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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Growth Mountain

I didn’t think we would be camping on this trip, but this homestay made me feel like we were. At around 1am, I went downstairs to the bathroom and saw an enormous spider with a body the size of my hand. I sprinted back to bed and tucked in my mosquito net. Only an hour later, I was woken up by a pitter patter on the back of my neck. I SCREAMED and woke up my host mother, who came upstairs, shook out my sheets and mosquito net, but saw nothing. She left the lights on for me and exited the room. Seconds after my host mother closed the door, I saw a tiny, grey mouse crawl up my mosquito net. Once again, I screamed. My host mother came back and let the mouse out of the net. I was safe (for now).

A few nights later, my stomach problems (a series of 1’s on the poop scale with a 1 signifying very soft stool and 10 being rock solid) caused me to be moved downstairs to my host mother’s room. She kindly brought my bags and clothes downstairs and left them in a pile on the floor. I enjoyed a peaceful and mouse-less sleep in my new room, thankful that I was only a few feet from the bathroom. As I hung up my clothes the next morning, I picked up my swim shorts and the mouse made ANOTHER appearance. It fell on my foot, I screamed (again), and my host mother came to the rescue (again).

Now as I write this yak in Siem Reap, I am definitely grateful to be in a large city without mice. I am also grateful, though, for having that terrifying experience because it’s 1. A funny story to tell when I get home and 2. I came here to get out of my comfort zone and experiences like these remind me that being uncomfortable is essential for growth. Spending time off panic cliff is inevitable here, but at least I didn’t have to eat the mouse!