Life is funny sometimes.
Monday afternoon, I wrote this post. Here’s the short version for those of you who haven’t been keeping up (shame on you): I lamented the fact that I did not know what I would be doing in August because I hadn’t heard back from the scholarship I applied to.
That same evening I received the long-awaited e-mail. I am a 2014-2015 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I have been placed in Tunja, Colombia at la Universidad de Pedagógica y Tecnológica (the University of Pedagogy and Technology for those of you who don’t speak Spanish and don’t use Google translate). I start in August and will be there through April of next year, although I don’t have specific dates yet.
Have you ever responded to someone’s smile and wave only to discover that they weren’t actually waving at you? I do it rather often. I feel like this is one of those situations. Fulbright is an extremely prestigious award and I definitely never would have applied if I had known this from the outset. One of my character flaws is that I only reach for things I know I can achieve. I don’t like taking uncalculated risks or wasting my time on the possibility of rejection. I’m still in shock that I have been awarded this opportunity and I’m waiting for that awkward moment when they e-mail me a “nevermind, wrong person”.
It all seems a bit unreal. I have always dreamed of traveling, but I always thought that it was for people with established jobs and large savings accounts. If you had told high-school-me that I would have lived in four cities in three different countries by the time I was 23, I would have laughed at you and told you to stop making things up.
So, while alternating between shock and elation, I am trying to focus on finishing my semester and I’m spending my study breaks researching my next city. I already have three or four unfinished lists related to packing, goals, things to do, etc. I’m reflecting on the fact that yet again, I’m relocating without any security of permanence. I’m overwhelmed with excitement because receiving this Fulbright was one of my biggest dreams that I definitely didn’t think would come true. I have also been blurting out the news to complete strangers that I interact with in my daily life. Hi, thanks for giving me my coffee. Guess what? I’M GOING TO COLOMBIA IN THREE MONTHS.
From what little research I’ve done, I’ve learned that the university is prestigious and Tunja seems well suited to my tastes. It has a population of ~180,000, is known for it’s student population, and has multiple cultural and historical sites, including a botanical garden. It seems like a place I can definitely grow to love.
Oh, yeah. I also learned that Tunja, which is located in the Andes mountains, is the highest and coldest department capital (similar to a state capital in the USA) in Colombia. The highs are in the 70’s and the lows are in the 40’s all year (Fahrenheit). There don’t appear to be seasons. The elevation is around 9,000ft.
I am not overly fond of the cold and I got elevation sickness at a mere 3,000ft when I lived in Spain.
Life is definitely funny.