It’s official.  I am now a college graduate and have joined the ranks of Dickinson alumni.  Graduation weekend was a whirlwind. My parents arrived a little after noon on Saturday (May 22nd) and helped me pack up the rest of my things.  According to them, I wasn’t ready and they ended up hauling most of my stuff away.  Well I was definitely further along in my packing than my roommate Mimi was! It turns out most of the seniors started packing up the afternoon after graduation anyways.  However, Mom and Papa needed to be on the road by then to get Mom home in time to get ready for Boston the next day.

Indeed, because if graduation wasn’t crazy enough, Mom decided the best day to start her new job was the very next day! I haven’t mentioned it at all in the blog because I wanted Mom to be actually working at her new company before I talked about it.  I also didn’t want anyone at her old company finding out about the offer at the new company before she made the formal announcement.
Mom no longer works at the company with many letters, ABCD-EFGH.  That’s not the real name but close enough.  After 20+ years at the same organization (a rarity in this day and age), she is now working at Benjamin Rush based in Boston.  That is not the real name of her new company either, but her new company is named after a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Benjamin Rush, who also founded Dickinson College, signed it as well so might as well refer to her new company by that name.
Even though Mom now works in Boston, we are not relocating there.  She will eventually buy her own apartment to live in and commute back to NY on weekends to be with Papa/visit her mother/go to yoga class.  It is a huge change for the family but Hermana and I aren’t really around most of the time anyways and we are used to going long stretches without seeing our parents.  It might have been a bigger change if I had still been in high school but so far we all seem to be doing well.
Yeah so it’s been a busy couple of months for Madre and the next few months will be even busier as she adjusts to working at Ben Rush.  But she is awesome and we know she can do it!

So back to graduation.  I decided to go to the Baccalaureate ceremony the afternoon before graduation, even though it wasn’t mandatory.  It was a nice,  informal ceremony and we were allowed to sit next to our friends instead of in alphabetical order.  Pres. Durden talked for a looooooooong time though and we got really antsy.  Students made speeches, a few prayers were read, and overall it was a nice way to get mentally prepared for the next day.
That night, my family and Mimi’s family ate dinner at California Cafe, one of the nicest restaurants in Carlisle.  I forgot what I ate, but it was really good! The place was packed with other students and their families and I’m glad I remembered to make the reservation months in advance! We didn’t get served for more than an hour though after we ordered so I was really happy to get my food and pretty much gobbled it down.

Graduation itself was definitely memorable.  It drizzled for about half the ceremony but it was nothing compared to the torrential downpour that happened two years go (I wasn’t there but I saw the pictures!).  When I first got to the place we had to line up in alphabetical order, no one seemed able to point me in the right direction.  My last name starts with an M and it took me awhile to find the right place in line! I managed to see my mom as we walked through the roped off area on the grass to our seats but that was the last I saw of any of my family during the ceremony.  Their seats were all the way in the back.

As it alternately rained and stopped, we listened to a few speeches and watched a few people get honorary degrees. Marcia Dale Weary, founder of CPYB, was honored at the ceremony and I thought it was hilarious because Hermana did the CPYB summer program 3 years in a row and endured Marcia’s torture in ballet classes.  Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, was the keynote speaker and his speech was brief.  He had a list of dos and don’ts and one of his do’s was to “write thank you notes–the dead tree kind.” Dickinson is obsessed with sustainability so this comment got a few guffaws from the crowd.

Speaking of sustainability, Durden made it a point in his speech to talk about the Dickinson trays and how all graduates were entitled to taking one once we got our real diplomas after the ceremony.  Our caf went trayless this year and obviously the college no longer has a use for the trays.  And to get rid of them, the college decided to recycle them by gifting them to the graduates.  I gotta say, not a bad idea! I definitely was excited about getting a signature red tray.  I have absolutely no use for it anymore but as Durden said I will never have to go trayless ever again! According to him, it’s an antique and been in service at Dickinson for 40 years.  Maybe I’ll hang it on my wall once I get my own place.

Actually coming down the stairs of Old West to shake Durden and Jon Meacham’s hand was a little surreal.  As a January freshman, I technically never really walked up the stairs (Dickinson tradition: As a freshman you walk up the stairs of Old West to sign.  At graduation, you walk down the stairs to receive your diploma–the stairs are only used for this purpose and the doors are closed for the rest of the year).  There was a small ceremony arranged for us to “sign in” into the college but nobody except the Jan. students showed up. I never got to go to Convocation with the rest of my class.  Having my family and friends there watching me come down those stairs was a great feeling.  And I also graduated in 3.5 years so I was happy to be graduating with the rest of my class instead of a semester later.  I remember that I was smiling as I came down the stairs.  I still don’t think it’s hit me that I’m done with college.

After getting my diploma and tray and a short brunch, my family departed and I was left to wait for the rest of my friends who were supposed to go down to NC for the week.  There were a few tearful goodbyes but we finally got on the road around 5:30.  On the way down, I saw a rainbow–a wonderful ending to the day and omen for the week to come.  We didn’t get in until 3 AM and I gotta say, the driving got a little treacherous at the end.  We had been listening to a romance novel on tape and by the end we were trying to stay awake by singing sorority recruitment cheers!

My friend Megan is the one who is from North Carolina.  Since the beginning of the year, we have been talking about spending a week at the beach after graduation.  And the week did not disappoint.  Megan’s family owns a condo at Indian Beach, it overlooks the beach and the pool and hot tub of the complex.  As we got to the condo, the first thing we did was marvel at the view.  Beautiful beach with beautiful blue-green water and some mighty but inviting looking waves.  It’s the first time I’ve spent a vacation doing entirely NOTHING.  My family has never done the whole beach week vacation getaway.  We spent most family vacations in France so I guess I can’t complain too much.

The condo was amazing, the beach was fantastic, and for the most part everybody got along.  At one point, there were 9 of us in the condo but only for about 2 days.  One girl ended up deciding to come down for a few days when she had originally told us she couldn’t come.  We were very excited since this particular friend is basically joining the army and we have no idea when we will see her again.  I accompanied Megan on the two hour drive to Wilson, NC (the closest train station) to pick Sarah up–the scenery on the way there was so typically Southern America! Tractors, fields, people hanging out on their front steps because they have no other place to hang out… It was like being in a movie!
Pretty much the whole week was lounging at the beach and the pool and reading romance novels.  It was a very girly week.
The water down there was so warm!! I don’t know how warm but I never hesitated when I got into the water, just swam right in.  One particular day the waves were pretty strong and knocked me down a few times when I attempted some boogie boarding.  There weren’t any lifeguards around because it was technically still the off-season, the week before Memorial Day weekend so the beach was pretty empty.  However this also meant we had to be careful when we were in the water and not to get taken in by the undertow–we never swam alone and always made sure we were able to touch the ground.  We had the place mostly to ourselves.  It was wonderful.

One night, Megan’s parents cooked for us.  Megan is from Newport, NC, about a half hour away from where the condo is.  Her house is on a major highway and her driveway is super long.  It was actually kind of creepy the first night we got in and drove in with the hedges on either side of us!! We couldn’t really see where we were going.
Her house is absolutely beautiful, everybody has a huge bedroom, and her property is right on the water.  From the back of the house, you have a direct view of the backyard, pool, the dock, and the sound.  The dock goes out pretty far because the water gets so shallow at low tide.  About a half mile away is the island where Indian Beach and the condo is (oh yeah cuz I forgot to mention the condo was on an island).  I’m not sure how Megan survived at Dickinson for 4 years being so far away from the water.  I don’t live too far away from Long Island Sound but my house isn’t waterfront property.
Before dinner, Megan’s sister took some of us out on the boat and I went tubing for the first time! I have been dying to do this since I was little but it wasn’t traditional tubing, where you sit in an inner tube and get dragged around by the boat.  This kind of tube wasn’t the donut kind of tube… it was a round flat tube and you had to lie across it and hold on to the straps as you get dragged around.  And when I say hold on, I mean for dear life.  As the boat speeds up and turns, the tube gets pulled into the opposite direction and over the waves the boat makes in its wake.  It’s absolutely terrifying, sort of being on a roller coaster only you’re lying flat and getting bumped along.  Megan and I went for the first go round and we screamed but we had fun.  We were also wearing life jackets so if we did fall off, we would just merely float and wait to get picked up by the boat.
I didn’t fall off during my turn but Megan’s sister got a little rougher when Megan and Morgan went next.  They definitely bumped over more waves than I did and because the tube was new, I guess she wanted to experiment with it.  She decided to drive the boat in a circle but that proved to be too much–the centripetal force caused Megan to let go first, followed by Morgan a few seconds later and the tube ended up flipping over.  Jessie and Megan’s youngest sister then went next but they got a smooth ride since they didn’t want to be subjected to crazy bumpy wave shenanigans.  My arms definitely hurt the next day from being pulled around!!
Then afterwards we ate some delicious kebabs.  Thanks Megan’s parents!

The last night we all slept at Megan’s because the condo had renters coming in the next day.  It was full house with us being there, Megan’s parents’ law school friends, and Megan’s sisters’ friends.  It was a lot of though and we had corn on the cob, delicious macaroni and cheese, smores, watermelon… all the summer staple foods! Great way to kick off the summer.
The group also made predictions about where we’ll each be in 2 years.  We decided we would try to make this beach getaway a reunion and try to do it every 2 years.  It will be funny to read those in 2 years!!

The next day we said some emotional goodbyes to Megan and all of us that were left, except for Jessie, left in Morgan’s car.  My friend Katie and I had booked flights out of Richmond, VA to JFK and Morgan had graciously agreed to take us to the airport since she is from there.  She dropped off Lilah first and because we had time to kill, she took us around Richmond.  Morgan is a very enthusiastic tour guide and pretty much knows everything about Richmond.  She took us along the canal walk and even though I was wearing jeans and it was about a bajillion degrees, I definitely liked the city.  It’s small but very eclectic.  I definitely learned to better appreciate the South on this trip (I guess VA is sort of in the middle, it really depends on who you talk to–I personally have no idea!!!!!).  It is just so different from the Northeast!

After a week in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina, I definitely could see myself living down there (excluding Florida which I have never been to but that’s not real South).  The people are so friendly and it’s more relaxed and slow paced.  It’s not necessarily better than NY’s hectic frenzy, it’s just a different way of life.  The slow pace of life sort of reminded of Spain and their long siestas which I will shortly be going back to in August.

I also visited Beaufort where the book A Walk to Remember is set.  I’ve read 2 Nicholas Sparks books now and I think he is an awful storyteller/writer.  However, that region of NC is not a bad place to set books! The town is very cute and Megan’s great-something uncle is buried in a small, historic cemetery.  In another “cultural” excursion, we also went to some bars in Jacksonville to meet marines from Camp Lejeune.  They looked really scary and intimidating at first.  Once we got to playing pool though, they got more friendly and didn’t seem so bad.  I’m still scared of them though.

So yeah that’s what I’ve been up to since graduation.  Now I’m back home and setting up medical appointments, figuring out housing in Madrid for next year, and getting paper work filled out for the travel camp I’ll be working at this summer.  Oh and I need to unpack and organize all my stuff I brought back from college so I have things to do to keep me busy for the month of June.

And this is kind of a side note: even though this is meant to be a travel blog, I do talk a lot about my personal life here.  I guess random strangers aren’t so interested in reading details about that.  I did submit my blog for consideration to be featured on a travel blog website and I was told that my blog’s focus was too narrow and seemed to be mostly intended for family and friends.  That is true, and I guess if you don’t know me, most of the stuff I talk about in my personal life may seem boring/hard to follow.  I may change the way I blog sometime in the future but for now I’m keeping it the way it is.

And blog of note: I’ve been following Abby Sunderland’s blog, a young American girl solo circumnavigating the globe in a sailboat (she was going for youngest person to circle the globe unassisted and without stopping but had to stop in South Africa for necessary maintenance on her boat).  A lot of her blog entries have all this boat/sailing lingo I don’t understand at all but I still find her blog fascinating! You can follow Abby and her adventures at http://soloround.blogspot.com

Wow this entry is all over the place… since it’s so random, I’m going to end it by saying how I wish I could meet a nice Southern (non-enlisted that has nothing to do with the military) boy and move to North Carolina.

Amelie

 

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