2017 was the best year of my life. I grew so much in every aspect of my life and finally felt mentally stable. I made goals and pursued them, actually accomplished them… So because I did not write a Christmas letter, I hope this quick recap will suffice for friends and family who actually care.
I started the year off by somehow sneaking into a bar and dancing the night away. I swear I don’t have a fake I.D. I legitimately just walked past the bouncer. Two weeks later I was off to Colombia to teach English in the small village of Guamal. I spent four lovely weeks here growing in my knowledge of the Spanish language thanks to Alejandro and Leidy, the founders of the program, and the wonderful community, whom I miss dearly.
In February I said goodbye to Colombia and set sail for five miserable days in the San Blas islands… Between the German assholes, dropping my phone in the Caribbean, and the seasickness, it was hard to get a moment to appreciate the astounding beauty of the archipelago in which I was immersed. However, I did learn from the captain how to navigate and he even let me steer the boat, which was very tiresome. All was amended though when I got to Boquete, where I climbed Volcan Baru -the highest point in Panama- and white water rafted. Even better still was learning to surf in Bocas del Toro. I have my dear friend Laura to thank for this experience, who kindly took me out and was patient with me through the whole endeavor. I enjoyed 10 days here, staying with my favorite Aussie and Kiwi: Ben and Clinton.
In early March, I left for Costa Rica. Short on money at this point, and starting to get homesick, I went ziplining in the rainforest, and hopped on a plane to San Francisco the next day. I surprised my family by coming home early.
April was my favorite month of the year not only because I had a killer 21st birthday, but because I also found out, on the 21st, I had been accepted to U.C. Davis as a Spanish student. 21 just seems like a lucky number to me now… I should’ve played the lottery that month…
In May, my family and I went to see Phantom of the opera on broadway which was spectacular. Sierra, Sloane, and I went to the Whole Earth Festival in Davis and danced with weird hippie people. It was my first time being on campus since I’d been accepted and it felt weird knowing I was about to spend a lot of my time (and money) here. I had the opportunity to watch my best friend since 7th grade graduate from Saint Mary’s with a degree in kinesiology. Congrats Kyle!
I left for Iceland in June and saw the most incredible waterfalls, picked up some hitchhikers from Poland, and got bit by an Icelandic horse, among other adventures. The day after I got back to California, Sierra graduated from highschool, and I began working Camp Kindness. Camp Kindness teaches kids how to interact with animals through the partnership of the SPCA. With the help of the kids that attended, we were able to get many dogs and cats adopted that summer. My dad, Sloane, and I climbed Mount Shasta, but we did not make the ascent due to ghastly winds. It was the hardest climb I’ve ever attempted, complete with snowshoes and crampons.
In July, I met up with some friends from my Iceland trip, Tom and Lisanne. My friends from the Netherlands were traveling all of the west coast and had stopped in Oakland to visit some museums. Ashlynn and I showed them the best of bay area rap, and the best cactus tacos they will probably ever have. I took the weekend to go surfing in Santa Cruz because my best friend Jennie was getting married. Sierra was working in a town close by as a counselor for a summer camp, so we brought her surfing with us, and the next day, the three of us went to the most beautiful wedding I had ever seen. Congratulations Jennie and Phillip!
August wasn’t all that interesting except that I bought a DNA kit to find out that I was 99.2% European (shocker) and I started a French summer session class at Davis to get the feel for things. There was also the solar eclipse this month that could be seen from California. Many people drove north to get a better view of it, but it was remarkable even from the view of the quad at Davis. My French instructor excused us and we went out to watch it as a class.
September was a month of change. I officially started a full class load at Davis by taking both Spanish and French classes, and decided to minor in French. I bought a fancy new wet suit, and chopped some bangs onto my face. I went to Yosemite to “get away” for a relaxing camping trip which turned out to be far from relaxing…
In October, I found a few like-minded individuals who wanted to start a surf club at U.C. Davis. We began meeting every Friday morning and discussing what we wanted to accomplish through the club. It was awesome meeting other surfers at my school, and I cannot wait to learn from their experience. My parents and I pulled together to buy Sloane a new surfboard for her sweet 16 because she wanted to come with us so often, it just made sense to put her on her own board. She is already a phenomenal surfer, and I can’t wait to see her grow in the sport. My family and I dressed up as the gang from Peter Pan for my church’s harvest festival, and put an impromptu performance on for the little ones. The Napa fires started this month. It was devastating and many people lost their homes.
November rolled around and I started to feel the ache of wanderlust again. I immediately bought a ticket to Spain and a return from Denmark so I could visit Jennie and Phillip at their new home. Surf club became officially recognized as a club by Davis and I was voted in as Vice President (which doesn’t really mean much since I was the only one who wanted it)!
In December I came down with a bad case of seasonal depression, and even though I was thankful to have received all As in my first quarter, I was ready for a change of scenery. After mine and Ashlynn’s annual trip to Apple Hill, I left for Santa Cruz. I couchsurfed with a dude named Ryan and a friend of mine, Francesca, from Davis in Central California to work on my surf skills, and do some hiking. I came back in a ridiculously better mood and ready to pursue 2018 with the people I love.