Counting Down the Days

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of hang outs and vacation with family and close friends. The goodbyes do not get easier no matter how many times you have to say them. Unfortunately, I have had to say many these past couple weeks. I’ve tried to keep them short because it breaks my heart when hugs linger and I know both of us might start getting a little teary-eyed. However, I know all of my close friends and family will be there when I get back.  I will “talk to them later” rather than saying “goodbye forever.”

For the second to last week of August one of my aunts rented out a very upscale lake house in Newfound Lake, New Hampshire for a week. A significant segment of my dad’s side of the family was up there to spend a few days. My dad, one of my cousins, and I pulled up to the lake house and realized it was the largest one on the hill. It had beautiful lookouts and plenty of rooms for all of us to sleep. The house overall was gorgeous and the view was spectacular. I remember looking out on one of the balconies during sunset and could not believe all of the colors in the sky and reflecting off the water. I tried taking a picture, but those moments cannot really be captured on camera.

We spent our days swimming at the private beach near our lake house and kayaking around the lake. Kayaking was probably my favorite part of the trip. As I kayaked, I stopped from paddling to look at my surroundings and took in everything from the scenery. The houses up on hills in the distance, the sun peaking across the sky, and the sea of green foliage in the forests all were within my frame of reference. I closed my eyes for brief moments and took in everything. Newfound Lake is hands down one of the prettiest places I have ever seen.

On top of taking in time at the lake, my dad took my cousin and I on a mini road trip around New Hampshire to show the places where he grew up. Although I have seen all these places multiple times, my cousin who came up with us from Virginia had not. We walked around Phillips Exeter Academy where my dad went to prep school, and my cousin couldn’t believe that this campus was  a high school. With a multi-billion dollar endowment, it’s no surprise Exeter looks the way it does. After that, we drove through my dad’s hometown of Nashua, NH and he pointed out various landmarks from his childhood. Each stop in Nashua, NH came with amusing stories and a link to my paternal family’s past. The next day, I selfishly made my dad and cousin from Virginia take a day trip up to Hanover, NH so that I could pay a visit to Dartmouth. The school reminds me of William and Mary in that it’s nestled in a small, sleepy, and quaint town. We walked around the main parts of campus and took pictures at some noteworthy buildings, my favorite of course being the TDX House.

This past weekend, I decided to take my version of homecoming down to William and Mary to say my last goodbyes to everyone on campus. Every moment was spent grabbing a meal with people, updating each other about life in people’s apartments or dorm rooms, and getting drinks at the local bars. I was proud of myself for fitting in everyone I wanted to see into this short weekend visit.

A few people I really wanted to see were members of the Russian faculty. They provided a lot of support with recommendations and advice during the Fulbright application process and after I accepted my grant. I needed to give them a proper goodbye. Some of them never cease to make life interesting. One of my professors, Sasha, I visited in class and intended to just say hi. However, he decided to make my visit a teaching moment and had me stand in front of the class and explain my Fulbright grant and Kazakhstan in Russian. After that, each student asked me a question in Russian and I had to answer them back in Russian. I have not spoken the language in nearly three months, and the exercise made me realize that I need to brush up on my speaking skills while in KZ. This moment brought back  fun and amusing memories of language classes and Sasha’s unique style of teaching.

I realize this post is quite long and props to anyone who took the time to read through everything. These past few weeks have made me sentimental about my life in America. However, I am ready to embark on this new Fulbright adventure and write the first few paragraphs of the next chapter of my life. I’m spending the next two days packing my life for the next year into a few suitcases and then flying out. I will write again when I’m on the other side of the world!

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