I’ve always been a dreamer, fantasizing about the future. And never have I done that more than now, with most of the college application process behind me—I just have to wait for decisions this spring before I can decide where I’m spending the next four years of my life.
Maybe this is the product of watching too much Scandal, the TV show about Olivia Pope and her crisis-management firm in Washington, D.C., but I’ve been dreaming a lot about living the White House. (Yes, the one the president of the United States lives in.) I love to imagine what it’d be like to be president, what kind of policies I’d push in my first term, and how I’d shape the future of the country. But as much as I like to joke about being president someday because of my love for politics and finding solutions to world issues, I know that a lot has to go right in my life for that to happen—the whole “political experience” thing is kind of a prerequisite to actually be taken seriously, so I’d probably have to work my way up to a governor or U.S. senator first.
Beyond just the White House, I’ve been dreaming a lot about Washington, D.C. I visited D.C. in 2014 and it’s definitely one of my favorite cities in the world so far—it has delicious food, it’s incredibly diverse, it has an abundance of resources (like the Library of Congress), and it has tons of things going on. That, and its subways are way cleaner than New York City’s. I’ve been picturing myself living there more and more, and since my dream career has always been something along the lines of international healthcare, being in the U.S. capital close to a myriad of international embassies can’t hurt.
I’ve been dreaming a lot about Southeast Asia too, the region of the world I had originally been planning on spending this summer after graduating from high school. While that trip isn’t going to be happening anymore, I keep thinking about how that part of the world still draws me in and how I’d love to be there.
Over the summer, I read a book about Dr. Paul Farmer (Mountains Beyond Mountains), detailing his life in Haiti as a doctor and anthropologist working to curb the spread of diseases like HIV and tuberculosis in the region by using a mix of pathology, social medicine, politics, and anthropology. He’s leading the life that I think I want to live, but instead of Haiti I want to be in Southeast Asia.
Recently I ran into a scholarship funded by the State Department for college students wanting to learn a “critical language,” such as Arabic, Persian (Farsi/Tajik), Mandarin, Japanese, Swahili, Azerbaijani, etc. What really piqued my interest was that Indonesian was on that list… and what better language to learn if I want to be in Southeast Asia, considering Indonesia’s rapidly rising status on the world stage? Now of course, the scholarship is notoriously difficult to get (although, my future line of work differentiates me from the many future diplomats applying), but I’ve been dreaming about getting it nevertheless.
I’ve also been poking around through many colleges’ study abroad offerings, but Georgetown University’s public health programs really stood out. One program goes to China for the summer to take a firsthand look at public health over there, and another goes to Thailand for a semester to learn about community health and public health. If I do end up at Georgetown, where I’d be studying international health, I just know for sure that I’ll be having trouble deciding which Asian country I want to study abroad in. All I know is that regardless of which university I go to, I will be studying abroad, and it will more than likely be in an Asian country.
Related to that, I’ll be spending a little less than a week this March in a village in Guatemala alongside a couple other students from my school to help improve the village’s health situation. The one that students went to last year faced extreme poverty, so it greatly benefited from the medical supplies and toothbrushes we brought with us, especially since soda was cheaper than water over there (a dentist’s nightmare!). I for one am extremely excited to be going on this trip, and since international healthcare has been a fantasy of mine for a while, I’m super excited to have the opportunity to do something related to that while I’m still in high school. While I’ll be dreaming of what that experience will be like, at least it’ll only be a few months of waiting!
Through much of last year, I had always been terrified of the future. The thought of applying to college, going to college, having a career, being an adult, etc., seemed horrifying. But, as cheesy as it is to say now, I’m really excited for what the future has in store. And I can’t wait to begin shaping mine.