This past winter break was a good chance to finally relax and be be grounded for a while. I spent the first part catching up with old friends, but mainly hanging out in my room and vegging out with Netflix and spending time with adorable new cat (no shame). It felt like the past eight months had been a dream; to be living in a room with all my childhood relics among a new self with so many new experiences.
My break finally got exciting however since I had a fellow Mawrter come visit me: my former hall advisor Maria! It was her first time on the West Coast and first time on a plane so I was excited to greet her for her first time, especially since we hadn’t seen each other in eight months! I showed her around my neighborhood, took her to my favorite food carts and coffeeshops, and took her to all the Portland favorites like Voodoo Doughnuts, famous for their quirky doughnuts that come in pink boxes, and Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the country. We also had the opportunity to visit the Oregon Coast so that Maria could see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. It was cold and windy but still provided beautiful sights. I was disappointed to find that my favorite seafood restaurant Mo’s was closed for construction because I was hoping to share my favorite dish, clam chowder in a bread bowl, with Maria as a true “Oregon” experience. We still had a great time all hanging out with Maria and Maria got a chance to get to know my mom and sister better. The next day, we took Maria to another quintessential Oregon experience: Multnomah Falls. Unfortunately, it was incredibly icy, which made it absolutely breathtaking, but made for quite an adventure trying to make it up to the bridge for a better view. We said our final goodbyes the next morning before Maria headed to her externship in San Francisco in a library with a Bryn Mawr alum.
Two days later, my other fellow Mawrter and hellee Monica drove down from the suburbs of Seattle to visit me in Portland for a Pacific Northwest hell reunion! We packed in a day full of sight seeing and good food eating throughout the city before waking up early the next day to visit Washington. While in Seattle, we got sandwiches at, ironically, a Philly cheesesteak restaurant (they even sold Tastykakes), went to the Seattle Public Library (voted one of the best libraries for architecture in the world), checked out an all female artist exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, visited Pike Place Market to get mini-cheesecakes, watched the sunset on the pier, saw the Sculpture Garden and the Space Needle lit up at night, and ended the night with bubble tea in Chinatown before I hopped on Boltbus (finally in the Northwest) and headed back down to Portland.
I had just a few days to pack and say good-byes before I was on a plane back to Philadelphia for the first time since I had left Bryn Mawr last spring. It was extremely foggy in Philadelphia so my plane had to make an unexpected landing in Pittsburg and they told us there was a possibility we may have had to spend the night there, confirming my absolute lack of luck with traveling after all of the delays I’ve had in the past. Luckily, the fog lifted just barely enough that we were legally allowed to land in Philadelphia. I was incredibly fortunate to have my friend Elizabeth, one of the other Bryn Mawr interns with me in Indonesia, pick me up from the airport and let me spend the night at her house, even driving me back to Bryn Mawr with all my stuff. I am so grateful for all the kindness my friends showed me upon my return to the East Coast, from my friend Maria helping me get my stuff out of my storage unit to my friend Dawn, the housekeeper in Rhoads South when I was a freshman, covered the door of the room I was staying in with posters she had made herself welcoming me back to Bryn Mawr.
I returned a week early to campus so I could participate in the certificate in management course, a fairly new series of classes for Bryn Mawr students to be introduced to the business and management fields. I was interested in taking it because I am considering going into non-profit management and because I know so little about the business world that I wanted some insight into how it works. Our class was very intense: 10 hours of class a day on top of homework in groups of a case study using the different frameworks and strategies we learned in class. While in class, we learned how to examine the structure of organizations with different organizations as well as management skills, like public speaking and strategic communication. The highlight of the week was a networking event with Bryn Mawr alums on Thursday night. While the people I talked to were mainly people I already knew from my past years at Bryn Mawr, I appreciate getting to hear how the made the jump between Bryn Mawr and the real world. Sometimes it was too crowded to hear the alums so I ended up talking with people in my class which was rewarding in itself because I got to hear about all the things people have done both on and off campus. While I am still not interested in pursuing a career in the business sector, I am glad I now have a better understanding and intend to utilize the new skills I learned to help better structure the organizations I am apart of on campus and got me pumped for my summer internship and life after Bryn Mawr search for next year.
After a final weekend of moving into my new (big!) room, unpacking, decorating, and reuniting with old friends, I ended my break by making a lifelong dream come true: going to see the presidential inauguration! I woke up at 3AM to take a taxi by 4AM with a group of bi-co students to Philadelphia where we rode the NAACP charter bus down to DC! After getting separated multiple times, our group made it to the National Mall where we stood with thousands of others to take in Obama’s historic speech. While I had received a ticket and would have been closer to the ceremony, I would have had to get to DC earlier which would have been complicated and I am glad I went with people I knew so that I had someone to share this momentous moment with. It was extremely challenging to get any sort of cell phone service with everyone there but I managed to finally get a hold of my friend Rebekah who had taken a different bus down to DC. We both had to catch our buses back so our time together mainly consisted of fighting our way onto a metro train to return to our respective stops. It was an exhausting day but completely worth it. I had always dreamed of seeing Obama’s inauguration when he was elected in 2008 but being on the West Coast, it would have been much too expensive to even consider. Now I go to school in a city only about three hours away from DC so I was finally able to make my dreams a reality!
Post to come: new classes, getting back into school and activities, and reflections on the transition back to Bryn Mawr. Stay tuned!