Sunday, June 6, 2010

Waking Up from Hibernation

Well, it has certainly been a long time since I wrote anything here! Around 11 months to be exact.

I had had plans to write of my adventures after I left Costa Rica, but quite frankly, nothing seemed exciting enough to be able to compare. At least, not exciting enough to get me to sit down and focus long enough to reflect on it and write about it. (To put it in the terms & context I was looking at: going from snake & spider infested jungle to sedate college campus seemed a little boring) There was also that whole 'withdrawal from leaving an amazing experience' going on. But I'm past all that nonsense! Plus, now I'm considered an "adult" -- complete with a college degree and everything! To me, being an adult means making decisions for yourself, and my decision is to take up writing this blog once more!

I write this post as a recap, to help fill in the gaps between July of 2009 and July of 2010:
  • I returned from my semester abroad in Costa Rica with a greater awareness of the world around me and a renewed passion for what I was studying at Cornell. It was hard to be back in the States, after coming off the high from such a powerful life experience as studying abroad (I recommend living in another culture for an extended period to anyone who is fortunate enough to be able to find the time). Within a week of re-entering the United States, I celebrated my 21st birthday, thus beginning my transformation into an adult!
  • Summer 2009 was spent working at the Arnot Forest just outside of Ithaca, NY. I lived in cabins with four other interns, and spent most of my time out in the woods pounding wooden stakes into the ground, looking for salamanders, and sorting through leaf litter. All for a project on biofuels (summary of data = if you take away all the sticks and logs from the forest floor, you remove the habitat for many organisms and change some ecosystem dynamics). For the two and a half months that I lived at the Arnot, I collected a lot of data, played a lot of frisbee, and did a lot of hanging out in the nature-y places around Ithaca.
  • Fall 2009 brought another intense semester at Cornell, with me throwing some art in among my science classes, and spending a lot of time playing Ultimate (frisbee) with the Cornell team. Previously, I had played a little frisbee on the side when I wasn't climbing , but this semester found me trying to balance between weekends spent in on lead in the Gunks and on the field at frisbee tournaments. While it was great to be back in the familiar surroundings of Cornell's beautiful campus, I had a difficult time readjusting to life in the northeast. I started bringing into question a lot of the aspects of my lifestyle that were out of line with my post-Abroad views of the world. This effect was compounded by the fact that I was taking Ethics as one of my classes this semester. I spent the fall of my senior year questioning the type of person I was, who I should be, and who I could be.
  • Once the temperatures dropped and the snow started falling in Ithaca, I thought, "Screw that!" & made a plan to go back to Costa Rica over winter break. When I had left the country the previous spring, I had left feeling unfulfilled in some ways, and knew of just a few more things I wanted to do and see in the entrancingly beautiful little Central American republica. This adventure was challenging, exhausting, and exhilarating. I visited beaches and jungles in the southern reaches of the country, seeing Manuel Antionio and Corcovado National Parks with my Cornell friends Jeff, Joe, and Alex. Corcovado was very high on my list of places to see in the world, and it was a most fulfilling adventure to hike in along the beach, spend a couple days in the jungle, then trek back out - seeing breathtaking views and awesome wildlife the whole way, and I got to see two of my favorite Ticos, David and Andres (fellow students during my semester in Costa Rica). We also visited a pretty cool volcano called Poas just outside of the capital city of San Jose, and played lots and lots of card games ... I like Rummy! We tried to spend as little money as possible, which proved to be quite tiring when you are moving from place to place via public transportation (in a foreign language) with only a backpack and a pair of ratty old sneakers. But when I left Costa Rica this time, I felt entirely fulfilled - no more loose ends to tie up, no more what-ifs. My mind had found time to settle down and accept that now was the time to move on. I'll probably visit Costa Rica again some day, but without the desperate desire to see everything and be everywhere all at once.
  • As Spring semester 2010 dawned on me, I began to accept my fate of 'graduating senior.' Aside from the occasional panic attack, I was looking forward to a post-grad life unlike the one I had known for the previous 20 years. As a perpetual student, all I have ever known is school - nine months on, three months off, furthering your education every step of the way and always doing something to be better prepared for that next step. I decided that I needed to stop. Just for a brief time, to contemplate what I actually wanted to be doing with my life instead of continuing to ride the current of my education. I had been following the path of least resistance, but I decided that it was time to add a little resistance and see which way that pushed me. Amidst the continuing cycles of endless questioning of "What do I want to do with my life?", I was determined to enjoy my time right out of college. I've had plenty of stress for the past four years and my final semester at Cornell was certainly no exception. I've done my time in school, worked hard, and now I get to decided what I am going to do with my life. Now that I am all done growing up, my life is my responsibility and my choice. Time to start living!
When I first began to write this log of my adventures back in 2008, it was fueled by a large contingent of friends and family asking, "So, where exactly are you going?" Since no one is ever really certain of what I am up to, I figured I would put it all in one place, so people could figure out where I was, even if they couldn't find me in person. As I leave college behind, I find the same question is being posed once more. And I plan to provide an answer once again ... in my next post!