In just a few short weeks I will be boarding a flight to California for my pre-departure training. There, I will be meeting other Fellows in my cohort, getting my location in Senegal, and getting some basic training to better prepare myself for when I step off the plane in Africa.
At this point, those few short weeks don’t seem so close. As the excitement adds up, the stress multiplies. Currently, I am working two jobs (to pay for the trip), trying to master basic French so I am not a complete fool when I arrive, and attempting to keep up with the seemly endless preparations that need to be completed before I even think about packing.
I’m going to give a short background on why and how I landed on the GCY (Global Citizen Year) path and what I hope to make of it.
Bridge years were never something I considered. Yes, I love to travel and yes, I believe that “worldly” experiences are oftentimes more beneficial than ones in the classroom. But, college has been on my mind since I was eight years old. As I poured my heart and soul into one, yes I mean one, college application, I thought that was be-all-end-all for me. But, alas, I was rejected to that school. Was I embarrassed and ashamed? Yes. Have I grown to be open and talk about it? Kind of. Anyway, my spring semester was then filled with searching for colleges that I might still have a chance at that late in the year. Then in late April, I was checking Snapchat and one particular article caught my eye: “Benefits of a Bridge Year” (or something along those lines), so, I read on.
The application being May 1, I moved quickly. I truly think I applied more just to say I was thinking about a bridge year because I was so unhappy with my college options. Then, my application was accepted. Next step: the interview. Now, in my opinion, I thought the interview went so poorly that my chances were shot. My self-esteem was lower than it had been the whole year and I came to the conclusion that it was not happening.
Fast forward a week. I was formally accepted; I was in. The first and only acceptance I had been proud of all year. Then reality came, the $32,500 program could only offer me a scholarship of $19,500. I was deflated. Regardless, I asked to be put on the financial aid waitlist and I would find out if they could meet my needs by mid-June.
Fast forward again. They couldn’t. How, by some miracle, they were able to meet my aid needs five days after they declined my needs, I have no idea. But I do know I am so grateful they could. So, I get a $30,000 scholarship and then my true story here begins.
Like I said earlier, it still feels far away. But right now I am feeling every emotion in the book: anxious, inspired, discomposed, elated and so, so many more. But I am here and I am ready.