The last three years were a direct result of a sudden shock and subsequent change to initial plans for college. Once it became clear that what I had envisioned my college years as was not to be and I pulled myself back to my feet after taking some shots, I began to plan what the years to follow would entail.
Having such a focus and a plan to move forward was immensely gratifying and really helped me stand back up and re define myself.
Early spring semester of freshman year I for some reason took notice of the words inscribed on the statue of Charles C. Chapman for the first time: “For no ship ever sailed the seas but had to face the storm…If you are strong in faith, clear headed, honest, trusting for divine guidance and with a character built on the solid rock, you will meet all troubles in your life victoriously.” As I turned away, my eyes alit on a sign for a study abroad information session. There seemed no better way to build my ship than this.
What followed has led me here. The course I began plotting then I have since navigated with only a few minor route adjustments. It has truly defined my college experience, my personal development, and as I am coming to realize, the path forward.
Coming home this summer and returning to Chapman this fall, it seemed quite likely that my walkabout was ending and that the definition of my life was to become school, work, and social as is the standard. This past semester was great, it was ‘college’ as I envisioned it before. For once, I could allow myself to be a normal college kid, go to class, hang out, have a good social life, and work a solid internship. I’m glad to have had it, and it has taught me about myself in a different light.
But alas, it seems what makes me tick is something slightly different. Before long I found myself restless, fighting inner turmoil, and losing some motivation and drive despite most things going well in my life. Much of my time over the summer was spent working on my Fulbright application to work as an ETA in Taiwan. I was encouraged to apply for it by a family friend who also happens to coordinate Chapman’s Fulbright applications. I undertook it because I thought why not, nothing better to do over the summer. I did not expect it to really align with future goals at the time. Fall semester began and I enjoyed it, but I found myself signed up for a travel course to Vietnam over spring break by November. It seemed that I could not help but pursue any opportunity to go abroad.
I have always known that any career path or life choice I make has to fit certain criteria. I struggle with work that has little meaning or significance. I want to always be learning, to be gaining knowledge that lights my brain up. I need that. I live for that. It must be more than a four letter word or a means to an end. If I am going going to devote most of my time to something I must be invested in it. And I have come to realize that it must have an international aspect to it.
With these in mind, I set out to determine what ticked all these boxes as I looked over the horizon to graduation and life post college. Software development? Logistics? Writing? Coaching? None seemed to engage me. So I began to look at what might.
And I stumbled upon the Foreign Service, gave it a look, got excited. Slept on it. Did more research over the next few weeks, thought about it, read a book on it, read blogs, slept some more, read some more, and found that my excitement waxed rather than waned. Mayhaps this is exactly what I am seeking.
With this in mind, I begun plotting the course to it in the same way I plotted a course for my college experience early on. I will likely need a master’s in International Relations, internships in the field, learn a language, pass the FSOT and then the rest of the process. The Fulbright is actually run by the State Department, being awarded that is a huge honor, give opportunities for living abroad, and language immersion in a Super Critical Needs Language (Mandarin). If I happen to be awarded the Fulbright, it will be a huge boost and will fall perfectly in line with my rough plan. I’ll know if I was recommended by the end of this month and then know if I receive the grant sometime between March and May. If it comes off, the plan would be to undertake that and then pursue a masters in IR the following year, I like the look of Johns Hopkins SAIS program, internships while in grad school, and then hopefully entry into the FS. It looks a long, potentially frustrating road that will almost certainly takes at least a half decade. But it sure seems that it will be worth it.
I’ve begun to put this plan into motion and damn it feels good to have this purpose again.