One of the absolute most critical keys to my personal achievements and happiness that I felt at The College of New Jersey was the phenomenal circle of support that I had cheering me on there. Outside of friends I met some of the greatest mentors in the form of fantastic, knowledgable, personable and available professors (great gift of TCNJ’s size), bosses/managers who ended up guiding my work habits, teaching me organization, informing me of professional opportunities, my internship colleagues/mentors who offered me a wide array of perspective (alongside the clients I worked with), spiritual guidance from a name that goes without saying, and all the employees of the college who offered anecdotes on life that were priceless. This is the unique character that TCNJ possesses and I feel very blessed to have benefited from that. Yes, I will be receiving a small sum from The College for my salesmanship! This just in…blog name soon to change to “The Public Ivy.”
A very difficult aspect of planting yourself in a new country is seeking out a good group of people with various experiences, education, and opinions (I think diversity of thought is so so so important). You start out your experience really naiive, vulnerable and unsure of just about everything. This fact might lead you to latching onto help too readily or denying assistance when it is much needed. I have done both. Outside of that, there is an adjustment from becoming student to professional, from being within a culture and understanding its subtle details of communication to being on the outside, and much more. Finally, life is not YOU-centered after college. That has been a healthy wake-up call that I am slowly adapting to. University life is very much a bubble in that sense.
8 months later and I have a few good, older people here who have definitely shaped up my experiences. It took some time, I made some mistakes, but I feel very grateful to have an understanding with some people whom I have a lot of respect for. I hope to learn from them and see what guidance and direction they will contribute to my life! Of course, peers of the same age are great because you are more or less in the same spot in life (although the 20s and 30s place people in sooo many different positions that age really is relative), and they are your crew to have youthful fun with. It’s important to have a mix of people in your life, obviously enough.
With a support system in development I am very happy that I will be here for another year. So much of my first 8 months here has just been getting a feel for it all, meeting people and developing strong relationships, improving my working abilities, getting a grip on the language, and extending my social life (much improved since moving to the city). With a year 2 I am in a much better position to make greater contributions to my projects here and ideally I will leave a meaningful impact. I try to make ‘micro-impacts’ – smiles, cheerfulness, etc. – but let’s see if that granddaddy ‘macro-impact’ on life can swing down his hammer.
I was in Chinchon yesterday and it is a very typical Spanish town with castle ruins and an enormous plaza. Fun fact: the 1987 film The Falling was shot here. Interestingly enough, another film was being made during our visit. It is a Venezuelan/Spanish joint effort about Simon Bolivar. You just might catch my shadow in one of the scenes! The plaza had a really cool market set up filled with clothes, bags, etc, there is a nice running fountain there which traditionally was used to wash clothes, and there is a gigantic church overlooking the plaza. It made for a very nice effect. I had lunch on a balcony overlooking the plaza and it consisted of an egg dish with meat through it yum, and a nicely prepared leg of lamb, and then flan to keep the sweet tooth happy. After that I saw the First Communion of the 3rd Grade students of my school and that was very pleasant. The students get very excited for these events and it is a nice feeling to come to support them for these things. As it is, maybe, just maybe I make up some small part of their support system!