Monday, January 28, 2013

2007, Turning 24 in Sevilla - Moving back to the US

For my 24th birthday, I spent the drizzly weekend in Sevilla (Seville), Spain, with my roommate/best friend Jason.

We almost didn't catch the bus leaving Madrid to get there. It was a midnight departure (took 5.5 hours to get to Sevilla) and we realized the Metro/Subway was not going to get us to the bus station in time when we were about 1 mile away. We exited the Metro, ran outside and grabbed a taxi to the bus station, jumped out ran to find the bus and saw it pulling out of its stall and started driving away. Just like I had seen in movies and TV shows my whole life, I ran after it. Caught up to it about 30 yards from where it took off from and started hitting the side of the bus over and over until it stopped. We apologized, got on...and began my 24th year.
Out of breath after barely making the bus to Sevilla

Kind of hectic, but hey, we were in Spain on my birthday. Hard to complain. Sevilla was gorgeous even though it rained in and out during our visit. They have the world's largest Gothic Cathedral (which has Christopher Columbus' tomb/casket) and some of the prettiest gardens you'll see.

While Sevilla was great, it was not the highlight of my 24th year of life, so let's move on. Just after my birthday, I began realizing that I was not going to live in Spain for multiple years like my friends had/were going to, and I knew that I needed to get back to the U.S. and get that second bachelor's degree, this time in Public Relations. The fact that the Seattle SuperSonics had been purchased by an OKC group stirred lots of buzz about the possibility of a relocation sometime in the near future to OKC (possibly by 2010), and I knew that I wouldn't be a top candidate even if I could finish my degree by that time, but it was a big enough dream that I wanted to get back early and try.

I decided that I would travel throughout the summer as most Europeans do. I wanted to go see Italy, France, UK, etc. throughout the summer and head back home in August and start school again. This was my plan and I began to look/enroll into classes at the University of Central Oklahoma.

I was actually really excited for this next chapter in my life. It gave some closure and "end goal" to my AMAZING experience in Spain with my friends. I was preparing to wind down my last 8 weeks of English classes and have one long "goodbye" to Madrid. until I received an email from the States.

Some friends of ours work(ed) at The Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research, and throughout the last 2 years of SNU my friends and I were "guinea pigs" for money - health studies/trials where we have tubes down our noses and determine which form of Prilosec was better, liquid or pill (good question). Of course each study was a little bit different and with each difference came different pay. The pay ranged from about $500 up to $2,000 and to a college kid (and most adults for that matter) that was a large sum of money. Now, back to that email I received...I got an email from our friends stating that a new medical study was coming up at the end of April that was quite substantive: $8,300. Now, that's a lot of money, but was it enough money to leave Spain and say goodbye to all the traveling plans I had for the summer? Turns out, yes it was.

With college looming and not having a job in place on my return home, I made a promise to myself (one that I most definitely kept) that if I left Spain early and went home without traveling Europe that I would return back to Europe and travel some. So, I left Spain mid-April.

Arriving home, I moved back in with Mom and Dad. The summer was a speedy blur and after the medical study was complete, I ended up moving in with my friend who I had known since I was 6 years old, Derek. Derek went to UCO and since I was about to attend, it just made much more sense.

With the $8,300 in the bank (and a litte bit more, considering I wasn't really spending much in Spain) I paid for my first semester, textbooks and had enough for a couple months of rent and got a scooter...but I knew I had to get a job, and I found one in the most humbling profession one could ask for: waiting tables at Chili's.
On my scooter - School photo project, "Photo encompassing 'me'"

I had a few friends throughout high school and college who were waiters but I had no experience. Turns out the GM at the Chili's in Edmond was the dad of a kid I used to babysit in middle school so that worked out. Waiting tables is a beast. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've ever had. I literally had a few nightmares that woke me up in the middle of the night due to the constant rush and stress I felt at the job. Crazy crazy crazy, but it did get better after a couple of months.

That first semester, I took 15 hours and since I already had all my core classes completed, I took all PR/communications classes that went directly to my major. I was even able to have a couple communications classes from my education degree carry over (and I didn't have any problem passing a couple Spanish CLEP courses).

Towards the end of that 1st semester, I also started volunteering at the OU Children's Hospital near downtown. I was in charge of going room to room, saying hi to the kids and asking if I could bring them something from our "play room" area. After all, teaching and kids were still a passion of mine. I would volunteer there for about 8 months before I got too overwhelmed with other work-related stuff that we'll get into in tomorrow's blog.

Anyways, at the end of that 1st semester, I had 6 hours carried over from SNU, 6 hours CLEPed and took 15 hours in the fall = 27 of the 45 hours needed. My spring enrollment was pretty light as a class I HAD to have was not available until the next fall so I knew that my class load did not need to be maxed out in the spring. I enrolled in only 12 hours that spring (a piece of cake considering I took 18 each of the last 5 semesters at SNU). I worked more at Chili's and tried to pay down some debt from the new classes and really began to re-establish myself back into OKC. I constantly though of Spain/Europe (and still do) but I knew being back in OKC is where I belonged and PR was where I needed to be headed. Life, for the most part, was pretty good.

Tomorrow, the experience of my 25th year of life.

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