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Photo by Anna Hiltner

Hello from Liv

I have been trying to explain the passage of time to my four year old sister. She is young and she still confuses days – if something happened in the last month it happened yesterday, and when I ask her about her day at school, she’ll tell me whatever story feels most important, time being irrelevant. But I wanted her to understand why our family was making a big deal about me leaving, even though she didn’t quite understand the length of time I’d be gone. This is what I told her: “I will be gone through fall, when the leaves fall off of the trees and when you dress up for Halloween. I will be gone for winter when it snows and we have Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I will be gone for spring, when it is starting to get warmer and lighter. When you see me again, you will be five already!” That must have impressed her, because she said “Wow!” and gave me a long hug before she left. However, stating all of this explicitly made me realize how much I would miss.

I am worried about this trip. I’m worried because I didn’t pack my trekking poles or tupperware or an umbrella. I’m worried that my debit card won’t work and I won’t pick up Spanish fast enough. I’m worried about being away from my family for nine months. I’m worried about first impressions – I’m going to meet so many people today that will be a big part of my life for the next nine months. I only started reading “Learning Service” on the plane from Denver to Philadelphia. I ate the tiny Southwest pretzels and started a process of self reflection – of what I expect and what I can give. The book is wonderfully written and I hope it can help guide me through the next weeks and months. When I chose to do Bridge Year, my thoughts weren’t focused on service. Instead I thought about how I desperately needed time away from learning in a classroom, and how I had always wanted to fluently learn another language. I thought about how much I enjoyed having a job during high school, and how the work I did felt significant because it was work that needed to be done, even though I was just steaming milk and doing dishes at Starbucks. Everyone I have told about this trip has made a joke about my name being Olivia and going to Bolivia. But after that, they usually say something about how this trip will change my life. I’m pretty sure it will – nine months anywhere can change a person, much less nine months in a completely different culture and environment. Nine months is a very long time. It’s three seasons, four holidays and four family birthdays. But, you’ve gotta leave home at some point and the thought of staying isn’t more appealing than the thought of leaving. I’m glad that my first journey out in to the world on my own will be supported by Princeton, Where There Be Dragons, and my fellow students.

Anyways, I’m Liv (short for Olivia). I’m from Denver Colorado but I’ve also lived in Northern California, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Swinging and writing are my favorite way to calm down. I like the color yellow and I like cooking. During my senior year I sewed 14 clouds by hand in two weeks (which is probably my biggest accomplishment). I am very excited to meet all of you!