Saturday, August 29, 2009

The update of all updates

Pardon my partial absence from the blog for the past few days...starting a whole new life takes a little bit of time and energy. I intend to catch you up though, worry not.

A good portion of that energy was spent on a backpacking trip in the Olympic mountains. To orient you, here's a map:

So I live in Tacoma (see bottom right of map) and I hiked a mountain somewhere in the Olympic National Park. (I think...maybe we were in "Quilcene". I know we were in the actual park at some point). It's part of Orientation for school -- you get split into little groups, based on what activity you chose to do. I opted for backpacking in the mountains (a two-night trip), and got paired with a fun group, led by people who I now owe my life to. I mean, I wouldn't dare venture off on the side of a mountain and then sleep in the cold forest all by myself, but my leader Kevin is pretty much the outdoor expert at the college, and I'm alive.

As the name implies, we packed a ton of stuff into backpacks. There were all sorts of requirements: No Cotton, long underwear, fleece, summerweight wool, and the phrase "near-freezing temperatures" was thrown around as if it was as light as a badmitton birdie. I wasn't totally sure what to expect.

I got up early, said goodbye to my dad. (my dad came to make sure I was all settled here in Tacoma - WHAT A BLESSING! It was amazing; I'm so glad he came. He bought me nice things for my room to make it home and just totally blessed me being here) I boarded a bus, which proved to not be quite so simple as it sounds. Imagine me with a huge backpack on. Oh wait, here's a picture:

Okay, so we take off from the college, but as we get on the highway, we slowly begin to catch on that something's wrong because, well, we're going 35 in a 55 mile zone. 35 begins to turn into 25, which eventually turns into 15, and we start switching between driving in the breakdown lane and in normal traffic. Eventually a different bus has to come get us (after dropping off it's passengers at base camp). It was a hurdle, but we all made it. Throughout the rest of the trip, random things with my group kept going different than expected. We had to turn back on our first day and ended up camping at a different campsite than planned and switching our hike plans, and when we finally finished our trail at the end of the last day, our van (which was waiting for us at the end of the trail) wouldn't start! We tried to jump it

but it was actually, truly broken. Our leader got a ride down the main highway to get cellphone service, then sat there for an hour waiting for a new van to come pick us up. Adventure after adventure...

The hike itself was beautiful, and unlike anything I've ever done before. We didn't really do outdoors while I was growing up, so strapping on hiking boots and being in the woods was a fairly new experience. It was somewhat exhausting and my legs are still sore and stiff, but man was it cool. Our first real day of hiking was pretty much 5 miles straight uphill. It was really cloudy and foggy, so we couldn't see much of the view around us. Near the top it started getting really foggy and we only had about 300 feet of visibility with which to see the view of the rocky slope six inches from our toes. It was intense [and uber cool]. We set up camp at about 8,000 feet, got to know each other better, and layered up to stay warm. Bear bags were hung (that inspires confidence right before you climb into a tent made of one-centimeter-thick fabric), and water was filtered so as to avoid giardia, which is always important.

Our first night of camping we were all fairly warm. When we were up higher, though, I was cold all night. I found it to be such a crazy phenomenon - it got so warm as I hiked that I would have been comfortable in a t-shirt, but if we stopped walking and stood still I got cold fast. It was cool to feel so hot but pull out your water and have it be ice cold. We woke up in the morning to completely clear skies and got to see the breathtaking surroundings we had no idea we were in.

At the end, I was tired, ready to be home and filthy. I didn't actually get back to my house until 11:30pm or so, but I was determined to shower right then and get clean. I don't know where exactly the smell was coming from, but my clothes, my skin, my hair...all of it needed washing. My hair got all sweaty and then got cold, which left it with this weird coated feeling. My nails had lines of dirt underneath them, so I cut them (at midnight). Oh, it was lovely to be clean and get into clean sheets.

It was such a new experience, getting dunked into a totally new community where I didn't know anyone and didn't even have the common bond of the Lord with. I found out what it's like to truly be different -- to be the only one who cared about whether or not I slept in the same tent as a boy, to never have seen Harry Potter, to never have heard the music they were singing or tried the drugs they talked about. Talk about learning! I loved having the chance to connect with God up there...there were moments literally where I would pray and everything felt easier -- emotionally, physically...Jesus met me, and Holy Spirit walked with me.

The three days went great, and I loved getting to know people -- I could tell it made a difference when I got back and walked on campus; I feel like I have a community of my own now at the school, and I am stoked about building these friendships. Yay!

I registered for classes today! I spent time looking over the classes the school offers and writing down the ones I thought sounded interesting, only to realize that I was forgetting to check whether or not they were freshman classes or upper level. When I went to meet with my advisors, we got it straightened out and after hearing my major interests, they suggested working toward International Political Economy as a major, and it sounds fascinating, so I'm taking the intro class, as well as Statistics (which will fulfill my math requirement AND perhaps come into play later for this major). My English class (which the college assigned me, after I listed it as 2nd or so on my preference list for a special required seminar) is called Sub/Urban America, and I'm not totally sure what it's about; the professor promised that people find it more interesting than they think it will, so hopefully it will turn out alright. I just hope we don't watch Edward Scissorhands (which I was forced to watch a clip of on a college visit in a class looking at suburban was icky).

I have to say I'm most excited about French! Something in me is so happy every time I hear my sister speak any French, and after I found out that she learned everything she knows in college (with no classes before), I knew I wanted to take it. Can I just say, though, that the French textbook costs a whopping $168? How crazy is that?! It comes with an online learning deal, I believe, though, which helps explain it but still...craziness. My books:

Lastly, I'm taking private piano lessons! I don't know how they will compare to this one, but the teacher was overflowingly nice and made me feel like she was excited to know me and teach me and hear me play -- I am SO EXCITED! And choir...I signed up for the general university choir. You see, these two things make my heart smile, and getting back into them will be so fun {i hope}.

I'm starting to be able to walk around campus without a map, which is good. I ate at the cafeteria for the first time today, and in true Freshman 15 (I break that, I break that! ;) style, I had a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread and french fries. Don't look at me like that, I wanted to celebrate.

Let's be honest, getting food or ordering a drink at the coffee shop and just handing over a little swipe card with a magnetic strip filled with magical points gives you a nice feeling of power. It's as if you finally can feed yourself...that or the government is shelling out money so you can eat and sit in classrooms for four years. Either way, the grilled cheese was yummy.

1 comment:

Elisa said...

Yay for all your wonderful starts to the year. And my guess is you're thinking about this, but FYI buying your textbooks on amazon or is insanely cheaper most of the time, you just have to plan ahead when ordering.

Mucho love to you little red head!