Monday, April 27, 2015

I Made it to Anguilla!

So, I arrived on Saturday!  Whew, it's almost a culture shock but it manageable.  Everything here seems a little bit behind time but at the same time it's not.  I can tell the island is a tourist island.  The locals seem very nice although some of the women here don't seem to be as friendly as the men.  But what can I expect?!

So last week, I got my hair braided so I wouldn't have to worry about it for a while.  I also continued trying to fit more things into my suitcase than what was supposed to fit.  I was very glad that my grandma drove down from North Carolina to Atlanta to see me off.  She also packed my suitcase.  You gotta love grandmas!

My last meal in the United States was at a seafood restaurant in Hampton, GA called Bay Breeze.  The fried shrimp and tilapia were good as usual.  I overstuffed myself because I figured it would be the last time I had extremely good food until I got back.  This was the last meal I had until Sunday morning.

Train in Atlanta Airport
I did not cry all week until I checked in my bags on Saturday morning with my boyfriend.  He was very strong with his emotions and told me it would only be four months until we saw one another again and I agreed.  I even passed a Starbucks and did not get anything to eat or drink.  So of course the journey through Atlanta airport is always an experience.    After checking in my two checked bags, the clerk alerted me that the trains weren't running at 4 am so I could wait or walk to the terminals.  So of course we asked so where is the terminal and he replied, "Four buildings away."  So you definitely know I waited until the trains were running plus to spend more time with my boyfriend.  But after I went through TSA, the first thing I did was go and take the train to terminal D.  By the time I actually got there, Zone 1 was boarding so I actually made it just in time!  Yay for me!  By the way, I flew with Spirit and it was an experience.

So I landed in Fort Lauderdale airport.  Honestly, I do not like this airport.  At all.  I went through TSA in Atlanta with no problems but I had to go out of the terminal to go through TSA to go to the next terminal. I obviously went through at the wrong time because they were very busy and of course I got flagged.  It was my hair products that were creams.  In my book, a cream is not a liquid.  According to this agent, a cream is a liquid.  He told me that I had two options: mail it home or pay for the carry-on suitcase to be checked.  Neither of those options sounded very appealing to me immediately.  So I asked where the mail boxes were and was told they were downstairs.  Needless to say, they were actually at the terminal that I just came from building.  And there were no boxes.  Then I just said forget it, I'll throw it away if I don't get through.  Well, I took off my shoes this time through TSA and I wasn't flagged or anything.  So one thing I learned is that it depends on who is reading the screen if you'll actually get through or not.

So, next stop, St. Martin!  The plane ride was great.  On the way to the island, I sat next to a couple that told me of all the islands that they had visited and even let me take the window seat to get all the beautiful views.  And they let me know of this activity known as "Jet Blasting" that is only able to be done at this airport.  It sounds insane because it is insane.  People hold onto a fence as big planes start their engines and "blast" their jets.  If that doesn't sound crazy, I don't know what is.  I took a video of us landing just because it was an experience and so beautiful at the same time.  Plus to see if there were going to be people standing at the fence, but as you can see, I couldn't tell.

So, I made it to St. Martin!!!!  I got off the plane and walked over to a bus to be transported to the terminal.  Then I waited in line for.........IMMIGRATION.  Yep, it took quite a while. But the only thing I really needed to show was my passport and the form I filled out on the plane.  There wasn't much exchange with this clerk but it was a smooth process.  So then I went to baggage claim to claim my two checked bags.  Carrying 70 and 53 pound suitcases while also carrying a carry-on and a 45-lb backpack is pretty challenging I must say.  I have never been happier to have another individual meet at the airport to help me with my luggage.  I used Funtime Charter ferries to get to Anguilla because it made more sense to pay to have them pick me up from the airport and take me to the ferry than attempt to get a cab and take the public ferry and it be the same price.  I also went through immigration with them and they set us up for immigration with Anguilla.

By this ferry ride, I was a little overwhelmed and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  What have I done to myself?  I have left my family and gone to school in Anguilla to do all of this?  But I honestly think it all came together when I saw this sign:
Welcome to Anguilla
After getting to the dock, the porter (guy who carries the luggage on and off the boat) said that my luggage was the heaviest on the boat.  I didn't have extra money to tip but I tried to show him that I greatly appreciated his service.  Little to my knowledge did I know that they made a living off of their tips because they are not paid.  Luckily, I thought I had arranged things while I was in the states with a potential landlord.  Being that God has been so good to me, I had the chance of getting the information of the landlord that a previous student had during their time on the island.  The problem that I had at the dock was I forgot to put his number in my phone.  Luckily everyone on the island knows everybody.  As soon as I stated his name, the guy at the dock told a taxi driver exactly where to take me.

I arrived at my new home above a very good bakery!  It is two bedrooms with one bathroom and the hugest kitchen that I've ever had to myself.  It's always the small things that make me feel so blessed.  Although, the challenge afterwards was to unpack and get acquainted with my new surroundings, I also needed to eat.  Let's just say that I was so tired from the lack of sleep I got the entire week leading up to it that I just passed out at sundown which is around 7:00 pm.  I didn't wake up until the next day around 6:00 am.  I went and ate at the bakery downstairs called Le Bon Pain.  The chocolate croissants are amazing!  The gas for my stove was out and Anguilla is very good about observing the Sabbath.  

I went searching for restaurants so that I could eat something but only found a grocery store that wasn't far from my house.  I learned that only the Chinese have stores opens on Sunday.  I wasn't given a reason why but that's what I've been told.  Also while searching, I found the beach.  Yes, it was beautiful.  Beautiful beyond my imagination.

So Monday morning, I spent with my landlord getting money to get gas and electricity put in my name.  Apparently some of the students have left with outstanding debts resulting in other students having to put large deposits on utilities when they move in.  I was happy that I could actually have food!  So these are my accounts on getting to the island.  I still have a week before anything starts and plenty more to explore and learn.

This week, the theme was that I was going to make it to my destination.  How I was going to get there was not the question.  And the path that I thought I was going to take was not necessarily it either. 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19, NIV

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quitting Time

So, Quit Day!

Literally, I just walked into my bosses office and said, "Sir, I would like to turn in my two weeks notice now."  He said he had no clue about this going to take place.  Of course he wanted to know if I was going to a competitor but I responded that I was going to medical school in the Caribbean.  Anguilla to be exact.  And the response I received was, "okay."

So much for a lot of drama and action from someone who "values" you, right?  It's okay because all of the events leading up to this moment told me that I wasn't supposed to be here.  I really thought that I was supposed to work here when it all started and work here until I retired but that isn't the case.  I just don't want to work anywhere where because I don't have a PhD determines if I can be a chemist when in fact, I am a chemist when I graduate college.  Sounds a little demeaning, right?

Other than that, it was really hard telling my coworkers that I was leaving especially the ones I consider my "sisters."  They were happy and mad in the same sense but for good reasons.  The ones that I had told previously, were rooting for me to turn in my notice so the "celebration" could begin.  I must say that it felt really good to turn it in and get the secret over with.  Now, time seems to be going faster than ever.

So, instead of having the option of not working my two weeks, I was told that I had to work.  According to the policy, it says you have an option.  So honestly, that means that I will sit in my office for the next two weeks with my feet propped up.  I did not leave them without some direction of some of the things that I was doing.  I at least wrote procedures and notes on how I did a lot of the processes we used.

The group meeting we had on the following Monday was pretty interesting as well.  I assumed that my boss was going to inform the group of my decision but he actually deferred that to me.  It took everything in me to say, "Well, I quit."  That isn't exactly very professional sounding I would say but it would've gotten my point across.  It seemed everyone was happy for me; even the people who falsely accused me of harassing them.  But that's a story for another day!

So, I have gotten rid of a lot of things in my office to other employees and I am ready to say farewell now but I am sure that this torture is going to last longer than I want it to.  Thank God for sick days though because I don't know how I would make it without it.

Also, for a school update.  Since last week, I submitted the final document needed for traveling and have received my official acceptance letter to go to Saint James School of Medicine.  I can't tell if I am more nervous, scared or excited to be chasing my dreams.  I also received an invite from my peers in a group on Facebook which is helping us to get to know one another.  Seems like our class size will be really small but I guess time will tell.

This new path is starting to take shape and I hold my trust and faith in God.  He has made it absolutely possible for me to accomplish everything from birth to now and I owe everything to Him.  The scripture below is a brief description of how I feel right now!

 For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!
-Isaiah 43:19, TLB

Monday, April 6, 2015

Am I Really Ready to Leave?

That is the question of the hour.  Well, there are many factors to that question that I have to consider but I would rather talk about 4 of them.  The factors that matter the most about my decision to go to school are: my job/career, my family, my friends (or what little I have of them) and my church.

Gulfport, MS
I think from the earlier posts, you can tell that my job will be one of the easiest transitions.  I honestly don't like my job.  I never thought I would grow to hate going to work every morning but it is very hard to be the only optimistic one at work on most days.  I will miss the trips that I got to take to places such as New Orleans with my boyfriend, Gulfport, MS with a coworker and Wilmington, NC with coworkers.  These are just a few of the excursions I got to experience while I was employed with this company which are the highlights of what happened while I worked here but it doesn't match up with the day to day things that I have to deal with in the office.  I have heard from many individuals that have worked here and left here to find another employer due to the lack of advancement.  I have no intentions of going to graduate school for chemistry due to my failure before (yes, I flunked out of a chemistry masters program) because my passion lies elsewhere.  I like what I do and I will take my knowledge with me.  I just know that waiting 30 years to only be called a scientist is a waste of my time, talent and knowledge and this is the best move to make me happy.
New Orleans, LA with the Boyfriend

Secondly, my family will be a major factor of questioning my readiness to leave.  I am worried about my parents who will not have anyone to lean on except our church family being that they moved to Atlanta, GA from North Carolina to be closer to me.  My father is on disability while my mother has yet to find a job after searching for over a year.  I'm sure they will be fine but I am just hoping that everything happens to them in their favor.  Also, my oldest brother has found the one and I am scared that I will miss out on this important stage of his life.  He also has my niece and nephew which I will have to miss out on this part of their lives.  One of my younger brothers is getting his life together as well as figuring out life with his daughter.  She is only 3 years and my little buddy but I think she will forgive me in the long run.  Also, my youngest brother is just now starting to realize how to live life.  That's all I can say about him because he needs me more than he knows.  And last but not least, my sister.  I finally started to have a relationship with my younger sister after not seeing her for over 10 years for that to abruptly change and I not hear from her in over a month.  I wish that our families were on better terms so that she can see how it is possible to achieve her dreams as well.

Random Walking Downtown in Atlanta, GA
My friends do mean a lot to me but I do understand that they want what's best for me.  I saw one friend get married this weekend.  My best friend is trying to figure out her dream and be what she can be.  I don't have very many close friends so this is the easiest portion of all.  And last but not least, the boyfriend.  I would think it would be more difficult but being that we have dated less than a year and I tried to cram a year into 8 months after he didn't want to, it is a lot easier to leave.

My church is very special to me.  Other than work and home, this is the most likely place that you would find me.  I just love how I am able to learn so much from these people biblically.  It's not always the classes that teach you something but their actions that tell you they are living the way that they teach.  Although some don't teach at all, their actions speak volumes.

Finally I have finished my resignation letter to be handed in on Friday.  I have been avoiding it but I have finally completed it.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be but I also told my best coworker.  That was a heavy weight because she is out on leave at the moment but she won't be back until I leave.  I just felt the need to tell her that I was run off from here but it is for a better me!