A Year In Review: 2014

2014 was a huge year for me. I can’t help but become a little more reflective about all that’s happened to me – and that I’ve made happen – in the last twelve months.

I turned 21, Indiana Jones-style. I spent my 21st birthday with my parents, true good sports that they are, zip lining, driving Jeeps through the wilderness, and swimming in underwater caves in Mexico at Xplor Park. It was exhilarating, terrifying and truly unparalleled. (For a promo video of the sites I visited, you can check out these awesome shots of zip lining, the jeeps, and cave swimming via this YouTube video.) I’m almost wondering if I should just stop celebrating my birthday now – how could I ever top that?

I ran a half-marathon in Florida (for the second time in the sunshine state.) It was pretty awesome (and downright exhausting) to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles of Floridian heat and humidity in Marco Island, Florida. I hope I’ll be able to run it again one day, but for now, I’ll treasure that race as one of the most difficult in terms of pacing and mental toughness (I ran without music, I made some friends, I took walk breaks and tried to be humble.) I celebrated by going to Publix immediately afterward (which is still quite a novelty and love affair for this New Yorker.)

I pushed myself above and beyond, academically, when I took summer classes. I have to say that the day my final grade rolled in for Human Anatomy & Physiology II was probably one of the happiest days of 2014. I worked so hard for that A – the six-week, two-course summer session of A&P I and II was grueling and I’m proud to have made it through.

I moved off-campus, and by myself (sort of) for the first time. I live in a house now, instead of a dorm room, and it’s pretty sweet having my own room and being close to friends and classes. It’s not quite adulthood, though — I’m far too lazy to haul up a box spring, so my mattress is still on the floor, and just because I’m on off the meal plan doesn’t mean I’m cooking gourmet dinners every night. In fact….

This was my first year eating completely gluten-free. Ever since I found out I had a wheat allergy (November 2013), I’ve nixed all the wheat in my life. (For an explanation of medical reasons why people go gluten-free, you can check out this post.) After a whole year, I thought my meals would become way more sophisticated than just peanut butter and carrots (what can I say? I’m a total hermit when studying for exams), but it turns out that’s not exactly true. I’ve written a lot about my prior skepticism and the ways it’s changed my life here, and I started two gluten-free directories (Gluten Free Staten Island, for my hometown, and Gluten Free Hudson Valley, for my college town.) I’m always looking for recommendations, so please let me know if you have any suggestions in these areas!

I hosted a friend in New Paltz, and my friends from Staten Island visited me. I was so excited in September when one of my old roommates from the ASME Summer Internship Program made the trek up to New Paltz to visit me. We trekked around Minnewaska State Park, including Sam’s Point and the lake, and it was fantastic to catch up. And later, in December, my friends from home made good on their promises to visit me at college, and I was able to show them around the village.

I traveled solo for the first time. I traveled to visit another of my old roommates from the ASME program, who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a total blast despite the pre-travel jitters and I know I’ll probably return soon. I’m working on a longer post about Atlanta that will go up soon.

I completed college. I hesitate to say “graduated,” because technically I don’t walk across the stage at SUNY New Paltz till May 2015, but I’m done done done! It’s a great feeling (and, to be honest, it hasn’t completely set in yet.) I’m still struggling with this weird transitioning phase in my life (but I’ve figured out how to handle awkward situations, and you can too with this post.)

All in all, it’s been a great year. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.