Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Tearful Goodbyes

My empty dorm now
As I woke at my usual waking hour, I looked over at my roommate who was still asleep (like usual) and began to pack the remainder of my things. It has been a terrific couple of weeks at Vanderbilt and it is my final day here. Now that I am leaving, I realize that I will not be coming back here for a long time. I took one last look at my dorm, felt its emptiness, and left for breakfast.

Although the food at breakfast was the same as always, the vibes at the tables were completely different. People were even leaving right then and there to catch their planes. Even at breakfast, many people were on their way home. At this time I said goodbye to a couple of my friends from Chicago who were crying; it was terribly sad. They were the first of many who would leave before we did.

After breakfast, my friends and I roamed around Hank Ingram House for the last time, saying our farewells, taking pictures, and signing our term-books which are yearbooks for VSA. Roaming around was very fun and a little sad at the same time since I said goodbye to everyone who wasn’t in my proctor group. 

Speaking of my proctor group, I was kind of expecting this part to be the saddest so I saved those emotional for last. I wasn’t expecting to cry or anything, but in the end it was much sadder than I thought it would be – especially our group hugs every time someone would leave. As I watched my proctor sisters leave one by one, from Elizabeth and Ayanna to my roommate and good friends Meera, Anna, and Alexa, I felt a small gap in my heart from their absence. It really saddens me from the fact that I will no longer eat breakfast with them or even pass them on my way to Commons. I have learned so much from them and I love how we were all so different, and yet so similar. All these people were incredible people and my time spent with them has meant so much to me.
Anna and Meera
Our beautiful proctor group
Once I left Hank House our Vanderbilt cohort was finally reunited; it kind of felt like old times when we all went to the Vanderbilt bookstore together, and ate lunch at a delicious Jamaican restaurant. Now that I am sitting here at the Loews Hotel, all I can think about is how much this journey has impacted me to become even more open-minded, confident, and happy. Although I am sad that this boat has nearly docked, I still can’t wait to see my family tomorrow night. Next to God, my family will always be the most important people to me and I am really looking forward to see their faces again. 'Till then, goodnight!

Stuck Between the Past and the Future: The Present?

5 AM
And I'm gone--gone from my wonderful little mid-way college world. How can three weeks pass already? It's not fair how you have to make such close bonds with people who you have to say goodbye to in less than a month. I truly hope that the friendships I've made here weren't just temporary three week bonds. In three weeks, I've become strangers to "best buds" forever with some people here.

Last night I stayed up until about 4 AM just hanging with all my floor mates, writing and exchanging autographs in our Termbooks, and writing extensive letters to some of the friends that I promised I would write to. It was a weird feeling writing all these farewell letters and autographs for my friends/peers. I was only writing autographs for Pinole Valley High School students just a little over a month ago, and to write these again in such a short time again, really made this year the most friends I had to say goodbye to ever. This school year really will be the start of the end of my old life, and so a new beginning is coming very soon. I couldn't wait for college before. Now I just wish it would start right now. Wouldn't it be great if I was accepted to Vanderbilt and decided to go here, and one of my friends from VSA decided to go too. We would definitely be roommates.

I set my alarm for 5 AM; Yes, I set my alarm for 5 AM. I woke up and headed down to the basement where my "Chicago friends" and other friends within this group of friends passed time. The reason why we met up so early was because all of the Chicago people had to leave very early for their flight, 8:30 AM. It was so sad to know how fast the morning would pass by and how fast the goodbyes would be this morning. I don't want to believe that most of my friends that I've made here are thousands of miles away from my town. No matter how sad I am right now to see everyone go back to their homes, I know that very soon I will see them all again--in one way or another. I just need to keep in touch with these people.

By 11 AM, nearly all the students already left, and the Vandy cohort were some of the last to leave. With as many tight hugs and goodbyes before we left, the end of VSA truly came to an end. There's not enough words in the English dictionary to describe and explain how I feel right now. I'm excited for the future but reminiscent about the fun past that I've had these past four weeks. Now, I'm just stuck in the middle of my thoughts--the present.

Soon, I will be reunited with my OTHER friends and family back home. I know for a fact it will be different, because I've definitely grown up and changed these past four weeks. Well, back to reality, my home, or was Vanderbilt my true reality, my true home? I guess I'll know for sure by tomorrow night. One thing's for certain; I'm definitely applying to Vanderbilt.

A Very Melancholy Day

I am back at the Lowes Hotel, which is the hotel we stayed at on our first night in Nashville. It is probably the most opulent hotel I have ever stayed at in my entire life. As I lay in the in the giant, queen sized bed buried underneath the pale, soft blankets, I can’t help but feel out of place.  I have grown so accustomed to my smaller, twin-sized bed back at the dorm that this newer bed feels strange. In fact, not being in my dorm room right now, sitting in a comfortable silence blogging while my roommate watches One Tree Hill on Netflix feels strange.

Today was a very melancholy day as it was the day everyone left Vanderbilt. I watched as my fellow VSA camp members filed out of the dorms, luggage in hand and tear-stained cheeks flushed.  The usually crowded university seemed to slowly grow more and more empty.

I spent my last night at VSA in the dorm of two of my friends who were roommates. They hosted a sleepover for the girls in our little group. We stayed up late into the night gossiping and playing games. At some point in the night, I just stopped what I was doing and looked around at my friends. They were all smiling and laughing and carrying on as though it were any other night. My smile faded when I realized that this was the last night that we would be together in a very long time.

My sadness only deepened when I woke in the morning to my friend gathering her things. I hugged her good-bye and told her to keep in touch. She smiled and nodded her assurance that she would do so before she left; the other members of my small group did the same.

I was the last one in my group to leave. I walked over to my room after saying my final goodbyes to my friends and collected my things. I paused with my back to the room before exiting. I turned around and examined the room that had been my home for the pass three weeks; there were no more clothes strewn about the floor and the beds looked naked without their unmade sheets. The room looked lonely and desolate instead of warm and inviting, like it did on the first day.

I closed my eyes and swallowed the lump that had formed at the back of my throat. I grabbed my luggage and the rest of my bags at left, walking the halls of level 3 in Hank Ingram for the final time. I took the elevator to the fourth floor, where I met a crying Hannah, a sad-faced Yessenia, and an ambiguous Chris. I rested my suitcase against the wall, bent down behind it, and silently cried.

It was 11 when Mr. Mannix came to pick us up. It was nice seeing him after three weeks. It felt nostalgic, the four us being together again. We lugged our multitude of bags down to the parking lot and he helped us mount them into the rental van. We drove to the hotel and checked in our bags. After that, we went to eat lunch at this Jamacian restaurant, which I really liked because it was something new.

Now Hannah, Yessenia, Chris, and I are sitting in the hotel room, each of us typing away furiously at our keyboards, stopping occasionally to watch some Spongebob Squarepants. We have much to discuss with one another, so I predict that we will be up late filling one another in on our experiences. I look forward to having girl talk with Chris once again after such a long time…
My Jamaican Lunch.

Saying Our Farewells, But Cherishing The Memories

What a bittersweet feeling it is to know that our Vanderbilt Summer Academy journey is over. It was three weeks ago when we first stepped foot on Vanderbilt, and saw roughly 150 strangers. I recall taking a picture with our proctor group on our first day, and none of us were close to each other. You can say we each were in our own little bubble. I really had no expectation in mind to whether I would form close bonds with other people, but I wasn’t really afraid of making new friends. I came into VSA with an open mind to things and a willingness to make the most out of this new adventure.

Over these past three weeks, I have formed a connection with my proctor group--a connection I know I will forever cherish. After our last meal, which unfortunately many did not attend (due to early flights), the toughest part of VSA hit me: saying goodbye. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to everyone that I met. It was tough spending the last few moments with these amazing people; just knowing we would soon be departing ways, and may not see each other ever again. However, I know we will keep in touch, and hopefully have a VSA reunion someday.
From complete strangers to a family of sisters!
My best friend, my roommate! 
It was kind of like the Hunger Games for our proctor group as each person left. We all left at various times, and after each person left we would do a group hug. Our group would keep shrinking, just as a tribute would die. (Fortunately, we weren’t dying.)  Personally, the hardest person to say goodbye to was my roommate. She has grown to become a best friend. The moment I gave her a last hug, I began to cry.  It was hard to let her go, knowing we won’t wake up in the same room the next morning, she wouldn’t be doing my hair, and we wouldn't have our hilarious conversations. Tears were so hard to hold back, but I will always cherish the happy moments and learning experiences we shared together. I will truly miss everyone, especially my proctor.  I know I will not forget her, nor the daily inspirational texts she sent our group.  Our quote for today is from the artistic Pablo Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” She is an inspiration to people in our proctor group, and definitely a blessing to all those around her.

The sweetest Southern Belle, Kelly!


It is now back down to just our Vanderbilt cohort and Mr. Mannix. Chris, Narges, Yessenia, and I are no longer on our twin-sized beds at the dorms, but rather on the large, comfy queen sized beds at the beautiful hotel. 

We had the opportunity to each try Jamaican food for the first time today. It was quite delicious and I enjoyed trying something new. It has definitely been a long month away from home, and we are all exhausted. The experiences were definitely worthwhile. The farewells were very difficult, but in the end all we can do is remember the good times and never forget the impact VSA has put on us.

Our last picture together at Vanderbilt....
Farewell VSA, I had a wonderful time!