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Reporting from the Coldest Place on the Earth

Saturday officially marked the third week that I have been in Chicago. It seems like I’ve been here for so much longer than that already! As a small town girl, I imagined the transition to go much less smoothly, but public transit and getting around the city has been intuitive and fun. All the Chicago Semester students have settled into their schedules and internships, as well as I have!

I am at Mercy Hospital, which is just southeast of Chinatown (one of my favorite neighborhoods). My placement is in the operating room (OR), pre- and post-operating care units, and the recovery room. So far, I’ve only spent time in the operating room, but I am thoroughly enjoying every case in which I’ve watched and helped. A unique challenge has been that the OR’s atmosphere and nursing expectations are different to a regular hospital unit. There a technical skills and instruments I have never seen before. Now that it’s the third week in the OR, I’m finally getting used to the roles that are expected of me, multitasking well, and the unique oddities of the OR. I am learning so much and anticipate using these lessons in my future nursing career.

The fact that my internship has come into full-swing has definitely not hindered my adventurous spirit. From spontaneous taco nights to swing dancing, I have fallen in love with all the exciting events that happen daily in the city, which reflect it’s unique history. Even though I’ve been *social* swing dancing for almost three years now, it felt like I had been dancing for three months. The style and energy was high above my technical level, and I anticipate getting much better in my dancing skills. Here’s a video of these talented dancers. I mean, what was I supposed to expect of one of the cities where blues/jazz originated?

I attended a play at Court Theatre, “Photograph 51”, about Rosalind Franklin. Commonly known for their discoveries about the characteristics of DNA, Watson and Crick owe the credit to their concept of DNA’s double helix to Franklin’s x-ray images of DNA, who is far less-popularly known. The story was captivating, dynamic, and full of emotion. What’s really cool about the Chicago Semester is that they offer free art events for the students every week. From the Art Institute to operas, I plan to go to as many as I can! There’s not many times in life where you get to go to free events that showcase Chicago’s diverse culture and history.

Most of my hours and days off have been spent exploring random parts of the city. Google has been a beautiful tool with which I’ve discovered interesting venues with fantastic events. From free arcade games to Lakeshore runs to the Navy Pier, I continue to settle in my internship, growing and learning and enjoying the city more than I would’ve imagined.

My favorite part of the city is how the people are all so connected. Somehow we live separate lives that converge at random points in time. I like to think of them as magic moments in which two strangers can somehow connect at a pre-destined time. I had to leave exactly 2 minutes after my shift ended to meet Ron, the 90-year old Chinese man, on the subway. After moving here in the late 40s, he bought a house in a north Chicago neighborhood and has since lived there. This short 15 minute conversation reminded me of how small I am in the grand scheme of life (a good reminder).

Overall, the past few weeks have been filled with small victories: conquering public transit, exploring a new city, and braving -50 degree weather, which made life very interesting and full of layers. Weird to think that I was in the coldest place in the world last Wednesday. Thankfully, I was bundled up inside with a cup of hot tea and fuzzy socks. Thankfully, the turn-around of 50 degree weather (yes, you read that right. We had a 100-degree difference in three day’s span) has allowed my adventurous spirit to re-emerge.

My goal for the next couple weeks? Continue learning at my internship (Gosh, it’s felt weird to be so young in my workplace). Hear more people’s stories. Find new ways to be uncomfortable (’cause that’s how humans grow to be better humans). Keep an open mind to new experiences that come spontaneously. Embrace city life.

Lili & Edwin

This week I began my service learning placement in a small town called Lumbísi. This small village is only about 15 minutes from where I live and here I met two shining lights for Jesus! I am serving in a business run out of the home of an indigenous family. They work in agriculture, off of the land that they have inherited from their family to produce Chocho (a locally grown healthy protein) and a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday was my first day. After meeting the couple and getting to know a bit of their story, I worked with Lili to harvest avocados for this week’s sales. As we were harvesting we got to know each other a little bit and she was glowing the entire time. She played worship music and spoke truth over me as we were in the garden… it was exactly what I needed.

Before Tuesday, I hadn’t met any Ecuadorians who were Christians. There are many Catholics here, few Christians, and many who don’t practice any sort of religion. I quickly found out that Lili and Edwin, the sweet couple I have the opportunity to learn from, were hurting from these facts as well. They choose to live out their faith daily around people who don’t appreciate it. They choose to live their lives following God’s Word, despite their community’s rejection. They choose to live out their faith, knowing that God has a purpose for them exactly where they are at.

Thursday was day two at my placement site. We spent three and a half hours sorting through the chocho, (see attached picture), to make sure that all the broken and impure chochos were taken out. Though this task was long and monotonous, I loved it! We just sat and talked for the duration of these three and a half hours, sharing about our lives and listening to worship music. The couple was elated that I was there to help them make this process, that takes them at least 6 hours together, take 3.5 hours instead! It is amazing how even the simplest things can bring so much joy and how much you can learn by simply taking the time to talk with people.

I know that I needed this time with Lili and Edwin this week, and it feels good to know how appreciative they were of my presence as well! Knowing that I get to spend my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with people who love Jesus, care about people, and are passionate about healthy living gives me feelings of joy and hope for what this semester will bring. I am ready to cultivate the harvest the Lord has abundantly set before me this semester!

Fresh Air is Good for the Soul

Ever since I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I’ve dreamed of living in a city.  Getting an apartment in New York or Chicago, taking public transportation to work every day; it all seemed like the dream. And living in London was the perfect trial run for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am loving living in the city. There’s so much to do and see every single day. It really keeps you on your toes too. The other day as I went by on the bus, I saw a man serenading some people very enthusiastically with his saxophone. But one thing I didn’t anticipate was how much I was going to miss grass and trees and air that doesn’t smell like bus fumes all the time.

This past weekend we had a field trip to go see Stonehenge and spend a night in the city of Bath. I missed most of the drive up due to being asleep, but once we arrived at Stonehenge, I was surprised at how green everything still was. I’m so used to everything being brown and dead-looking in the middle of January.

After we walked around the stones for a while, my friends and I decided to not take the bus back to the visitor center and hike along the path through the hills instead. It was a bit blustery, but eventually the sun came out, and it was gorgeous. It was then that I realized how much I missed my shoes slipping in the mud while hiking, and the damp smell the earth gives after it rains.

In Bath we had a similar experience. The line to be able to sit in one of the baths fed by the hot springs was much too long, so once again, we decided to walk around. As we looked around the city, we noticed a large park that was situated a bit higher up than the rest of the city. We had no idea how to get there, but we were determined to find it anyway.

We walked out of the city center, into a neighborhood just outside of the city (accidentally walking through a few people’s garden paths in the process). Soon, we found the park. It’s green carpet was a vivid difference in comparison to the pale architecture of the rest of the city. We made our way up.

All of us decided not to look at the view until we hit the very top of the hill. As we stood with our backs facing the city, panting slightly from the incline, there was no doubt that smiles were plastered on all of our faces.

“One…Two…Three”

 

 

It was worth the biting wind, the muddy shoes, and forty-five-minute hike. If nothing else, it made me realize just how much I loved exploring in this capacity. It was refreshing to be able to clear our lungs and take a moment to appreciate this amazing journey we’re on.

Pre-Departure Thoughts

I leave in TWO days!!?? Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited. But now that it’s here, I’m afraid something will go awry. I mean, I’m just a black girl from a poor black community in Saginaw, Michigan. You’ve probably never heard of the city, it’s next to Flint. Yeah, the place known for the on-going water crisis. Okay, this is sounding a lot more depressing than I intended. Wait, just let me backup a moment. Espera

The day I met the enthusiastic and wide-smiling Karl from Hope Admissions was the day that actually changed the course of my next four years. I was a junior in high school at the first ever career fair at my school. This guy was too excited; I had to figure out what he was smiling about. He told me that he went to Hope College and majored in both Spanish and International Studies. This idea immediately caught my attention. I loved Spanish and at the time I was thinking of diplomacy in a foreign country. He went on about the opportunities to study abroad, his time in Argentina, and the ability to double major and finish in two years at Hope. I was down! Fast Forward to freshman year at Hope, I was already talking with Amy Otis at the Center for Global Engagement. I knew that I wanted to go to Europe, preferably Spain or France. I kept this idea in my head for a while, but I honestly did not believe it was going to be possible. You know my background, poor black girl from a small town in Michigan and it’s only reference point is in relation to one of the nation’s biggest scandals. But to my surprise, the universe had something different aligned.

 

Let’s dwell in the past for a bit longer. Sophomore year, fall semester, I was highly encouraged to apply for the Art/History May term in Paris, France. I applied, and the scholarships came rolling in. By December I was sure that I was going. Then, I thought, I should truly make the best out if this opportunity. I’m still not sure that it’s possible for me to go abroad my junior year. Espera… there’s a way for me to do a cultural exchange in Spain. I decided to look for a Spanish family near a town where a summer friend of mine, Carmen, was going to school at the time. Long story short, it all worked out. I had the best four months of my life traveling across Europe.

Now you say, why am I so nervous? To be honest, as I think about how I get here, there is no reason for me to be nervous. I have beaten all the odds against me repeatedly, and I am not just talking about being the black girl from a poor community. My experience abroad gave me a new appreciation of the meaning to live life to the fullest. Confidence is a big part of living. And I am not talking about the egotistical kind. True confidence comes from the center of our desires and is nothing without faith. Confidence is just faith wrapped in a smile and laughs. It’s the willingness to be vulnerable and reveal your fears and desires. So here I am. Are you coming?

***Heads Up, Spanish in Future Blogs with English translation***

Maintaining My Book-Nerd Status Away from Home

As an English major and a book-nerd, I eat, sleep, and breathe books, so it only makes sense that I talk about them here!

I’m slowly adapting to the busy life style of New York and starting to explore events around the city. Of course, my favorite excursions have included hitting up nearby bookstores and comic stores with my roommate, especially the times when I got my books signed and meet some of my favorite authors. I’ve only managed to go to a couple events so far, but I will no doubt be keeping my eyes open for more!

On January 17th, I hit the subway and made my way up to the Barnes & Noble on 86th street to hear 3 YA (young adult) fantasy authors (Roshani Chokshi, Melissa Albert, S.A. Chakraborty) speak and celebrate the release of Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves. I had been fortune enough to win an ARC (advance reader copy) of the book beforehand, so I was ecstatic to hear and meet the author. I was completely unaware of the event until a couple days prior when I was googling “Free Events in NYC,” so it was such a coincidence that I had been reading the book at the same time!

The week after that, on January 23rd, I hit up the famous Strand bookstore to see Holly Black, co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and author of the Tithe series, The Cruel Prince, and the recently released The Wicked King. Holly Black is amazing and has been dubbed by her many fans as the “Queen of Faeries” (she even has the bright blue hair and pointy ears to prove it!).

(As you can see above, I totally failed to ask Holly Black for a picture, so my roommate only managed to snap a quick pic of me getting my book signed, hence my head being cut of in the picture)

One of my favorite things about book events is the sense of community it provides. When the author references their own work, everyone in the crowd knows what’s they’re talking about, allowing for inside jokes and shared laughs. A lot of my friends don’t read the same type of books I do (or at least not to the same extent that I do), so it’s comforting to sit beside readers similar to myself and “fangirl” alongside them.

And as a book-nerd, hearing all of these brilliant ladies speak was insanely inspiring. From hearing Holly Black explain how she never writes a book right on the first try, to Roshani Chokshi stating that writing projects don’t have expiration dates and that “they won’t go bad if you give them time,” really spoke to me as a student, artist and a writer. Not to mention, my TBR pile (to-be-read pile) has grown immensely from hearing these writers speak.

Prior to NYC, I had only been to a handful of book events and I have ambitious plans to change that this semester. I have no doubt that by the end of the semester, I will be leaving NYC with a suitcase full of books.

Faith as small as a Mustard Seed

“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” — Matthew 17:20

A mustard seed… “Jesus, I think that’s honestly all I’ve had this week.” In the midst of trials it is so easy to forget the power our faith holds and throw away that power that lives within us into the hands of the deceiver. I am blessed. I am called. I am chosen. I am loved. I have been given a spirit of truth and power, not of fear. I have been given rest, not stress. All of my needs have been supplied.

Isn’t it funny how I know all of these truths about my Heavenly Father, yet when my schedule goes to ruins or I can’t envision my next step my thoughts begin to change as if I have no hope? Thankfully, I was also not created to do life on my own and even in the midst of heartache, I have people who are praying and cheering me on. James 1:22 commands, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Knowledge is good to have but if it isn’t ever put into practice, how useful is it? Let me tell you it’s not useful at all. My start to study abroad has been hard, frustrating, and has included daily changes and challenges. Nothing has gone as planned since my departure, and week three of having no routine had me ready to bag the experience and come home. (Don’t let me neglect that there have been fun times too), but I feel the need to have somewhat of a routine to my life.

After feeling defeated each day throughout the week, I went home and spent time repeating the knowledge of the faith I knew I had somewhere within me to only lose the battle again the next day. I was forgetting the most vital component to faith: “Do what it says.” I let my emotions take control, instead of taking advantage of the power of my little mustard seed.

Thursday January 24, 2019 I choose from the moment I woke up that I was going to have a day of hope. I used my knowledge of faith and made the decision that I was going to believe those truths no matter what obstacle the day would bring. I feel renewed with expectation for the Lord to reveal Himself to me, His purpose for me, and His joy for me as I embrace each day as a new opportunity. I don’t know a whole lot yet about what this semester is going to entail, but I know that I have to take things one day at a time (sometimes minute by minute), and use my mustard seed.

Oh right… you’re going to school there too

“How’s it going so far? I bet you’re having so much fun!” This is the content of nearly every message I’ve received over the past two weeks. While there is nothing wrong with this and I actually do appreciate the messages, I have to be honest in saying that I am not quite sure what to say.

In preparation to go abroad, I attended the mandatory orientation session given by the Center for Global Engagement at Hope. We were told that some of the things that students experience when they go abroad is difficulty in explaining how they are feeling because no one back home can really comprehend what you are experiencing. Another was that we would likely feel extreme emotions of lifetime highs and lows. Over these past two weeks, I can already say that this is so true. I have had some of the most incredible experiences in this short time already, but also have struggled with doubt and confusion.

Week two presented a new university, classes, professors, language, friends, culture. This too, was pretty overwhelming as the first week was for me, yet I loved it at the same time. The days I spent trying to picture what my school would be like when I came to Ecuador were finally given an illustration! The university campus is beautiful, the professors are very kind and patient, and the classes will challenge me. However, the best of all perks is that the university never has classes on Friday, making traveling on the weekends more of a reality!

It has been a frustrating and mentally defeating week as well. Each day this week I have had to change my class schedule at least one time, in attempt to figure out what will count for credits when I return. I spent this past fall detailing which classes I would take and emailing professors at Hope to get them all approved before I left. When I arrived and my program directors looked at my schedule, they told me that it was going to be way too hard. I was frustrated that they couldn’t have provided us with further information before we arrived, because I was not about to take a semester’s worth of classes that didn’t count for anything. After a lot more emailing and exploring every class that the university is offering this fall, I am getting close to having my full schedule set.

My mom said it best this week when she texted me,

“I’ve been thinking and praying about this and how these alterations, roadblocks, and detours cause you stress and make you doubt your choices, the things that you are doing, and make you wonder if it’s the right thing. Maybe this is a really simplistic view, but God knew that having everything approved beforehand would be your “confirmation/green light” to go [study abroad]. He may have specifically crafted that plan to you… yet when arriving in Ecuador, He has different plans and experiences for you. He is going to figure out a way for you to be in His plan, not yours. I know its hard and things going according to plan give us security and peace. God is going to use this experience to teach you a lot of things… not just school related. Being able to rest with the ups and downs and trust God is going to be vital to your experiences in life. Remember what I said to you as you left, even if things are not going according to how you thought they would or should, trust God… He will bring it all around for His good. His plans are for you, not against you!”

Here’s to a semester of taking the experiences that I am given as they come, growing through both the highs and lows, and believing that it is well no matter what!

Love from Quito,

Morgan

The Start of my Journey

People say to trust your instincts because they’re usually right. Instincts, it turns out, aren’t as good when you’ve just arrived in a foreign country, sleep deprived, and in desperate need of food and a shower.

I took a flight from Minneapolis to Cincinnati on Sunday, January 6 and from there I took an overnight flight to Paris. Once the sun set it was hard to see anything from the window of the plane, although every once in a while we would fly over a city and get just a glimpse of what was happening down below. Just twenty minutes before we were to land in Paris, the sun peeked above the clouds and I watched the most beautiful sunrise from 30,000 feet which is most definitely a great way to start the day.

As soon as I was out of customs I was tasked with getting from where I was to where I needed to be, a feat that is greatly complicated when you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. After consulting a map I determined that I needed to go down a level; that was wrong. I ended up hauling my suitcases around for about five or ten minutes before I realized I was going the wrong direction, that and I definitely was not supposed to be in a parking garage. That aside, I went back upstairs into the airport which was definitely a step in the right direction and decided to go the other way since clearly my first instinct was wrong. This turned out to be a good idea because eventually I found myself at the airport door where I was supposed to meet up with other people from my program.

Here was where I found my second great obstacle: there was this massive group of people just standing around exactly where I needed to be. My instincts told me that this was not my group of people, there were far too many and I didn’t recognize anyone from my group chat of the ten total students in my program. So I did exactly what any other person my age would do: I checked my phone. I found that I was in the right place, but if that was true then why was there nobody else from my program?! I took one last look around and spotted my savior, it was someone I knew! Well, not really, but I recognized him from my program’s group chat so I walked right up to him and introduced myself and immediately explained my confusion. Turns out, he (his name is Nat) was extremely confused as well. We waited together for a few more minutes, looking around occasionally until Nat asked “isn’t that Brent Keever?” He pointed to a man, Brent Keever, who is the director of our program standing directly at the center of the large group. I sighed in relief.

Turns out, Brent was going to be meeting students from our program at the same time that he was meeting students from a different, larger program that he was running as well. We hauled our luggage over to Brent and introduced ourselves and within minutes we were handed lunch bags with baguette sandwiches and other orientation materials. Eventually everyone from our program arrived and we all got to know each other while eating baguette sandwiches and waiting for our taxis.

I got put in a taxi with three other students from the other program and none of them spoke any French which left it to me to communicate to the driver where everyone was supposed to go. At first I was quite apprehensive to start any kind of conversation with him because I’d always heard that Parisians were rude, but our driver turned out to be nothing like what I’d anticipated. Once he realized that I could understand and speak French he struck up a conversation with me about where and for how long I studied French, what I was doing in Paris, what I thought of Macron and the Gilets Jaunes (working class protesters who wear yellow safety vests to protest diesel gas tax and now other social issues). In turn I learned that he is actually originally from Algeria and knows French as a second language, that he’s visited his sisters in the United States multiple times, and that I should learn important grammar rules sooner rather than later. By the time he had dropped everyone off at their apartments and arrived at my homestay we’d covered so many subjects that it felt as if we were old friends. Even my preconceived notions about my taxi driver were wrong.

I exited the taxi and the driver, who never told me his name, left me and my suitcases to face my next task: my host mom. I was just a little proud of myself for making it all the way to her apartment with my French skills but I would be glad to speak at least a little English; after all, I’d heard that most Parisians knew the language. As I was approaching her apartment building she popped her head out of a window on the first floor and shouted down to me  “Emma, ma chère! Bienvenue chez moi!”

I smiled up at her and she disappeared from the window only to reappear at the door of the building to help me with my suitcases. She pointed out the elevator with pride and somehow fit both of us and my suitcases inside, though it still remains a mystery to me how she managed to do it. All the while she was speaking to me in rapid-fire French that made my head spin, but I was able to understand one essential piece of information: she doesn’t know any English.

The Windy City Welcome

Hello from the Windy City!

It’s almost a week in the city, and I am already absolutely in love with all of the experiences that the Chicago has to offer.  Most of last weekend was filled with orientation sessions that help us understand how to live in the city, but we’ve already begun to explore the culture of the neighborhood. After my family and best friend helped me move in, we grabbed lunch at a restaurant, called Wow Bao.

       

None of us ordered bao, which are steamed buns filled with pork (usually), but the rice bowls that we did order were so tasty! Instead of the traditional counter and register to buy food, customers order on a computer and the food appears in the pods with your name. It was a “Welcome to the future” for us if anything and a great first meal in the city.

My Roommates (left to right) Shannon & Molly

Saturday and Sunday were filled mostly with unpacking and making the apartment homey, especially since we’re living here for the next three and a half months. Chicago Semester is very committed to ensure that its students are well-acquainted with how life in the city works; this includes learning about public transportation, safety in the city, networking, shopping, and community involvement. The program provided several session in which we learned about these various topics. Another important value of the program is that the students embrace the vast cultural diversity that is found throughout Chicago and its over 200 neighborhoods. The city is widely-known as a place where immigrants can find a fresh start. To get a taste of the culture, all the students went to a different part of the city for deserts for the first night of orientation. I went to the neighborhood of Pilsen to Panadaria Nuevo León. The patisserie was brimmed with various deserts whose names I had absolutely no clue but were falling apart in delicious goodness. We even got the baker (after all of us urging her to) to take a picture with us!

            

The following day, several different groups visited different parts of the city for lunch and a short introduction to the people that lived there. I visited Little India (which is almost all the way north edge of the city), where we had the most delicious food.

 Would you believe all this food (for 8 people) cost less than $50?!

Foods pictured: butter chicken, lentil curry, tika chicken, chapati and naan breads, potato curry, basmati rice, beef and bean somoas, and a beef dish.

I had had Indian food before, but this was the most to-die-for that I’ve ever had. Needless to say, it was worth the hour commute from our apartment complex.

After learning about the various neighborhoods, my roommates and I began mapping our semester bucket list. Our first adventure was to Millennium Park and Greek Town. Following the sage advice of the Chicago Semester faculty, we carefully mapped our route. Even though I’d been to Chicago multiple times, my family and I had only visited Chinatown together, because of my Chinese heritage. So, I resigned to do the most tourist-y thing: visit the Bean. The only thing I learned from the experience? The Bean is super dirty.

Greek Town is about a 20-minute walk from our apartment in the Gold Coast neighborhood, and it is full of restaurants (because Greek food is the amazing). Molly, Shannon, and I got sandwiches and cannolis that were so tasty!

The day was windy, cloudy, and cold, but the view was well-worth the aching feet and numb faces. We walked around and eventually landed at a coffee shop called Meddle Dark Matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday was the first day of internship for most of the students. Fortunately, Shannon and I don’t start until next week, and Molly’s first day started late. So, we accompanied her to Andersonville, where she works at their chamber of commerce. We explored the Swedish neighborhood until she had to leave for work. For all the neighborhoods I’ve visited so far, it’s been fairly easy to see what the people value and the center(s) of their culture.

Less than a week in, and I’ve only scratched a piece of the entire surface of the city, but I’m well on my way. Even though I’ve already gotten myself lost twice, I’m becoming more comfortable with riding public transit and routing my destinations better. My first day of internship is on Monday, and I anticipate nestling into a routine of a set schedule mixed with bouts spontaneity.

  

A Journey to the Past + NYC

It had been 8+ years since I had been on an airplane, so flying into New York was exciting in more ways then one. Given that I’m participating in a domestic program, I was lucky enough to have my mom fly down and spend the weekend with me before orientation on Monday. In order to get reasonably priced tickets, our flight had a layover in Chicago. How it makes sense to go from Detroit to Chicago and then to New York City, I do not know.

My first couple of days in New York were spent exploring the nearby blocks and buying the necessities I couldn’t fit into my suitcases (such as coffee for the coffee maker I did make sure to pack). As someone who’s lived in Michigan their whole life, I found it so bizarre to see your typical chain stores, e.g. Staples and Target, in multi-floor buildings! Take an escalator to buy some bananas? So odd.

I’ve also quickly discovered that it’s quite dangerous (read “dangerous” as “extremely-tempting-and-bad-for-my-wallet”) to live across from Taco Bell and Starbucks, and especially with Arby’s only a couple of blocks away. I have yet to succumb to the 99 Cent Fresh Pizza shops, but I know it will be soon.

I’m currently staying at the New Yorker Hotel (I know, educational housing in a hotel, weird right?) in midtown of Manhattan, so there’s constantly a bustle of noise going on outside my window. Honestly, the first couple of days were nerve wrecking as my mother and I attempted to navigate the streets and poured over app upon app trying to figure out how the subway worked, but we did not get lost, huzzah!

Right before my mother left, we were fortune enough to attend a showing of the Broadway musical Anastasia. I adored the movie Anastasia, so I was ecstatic to see this performance and it did not disappoint! The renditions of my favorite songs from the movie, “Once Upon a December” and “Journey to the Past” were beautiful. And everything else, from the special effects to the scenery, was amazing.

As I’ve already hinted at, I didn’t really do much during my first weekend in NYC besides seeing Anastasia. At first, I felt ashamed by my reluctance to explore the city, holing up in my room as much as possible. But I’ve been reminding myself that I’m here for 15 weeks, and that I have time to explore. Pushing the bounds of my comfort zone and trying new things doesn’t need to be rushed. Growth takes time.

As I’m putting the final touches on this post, orientation and my second day of interning have already passed, and I can already feel the nervous energy that surrounded me being replaced with an acceptance of my new environment and an excitement to start properly exploring New York.

Let this journey begin!