NOTE: This entry is a reflection of how I felt when I received the acceptance letter. This was written at a later date, but I have tried to preserve my exact feelings as much as possible and tried to most accurately reconstruct the timeline for an honest recount of my story.
March 18th, 2014
Another typical Tuesday… Even though I was on break it was not much different, other than the lack of classes. Had school been in session, the classes might change and the types of information would be different, but it is all the same in principle. And I would meander through the mundane day-to-day activities of what life in the university has become for me. Or so I thought… This Tuesday was much different. What began as a seemingly insignificant Tuesday changed course by the invisible transmission of data bytes to the loading screen of my computer. I opened my email like any other day and moved the cursor to check my WiscMail account.
And there it was, plain as day. Dated March 18th 10:59AM. “Congratulations! International Academic Programs is pleased to inform…”
I could not do anything but stare at this letter and wonder, “What is going to happen?”
I had wanted this. I assembled all the materials, wrote an essay, got a recommendation letter, and crossed all my ‘t’s and dotted all my ‘i’s and yet… there was doubt. Why did I feel this way?
I had to contemplate what I would be leaving behind, but also what there was to discover. The opportunity I had been waiting for was in front of me, yet I could not so easily process this information. Am I really going to Ecuador? I kept thinking that I had barely received the acceptance letter from the Ceiba Tropical Ecosystems program and already I was wondering how I could even have been accepted? This was unreal. The bittersweet feelings ruminated within and I decided I had to talk this over with a friend.
March 20th, 2014
That conversation was useless. Nothing I wasn’t expecting though. “You have to decide for yourself…” was pretty much what it was. The advice was so cliché that it was not even distinct enough for me to remember. Yeah, thanks man. So it was up to me to decide for myself. Back to square one. By this time it was already dark so I decided to take a walk to clear my mind.
The springtime air allowed for more adventurous spirits to venture out under the watch of the night sky that evening. I walked through the Botanical Garden on University, one of my favorite spots, and sat on a bench. I had to sit down to marvel at the universe. I peered into the night sky, desperately searching for an answer to my dilemma that shares a name with a classic The Clash song titled “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”. But I could not force the universe into doing anything, much less into providing me with an answer. So I sat there. And I looked up at the sky.
As I let my mind wander ceaselessly, I stared out into the void, focusing my concentration upon anything and everything but my impending decision. As I searched for a worthy distraction, I began to notice each of tiny, glowing lights illuminating the night sky. I began to forge a deep connection to them. The longer these stars populated my gaze, the more awe inspiring I found them to become. These stars were like paths I had yet to cross and journeys I had yet to embark upon. Maybe I was trying to find meaning in nothing, creating false confidence and meaningless metaphors so I could convince myself that I can actually do this. But maybe, just maybe, I found what I was looking for in the celestial beauty. I had wondered what there was to come. And I was afraid. At first when I looked up into the sky, I felt so insignificant compared to everything else that could be out there. Not even a blip on the radar of existence. But as time passed and my gaze pierced into the abyssal depths of the universe, I became oddly comforted. There is so much that is unknown about the universe, but that is exactly the beauty of it. There is possibility for discovery, new experiences, and personal growth. And as the luminescence of the stars shined their reassurance upon me, something had changed within me. I had decided that this is the right the right path for me. I had been looking at this all wrong. Maybe this is the right choice for me. I still was unsure, but I went with it anyways. I will go to Ecuador.