Monday, December 13, 2010


i've been in czech for 4 months now, and while i love my parents, friends, and church family back in indiana, my heart is here in ostrava. you might say that being in central europe for a year lends itself to amazing travel opportunities, and while yes, it does, i have found that i don't really want to travel much. in fact, i haven't even been out of the czech republic yet. europe has always held a special place in my heart, and after studying french for 5 years, it has always been a dream of mine to travel all throughout france. greece, hungary, croatia, ireland, england, spain, portugal, belgium, germany, poland, austria, and a trip back to italy are all on my list of places in europe that i deeply desire to visit. but my ministry isn't in any of those places. it's here. in ostrava. in 90% of those other countries, i have no friends to visit...only landmarks. my relationships are here, so why would i want to spend my time anywhere else?

one thing i love about ostrava is that it is not touristy at all. sure, there are postcards available in certain shops, and i've even seen an ostrava calendar. but unlike prague, where there are souvenir shops on every corner and nearly everyone speaks english, ostrava doesn't cater to tourists, especially in terms of the english language. in fact, unless i am around one of the other americans, in class, or hanging out with my czech friends, i rarely hear anyone speaking english. i'm so used to not understanding other conversations around me that when i hear english spoken outside of those situations, it's the strangest feeling. a few weeks ago, i was in my favorite cafe with one of my czech friends, and two guys sat down at a table near us and started speaking english. i became so distracted that trying to maintain the conversation with my friend was nearly impossible. all my brain wanted to do was listen to their conversation.

when i go into a shop, i expect that czech will be spoken and i do my best to communicate my needs using my limited czech vocabulary. therefore, when i can successfully accomplish something (for example, ordering a meal) without 1. the person helping me reverting to english (whether it be to practice their english or to help me out) or 2. feeling like i have a blinking sign on my forehead that says "ignorant american," i feel like i blend in. let me tell you, it's a good feeling. i get a big sense of satisfaction when someone asks me for directions as if i am a local. granted, i also feel a bit helpless because i can't truly help them. however, that's not the point. the point is this: over the past 4 months, i have spent so much time and effort trying to blend in. sometimes i am successful, other times i am not.

in some ways, it is important to blend in. for example, adapting to some aspects of the culture is important. i certainly don't want to do something that would be considered rude or offensive. i also don't want to further the ignorant american stereotype. however, there is one very big part of me that i do not want to camouflage in order to fit in with czech culture: my faith. i may live in a spiritually dark area of the world, but i am not here to hide my light under a bushel; i am here to let it shine. matthew 5:14-16 says, "you are the light of the world. a town built on a hill cannot be hidden. neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. in the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven."

this little light of mine, i'm gonna let it shine.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Ostrava Saga Pt. III

Well, this is embarrassing. I officially fail at providing consistent updates. I would apologize, but I have a feeling that it would come out sounding like a list of lame excuses, so I shall refrain and simply assure you that I intend to do better in the future. One thing I would like to point out to you before charging ahead into this post is the addition of "pages" on my blog. They can be found on the righthand side of my blog. Currently, there are two. One is about Fishnet, the language school I work at, and the other is about my ministry here in Ostrava. I also plan to do another one about why I chose to teach overseas in the first place. The information on these pages will help give some background to my blog posts, so please give them a glance.

Now, without further adieu, I give you: The Ostrava Saga Pt. III: A Change of Plans

Sounds scary, doesn't it? Plans are comfortable. Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to have all my ducks in a row. However, as one friend recently told me, "Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans." I entitled this post "a change of plans" for a few reasons. Reason #1: What I was originally going to post in the last part of the saga I instead chose to create pages for. Reason #2? Hold this thought. I'll come back to it later... ;)

I have been here in the Czech Republic for about 3 months now, and the time has flown by so fast. Teaching started on September 6th with business classes, and then public courses started on the 20th. Since then, I have learned that teaching is a full-time job. Even with only 24 teaching hours per week, there are lessons to plan, meetings to attend, and plenty of ministry opportunities to be a part of. Each week is quite full, but in a good way. I wish I could give you a play-by-play of the past two months here, but the truth is, I can't. Besides, your eyeballs would probably fall out attempting to read all about it anyway. However, I can give you some highlights and details of my time here the past two months.

*One of my best friends, Claudia, came to visit me the first week of September. She lives in Germany, and I hadn't seen her in about two years, so it was a great reunion. I felt a bit helpless since I'd only been here for a short time, but we did some exploring in Ostrava and had a lovely time. A few days after the visit, she flew out to Oregon to study for a year at a university in Ashland. There's nothing quite like swapping continents, but I am very excited for Christmas, as she is coming home and has invited me to stay with her and her family in Olbernhau and experience Germany for the first time.

*I never thought I would be a teacher OR work with youth. Boy does God have a sense of humor. After being here and experiencing both of these opportunities, I am pleased to say that I have amazing students and I am altogether in LOVE with this place. God is doing something big here in Ostrava and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. The past few film nights have had an amazing turnout...upwards of 80-90 youth! We meet in the cafe of the church I attend, and there's almost not enough room for everyone now. Also, at the last Young Life club, we had over 50 youth attend. In a country where so many people are tolerant of Christians but remain unbelievers, seeing God working in the hearts of the youth here is such an encouragement to me.

*Around the end of September, I was invited to go to the mountains with one of my students, her husband, and two-year-old son. It was such a wonderful experience of many 1sts, including: my first time picking wild blueberries, my first time truly hiking in the mountains, my first blueberry frgal (boy oh boy is this a delicious pastry), and my first time seeing a real wolf up close. Don't worry...the wolf was actually a domesticated Czechoslovakian wolf (AKA it thought it was a dog) and it was quite friendly. Oh, and of course I supported my team and wore my Notre Dame sweatshirt. Thanks for asking :)

*Arts in the CZ are much more available, not to mention much cheaper. I went with my team in September to see Carmen (for about $8!) at the opera (which was quite an experience, as it's a French opera, set in Spain, and it had Czech subtitles scrolling across a marquis), and I recently saw the ballet Giselle with the same student that I went to the mountains with. There are at least three theatres here in Ostrava, and I look forward to seeing many more shows.

*I had a wonderful experience in the mountains two weeks ago at a Young Life event called Film Weekend. To make a long story short, about 35 kids, not including leaders and a few Fishnet teachers including yours truly, spent an entire weekend watching and discussing films, playing games, and having a grand ol' time. This is of course AFTER hiking up the side of the mountain in the dark and at a practically vertical angle. I'll never think of steep in the same way again. Gotta get myself some hiking boots... I could probably do an entire post on this weekend. Perhaps I shall. Regardless, this was a weekend that I will never forget.

There are many more details and events I could share with you, but this is already getting quite lengthy. However, before I bid you adieu, I will take you back to reason #2. Ha, that rhymed. So, "a change of plans" also refers to my current predicament. When I originally signed on to this adventure across the pond, I only thought of it as a one-year kinda deal. It didn't even really occur to me that I would have the opportunity or desire to stay longer. However, the reality is that 1. I love it here. 2. ESI (my sending organization) wants to know in March whether their teachers plan to stay or return to the states. 3. I am prayerfully considering staying for another year. You might ask, "What is the benefit of staying longer?" or "Isn't one year enough?"

To answer these questions, let me share with you a question that EVERY single student and acquaintance has asked me since I arrived: "How long are you staying?" The people here are so used to people like me coming and then going after one year that they are afraid to truly invest in a relationship if we're only going to be here a short while. I don't blame them. Don't get me wrong, it is possible to build relationships here in one year, but think of what can be done in two. Trust takes time. Therefore, I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I continue this year and contemplate the future. I am not hasty in my decisions, and I don't do this to frighten you. I tell you this so that we can pray together. Plus, I've found that it's better to let the people you care about have time to get used to an idea instead of springing it on them right before a deadline.

I shall end this post with a good quote that I found recently. "Decisions come easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world." -Anso Coetzerny

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your prayers. I love you all.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ostrava Saga Pt. II

Halt. Have you read The Ostrava Saga Pt. I yet? If not, I would recommend reading it first. Don't worry, I won't come out of the woodwork and hit you over the head with a frying pan if you don''s just not the way the saga was intended to be read. Feel free to keep reading. There's no need to put a lock on the door of your pots and pans ;)

The Ostrava Saga Pt. II: Hello Ostrava!

Wow, where do I begin? By now, we've (btw, whenever I say we/we've/our, I mean my team) been here in Ostrava for just over a week. We arrived on Friday, August 20th around 8pm Central European Time. The 6-hour time difference from home didn't prove to be too terrible the first day, but by our second day here, I was really feeling the jet lag. There's nothing like being tired all the time. Yuck. Glad that's over. Thankfully, our time here has been really low-key so far.

Here are some highlights:

*Ostrava City Hall has a viewing tower, so we paid a small fee to see an incredible view of the city. I was silly enough to forget my camera, so here are some pictures (courtesy of my lovely teammate, Shelly McMullen) of the tower itself and some of the views:

Just think, this is only a speck of Ostrava! There is so much more to show you...I just need to think of the best way to do that. Uploading pictures on here isn't really the best option, so I am open to suggestions.

*We went to our first Czech restaurant. It was located in the lower level of a museum, and the 5 of us were literally the only ones there (besides the waitress and the chef, of course). Delicious food. They even had an English menu, which was definitely helpful, though we felt a bit guilty for using it. Since then, though, we've been to three other Czech food establishments and successfully ordered food using a Czech menu.

*I had my very first IKEA experience. We needed a dresser for the flat, so we took the tram (one of the three forms of public transportation here in Ostrava) and visited IKEA. My teammates were extremely ambitious, as they decided it would be no problem to simply transport the dresser back to our flat (aka apartment). Yeah...the dresser weighed 72 lbs. What a day.

*We've been grocery shopping numerous times already (since we have to carry our purchases back to the flat, we can only buy so much). There is a mall near our flat that includes a large TESCO, which is like a Walmart. Shopping there is pretty easy thanks to the fact that we don't usually need to know the Czech word for each item. The deli counter is really the only exception, and even then, the ladies there can usually tell that we're new at this and are therefore pretty patient with us.

*4 of us went to the Cine Star (a movie theatre in the mall by our flat) and saw Inception. Wow. Now there's a movie that will make you think. I'd wanted to see it for awhile, but hadn't had the chance. It showed in English, but with Czech subtitles. Here are some interesting things to note about the movie theatre experience here:
1) When you purchase a ticket, you're actually reserving a particular seat.
2) Therefore, unlike Americans, Czechs don't arrive early to pick their seats. In fact, they don't arrive early at all. When we first entered the theatre, I was worried that we were in the wrong theatre because there were so few people and I knew that most of the seats were already reserved. However, they all showed up during the previews.
3) There's a bar in the lobby of the theatre, but you can't take drinks past the ticket-rippers and into the actual viewing rooms. Not that I tried. Just an observation...
4) There are select seats in the theatre for couples. I was lucky enough to find this out as my seat was right next to a "loveseat." Literally, it's two seats put together. Thankfully, the couple sitting next to me actually wanted to watch the movie.

*We all bought a 3-month transportation pass, which makes for extremely convenient travel via the bus, trolley-bus, and tram here in Ostrava. Yes, we take public transportation to get pretty much everywhere except the Futurum mall (where the TESCO is located, along with lots of shops and a large food court--perfect for when we aren't feeling ambitious in the kitchen) and church.

*Church! We've been to church twice already, and we all love it. It's a Czech Brethren church, and it also happens to be where most of the Fishnet (our school) teachers attend. Hello community :) What's more, we get to listen to the message in English via a large set of headphones as someone in the back translates for us. Yes, we sit in the front and look obviously American because of this. Worship is not translated though, so we all attempt to sing the hymns in Czech. This proves to be very entertaining. I quite enjoy it. It's a great way to practice my Czech pronunciation, even if I have no clue what I'm saying.

Now, you are probably all curious about our flat. Drumroll please. Here's the outside of the building:

We're on the 7th floor (it's really the 6th...but Europeans do things differently). Our flat is right above the orange line, and that's our own balcony. We have lots of windows, so there's plenty of natural light. We love it. Our views are amazing. Plus, there are no window panes, so we get a clear, unobstructed view :) It's a hassle to put pictures on here, so I'll take a video of the flat and give you a nice little tour sometime soon.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a tiny snippet of Ostrava. It's a pretty cool city, and once it stops raining (it's been gray and rainy here for about 5 days), I'll go exploring and take lots of pictures :)
Next up is The Ostrava Saga Pt. III, which will be about our school and what ministry will look like here. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Ostrava Saga Pt. I

Hi y'all! Sorry for the extreme delay. Hopefully you still remember me...

In any case, there is so much to say that I've decided to break my update into three parts. It shall be called The Ostrava Saga. Don't worry, it's not related to The Twilight Saga. No vampires or werewolves were harmed during the making of this update ;)

The Ostrava Saga Pt. I: End of Training/The Travel Experience

Training shall I put it? Difficult. Stretching. Funny. Heartbreaking. Love-filled. There are so many ways to describe it. Let's just say this: it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. I absolutely loved it while I loved to hate it. I loved getting to know the other teachers who were heading to other countries. I absolutely hated saying goodbye. In a way, we became a family during training. Our time was full of preparation for the next year, but since we were preparing together, it seemed like we would be together the next year as well. Things were comfy and cozy. Then reality set it in as each country team left, with the Czech team being the last to go. In fact, us Czechsters were there at training two days after all the other teams had departed. There was nothing to do but pack and wait. As a fellow Czech teacher put it, it was like we were in Purgatory.

Finally, it was time to weigh our bags. This also consisted of repacking them several times so that they would be under 50 lbs. a piece. Though I think this was more of a girl thing...the guys didn't seem to have much of a problem. After a handful of tries, I was finally able to get both of my bags to 48.something lbs. each. Now that's success :)

Travel was certainly an experience. The Czech team assembled at 10:30am August 19th to receive our visas (Which reminds me, all 5 of us Ostrava girls were the last to receive ours...they came in on the 18th. Let's just say that was a HUGE answer to prayer.) and passports, pray together, and hoist our luggage into the vans that were taking us to LAX. With 13 travelers, there was quite a bit of luggage. Each person had two big suitcases at max capacity and two carry-on items. You do the math :) We managed to all get in line together at the Lufthansa ticket counter...a feat in itself. Then disaster struck.

Ok, ok, a slight exaggeration. Here's what happened: TeachOverseas had arranged it so that we could take 2 bags, but Lufthansa was only going to allow us one. Thankfully, Laura (our RD) and Josh (the transportation director) were there to sort everything out. We got all of our second bags paid for and checked, but we still didn't have our boarding passes. Apparently, the Lufthansa lady in charge of that got tired of us and went on a break. Not sure if that's really what happened, but after waiting to the side of the counter for about an hour and a half, it sure seemed that way. Thankfully, she magically reappeared, and all was well.

The guy in security who was in charge of making sure that 1) my passport was real, and 2) that I was the same person as the one pictured in my passport, asked if I was taking all of Los Angeles with me. Let's just say that it was extremely apparent that my bags were heavy...not to mention huge on such a small person. I told him that it sure seemed that way. His response? "Spread the love." :)

After waiting so long at the ticket counter, we no longer had a long wait at the gate for our flight to Frankfurt. I was in row 54, seat G. There were about 57 rows of 10 seats across, and out of the 13 Czechsters, I was the furthest back. I sat next to a mother and her two kids and was glad to have an aisle seat. The little girl sitting next to me was indeed adorable, but little children do not have good dexterity, and so everytime the airline fed us, I prayed that her food would not end up all over me. The flight was about 10 hours, and I barely slept a wink. This was mostly because said little girl next to me decided that I would make a great pillow. It was actually kind of cute, but let's just say that I couldn't get comfortable to save my life.

We had taken off half an hour late because a passenger was stuck in customs, so we arrived to Frankfurt half an hour late. This wouldn't have been a problem...except that our hour and a half layover was then reduced to 45 minutes for getting through customs and security...oh, and making it from gate B to gate A (which you'd think wouldn't be far, but oh, we might as well have been at gate Z). We literally had to sprint to catch the plane to Prague. So here we are, 13 sweaty and out of breath Americans, crawling onto a fairly small plane with like a minute to spare and all the European passengers staring at us like we're crazy (not that I blame them). And of course, an 18-member orchestra had boarded with their instruments, so all the overhead storage bins were full. And remember, we all had 2 carry-on items a piece. Oh, and I was lucky enough to be in the emergency exit row, which meant that I couldn't even have luggage under the seat in front of me. Hooray :S With the help of the flight attendants and a taller member of the Czech team, my luggage was stowed away in time for the plane to head down the runway. Whew.

Thankfully, the Hungarian lady sitting next to me in the exit row didn't appear too fazed. In fact, she was quite nice. She asked if I was American (hmmm, how could you tell? ;) hehe) and we proceeded to have a nice conversation. She asked why I was heading to Prague, so I told her that all 13 of the straggling passengers were together and how we were headed to the Czech Republic to teach for a year. She wanted to know if we were all going to be in Prague, and who/what we would be teaching. It was a short flight, so we didn't get to talk for long, but after all we'd been though, it was so enjoyable to have a nice conversation with a stranger (the little girl next to me on the 10-hour flight wasn't exactly chatty).

All of us had planned for our baggage to be lost, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that every single piece had made it to Prague. Now we just had to get it all to our respective cities. Our contact in Ostrava had sent his sister-in-law, Eva, to pick us up from the airport and put us on the train, and suddenly it was time to say goodbye to the rest of the Czech team. Then it was just us Ostrava girls and Eva pulling all of our luggage (about 20 pieces total) onto the bus, down a huge set of stairs to the metro, on and off two different metro lines (to get to the train station), and finally onto the train.

Thankfully, we weren't rushed for time...until we had to heave each heavy piece of luggage up the steep stairs of the train before it took off. That was fun. The train was really full, and with so many pieces of luggage to watch, most of us ended up sitting on the luggage in the aisle. At one point, I layed across 3 big suitcases. It was actually pretty comfortable. It was my first "real" train ride, and the scenery was beautiful...which made up for the lack of seats. After 4 hours, we arrived in Ostrava and created a sort of assembly line to get all our luggage off. However, we were spared from having to do it all ourselves, as 4 people approached the train, asked if we were the Fishnet girls, and proceeded to hoist all of our luggage off of the train. What a relief! The four people consisted of: the school director, the school secretary and her husband, and the affiliated church's youth pastor (who used to work at Fishnet). They packed us (and our luggage) into cars and took us to our flats, where we promptly passed out.

Actually, before passing out, they took my team to visit the other girls' flat, which is about 10 minutes away from ours. While exploring the other girls' flat, I needed to pay homage to the bathroom. Their bathroom had a key in the lock, so I played with it. Boy was that a mistake...I couldn't get out! I swallowed my pride, banged on the door, and yelped something about being locked in. Of course, the four other girls and the four people from school thought this was hilarious, so they were all standing outside the door laughing at me. Don't worry, I made it out ;) But there's nothing like having your first embarrassing moment in a new country right away.

If you've made it this far, you can see why this update needed to be split into parts. I'll be working on part II this evening, so stay tuned! Also, once these extremely lengthy updates (sorry about that...I cut as much as I could) are all up, my new goal for this blog will be to post a little something every few days instead of posting novels once a month.

Thanks for reading! I love you all :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010


No, I'm not referring to the band, though they are pretty fantastic. I'm simply trying to come up with the simplest description of the past few weeks. On August 14th, I said goodbye to my parents and flew solo for the first time out to California, where I was blessed with the opportunity to stay with some family friends in Corona before heading up to Pasadena for training on the 17th.

*Side note: I truly meant to do a post before leaving Indianaland and never got around to it. My sincerest apologies for making you wait in anticipation.*

Since then, two weeks of training have passed. The first week drug on like no other. Seriously, it felt like the longest week of my life. Am I complaining? Not really. It was a great time, but also very overwhelming. We've received so much information that I think my brain (and my binder) are nearing max capacity. Our time is very structured, with little free time, which is one of the main reasons why this blog post is so belated. There are so many things that I could tell you about training, but I don't want to overload you with information, so I'll just give you some of the big ideas.

-I LOVE my team. We've had to do a ton of team formation work (AKA discuss our hopes, dreams, fears, goals, insecurities, etc.) and while that's been very emotionally draining, it's helped us to understand each other better and really bond as teammates.
-Training is composed of all the TeachOverseas teams around the World, including 7 countries besides the Czech Republic, so there are quite a few people to meet. Most of the sessions that I have to attend are for the Central Europe group, which is composed of Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech, so it's sad to bond with people that won't be in Czech with me and my team. But hey, it gives us more reasons to visit the surrounding countries :)
-On week nights, we have something called Practicum, which is basically time that we practice teaching English at local churches. We really are teaching though, so in a way, it doesn't feel like practice. Each teacher has to teach a 40-minute lesson twice a week, and yes, lesson planning is involved. Since I did not go to school for teaching, this is a very new concept, and one that I have not yet fully embraced. It's getting easier, but this is definitely an area where I could use prayer.

Gah, there is so much more that I could say. This past week has flown by, so I can only imagine what the next two weeks of training will be like. Here are some highlights from this past week:
*I killed my first cockroach. It was in our bathroom and I was the first one up, so I was the lucky one who stumbled across it. What an experience, and quite messy I might add.
*I tried tofu for the first time. It was in a noodle stir-fry, and surprisingly, it wasn't terrible.
*I took public transportation for the first time. Oh Pasadena Metro-bus, how fun you are when packed with every single person from training.
*I've started a new devotional/journal experience that I am desperately trying to do daily. So far, so good. More details and musings to come :)

On August 19th, I'll be flying overseas with the rest of the Czech group (there are about 20 of us, 12 being brand new TeachOverseas teachers like me). Of the 20, my team includes two other girls: Shelly and Chelsea. However, there are also two other girls in the same city of Ostrava, so it's like one big team that's composed of two two families.

So there you have it. Hellogoodbye. Goodbye parents and friends in Indiana, Hello everyone at training. Soon to come: Goodbye new friends from training, Goodbye USA, and Hello Ostrava.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

time keeps on slipping...

it's june 22nd. i leave for training on july 14th. that's about 3 weeks. WOW. and time keeps on slipping...

soon i will be on the plane to pasadena for four weeks of training. by then, i think the feelings of nervousness and excitement will have hit me like a ton of bricks. but for now, even with the uncertainty of this next year, i simply have a peace. it's hard to explain, and so i know without a doubt that this peace is from the Lord.

a good friend of mine recently spoke in her update letter about how God uses the "flashlight method." He only lets us see so far in front of our feet, and it gets frustrating at times. we think, "well thanks, God. but could you just turn the overhead light on for a moment so that i could feel like i know where i'm going?" of course, if He let us use the overhead light even for a second, we would totally freak out. instead, we have to trust Him. therefore, this verse will be on my heart not only as i prepare to go, but all throughout this next year overseas:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Joshua 1:9

thank you, lisa, for putting this verse in your last update letter. it's a great encouragement to me as God uses the flashlight method to direct my steps :)

all my visa paperwork is completed, my flight to pasadena purchased, and every support letter sent out. however, there is still much to do. i won't bore you with the details, but here are some specific prayer requests/praises:

- i am about halfway to my goal of $12,000! that itself is a huge accomplishment, but please pray for more support to come in as God provides.

- i get to stay with some dear friends in corona (where i grew up!) for a few days prior to training! this is a huge praise :)

- please pray for my parents as they adjust to the idea of me being gone for a year. even during college, i've always been close to home, and this is going to be a big change for them (and the dog!).

- pray for this sense of peace to continue, as it would be so easy to be overcome with worry regarding the uncertainty of this next year.

that's all for now. i'm not feeling too literary, but it's been awhile since my last post, and the date of my sendoff is quickly approaching. thanks for reading, and thanks especially for your prayers!

Monday, May 17, 2010

and this is how it feels...

i graduated from college on saturday, and the classic "graduation song" by vitamin c was on repeat in my head no matter how many times i tried to shut it off. sure, it's a bit ridiculous, but it was relevant. if you're unfamiliar with the song, or simply need a refresher, visit youtube.

being done with college is such a strange feeling. four years just doesn't quite seem long enough. i'd be perfectly happy if we had four years of normal classes and then one year to relax, play with friends, and simply figure things out. unfortunately, the piece of paper (aka diploma) i received on saturday was expensive enough with just four years on my tab.

now it's time to move on. am i ready? in some ways, yes. but in other ways, no. by all means, i'm glad to be done with papers, exams, and presentations. that part of the college experience wasn't exactly the most entertaining aspect. it's nice to be able to read books for fun now, instead of studying textbooks and wishing that i could learn via osmosis. however, it was unnerving to pack up all my stuff and know that i wouldn't be moving it all back in after the summer. side note: isn't it crazy how much junk one can accumulate over the course of four years? i'm attempting to break my bad habit of keeping everything "just in case."

currently, i'm sitting in my room with boxes and bags littering the floor, and i'm wondering what to do with all of it. what do i keep? what needs to go? each item has at least one memory attached to it, which is why it's so hard to just throw something away, even though i know deep down that i'll never need to use it again. if i hold onto everything, it makes it that much harder to move on with life. i'm learning that i can't keep everything from the past. not only does it weigh me down, but it makes it difficult to press forward. God gave our human minds a great capacity for filing memories. for example, just because i finally throw away those notes from high school (yes, i still have some...don't judge me) doesn't mean that i'll forget the experiences i had in those classes. perhaps if i take the time to de-clutter my life at least a little bit, focusing on the present and the future will be easier. plus, it will make navigating my room much less dangerous :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

it's the end of the world as we know it... it's not the end of the world, but it's the end of life as i know it. school has been my life for as long as i can remember, but this saturday, i will graduate from huntington university, and a new chapter of my life will begin.

as i sit here at my computer and sip delicious macadamia nut coffee from my rainbow & unicorn mug, i can't help but think about how my life is about to change. i'm not going down the "normal" post-graduate path of finding a job and looking for a place to live. instead, i'm moving back home for a couple months before heading to the czech republic for a year to teach conversational english.

yeah. i'm totally excited, but it's funny how God works. if you would have asked me a few months ago what i was planning to do after graduation, teaching conversational english in a foreign country would not have been any of the options. don't get me wrong, it's a swell opportunity. it's just that swell opportunities tend to evade me. either that, or i don't think that i'm qualified to look into said opportunity. but this time, God dropped this opportunity of a lifetime right into my lap. wow, i've said "opportunity" way too many times. forgive me.

anyway, what i'm trying to say is this: i have so many emotions swirling inside me right now. i'm excited for this new adventure, i'm nervous about trying to fund-raise over $10,000, and i'm blessed to be able to move back home and have the support of my parents before leaving the country. at the same time that i'm ready to be done with school, actually leaving is another story. it's a very bittersweet feeling. i'm moving on with my life, but there are beautiful people here on campus that not only will i not see for a year, but i may never see again. that fact simply breaks my heart. i don't care if we are acquaintances that only chatted in class or on the mall, or if we are good all hold a special place in my heart.