Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nepal in T-32 Hours

Tomorrow is the big day!  It's hard to believe how much my life has changed in only a few weeks.

In late April I finally finished the thesis I'd been working on for at least two years -- the one that took me to Russia to collect primary data on perceptions of entrepreneurship among Russian college students.  The project was a lot of hard work and certainly more of a challenge than I had originally (and naively) anticipated, but the learning in life and research gained from this experience has made it more than worth it.
On May 5th, I graduated from Belmont University with a BBA in International Entrepreneurship.

Celebrating with my Thesis Advisor, Dr. Schenkel.
I'm so thankful for his expert guidance throughout the
2 years we worked on this project!

I was so blessed to graduate with some of the amazing friends I've made at Belmont. We celebrated together in the evening, after the graduation ceremony, at a party graciously hosted by all of our parents!

Bennett, Rachel, me, and Caleigh
My family (Mom, Dad, and all 5 siblings!) piled into a Buick Roadmaster, complete with DIY luggage rack constructed by my Dad, who is an aeronautical engineer, using recycled overhead compartments from a DC-9.  (My favorite part was opening it up and reading the tag still inside: "Door must be latched closed during taxi, take off, turbulence, and landing.")

Everyone arrived in Nashville just in time to help me give away pretty much everything I owned -- I can only take what I can carry to Nepal -- and pack up the essentials for the long drive home.

First family trip to Mt. Rushmore! (minus one brother)
We stayed a week in Nashville after graduation, visiting Civil War sites, historic Franklin, and of course heading into downtown Nashville to spend an evening or two experiencing the famous honky-tonk lifestyle.  That's when I realized that since I moved to Nashville in August 2008, I'd only been out with friends downtown a total of 5-7 times.  Maybe I worked too hard in college. (Just kidding; I love how the hard work is paying off!)

Night-before-graduation celebration with family & friends at Nashville's
famous Wild Horse Saloon.
That extra week in Nashville was the opportunity I needed to take a deep breath, re-calibrate, and start preparing for my next few moves.  Right before graduation I found out that I've been accepted to a Master's program in Strategy at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland.  I'm starting classes August 27th!  This means that upon returning from Nepal, I'll have about six days to repack and relocate to Finland, where I'll need to move into a new apartment and get situated before the semester is underway. It's a two-year program, so I'm excited to call Helsinki home for the next few years!  I've just applied for my Finnish residency permit, but I didn't have time to visit the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C. before I leave to Nepal, so instead I'll visit the Finnish Embassy in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) next week to prove my identity and give biometric information (fingerprints, etc.). I'm thankful that the Finnish Immigration Service has been so flexible in working with my unique travel situation!

Mom & Dad got me a brand new Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ19 camera as a graduation gift!  It has 20x optical zoom and shoots HD video.  I'm so excited because I know it will capture all the memories and experiences in Nepal in a most stunning way. I learned today that there will be one other volunteer in the monastery during part of the time I'm there. He and I will both arrive in Kathmandu on Sunday, both spend a week in orientation, and then fly to Lukla to start our work at the monastery on May 28th.  I'm eager to meet my new students!  I have some really exciting projects planned for this summer, so stay tuned!

A photo taken near my new home at Pema Chuling monastery.


  1. Congratulations on the Master's Program! Spectacular. Great graduation photos. Your family is looking good! Can't wait to hear all about living in a monastery and seeing your photos with your NEW fancy schmancy camera! Fun. HUGS....


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