Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Some more stories... (This is a long post. Sorry.)

Even though I'm done with the program, I still have some stories to tell you about my time there!

This was me at the beach.
1.  Beach Study Day!
On the day before my final, my professor decided that we should spend some time studying at the beach.

Best idea ever!

We studied for about an hour before heading into the water.  The water was very nice, and there were some waves.  Two guys in my class learned how to surf from our professor, and that was pretty cool.  Actually, I acomplished something too!  I went farther out into the ocean than I'd ever been before.  The water scares me a little, just because I know how easy it can be to get sucked into it and get disoriented.  But I felt reassured knowing that my professor was there, and that he was a really, really good surfer.  And I felt better knowing that one of my classmates was a certified lifeguard.  (Although, the lifeguard guy was the same guy who brought his own barbecue sauce to every meal...)

I went pretty far into the ocean, and it was so nice!  One girl actually asked me how I knew how to swim.  ("Because, like, I thought there weren't beaches in Arizona?")  I told her that we have pools.

2.  Fourth of July!
Classes were cancelled for the Fourth of July!  So we went to the beach again!  (Apparently, that's just what people do when they live near the ocean and have some free time.)  The whole group came this time, and we all had a lot of fun, swimming around, playing games, and reading.

Following beach time, we split up into classes and went to different coffee shops for study time, because the finals were the next day.  I had a really nice time with just my class.  It was the first time we'd all studied together, and I felt like I'd learned a lot.  We stayed at the coffee shop until they told us that they were closing and we'd have to sit outside.  Outside, we sometimes got distracted from our studies by the Fourth of July spectacle that was happening in the streets.  A party bus drove by, people walked in a mini parade, and bikers rode through the streets with American flags hanging off the backs.  Ben and I ran after the bikers for a while.  I felt very patriotic.

Our night ended with fireworks on the beach, which were spectacular.  The only problem was that I couldn't completely clear my mind from the fact that we would all be taking finals in a few short hours.  Which leads me to my next story...

3.  Final exam...
I never told you about my final exam, did I?  There's not much to tell, and it's not very interesting, but I think I should at least tell you how it went.

I feel better about this test than I did about the last one.  I knew the material better, so I could write more.  I was the last one to finish, and I took the full amount of time.  When I finished, all my classmates had left the classroom and gone to lunch.  They all seemed to feel better about this test, too.  That makes me happy.

I won't know my final grade for a while, but I'll keep you posted on that.  Unless I fail.  In which case, I won't tell you.

4.  Closing Ceremonies
After the final, the politics class and the biology class came together for Closing Ceremonies.  That was really sweet.  We each got a Certificate of Completion, and our Resident Director read some comments about us. Some people had comments from their professor, the girls' RA, or the guys' RA, but I got comments from all three!  I don't remember exactly what they said, but I do remember the words "mature, witty, gracious, and thoughtful."  Those are pretty good words. :)

5.  Movie night, and a surprise!
After the Closing Ceremonies, we decided that we needed to do something fun on our last night... so we went to a drive-in movie!  Taking two cars, we parked in a big dirt lot and settled in for two hours of Despicable Me 2.  It was a pretty good movie, but the best part was just spending time with my new friends.

When the movie was over, Annie and Peter drove us back to the school, told us that our stop was just a bathroom break (so be back in the cars fast), and suggested that we grab sweatshirts.  Loading back into the vans, we traveled a ways up a mountain.  I normally really like driving up mountains, but this time was a little different.  It was a very foggy night, and the fog rolled off the edge of the cliffs, so everything beyond the road was hidden by the dense fog.  There was no way of seeing down the sides of the road.  Sitting in the front seat by Annie, I shut my eyes very tightly and held onto the sides of my seat all the way up the mountain.  Not my favorite memory.

Once we reached the top of the mountain, I saw how driving up the Cliffs of Insanity was worth it.  We were above the whole city, and there was complete silence around us.  We were stargazing.  Peter and Annie had brought some blankets, so we put those down on the ground and laid on our backs, just watching the sky.  It was amazing.  Sometimes we'd all go silent and just take everything in, and other times we'd sing a song together or point out shooting stars to the people beside us.  I saw my first shooting stars!  They were all over the sky, but I just saw three of them.  The song I remember us singing the most was "Yellow" by Coldplay.  I've always loved that song and now I think it'll remind me of our last night, stargazing.

6.  Almost All-nighter

On our way back home, people started talking about how tired they were after the long day.  Others would quickly respond, saying "You want to spend our last few hours together sleeping?!  Sleep is for the weak!"  (I was one of the tired ones.)

They decided that we should all try to do an all-nighter.  We saw a few movies, and one by one, everyone fell asleep on the couches.  I was proud to be the third-to-last one awake, making it to about 2:30am.  But I was exhausted the next day.

7.  The next day!
I got picked up!  Once they found where they were going, Mom, Sam, Joe, and Nicolle helped me get my stuff out to the car and we drove away after some goodbyes.  The goodbyes were sad, but I think I'll see at least a few of these people again, and we've all been texting a bit since we left.  But it was so good seeing my family and my friend again.  I've missed everyone so much.

We spent a nice day together on Sunday, meeting up with Aunt Jenny and MC at a cute (but strange) beach house, sleeping in, going to the beach, reading, and going to church.  That was all just really, really nice and relaxing and fun.

8.  Colleges.
After we left Aunt Jenny, MC, and Nicolle, Mom, the boys, and I visited three colleges.  I really liked two of them, but I've decided that I might not apply to the third one at all.  (It was a very nice school, just not a great fit for me.)

After two days of tours, interviews, and information sessions, it was a little surprising for me to realize that my favorite school so far is the one where I spent the last three weeks.  I remember a phone call I had with Dad, around day two of my program, where he asked me if it felt weird being at college.  While it definitely felt weird being away from my family, the campus itself was the least of my worries.  I felt completely at home in only a day or two.  Now, I really miss it there.

But not as much as I miss Dad!  It's been too long since all five members of the family have been together.  I'm so excited to see him tomorrow.  The Fam will be reunited once again!

We'll all be back together again tomorrow!


P.S.  This may be my last post for a while.  I don't know what I'll have to write about in the next few weeks/months.  I'll just be in school, doing senior things.  (You know, because I'm a senior now!)  If any of you have any ideas or suggestions for what I can write about, I'd gladly take them.  If not, that's okay.  Thank you all for reading my blog.  I'm so grateful for all the experiences I had over the last couple of weeks, and I loved being able to share them with you through this blog.  Thanks for listening!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Days 20 and 21: All done!

Yesterday was the last day of my program.  At the start of my three weeks here, I couldn't wait for Mom and the boys to come pick me up.  Now that that day has come, I'm sad to be leaving.  I was having a hard time trying to decide what to write about on this, the last post about my time here, and in the end, I think I'll split the post into two parts.

Part one: Things I learned.
I can be brave!
(Also, my hair looks kind of like this
when it's humid outside... And it's been humid
since I got here.)

1.  I learned that I can be brave.  Coming here was a scary thing for me, but I'm really proud of myself for making it through all three weeks without many big problems.  I was pretty homesick those first two days, but I got a lot better soon after, and now I think I'll miss some of these people.  I'll really, really miss some of them.

2.  I learned about things going on in the world.  Before this, I knew that there were things I didn't know about the world.  During these three weeks, I got to learn about those things!  I learned about Syria, North Korea, Israel, China, and a lot of issues and theories about how to fix those issues.  That was really interesting, and it made me feel more involved in everything.  (Now I'm thinking about taking another AP class next year... AP Comparative Government, anyone?)
...I still think this picture is hilarious.
3.  I learned that I'm kind of introverted, and that's not a bad thing.  I read somewhere that the difference between extroverts and introverts is not that extroverts are all outgoing and fun, but that they get their energy from different places.  Extroverts "recharge" when they're with other people, while introverts "recharge" when they're by themselves.  In the beginning, I found myself constantly trying to hang out with people whenever they were up for hanging out, which was hard because I get worn out by being with people all the time.  It was good for me to realize that it's okay to want to be alone sometimes.  Wanting to be by myself for a bit doesn't mean I'm upset or that I don't have friends; it just means that it's time to recharge.

4.  I learned that college classes are different than high school classes.  I found that they helped me develop a good work ethic, but that there are other important things involved with learning.  APs are sometimes just about memorizing information, but my class here had me think about the significance of the things I was learning about.  That's definitely more challenging, but I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to do more of that kind of learning again soon.

Part two: Things that surprised me.

1.  I'M GOING TO MISS EVERYONE WHEN I HAVE TO GO AWAY TO REAL, ACTUAL COLLEGE.  I already knew this, but I didn't realize just how much I'd miss you guys.  It's not easy not seeing you every day!  I love you all so much and I was so happy to see Mom, Sam, Joe, and Nicolle when they came to pick me up, and later Aunt Jenny and MC.  Also, I had a nice time with them at the beach today. :)

2.  Sometimes it's hard to make friends.  At my high school, we're all pretty much in the same boat with a lot of things (same schoolwork, same friends, etc.), so we all just try to get along.  Here, everyone is coming from somewhere different, and it was harder to get to know them.  But once I finally did get to know some of them, it was pretty cool having new friends.  I met some amazing people here.

When I wasn't studying by myself, I studied with the guys
in my class more often than with the other girls.
So to answer Joe's favorite question, yes, there
were times when I felt like I was at Hogwarts.
2.5  It was sometimes easier to be friends with the guys than the girls.  The girls here are all pretty boy-crazy and each one had decided by around day two which boy was their favorite.  They were constantly stressing over their hair and makeup, and whether or not these guys were noticing them.  That got annoying pretty fast.  I found that sometimes the best way to avoid boy-crazy girls is to just hang out with the boys themselves, who were actually more fun anyway.  I wasn't expecting that here, but it was an interesting surprise.

3.  Roommates can be awesome!  I was a little worried about the whole roommate thing before this started, but I ended up getting the best roommate out of anyone.  Clare was always super nice to me, we had a lot in common, and I loved getting to know her.  I'm going to miss her a lot, and I hope she has a good time coming here again in a few weeks to be a freshman in college.
Jim is to me as Dwight is to... everyone.  (But mostly Clare.)

4.  I prank more than other (normal) people do.  I didn't see that one coming.  But it's been pretty awesome.  (I don't think I'll go into too much detail on this one, because what if I want to use one of my new pranks on you people?  I just might!)

5.  My high school is pretty different from other schools.  Apparently other schools don't have eighth graders taking AP tests?  And the students don't have to walk clockwise to get to their classes?  And kids aren't friends with their principals?  They don't have their teachers' personal cell phone numbers?  And the senior classes aren't composed of twenty-seven students?  There aren't fifth graders running all over the place?  What????
I always make this face when I'm thinking about writing!
I get so excited about working on the blog.

6.  Writing helps me stay normal!  I've known since tenth grade that writing is very, very good for helping me calm down, but that became even more apparent over the last few weeks.  You have no idea how much this blog has helped me.  It felt kind of like a journal when I was writing, because I was really honest and I don't think I would have talked about a lot of that stuff in real life, face to face.  But then I'd be reminded that it wasn't a journal when I'd get comments on it and get to see what you thought about what was going on.  It was the best of both worlds!  Dad bought a song yesterday, "Brave" by Sara Bareilles, and parts remind me a bit of writing this blog.  The part that I'm thinking of is the chorus, that says "Say what you want to say and let the words fall out.  Honestly, I want to see you be brave with what you want to say."  I feel like I've gotten to do that with this blog!

I've loved writing this blog.  It's made me so happy, but I'll be even happier when I can see my family all together on Wednesday!  I'm so grateful for my experiences here and I know that I won't soon forget them.

I think I'll write a few more posts in the next week about the colleges I'll be visiting while I'm still in California.  After that, I don't know what'll happen with this blog.  I love writing it, but I don't know if I'll have anything in the school year that you'd be interested in reading.  We'll just have to wait and see!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Days 18 and 19: Happy Fourth of July!

I don't have very much time for writing today.  It's my last day to study for the final, and we're going to the beach later for a barbecue and fireworks later.  So exciting!

I'll try to write about everything tomorrow after the test, but I wanted to say Happy Fourth of July, because I miss you people!

Also, I already told Sam about this, but I have a weird Fourth of July tradition.  I really like listening to the Liberty's Kids theme song, and I've done that every year for a while now.  I don't know why that became a thing, but I loved that show when I was little, I still watch it sometimes now, and my favorite part is always the theme song.

So what are your plans for today?  Do you have any weird traditions?  I can't wait to read about them when I check the blog later today.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 17: I think I found something magical here! Not even kidding. (A little bit kidding... But it's still really awesome.)

I'm sorry I left you all in suspense yesterday, but I had so much homework.  It was no good.

This is the story I wanted to tell you!  Yesterday, I was on a short break from classes, so I went up the stairs of the building where my classroom is.  It's a really cute building, with white-painted wood paneling and old fashioned windows everywhere.  I went upstairs to use the bathroom, which is cool because it's a one-person bathroom.  

(I didn't realize how much I value one-person bathrooms until these last two weeks.  You lose some of the privacy in a group bathroom, and you don't even notice it until you have the chance to use a one-person bathroom again... Um, I think that's enough bathroom talk for now.)

Anyway, I used the bathroom upstairs, and was going back to the classroom downstairs when I saw something lining one of the walls.  It was a little bookshelf about as tall as my hip, with tons of books all over it.  There were textbooks, fiction books, nonfiction books, big books, little books, one books, two books, red books, blue books, just all kinds of books.  It was awesome.

But what was even more awesome were the two little pieces of paper resting atop the little shelf.  One paper said "Free Books."  The other said "Please take one!"
What my face looked like when I saw
the two little pieces of paper on the shelf.

All these books were free, and I could just take one?!  Was I dreaming?  Was this real life?

I was not dreaming, but it was real life!

So I started figuring out which book I would take with me.  There were so many options!  I was stuck between two books, one being Life of Pi, when I heard footsteps coming up the creaky old stairs.  Desperately hoping it wasn't someone who worked in the upstairs offices and might tell me that I couldn't keep a book, I was relieved to see my own professor.

"I see you've found the bookshelf!" he noted, smiling.  "Which one are you going to take?"

I told him that I'd already seen the sign that said "Please take one," so I was only going to take one.  He said that the sign had more of an emphasis on "take" than on "one," and that it was so that you'd know for sure that they were for free.  I said okay, but I knew that I'd feel bad about taking more than one book.  In the end, I  left Life of Pi on the shelf.  I took a book by some people from a YouTube channel I'm subscribed to, called "SoulPancake", which is headed by Rainn Wilson, or "Dwight" from The Office.

Feeling pretty excited about my new book, I headed back downstairs and finished my last class session of the day.  (I counted earlier today, and I've gone to thirty-six class sessions here.  Isn't that crazy?)

After class and as I was packing up to leave, my professor said to me, "You know, you can go back for that other book if you want.  You really can take two books."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah.  The professors put books on that shelf when they don't want them and can't use them.  They don't want to just throw them in the garbage."

I was surprised.  After a short conversation, I learned that there is no used book store like Bookman's here. That makes me sad, but at least there's still a little place here for exchanging books.

Deciding to go back for Life of Pi, I climbed the stairs once again.  But when I reached the top, I searched the shelf and saw that my book was nowhere to be found.  In fact, a few other books I'd seen before weren't there anymore, and some new books had appeared.

I've found a magical bookshelf.
It fills up with books, and randomly replaces those books with new books.

Needless to say, I am very excited to check the shelf again today.


P.S.  If you've never seen this short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, you should watch it now.  It's so sweet!  (It made me cry a little.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 16: Top 5 Favorites! (Round #2)

Today's another day for the school blog, so it's time for another round of...

Top 5 Favorites!

(I'll explain the rules again, in case you forgot.)

          1.  I pick a category.
          2.  I name my current five favorite things in that category.
          3.  You name your current five favorite things in that category in the comments.
         (3.5  Suggest a category in the comments for the next round of Top 5 Favorites.)

At Nicolle's request, today's category is "Favorite fruits/vegetables"!  Nice idea, Nicolle!!

My Top 5 Favorites are...
          1.  plums
          2.  raspberries
          3.  carrots
          4.  broccoliflower
          5.  blueberries

What about you?


P.S.  I have something really, really cool to tell you, but I don't have time to write about it tonight!  (That's been driving me crazy.)  It'll be in tomorrow's post... Now I leave you in suspense!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 15: A few short stories

I've got a few short stories to tell you!  This post will be a little different, but I'm excited about it.

1.  Fire?
Church this morning started at 11, so today was supposed to be our first sleep-in day.  I slept until around 9:20, got dressed, and was about to fix my hair... until the fire alarm went off.  I didn't grab no shoes or nothing,  Most of the girls were out there with half-curled hair, in their pajamas, or without shoes.  All of the guys woke up to the fire alarm, so they were all in pajamas and looked tired and irritable.  Turns out, Annie (the RA) had been trying to cook sausage for a nice surprise for us, and burned them.  No fire.  But the fire truck came, and we had to wait outside for about ten minutes.  Annie was really embarrassed, but everyone else thought it was a pretty funny experience.

2.  Free Meth?
We went to Annie's church today, which is Free Methodist.  (Apparently, it is a funny joke to call it the "Free Meth" church.  The other Summer Scholars love that joke.)  I liked the Covenant church from last week better, but this one was okay too.  I didn't know any of the songs they played, and the message wasn't my favorite, but I could see why other people loved it.  I could tell that they were a very close community there, and that was nice to see.  It made me miss my church!

3.  Eating habits.
Andrew bought his own bottle of
Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce.
Some of the people here have some interesting eating habits.  Specifically, one of the guys in my politics class.  (Mom thinks he looks like Andrew from Spotlight, so we'll just call him Andrew for now.)  Remember how I told you that I got a package from the fam the other day that had in it two pounds of Swedish fish?  Andrew bought two pounds of Sour Patch Kids candy... only he didn't share his candy like I shared mine.  I left my bag in the common area, and it was eaten in a few days.  Andrew ate his bag in two days, all by himself.  He ate the candy in class sometimes, and when he finished it, he started bringing fruit snacks to class.  He has his own thing of barbecue sauce that he brings to every meal in the cafeteria, because it "makes everything taste better."  At this point, he's started purposefully started bring junk food in to class, just to weird out the professor.  I let him bring in the bag of Swedish fish one day.  Now, we're working on thinking of something to top that for Monday.  We're thinking a carton of ice cream, or a box of frozen Eggo waffles.  Does anyone have an idea?  (Also, there's a girl here who bought herself a tub of cookie dough and ate about half of it last night during Mean Girls, but I won't go into that.)

4.  Another California observation.
As we were driving to the beach the other day, I made another California observation.  I was sitting in the front seat by Peter, the guys' RA, who was driving the nine-passenger car.  Here in California, speed limits are similar to the Pirate's Code.  "They're more like guidelines than actual rules."  Though I didn't see many speed limit signs, the ones I did see had numbers in the 60s, while Peter's speedometer sometimes got into the 80s.  I would have been more worried if the other cars around us were going much slower, but everyone around us was also going about 80mph.  And that's scary...

5.  A nice discussion...
The other day, I had a good talk with an admissions person.  He came on our trip to the island, but I talked with him a bit the day before.  He'd just gotten back from a bike ride, so I told him that I liked bike riding too, and we talked about that.  Then I asked him a few questions about this school, and I started realizing that I really, really like it here.  I'd love to come back here when I graduate.  That was all very nice, but when I checked my phone for the time, I saw that it was 12:55.  Class starts at 1, and it's all the way down the hill.  I quickly said goodbye, put my dishes away, and ran down that hill as fast as I could.  I don't run very often, but when I do, it's either because something's chasing me or because I'm going to be late.  When I got to the classroom, no one was there.  I texted Sue and asked what was happening, and found out that class actually started at 1:15.  So... I had some hang-out time for fifteen minutes.

That's about all I have to talk about for right now.  I'll try to FaceTime later today, but I think I need a nap right now.  I'm not feeling great, because I think I'm a little bit dehydrated.  I've been drinking water a lot today, but I bet a nap will help.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Days 13 and 14: Outdoor Adventures!

I've been spending a lot of time outside over the last two days, and bringing a computer into the wilderness is "frowned upon" in this establishment.  So... no blog yesterday.

Class wasn't very fun yesterday, but we had an interesting discussion about Ethiopia.  ("We are the world...")  But after class, we all went to the beach!  That was fun!  I ran around in the water for a bit before reading my book on the sand.  My book, by the way, is Fellowship of the Rings.  I figured it was time for me to start reading that.  It's really good so far!

When we got back after the beach, we were all pretty tired.  Despite the exhaustion, we went downtown because some people wanted to shop around.  The shopping was stressful, in part because I don't like shopping and in part because I don't like being around other people who are shopping.  I bought a pair of sunglasses and a bag, which together costed less than $10.  (Woot!)  All the girls decided to buy matching scarves to wear on the Fourth of July, so I got one of those too.

This morning came too early.  We ate breakfast here, drove for a while, then arrived at a dock to leave for Anacapa Island.  A boat took us to the island, and I think it was the biggest boat I've ever been on.  I'm proud to say that I didn't feel seasick!  The boat ride there was my favorite part of today.  The water was so pretty, the weather was perfect, and there were dolphins!  Dolphins that swam right alongside the boat!  That was amazing.

The island was not fun.  It was pretty hot there, and there were no trees or shade of any kind.  And we went on a hike that I didn't know about.  I had enough water, but I wasn't wearing great shoes, my bag had too much stuff in it, and it just wasn't my thing.  Actually, probably one of my least favorite pastimes is hiking, but I really don't like surprise hikes.  (I've been on a few.)  Meh.  Also it was hot.

But it was beautiful! I took pictures!

The island felt a bit like this. 
I may have nightmares tonight.
The island had no shade, but a lot of birds.  So many birds.  They kind of freaked me out, actually.  They were so loud.  The shrieking never ended.  So many seagulls.  So many...

Another thing I want to note is that I did not get a sunburn.  Actually, I was one of about three people who didn't get sunburned.  Go sunscreen!  (Note: I just took a shower and found out that I did indeed get sunburned, on the top of my head where my hair parts.  Awesome.)  The worst sunburn was on one of the guys in my politics class.  He put on sunscreen before we left for the island, but he must have put his hands on his shoulders right after, just resting.  So now his shoulders are bright white, with two red hand prints on them.  Also he's a ginger...  That makes it funnier.

After a few hours of surprise super-hike, I joined the group in getting back onto the boat to return to the mainland.  One of my biggest fears of the day was missing the boat and being stuck on the island.  That's why my bag was so heavy; I'd packed a lot of extra survival food, just in case.  I'm not kidding.

On the ride back, everyone was pretty tired after being in the sun for so long.  A lot of people actually fell asleep, but I couldn't.  I pulled out my iPod and headphones and could only play one song before the iPod died.  The song was "Glory of it All" by David Crowder, and that was a pretty interesting experience.  I love singing songs like that in church, sometimes with an image of a beach on the projector slide, but it was a little different today.  I listened to the song, really listened, and looked out at an actual ocean.  As far as I could look, I could just see the ocean and the sky, and I couldn't help but think of how God made it all for us, his kids, to enjoy.  That's kind of amazing to me.

The words of that song that most stand out to me are the ones at the beginning: "At the start, He'll be there.  At the end, He'll be there."  I think I can get pretty worried about random things sometimes, but the fact is, God was there at the start and He'll be here in the end.  So He must be with us in all the in-between time too, even when we're feeling anxious about things.  He's bigger than those things and can help us handle them.  I find that very comforting.

Dinner was at In-N-Out, then we went back home.  (Home?)  The night ended with Veggie Tales and Mean Girls, and some blogging.  The other day, I was talking with Dad about this blog and now I think I have an idea of why I like writing it so much.  First, I like writing in general.  Second, this is kind of like a journal for me.  Not in the way that I write my deep, dark secrets here, but in the way that it helps me sort out what's happening around me and try to make sense of it all.  Third, it feels almost like communication.  I know that calling and texting can be better because they involve both talking and listening.  I've been doing some calling and texting recently, but I can blog wherever I am, and go into more detail about what's happening.  All good things, but not good replacements for calling or texting.  I'll try to do more of that this week.

This post seems pretty long.  There were some other things I wanted to write about (some classmates' eccentric eating habits maybe?) but I'll save those until tomorrow.  Or until whenever.  I've still got a week left here!


P.S.  This is not at all a goal, but this blog reached 1000 pageviews today.  I just thought that was kind of cool, and I wanted to share that with you. :)