Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Finalists' Weekend Reflection

With Finalists’ Weekend but a few days away, I can’t help but reflect on my own experience as a Finalist last year, and all that’s happened since. For me, between my nervousness and excitement and the rush of new information, Finalists’ Weekend is but a blur in my memory. My dad and I flew from Minnesota to Atlanta, but because of delays in Minneapolis, we missed our flight to Charlotte, and had to spend that night in Atlanta and catch an early plane to Charlotte. Then there was the dinner Sunday night, and a day full of activities Monday, and a VERY early flight home to Minnesota so that I could be back for early afternoon classes on Tuesday. As we took off, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had only just missed the snowstorm that was about to hit the southeast, and we would have certainly been delayed had the snow started to fall any sooner.

February 11th in Minnesota (the day after Finalists' Weekend)
My visit to UNC Charlotte for Finalists’ Weekend was my first time seeing the campus in person. It was even my first time to visit North Carolina! I immediately fell in love with the campus (and the warmer weather!). Believe it or not, it was 80 degrees warmer in Charlotte than at my house on the Sunday of Finalists' Weekend! As my plane took off and departed toward home, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be at UNC Charlotte when fall rolled around.

Megan Woody and I after a snowball fight
When I accepted the offer to study at UNC Charlotte as a Levine Scholar a little over a month later, little did I know what an adventure I was about to embark on! The first month after graduation was rather slow, but then everything took off! It began with a pre-NOLS road trip to Kansas City and back, just my cousin and I, to serve at a preteen camp I’d been going to for years. Then, only a few days after my return, I was again on a plane, this time to Denver, Colorado to meet the rest of my cohort for the first time. I’d spend the next month getting to know them VERY well as we trekked through the wilderness of the Absaroka Mountain range in Wyoming. NOLS was the experience of a lifetime. I don’t think I could do it justice trying to explain it, it’s something you have to experience for yourself! I can guarantee though, that you will come away having learned quite a bit about yourself, and with memories you’ll keep for the rest of your life.

After NOLS, I went home for about a week: just long enough to do laundry and pack up nearly everything I had. Then, my parents and I embarked on yet another road trip, this time to relocate me from the ‘middle of nowhere’ outside a small town in central Minnesota all the way down to Charlotte, NC. Let me tell you, it was quite a change! The weather, terrain, and culture were all quite different from where I’d spent my entire previous life. We made the entire 1000+ mile trip (approximately 24 hours of driving) in about two and a half days. The trip was both invigorating and exhausting.
Rent a Puppy!
Build Day
My first semester involved many of the normal ‘freshman experiences’, including living away from home for the first time, adjusting to living with other people, forming and managing my own schedule, planning in time for studying, eating, (sleeping!), and relaxing, and getting to know other people. My not-so-normal freshmen experiences (thanks to the Levine Scholars Program!) have included serving on a committee for Charlotte Dance Marathon, attending a Panther’s game with Mr. and Mrs. Levine, participating in Rent-a-Puppy!!, spending fall break at Cherry Grove Beach, participating in the Build Day for the UNC Charlotte Community Garden, and countless others!

This semester, I've become more involved with Patchwork Epiphany (another Levine Scholar’s civic engagement project) and am working on plans for my non-profit summer internship and next big road trip! The past year has been an exciting (kinda crazy at times) adventure, and I can’t wait to see what the next three years hold. Deciding to attend UNC Charlotte and accepting the offer to become a Levine Scholar has changed my life, and I couldn't be happier about my choice to attend!