Monday, May 27, 2013

Living in a freshman dorm again?

As I write this I'm sitting in the same dorm that I lived in when I embarked on my Willamette adventure four years ago. This week I've have the unique opportunity to relive my freshman year as a Program Assistant for a new program at TIUA, "Window on Willamette." What's really crazy is that this is how I'm spending my last five days in this state, truly putting my last ounce of energy into this school. So far I'm loving it! It makes me wish that I'd gotten involved with the ASP (American Studies Program) students at Willamette earlier. I'm sure there will be hiccups, exhaustion, and I will become more and more overwhelmed as I simultaneously try to prepare for  my move to California and participate in the program, but so far I think I've made the right decision. What a way to tie up my experiences at WU.

Conversely, after WOW commences on May 31, I will embark on a grand adventure down to Azusa on June 1!!!! I couldn't be more ecstatic. I've already plotted the nearest Trader Joe's, Jamba Juice, and of course, Starbucks. In my preparations I've also been working on my required readings for orientation. The first book is about identifying and cultivating your identity while focusing on spiritual formation as an essential aspect of leadership development. It has been so encouraging to realize that APU truly strives to focus on God as the center of all of its curricula. At this point I can see so clearly why God wanted me to go to Willamette and I am so thankful for the experiences and unique opportunities I had there, but man I can't wait for some spiritual nourishment and education rooted in faith!!

I am beyond stoked for the next year, and I hope to keep this up as a way to chronicle my adventures as I attempt to navigate the ridiculous traffic, prices, and amazing HEAT of sunny SoCal. Bring it on! :D

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Study Abroad Part 3: A Weekend on the Most Famous Island

After a whirlwind Spring Break in Crete and Rome, Morgan and I headed back to Athens to rest up for a night before the final leg of our break, on the beautiful island of Santorini!!!  After what seemed like a million-hour ferry ride, we arrived on a gloomy, rainy island covered in pure white buildings.  This is what it looked like: 

We then went to our hostel, which was pretty standard, and then set out to explore the port! We stayed in Fira, which was a great choice because we were within walking distance with the main bus stop and tons of amazing little shops, as well as the big church. This came in handy later, as we arrived on the eve of Greek Easter and we decided to participate in the celebrations! Anyway, that afternoon we explored Fira, shopping and observing, even walking on one of the famous donkey trails (sidenote: the smell detracts from the romanticism just a bit) It was worth the view, though. 


Even without sun it was breathtaking! 
While we were out exploring, we were lured into a shop that offered free samples of candied nuts and ouzo, obviously we couldn't refuse. It turned out the owner also had a taverna right next to the big church, and he informed us that he was going to be open after the midnight service to serve magiritsa, traditional soup made with lamb intestine! An offer we couldn't refuse, we made a reservation at his taverna and went home to take a nap, setting our alarms for 11pm. We woke up and headed towards the church, where people of all ages were streaming in, but not before buying a candle outside. Cautiously we filed into the packed church, and absorbed all of the sights, sounds, and smells around us.  Eventually, after hundreds of people had come in and moved to the front to kiss the main icon, the lights went out in the church, and the head priest appeared and started a beautiful chant (it was pretty hard to see, but luckily my Finnish height was no match for the Greeks around me so I could catch the excitement up at the front of the church).  At exactly midnight, a flame starting with the priest began to pass through the entire church, while he proclaimed Christos Anesti (Christ has risen!). People began lighting each other's flames saying Christos Anesti, and then Alithos Anesti (He has risen indeed). And slowly the church was filled with light.  It was so unreal being there! After everyone's candles were lit there was a mad rush for the door and I basically crowd surfed out of the church. We headed next door to our friend's taverna and had the famous soup! It wasn't too bad, had a solid lemony flavor, and I was so hungry at that point the texture didn't even bother me (yeah, 4th meal!). :)  We had tons of fun in the taverna, as the proprietor kept filling up our wine glasses and brought us hard boiled eggs died red so we could play the traditional game that's basically "my egg is stronger than yours is".  After a long day of travel and one of a kind experiences, we fell into bed around 2am, while the Greeks in Fira were just getting the party started.  

The next day we decided to find the beach, the sun shone down and we headed to Parissa, one of the famous black sand beaches....can't believe I never published this post! Just came across it...guess I'll publish it as is and finish up the Spring break stories another time. I am so bad at keeping up with this thing!

Moving: reflections on moving on, moving to a new place, and being scared to death of change

It's been awhile, but I'm getting ready to move again and thought it might help to process the changes that are coming my way via blog. I'm currently working on the first draft of my senior thesis, which is essentially the biggest material representation of the culmination of my four years as a student at Willamette--not a big deal at all...

My thesis also is triggering many "lasts." (And causing me anxiety about missing fun "lasts," but that's even more motivation to buckle down and git er done.)  When I was about a month away from finishing up my semester in Greece, my roommates and I began making bucket lists, not a good idea. There was so much pressure to have notable experiences at all of our favorite haunts, and it was downright depressing! Not to mention the sinking feeling when you realize you're just not going to make it back to that obscure Harry Potter-themed bakery across Athens--but I digress.

Today I went to a meeting for the student committee planning our Interfaith Baccalaureate service and was forced to really consider what Willamette has meant to me and what I want to remember and be remembered for. I didn't think I'd get this sentimental about graduating, I've been trying to get out of Salem for years! I guess I am a creature of habit and I like knowing where the good water fountains are on-campus and where I study best (law library!)  I'm scared to go to a completely different school in a new state and have to figure all of that out again.

I'm pretty excited, too.

As the cheesy Vitamin-C "ultra-graduation" tune goes..."As we go on we remember all the times we had together, and as our lives change from whatever, we will still be friends forever." Way too much emotion and not enough depth, but that's a typical pop song for you. That's how memories work, though. The most obscure and seemingly trivial things can bring tears to your eyes five years later as they trigger some small thought about an old friend or favorite place, smell, song, etc.  Ahh nostalgia...I think I felt this way after high school, too, and I thought I would never attain that pure happiness that comes with being completely comfortable and confident in my surroundings, but I did.

And I'm pretty sure history repeats itself.