Happy New Year!
A summary of the year:
At the beginning of this year, I walked away from my parents in O'hare to take my first intercontinental flight to live in England for five months...met a lot of new, amazing friends that I hope I'll continue to stay friends with despite the existence of, well, the Atlantic Ocean...I got lost in Norwich on my first day there but somehow managed by sheer chance and luck to find the group I had come with again about an hour and a half later. I grocery shopped and cooked for myself on a regular basis for the first time; I know that may not seem like a big deal but one more step on my way to growing older, I guess... I turned 20. Went to PoNaNa's on a lot of Tuesdays, and a few random LCR nights...saw the North Sea a few times, once in the winter and a few more times in the summer, had a few barbeques, watched a LOT of Scrubs over a lot of relatively sleepless nights, helped throw Waveney's very last party ever (it was knocked down a few weeks later, after everyone moved out)...and a lot more amazing memories of England that mean I'll never, ever regret my choice to study abroad.
I backpacked around Europe with Mary and Andrew for three weeks (well Andrew for only the first week or so), going to three new countries I'd never been before - had a lot of picnics, saw a lot of places I never thought I'd ever see in my lifetime, got lost in Venice, ran into FOUR people from U of I that we knew in Italy completely randomly, took a train when we were told we couldn't to Paris, saw a few very very cool parks in Spain, and learned what it felt like to be somewhere when I didn't speak the language.
I went to Tanzania...I got eight vaccinations and took malaria medicine in order to go, I saw Wes for the first time in nine months (and picked up right where we left off). I experienced what it was like to be very, very obviously a foreigner. Had a lot of conversations with Tanzanians, met some very cool Tanzanian teachers, I practiced Swahili and saw elephants and giraffes, and travelled around Tanzania and to Zanzibar with Wes. Celebrated Wes and my two year anniversary on Zanzibar. :)
Returned home via forty or so hours of travelling...moved into an apartment with my roommates and adjusted to life at home again. Worked a LOT. Observed in a middle school and taught a lesson to seventh graders.
I started the new year with two of my best friends (Melissa and Rachel), a phone call from another one (Brittany) with some really good news, and a phone call (albeit a short one) from my best friend and boyfriend. Looking back on this past year, I am reminded how amazingly lucky I am in my life and how amazing this past year was. There is just so much that's been packed into one year and all of it has contributed to me as a person and to my life and enriched it.
This coming year...I'm going to do a service trip to New York, enter my second semester of junior year, observe in a high school...I'm going to visit Tanzania one more time, in May, with a layover, amazingly enough, in London. I'm going to (hopefully) work at camp again, then enter my last year of college. In November Wes is coming back. There are really good possibilities for this year, and hopefully I can ensure that I make the most of them.
Resolutions? Think more before I speak, I think. Don't speak just to fill the silence. Also, when I start getting stressed, or upset about things, remember what I've just written and remember how truly lucky I am.
Happy New Year.
Oh, and one more thing that I think warrants mentioning in here - congratulations, Brittany and Brian!