4/5. I am constantly surprised on how quickly time passes and things change; a year ago I was in a very different spot than I am in right now. I believe I have matured a lot through this past year because of my personal, academic, and professional experiences. I remember being unsure a year ago; not that I have all of the answers now, but I believe I am more confident in my future and decisions and what I want. I watched half of my friends graduate, watched them move for their full time jobs, watched friends grow in their career in their company. Many new people have come into my life, who I have learned and grown from, and my current relationships have been strengthened. I have gone through family struggles, and as a result have grown closer to my parents and sister. This fourth year of my college career has marked a period of extreme growth in a lot of good ways, and I have come out different after it. Personally, I have continued to pursue more adventure and travel as well, as it is one my deep passions in life. From reading my Honors Experiences, you can probably see one of them was my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. This trip was unlike any other I have done so far. I was able to travel all along the highlands of Quito and Guano to the lowlands of Guayaquil. I was able to stand right on the Equator line and watch the water drain in different directions on each side of the line, and balance an egg on a nail. I experienced rich culture, people, and food while traveling across the country. Going into the Galapagos Islands was unreal as well. The preservation and interaction with the wildlife was so unique, and I wish the rest of the world took these same conscious efforts to protect or environment. I was able to see the famous Blue-footed Boobies, swim next to sea lions and sea turtles, and walk alongside many land and marine iguanas. I have never been able to be so close to nature and wild animals, and I fell in love with the beauty of the environment there. Every day I was full on experiencing the islands with 6am sunrise snorkeling, mid-day kayaking, and sunset hikes. I was one of the most enriching experiences, and I am so lucky to have that forever engrained in my mind. Additionally, I was also able to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a skiing spring break trip, which was unbelievably fun and exploratory. Aside from the beautiful snow and skiing of Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, and Deer Valley, my two best friends and I did a day trip to Moab to visit Arches National Park. This turned into one of the most fun parts of the trip, as it was kind of last minute but a bucket list item for the three of us. Although the weather wasn’t the best, with rain in and out, the park could not have been more beautiful. That trip made me appreciate the natural beauty of our Park in the United States, and I know I want to visit more now that I have Arches in my book. The US has so much natural beauty and I cannot wait to explore more of it.Through my organizations, I have grown substantially in my leadership and confidence through my position as Vice President of Recruitment for Panhellenic. VPR was such a passion of mine. To be on the community's Panhellenic Executive Board and be able to lead and organize all recruitment for every chapter and the community was exciting, challenging, and eye-opening. Leading a group of 60 women, who would then go on to act as counselors and guides to 600 women joining the Panhellenic community was a surreal experience. I was the main role model for all these women, and I needed to be confident for myself and for the Greek community. I was able to meet countless women who I am still friends with today, and bring our community closer together as well. This position pushed me to maximize my leadership abilities in the best way, and will make me more confident in myself for future leadership opportunities.
Academically I have taken a leap of faith as well. While I am doing a double co-op rotation right now for the Spring and Summer of 2019, the company I am co-oping with has allowed me to take a five week study abroad in June through USAC located in Prague, Czech Republic. I am currently sitting in my apartment in Prague typing this actually. I am taking a class on Art and Architecture of Prague at Charles University—one of the oldest universities in Europe—, and it’s very fitting as this city is filled with Medieval and Contemporary Art and Architectural history. It is incredible here so far, but I have only been here about a week and a half so I have a lot left to go! Having Czech heritage, it is very comforting to come back to a city where everyone recognizes my last name, something that never happens in the US. I am excited to update this blog with more of the study abroad experiences once I complete this program.
Moving forward into this next year, I want to continue this goal of pushing myself in everything I do, as I have been doing all four years of college so far. As I said a year ago, people grow the most when they are outside their comfort zone, and I have experienced this growth first hand. I would have never imagined that I would be in on a plane to Prague, about to spend over a month in a city where I knew nobody and did not speak the national language, but even now I have learned so much being here. I would have never thought I would have met the people I have over this past year, grown in my extracurricular experience, and travelled the places I have travelled. I never thought so much of my life and self-assurance could change in 365 days, but looking back that is what I have been doing my whole life. I am anticipating this fifth year of college and what is has to bring, but also I want to savor it while I have it. It will be a time of a lot of lasts: last football and basketball games, last time walking to class, last time living on campus, last exams, and last time stepping on campus as a student. But I know these last will lead to firsts: first day full time working, first projects at work, first house/apartment purchase, and first salaried paycheck. I think my past four years of college have all been change; this has truly been a time where I have been molded and moved. While life is all about change, good times and bad times, I think these years of my young adult life and this next upcoming year will prove to be the most influential and dynamic.