There are birds in the airport!

It’s finally over! The moment I had been dreading…the good-byes. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life, however leaving
these people to move to a a different country with a group of strangers was easily the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. I begged my parents to let me take a taxi to the airport just to avoid a tearful farewell. As I’m writing this, I realize that in my anxiety to say good bye to my parents, I forgot to say good bye to the dogs! 😥 Oh, I’m also 90% sure I forgot my iPad which John so graciously gave me after mine was stolen in Mexcio. Basically, I’m a disaster today. Shocker, right?

I’m sitting at the gate, finally recovering from the scene I made after saying good bye to my dad at the security check. I think the TSA folks felt so sorry for me they let me do pre-check! I’m an hour and a half early to my gate, which I absolutely HATE so I thought I’d make good use of this time and reflect on the amazing summer I had. DISCLAIMER: this post is more for me than anyone else so if I sound braggy about my awesome life, it’s because I mean to 🙂

My summer began a little later than normal (thanks a lot, Iowa) and I just had one day before I travelled to Europe with 2 of the the most fabulous Spanish teachers and 20 wonderful students. What a wonderful experience! I was so lucky to have been able to tag along while a bunch of kids from CB explored Madrid, Toledo, Zaragoza, Barcelona and Rome. The amount of work that went into planning and leading this trip is just insane and I can’t thank Molly enough. I would highly recommend doing a student trip with a seasoned veteran before trying to plan one on your own. On the very first day, a student had a seizure and we had to call the Spanish equivalent of 911! However, after that it was smooth sailing as we went to Parque del Retiro, El Prado, La Reina Sofia and much more. After a few days, we took a bus to Barcelona….a lot more painful than you could possibly imagine. I think it was 8 hours…on a bus…with 60 teenagers. YIKES! However, Barcelona was BEAUTIFUL and I wish we could’ve spent more time there. After a ferry ride to Rome, we explored the beautiful city for a few days and then flew back home. Rome was by far the most gorgeous place I’d ever been and even though I had blast with the kids, I would love to visit there on my own or with a friend 🙂 sorry, kiddos! I would have to say that my favorite part of the trip was watching the students amazement at the world outside of their CB bubble. They were so curious about everything and I truly believe that this trip ignited a passion for travel in some and even got students to think a little differently about what they may want for their future.

A couple of days after returning back to the States, I was still recovering from jet lag but I put on my party pants for Jena’s bachelorette party and then her wedding! That was a beautiful day. I loved seeing my best friend so happy and in love and it was even better seeing how much she was loved.  My dress might have been too tight and my heels too high but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The reception was the best party I’d been to in forever and I even met a cute guy, something I thought was impossible in Omaha 😉

A week after the wedding, I flew to Guanajuato, Mexico to visit, in my opinion, the biggest badass around. Again, I loved traveling with the students but it was so fun to be able to keep my own schedule and even more fun to be able to have a beer or 7 with dinner. Not only was getting to chill with Katie for 10 days a blast, but I also made 3 amazing new friends. It was such a good lesson for me to see how quickly traveling bonds people together and I know that Sarita, Taylor and Tyler will be my life-long friends. It is impossible for me to pick my favorite part from my trip but a few things that stand out are beso negros, elote, fresandía, Botellita, Tonalá and late night chats with my roomie 🙂 Minus being robbed and the little bout of food poisoning, it was the perfect trip.

I got to rest for a few days and then I packed up and moved my stuff out to Colorado. I snuck away so as to avoid goodbyes with my two BFFs/sisters Sam and Jena (sorry, girls!) and then Staci met me out in CO the next day. We stayed with my parents, hiked the Manitou Incline where I didn’t complain at all, ate delicious food and then set out for San Diego. After a grueling 12 hour drive through the mountains and thunderstorms, we made it to VEGAS! Our hotel was “historical” and we had a blast people watching on Fremont Street. The next day, it seemed like forever until we made it to the beach but the ocean never looked so good as we pulled up, loaded with tacos and Coors light. I had such a fun few days being a tourist in Staci’s new-ish home. I made the exact trip with her last year but in reverse. I know she didn’t like it but I am so thankful that she moved back to Omaha for a little bit so we could re-connect after being in different time zones for 6 years. It is crazy to think that it has been almost 15 years since we met in 7th grade 🙂 This girl gives me the courage to follow my dreams and there is no way I will ever be able to thank her enough.

After my crazy summer, I was looking forward to three relaxing weeks at my parents’ house in Castle Rock. It was so fun to have all three kids under the same roof for a short while until Lukey moved to college. Pretty much every minute my mom wasn’t at work, we were together. She is my best friend and I cherished every minute we got to spend together. During the day, I got to hang out with my dad and even though we got on each other’s nerves, I had a blast driving him crazy. I used to complain that I didn’t have any friends in Castle Rock but these three weeks reminded me that the best guys I know live under the same roof! I had so much fun spending time with John and Luke and I will probably miss them most of all.




My PC Timeline

**Disclaimer: this is a long post detailing my thought processes (snooze fest, I know) for a condensed list of my PC time line, scroll down to the bottom 🙂

So many people have asked me when I decided to join the PC and why I am “giving up” 2 years of my life to volunteer abroad. (I don’t see it as giving up my life but as a chance to really live my life). I never have a straight answer for these people because it was a combination of spontaneity and years of consideration…which doesn’t really make sense. I was about 20 years old, a sophomore in college studying biology and I absolutely hated it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I didn’t see the point of paying for college until I figured it out. I had heard about the PC and all I knew was that it was an organization through the government where people lived and volunteered abroad. I thought it seemed like the perfect way to spend my time soul-searching and deciding what to do with my life. However, after a  little research I discovered that just because it is a volunteer organization, the PC does not just take anyone and I would not be considered a qualified candidate until I earned my degree. I decided to change my major to Spanish and Education and forgot about the PC for a few years.

After I moved back to Nebraska to teach at Lewis Central, I knew it was not where I wanted to be long term. I LOVED my school and my coworkers but I felt like a piece of me was missing. Then, about a third of the way through my second year of teaching I woke up one Sunday morning and decided I needed a changed. Right then and there I applied for the PC, a huge commitment because at the time the application process took a few hours. I never told anyone about my application until after my interview in January. The day after I was interviewed, I was nominated to serve as a teacher trainer in Nicaragua. I was extremely excited about this nomination and started reading up on the country. Then came the waiting…..and more waiting…..waiting some more….and even MORE waiting after that. I had kind of given up on my PC dream and started to consider moving to San Diego with my girl Staci until one day, in the middle of my 4th period Spanish 3 class, I received my invitation to serve in Colombia. A few days of thinking and one afternoon of serious drinking, eating and pro/con list making with my wonderful mentor Katie and I had accepted my invitation. A mountain of paperwork and medical exams later and here I am, a little over a week until I begin what I hope to be the best life changing experience.

Here is the condensed version of everything I just wrote 🙂

Fall 2008: Hate studying biology, don’t know what to with life, look into PC, realize I’m not qualified.

Spring 2009: Forget about PC, change major to Spanish and Education, study to become a teacher

Fall 2012: Begin teaching at the best school around, Lewis Central

Fall 2013: Ants in my pants…I need a change!

November 3: Apply to PC

December 10: Receive request for interview

January 2, 2014: Lie to everyone I know, tell them I have a dentist appointment and go to Omaha Public Library for my interview. **this interview was super relaxed and only took about 45 minutes even though it was scheduled for 2 hours.

January 3, 2014: Receive nomination to serve as a teacher trainer in Nicaragua, tentative leave date, August 2014.

February 2014: Receive legal clearance after submitting background check form and finger prints. Also receive medical pre-clearance due to responses on medical history form. Receive questionnaire from the Placement Office, get offered possible positions in Asia and Africa. I told them I’d prefer a Spanish speaking country.

waiting…waiting…panicking that I ticked off the Placement office because I said no to Asia and Africa…..start making plans to move to San Diego with Staci

March 19, 2014: Receive invitation to serve in Colombia!!!!

March 24: Wine drinking and list making with Katie eventually leads to filling out my acceptance form!

April-July 2014: Losing my passport, finding my passport, several doctor’s appointments and phone calls finally leads to medical clearance!

August 25, 2014: Depart for staging event in Miami

August 27: Fly to Barranquilla!

Many thanks to everyone that helped me through this process, including my wonderful family. Love you all!