Little did I know that leaving El Cerrito High School that first morning was going to change my life the way it did.
I had explored a city that felt absolutely nothing like home with people from home for the first few days of the trip. We visited places that I'd never imagine visiting otherwise. We ate good food and saw good shows and it was overall a very good experience.
Then we were shot into Vanderbilt Summer Academy, where I spent a good 5 minutes crying once I got my luggage into my room. I knew we all had different classes and none of the others were on my floor. I felt a little stranded at night for the first few nights because of that. Then, I really got to know my proctor group, class, and instructors.
My proctor group was 13 really nice girls, all of whom were taking different classes, our proctor, Lizzy, and myself. We were all very different but we very quickly grew a bond that could be compared to sisterhood. Once we began doing extremely embarrassing things in the nightly meetings and just laughing it off without care or judgement, I knew we had a good thing going.
|Some of the technology I got to see while at VSA|
Then there was my class. My class was 16 students strong (knocked down to 15 in the middle of the session due to one of the boys leaving. It was a low point of the trip honestly.) and we had many people helping us along our journey to synthesize nanoparticles. The class was very hard, but I was never left alone to struggle like I have been in advanced programs I have participated in before at home. I had a great relationship with almost everyone in my class and all of the instructors and staff. It felt great to have such a small class and be reasonably challenged with support.
The hardest part of any of this was leaving. I tried to lie to myself a little bit and say that if we never said goodbye, none of us would ever leave. Of course, I knew that that was the dumbest lie I will ever tell to myself, as Ms. Hansen came to pick us up anyways.
Once we were in Philadelphia I found that it felt a lot more like home. However, I felt more at home in Nashville than I did in Philadelphia. Sure, I spent three weeks in Nashville and a day and a half in Philly, but even when I first touched down in Nashville I felt at home. I felt like I belonged and that it would be a great place to be while going to university.
|Evan VS Ms. Hansen at giant Connect Four|
Of course, all good things come to an end and we had to go home on Sunday. I'm missing the trip, but I'm glad to be home and I am so grateful for Don and everyone else who helped fund and get me to places where I'd never thought I'd be in my life.