Oh my, it’s been a whirlwind of events and a lot of learning in 2014. I’ve embraced a lot of changes this past year, and have reached a few great milestones in my academic career and life path. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, there were moments where I really had no idea what I was doing (per usual) and moments of sheer luck that have placed me in a great place to grow and learn. This year was filled with many blessings, many lessons, and a lot of “grown up” decisions. If 2014 was only the beginning year of my “adulting” life, I’m a little scared to see what 2015 will be bringing! I am excited to be saying goodbye to an opportunity filled year, get rid of some skeletons in my closet, and move forward in my life. 2015 will be the year of starting fresh, new, more confident, more bold, and less scared of failure. After all, one cannot hope to dominate the world if they are scared (;
Here’s a recap of what 2014 has brought into my life! To give you a brief overview, I graduated from college and received a Bachelors of Science at James Madison University! I volunteered in Ecuador for one week with children, and learned that I love volunteering and working with kids. But the biggest change that 2014 has brought me, was the opportunity to work and live abroad in Spain for one year, working with students and teaching English. What.
This past January, I took my first “solo” trip (without my parents), with a group of students from my University, to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Our trip was through the Alternative Break program at James Madison University, which allows students to use their Thanksgiving, Winter, or Spring breaks volunteering in the United States or in a different country. I don’t want to sound cliche and say that this trip changed my life, but… it really did. My one, short week in Guayaquil helped me realize that I love volunteering and working with children. It also taught me that I love speaking Spanish and being able to communicate with people of all ages and sharing and learning from them. This set me on a trajectory to travel as much as possible this past year. Ecuador and the people I met during my week volunteering, changed my outlook. They humbled me and taught me that kindness is everywhere and having an open mind is what brings people together.
February was spent in the dance studios with both of my dance teams, working hard and practicing for our annual dance showcase: Coalescence. We worked our butts off to pull together three sets that were seven minutes long. It was hard, stressful, and fun! Sharing with the dance community in Virginia, and branching out all the way up to Maryland and down to North Carolina, is always a blessing. I love being able to meet dancers who share in all of my own quirky and weird traits. Plus, dance friends just understand me!
My birthday! I turned a sweet 22, and celebrated by having a “Magical Genie Party” and dinner the day of, with my closest friends. Also, as an added bonus, during spring break, me, my sister, and her boyfriend took our first trip out to the west coast in San Francisco, CA! (: It was a foodie’s heaven, filled with so many great eats and perfect weather. I blew through my poor checking account on delicious pastries, yummy treats, and large meals that could have fed two. My trip to San Francisco may have started my “Food Selfie” trend, and fueled my indulging habits. I still lust after the CREAM ice cream cookie sandwich! This sweet (see what I did there? hehe) location lets you pick your own two cookies for your ice cream sandwich, your flavor of ice cream, and if you pay in cash… your whopping total is $2.50. Yes, please!
My April was spent applying and applying and yes, even MORE applying to jobs, jobs, and jobs. It was painful and frustrating. April was also spent preparing for finals, graduation, and spending as much time as possible with friends and being a senior in college! The weather in the Shenandoah Valley during April is the perfect time for lounging in the grass with friends, day drinking because it’s Spring, and the excitement of summer approaching. The highlight of April was definitely attending the Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour concert with my best friend and soulmate, Vicki. She bought us tickets – as a graduation gift for me – and I skipped my Thursday and Friday classes to watch my girl crush perform in the Verizon Center! It was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever been too! Vicki and I almost cried during her performance!! We’re that obsessed…
GRADUATION! I did it!! I graduated from my four year University, with a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management and two minors in General Business and Sociology. The ceremony was long, and I still couldn’t believe that I made it! The other great part about May, was I found out that I was accepted into the Auxiliares de Conversacion program in Spain!!! 2 days before graduation, I received an email telling me that I was accepted. It was huge! Especially after applying to so many different jobs and never hearing back from them. My dream to live and work abroad was actually coming true.
Moving back home from University was very different. I had to bring everything back with me, and somehow fit all of my belongings and all of the things I have accumulated from college into my tiny room. Also, I started working at my old restaurant job and with my parents again. My goal was to make as much money as possible to take with me over to Spain. I was on my work grind! I also had my graduation party in June. It was a big party, where my friends, family, family friends, parents’ coworkers, and even more came to say Congratulations! This was also when I shared the big news with everyone that I’d be moving overseas come September. Whoa. The graduation party really filled me with so much appreciation and gratitude for my family and all of the people who have continually supported me since day one, no matter what crazy dreams or goals I may have.
Still working, still grinding, still saving up as much money as possible. Yikes. My summer months were spent working away and spending time with family and friends! Also, I finally received my placement in Spain! I was assigned to the region Castilla La-Mancha, and started prepping for my big move overseas. We didn’t have any family vacations this summer, everyone was too busy working and saving money!
I received my school placements in Spain! I learned that I would be working in a small pueblo located 30minutes outside of Toledo and working with primary school students. I reached out to my school and finally started talking with the Director. I remember feeling like this was crazy!! That I am actually doing this and moving overseas! Work was work, but the thought of Spain in one month was pretty scary to me. August was spent with more family and friends, and trying to see everyone before I left. Oh yes, and a lot of procrastination and packing.
MOVED OVER TO SPAIN! I made the leap, and moved over to Spain in the middle of September. My dad and aunt came over with me to help make the transition easier, check out the country, and help me along the way. It was a big move, it was terrifying, and I remember the first few weeks I was there I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice. I moved into my first apartment and slowly made friends with my roommate and his own friends. September was filled with transition and a lot of the Spanish language.
I started work the first week of October at my primary school. It was terrifying walking into each of my classes and introducing myself. It was also terrifying interacting with my coworkers, some of whom, don’t speak any English. I was slowly getting into the swing of things, setting up my routine, and starting to get more and more into my work as an assistant English teacher. I tried to make small trips to visit other cities in Spain, which resulted in a road trip to Murcia, Spain and staying with my roommates family. My life in Spain was slowly starting to pick up! (:
So, being me… I decided I wanted a change while living abroad. November, I had the first phase of going blonde. Wowzersss! It was different, and at first, I walked out of the hair salon and really had no idea what I had gotten myself into. After a week or so, I was digging this new look I had. This month abroad was hard. I was homesick most of the time and was sad I wouldn’t be spending Thanksgiving with my family back at home. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and thank goodness it is Tim’s as well. We decided that since we weren’t able to go home and spend it with our families, we would create our own Thanksgiving meal with the few friends we had here. The Thanksgiving meal left my heart full and happy. It was a feel good moment, being able to share this holiday with others and sharing a part of an American tradition in Spain.
And here we are to the last month of the year. This month, I may have made a regrettable decision to try and make myself a platinum blonde… But I’ve stuck this far with it, that I can’t turn back now! But thank you for the powers of my dad, the hair guru, who has given me blonder locks and a great new haircut. December was filled with a lot of traveling, to Valencia, Spain for #TIMSCRZYBDAYWKND, Munich, Germany for my first solo trip, and then now back to the United States to spend the holidays with my family! (: It’s been a whirlwind of a month, and a great way to close out the year.
I am glad to say that 2014 is closing with me being at home and surrounded by my family and close friends. It’s been an amazing ride, 2014! I’m excited to see where and what 2015 will bring to me. I’ve come up with my “New Year’s Resolutions and Goals” and a plan for World Domination that I fully intend on carrying out in the next year. Be on the watch! The excitement of change always motivates me. Cheers, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful, exciting, prosperous new year (: