May 13, 2014

A Tribute to Freshman Year

Hello there, everybody. A lot of you probably know that I started a series called Health in College, but then I realized that I had bad timing with it when I had my second-to-last final. So I don't know how much you were looking forward to the next parts of the series, but those will be posted in August! bad...
Anyway, it's been a while since I just talked about myself and what I've been up to--it has already been half a month since I last wrote to you!--so I figured that now is the time to do it. My year was so full of adventure and unexpected events that I'd like to reflect on. I'm planning to start some sort of spiritual study (I shall announce a book of choice soon!) that'll last over the summer, so if you don't care much about my life and would much rather read something along those lines then please tune in next week or check out the archives!

My first semester was an absolute blessing. I attended a Jesuit school in the Mid-West and it fit me like a glove. I was part of a service and justice community; we had discussions about world issues every week, and I also volunteered at a center for refugees three hours a week as well. I met hundreds of wonderful individuals, some of which became my closest friends, and learned new things about the world and myself every day. I remember waking up in the mornings to thank God for putting me in a place where I felt so happy, at peace. [Depicted on below on the left is me adding my thumb-print and signature to the community tree; on the right is a picture of me and my two good friends just before stuffing our faces with delicious salad, steak, and desserts.]

It was here at this school where I learned the lesson of gratitude. Beauty is everywhere; all you have to do is look up.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough--and more.
-Melody Beattie
I also took this wonderful class that I'd originally thought would be the most mundane one in the world: Christianity in Context. My professor was a spry young man filled with fresh ideas that changed my entire perspective on Faith. It was a wonderful experience for me. Although I was introverted, he still asked for my opinions--he did his best to include the entire class on discussions. I wish all theology classes could be as open and welcoming as his.

First semester was also a busy time as I ran from one meeting to the next. I'd wanted so much to be involved, and there were a ton of awesome organizations at this school that I just had to be a part of. I wasn't bored for a moment. Every hour was an adventure!

You could probably imagine how heartbroken I was when I transferred the next semester to a state university due to personal reasons. I don't mean to bring sadness to this blog, but I went through a very difficult period of my life that really rocked my world.

Just so I don't turn this post into a big ol' sob story, I want to say that there are two major things that are helping me move away from all of the pain that happened after my first semester: pursuing my passion and little acts of kindness.

My biggest passion isn't that hard to guess:

End of the year picture of the team! Can you find me?

I joined the Taekwondo team and grew stronger physically and emotionally. I cannot fully express how welcoming, accepting, and loving this team was/is. Taekwondo has been a passion since the first time I tried it a few years ago, but being a part of a group that is as passionate as I am--maybe even more!--pushed me to pursue goals that I'd never even dreamed of before. I love this team so much because they not only gave me a place--they welcomed me here and would probably put up a fight if I tried to leave. (No pun intended.)

Also, the little acts of kindness. They're pretty self-explanatory, but I believe that I wasn't able to appreciate firsthand how impactful they are until this last semester. It's just that my parents raised me to be a headstrong, confident person, and I have been blessed with loving family and simply didn't matter how other people treated me because I had everything that mattered in an arm's reach. But at this new school, feeling as isolated and vulnerable as I did, small glitters of kindness made it all seem that much less hostile.

So when you hear people tell you to always show kindness because you never know what somebody is going through, IT'S TRUE! 

Despite the difficult times, I still found myself growing and smiling. (Continuing with writing the blog and reading your comments really helped keep me on track!) The college experience on its own is uplifting. I had the privilege of sharing my story, listening to others', and becoming a part of their stories too. I look forward to continue this theme of story-telling.

New friends and special memories <3

It was also this semester when I decided that I would take another whack at writing my novel. Remember last November? Hopefully this summer will go a lot better! (One can only hope, right?) Anyway, I'm planning to continue blogging too, so please continue checking in for weekly posts!

I don't know what it'll be like for you guys, reading this diary entry. There is a lot to reflect upon, so I had to pick and choose a couple things to share with you. I'm sorry if it seemed scatterbrained at any points... Picking and choosing can be difficult when it comes to your own life!

But now that you've heard a bit of my year, I'd like to learn about how yours was! What was one of your favorite experiences? What's one thing you've learned? Please leave a comment (or link to your blog if you've reflected on the school year too), and I'll see you next week!

Smile on,
-Riley XO


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