Since my first post last week, I've been grappling with what to share next. I have so much I want to write about and fill this blog with, but since I'm just starting out, it felt like I was jumping into things without giving any background at all. This post is a little long, but I'm hoping it gives you some context on where I am in life, and how things fit in moving forward!

It's been ten months since I entered Schoelkopf Stadium to a crowd much larger than I'd ever seen at any football game with my friends and classmates by my side. The air was filled with uninterrupted cheers, fists pumped in celebration, and it was almost impossible to stop smiling. We filed into our seats, sweating in our black cap & gowns on a near 80° day. This was it, the day we'd worked towards since we arrived on campus as a bunch of obvious freshmen with our lanyards and lost looks, graduation.

 It all happened so quickly, I can't describe it as anything other than a blur of pictures, dinners, packing, ceremonies, more packing, last-minute get togethers, final nights out, and "goodbyes"/see you laters. That Monday, I got in the car and headed home not feeling any different than when I left for breaks before.

In the months leading up to my graduation, my friends and I talked a lot about how we were ready to "grow up" and "move on to the next phase of our lives." *insert massive eye roll here* Let's just say it took months to actually sink in and we all miss college more than we'd like to admit. It was really time for me to be a "real person" (aka pay bills tbh wah) and I was supposed to adult (verb). WHAT!?

Summer '15
I stayed at home for the summer, feverishly working on my medical school applications as secondary after secondary came into my inbox with no signs of stopping. I had applied to 19 programs, and I never wrote so much about myself in my life. In the meantime, I was working as a medical assistant at a primary care office, and preparing for my upcoming AmeriCorps gap year experience. 

Apartment Hunting
For AmeriCorps, I had to relocate and let me tell you, apartment hunting WAS NOT an easy task like it was in college. Since AmeriCorps is a service experience, the living stipend is VERY limited, and I was not familiar with the surrounding areas. I tried at first (unsuccessfully) to look on craigslist. Most of the things I found fell under one of three categories:

          1. Nice & Way Out Of My Budget
          2. Sketchy & In My Budget
          3. Nice & In My Budget aka Too Good To Be True aka Scams

 I ended up getting together with another member and we started looking for one bedroom apartments where we could "flex" the living room into a bedroom. It was the only way to make both "nice" & "in my budget" work! We ended up having to use a broker (BROKER FEES SUCK), but it was worth it because we had a place to live once the program started. My room is the "flexed" living room and although not having a real door (i used heavy curtains) can be a bit of a challenge at times, it's still very homey and I love it! 

Gap Year/Real-ish Life
By the middle of August, it was time for me to move out and jump head first into adulting full time. I got everything set up and started my position as a Health Educator with AmeriCorps. It is an 11 month, 1,700 hour service term and I will share more specifics about the program/why I LOVE it in the near future. I also took on a second job tutoring with Huntington Learning Center to help make ends meet. 

Although I lived in apartments in college, I still had "big red bucks," which was a debit meal plan that allowed me to buy lunch on campus. I came into this year accustomed to making myself dinner, but having to adjust to feeding myself 3 meals a day. I faithfully grocery shop and meal prep in an effort to stay healthy, organized, and financially prudent. I also had to get my own checkbook and EZ-Pass, which may sound trivial, but just using mom and dad's wasn't an option anymore! 

I've been saying this is "Real-ish Life" because I'm in this awkward purgatory where I've graduated college, but haven't quite gotten started on my career. Even AmeriCorps is a gray area, since it's not technically a job where I'm an employee, but I'm not a volunteer either (they actually require that we use the term "member"). I also try my best to be financially independent, but I still need help from my parents at times. 

All of that aside, I feel that I have grown and learned a lot about myself this year. Even with the responsibilities, I am actually having the time of my life! I love going to work everyday to teach and have fun with my students. Teaching is a second dream of mine, so it's great that I had the chance marry it with my passion for health and medicine and live it out this year! I've made new lifelong friends with my AmeriCorps coworkers and I'm close to New York City, so I get to see my college friends a lot too. This is such an exciting time in my life and I am thrilled to be starting medical school in a few months (real-ish life -> real life?!?)!!! It's going to be a wild ride and I can't wait to share my journey with you!