1 of a 5 part series. Read part 2 here.
As my 3rd year ended, I hugged my friends goodbye and headed out into the world for my Last True Summer. The Last True Summer, for those of you who don’t know, is the summer in between your 3rd and 4th year of college. Next summer I will (hopefully) be moving and starting my brand new job. If I’m not, I’ll probably be sitting in a corner somewhere in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, singing the Good Old Song.
For my Last True Summer, I debated briefly going home. It’s tough going away to college. Every time I come home there’s a new face in the family and there’s only so much polite conversation I can sit through. But I understand that every break is sacred now. Because after graduation, I may not return home for a long time (well, maybe Christmas). Besides, if I were to stay home, I could wake up at noon, binge-watch Netflix shows, and play hide-and-seek with my young nieces and nephews. I could spend my Saturdays cruising around Belle Isle with my childhood best friend and could work on perfecting my cooking skills with my mom. But the problem with being an adventurous person is that after a while, you have this little… itch to just go that creeps its way around until you just snap and have to scratch it.
When I called and told my mother and father that I’d booked a one-way ticket to Fairbanks, Alaska, there was a long, horrible silence. I rushed on. I’d be living in a cabin, in the woods, by myself for 3 weeks. I was going to dog sit for a professor I’d met a year ago while traveling the world. The more I said out loud, the worse it managed to sound. My parents were worried about many things, my safety and my sanity being paramount.
The more I learned about the situation I’d placed myself in, I secretly worried about me too. Especially after the professor revealed more and more details about my living arrangements. I’d have no running water. There were solar panels for electricity. There was limited internet. But I’m a stubborn girl, so I put on a brave face as my mother sent me article after article about bears mauling residents. My friends were dubious but helped me google how to create a fire in a furnace and taught me how to signal SOS with a flashlight while I looked over their resumes.
Most of my 3rd year friends spent their Last True Summer interning in Washington D.C. or taking Summer classes. My 4th year friends were getting ready to jet off to different parts of the country, from New York to L.A. to everywhere in between to start their new careers. As my best friend described his high-paying internship in Washington D.C. with his beautiful apartment, I mentally banged my head against a wall. My friends would be living it up this summer while I was reenacting Call of the Wild.
The morning after my last final exam, I hopped on a 10-hour flight to Alaska. As I finally crossed into Alaska, the view from the plane left me breathless. I definitely wasn’t in Charlottesville anymore. But somehow, I knew that everything would be worth it.
1 of a 5 part series.
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