Sometimes life gives you lemons, sometimes life gives you lemonade. And sometimes, life helps you realize that lemons are actually really healthy and lemonade is a sugary poison.
See where I’m going with this? No? Oh. I’ll make it clear then. I’M GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL!!
Still confused? Read on.
After four going on five years as an English teacher in Spain, I’m gearing up to go study a Master’s degree in Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Public Health. What the… where did this come from?
Well, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that over the past one and a half years I’ve majorly overhauled my life and have begun to prioritize my health and proper nutrition. I’ve learned an incredible amount through lots of multimedia sources, and the effects of my newfound knowledge have been great. I’ve lost a lot of weight, have more energy, my migraines have completely disappeared, and equally important, I finally found something I’m passionate about!
A little over a year ago I started to get the creeping feeling that I wanted to study again. It was hard to believe, as I’d felt pretty done with formal education after finishing university in 2011, but the itch was there and I couldn’t figure out how to scratch it. I searched through different psychology Master’s programs, specifically school psychology and counseling, but they didn’t feel right. I couldn’t picture myself actually fully enjoying either of those as a career and I started feeling like there was something wrong with me. Was I just an apathetic lump that would never feel passionate about anything?
Little did I know that my passion was staring me in the face and I didn’t even realize it! Starting in January 2014 I would spend my free time reading about healthy diets, nutrition, weight loss techniques, exercises and, generally, healthy living. But somehow it didn’t hit me that this could finally be “it,” the enthusiasm that I lacked every time I thought about my future and studying again. In fact, it took me over a year, until the spring of 2015, to finally put two and two together and to realize that THIS was IT! I finally had a semi-cohesive idea that I wanted to study health and nutrition and physical activity, but then I hit the road block of feeling like I was under-qualified for most master’s programs I came across.
At the same time I was having this realization, Paco and I went on a surprise (for him) mini-vacation to Bristol, England at the beginning of May to visit some of his friends. It was a short three-night trip, but we had such a blast and really loved Bristol! One morning as I lay on a mattress on the floor of our friends’ little flat while everyone else dozed, I decided to peruse on my iPad what programs were available at the University of Bristol. We had seen the Uni on a drive around the city and the buildings looked pretty, and since basing higher education choices on the beauty of the campus has always been my thing, it felt right.
As if by miracle, my search yielded the following: a one-year Master’s program in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health. And then I had this feeling. It was the same feeling that I had in the moment when I won a trip to Italy earlier in the spring (more on that later!). The best, and possibly only, way I can describe it is just a deep, deep gut feeling and an instant of universal consciousness that this was just so obviously RIGHT, and was basically the culmination of any sign I had been looking for regarding what to do with my life and what path to take. I know how that sounds, and although many don’t believe in it, I am truly a believer of the power of positive thinking to change our lives. I was acutely aware of how perfect this opportunity was and I knew i had to follow my instincts about it.
Upon returning to Arcos, Paco and i had a serious talk and we both decided to go for it. I immediately started the process of getting letters of recommendation from my old professors and, most importantly, working on a killer personal statement. With the help of the pros at the UR career center, I soon had an articulate and academic statement which really got to the core of why I wanted to be accepted to the program and also made me sound like an intelligent human who hasn’t spent the past four years speaking slowed-down-intermediate-level English.
After a few of weeks of gathering and perfecting application materials, I finally sent it in! And two weeks later, I had a reply. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking as I clicked on the email, and to my great relief, I saw the word “congratulations!” If I hadn’t been in the middle of teaching a class (hey, I checked my email while they were reading!) I would have done the happiest of dances and jumped for joy, but as it was, I probably would have thoroughly confused the ten young adults who sat before me so I settled for texting Paco and my friends in all caps and with lots of exclamation points and emoji.
So now for the logistics. I have successfully deferred my admission until September 2016. Paco will be finishing his studies in June 2016, and in the meantime I’ll continue working at the language school where I’ve been working for the past year. It will certainly be a year of change and transitions, as some friends are leaving Arcos and, inevitably, new people will come, but I am extremely excited to start a new adventure in less than a year.
So, the next ten months will be spent saving money, enjoying our “lasts” of everything (for at least a little while), planning for our international move (including how to take our cat- any advice?) and minimizing our material possessions. We are both nervous but ready for our new chapter! I know from firsthand experience that moving to a new country is replete with ups and downs and unimaginable unexpected happenings (see: this entire blog), but I’m positive that we will be able to handle whatever hurdles we come across in the process.
My time in Arcos has been life-changing in a multitude of ways, but I know it’s time to move on. I’m ready for the next step in my life, and to follow the path that is opening itself before me!