I left on Saturday morning about two weeks ago...got up at 2:45am to catch my plane. My family all came with me to the airport. It was a rather sad goodbye. It was such a weird feeling during my last night at home because it really felt like "this is it." Oh sure...I'll be back for breaks and still see everyone, but now...I really am on my own and living my own life. It was so strange to think of how drastically this year is changing everything I have known before. Guess I'm officially an adult now...with responsibilities and bills and working a full-time job. All in all, it was rather bittersweet. The night before I left, my extended family all got together for birthday parties and for a prayer time for me. I felt so blessed and loved...and terribly sad to say goodbye. I love the picture of my siblings and cousins holding me up! It is so funny ;-)! Thank you to everyone who made that night so special and meaningful to me. I couldn't ask for more. It was especially great since this transition was very stressful for me. I have another stressful transition in three weeks, but at the moment, I just have to take things one day at a time. I'm very thankful for all the prayers people prayed for me. God really answered them--especially during the first day and week as I encountered so many new things.
I met only kind people the entire way to RI and for those who travel by air a lot...that is kind of unusual. The whole travel day was not as stressful as it could have been and when I got to RI in the ninety-degree weather and humidity, a kind taxi driver knew exactly where to drop me off on base. He told me all about the area and pointed out some lovely sights along the way to Newport Naval Station. What a pretty place! It is so green and lush! There are tons of sailboats...apparently this is the sailing capital of the United States. I enjoyed the drive a lot...even if it did cost me $100!
I checked in and lugged my suitcase up to the fourth floor of the unconditioned building--King Hall. My building is in the training command area of base. I've gotten used to the warm weather and it actually isn't too bad. It's been warm, but not too uncomfortable most of the time. I think the weather we are having currently is not usual for RI at this time of year.
Anyway, I met lots of people right when I got here...it's funny because I am one of the youngest at 24-years-old. I know of one girl younger than I, but there could be more. We don't have any lawyers...which is odd, but we have tons of medical students, dentists, a number of nurses, chaplains, psychologists, and a few nuclear engineers. There are a lot of people in their thirties and forties. There are a lot of really smart people here who are also very fit and strong. It is pretty cool...I really like my company. Getting back to my story, I went out with a nurse and three psychologists my first night. We went to a bar and grill off of base since we were not yet on the meal plan. No one had a thing to drink...we were all a bit nervous since we really didn't know what to expect for ODS. It was fun talking to them and learning about what they do and where they have worked. One of them had just spent a year in the prisons working with inmates. He had some interesting stories.
At this point...even though I had met some really interesting people and everyone was so nice, I was still so stressed out since we had tons of free time until the next day around 1330 in the afternoon. My roommate is from California and is a medical student at the Uniform Service Academy of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. We get along pretty well and we both can't wait to be done!
During the first week, we got out PT gear issued to us, met our class Chief Petty Officer--Chief Ruiz, filled out tons and tons of paperwork, did some medical screenings, sat through some lectures, etc. We started learning how to march...and got yelled at all the time. My goal has and continues to be to fly below the radar. Chief Ruiz tends to pick on a lot of the same people and I am not one of them yet. Truly, the hardest part for me has been the lack of sleep. For the first few nights, I slept about three to four hours/night. Jet lag and stress kept me from sleeping well. Everyone has been so tired...if I sit down for more than about ten minutes...I am out. I start seeing double and my eyelids are so heavy. I've had to stand in the back of the classroom just to keep awake...and that is the same for every other person here. Beyond that, most people during the first week were like the walking dead because they didn't get their regular morning coffee...so glad I'm not addicted to coffee/caffeine! The hardest thing for me aside from the lack of sleep is my feet. My new oxfords that go with my khakis hurt so bad. The back of my right foot has been totally destroyed by my shoes. It rubbed off a good portion of the skin, got infected, and hurts like crazy...and that's the truth. I have it bandaged up and am doing all I can, but when I have to wear these shoes everyday and all day, it is not going to get much better any faster. The blisters also are a pain, but because the back of my foot hurts so much more, I don't notice the blisters so much. No fun!
On Wake-Up Wednesday, we had our first rude awakening by the Chiefs. I had woke up a little early, but then got so shaky when they were yelling at us to get out of our rooms and form up for physical training (PT). So...at 0430 we all had to leave our rooms and head out to the main passageway and had some intense PT! The lady Chief Petty Officer is super scary...I'm so glad she is not our main chief. She kept yelling at us..."Get on your face!" We all hit the deck for push-ups. I actually hit my chin on the deck because after doing a number of push-ups, she made us hold our push-up in the down position for a bit. I thought that was going to be a typical way for us to wake up each morning, but thank God...that was the only day like that. After the first week, the chiefs let us wake ourselves up and we start PT around 5am. The Chief gets so mad when we are late or when we are not in the right spot in formation or when people keeping moving around when we are supposed to be at attention. One thing I have learned is that he says something once and you need to listen and do exactly as he says...and you need to make sure everyone is on the same page.
This past week has been decent since we got to wake ourselves up, got coffee privileges, got past our khaki inspection. We have lots of stuff we have to memorize and it is all in this little gouge pack--a little book we are supposed to have with us everywhere we go so that we can study whenever we have "down time." I passed the inspection. We have two more coming up this week--our service whites inspection and our room inspections. I'm not too nervous yet!
Chief Ruiz is a really cool guy...been in the military for over twenty years and he really, really cares to make us into the best officers we can be. He has taken us a few places over the base to show us where the first naval battle of our history occurred...right on the bay next to where we stay. He wants to make sure that we are going to be the best we can be...He is very motivating and passionate about his work about about the sailors. I really respect him and am glad that he is my chief.
I have to go soon, but there is so much more I wish I could write about. I will probably be updating more since we are starting to get liberty on the weekends now. I have liberty till tonight, but I am going to the chapel on base soon, so I'll just leave you with a few more thoughts.
I am doing well, though still nervous about how I'm going to make the transition to Portsmouth. There are so many logistical things to work out and that is probably the biggest point of stress at this point. Beyond that, I really need my feet to heal fast...and I really need good sleep because there is so much we do every day that there is not time to be nodding off during lectures. Thank you so much for your prayers. I need them very much! Next weekend, when I post, I'll tell you all about things I wish I had known prior to ODS, the differences between OCS and ODS, about firefighting training, wet training, and the kind of nursing I am going to pursue. What I have just shared is the smallest of details about what all I have done while here. It's full of it's ups and downs! One thing I look forward to is being able to do is taking a shower that is longer than 2 minutes. That's about what you get in the mornings...and sometimes not even that long. Take care and ask questions if you like! I'll check in next week! :-)
P.S. Don't judge is the spelling and grammar are not up to standards...I didn't have time to go back and check! ;-)