Roasted Mutton

I had to say some of my “see you later” ’s these last couple of weeks. It’s still strange to think I won’t be seeing everyone next semester; it’s beginning to make this whole ‘study abroad’ thing more real. Up until now I’ve been dealing mostly with ideas, numbers, dates, and pictures. Now I’m dealing with the more personal side. For my last night in Grand Forks, several of my friends and I went to the midnight premiere of “The Hobbit,” which actually has deeper meaning to me right now. Not only is it the prequel to the “Lord of the Rings,” one of my favorite epics, but it’s also the last outing I’ll have with my friends until I see them again in the fall. Although, there is a rumor of a reality-show like blog to keep me connected. In a larger sense, Bilbo and I can seriously relate to each other right now. We’re both going somewhere with people we don’t know, to some far-off place we’ve never been, and we’re both going to encounter dragons (mine will probably be less dangerous). It is this connection that sparked the theme of this blog.

As every other student who’s studied abroad I’ve hit that anxious/excited state. The emotion’s I’m feeling are intense, I’m just not sure which emotion it is!

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All of these. All at once.

Now that I’m done with finals and have all of this time off, I’ve been volunteering at the Red River Zoo more often; getting around and working out some of my excited energy.  Or, when I stay at home, I stress-clean; this at home method has been met with little objection from my mom. At this point I have nothing left to do but wait and pack; which, by the way, is seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Because, naturally I need all of my clothes, books, shoes, movies, game-boards, cleaning supplies, a microwave… wait this seems familiar: . Yep, that’s about right. I have packed-unpacked-repacked-unpacked-repacked at least a dozen times, and I still feel like I’m bringing too much and yet not enough.

 In a week (a week to the day!) I will be boarding a plane. That’s a scary thought. I think I need to start taking dramamine…
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An Unexpected Party

The other day I started reflecting on how I’ve reached this point in my life. I could have ended up anywhere, but somehow the events of my life have brought me here; getting ready for “An Unexpected Journey” (pun totally intended). A year ago, I was not seeing myself going to China, actually a year and a half ago I scoffed at the idea. My freshman year, 2 years ago, I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know where. It came down to a three-way-tie between Italy, Australia, and Japan. I didn’t get to go to Italy when I was in Europe, Australia because Australia is beautiful and warm, and Japan because I studied Japanese at Concordia for a couple of summers.

When I went to the study abroad fair to get information on these three locations, I visited the “Chinese Business Trip” table and walked away with no intention to look into it. Throughout that semester I was planning on studying in Australia for biology, but also took up Chinese class. Eventually I had to drop my Australia plans due to cost, but that missed opportunity brought me here. During the Spring semester, the time I was planning to be in Australia, I declared my majors; Biology and Chinese, hoping to use them to work with Asian wildlife. I also applied for an Internship for the summer that I wouldn’t have received if I was abroad.

At my internship I worked with two pairs of breeding Red Pandas and we had a successful birth!

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Here he is now at 6 months:

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If I went to Australia and interned at that zoo, I may not have met the Red River Zoo’s Red Panda’s and decided to go into research on Red Panda breeding behavior!

I find it interesting how all the cards fall into place, and when one opportunity is missed another takes its place. And sometimes that new opportunity is better. I currently feel so confident in my decision to work with Red Pandas, more confident than I’ve felt about anything. And now that I’ve picked up learning Chinese, I have the potential to research their behavior in the wild or at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center, located within my city of choice!

It’s just funny to think back. 2012 would have been a very different year if I went to Australia, and 2013 would not be nearly this exciting.