Monday, January 30, 2012

Less than a month!

Well, it officially is less than one month until I leave for the Dominican Republic. I am seriously a mess of emotions and feelings. I am excited, nervous, confident, scared, and impatient, and that's only the beginning of it. I am really starting to get things together. I packed my first bag the other day to check my weight (50 pounds, so I am right on track), I purchased a few of the last electronic purchases I wanted, I've almost finished uploading DVDs onto an external hard drive. I've got some of my last fun things planned (trip to Busch Gardens, Jeff Dunham performance, family trip to Charleston). I can't believe after all the problems I've encountered, all the delays that have occurred, that I am finally going to actually go. I'm nervous about my limited Spanish skills, I'm concerned about how I will fit into my community. But I am also hopeful. This is going to be an adventure of a lifetime. I know I will learn more about myself, my limits, and how far I truly can go than I ever have. I am going to meet amazing individuals that can help inspire me, help me through the hard times, and share this amazing experience with me.

I ran a 15K on Saturday and it really made me think of the things we can accomplish when we put out minds to it. When I started running again, just running 3 miles was exhausting - I had to take walk breaks all the time, my muscles would get sore, I had shin splints. With hard work, perseverance, and simply believing in myself, I ran 9.3 miles in 1:29:53. I didn't have to take a walk break until around mile 7. I have continued to push my boundaries, and I will run a half marathon in 3 weeks. I will run 13.1 miles just because I believe that I can. Just because I pushed myself to train for something as insane as running 13.1 miles in a row. It's amazing what we can accomplish if we give everything to a goal and believe with all our hearts that we can do it.

I have officially gotten my staging information and will soon be booking flights. It's becoming so real. While nervous, I am so excited to move on to this next stage of my life!

Expect soon posts about my packing list, trips with friends and family, and more!

NYC part 2

So I had a wonderful last 3 days in NYC, but parts of it were a bit bittersweet. This trip involved my first official goodbyes, and at times I was a complete mess. Let's start where I left up with the day after my birthday.

Friday was a fairly low key morning and afternoon, since I had a lot of plans with friends in the evening. First, I went to the Roosevelt Hotel for cocktails with a few of my friends and other mutual friends. It was a nice, relaxing lounge and I had a great time chatting with people. One of my friends, who is in law school at Penn State, was in the city and showed up (I hadn't seen her since graduation) so we had a great time! After the drinks, I split off to meet up with some of my other friends from Columbia for some birthday celebrations. We went to this really fabulous bar called "Tippler" - it was underground and had a speakeasy feel to it. They had tons of interesting drinks - a lot were spicy and very unique. After Tippler we headed somewhere to dance, and then of course had to go get late night food - something I have missed SO MUCH living in Florida. We went to this adorable late night place called Cafeteria. It was just a wonderful night out and I had a great time catching up with all these friends I hadn't seen in ages. It also snowed that night, so I got to see snow one last time before I left!

Saturday was another fun day and night. After a late night, I had to recover some. Once I was awake and moving, I had a few errands to run. most notably, I went to get some new skinny jeans. I had discovered that in Florida, they only sell light color skinny jeans. I prefer dark skinny jeans, so I headed down to express to get a few pairs. I also managed to find some nice button down shirts that I can pair with tank tops to look professional for Peace Corps! After that I ran up to get a bite to eat with Laura near Columbia. We got ready for the night, and I spent another night hopping between bars and people. It was my last official night "out" in NYC, so I wanted to make the best of it!

Sunday was the sad day of goodbyes. I got up early and went for a walk in Central Park with my friend Meghna. It was absolutely gorgeous with snow on the trees. We walked and chatted for about an hour, and then went our separate ways. I got to be that girl crying on the subway after our goodbye! I then headed back up to Columbia to see Laura and Kal for a bit before heading back to get dinner with my Grandparents. I hadn't seen them in about a year, so it was wonderful to catch up and see them again before I leave. I headed back up to say my official goodbyes to Laura before she left for her flight. This was a really tough goodbye. Even though she lives in London, me moving to the DR makes me feel like we are even further apart. after those tearful goodbyes, I went to see Lili, Melissa, Megan, Matt, Mike, and Peter for dinner and goodbyes. By that point I was so overwhelmed with goodbyes, I couldn't even feel that sad! They kept making me laugh, so that made me feel a lot better.

And that was that. Monday I had an early morning flight and back to Gainesville. It was sad, but I keep reminding myself that I have an adventure ahead of me that I have wanted for almost 2 years!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Current Location: NYC

I haven't done that current location thing in AGES! I suppose mainly because my current location has been Gainesville so long, and I try to forget about that. I am currently in NYC enjoying a lovely vacation before heading out to the Peace Corps in less than 6 weeks (oh my god, is it really that soon?). It's been a great trip so far, and I have several more fun days ahead of me.

I flew in around noon on Saturday and headed to my sisters apartment on the upper west side. I got settled, and we then went to the Museum of Natural History with two of her friends, Amanda and Steven. I had been there before, but we spent some time in wings I haven't seen recently - specifically the Central American wing with the Mayans! It was a lot of fun seeing stuff about the area I was supposed to move to, but also a bit bitter-sweet. Seeing replicas of the Copan Ruins made me a bit sad that I won't be able to take a trip there. We went out for Italian that night and called it a fairly early night, since I had woken up very early for my flight.

Sunday I spent the afternoon with my wonderful friend Meghna. I am sadly going to have to miss her wedding while I am in the Peace Corps - it will be around my 4 month mark in country, and I am not allowed to leave for the first 6 months, so it won't be possible for me to attend. It was great to have a long brunch with her to catch up and drink some bloody marys! After brunch, we decided to go to a movie and watched "My Week with Marilyn." Michelle Williams was so wonderful in it! It was appropriate that I watched it, since that night, I watched the Golden Globes with my sister! The movie was nominated for several awards, and I loved that I had seen it and had an idea about it. I finished the night off with a few drinks with some of my wonderful friends. All in all, it was a great Sunday!

Monday was the day that I planned my birthday dinner with my sister and Nate! We went to this divine restaurant, Buddakan. The food was amazing and worth every penny!

Wednesday I got to celebrate my early birthday by seeing a show I have been DYING to see - How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Darren Criss! The show was amazing! Very fun to watch. Before the show I went to a tasty restaurant called Bar Americain, and after I headed up with Laura to go out around Columbia. It was a nice day for sure and a perfect way to ring in my birthday.

Yesterday was officially my birthday!!! I can't believe that I am actually 23 now - it seems bizarre. I don't really feel another year older, and the whole celebrating is kind of strange. 23 isn't that exciting of an age, but I know for sure that it will be the most adventurous year of my life so far! I had a lovely lunch with my Peace Corps Recruiter, Kimberly, and one of her friends who also served in the Dominican Republic. Having the ability to ask questions about Dominican culture, dress, and language really helped me feel more prepared for packing and leaving the country for 2+ years. I now have an idea about make up to bring, shirts to wear, and how to prepare. That night, I went to Dovetail for dinner, which was so tasty. I am loving all this food, though I definitely have gained a pound or two!

Now it is Friday, and I am down to my last few days in the city. Making plans to see friends, family, and have lots of fun! Will definitely update soon with the rest of my adventures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

7 weeks and counting

7 weeks (49 days!) until I leave for the Dominican Republic, and I am slowly but surely starting to get everything done with. Today I finished my new Resume and Aspiration Statement and emailed it into the country desk. I mailed in my visa application and emailed SATO Travel about my passport transfer. I'm just about done with everything I need to do until I get more information about booking flights and getting ready for staging.

I've begun uploading my DVD collection onto an external hard drive for my time in the Peace Corps. There were certain movies that were a must bring for the DR, and I have heard that volunteers share DVDs so I'm bringing my favorites to share with people. It's taking a lot of time to get everything I want uploaded, but it will definitely be worth it - especially when I am having a bad day and want to hear English spoken for a few hours!

I've also continued on my shopping for the Dominican. I got myself a bunch of tank tops for cheap from Old Navy that I can use to layer with button downs or wear alone with jeans or skirts on really hot days. I also picked up a cute little dress that is conservative enough to wear around. I got a pair of shorts that are a bit longer to be more appropriate in country. I got a few towels - one beach, one camping quick-dry, and one normal but thinner - for in country use. I've got a list of things I still need and slowly I am working on it.

I also have been working on some major room cleaning AKA trashing stuff I don't need and getting things worth donating together to give to someone who needs it. I have so many old shirts, shorts, dresses, skirts, etc. that I no longer fit, want, or need. I am happy that I will be able to donate some of the high quality stuff that I no longer wear to people who really need it and will appreciate it.

I certainly have a few exciting things coming up though! I leave for NYC on Saturday for a week and a half. It's going to be so wonderful to see my family and friends in the city and have some fun for a few days. I also have a family vacation coming up where we are going to go to Charleston for a long weekend. I haven't been there in years and remember very little of the city.

I will be sure to update as my adventures continue and preparations for the DR progress!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Yesterday I got another item checked off of my "Pre-Dominican Republic Bucket List." I headed down to Orlando for the day with my friend Meg to check out the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Islands of Adventure Universal Studios. We spent the whole day at the park, and most of it was in the Harry Potter section.

It's a bit sad considering how much I love Harry Potter that I hadn't yet made it to the park. I blame it on the fact that for the first year it had opened I lived in NYC and that I had a job with crazy hours.

Hogsmeade was exactly what I had hoped it would be. It was definitely ridiculously crowded, but that was to be expected. The one downfall I would say is the size of the stores. Several of the stores you actually had to wait in line for! We bought wands at Ollivanders, had butterbeer and British food at the Three Brooksticks, and purchased candy at Honeydukes! Just hanging out in Hogsmeade was tons of fun and made the crowds worth it.

Hogwarts was absolutely amazing. The major ride that they have for Harry Potter is inside of it. It was so cool to walk around the corner and see the castle ahead. However, the line was LONG. But if you go to the park, I am telling you, it is 100% worth the wait. It's completely unique is ridiculously fun. You don't even have to be a huge fan of the movies or books to enjoy it! We waited for 2 hours the first time, and with the single rider line cut our time down to under an hour the second time.

And of course, the signs all had to be in character! NO muggles allowed through this door - authorized wizards only!

And of course, now that I have my wand and some candy from Hogsmeade, I'm ready for the Hogwarts express to come pick me up! Any day now...

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 in Review

Well it's officially 2012, which means 2011 merits a look back. It has definitely been a year of ups and downs. I first found out I was going to be delayed for Peace Corps in June and not leave in August like I had planned, got an invite for Honduras in July, got news that my program was cancelled in December, and a week later got my new invite for the Dominican Republic. I moved home for what was supposed to be 3 months only to stay here for 9 months. I've had to adjust to living with my parents, being back in Gainesville, and having few friends. However, the year definitely had some major highlights. I traveled to several new places - Chile, Nicaragua, Italy, The Netherlands, Canada, and Hawaii. I graduated with my Engineering degree after 4 years of hard work. I got to make new friends and spend time with old. It's been a great year, and I can't wait for the adventures waiting for me in 2012!

To celebrate they year, below is the highlights of some of my favorite pictures of 2011!

January 2011 - Chile

February 2011 - Senior Formal

March 2011 - Nicaragua

April 2011 - Order of the Engineer Induction
May 2011 - Senior Gala and Graduation

June 2011 - Europe - Venice, Florence, Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, and London

July 2011 - Canada

Apparently August was a boring month, I don't have any pictures from it!

September 2011 - Surprise trip to NYC!

October 2011 - Hawaii trip

November 2011 - Florida/Georgia football with my mom

December 2011 - Ugly Sweater Parties and Christmas!