now I intend to walk across the stage at Texas State University and receive the
degree I've chased for over a decade. Even as I type those words I fight back tears.
Finally, my dedication, pride, strength and courage will reap the reward my
heart so greatly desires. In recent weeks my life has undergone powerful shifts. A relationship with a person who taught me to believe
in myself is coming to an end of sorts.
Even as that evokes sadness, I smile as I think another dear friend's
wonderful words of wisdom: when one door closes, one thousand windows
Borrowing a line from the band Metric seems to sum up the decisions of my twenties: ":[n]othing I've ever done right, happened on the safe side." Like many of you I have experienced extreme hardships. Death, pain and loss have all played a role. I have come to realize we are all living in our own dream of reality and only I can bring myself true happiness. With this realization I have decided to love my life, my dream. Through it all I have chosen to keep my feet on the ground, push forward, and take risks. If you have read this far perhaps you wouldn't mind taking a few steps back in time. Walk with me as I follow my dream to study abroad.
I transferred to Texas State University two years ago, and with a renewed sense of hope, made plans to achieve my academic goals. As my academic advisor mapped out my courses, the light grew bright at the end of the tunnel I'd been in for so long. This doesn't seem so hard, I thought. Why had I waited so long to finish? Then SNAP, like a sharp turn on a wooden roller coaster, I heard my advisor say, "And you'll also have to achieve proficiency in a foreign language." "˜Stay calm,' I told myself. "˜You are 28 but you know a little Spanish from high school and working in restaurants. You can do this, Cathryn.' So I set out to prove to myself that was true.
I read the textbook, completed the assignments, held awkward conversations with my teachers and fellow students in class. I waited tables five nights a week, and on every trip to the kitchen, conversed with the kitchen staff in Spanish. I mastered restaurant vocabulary and simple conversational skills quickly: tenedor, cuchillo, ensalada, con helado. Then I attempted more complicated conversations: "¿CÃ³mo se hace esta salsa?" Camaraderie, respect and occasional hilarity made learning fun and retention easy.
The kitchen staff-Sixto, Noe, and "˜Nacho'-taught me that the key to proficiency is immersion in a friendly community of Spanish-speakers. Researching programs online, I was drawn again and again to USAC's program in Alicante, Spain. The staff was always friendly, efficient and professional. The images of Alicante looked breathtakingly beautiful, clean and safe. I could see myself studying in the beautiful gardens of the home institution, strolling in the arboretums, and reading by the fountains. I'm could see myself at the dinner table with my host family. I heard the train whistle calling to take me on weekend excursions to other parts of Spain. I knew my study abroad would be a rich and rewarding experience, not only for me, but also for those with whom I would live and learn.
I knew the rich experiences will be worth the financial cost.
I am doing everything in my power to pay for this journey. I wait tables, bartend, and assist my friend during the day with her real estate business. But, I know I need more than that to reach my goal. I have applied for several scholarships, but I will not know whether I have been awarded any of those until after the program payment deadline of May 1st.
I am asking for your contribution to go to Spain. With every contribution you make, I will be one step closer to Spain and to my degree. (Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a minor in Business Administration) My wish list contains various small and large fees for this journey. I have set up various rewards at different levels, so please check those out below.
You will receive a souvenir I personally select for you and your personality. A handwritten letter of gratitude with detailed experiences from my trip abroad. As well as lower level awards.
You will recieve a postcard from me and a small souvenir to your liking. (snow globes, shot glass, silly gifts and what have you) And a special thank you letter.
You will receive a post card from my travel, handwritten with love. :)
More Information on my program can be found here:
The Fees and Deadlines are broken down as follows:
· Session I & II Program Fees (includes tuition, insurance, excursions, etc.): $6,860
· Airfare: Roughly $1500 round trip
· Housing expenses (includes meals and laundry): $904
· Housing deposit: $318
· Madrid tour and field study: $750
· Sailing course equipment rentals and insurance: $150
· Personal expenses: $904
· Textbooks: $255
· Public transportation pass: $51
· Transport to Madrid at end of program: $83
Total program fees and expenses: $11,775
You may quickly notice the grand total of program fees and expenses is much larger than the desired goal presented here. Well that's because I'm have been working my tush off to make my dream reality.
Let the subtraction begin, shall we :
· I have been awarded $1000 from the International Education Fee Scholarship. (This is awarded based on financial need and grade point average)
· Paid the $300 application fee. (All applied to total fees)
· Paid $800 to saved my spot in the program
· Another $2000 from financial aid.
· And $2000 from my very own blood, sweat and tears at work.
This, my friends, family, colleagues and gracious humans brings my goal to $5675.00
Dose of reality and thanks:
If I can't receive enough to attend both Summer Session I & II, I will still be going to the first session. I will use the remaining funds to pay for my last class, Intermediate Spanish II, at Texas State University-San Marcos. All funds will be used to pay for Spain and the completion of my degree.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you for reading this and contributing to my dream.
From the author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho:
~When you want something, the whole Universe conspires to help you realize your desire.
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