I flew out early Saturday and woke up stupidly early and couldn't go back to sleep (like 5 a.m. CT). Flights went great - I even ran into another new student who flew to Cinci on the same flight as me and bought me Cincinatti chili (one of my faves, though at Gold Star - I know, I know, but there wasn't a Skyline at the airport!) for lunch, which I had to eat on my connecting flight. Everything was on time and my airport shuttle was even early. I printed out my boarding pass the night before, so I didn't even have to check in.
I do think it's stupid to pack before going through security though - you basically have to unpack and undress to get on the plane ;). Maybe next time I'll be brave enough to take the metro into the city and take the Garfield bus.
Anyway, I got into Buffalo around 1:45 and the family picked me up. We headed off to Niagara Falls, hit the aquarium and the falls, and then headed back to Buffalo to see Great Big Sea. That was one of the best times I've seen them - SO energetic and a great crowd, and the kids loved it. AWESOME! We didn't get home till 1:30 a.m. though, and then I had to get up at 7:30 and go to work. I had a lot to catch up on and didn't get home till 6pm. Ran around, did laundry and sundry stuff and just now booted up the computer!
Orientation was just...incredible. I think we have 24 incoming students, and 22 of us were there. Words really don't suffice, except to say that I didn't want to come home, and the first 24 hours were very difficult to get readjusted (minus the GBS concert
We were all exhausted by the end of each day though, so not a lot of late-night socializing; the first night, we were all in bed by 9 p.m. I think! At Vespers I saw the former music director of my first UU church in PA, which was very cool. The new student chaplain, Rev. David Owen-O'Quill gave the sermon. Dinner at Pres. Barker's house was delish, and his family is lovely.
Thursday, we did lots of administrative stuff for the day and then late in the day started tackling the Community Studies portion, which is to hopefully take the place of a 4th year internship. I was so freaking tired by 8 I thought I would die, but was convinced to go out to the local student bar, Jimmy's, where a group of us hung out with several faculty for a couple of hours. That was well worth staying awake for. Rev. O-O is enjoyable as a preacher AND socially, as were the rest of the profs that went. Quite fun.
Much of Friday was taken up with Community Studies - basically class, then a tour of the Woodlawn neighborhood, and Back of the Yards. My favorite part was visiting Father Bruce Welles at Holy Cross. I am very energetic, but he makes me tired. The work he is doing is amazing, as is the work at Sunshine Gospel Ministries. I really was inspired by seeing the work that different ministries are tackling in Chicago.
At the end of the day, returning students hosted a BBQ and ingathering at the beach. I loved Lake Michigan (much better than Lake Ontario), and the Ingathering made me cry.
There were moments over the three days where I could literally feel my heart expanding and growing. It was a little scary but as GBS says, "throw your fears into the sea of no cares." I loved just about every second of it, felt totally at home there, can't wait to go back, and oh, got to hug our church's former intern a bunch of times, which was wonderful. It was so hard to come home. I desperately wanted to stay, learn, join in the good work that is happening there. I can't wait to go back in January. Does anyone want to come and help my family survive? Because nana was about worn out after 2 days and can't manage the stairs. We definitely have to find another adult to come and help out. And someone to hold my hubby's hand. He is having a hard time with me traveling, and seeing the reality of where this journey is taking me.
Now if I can just get through FA counseling this week, all will be well.