New Beginnings

Pictured above: My dad & sister with her kids, me & my grandpa (Drinking margaritas.  Is this wrong?)

I am currently sitting in the Zeitgeist coffee shop in Seattle.  I am in Washington to visit my sister, her children, my father, and grandfather.  The last time I saw everyone but my father was two years ago, right before I left to do Peace Corps in Cameroon.  Since I’ve been gone, my  niece, who was a one-year-old baby when I left, has turned into a miniature person talking a blue streak and giving the classic “because” answer to why questions.  Two years doesn’t really seem like all that long, except when you look at the change in small children.  Or old grandparents.  My grandfather is in his 90’s, and was determinedly driving from Seattle to San Francisco by himself two years ago.  Since I’ve been gone, he has lost his strength to do it anymore.  With small children and old grandparents one can see marked physical changes in two years, whereas I see little change in myself.  However, even if I look basically the same in the mirror, I know that I have changed.  The change has little to do with my appearance, and a lot to do with my patience, my faith in myself, and my determination to do something with my life that challenges me intellectually, emotionally, and existentially.  America has changed to.  We have our first African American president, the economy is at a terrifying low, and everyone is talking about global warming.  I feel that being away has made me much better appreciate the magnitude of these changes, in a way that only complete separation can.

And now, after only 2 months of trying to ascertain and appreciate these changes, I am embarking on another adventure.

In two weeks, I leave for Bologna to begin my graduate studies in international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).  I will spend one academic year in Bologna and the next in DC.  In hopes of starting grad school right after I returned from Peace Corps, I studied for and took the GRE in Cameroon and applied to several schools based in DC (where the majority of the international NGOs are based).  SAIS was my first choice (the main campus is in DC, not Baltimore), and the acceptance to the Bologna campus a total surprise.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do a whole other year abroad after being out in the middle of nowhere for two, and spending my whole junior year of college abroad, with only senior year in the States.  However, I realized that I couldn’t say no to Johns Hopkins, and that I couldn’t say no to Italy.  Come on.  Bologna is where spaghetti bolognese comes from.

SO: This blog is a continuation of my blog monsejouraucameroun.blogspot.com.  It will hopefully encompass all of the noteworthy events and circumstances of my next year in Bologna, and beyond.

I am scheduled to arrive in Bologna after a plane trip to Milan with two layovers, a shuttle ride to the train station, a train to Bologna, a taxi to the SAIS Bologna Center, and a most likely embarrassing walk down a narrow street carrying all of my luggage containing both freezing winter and scorching summer wardrobes.  Stay tuned.

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~ by Emilie on August 7, 2009.

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