Well, the first semester at NIU has successfully come to an end and I'll be on my way "home" to Seattle in a few days to spend Christmas and New Year's with my family and old friends :) And as excited as I am to go back and see everything/everyone again, I know I'm going to be just as excited to come back to my "home" here :) Moving to Illinois has truly been one of the best decisions of my life, an experience of "first"s, an adventure, an opportunity of a lifetime, a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate . . . a gift, really. A gift I'm really and truly thankful for, a gift that continues to fill my heart with joy and makes me ridiculously happy ;) As I've written before, it was definitely bittersweet to leave Seattle, but I was ready to move on, spread my wings and fly :P Coming and living here has been like striking a gold mine . . . Every. Single. Day. And here's why:
* My house is perfect :) I have never lived in a place this cute and this cozy.
* Our landlord is simply amazing... A picture of Midwestern kindness and hospitality. She got us welcome gifts and Christmas gifts and pretty much provided us with everything we need :)
* My roommate is wonderful . . . I've never had a roommate other than family before, so naturally I was a bit nervous to all of a sudden move in with a complete stranger, but T and I have bonded faster than I ever thought we would and stronger than if we would have used superglue. It is truly priceless to live with not only a friend, but a classmate, a study buddy, a cooking buddy, a cleaning buddy and an overall awesome person. I can't even tell you how many times I have either forgotten something at the house (lunch, homework, Brailler) or needed something from home (a change of clothes, a water bottle) and how T was always there for me! I really love her :)
* My new church is literally a family who "adopted" me along with their 3 adorable kids whom I just can't get enough of :P
* My new friends are super sweet and as cheesy as it sounds, they welcomed me into their lives with open arms and open hearts. It's true what they say about Midwesterners . . . They really are nice :)
* My school and my program are fabulous! I've been learning so much and I really like our campus.
* My classmates are cool, we all get along and help each other out, which is key in a program as challenging as this one. I've never felt isolated or alone.
* I love my professors!!! They have been super kind, helpful, encouraging and completely on and by my side the entire semester, rooting for my success and believing in my ability to do well.
* The salsa scene in Chicago has been nothing short of welcoming and can I just say . . . I love, love, love, LOVE the leads here!!! Besides being ridiculously good and versatile (On1 AND On2, plus awesome bachata skills), they are SO nice and friendly and AWESOME :)
* And on the romantic front, I have been truly lucky to meet a Chi-town guy who does not take offense to my scathing humor and makes long drives to hang out with me in the 'burbs on weekends ;)