This update required two posts, so I encourage you to scroll down to part one first! Once I received the offer I immediately accepted. It felt like accepting a Mercedes over a Toyota, in comparisson to a 12 month fellowship! I had two weeks to find an apartment, furniture, etc. and move because I really needed to be there at least one week in advance for my health screening and incidentals. I continued to work through the end of the first week and then had to say goodbye to my City of Wilson family, which was incredibly difficult as they all helped me to learn and grow over the past three years. Thankfully my dad was able to come in contact with a real estate agent in St. Petersburg who began putting together a listing according to my specifications. I really didn't have too many...I just wanted an apartment under $750 with a washer and dryer. My mom and I flew to Tampa/St. Pete Thursday and Friday of the following week, which proved to be another travel nightmare. We were supposed to fly out of the Greenville airport Wednesday afternoon (we were already in town...it was supposed to be more convenient than driving to RDU!) Our flight was delayed several times, and finally cancelled. There was one more flight out of Greenville that night, but we decided just to wait until morning and fly from RDU. We made it to Tampa Thursday morning, and began visiting properties that afternoon. The first couple were an immediate no, but our fourth visit was fabulous! One bedroom apartment, second floor, alarm system, washer/dryer, granite counter tops, etc. Plus, it's less than 15 minutes from All Children's!
I knew right then and there that this was the one, though I was slightly nervous since it was Friday, my going-away party was the next day, and I planned to leave NC in the moving truck on Monday. Thinking back on the entire process, it's kind of humorous. I already had the hotel just over the FL border, moving truck, Busch Gardens tickets, and flights back to NC for my family arranged before I even signed a lease! I definitely had faith that God was going to bring me through the crazy days ahead! I am so thankful for my family and friends who helped so much through this process. There is absolutely no other way I could have made it through the party and moving...a special thanks to Brittany and Matt for providing a great deal of my furniture! My family and I arrived in St. Petersburg Tuesday afternoon, and immediately began moving things inside. Moving will definitely make you reconsider how much stuff you have! When/if I ever move again, I will be enlisting much more help...I think my dad and brother were hurting much more than they admitted the next morning!
The next morning we drove in to Tampa and stayed for a few days...sort of a last-minute family vacation. It was such a sweet time for me...I tried to soak in everything I could. My brother's super-silly jokes that never fail to make me smile, my mom's strength and successful use of sarcasm, and my dad's quiet anxiousness. I can't begin to describe how hard it was to say goodbye to them on Saturday. I felt my heart drop...especially when saying goodbye to my brother. But I remind myself often that they are just a phone call away. Hopefully we will all learn to use Skype soon!
I began working as a Certified Child Life Specialist (did I forget to mention I found out that I passed the certification exam the same week I accepted the job offer?) on Monday, July 18th. I will spend several weeks orienting to the environment before I work independently, which is optimal since this is my first job and in a different environment. You see, All Children's Hospital is a free-standing children's hospital. This means that everyone works to provide the best patient care to pediatric patients only, though Child Life specialists take special care to treat the whole child, which involves providing preparation and support to family/friends as well. I thoroughly enjoy the team I work with, and am excited to work on my unit as well as represent the Child Life volunteer coordinator.
As far as St. Petersburg itself, I know where McDonalds, Steak-n-Shake, Publix, Target, and a mall are. I have yet to make it out to a beach, but look forward to the opportunity since there are so many choices in the area! We literally have access to an island called Treasure Island! I am still working on getting the apartment together...it's really difficult to feel motivated after work. I have been attending the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg and look forward to becoming more involved in community groups and other ministries. I miss my family, church family, and friends more than I imagined, but I know I am living out God's plan for my life and am so excited about each new step! I am sure there is so much more I am forgetting to share, but I'm just exhausted! Please note that I cannot share much about my practice as CCLS due to HIPAA privacy laws, but will update this blog as regularly as possible about my big adventure! Sending love to NC!