I lived in a foreign country (the Netherlands) for a year and a half, and still love many aspects of that country more than my own.
I have swum 12.5 miles around Key West (twice), as well as 8 miles through Boston Harbor (in 60-64-degree water). I also headed up a successful English Channel relay swim on August 7th, 2007 (time: 11 hours, 27 minutes, 6 seconds).
I have run races at 5k (3.1 mi), 15k (9.3 mi), half marathon (13.1 mi), and marathon (26.2 mi) distances, as well as completed triathlons at sprint, Olympic, and half Ironman distances.
I have studied seven languages - English, Dutch, Spanish, French, Latin, Wolof, and Farsi - which I speak with varying degrees of fluency. I've used the Spanish in several situations where it was crucial that I knew it - for example, as a summer camp counselor to two girls from Venezuela - and, of course, used Dutch as the language of my everyday life for eighteen months.
I have traveled through England and Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone in Cork, photographing Stonehenge in Amesbury, and retracing the stealthy footsteps of Jack the Ripper during a nighttime walking tour in London.
I earned the prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma at the number-one high school in America, was named a National Merit finalist, and completed a B.A. in linguistics at the University of Florida on a full undergraduate scholarship.
Even though it didn't turn out to be the right path for me, I was still proud to be accepted to the graduate program in linguistics at the oldest university in the nation - the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a school which is considered a 'Public Ivy'. Four years later, I now attend Duke University as a physician assistant student, and have never felt more strongly that I am in exactly the right place.
I have visited 21 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as Washington DC.
I have gone parasailing in the Canary Islands, swimming with dolphins in at Discovery Cove, visited the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland, learned to kneeboard on a lake in Maine, visited Niagara Falls and taken the Maid of the Mist tour, and gone to Paris and climbed the Eiffel Tower, as well as taken a bike tour to Monet's Garden in Giverny.
I've been athletic all my life; during grade school, I took horseback riding lessons for seven years, played basketball for five years, and played Ultimate Frisbee for three years. My current sport is swimming, which I've done seriously since fall 2004.
I have been to Space Camp (and earned the Right Stuff award).
I have seen Elton John, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, and Marco Borsato in concert, plus JOSH GROBAN (whom I got to hug afterwards!) and Shania Twain twice. The first time, I even got called onstage to meet Shania, and got an autographed Polaroid of us. (I was 15 and obsessed, and thought nothing could ever be that thrilling.)
I've worked with children for twelve years, from age 11 to 23: as a mother's helper, in the newborn nursery of a hospital, in two church nurseries, and in a day care center, not to mention at numerous babysitting clients' homes.
I could spell my name with alphabet blocks before I could even walk, and I was a 'spontaneous reader' at age three. My kindergarten teacher liked to take advantage of my reading to entertain the class while she did paperwork.
For my 22nd birthday, my 'present to myself' was going skydiving. It was awesome.
I spent eight summers at Camp Ton-A-Wandah in North Carolina: three as a camper, one as a CIT, and four as a counselor. I also spent a summer working at Camp All-Star in Maine. In both locales, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor, not to mention leader, big sister, friend, and mom to multiple groups of preteen girls.
I also worked part-time at Runways Transportation as a shuttle van driver for two years. It wasn't a great job, but it let me experience the ridiculous hours that many people keep in order to make an honest living.
I have sung karaoke, gone rock climbing, watched the sun set over North Carolina mountains, gone off a high dive, walked barefoot in the rain, and swum in more swim meets than I can count.
I can do a backbend and a cartwheel, as well as perform a front dive, back dive, tuck dive, pike dive, inverted (cutaway) dive, and front flip from the diving board.
I have had four surgeries: a heel biopsy in 2/97, heel bone reshaping in 8/97, wisdom teeth removal and gingivectomy in 11/01, and - the best one - LASIK eye surgery in November 2004, so I no longer need contact lenses.
Added 2/27/2011: Haven't updated this post in several years, and a lot has happened besides this, but in the meantime, among other things, I have experienced the magic of New York City, including seeing Wicked from the front row (and meeting the incredible Teal Wicks afterward!) and witnessing a proposal atop the Empire State Building. I can't wait to go back.