2017 was a busy year- my first full year living in Georgia, filled with school and work, and lots of incredible adventures. Although I didn't get several programs I applied for, I left the state of Georgia for all but 3 months of the year, was on the West Coast five times, went on 4 solo trips (New York, Cumberland Island, Alabama, & Qatar), and of course, on a big trip to see my parents in Ethiopia. I also I survived the humid Hotlanta summer and vowed never to do that again. I've always been a big believer in the value of intensive or international learning environments and made it a priority for my time at Columbia. I applied for several programs and educational opportunities for next year and I certainly got what I asked for this time. It looks like 2018 is going to be quite the year.
January - India
Every year, second-year students at Columbia go on "Explorations" trips, around the world, United States, or around Atlanta. The trips are designed to be contextual education, where we learn about the contexts we travel to from the people who live there. Each trip is different and I am so excited to get to go India! From January 4-19, our group of 3 professors and 14 students we will be traveling throughout southern India. We will be going to Kochi, Kottayam, Bengaluru, Vellore, Tirupati, and Hyderabad.
After we get back, I'll spend late January-early May in Atlanta for my Spring semester. I'm taking some great classes and doing the second half of my internship at Pulse Church, so I'm looking forward to all that spring will bring.
Summer - Vermont
To be ordained in the PC(USA) you must complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). CPE is an internship in Chaplaincy, which most people do at a hospital. I knew I didn't want to spend another summer in Atlanta, so I applied to a hospital in Seattle, because there is nothing I love more than Seattle in the summer. But in the back of my mind, I'd also been considering picking up and going somewhere brand new. I've never been to New England before, so I started researching possible hospitals to apply to, because why not? While I was in Seattle in October, I had a phone interview with University of Vermont Medical Center, located in Burlington, Vermont. The interview was incredible and I loved the conversation I had with the supervisors. My interviewers were two Catholic priests- a Jesuit from New England and a Catholic priest from Nigeria. I've never worked with Catholics before and immediately got excited about all that I could learn from them. UVM is a relatively small hospital, with only 400 patients, but it's a Trauma 1 center, so it still has a wide range of opportunities.
It was an incredibly difficult decision for me to say no to Seattle since I often feel like I left my heart there. How could I choose to spend less time with the people I love? It took me several weeks to decide, but thanks to some encouragement from friends and mentors, I came to realize there are things that I can only learn somewhere new and outside my comfort zone. I'd learn in Seattle, but not like I would own my own. Plus, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to spend the summer in Vermont. Burlington is right on Lake Champlain and it's less than two hours from Montreal! It's the birthplace of Ben and Jerry's (an important staple of my diet) and from all accounts, is a charming little place.
I'll be there from late May to early August. I'm so excited, and for me, excited = planning. I've already started planning my route to drive up in May, and an epic camping and road trip throughout New England and the 3 National Parks of the East Coast to go back down. It's fun to start planning all the adventures (including 7 states I've never been to before!) but I'm also a bit nervous about spending a summer by myself. So if you find yourself in need of a vacation this summer, may I recommend Burlington? (Also accepting road trip buddy applications! ;)
Fall - Czech Republic
I've been planning all my academic requirements around being able to study abroad for the fall semester of my Senior year. Studying abroad was the highlight of my undergrad experience and I knew I wanted to make it a priority in Seminary as well. I also knew the program I wanted and eagerly awaited to find out if I had been accepted. Late last month, I found that I had been accepted to study at Protestant Theological Faculty at Charles University in Prague. I'll be there for Fall Semester, from late September to early January.
As if this wasn't already wonderful enough news, one of my best friends, Keith Thompson, will also be studying abroad with me! I am so excited to have a friend to study and travel with. Keith and I lived together last summer and it was a blast.
It gets even better because we've had two fantastic foreign exchange students from Central Europe this fall and I am so excited to see them in their home countries. Our friend Jordan is at Charles University in Prague and our other friend Szabina lives in Budapest and we can't wait to go visit her!
I am so incredibly excited about learning from a brand new perspective, living in Europe, and the opportunity to travel to new places.
It's shaping up to be quite the year. It looks like I'll only be in Atlanta for a total of 4 months next year, which is giving me some pretty mixed emotions. I'm grateful for a community that is difficult to leave because it means I have loved and been loved there. It's exciting to have so many big things to look forward to and to see how the nuts and bolts come together.