Graduation. Goodbyes. Guyana.
I have been working on this post since finals week until now, when I published it. I wrote each topic shortly after the occurrence. So here is a little snippet of my last 4 weeks!
This last month and a half before leaving to live abroad has been hard for me. Although, I’ve tried to keep a good face, it definitely has hit me [silently] how much I am going to miss my friends and family.
To my friends,
Whether we met through school, Danville, Bradley, Chi Omega, traveling, or someone I have bonded over common interests, you have made an impact on my journey thus far. I am very thankful for all friendships I have made, even if some are no longer flourishing. These next 27 months will be different and difficult. I will have to make new friends (even though that sounds exhausting in itself), but I will not forget about the ones who have been apart of my life thus far. In fact, I cannot wait to brag about you all once I am there!
In the last three months, I’ve been asked more times than I can count if I was excited or nervous or felt prepared for the Peace Corps. And through all of those questions regarding Peace Corps, I was never asked how I felt about graduating and leaving the place I called home for the last four years. I too also never asked myself that question. I was so focused on June 10th (departure day) that I never thought about May 12th (graduation), and because I never thought about it, it felt like the end of my semester went by in a blind of the eye.
The past four years at Bradley University have been so great, and I could not ask for a better college experience than what I had. I am thankful for my professors, classmates, friends, and Chi Omega for these experiences and for being so supportive in my endeavors.
Before I started at Bradley, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare, specifically physical or occupational therapy. After my first semester as a Health Science major, I received a 2.9/4.0 GPA. I honestly was proud of myself. I didn’t get a 2.0 or anything lower. However, I was still told by an advisor that my grades (after one semester) were not good enough and I was not going to (1) succeed in Health Science,
(2) be able to get my grades up to be a competitive grad school candidate, and (3) get into physical therapy school. (Side note: To be considered ‘competitive’ for PT school, you must have around a 3.6 GPA). After being told all of this negative feedback, I told myself to prove her wrong and to never see her again for advice. I mean seriously! What advisor is needs to be that discouraging to a freshmen?
I can now say that as of graduation, I (1) never sought out that advisor for help again, (2) received my B.S. in Health Science and two minors in Health and International Studies, (3) will get into physical therapy school after my service with the Peace Corps because (4) I ended my college career with a 3.65 GPA!
May 17-June 9
“Tour de Meredith” is what I have been calling my trips to say goodbye to the ones I care about. In 18 days I have traveled to 6 locations, taken 2 flights, and racked up a total of 3,200 miles. Here’s a summation of where I went and who I saw!
- Chicago, IL – Sarah, my friend from high school, and her newborn twins Noah and Mia.
- Dallas & Tyler, TX – Aunt Susan, Uncle Scot, my brother Dane, and his wife Dom.
- Wisconsin Dells, WI – Old and new camp friends as they were training to be ropes and lifeguard staff.
- Buffalo Grove, IL – my friend from Bradley, Barrett and her mom, Sheree.
- Indianapolis, IN – my mom Janet
- Peoria, IL – college friends Meg, Kat, Kelly, and Molly.
After departing from each of these locations, the thought of me leaving is slowing setting in.
I was not able to visit everyone, but I am grateful for the friends I have made in my life thus far.
However, as I write this post, I am on my plane to Philadelphia wiping away my tears so they don’t damage my laptop. I am neither much of a crier, nor an emotional person, but today I have been both.
Today my mom, grandma, dad, step-mom and couple of my closest friends, Kat and Meg, came to the airport so we could say our goodbyes. I knew this would be a difficult morning, but I did not imagine it would be this difficult and emotionally trying on me. As soon as the goodbye hugs started, so did my tears. It has finally hit me the journey I am going to start. Up until now, it has all been talk of me leaving, but today I left. I left and won’t be back for 2.5 years. I left to start a new chapter in my life. I left to see what the world has in store for me.
My hope is that in Guyana, I can find people who are just as loving and strong as my family and just as charismatic and encouraging as my friends.
Staging June 10-12
Kindergarten, junior high, camp, high school, college, and first big girl job. What do all of these things have in common?
If you answered “These all have awkward first in which you are trying to make new friends,” then you CORRECT!
Before going into staging, I started to get concerned with how I am going to make new friends again. Something that seems so simple to some, was a daunting task to me. It is really easy to get caught up in your established friendships for four years like in college and in high school, and that is exactly what I did. I got comfortable. I forgot the steps you take to make new friends. However, like riding a bike, it came back to me effortlessly.
Within hours of meeting some of my fellow Guy31 cohort members at staging, we were getting food, drinks, and running in pouring rain in downtown Philadelphia just to see the LOVE statue. After that, staging sessions went smoothly, and our travels to Guyana was handled with laughter.
If you were curious, here is a total break down of all the traveling myself and my group endured.
- Everyone fly/drive/get to Philadelphia around 6pm on June 10th
(many ranges of time)
- On June 11th, take a bus from Philadelphia to JFK airport. (2.5 hours)
- On June 12th, fly to Georgetown, Guyana at 1:25am. (5.5 hours)
- From the Georgetown airport, take a bus to the Essequibo River. (2 hours)
- Ride the ferry boat across the river. (1.5 hours)
- Get back on the bus and drive to the resort we are staying in for orientation. (2 hours)
Many days and many hours later, we all made it to our first location. Mainstay Resort in Essequibo. Currently, my cohort and I are in orientation and next week we will move in with our first host families and Pre-Service Training (PST)!
So here they are, my new family for the next 27 months and beyond!