Chapter 2: The Way Less Traveled By

I’m a Senior in College, and I’m Surviving

My mom no longer prods me to post–probably because I’m in the same country with her.  As it happens, though, some of my Tico friends have expressed concern as to if I’m still alive since I don’t facebook/skype/post much anymore.

It’s funny, because one thing that kept me going in Costa Rica, especially in the first semester, when grinding out even a paragraph in Spanish took more effort than a five-page essay in English–and I often had to write multiple pages–was the thought that back in Texas for my senior year, classes would be so much easier.

And they are.  My Spanish classes are aimed at Spanish-learners, so readings are shockingly short and grading forgiving.  My Latin American Culture and Civilization class progresses in what seems to me an excruciatingly slow pace, and my Intro to Hispanic Literature, while fun and fascinating, only requires two short stories a week, as opposed to a full novel.

My Survey of World Literature (English) class is great, but it turns out there actually is a disparity between my senior-level skill-set and the sophomore-level expectations of the course.  Linguistics is a non-majors class and moves pretty slowly as well, and German, like all the (two) beginning level language classes I have experienced, is challenging, but manageable.

You may have counted five classes so far, which is fifteen hours, and a perfectly reasonable courseload.  But then I had to raise it to eighteen hours, and with an Honors Thesis Proposal class, no less.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I have turned into one of those nutcases that puts in more effort than necessary and is writing an undergrad thesis.  I remember way back before freshman year, when I was forced into Honors College for my academic scholarship, looking at the option to do an undergrad thesis, snorting, and asking myself what kind of overachieving self-destructive person would put herself in such scary unknown territory when she didn’t have to.  Turns out that person is me.  Funny how one’s priorities can change in three years.  Nevertheless, as expected, I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s kinda stressing me out.

And if that’s not enough, I had to pile on some volunteer work.  I am a Volunteer Spanish Tutor with the Learning Center and a Study Abroad Ambassador, as well as involved with Catholic Center activities.  All of which are unpaid, but, you know, edifying experiences.

I’m also on the Club Volleyball team.  Turns out volleyball is an expensive hobby; I need new court shoes, kneepads, spandex, and money for various travel fees and dues.  As I may have mentioned, all work I do this semester is unpaid.  I’m accepting donations*.

*Not really, please donate to someone who hasn’t willingly put themselves in college-kid poverty.

All of this, plus finding time for my favorite people, means I have no time for my other hobbies, whether they be pointless (such as internet surfing) or constructive (such as blog writing).  Actually, the only reason I’m writing this post is because I have so much to do before a looming deadline that I’m procrastinating.

But let me tell you–I’m loving it.  I missed this while I was in Costa Rica.  I’ve missed being pulled in at least six directions, the random stranger encounters on campus, spontaneous activities in the university, living on ramen, and being seen as a person, rather than as a foreigner.

Also, I think surviving in a foreign language has helped my time-management and general life-management skills.  It takes so much effort to stay afloat in a foreign country that the same amount of effort in my native country has me flying.

And of course, now that I’m thriving and content in my native culture, what do I want to do?  What is all this work for?  To leave the country again, of course.  I have my eyes set on a spectacular graduate program in Germany (thus the German-language-learning) that explores nationalism and transnationalism through literature, language, and culture.  The program is in English and based on English as a global language–even I don’t expect to be on a grad school level with my German in a year–but it can be combined with another foreign language, such as, wait for it, Spanish.

In summary, I’m swamped with work, overwhelmed with activities, full of energy, and excited beyond belief.

And definitely alive!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
-Howard Thurman


3 thoughts on “I’m a Senior in College, and I’m Surviving

  1. I am currently studying in Costa RIca, and you are so right about the amount of effort it is simply living and studying in a different country. I’m in month 2 right now, but at the beginning, everyday I would feel exhausted by the simple act of having to focus my attention completely to everything in order to understand it. Now, I can read a lecture in half an hour and bust out an essay in less than 2 hours. It is definitely a fortifying experience! I also wanted to ask you, what is the specific program in Germany you are looking at? It sounds really cool, and I’d like to check it out!

    1. It’s great, isn’t it? I feel so on top of things now that I don’t always have to translate my thoughts, but I kind of miss the mental strain. It’s kind of like having sore muscles–it hurts, but you know it means you’re getting stronger.

      The program is called National and Transnational Studies: Literature, Culture, Language and is through the University of Muenster. It’s like a dream come true for me, it’s so perfect.

      Pura vida!

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