I took a leave of absence in order to rest and focus on my (mental) health, but the former hasn’t really been on the docket since I got home. I think that my not resting, though, has in some ways been helping me work on my mental health, and I couldn’t be more grateful. However, sleep ISN’T for the weak; even if I’m not lounging at home as much as I probably should be, I’ve been making sure to get enough sleep (usually) so I can be at my best.
So here’s my comprehensive, personal guide to filling your mind and heart with good things during a leave of absence!
2 internships | I decided to continue with my virtual internships with EducationUSA Armenia and U.S. Embassy Bishkek. Things slowed down in November to allow me time to recover, but they’re picking back up again before the holidays, and I’m excited! I’m working on Christmas content and U.S. state profiles for my Armenian students and international relations-related projects for my Kyrgyzstan internship. I’m grateful to have supervisors that look out for my health. 🙂
2 jobs | I’ve been working part-time at Abercrombie and my best friend’s dad’s insurance management office as an assistant (definitely something new for me, and I’m learning lots!), but both of them together end up being like a full-time job! There are some 12-hour days when I go straight from 7/8 hours at the office to another 4 or 5 at Abercrombie. I’ve found that this lifestyle isn’t very sustainable for me because I’m constantly exhausted, but I’m grateful for the opportunities, and my office job ends next week. I do love working, though, and I enjoy retail because I get to interact with customers who speak languages from all over the world! (And run into people I know! Today was a Spanish teacher from my middle school, and on Thanksgiving it was friends from my high school French exchange – including one of the French girls who was back in town to visit her host family!)
2 languages | I’m self-studying Korean (level 3 out of 6 in the Yonsei series) and Russian (Intermediate 1), but it’s a bit slow. Still, I have a process for how I study, including taking notes, looking up unknown words, filling out every exercise, and writing sentences using newly-learned vocab and grammar. I’d love to add some Duolingo/Mango work with Greek and Azerbaijani, but that can come after I’m not working 12 hour days, haha.
2 more languages! | I signed up to take 10-day intensive Arabic and Portuguese courses at University of Illinois!! I’m so excited to start languages 9 and 10, especially Arabic, and to live on a real college campus with my best friend, who will be taking Spanish and French. We already have Netflix binge dates and cute cafe study seshes planned.
2 leadership positions | I received funding from the CLS Alumni Development Fund to implement a NSLIY to CLS mentorship program and host a networking event, and I recently was selected as a NSLIY Alumni Representative, so I get to host even more cool events! I’ve been trying to get a head start on brainstorming event ideas and venues, and mentoring my students has been super fun and rewarding. They’re all so driven and kind!!
2 confirmed trips | Party in D.C. with the other NSLIY Alumni Reps for training! And unfortunately, my grandpa is very sick, so my brother and I are going to visit him at the end of this month in China. Pretty shitty circumstances to return to such a wonderful country, but I’m grateful for a chance to see him and spend time with him. He’s the kind of person who is always smiling and laughing, even as you are annoyed with and yelling at him. (Mostly my grandma.) He takes nothing seriously, and that’s why he lives such a full, happy life. I’d love to learn to be like him and just think positively, smile often, and laugh in the face of negativity.
2 planned trips | I made an awesome friend at an embassy event in Korea this summer, and he’s back in Salt Lake City after completing his State Department internship. I can’t wait to visit him and meet his cute cat and even cuter son! I’m also arranging a trip to Yerevan and Bishkek for spring break so I can meet my internship supervisors and students and see with my own eyes the countries I’ve been working with this year. 🙂
2 days of therapy per week | Well, so far it’s only been once a week what with my crazy work schedule, but it will become 2 soon, even if only temporarily given everything else I’ll have going on! My therapist has been incredibly empathetic yet rational, and she’s helped me see angles to my feelings and the way I approach them that I didn’t realize. The office is in downtown Chicago, which is great because that city brings me so much happiness and also lots of great memories with my favorite people. I honestly don’t know the city well at all, though, so I’m hoping once things calm down with work, I’ll have more time to explore different neighborhoods and cultural offerings in the city. On another note that’s harder to explain, nostalgia is something that weighs heavily on me. The better the memory, the more difficult it is for me to deal with the fact that it’s over. Since so many of the best memories of my life were created in Chicago, being in the city can be difficult for me at times, but I’m trying to use what I’m learning from therapy to appreciate the city and the memories it holds, not be weighed down by it all.
So as you can see, things have not slowed down just because I’m home! I’m excited to rest a bit more after this week, though, and to dedicate some more time to my internships – and, well, to taking care of my health. By the time I go back to NYU, I want to be able to hit the ground running!