Two thousand seventeen started, for me, in a bar in Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the clock struck midnight, I had my first New Year's kiss with my boyfriend. A few days later I was walking into an elementary school, palms sweating and my heart racing. This was the start of my student teaching. Late to mid-March, I taught my 5th grade students for two weeks straight all on my own, which was both incredible and terrifying at the same time. I felt proud, accomplished, and that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
The morning of my last day of fully teaching was when I woke up to a break up test from my boyfriend. Classy. That brought tears, heart break, and honestly an upset stomach.
"Life doesn't stop for anyone." - Perks of Being a Wallflower
As tough as those next few months were, I didn't have time to be sad and feel bad for myself. I had students to teach, assignments to complete and turn in to my university, and a life to live.
I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends during this time and those moments were so precious to me. As spring concluded, I made new friends and those friendships continued to flourish throughout the summer. It amazed me how people can come into your life when you need them most, whether new friends or old. The end of March was by far one of the most stressful times of my life because my edTPA (google it, it's the most challenging part of my college career as an education major) was due. The edTPA nearly killed me, but I somehow survived and even passed. But for the most part I just try to block it out of my memory.
The end of April changed my life forever, but I didn't know that then. I attended an education job fair that this international school in China, that has popped into my life numerous times over the past 6 years, just so happened to be at as well. After talking with them I realized that the only reason I was planning to teach in the States before teaching overseas was 1. I didn't know what my boyfriend (ex) was going to do with his life and how that would affect me or 2. I thought I should have a few years of experience first. They, however, assured me that as soon as I graduate from college, a first year teacher, can move across the world and teach in China. So the application process began.
A few short weeks later, after the stress of completing my graduation portfolio, I walked across a stage in my university's gymnasium and accepted my bachelors degree. Apparently my mom was crying, a lot. Not that I can blame her, graduating college is a big accomplishment. Three days later, yes three days, my two best friends and I boarded a plane destined for Tampa, Florida. Hands down one of the best trips of my life: two best friends, the beach, and absolutely nothing to worry about. Life was so so good that week.
When we got back to Minnesota, I had to say goodbye to my friends and that was very hard to do. However, I was also able to spend time with my grandparents who were in town visiting from Arizona. My sister also graduated from high school around this time. It was pretty incredible getting to be there for her in the same way she was there for me just a few weeks earlier at my graduation.
My summer consisted of spending my third summer working at a YMCA kid's summer program, as well as, trying to spend as much time with family and friends as I could. During June, I finally finished the application process for working in China. I also took a trip, for said job, to Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first flight and long distance trip on my own. Although doubts flooded my mind, I proved to myself that I could do it. [Even though I was scared and anxious about it.]
Crazy outings with friends were sprinkled throughout my summer. I also got one last week at camp, my favorite place in the world. Yes, the whole world. I do not know when I will get another week at camp. At the absolute soonest, I will get to go to camp in two years, summer 2019.
*Insert extreme stress, anxiety, and nerves here* Paperwork needed to be completed, finalized, notarized, sent here, authenticated, mailed there, and uploaded and emailed to China. Not to mention the challenges that came with preparing to move my entire life to the other side of the world. The moment of packing and attempting to have both of my suitcases at 50lbs (22kg) or less nearly caused tears due to my extremely high stress levels.
As you already know, my flights to Qingdao were long and a frustrating experience. An experience that still makes me feel overwhelmed, even four months later. Also the end of November marked one year of being vegan, a few months of that being in a completely different country.
Throughout the past year I have been to places I never thought I would go, felt things I didn't know it was possible to feel, and done things I didn't think I could. I know everyone says this, but if you would have told me on January 1, 2017 what my life would look like now in January 2018, I honestly would not believe you.
I never would have expected the pain of a first heart break. I never thought I could have loved teaching fifth grade as much as I did or that turning in my edTPA would have made me feel both like the happiest girl in the world and sick to my stomach all at the same time. I would have doubted you if you told me I passed my edTPA the first time. But I definitely would not have believed a single word coming out of your mouth if you told me that at 22 years old, fresh out of college, I would move to China, travel to different cities in China, get a cat (he literally showed up at our apartment door), and spend my winter break in Thailand. Wow.
This year has seen some of my absolute highest of highs and lows lower than I thought was even possible. I have learned more about myself, what I can handle, and just how strong I truly am. I have learned (recently) how hard it is to be homesick so far away from home. But I have also learned who my people are and who will trudge through the crappy times with me and for me. My friends and family mean the absolute world to me and although I miss them like crazy, I am ridiculously proud of myself for following my calling, my dreams, no matter how hard they may be sometimes.
Two thousand and eighteen, I am already feeling more motivated and inspired than any other new year. I am ready for you and all of the adventures and challenges you main contain. Bring it on!