I did this last year and I felt that it was a fantastic way to end the year. I know I’m a bit late for saying goodbye to 2014, but I hope you won’t hold me to that. These posts take a while to create.
I spent the first half of January at home with my family enjoying their company. I then headed back to Atlanta to start the second semester of my M.A. with classes in English Grammar, Second Language Acquisition, Practicum and Advanced Spanish Grammar. I got my nose pierced, I went to a Sea Wolf concert with a dear friend, I ran a 5K, I learned that avocado can be used to make chocolate pudding and I experienced my first snowfall stateside.
In February I spent a lot of time studying. I also ran a 5K, received a sweet note from a stranger on Valentine’s Day, helped throw my dear friend’s surprise birthday party, found a magical tea shop, and went to a couple cool museums in Atlanta. At an event with said dear friend, she took a picture of me and I realized just exactly how much weight I had lost. (It hadn’t fully sunk in before this.) I proudly helped BoMF pull off the Mizuno Women’s 5K as volunteer coordinator. It also snowed AGAIN in Atlanta which is practically unheard of.
March continued to be rather chilly, but I maintained my dedication to Back on My Feet and got up to run with them even when it was 19F outside. I even managed to run a 10K. The winter weather was getting to me, so I began to buy myself fresh flowers to brighten up the house. I also obsessively took pictures of the spring flowers that were beginning to bloom around the city. I drove home for a weekend to see my family and enjoy the beach, and I ended up on the side of the road an hour outside my hometown after my car decided to have an electrical system failure. It was pretty scary, but I was fine.
April involved a lot of schoolwork, specifically a monstrous project for SLA, and two devastating falls. Although I only caused bruising and some pretty nasty wounds on my knees, I wasn’t able to run the entire month of April which was rather upsetting. I did walk a Color Run, but even that was extremely painful. I was hired at the Latin American Association as an English teacher, but never ended up working there. On a brighter note, this was the month that I learned that I had received a Fulbright ETA (and found a restaurant that served delicious gluten free waffles).
In May, I went home again to visit family and say goodbye to my favorite Mexican restaurant after I finished up for the semester. I then spent the rest of the month agonizing over the packing process and deciding what would stay in Atlanta, what would be tossed, what would go back to Sarasota for summer use, and what would go on to Colombia with me. My knees finally healed and I was able to return to running. I also went to an organic farm, went out with my roommate and his friends, attended the Atlanta Jazz Festival, and went to a movie premiere. At the end of the month, my roommate threw me a going-away party which included many of the people I had met during my year in Atlanta.
In June, I started part-time work at the preschool that my sister worked at. I promptly contracted the norovirus and spent the next few days extremely ill (I’ll spare you the details). June was an idyllic month filled with preparatory shopping for Colombia, gym time, yoga, running, lazy mornings on the beach, scrapbooking and crafts with the little ones I cared for a few days a week. I ran by the bay, ate lots of gluten free pizza, and spent time with friends and family. At the beginning of the month, I had reconnected with B, a childhood friend, thanks to a throwback Thursday photo my dad posted. At the end of the month, B came down to visit me and we decided that we were no longer just friends. 45% of my social circle deemed it necessary to tell me that I was crazy for starting a relationship so soon before leaving for Colombia. I agreed and proceeded with my own plans.
July was a crazy month. I went to Orlando to get my Colombian work visa and see some friends from undergrad, to Lake Wales to counsel at a summer camp, and to Fort Benning to visit B. After a few days with my family, I moved to Colombia and spent my first week there at Fulbright orientation.
On the 1st of August, I moved to Tunja which has been and will be my home during the extent of my Fulbright grant. I spent a good portion of the month out of breath from the altitude and the craziness of a new job in a new country. I watched tractor-trailers race backwards in Samacá, wandered around the colonial streets of Villa de Leyva, decorated my new room in record time and discovered the joy of arequipe. There was much rejoicing when I finally got internet in my house after a week or so without it. I also spent most of this month very hungry as I struggled to adjust my gluten free diet to the options available in Tunja.
In September, I learned to better control my hunger by shopping at Jumbo which carries gluten free pasta and I started making my own arepas. I experienced the first serious student strike of the semester complete with tear gas, masked bomb throwers and a bewildering lack of communication. I returned to Bogotá for a Fulbright seminar and to Villa de Leyva to spend time with friends. It was in September that I first began to feel my foreigner status.
October was the month when I first began to truly feel heartsick for my family. I kept myself busy with a 10K in Villa de Leyva, a series of mishaps in getting to Raquira, a Color Run, a horseshow, hot springs in Paipa and a couple other visits to nearby towns. I had reached a point in my work in the classroom that I felt that I could travel on the weekends and still be prepared for my classes. Although I never had a “groove”, things weren’t as overwhelming or unexpected as they had been before. I also made a guest appearance on a radio show in Ventaquemada (a nearby town).
In November, I failed at blogging for the first time in a long time. I spent too much of November sick, but I also went to Girardot for a Friendsgiving with fellow Fulbrighters, visited Bogotá to run another 10K and see an old friend, made homemade eggnog, spent a magical day in Monguí and left for Medellín after finishing my first semester as an English Teaching Assistant at UPTC. I spent my birthday in the clinic although my day was made better by Skype calls and a package that miraculously made it intact and on time.
December was a whirlwind of traveling. I started the month in Medellín, then went to San Andrés, Salento, Manizales, Pereira, Sarasota, and Raleigh. Because I returned to Tunja between each major trip, I took a total of 6 flights in December. I climbed up a giant rock, encountered bed bugs, watched Colombians celebrate the start of the Christmas season with alcohol and Christmas lights, wandered the beaches of a Caribbean island, went down a mountain barefoot, picked coffee, hiked to a valley of towering wax palms, rode in a Jeep with 15 other people, and finally returned home to the people I love. I celebrated Christmas with my family, B drove down to FL, and then we roadtripped up to North Carolina. We rang in the New Year with his family and friends.
This has been a year that has surpassed my wildest dreams. I have great hopes that 2015 will be even better than 2014.