Halfway point was also my turning point

Avni Prasad, Caitlyn Rosen and Emma McNail dance July 13 on the second floor. Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum.

(Left to right) Avni Prasad, Caitlyn Rosen and Emma McNail dance on the second floor. Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum.

Before the Medill cherub program, I hadn’t been away from my parents for more than five days in a row. Suddenly I was in an environment where I couldn’t yell for my mom or drive to a friend’s house. I was homesick and scared. I felt like I was thrown into the deep end.

I started counting down the days. I would check off the days on a calendar when it reached midnight. Another one down and however many more to go. I knew I would make it through the camp. Quitting was never an option. I accepted the misery as if it were just part of the description.

It got better, just like everyone said it would. I made friends and became adjusted to my creaky bed and wearing shoes in the shower, but I still couldn’t wait for the day my parents would come pick me up.

I’m not sure what it was — science, magic, fate — but at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, July 13, the official halfway point of the program, something changed. As I danced with the other girls on my floor and sang along to “No Air” by Jordin Sparks, I no longer wanted to leave. I felt so comfortable with the people around me and who I had become that for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pack my bags. I no longer checked off the days when midnight rolled around. Instead, when I finally went to bed at 2 a.m., I couldn’t believe how fast the day had gone.

I was upset it had taken me so long to get comfortable, but I knew it was my personality. I’m not someone who can be immediately comfortable in a new environment. So instead of dwelling on my past, I chose to take advantage of the future. I embarrassed myself too many times to count, and I tried to make friends with everyone I encountered.

The second half of the program flew by. Even when I felt like I was going to pass out in a lecture and when I continued to stay up until 4 a.m. the next morning, I was grateful for every second. It took me a while to adjust, 17 days to be exact, and with the 17 left I tried to make the most of everything. I am so incredibly grateful for cherubs and all of my days here, uncomfortable or not.