Well, it's the end of 2010... and what a year it has been. I was watching the Google Zeitgeist 2010 video that goes through the year of events, and it was shocking to see how much has happened in such a short period of time. At the beginning of the year we had the earthquake in Haiti, and this year has contained of events like the World Cup in Africa, the Chilean miners, the Pakistan floods, the Gulf Oil spill, and most recently, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell
However, looking back it's been quite a year of changes for me. I visited Chicago, Tennessee, and North Carolina. I took my passion of travel to a new level, visiting 4 new countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Belgium, and Ghana) and living for a month in France and Ghana. I learned to live without technology and how to survive in cultures unlike my own, where I barely knew the language. I completely changed my focus - before this year, I was certain I would go straight to graduate school, and I have decided to not apply and take at least a year off, if not longer. I've decided to attempt potentially one of the hardest things of my life, pursuing the Peace Corps where I would have to live in a poverty stricken nation for several year, without reliable internet or phone service, my friends or family, or knowing the local language fluently (to begin with, at least). I don't know if I have ever felt so excited about something - I think I am already annoying my friends and family with "Peace Corps this" and "Peace Corps that," and I haven't even received an invitation!
I've gotten closer to some friends, drifted apart from others - I guess that's just part of growing up. I've gone over 6 months without purchasing a pair of shoes (yes, that is a major change!). I've also really separated myself from my home. Gainesville still hold a special place in my heart, but in 2010, I think I spent maybe 15 days there, if not less. It's weird not going home, but I also feel like I am growing up and moving on. The Jenni that lived in Gainesville is nothing like the person I am now - people that knew me back then often can't understand my desires to travel and help others. The reactions I got from people when I explained I used a latrine and took bucket showers for a month in Ghana were hysterical. I can only imagine the looks I'll get when I tell people about my plan to live like that for 2 years!
I've improved my grades. I really buckled down this year in my academics, making the Deans List for the first time in the Spring (though the Fall semester is still somewhat in the air...). I've decided to not necessarily do what I "should" do but instead what I want to do. I decided to drop my minor with one class to go and instead start Spanish again. It's time I do what I want to rather than do what I should.
I can't think of a more appropriate way to start 2011 than to hop on a plane on January 1st and head to Chile for two weeks. It will represent how much I expect my life to change over the coming months. I'll be heading to New Orleans in January and Nicaragua in March. I'll be a college graduate in May. Possibly take a trip with family or friends in June or July (anyone interested in planning something?). And if all goes to plan, I'll be packing my bags in August or September for the unknown! My life has never been more unsure than it has been at this moment, yet I have never been more certain that this is what I need to do.
I thank all my family and friends that have been so supportive of me. I am so lucky to have you in my life! May 2011 bring great things for us all!!!