So I guess I’m doing this for real now.
There goes $2000 out of my account. And here comes one roundtrip ticket to Melbourne, Australia. There’s been other significant milestones reached and hurdles cleared, but this makes it real. I’m locked in. Can’t really just pay that much money for nothing now can I?
My current favorite picture of Melbourne, taken from the Shrine of Remembrance
I guess I should back up a little bit to give you (in the off chance anyone besides me actually reads this) a little context. My name is Doug Woodward, I am a Business Administration major and Computer Science minor at Chapman University. I’m from Rancho Santa Margarita CA, went to Santa Margarita Catholic High School and loved every minute of that. My first year at Chapman? not so much…
It’s astounding how much a part of your life and identity something can become. For me that was football and I rather lost that last year after getting my third concussion in three years. Doctor said keep playing and dementia when I’m 30. No thanks. Anyway, long story short, I spent most of the following year not knowing who I was, being depressed and angry and all of those lovely things. It was awful.
But it was also one of the defining experiences in my life so far. It forced me to understand who I was, what I wanted and what made me happy. It also allowed me to realize just how ridiculously blessed I am. My family is astounding and irreplaceable. They kept me afloat when I was struggling and always keep me grounded and guided. It gave me a resilience and spirit in all things mental and emotional to add to the physical resilience gained through football.
Throughout my rough year last year I only really had a desire to go to class and not much else. I wanted to transfer out. But in early spring I saw a sign for study abroad first step meetings. That managed to pique my interest and spur me into action. I figured I’d still transfer but it couldn’t hurt to check it out. I went to the meeting, found that everything I heard resonated with me and brought me excitement and life. So I looked into it further and decided that Australia seemed pretty awesome, and Melbourne piqued my interest more than Sydney. So Melbourne it was.
The next couple of months involved more of the same, class, gym, eat sleep. I still was pretty sure I wanted to transfer, but I figured I’d keep the study abroad door open, it just felt right. Got approval through Chapman to go, was simply the very first step, didn’t mean much. Still wanted to transfer. Summer rolls around and I’m very happy to simply be done with such an awful year. Next year will be better, I’m transferring, a fresh start. Got into every school I applied to. Wanted to go to USC, made sense for me in so many ways, it was exciting and I was pretty sure I was going. Then, as is normal in life, money showed up with bad news. Financial aid package was awful. Therefore I couldn’t go. Well shit. Not much I could do about that, figured I’d just keep my head down, keep working and coaching and putting away that money and enjoying my summer. Grew my hair out too. Bad idea, looked like a convict. About a month passed and I figured, screw it, I’ll just go back to Chapman, it’s a great school, close to home, doesn’t cost me much at all and I have some incredible opportunities. Like going abroad for 3 semesters and still graduating in 3 1/2 years.
So that’s what I decided to do. Came back to Chapman this semester, kept working hard and finally broke out of whatever sort of depression or mental state I had been in since August of my freshman year of college and began working through the next steps to go abroad. Had to meet with a dean of discipline and explain to him why taking the screen out and throwing water balloons out my window was bad idea. Got past that, got accepted through the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad program and started on the next phase. This one was the most time consuming as it involved attending a pre-departure meeting, being mildly overwhelmed by that. From that I had a list of new things to get done. The most pressing being my Academic Planning form. Such a joy to spend hours on the web finding correlating classes at the University of Melbourne to my academic program here at Chapman. Then had to go get signatures from department chairs. Went to the business dean, got a couple approved, a few denied. Had to go and find alternate courses to take. Came back to the dean, he approved most of what I wanted, not all. Had to restructure what I wanted to take, realized the form was due that evening and I still needed signatures from the Computer Science dean. Fortunately he’s one of my professors and I had his class that afternoon, got him to sign off (took a bit of convincing at that) then ran back across campus to drop off the form before the deadline.
Now that all of that was out of the way, wait, never mind, I’m planning on spending the 2013-2014 school year at City University in London. Now I had to do some more work to plan out all of my courses for the next 4 semesters at 3 different Universities in 3 different countries. After quite a bit of referencing and jiggling I had produced a spreadsheet that brought me more excitement than any other before. I had my course plan for the rest of my college life.
And then today, I bought my tickets. the tickets to an adventure that I have a strange feeling will come to define me in so many ways. I’m excited, shit my pants scared if you will and full of anticipation. After riding out the storm last year I find myself happier and more content than ever before. I find joy in random moments of the day, the sunshine, gaining knowledge, drinking coffee, eating tater tots and bacon for breakfast, it doesn’t matter what it is, I have found a path. It may not be the usual one nor the road less traveled or a road at all, but it calls to me and that’s what matters.
I’m going walkabout.