OT Chronicles Chapter 4: Waiting & Preparing

OT Chronicles Chapter 4: Waiting & Preparing

So you’ve been accepted, you’ve sent in a deposit, and now you get to start classes, right?  Well, it’s a pretty long process that requires some patience and mental preparation.  After getting accepted and securing my seat in my cohort, there seemed to be many months to go until classes started.  Securing a seat was the biggest burden off my shoulders.  My stress disappeared and reality began to set in (in the best ways possible).  Time passed by and I anxiously awaited to hear from professors about classes and other necessary summer requirements.

Around June/early July, information was finally emailed out on how to start preparing for the start of September classes.  I was SUPER excited and finally felt like I could start working towards my goal of becoming an OT.  A private Facebook page was set up for our cohort so that we could communicate with fellow classmates throughout the summer and throughout our semesters together.  All very exciting stuff if you ask me!

We also received summer anatomy & physiology material to review which we will be quizzed on during the first week of classes.  I’ve followed my own studying plan to review & study all of the information and as of right now I have one more week of material to review.  However, in the remaining weeks leading up to the start of classes, I will religiously review all the information over and over again.

In the past few weeks, professors have also started to send out emails with textbook requirements and syllabi.  So far, I have 8 textbooks in my room and I am waiting for a few more to be delivered.  I believe I will have 10 textbooks this semester for my five total classes.  Luckily, most of these books will be used over and over again for future classes so I’m hoping that the remaining semesters won’t be so costly on the textbook front of grad school finances.

I also have summer reading to complete and summer assignments – much of which have been dependent on receiving textbooks in the mail.  Even with all the summer work (and stress of reviewing anatomy), I am genuinely excited and intrigued to learn so much information throughout the MSOT program!  I feel like I’ve been out of school for so long which has motivated me to want to start learning again!

We also had orientation last week where I got to meet my classmates & a few professors.  We learned about our preceptors (advisors) and I also learned who I will be a graduate assistant for upon the start of the semester.  We were given our class schedule (18 credits, four 4-credit classes and one 2-credit class, 4 days/week) and have lots of exciting events to look forward to throughout our fall semester.

After orientation, the second year students gathered the majority of my cohort for dinner at a nearby pub.  It was nice to mingle with my future classmates and get some advice from the second years.  I absorbed as much information as I could (and the nachos I had were pretty tasty too!).

Classes start in less than one month.  I am very excited.  But mostly, I am anxious in the best way possible (and “anxious” isn’t a word I usually use in a positive way).  I can’t wait to get to know my classmates & professors more.  I can’t wait to start learning and expanding my knowledge.  I can’t wait to officially start the journey of school for health care professionals (HCPs) because I know how much there is to learn and how many opportunities I’ll have in the future to make a difference in the lives of people who need guidance, hope, and whole-hearted care in their lives.

As I wait and prepare for the start of classes, I will continue to personally reflect on how grateful I am to be given this opportunity to become an OT.  The feeling of gratitude in the past few months have grown exponentially because every day I am reminded that I am one day closer to living my dream – and that will forever make my OT heart happy.

Realizations

Realizations

In the past two weeks, I’ve worked back-to-back 50 hour weeks between my internship and my new job.  I am no longer physically attending Bloomsburg University since the only thing left to do before I can graduate is my internship. Despite the stress brought on by a 50-hour work week, I am the happiest I’ve been in the last year and a half.

I am no longer confined by the walls of a classroom.  I no longer have to sit at a desk listening to a professor lecture about the benefits of exercise.  Instead, I am teaching others the benefit of exercise.  The fitness center I am completing my internship at has become my classroom.  I have met people who have never exercised ever before in their life and it has become my responsibility to teach them how to exercise safely and effectively.  I am finally putting my knowledge to good use and it has been extremely rewarding.  Several fitness center clients have noticed my patience with teaching others and have complimented me on my knowledge.  It feels good to be appreciated.

Yesterday I came to realize many things.  First of all, I’ve spent 5 of my 8 semesters of college at home.  Four semesters were spent at home as I attended a community college before transferring to Bloomsburg University. Now, I’m back at home and doing my internship locally; therefore, I am once again spending another semester at home.  These five semesters, although separated by three semesters living in the middle of Pennsylvania, have been the semesters that I’ve been happiest with my life.  My two years at community college were by far the most memorable two years of my college experience. And now I get to spend my last semester of college completing my internship which has been far more enjoyable than being stuck in a classroom.  My level of happiness has been significantly, and more consistently, higher being at home than away at college.

My second realization is that I’ve had a part-time job every semester of college. During my two years at community college I had a part-time job at a craft store. In Bloomsburg, I was a student note-taker for two semesters, and I was a private tutor last fall.  Now, as an intern, I also have a new part-time job.  I feel like these part-time jobs have made me learn the importance of time-management and have also provided me with a source of income that can offset some of my college debt.

So here I am now.  Every weekend I see pictures of people on Facebook with wine glasses in their hands or drunken smiles.  I hear stories about the ridiculousness of a professor.  But here I am, a thousand times happier than any wine glass or college party could ever provide to me.  I’m loving my internship and my new job.  I love spending time with my family on the weekend.  I love having people to run with.  My dog is my favorite roommate.  I’m happy.  I’m enjoying life.  And every night I go to bed knowing I’m following the path that’s meant for me – and this path makes me happiest.

 

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

Simply put, 2015 was a year of limit testing, adventure finding, friendship making, friendship keeping, mileage logging, destination seeking, stress managing, misty-eye limiting, knowledge learning, wisdom gaining, belief persevering, goal setting, goal reaching, and love enduring.

In the last few weeks of 2015, I will be writing three separate blog posts that total fifteen (of the many) things I learned in the past 365 days (I don’t want to bore you with an extremely long list of 15 things; therefore, I’ll break it into groups of five!).  Here’s part 1 of 3 – let’s jump right in!

#1:  Don’t be afraid to fight for something you think you deserve:  I learned this in the beginning of this past fall semester.  I had already secured an internship in Delaware over the summer and was merely one step away from having it approved by my university.  To my surprise (and to the entire exercise science department’s surprise), I was not permitted to do an internship in the state of Delaware.  Instantly, an overwhelming amount of stress weighed down on my shoulders.  Upon being informed of this by the registrar’s office, I met with my advisor and our department chairperson.  They were equally baffled by this new “rule” that nobody had been informed of.  I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with the dean of the college of science and technology.  He informed me of this new “rule” which had not been formally announced to the rest of the university yet.  I was basically being punished for being a prepared and responsible student which I didn’t find to be very fair.  I exhausted every option I could possibly get my hands into.  My professors allowed me to exhaust every option even though they probably knew it was a lost cause.  I wasn’t about to give up on something I had earned.  I needed this internship in order to graduate.  In the end, even though I had to find a new internship because my university refused to implement a grandfather clause for me and a few of my fellow classmates, I learned that sometimes things in life are going to be unfair. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight for something you worked hard for.

#2:  Trust God.  He has a plan for you:  When things don’t work out the way you want them to or detours re-route your life plan, trust God.  Things may seem unfair in the present moment.  You probably ask yourself over and over again, “why me?  Why is this happening to me?”.  In the past year there have been many detours that have left me feeling uneasy, stressed, and overwhelmed.  The doubts and fears in my mind played on repeat for weeks on end.  But then, things got better.  The things I was worried about worked out on their own.  Yes, I had to find a new internship but maybe this is where I was supposed to intern all along.  Yes, my housing plans for the fall semester got screwed over but perhaps it made me a better person for learning how to deal with difficult situations.  Yes, one of my best friends moved away but maybe God did this to prove that there is no distance apart that limits the bond between two friends.  Yes, my dad quit his job to pursue opening a small business but maybe this was God’s way of bringing a new purpose and new friendships into our lives.  In life, there will always be obstacles that will set you back.  Don’t let them keep you from moving forward.  No matter how stressful it may seem in the present moment, things will get better.  God has a plan and I’ve learned to trust His plan because there’s a bigger picture in life than what we’re seeing right in front of us.  If it’s not meant to be, it’s simply not meant to be.  Likewise, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Trust God.  He knows what He’s doing.

#3:  Don’t be afraid to try new things:  I’ve always been the kind of person that is 100% content with staying within my comfort zone.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I will use the same things over and over again if they work they way I need them to work.  But this year I made decisions that broke some of my norms.  One of the changes I made (which took a lot of persuasion from others and personal courage) is that I decided to switch to wearing Altras when running.  For my entire 7 years of running, I’ve always worn Asics.  Every pair of running shoes that I ever trained in were Asics.  I believed in Asics because I never dealt with injuries wearing these shoes and because I knew the exact tread and shoe model I needed for training purposes.  After talking to a few running friends who also made the transition to Altras, I talked myself into trying a pair for myself.  My dad, as a running/biking store owner, switched me into Altra Torins and I’m happy to say that I’ll probably never wear another brand of running shoes ever again.  My toes have space to move around, my feet lay more naturally in the shoe, and my running form has probably become more efficient (I say “probably” because I’ve never actually analyzed myself running so I don’t know what “efficient” and “unefficient” running actually looks like).  There’s no way I’ll ever switch back to Asics!  This was a huge step for me because I always avoid stepping outside my comfort zone.  Now, Altras are my new comfort zone.  #EmbracetheSpace

#4: Hard work will pay off in the long run:  I’m not just saying this because I’m a runner and I appreciate the pun, but to everyone who has ever worked hard to achieve their goals and aspirations.  For the past 17 years of my life, I’ve been attending school (this includes two years of pre-school because I guess one year wasn’t enough for me to learn how to count to 10).  Just a few weeks ago I officially finished all my college classes required to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  The only requirement I have left to complete is my internship which I will be completing in the spring.  I received my semester grades just last night and I couldn’t be happier with them!  I earned four A’s, one A-, and one B+.  For a semester of stress, chaos, six classes (5 of which were core classes for my major), and 18 credits I was ecstatic about the result of hours upon hours at the library and re-reading over and over again lecture notes.  Honestly, I expected maybe one or two A’s and the rest of my grades to be B’s. I never expected such a good outcome for a semester of hard work.  (And I apologize to anyone who thinks I’m bragging but I worked hard for 17 years of my life so I think I deserve to brag a little). But this just proves that when you put every ounce of energy into something you want so badly to achieve that you’ll reach your desired outcome.  I put 17 years of education into earning the ever-so-desired college degree and I am now only one internship away from having that degree.  If you want something so badly that you’re willing to put continuous effort into it, I promise that’ll it will pay off in the long run.  No pun intended.

#5:  Make your own path in life:  There are no written rules that require you to start at a four-year college or university.  There are no written rules that require you to stay at one college for your entire secondary education.  There aren’t even written rules that say you HAVE to go to college.  I will happily say that I started my college education at a community college.  All my high school friends went off to their respective 4-year colleges and I stayed home.  I don’t regret this decision one bit because I was able to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life, I found a part-time job and made some money, and I met a few of my closest friends who will be there for me through all the ups and downs of life (and who still today are my best friends).  Actually, these are the friends that inspired me to make my own path in life.  They might not even realize how much they’ve influenced my life but they have.  These people have taught me that it’s okay to take the path less traveled.  These people have taught me that you have to pursue that dream job you’ve always aspired to have or to cross that item off of a life bucket list.  After realizing that I can indeed follow my own path, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be attending graduate school after I earn my Bachelor’s degree.  People might view this negatively because young people these days are expected to get their Master’s degree to make themselves “more appealing” to employers.  Yes, I realize that this is a potential benefit of attending grad school but I feel at this moment in my life that I have other things to achieve and pursue than a Master’s degree.  I feel that the classroom limits how much you can learn and I’m excited to learn things in an applied setting.  This may be breaking the norm that society has created but there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored and fixed and I don’t feel that I can explore nor fix this world sitting in a classroom.  It’s all too common for people to fall into the “supposed-to” trap.  They might say “well now I’m supposed to find a job” or “now I’m supposed to get married” or “now I’m supposed to have kids”.  There is no “supposed to” for any of these things. I know plenty of people who haven’t followed such norms and these people are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met!  You don’t have to follow the norm of society.  Don’t let this crazy world determine what comes next in life just because “everyone else is doing it this way” – make your own path!

To be continued…

It Surely didn’t Start as a Fairytale – My Year Away at College

It Surely didn’t Start as a Fairytale – My Year Away at College

Last spring, prior to earning my Associates Degree in Exercise Science at a local community college, I remember being extremely excited for the new chapter in my life that would begin in just a few short months.  Although I had never lived anywhere but my small town for 20 years, I was excited to live in the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania on a college campus. 

I had heard two years worth of “college life” stories from my high school friends who raved about living away from home – the freedom, the opportunities, the fun.  But little did they know I had freedom at home because my parents trusted me.  I had opportunities that hardly anyone can say they ever had (after all, I witnessed three national championship wins with my team – two of which I was a member of.  Not many people can say their team was #1 in the nation, right?). (Please excuse my bragging.  I’m just super proud of my team!)  And we DEFINITELY knew how to have fun.

I had made amazing friends at my community college who still ARE my best friends even after two semesters apart.  The majority of us were also making the transition to “real” college.  We never wanted to leave each other and part ways – but community colleges were intended only to last two years.  So after a summer worth of memories and late nights, runs and get-togethers, beach trips and sunshine we had to say goodbye. 

At the time, only two of us were going far away for college.  Everyone else stayed closer to home.  Saying goodbye was hard.  We were starting a new chapter in our lives without each other.  We had known nothing else for two years.  But I knew deep in my heart that we would be able to pick up right where we left off when we all got back together.  After all, that’s what friends do best.

knoebels group shot
Family weekend with my future roommate, Jill.

So the morning of move-in day I was lucky enough to have both my parents, my brother, and two of my friends help me with the move-in process.  It was both a happy and sad day.  It was a happy day because I was starting at a new school – it seemed to be a fresh start.  It was a sad day because I had to say goodbye to my dogs, to my parents, to my brother, and to my friends.  I would be lying if I said tears weren’t shed that day. 

Being a transfer student straight up SUCKS.  Imagine yourself making friends for two years, leaving them all behind, and having to start ALLLL over again in which people have already made 1, 2, or 3 years worth of friendships.  I called home and talked to my friends or family nearly every night.  And sometimes we would talk for an hour or more.  This is what truly got me through those first few months.  (So thanks for that, everyone!)

PLP iceskating
Iceskating with one of my future roommates, Toni.

Thank goodness I was part of a scholarship program where I met amazing people and one of future roommates.  I knew that the program would introduce me to people with similar work ethics and morals so I was excited to get to know everyone and enjoy all the opportunities the program had to offer.

I was also on the cross country team but I didn’t like it at all.  It wasn’t a team.  Everyone was selfish.  The majority of the team came to long runs hungover from the party they had the night before.  I would wake up on meet days and not be mentally focused.  One morning I actually almost forgot I even had a meet.  I was never excited to run anymore. The only meets I enjoyed were the ones that my old teammates were also at.  The coaches only cared about the fast runners.  There was never any time to do anything but run, study, and run some more.  I can honestly say that those few months of cross country made my first semester miserable.  I hated everything about it.  It just wasn’t fun.

But then my cross country season was over.  I was finally FREE!  FINALLY.  FREE.  I was then able to expand my social circle.  The moment my semester did a complete 180 degree turn-around was when I decided to go on a trip to a indoor trampoline park with Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM).  Yup, you read that right – an indoor trampoline park became the location of the turning point of my semester.  The people were friendly, welcoming, and just like some of my friends at home.  I don’t think I realized how important that night was at the time.  But reflecting on it now, that weekend made the last month of the fall semester the best month of the entire semester and paved the way for an amazing spring semester.  (Shoutout to all my lovely CCM friends!!! – you guys are the best!)

I met my newest best friend (that’s you, Sarah!).  She was also a transfer student so she understood the struggle.  She kept me sane that last month.  We learned a lot about each other in a very short amount of time.  People think we look like sisters but we’ve pinpointed some obvious differences.  People think we’re roommates but due to our late-developed friendship we won’t even be living with each other next year (although we’ll have plenty of sleepovers!).  We both agree we wouldn’t know what we do without each other.  A simple CCM event made us best friends.

volleyball tournament with sarah
Twins? You decide.

So the fall semester ended and I was ready to spend some time at home and catch up with family and friends.  Winter break was amazing and although I now had true friends to return to school with, I was still sad to leave home for another few months.  And it was the dead of winter – my first cold, windy, snowy winter in Pennsylvania.  Thank goodness for soup and hot chocolate!

The spring semester seemed to be a thousand times busier than the fall.  The Big Event was held on a morning that saw sub-20 temperatures.  There were multiple ice skating trips and game nights.  Relay for Life was the only all-nighter I pulled for both semesters.  I re-visited a quaint running trail with my best running buddy.  Springfest/Block Party weekend wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be considering the thousands of extra people flocking into town.  And there are too many other fun times to even list without boring people!

Classes were going well.  I met plenty of people in my major.  We kept each other sane.  We complained about this test and that quiz.  But we survived.  We made it through the semester in one piece and that’s what matters most.  I wrote a total of 6 lab reports which were usually between 10-15 pages each.  I developed a year-long exercise program that was a required project for one of my classes (that’s another 50+ pages).  I did a total of 25.5 observation hours which helped me determine what I wanted to do with my life.  And I wrote a 23 page paper on the kinematics of downhill running.  Needless to say, the library became my second home.  But I learned A LOT this semester.  The semester ended with 2 A’s, an A-, B, and a B-.  Considering the amount of class stress that I dealt with this semester, I’ll take it!

I was grateful for the weekends I returned home because that meant I got to spend time with my family and friends.  It’s always much easier to COME home then LEAVE home that’s for sure.  But I was grateful for the fact that I got to return to school and be immediately surrounded by amazing friends. 

By the last few weeks of classes, the sun was out consistently which (finally) meant warm weather.  We no longer had to carry around our winter jackets or gloves.  Finally we could sit out on the Quad and soak in some Vitamin D.  Those are the days we waited months for.  Finals week ended as quickly as it started.  And just like that it was summer!

So although my first semester started rough, I can honestly say that I’m happy I chose the school I did.  It’s a beautiful campus, a beautiful town, and is surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes.  With the exception of the team I was on, I have met so many genuine people that I look forward to spending more time with in the fall.  This story may not seem like a fairytale from everything that happened in the first few months, but it does seem to have a happily ever after – and that’s always the most important part of a fairytale anyways!