Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It doesn't even seem real!

My life two days ago:
Finish junior year, start senior year in the fall, apply to colleges, pick a college at some point, graduate in May, and go to that college the next fall.

My life now: 
Finish junior year, work at camp over the summer to save money, and in January, use the money from the summer to buy myself a plane ticket to Africa, go to Swaziland, and attend the UWC there for two years. On full scholarship. Then, go to college.

Wait, what?

So here's what's up - Monday evening, I found out that I was awarded the scholarship to study at the "Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa" (I know, quite a mouthful) for two years to get my International Baccalaureate diploma - all on full scholarship, including room and board. I can hardly contain my excitement, I'm continuously freaking out, and have been since I found out. Maybe freaking out is strong language, but I've been pretty much grinning from ear to ear this entire time - including while taking the ACT this morning... standardized tests are so much easier to get through after some really happy news!

I'll be leaving sometime early in January for Swaziland, and will be there for two years. Technically, it's still "high school," as the IB diploma is a high school diploma, but I'm thinking of it as an epic adventure, instead of another couple years of high school. The funny part is, my younger brother, currently one grade level below me, is going to end up graduating from high school and starting college before me - I'm not going to end up graduating from the UWC until late in 2014, around October or November, I think, and then I'll be starting college until the fall of 2015 (whoa, that sounds way further away typed out). I'm super excited for Waterford though - I was hoping to do something like this in college or after that, but I'm just as happy doing it before I've got my high school diploma. 

If all the dates are confusing you, it's because the southern hemisphere school schedule starts the "school year" in January, instead of in August, like here. The seasons are all flipped, so it makes sense that the school year would be as well. 

I've gotten in touch with some current students there, and it's just making me that much more excited to get to go! I haven't heard of anyone else that is going to be starting there in January with me, at least not from the US, but there probably (maybe?) is at least one other person.

Oh! Congrats to the other people from the Madison interview who were selected!!! From our group, we also have people going to UWC-USA, Atlantic College in Wales, and Mahindra in India. You guys are all so awesome!

Monday, April 23, 2012


I can't hardly type, I'm still shaky from happiness and excitement and all that, so this is gonna be short.


Yeah, that's pretty much it. They announced it a day early - I can't even really understand that this is real life!


All right, I'll type more later when I've calmed down and can get a complete sentence through my brain!


The sun'll come out... tomorrow!

I made it through the school today with a relatively sane head left on my shoulders, which means that I, and all the other applicants, are in the home stretch of this grueling wait.

So I get home from school, and check the UWC-USA Applicants Facebook page, just for some consolation that there are others out there with the same anxiety levels as me. There, I read,

"ZERO YEARS!!! :D Hey, I'm [name], a Second Year at Pearson College UWC. For all you future Pearsonites, I'm happy to answer any questions that you have, so send them my way. Oh, and Congratulations!"

"Hi everyone! I'm [name], a first year at UWC Maastricht! If anyone has any questions or wants to talk just send me a message and I'm all yours! And if you're coming my way next year let me know!"

"Hey everyone! I'm [name], a second year currently at UWC Maastricht. For whomever will be here next year, hello, it's nice to meet you, and feel free to ask me questions!"

I had to consciously be all, "Breathe, breathe, they haven't released anything yet, it's just people trying to be nice and welcoming for tomorrow. They haven't sent anything out yet." But then I went and checked my email anyways, and when I got back to the Facebook page, somebody had already commented with a tale of their own freak-out moment.

So, as far as I can tell, it all still stands at tomorrow - the crazy madness of trying to focus on the ACT while being really, really excited about UWCs. Not a good combination, but assuming they send it before 5 o'clock tomorrow, I'll know within the next 24 hours, give or take a few for time zones. I'm so stressed out. Beyond freaked out. In a really happy, excited, "OMG," kind of way. Even though I can't even remember the last time I ever said "OMG."

Oh, and I'm going to see the Dalai Lama on Thursday, which I feel really terribly about kind of brushing off at the time being, but I'm sure I'll get really excited for it once... well, once I hear something. I don't want to jinx it :D

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE WHO APPLIED! I'M SENDING YOU ALL HAPPY-GOOD-LUCK VIBES! I wish we could all get in - if everyone across the country who applied is as awesome as the group from my interview, well, that's a really awesome 120 people, to say the least. I can't even imagine having to just pick 52 of them.

Edit: The list of current students posting keep growing... I can't help but get more excited! They all keep saying stuff like "If you're coming here in the fall, send me a message!" I hope so badly that I'll have reason to be sending one of those messages tomorrow!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

72 Hours

Just wanted to say that if they release acceptances Tuesday or Wednesday, like predicted at the interview, I'll know if I'm attending a UWC in less than 72 hours. (Or 74 hours, if they're cruel and wait to release anything until 6 pm Wednesday night. But I hope they don't.)

I'm going back and forth between having panic attacks and being really excited at the possibility that I have even a chance to attend one of these schools. Mostly really excited though :)

72 hours! Ahhh!

Edit: Apparently for the last few years the notifications have gone out on Tuesday, which means less than 48 hours now! I'm so excited that I can't even comprehend how excited I am (much less comprehend the phylums of invertebrates that I'm supposed to be learning for a midterm tomorrow... ah. Such is life :D)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Plans and UWC Map

I just accepted a job working at a special needs overnight camp. That's right, I've decided to brave the most adventurous border ever created - the Illinois-Iowa state line.

Or not, but still. I'll be working in Iowa for ten weeks this summer (essentially all summer). NSLI-Y isn't coming through for me this summer, but that's totally fine. I'm really excited to see all of these people getting their first summer scholarship. I've decided that I'd rather see new people getting to have the experience, instead of getting accepted a second summer, and seeing new people not get to go at all. On the plus side, I love camps like this, and half of the staff they hired is from outside of the US - so who knows? Maybe it'll turn out to be a rather international summer after all :D

So now, I'm just freaking about UWCs. Still waiting, I know. I should hear either Tuesday or Wednesday. Tuesday is the PSAE/ACT though, so that should be interesting. Hopefully I'll find out Tuesday, because then Wednesday is WorkKeys, so another charming testing day. Two days of trying to sit through standardized tests without being distracted by something like UWC isn't going to be pretty, but I'll try to stay focused all the same.

Can't get this off my mind! How it works is that they accept 52 (hopefully, including me) of the 120 applicants that got interviewed, regardless of campus choice - so campus preference isn't a part of the selection process. Then, they figure out how to split these 52 students up among the campuses - 25 of the US students go to UWC-USA, and the rest are split up among the other schools, with 1-3 US students at each. My first couple choices (from top choice on down) were Waterford (Swaziland), Mahindra (India), Mostar (Bosnia), Red Cross (Norway), and Adriatic (Italy).

They try to place people in the schools they wanted, but understandably it doesn't always work out. I heard from one girl that she was placed in her eighth choice, which was UWC-USA (She was from the US, so one of the 25 they sent there that year). After thinking about it a lot, I decided that I'd probably accept the spot and attend UWC-USA for the two years, because it is indeed a really good school, and really international, and would be a great experience, but there are things about the other campuses that I'm really interested in. No, it's not just a case of "I want to get out of the country" (okay, maybe a little bit. But that's the case for everyone who applies to a school like this!). Rather, there are things about the other schools that UWC-USA just can't offer - local HIV/AIDS programs in Swaziland, working on biodiversity in India, being so close to an amazing city like Hong Kong, the Red Cross aspect of the Norway campus, or the simple fact that I'd love to learn another local language during my time at the UWCs, and at UWC-USA, the local language is, you guessed it, Pig Latin, so that's not really anything new for me :) Anyways.

This is such a nerve-wracking weekend! I can't wait to hear back from them!

[Edit: April 21, 2012 - I just realized that this picture is missing UWC in Maastricht. Anyhoo...]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What UWC admissions feels like right now...

[MPAA RATINGS SCREEN: Rated S for Stressful - contains anxious high schoolers, a national selection committee, and upon occasion, full ride scholarships.]

[Intense music playing in background (click me!), as close in shots of nervous high school students flash along the screen. Epic narrator narrates.]

Epic Narrator (EN): Today is Wednesday, April 18, 2012.  Then comes Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

[Shot of calendar pages being blown away in a deserted forest with scary trees.]

EN: But then it's Tuesday, and then Wednesday. These two magical days are when the United States selection committee is going to announce who gets to claim one of the 52 coveted spots at one of 13 UWC campuses across the globe.

[Shots of people skiing down large mountains, skydiving, etc, mixed in with classrooms, textbooks, nervous students, tapping pencils, etc]

EN: It's going to be exciting, thrilling, and stressful - all rolled up into 48 hours. 120 interviewed students from sea to shining sea are becoming increasingly distracted in their studies. Their dreams soar far beyond their AP review books, but rather to the glorious adventures that await them... if they survive until next week.

[Cut to breathtaking aerial shots of the different campuses, then switch to close ups of students running around campus, like they all do in the lipdubs.]

EN: If they make it past this challenge, they'll advance and participate in academic challenges, missions in community service, and most of all, the opportunity of a lifetime to live with teenagers from a multitude of different countries for two years. This - is - epic.

[Shot of intense title, panning in. Maybe there are some flames somewhere on screen. Yeah, flames]

EN: United World College: The Selection Days
(coming to a nervous applicant near you on Tuesday, April 24th)

[And.... cut :D]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Name Change!

So, I decided that the old title was too focused on my summer with NSLI-Y, and especially with everything that I have about UWC and other random tidbits, I decided that the old title was no longer relevant, so I changed it! Out with the old and in with the new, as they say! (Plus, I like the new title more. "Wherever Summer Takes Me" now sounds like the title to a cheesy teenaged romance series).

So, that's the scoop on that. As far as scoops on everything else go...

I'm still waiting as an alternate for NSLI-Y, but am making summer plans to work at a Girl Scout camp in Missouri, to hopefully save up money for a plane ticket to Swaziland. As far as Swaziland goes, I find out in about a week and a half, and it's consuming my mind :) Totally good mind consumption though. I'M SO EXCITED!!!

All right, that's all for now!

Friday, April 13, 2012

3,000 hits.

So, this blog just got its 3,000th hit. And to think that when I started this, I was excited when I checked it in DC right before getting on the plane, and it was at 100.

Also, readers in over ten countries? That makes me really, really happy. Because that's the big point of this blog :)

I'm happy dancing like this guy. And if I could convince Stride Gum to pay for me too, I'd dance in 42 countries too :D

Oh, and I'm going to a NSLI-Y alumni lunch tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about that too :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Here's a short list of things on my mind. Sometimes lists are easier :)

  1. I really want to just gush happiness over all the people going to Jordan this summer, and tell them everything about why I love it there, but I promised myself that I wouldn't tell them ANYTHING so that I don't ruin it for them. But I really want to make sure that they appreciate the fantastic-ness of Radio ROTANA. But I don't want to tell them, because I want them to discover its awesomen factor all on their own. 
  2. I'm getting more and more nervous about the UWCs as the week of fate draws nearer. Not much to say about this, other than I just really, really want to get in. I watched the entire One World show from the UWC in Canada after it got posted on their Facebook, and it just made me that much more excited :)
  3. I wish nobody would be rejected from NSLI-Y their first time through. I understand that us alumni are to be turned down sometimes, but I wish everyone could have the experience at least once! It just makes me sad to see people who aren't getting accepted.
I have more on my mind than this, as that would be rather pathetic to only think about three things, but this is all that's really relevant to this blog. 

Also, I just want to say that EVERYONE WHO APPLIED FOR NSLI-Y IS AWESOME AND I LOVE YOU ALL AND I DON'T CARE WHO MADE IT IN AND NOT YOU'RE ALL STILL FANTASTIC AND I WISH EVERYONE COULD GO! I'm sick of seeing everyone who hasn't heard back yet being so sad. 

(NSLI-Y acceptances aren't done yet, but they're drawing to a close. They said that they'll be done by April 20th, and all the alternates, aka me, will know for sure by May 15th).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Writer's Week!

Every year our school has this thing called Writer's Week, where every period for a week they have professional writers and such come in and give presentations, and then one student work read aloud per period. So, tomorrow, first period, I'm reading one of my pieces aloud! Fun time, except that they read my piece and scheduled me for fiction day.

It's not fiction.

It's a descriptive essay about life in Jordan. I've had so many people ask me whether it was a massive desert or a war zone, or somewhere in between, so I figured this would be a good chance to present a piece that just shows daily life, and get people to understand that WHOA, it's not that different from the USA. People go to school, go to work, eat, sleep, live, and so on and so forth. And I come up with this great plan about teaching people things, and sneaking culture lessons into Writer's Week, and I was all excited, and then I saw when they had scheduled me.

Fiction day. Aghh... why does everyone assume things like this are far-away, made-up, fairy tales?!

Anyways, I'm rather excited for any chance to get to talk about Jordan to a large group of people. Which means that I'm pretty excited for this :)

(edit) April 3, 2012: Most people, even after hearing it, thought it was fiction. Such is life...