I have begun the process of figuring out how to get myself back to Paraguay. Basically since the day I got back to the US after exchange, I've been watching ticket prices from Chicago to Asunción. I've tried every combination of times of day, dates, airports, and airlines. To my dismay, the cheapest round trip available during my vacation times has remained around $1400. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but it now appears as though if I fly on Tuesday or Thursday with TACA Airlines, and transfer in Miami and Lima, I can go for just over $1000, fees and taxes included.
To add to the increased possibility of affording a ticket, I have also discovered several grants through my college that I intend to apply for. I'm still working on creating my formal proposal, but I have multiple unpolished ideas. I'll write more about these when I have them narrowed down a bit more, but for now I'm just excited that a return is even in the financial picture.
Regardless of if I receive funding, I should be able to squeak by. I'll be spending the second half of my summer at Camp Anokijig, which is an amazing place. I got involved with camp in 2003, when I was 11, and the only things that have kept me away for a summer are Paraguay and Turkey. I began volunteering in the fall of 2005 when I was 13 in the midst of a panic about camp's future, and have continued since then. I worked as junior staff when I was 15 and 16, missed summer 2009 because of being in Paraguay and China, and would have been senior staff this past summer had I not accepted the NSLI-Y scholarship to Turkey. I've decided that it's about time for me to be back at camp, and will be working sessions 4 through 9. While a camp counselor's salary can look pretty meager, it should be just enough to cover my plane ticket if I don't get a grant, and it's somewhere that I really want to be. I'd rather be making pennies at something I would do for free than spend my summer stressed out about some hated fast food job just to make a little more money.
As for general updates in my life, I am now a freshman at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Despite being tiny and obscure, it is an extremely international school. Just in my residence hall, there are students from Senegal, the Bahamas, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Afghanistan, France, Italy, and Japan, not to mention from all over the US. My major is still officially undeclared, but I'm fairly certain that I will be some sort of Education or Youth in Society major. I'll likely have a second major as well, but I really have NO idea what that will be. I've considered Modern Languages, Spanish, and History, but I'm not going to worry too much about it right now.
I'm also planning on spending a year abroad, likely my third year. I still haven't figured out if I would rather spend a year in one place, or two semesters in two separate places. I have so many choices! Beloit has its own programs in a few places that I'm interested in (Turkey, Ecuador), and they're a part of ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) which administers a program in Juiz de Fora, Brazil that I'm very interested in. Then there are programs like ISEP, who is associated with Beloit as well. ISEP has more options than anyone else; I'm looking into Chile, Malta, Belgium, México, South Africa, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Argentina with them at the moment, but that list changes almost daily.
Needless to say, I've got a lot of "figuring out" to do in the coming months, but I think I'll be happy with basically whatever country I end up in.