What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"I Will Go, Lord, if You Lead Me"

Well, folks, I have arrived in California to start seminary. As such, I have made some changes to this blog to reflect this new journey. New name, new look but still the same blog.
First off, there may be some people who will be coming across this for the first time so I suppose I should introduce myself and explain a little bit about what's happening. I am originally from North Texas but recently completed a year-long volunteer service program in Chicago, IL. During that year of service, I realized that I could no longer deny the call to Seminary that God had placed on my heart. Now, I am living in San Francisco, CA about to start my first year at San Francisco Theological Seminary pursuing ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. That's the brief synopsis of my life and why I am here. Welcome to all my new readers.
Anyway, I got here yesterday afternoon and spent most of the afternoon getting unpacked and settled in to my new place. My housemates gave me a tour of the house and it is nice!! The house is 8 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms with some half-baths as well so there is plenty of space. It's got a dining room, a huge living room, plus a kitchen and all the other amenities you would expect a house to have. There are currently six of us living here this year: 4 girls and two boys. I am the only first year student living in the house which is nice as the others have already experienced everything I am about to go through so will be able to help me through it. Orientation doesn't start until Monday so I have some time this weekend to just relax and get myself acclimated to a new environment. The time change has been the hardest adjustment for me. I've never lived outside of the central time zone so that is proving to be a big adjustment for me.
My room is really big and has so much space for just one person. It is nice to have a room to myself again although two people could easily fit in here. I have two closets, a big double bed, an armchair, a desk, two big bookshelves and a smaller bookshelf plus roof access where there is a nice sitting area that I may take advantage of when the weather is nice and I have reading to do. My housemates have all been super welcoming and nice and so far, everything has been great. I have yet to meet any other students here besides my housemates but I am sure that will happen once orientation starts.
So far, I am really liking it here. The weather is absolutely beautiful and the campus is gorgeous. It's close enough to the big city that I can go there whenever I need to but it is located in a small town so I get the small town experience as well. Plus, I have family only two hours away and several friends that live in either Oakland or San Francisco so won't ever have to feel too lonely. I'm ready for orientation to start and I'm even more ready for classes to begin so I can start the next chapter of my life. By the way, for those who would like my mailing address, please let me know. I would prefer not to publish it on the Internet so just ask me for it. The postal service is apparently really reliable out here so if you send me something, there is a great chance that I will actually get it. So much different than last year's experience in so many ways!!
Anyway, I will have more to write about once orientation actually starts. I just wanted to let everyone know that I made it here safely. I promise I will post pics soon (once I figure out how to do that as I honestly have no idea how to do that on here). Technology is not my friend and I am not the best about taking pictures but I know people are going to want to see pics of where I am living and studying so I figure I need to accommodate those requests or I might get some very angry emails!! Best to all of you. Remember, God loves You (and so do I).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everything's Changed

Hello everybody,
The past three weeks have practically flown by and it seems almost unreal that I now have less than a week left here before I leave for California. Being home has actually been really great. It's been so much fun to see some of my friends again and hang out with my family again. My days and nights have been quite packed as I have been busy with lunch dates, dinner dates, movie dates etc. It's weird to realize that I hadn't seen any of these people in a year. It's almost hard to believe that its been that long. Strange how you can go from seeing the same people almost every day to not seeing them at all.
Adjusting to being back home has been a process to say the least. I've been slowly getting used to the idea that here they have Wal-Marts and Sonics and I have to drive everywhere. Granted, I am not at all trying to say that the kind of culture shock I've been experiencing is anything compared to the culture shock that certain other YAVs are experiencing. I can only imagine what some of the ones that were in more rural parts of the world are going through. Still though, there is a bit of an adjustment to being back in my homeland that has taken its toll.
A major project that I have taken on while I have been back has been downsizing my life. I'm basically getting rid of the vast majority of my stuff. I've sorted through my clothes and decided what to keep and what to get rid of. I've thrown out my magazines (some of which I've had since I was a small child so getting rid of them was a bit like saying goodbye to my childhood). I've been sorting through my books and deciding which ones I want to sell to the local used bookstore and which ones I want to take with me to school. It recently hit me that when I move this time, it's going to be a more permanent move. I won't be coming back much at all and Texas will simply become a place that I spend a couple weeks a year in while I am on vacation visiting family. However, for the next 3 (or 4) years at least, California will become my new home base. That's what has made the downsizing necessary but also hard. It's hard to again say goodbye to all the people and places that I have loved for so long. The idea that I will be moving halfway across the country and this time won't be back after a year is really hard to accept and grasp. Yes, I am definitely looking forward to this new journey and this new adventure. I am so ready to start school. However, that doesn't mean that I can't also recognize that I am leaving behind so much. I know previous posts of mine have sounded pretty harsh about Texas and so some of you might be surprised to hear me expressing these thoughts and feelings. I think it shocks even me. However, I think being home during this brief period of time has just clarified to me what I missed about it but also why it is necessary for me to leave. I will always look back fondly on my home state (no matter how much bad press we might get, much of it deserved). However, I have also come to realize that it's time to move on and start a new life elsewhere. I literally have nothing more to gain from being here.
Pretty soon, I will be on a plane to California and a new adventure will begin. I will continue to blog during my time in seminary as I know so many of my loyal readers want to continue to hear how I'm doing. Keep an eye on this page over the next few weeks as it will be undergoing some changes. All will be revealed soon. Thanks for following me and my adventures all throughout this past year. I do hope that you will continue to follow me during the next part of my journey. It's sure to be an exciting and grand adventure. I know I am interested to see what God does to me over the next three years of my life. I hope you are too!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Yellow Rose of Texas

Well, friends, in case you haven't heard, I made it safely back to Texas. I got in very late Monday night and pretty much all I've done is do laundry and sleep. It's been weird being back actually. Almost doesn't feel real. Can't believe it's already been a year. Seems like just yesterday I was about to board the plane for orientation and now here I am back already. How did a year go by so fast?
To be honest, I've been feeling really overwhelmed and slightly disoriented. I am definitely experiencing sensory overload which I didn't even think was a real thing but apparently it is. I had church last night and while it was good to see everybody again and to be in that building that I love so much again, it was also very overwhelming and awkward for me. I haven't really had enough time to process everything yet so I am glad that people so far have been respectful and haven't bombarded me with questions and such. I don't think I could handle that right now so I am thankful that I haven't had to be put in the awkward position of having to answer lots of questions right now. I need my time to process everything. It might take me a few days before I am ready to talk about my experiences and everything that happened to me over the last year. I promise you that that will happen but please just give me some time. I'm honestly just feeling so overwhelmed right now. A lot has changed back home in the year I've been gone and so I am having to process all that as well. I guess you could say I'm experiencing what they call culture shock. Being back has been much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. Yes, I am very happy to be back (which might surprise some of my loyal readers) but it just feels weird probably this marks the longest time I have spent away from home ever. A year is a long time to be gone. Lots of changes happen in that time. People die, children grow, babies are born, new businesses open, others close, and people change.
At any rate, I am back in Texas until August 26th. If you are in the area and want/need to see me, let me know. My schedule is getting booked quickly, though, so you better let me know ASAP or else it may be hard for me to fit you in my schedule. Keep in mind that I am very broke right now(as in, I have zero dollars in my bank account) so if you want me to go out to eat with you or whatever, you may have to pay for me. I know that could create a very awkward situation, potentially, which is why I am putting it out there now so everything is clear. I'm starting school in the fall without a penny to my name so just be conscious of that when you ask me to join you somewhere. I really do want to see as many people as I possibly can while I'm here so please do let me know if you genuinely want to see me. I haven't seen anybody here in almost a year and some of you, maybe even longer than that so please give me an excuse to get out of the house for a few hours.
The next three weeks consist of pretty much nothing. I've got a pretty clear schedule other than "back-to-school" shopping and all that entails. I'm just enjoying the freedom of having nothing to do for a few weeks. I did consider getting a temp job while I'm here to make some extra money but the more I think about it, the less appealing it sounds. This is the longest (and possibly only time) I will be spending at home this entire year so I really don't want to be spending part of it working. I might change my mind on that but for right now, I am just going to enjoy the freedom and the peace. I'm not going to let myself get stressed out or worried about money or how I am going to pay for school or the fact that I need to somehow come up with almost $7,000 in the next few weeks in order to have fall semester paid for. I'm simply putting it in God's hands and trusting that he will provide. He knows my needs and he will make it all work out in His (and my) favor. I'm really trusting God on this one so here's hoping he doesn't let me down.
Right now, things feel really weird for me. I have my own bedroom again in a house with air conditioning and there aren't five other people in the house all the time. It's weird how hard it is proving to be to readjust myself to the old life that I had before moving. Guess that just proves how much this past year really did change me. I'm not gonna lie, I'm really missing Chicago and my fellow Faith House people and my co-workers at the church and the people I met and the many, many friends I made there. I'm trying my best not to dwell on what I left behind and instead live in the present and appreciate my time here among family and friends and all those who have supported me over the last year and also looking forward to the future and what I have coming up, namely California. It's gonna be a great experience, I know it is but that doesn't mean I can't still "mourn" for what I left behind. I will always carry a part of Chicago with me.
This brings me to my last point. This is not my last blog post. I will still continue to blog during the duration of my time in the Lone Star State. However, I do have some big plans for this blog so you may see some changes to it over the next few weeks. Keep following me and I will keep you updated on that. Trust me, you are gonna want to keep reading this blog even though my time as a YAV is officially over. It will be worth your time, I promise you.