating each other with common humanity. I believe this is a possible reality and I will continue to fight for this, beginning with my own life and branching out to others watering eachother’s seeds along the way.

It’s definitely been a growing, learning, introspective, challenging, educating, free, fun, live in the moment, once in a lifetime experience out here.

I am excited to continue to evolve on my path in life, growing everyday into the person I am meant to become living the purpose I am meant to fulfill with the impact I am destined to make.

Thank you for joining me on this journey abroad, so much more to come as I now head off to Washington D.C. for a quarter where I will study International Development while interning at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth learning the political side of the Juvenile Justice System while contributing to the abolishment of life without parole sentences for youth.

I am forever grateful for these experiences. Thank you to all who has supported me on this journey, thank you to the higher power that is greater than myself, thank you to my love ones, thank you for this purpose in life for the opportunity to transform all the negativity into something positive not just for myself but for all I cross paths with.

Farewell Maastricht!

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