I finally did it. I graduated from college. It felt surreal walking up the ramp when the Provost called my name and I received my "diploma" from President Bultman. Nevertheless, it was a happy moment. My friends and family cheered me on as I walked across in my bright orange heels. Then after parading around the football stadium with the rest of the Class of 2011, I met my friends at the Anchor to take pictures, remembering this day forever. My family went out for a nice dinner together, and then I returned to my depressing room packed up with boxes. Some of my housemates had already left, but I had one last night to spend with friends. We laughed and talked about good times, and played one last round of our favorite board game. :) The next day I said goodbye to Hope College, hopefully not forever, but for a long while.
All this should feel like a big deal, but somehow it hasn't really sunk in yet. Yes, I have received graduation cards in the mail, my diploma should be coming soon, and I have the cap and gown to prove it. But it feels like just another summer at home. Except different. Even though I'm working at my summer job at the library yet again, this time I know I won't be returning to Holland, Michigan in August. I am going somewhere totally new: Costa Rica. The name Costa Rica just sounds fancy and exotic, doesn't it?
During the past couple of weeks I have been reading up on this small Central American nation which will be my home for the next five months. The "rich coast" is a small nation located between Nicaragua and Panama with coasts on the Pacific and Atlantic. San Jose, where I will be staying, is the capital, located about midway between the two coasts. Costa Rica is a land rich in rainforests and biodiversity as well as mountains and volcanoes. I hope to explore some of this amazing natural environment while I'm there. One week we will be backpacking through the rainforest for a survival training camp - not just physically, but spiritually as well.
Speaking of backpacking, I am currently researching backpacking packs. I need one for the Outreach portion of the Discipleship Training School. I have been reading reviews and gear guides online and in magazines to figure out what type and size I need. It's fascinating reading about all the different features available: pockets, internal/external frame, hydration systems, cubic inches, hip belts/straps, padding suspension. Wow. So. Many. Options. It does help that I've been backpacking before, and I rented a backpack to use. So I sort of know what type works best for me. Anyway, this is just one of the many decisions I have to make before leaving in 40 days!! The day will be here before I know it.