Selena Ponio '18 | March 17, 2019
The real world, it turns out, does not have semesters.
My four years at Notre Dame felt at times like a series of sprints — from classes to extracurriculars to career fairs — but those were at least broken up by the academic calendar. In college, you’re told when to stop: for a week in the fall, a month at Christmas, a week in the spring, and if you’re lucky, a couple of internship-free months (or weeks) in the summer.
I started my first job in the “real world” last July, and I quickly learned that corporate America doesn’t come with these tidy breaks. In my first seven months on the job, I worked every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas — not necessarily on purpose, but because I wasn’t quite sure when it was okay to stop.
And then I decided to take a stretch break in Colombia.
The decision to visit Medellin was nothing less than spontaneous, and my reasons for going were broad: I had taken Spanish classes in college and missed the language. I’d never been to South America. I’d never had a “real” empanada.
The night before my flight, I felt an unfamiliar flutter in my stomach. I had taken solo trips before, but to places I had already been to, familiar territory that merited a second visit. This time, I was going to a whole new country — a whole new continent — completely alone.
I felt small, like the world was about to swallow me whole.
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