Fun fact: This day last year, I helped an elementary-schooler draw a picture of “how drugs affect your family.”

About little over a year ago – on August 24, 2013, to be exact – as I was getting ready to dive (get it?) out of my comfort zone and do a super science-y study abroad program, I made a goal to keep a sort-of-journal while I was there.  Part of this was because I wanted to record my experiences abroad, of course, but mostly it was to maintain my ability to write creatively and hold onto my English-major-ness – I said it’s a “sort-of-journal” because it’s predominantly for free-writing, not for recording my daily whims.

This time last year, I was wishing the UPS crew team good luck at this weekend's Head of the Lake while underwater.

This time last year, I was wishing the UPS crew team good luck at this weekend’s Head of the Lake while underwater.

I currently have that first green Five Star notebook sitting next to me.  The front plastic cover, for some reason, is permanently curved and has been ever since my study abroad program’s three-day camping trip among the ants and invasive coconut palms of North Caicos last October.  Deciding to fill this notebook was easily one of the top four decisions of my entire study abroad experience – the other three being to take the Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification course, to do a homestay during my mid-semester break, and to help my younger sister organize a book drive for the schools on the School for Field Studies’ island.  I finished the last page of this notebook on July 6, 2014, and have started a new one with the hopes of finishing it in less time than the first.

The reason I bring this up is because I think that self-improvement is an important part of the college experience, and writing – whether creative or journaling – is, for me at least, the best way for self-reflection and thinking.  I’m all about academic learning; I think it’s extremely important and inherently valuable – something I probably picked up on from my grandparents, who have never stopped looking for knowledge.  But your intellect is not the only thing that should grow in college – and that’s why I go to bed about fifteen minutes later than I could on most nights.  And taking that much time to free-write is kind of a big deal when your alarm’s set for 5:30 a.m.

It’s also interesting to look back through last year’s notebook and see what I was up to this day last year.