Archive | January, 2012

Hello, Dream College!

25 Jan

Saturday, January 21, 2012 may quite possibly go down as one of the best days of my life. Why? Well, because I got some wonderful news.

I got accepted in to my dream college!

I’m still kind of freaking out over it. I was not expecting to receive a letter at all because I thought I still had another two weeks and an interview before the college made a decision. So imagine my surprise when I opened an envelope from them, assuming it would just be another general information packet, and the first words I read are “Congratulations! I am pleased to offer you admission…”

To say I freaked out would be an understatement. I screamed “I got in!!!” in the car, called everyone who would even care the slightest bit, texted pictures of the letter to all of my friends…then I danced around the house the rest of the night.

I will officially be a student of LIU Global!

A lot of people, particularly my friends who applied to fifteen different colleges and get acceptance letters every day, are a little stunned by my reaction. I mean, it’s just a college, right? There’s thousands of them out there! Well, yes…except, um, this was the only school I applied to. I put everything I had into that application, I freaked out for days before I finally hit the “send” button. All of my hopes and dreams were riding on getting that shiny letter in the mail. I wasn’t sure if I would get in or not and, if I hadn’t, I would have gotten over it and moved on. I would have applied to colleges next fall and found somewhere else that I could have probably been happy at. But, luckily, that doesn’t have to happen. BECAUSE I GOT IN. (I really love typing that…)

So why LIU Global?

From the moment I found out about it, LIU Global has been my top choice as far as colleges go. There was never another contestant. Why? Well, because it’s the ONLY college of its kind. It takes hands-on learning and immersion into a new culture to the next level and gives students the opportunity to study abroad EVERY YEAR they are in college. It has centers in Costa Rica, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, India, China, Australia, Peru and Ecuador. Everyone does their freshman year in Costa Rica and then has a few options. I plan on spending my first year in Costa Rica, my second during a Comparative Culture and Religion focus that will take me to Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan and India over the course of the year, and then I’ll spend my third year doing the Global Issues in South America program which will take me to Peru and Ecuador in the fall and I’ll finish it off with a semester in Australia that spring. For our senior year, we can pick pretty much anywhere we want to go, as long as we can get it approved, for the first semester. I’m leaning towards Africa right now. Then we round off our college career with the final semester in NYC.

Four years of non-stop travel! Five, if you count my gap year…I can honestly say that I’ve NEVER been more excited in my life. It sounds like heaven!

I’ll graduate with a Global Studies degree. Everyone always raises their eyebrow and goes “What are you going to do with THAT?” when I tell them that part. Well…I’ll do pretty much anything I want. I can go back to school to get my masters in something. I can teach abroad. I can write. I can get a job with a nonprofit. I can do whatever I want. Right now, I’m definitely leaning towards teaching English abroad, just because that’s something I’ve wanted to do since returning home from Guatemala. But, who knows, maybe I’ll do something totally different!

I can’t wait for the future!

Advertisements

I’m Going to Panama!

19 Jan

As of three days ago, I will be heading to Panama for 16 days in April!

This is yet another awesome opportunity presented to me by my school. Each year for the past 6 or so years, my school has taken a small group of students to Panama where they have implemented various projects. I’ve been interested in this trip since my freshman year but in 9th grade it seemed impossible and in 10th grade I was already going to Guatemala. This year was my last year to attend (yay early graduation!) and I figured that since I was already going back to Guatemala that I would have to give up the chance to go.

But, then, last week, the price of Guatemala went down by $500, thanks to cheaper airline tickets and a few fundraisers that the school did. That, combined with the fact that this year’s project involved working with children convinced me that I needed to at least attempt to go.

So I talked to the teachers in charge of the trip and discussed the price and various activities we would be doing. Then I put together an entire proposal to present to my parents. This included a title page, a description of the trip, a list of reasons why it would be good for me to go (improved Spanish, more travel experience, I love Latin American culture, etc), and an explanation of how I would go about raising the money and how I would be able to balance school and everything with both trips. To my surprise, even though my mom burst out in laughter when I first approached her with the subject, they both said yes. The only issue either of them had was that I would be gone for a few days of the state standardized testing, which is a requirement for graduation, and I to make arrangements to make them up before I was officially allowed to go. (Yet another reason why I HATE No Child Left Behind.) Fortunately, I was able to clear that up pretty quickly.

I am both super excited and terrified for this trip. We’ll be spending a day in Panama City, including a tour of the Panama Canal, and then be heading to the town of Boquete for the majority of our stay. While in Boquete we will be working with Casa Esperanza to help eradicate child labor through “education, literacy, health, nutrition and personal development to Panama’s most vulnerable children and youth.” Our main tasks will involve assisting the children with their English, helping them with their homework, and just spending time with them. We will also be hosting an event in the town for them, though I am currently unsure of what all that will entitle. I’m really excited for this part of the trip. Even though we will only be there for two weeks, I feel like we can still make a difference to at least a few children.

Besides our volunteer work, we will be going ziplining and white water rafting on the weekends. To say that I’m anything less than terrified is an understatement. In all honesty, the thought of doing those two things almost stopped me from going on the trip. I’m terrified of heights and not necessarily the best swimmer. But I made a resolution to get over some of my fears and ziplining through a cloud forest sounds like a pretty good place to start. We’re also going to spend a day at the beach, which I am really excited for, since I haven’t been to a beach since I was 7 and, you know, foreign beaches are always cooler. 🙂

Have you been to Panama or visited the Panama Canal? Feel free to share your experiences!

Change of Plans

5 Jan

I’ve been planning my gap year for a while now and my plans have changed faster than my clothes. First I was going to go around the world, hitting as many countries as possible. Then, when reality started to sink in, I changed my mind to spending 3-4 months in Latin America and flying home for Christmas, followed by 3-4 months in East Asia. Finally, when reality sunk in a little more, I decided on exploring more of the U.S., coming home for Christmas, and exploring Latin America for six months. I began to get a basic plan together in the past few weeks and had a general idea of where I would be when. Each day I would plan the trip a little more, finding something new that I wanted to see every day. I began counting down the days until my trip.

Then my best friend came over and dropped some big news. She was getting married, in May 2013, and she wanted me to be in the wedding. My first reaction was excitement, for her and for me. She had been waiting for a ring for a while now and her happiness was contagious. Plus I’ve always wanted to be in a wedding.

Then I realized what the date was. It is smack-dab in the middle of my gap year, right around the time I should have been in Bolivia.

Crap.

Being a bridesmaid means I can’t just pop in for the day of the wedding. I have be there for the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and dress fittings.

Double crap.

Once I realized that, I immediately began changing plans in my head. If I’m home by April…if I skip this part of the trip… As excited as I was about traveling to a bunch of different countries, there was never any hesitation about changing my plans around. Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina will always be there. The rain forest may not be there forever but it will still be there in a few years. But, my best friend will (hopefully) only get married once. We’ve been best friends since I was in seventh grade and she’s helped me through everything. There is absolutely no way that I would put a new obsession with travel before something like her wedding.

 

However, since the wedding is in May, I still have a few months to travel. My plan for exploring the US still works – it’s just the Latin America part that needs to be revised. I know that I’m definitely going to Guatemala, at least for a month, just because I love it so much and it was the country that started this whole travel obsession. That leaves about 1-2 months to explore other places. I just haven’t figured out where, yet.

 

So, if you had thirty days to explore anywhere in Latin America, where would you go?