Last week I met with Jaci bright and early to discuss my current progress as well as my future plans as a member of the Global Engagement Fellowship. I always enjoy my meetings with Jaci, because to be completely honest, the study abroad process can be an extremely overwhelming one; but somehow Jaci always seems to know every possible option available and which ones would be best for me. Once she gives you a plethora of options, she can tell you who you need to talk to, how much it’s going to cost you, where’s the best place to grab some lunch, and your mother’s maiden name. Because of her reputation as the ultimate problem solver of all life issues that could ever possibly occur, the freshman GEF class has created the slogan “Jaci will fix your life.” The woman is a miracle worker, and I’m not just saying that because she’s going to read this post, she is truly one of the most valuable resources I have found on campus.
Now that I’ve established all the wonderful things that Jaci can do, it will make more sense when I say that I scheduled not one but TWO mid-semester meetings with her so that she could essentially fix my life. During my first attempt at a mid-semester meeting, we chatted about how my classes were going and my plans for my final project in the UCOL Becoming Globally Engaged class. Naturally, when she asked about my plans for study abroad, I informed her that I had a plan and a good one at that. I had already met with the study abroad adviser for GEF’s and I had spent many hours researching how to move classes around in the extremely unforgiving mechanical engineering major that I have chosen. So I had a plan: South Korea for the spring semester of my sophomore year and the Journey to Peru program for the summer after South Korea. So I thought I had it figured out: I asked Jaci what she thought about the Journey to Peru program, because I did have some reservations about it. She paused. Then she explained to me that the Journey to Peru program would be an amazing experience, but that it tends to be for people who need more structure in their study abroad experience and that it depended on what I wanted out my experience whether the Journey program would be a good fit or not. So the first mid-semester meeting ended: I listened to Jaci’s opinion and resolved that I would think about it some more on my own.
The next week I thought a lot about what exactly I wanted. My thought processes tend to move extremely fast when I’m trying to make decisions, and I really dislike taking longer than two hours to make any significant life choices (not including trying to determine what to eat for breakfast, because that can occasionally take some time). By the time the weekend had passed, I knew that the Journey to Peru program was not for me. Since I can speak and understand Spanish at a decent level and I’m extremely interested in Latin American culture, I knew that spending three weeks traveling around the country and not really immersing myself in the culture and language would leave me unsatisfied and my previous Spanish teachers may have even disowned me. Now that I knew what I didn’t want, I had to figure out what I was going to do, because I had no clue. I did my own research on the fabulous study abroad website for OU and searched for programs in Latin America that would work for me and what I wanted out of the experience. I found nothing. Either the program was too short, or they did not offer a course with a high enough Spanish level, or it was not even in Latin America. Naturally, my next step was to call two of my best friends from back home in California and they were such kind human beings and listened to me ramble for about an hour so that I could sort out my own thoughts. Then I called my most consistent source of wisdom: my mother. She did in fact give me wisdom, but not necessarily any answers. She said I had to figure it out on my own or else I really would be unsatisfied.
So I called in the big guns: it was time to schedule my second mid-semester meeting with Jaci. We decided to meet after the UCOL class, and I admitted that my life was a mess and needed fixing, but I had aced an interview with my Spanish professor the day before and I had listened to some Salsa music so I was feeling good and determined to figure things out. Jaci listened to me talk about what I was thinking and what I wanted on our walk to her office and by the time we reached her building she had given me at least three options. But finally as I sat in Jaci’s office, we found the ONE. We found the perfect program with upper division Spanish classes, a decent length of time, an immersive experience, AND it’s in Latin America. So I actually figured it out (or rather Jaci did): now this summer I will be going to Chile for five weeks and I couldn’t be more excited. I know my friends and my mother are all extremely happy they don’t have to listen to my life crisis any more. Maybe they should send Jaci a fruit basket.
Note: I’m terribly sorry for how long and rambling this whole post has been even though it only covered the span of about four days. Hopefully this post was at least entertaining or gave some insight into the awesomeness of Jaci.