One year! Whaaaa? I have officially been living in Fort Collins, CO for one whole year. And what an AMAZING year it has been! Per usual, it went soooooo fast! It’s strange though because one year doesn’t seem long enough? I feel like I’ve been here for a whole lot longer than that.
In one year I have found a home in the truest sense – full of people I care about, happy memories, a house with great roommates, a life of adventures, craft beers, bike rides, some snow & lots of sunshine. Before I moved here I came off of a truly amazing year of travel. In some way I feel like that year is only now becoming real to me. I look back and think… I did it. I actually did it. I quit my job and solo traveled through Latin America. You have probably heard that before but seriously, it’s going to take a while to process! I’m lucky, I’m blessed, I worked really hard to make that happen. Colorado on the other hand, just kind of fell into my lap!
Courtney and Mike (close friends from Baltimore) decided to embrace their inner adventurer spirit and head West. They quit their jobs, packed their cars, had a few intense setback (that they handled like a total badass couple) and moved to Colorado! I got back from my trip with about $50 in my bank account, moved in with parents (thanks mom & dad!) and started looking for a job. I applied to a whole bunch in several different industries and then I got a call from Courtney.. CSU is hiring an Education Abroad Coordinator, you should apply! We both thought my chances for an interview were good considering my experience and then if nothing else, we would be able to get dinner together! Visit a new state and dinner with friends? Win, win!
I visited, had my interview, got dinner with my friends and to my suprise… decided I really like Fort Collins (FOCO) and also loved what I saw at CSU. Now that I’m here I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Also, like most of my colleagues I am a big fan of with CSU and in particular, CAM the Ram. Best mascot ever! Shout out, our Social Media team is fantastic and you should follow them on Facebook: here.
So, I love CSU. The vibe is great, people are happy here! Campus is full of bikes, skateboards, dogs and students wearing green. There are lots of great events happening on campus and the community is very involved. I also really like my position. I am the coordinator for all incoming exchange students – 58 in fall and 26 in the spring. I admit those students to the university, help them register and find housing, make sure they stay in legal status, put on programming activities and serve as their emergency contact. First semester was intense! The group was huge and I couldn’t stop myself for updating almost every process. Crazy but good. I built great relationships with my students and feel like I genuinely had a positive impact on their time in the States. Trump’s Muslim immigration and refugee ban hits particularly close to home when working with international students. It’s both heartbreaking and infuriating to know that great people with great minds are denied access to our country. CSU is advocating hard for our students. I’m proud of the work our President, Tony Frank and International Student & Scholar Services team is doing to support all of our students. My hope is that our students feel welcome and safe irregardless of their religion or country of origin. I will continue to do all that I can come to make international students feel at home at CSU.
In addition to working with incoming exchange students I work with any CSU student who wants to do an international internship. My main programs are in Dublin, Hong Kong and Madrid. Dublin is by far the biggest and I will be visiting this summer. Ireland, here I come! Ireland was the first place I went abroad about 16 years ago. I can’t wait to go back and explore! Traveling is for sure the most fun perk of what I do. This past November I got visit our Hong Kong program with my colleague Natalie who is the Go Abroad Advisor for the College of Business. I loved Hong Kong! I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was so impressed by the city. Hong Kong is tropical, hilly and hot – think Caribbean packed with crazy high skyscrapers, ancient temples and the most impressive metro system I have ever seen. You are in a major Asian city but there is also a lot of western, in particular British influence (including English biscuits & Cadbury chocolate available everywhere!) I found it super easy to navigate, more casual then I had expected and full of interesting cultural things. From Hong Kong my colleague and I went down to Australia where I was opening a new program. It was a good experience (and a reminder of Towson) to propose, bid for and then build a brand new program.
While in Australia we met with four providers and visited about 10 companies who would potentially host CSU interns in the future. That was fascinating to see all different types of businesses across multiple industries. I was able to compare and contrast (although briefly!) the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. On top of all that I got to see my cousin Laura who has been living Down Under for about two years! It was great to see Laura. She is doing so well! We left for our trips only a few months apart, Laura traveling through Asia and me through South America. She continued the backpacker life, settling in Australia! It was great to catch up, share stories and I was so impressed/pleased to see her making a life for herself as a traveler! We went to the beach, visited a few rooftop bars, saw some street art, found a cool alleyway speakeasy, walked through some famous Melbs arcades (think shopping center) and went to a market. Next up, hopefully Laura will come visit Colorado!
The traveler life is all about connections. In addition to seeing Laura I also got to visit with two friends from my trip. I met Natalie in Peru where I stayed for Christmas and then had a crazy-amazing New Years with her in Banos, Ecuador. It was great to see her and we actually met up on Thanksgiving so now we’ve celebrated 3 holidays together! Kevin and I met in the place I feel I met 75% of my travel friends… Sucre, Bolivia! We hung out in Bolivia and then met up again in Peru. It was so good to see Kev, good conversation and lots of laughs as always! I have approximately a million-bajillion photos from Australia so that’s a a whole other blog post to come!
So work has been good and traveling for work has been great! As much as I like the students I work with and the travel opportunities work provides me, most importantly are my amazing coworkers. The whole international team is really great. We have three Sarahs including an SOD and SDO so.. you know, that’s never confusing. Ciara, Emily, (Sarah) Vowels and Derek on my coordinator team have all become very close friends. There’s lots of #Ramily in and out of the office. We work closely and hangout outside of the office a lot. The work quarters are small so thankfully we get along!
People definitely make my world go around. I have found so many good people out here! Courtney invited to me book club on my first day of work. I was gonna bail because I hadn’t read the book but… went for it. Thanks, Courtney because those women are all amazing! Through book club I have made tons of great connections. FOCO is seriously full of great humans, way too many to name but I know I love you all! As if that wasn’t enough I have been visited by so many of my favorite people. So much goodness in one place! <3
As I mentioned so many good memories from one quick year! Epic roadtrip from NY-CO, Brewery visits, amazing sunsets & one sunrise, connecting with old friends (GA, MD, Bonas & travelers), hiking in Moab and making quick stops at 4 corners and Monument Valley, turning 30!, drunken bike rides, flying home for two hometown friends’ weddings, California visit, Crawfish Boil & Oktoberfest parties, my mom’s 60th birthday party, mountain town visits, 3 big visits from friends & family, concert at the legendary Red Rocks, Tour de Fat Festival, girls trip to Steamboat Springs, solo hikes around town, surprising my besties in Ohio, getting a taste of southern Colorado, a big international trip, hosting a FriendsMas party, Christmas at home and New Years in FOCO. Too many photos. Lots of good stuff in just one year!
WHAT. A. YEAR. Seriously, what an incredible year. The goals this coming year are to save a bit of many, drink a few less beers/do a few more hikes and continue to enjoy the Colorado lifestyle. I love New York. I miss my family and East Coast friends every day. There are times that the trade off is really tough. I wanna cuddle all the babies, attend all the bachelorettes, spend lazy Sunday just being in the presence of the ones I love but aren’t here. It’s not easy leaving home. Sometimes I even feel a bit guilty to love my life out here when it means I’m so far away from many of the people I love so much. Also, Stewarts and New York style pizza, I miss those things too. A lot. But.. that’s the choice I’ve made. I will continue to do my best to bridge those gaps. I’m grateful for cell phones, facetime, facebook and the idea that some people are happy to read my excessively long blog posts! I love you, I miss you. Can someone just invent teleportation already??! Also, make it free, please? Cool, thanks.
This year has so many things to look forward to. Trips I’m planning, hikes I wanna take, rivers I wanna tube, beers I’m gonna drink, laughs I’m going to have. It will be good. My sister who conveniently is also my best friend and her husband will be moving out to Colorado this summer. I am so happy to have them close! The adventures and especially the dress-up will be next level once they’re here!
Fort Collins thank you for the warm welcome and happy times – I look forward to manyyyyyyy more memory making opportunities in our future!