New job!

I recently got hired at an animal shelter near home in NY! I’m very excited about working here. So far it has been really great. I was so relieved to get hired. Job hunts can take a long, long time and I am lucky that I landed one already. On the first day I was feeling a bit rusty working with dogs after a nearly 6-month break, but I got right back into the swing of it. I am currently starting with low hours and working my way up as time goes on. I do not yet have a set schedule so my days vary week by week. I am so grateful for this opportunity!

Venus in surgery

Yesterday, Venus went to the vet to get spayed. She was dropped off at 8am. I was worried sick the whole day about the procedure. I was terrified that something might go wrong during surgery and there would be a health complication. And even if surgery went fine (which it did), I felt so sad for Venus. I knew she must’ve been petrified, lonely, and confused the whole time.

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So luckily the surgery was okay. She was ready to get picked up around 4:30 PM. She seemed completely out of it, and kept trying to rip off her E-collar (AKA, the cone). I kept her in my room for the night. At first, she looked terribly weak (and also pretty pissed off). She had no energy, but refused to lay in bed and cuddle. Instead, she sat on the floor very awkwardly as if she could not get comfortable. She did not seem like herself at all, which was so hard for me to see. After a few hours I finally got her to eat. Then finally, late that night, she laid in bed with me and we fell asleep together.

This morning I let her roam the house a bit as her energy came back. With her cone on, she tends to bump into things and lose her balance. Unfortunately she will have to wear the cone for at least a few more days so that she doesn’t lick open her stitches. Now, she is laying peacefully on my bed. She is beginning to show more affection towards me again.

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I’m looking forward to a week or so when Venus is healed and I can take her outside. Spaying and neutering is an important way of preventing overpopulation in cats and dogs. However, it is no “quick fix.” It is an invasive surgery that causes extreme stress for animals. According to the research I did in college, spaying/neutering is linked to a higher risk of developing several diseases (cancers, bone-related, and obesity-related). Sadly there are not really any other alternatives to keeping our pets sterile. I was considering other options for Venus but this seemed like her only option for now if I want to let her outside. I hope that in the future, we will have much safer/humane methods.

Horses

Last week I visited Kevin in Delaware while waiting to hear back from the places I interviewed at. We went on many walks at different parks. The cold weather makes it hard to get outside but luckily we had a few warm days. One of the places we went to had horses. Only two of them came up to us. They are beautiful creatures, yet so resilient. Their size and strength is intimidating.

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Kevin got more practice rock climbing. He got all the equipment he needs for Christmas and he has been practicing ever since. He’s getting pretty good at it. I’m glad he’s very cautious about it and he knows his limits. He wants me to join him but I’m not too interested in trying it myself. I’m sure he will get me to try a bit of climbing at some point.

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I was very relieved to hear back from the animal shelter I applied to. I had another interview today and on Wednesday I will go in for training. I haven’t yet heard back from the animal hospitals. I’m looking forward to having a job again so that I can have a routine instead of waiting around anxiously.

Next weekend I’ll be visiting Kevin again because we are interested in going to an interactive dinosaur exhibit that will be near his hometown temporarily. I already really miss him!

Interviews

This week has been really exhausting… I’ve had 4 interviews! On Monday, I interviewed for a technician assistant position at an animal hospital and they told me to come back Thursday morning for a “working interview.” I came to the next interview in scrubs and sneakers, and I was mainly observing. It lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Thursday afternoon I stopped by an animal shelter, filled out an application, and had an interview with the manager. The whole interview was done outside, which was pretty neat. Then, just this morning, I spent about 3 hours at a different animal hospital. I had a formal interview and then I spent the rest of the time following people around and doing hands-on work. As of now, I don’t have any other interviews scheduled. I’m just waiting to hear back from everyone.

Interviews are extremely draining. It’s a confusing time, trying to figure out what kind of job I want and feeling so uncertain about the future. I’m really looking forward to having a routine again. And of course, I’m looking forward to having a paycheck. I haven’t been buying anything except for a bottle of shampoo. My lovely parents give me free food and free rent. Venus is on dry food for the time being because I can’t afford wet food right now. There’s not much of a need to buy anything right now, except out of boredom. It’s easy to stay home and avoid the mall. What’s hard is having Internet access to buying anything I want online with the comfort of avoiding lines and staying in my pajamas. Sometimes I go on Amazon and add things I think I need to my cart, and then I come back to my cart a few days later and think, “I really don’t need any of this.” Once I get a job, I’m trying to dedicate like at least half of my paycheck to my savings account so I can start saving for rent money. I guess I’ll see how it goes.

Four Years with my man!

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A few days ago marked the four-year anniversary of my relationship with Kevin. It’s amazing to think about how much has changed since then, and how strong our relationship has grown. I don’t know how to explain how wonderful he is without sounding cheesy. I want to stay humble and pretend that it’s no big deal, but that’s far from the truth. Not only has he taught me how to fall in love with someone, but he has taught me how to fall in love with myself and with life. He helps me see the bigger picture instead of getting too caught up in my own little world. I’m not the biggest “people person,” and I become easily drained when I spend too much time with someone. But I could spend all of my time with him and it would still feel like it’s not enough. I think humans in general are hard to deal with, yet love is what raises us beyond our animal instincts and forces us to put others before ourselves.

We’re both living at home right now, three hours away from each other, trying to find jobs so we can start investing in our future. It’s nice to be home, but I’m definitely looking forward to the day we can move in together. It’s really frustrating to see other couples our age who are already living together. I’m used to seeing him almost every day, and now it feels like we’re back-tracking, though we are certainly not. We talk about marriage all the time! We are really excited for the future and having patience is torture.

Now that I’m past 21, I’m seriously starting to feel old. Objectively, you can say that I’m still younger than most of the population, and therefore I am still young. But right now I am throwing objectivity out the window and stating how I truly feel… old. You know how I know I feel old? Now, when people make comments about how young I look, I glow with excitement and it feels like a genuine complement. Mwahaha, I beat mother nature and father time with my looks! I don’t think you understand… just a year ago, I considered looking young for my age to be my greatest flaw. But ever since I turned 22, as if someone flicked a switch, I feel incredibly old. There is no in-between with me. Maybe it has to do with returning home after living on my own for a couple of years. It’s sort of like a time-warp. It’s like I have returned to being a teenager, yet I have the mind and body of a 22-year old, not a 17-year old. Young adults have slower metabolisms and more stretch marks than teenagers. Young adults are far more open-minded (and maybe cynical, too) about the world than teenagers. Young adults have much greater responsibility and pressures than teenagers. Young adults are old folks from a teenager’s perspective. So yeah, basically, I’m a teenager again, but I’m actually a 22-year old. Maybe I will feel younger once I start feeling older (such a paradox). By that, I mean, once I have a full-time job and I move out, 20s will feel young again.

Anyway, Kevin and I went to Longwood Garden on Saturday and it was gorgeous! The theme was orchids, which are Kevin’s favorite type of flowers. My favorite room was the cactus room. We spent a good two hours there, admiring the beauty of nature. I really enjoyed seeing so many plants. If only they had animals, as well!

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Pineapple plant at Longwood Garden

Today I had an interview at an animal hospital and I think it was fairly successful. They want me to come back on Thursday for a “working interview,” where they watch me work. It feels like a lot of pressure. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I know I’m very qualified, but I also know that the workforce is unfair. I’m looking at many different options because you never really know. It’s a very confusing time.

2017

1 month ago I was prepping for finals and worrying about passing all my classes. Now I am sitting at home, completely moved out of my apartment. Moving out was quite the process, even though I had only technically resided there for 6 months. My roommate had been living there with another friend for the past 3 years. I started sleeping over there quite frequently about 2 years ago. So it certainly feels like a home of mine for much longer than a mere 6 months.

The week before Christmas, I spent my time packing up my personal items and spending quality time with my roommate before she made her departure. Following Christmas, there was a lot of junk left behind that I had to get rid of. Thank goodness Kevin was there to help. We completely overfilled the dumpster. Moving out is such a drawn-out process. Just when you think you’re finishing up, more junk seems to pile up. Finally, the very last day of 2016, the place was totally cleared out.

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I drove to Delaware with Kevin the night of New Years Eve and spent a few days at his house. It was really fun to spend time with him before I came home. He is going to come visit me this weekend and bring back a few things I wasn’t able to fit in my car. And then from there, I suppose we will have to take it one week at a time. I’m used to seeing him practically every day. Luckily we are used to distance. After he left Del Val 2 years ago, we learned how to find ways to still see each other as much as possible. The only difference is that he was just one hour away… now we have three. We don’t know what our work schedules will be. For now, all we can do is take it one week at a time.

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I’m not surprised that I’m sick right now. I was so proud of myself for avoiding sickness this entire fall season, when everyone around me was wheezing. I know for a fact that stress is extremely damaging to the body and lowers your immune system. Getting sick in college seems inevitable, mainly halfway into the semester when everyone starts freaking out about grades. So I made a real effort to keep my stress levels low and I avoided flu/cold season like a ninja.

But sometimes stress is impossible to avoid. Going through major changes like moving out, graduating, and switching jobs all at once is very stressful. Now I’m feeling terribly sick. The past month has consisted of too much traveling and life changes to handle. Hopefully today is when things start to settle. No more traveling, time to rest.

The graduate

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I started college at Kutztown University as a psychology major. I ended up regretting my decision. I think I rushed into attending KU without fully comprehending it. I didn’t think about how it would be, attending a townie school instead of a state school. Most KU students come to college with a good portion of their high school classmates and commute from home, no longer than 20 minutes away from campus. So, it wasn’t much of a welcoming environment because everyone else was settled with their friends and home while I was starting over. I did end up making a few great friends, but there were many reasons for transferring out – 15,000 students was too large for me, I wasn’t sure about my major, KU mainly specializes in education majors, and overall it just didn’t feel like a good fit.

I looked around at other colleges with a new perspective and an open mind. I thought more about my future and my career path. Delaware Valley College, or Del Val, popped out at me. It was a much smaller school, consisting of merely 2,000 students. My mom talked to her friends about my situation, and one of her friends just so happened to know a girl my age at Del Val – Laura (I know, same name as me… freaky coincidence!) So I signed up for a tour at Del Val and arranged to meet up with Laura G afterwards. I talked to her and a few of her friends to get the inside scoop about Del Val and to figure out if the risk of transferring schools would be worth it. Immediately I felt a good, strong vibe about the college. The people seemed so friendly. The campus was beautiful – with the gardens, gazebos, lake, and little trails. KU had a nice campus, but nothing compared to Del Val. KU’s campus felt more utilitarian, while Del Val’s campus felt like it had true personality.

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And that’s why I love Del Val: it’s authentic uniqueness. It’s not a state school, nor is it a community college. It’s a small, private college with a deep focus on agriculture. It offers a kind of experience that you will not find at any other college. Every class comes with hands-on experience. It’s not just about sitting in lecture, taking notes, and being tested. It’s about getting your hands dirty, trying new things, and being pushed out of your comfort zone. They don’t just offer biology as a major; they offer small animal science, large animal science, wildlife management & conservation, zoology, and several other specific majors you won’t find at other schools. Thanks to Del Val, I was able to practice working with REAL animals: rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, cows, chickens, insects, reptiles, and even fish! I was able to take cool classes you won’t find anywhere else such as Introduction to Animal Management, Animal Training & Enrichment, Canine Behavior & Training, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Human & Animal Interaction, and so on. I’m proud of the education I received.

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I came to Del Val at a crucial time. When I first transferred, people were discussing Del Val possibly reaching university status. Sophomore year, they built a brand new building for more classes with a Starbucks kiosk. Del Val started rapidly expanding right after I had arrived.

Delaware Valley College became a university my junior year. It was a bittersweet experience. The staff and faculty, especially the president, was ecstatic about becoming a university because it “looks good” and means more money for them. But the students felt much differently. We were upset that Del Val was on the road to losing its individuality and becoming just another plain old university. Some people even transferred out because of this. Us agriculture majors were annoyed that Del Val was taking its attention away from our majors, and instead, focusing on the new majors such as business and criminal law. Since this change, Del Val has been obsessed with quantity and has completely disregarded quality in order to compete with other universities and climb its way to the top. The new Life Science building that was added my junior year is very nice and modern, but before it was built, it was a garden area I used to sit at with my friends. Quality professors are retiring and Del Val is struggling with trying to find decent replacements. With more students being accepted every year, parking spaces have become much more scarce. And, also with becoming a university, comes the implantation of stricter rules. So, on one hand, I suppose graduating from a university as opposed to a college looks better on my resume. But I feel sorry for the younger classes who come to Del Val when it becomes too late to appreciate its uniqueness and impressive agricultural focus. I hope that the future agriculture students of Del Val get the same amazing opportunities I had. I hope Del Val never loses its character.

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My classes were extremely challenging and there were many times when I thought I would not make it. Classes that I thought would be “fun” like Animal Behavior turned out being extremely challenging, and classes I thought would be pretty hard like “animal anatomy & physiology” ended up frying my brain. I feel pretty smart now.

College was a time of major growth for me. I had a lot of difficult experiences along with many great memories. I feel like a very different person than the person I was freshmen year.

Now I am cleaning out my apartment and pretty soon I will be home again in NY. In the future, when I have the space and the funds, I am really interested in starting my own animal-related business. I’ve had a few ideas in my head for a while now. I can’t say for sure how everything will specifically work out. Until then, I’ll be working at different places and developing my skills as an animal-caretaker. Personally I am not fully motivated to chase after a large paycheck. I want to save the world and live my passion. I want to help the animals!

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little adventures