I went to Oak Meadow.

The two top white bars represent the last two years of high school, which are the two I spent at Oak Meadow. The square is symbolic of a computer; the lwo lines breaking through represent the two primary trips I took while in that experience.

I spent my junior and senior year of high school enrolled in a school called Oak Meadow. It’s an online program through which I was sent textbooks and workbooks, the latter of which included projects, homework questions, etc. that formed the curriculum. I was in charge of keeping up with the work throughout the year, only having accountability at the end of it when I had to send everything to my respective teachers to grade the work. At the same time, I was taking online classes at the local community college, which were more dynamic and enjoyable. I focused on the latter, and eventually was left with three half-done workbooks with two weeks left in the year. I finished the workload on time, but it was a crammed two weeks and I learned a hard lesson in accountability.

The two years spent here though were hard for me. I had no means of making friends, which took a toll. I had left Virginia thinking it would be okay, that I would be back there all the time and my relationship with my friends would go unchanged. I thought those friendships could hold me over and that I wouldn’t have to meet anyone else—I was wrong. I became, what felt like, numb, which I now recognize as depressed. I didn’t know why I felt the way I did, or how to change it. I distanced myself from my old friends and my parents. I watched a lot of tv, and did the minimum to get an A in my college classes.

During this period I also had an upcoming trip to Spain; the whole point of enrolling at Oak Meadow in the first place was that with the extra time and money, I would travel and learn through experiencing things I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I wanted to look forward to it, but in the state I was in I felt like I was about to waste the experience—that my numbness would come with me overseas to our family friend’s home that I was about to be a guest in.

The trip ended up being great—it helped me see clearer, and I realized that I was blaming myself for things that were inevitable. The trip helped me get through the next year, which included another amazing trip to Brussels. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and understood what was bothering me, which gave me the power to acknowledge or deal with it. Ultimately the Oak Meadow experience is one I am incredibly grateful for; it allowed me to graduate college a year early, prepared me for the unpredictable move online due to the pandemic, and gave me unforgettable experiences that have shaped where I am today.