a big beautiful mess


The thing I will miss the most about the Renaissance Marriott in DC is the fluffy white wedding-cake-made-out-of-clouds of a bed. Second most? The motion-activated soap dispensers in the public bathrooms!

The other ETAs and I went back to school with the effervescent Myrtis Mixon, who made even group work fun (though that might have been partly because every group activity inevitably devolved into talk about Russia). I got to hear David Hoffman of the Washington Post talk about his time in Russia and give eloquent and heady advice on how one should experience things there. I got to hear several Fulbrighters from last year talk about how they did experience things. I met oodles of people going to Russia, but also to Montenegro (!), Lithuania, Ukraine, and on and on…

Orientation was, overall, spectacular. It was a kind of compressed re-experiencing of my first year at Smith. I was thrown into a group of impressive, confident, intimidating people; felt completely out of my depth; got to know people; realized I’m one of them; and left with a sense of belonging, but also with the confidence that I would be able to tackle my own Fulbright in my own way. After listening to all these stories about what other people experienced and what other people hope to experience, I am even more excited about going, sad about leaving, and anxious about discovering what it will really be like for me.

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