The Return

Upon returning to the States, I was picked up by my favorite person who I had missed so much, my girlfriend Kelsey, and whisked off to the beach. After 14 hours of travelling from London to Manchester to NYC, I surprisingly still had the energy to drive us 6 more hours to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We spent a magical three days there with her amazing family.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing fears, which seems to be a theme of 2015, continued even in Rehoboth. I did something that I was always afraid to do, something that I never believed I could do: I ran a 5K! I had worked out a lot while in Prague with my friend Cole, I lost 5 pounds, ate healthy, and made healthy choices… but I would not say that I was 5K ready. This proved to be true both physically and mentally when I began the race and struggled the whole time. I began with a steady jog close to the front. Then, a sharp pain in my foot, which had been bothering me all summer, came in full force. This pain shot up my leg into my thigh. Then, ultimately all this pain caused told my brain, “stop, you can’t do this… nice try though.” I then began to walk, watching the sweaty backs run by. When I finally caught my breath and the pain dulled, my body wanted to run again but my mind told me I couldn’t. Tears welled in my eyes as my negative thoughts got louder and louder, harsher and harsher and the distance between me and everyone was farther and farther. It felt never ending.

Finally, I reached the midway point and had to turn and go back the way I came. I was shocked at the positivity and smiles on the people’s faces who were behind me… what they were experiencing was nothing like what I was experiencing. I had told myself that I was failing, but they told me that I was doing great. These conflicting messages made the tears fall and my chest heave. I didn’t know what to believe or how to feel or what to do.

Finish! That is all I had to do. Just get it over with. I continued to walk, but I picked up the pace. Kelsey hadIMG_3337 finished a good ten minutes before I did, but she still came back to meet me toward the end. She didn’t speak because I asked her not to say anything (because I knew I’d cry) and she just jogged with me to the finish. I finished in 46 minutes, which beat my goal of 50 minutes, but I wasn’t happy. That was one of the hardest things I had done, mentally more than anything else, and I didn’t like it. But as I reflected, I didn’t like it because it wasn’t easy, because I wasn’t comfortable. That was the point of doing it on the first place! So after sulking for about 10 minutes, I finally admitted to myself that I had just done something big, huge even. I did something that most people are too afraid to do, I completed a 5K, and I faced myself. And then 30 minutes after that, I told myself something I rarely say, if ever: “I am proud of myself” (which is when I decided to take this picture, haha.)

As a treat for being so active during the weekend, Kelsey and I went jet skiing. The summer prior Kels and I had rented a vespa scooter and drove it around, so we figured jet skiing would be our next luxury excursion. It was so much fun! I was able to drive for a majority of the time because Kelsey couldn’t get the hang of it, haha, but she’s too proud to admit that. There is something about driving on water that is so exhilarating though. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity.

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After what felt like a vacation after a vacation after a vacation, I finally returned home. I spent a few days there before heading to NYC and Long Island for my birthday weekend. It was unbelievably refreshing to see some of my closest friends after the long summer away. My birthday became rather secondary to everything else that was happening, especially when RA training began two days after.

My Wonderful Scudder Hall Staff

My Wonderful Scudder Hall Staff

Being back at New Paltz, the place where I became my true self, for my last semester leaves me speechless. It is hard to put into words how immense this place and the opportunities that it offered to me were. The support system I have created here, the skills I developed… literally everything about it was important and necessary. As residents move in, I look forward to taking all that I’ve learned about myself and applying it to life here at New Paltz and to life ever after.

Ja’Lisha, a Creative Writing major with a minor in Black Studies, is studying Summer 2015 at Charles University. This is her second study abroad experience, with her first being in Cardiff, Wales in Fall 2013. She is thrilled to have another opportunity to study abroad and this time she plans to document as much of it as possible.

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