As this blog is updated, please note that all entries were kept in a journal (in real time) during my Disney College Program experience. The words written are extremely candid and unrefined. Some entries are a little hard to get through emotionally, so please be aware. The entries do not start until several days after I arrived in Disney World for my program. I will be covering what happened in those few first days in this preface. Also note that I did not write a journal entry every single day. For the first month, I was actually too depressed to write more than once, so if two entries seem really far apart from each other, that is why. A lot of the information is not pretty and will likely burst a lot of bubbles, but everything I have written comes from the heart. Please be understanding when reading each entry.
Day 1: I arrived at Vista Way (the check-in apartment for arrival) around 5pm on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. I was supposed to get in on Monday, February 9th, but got stuck at my boyfriend’s place near Providence, RI because of the snowpocalypes that had just happened (and was continuing to happen) all over New England. The weather was beautiful and the woman checking me in was nice, but I was fighting back tears the entire time. I was suffering complete culture shock. Where the hell was I? I had three very heavy suitcases with me that had been extremely difficult to transport through the airport. The woman who checked me in was kind enough to help me transport them to my actual apartment, which luckily was in the same vicinity (Vista Way). I was in building 32. After nearly pulling every muscle in my body just getting my suitcases up the stairs to the second floor, I was finally there.
I opened the door and saw what everyone hopes to see when they first walk in the new apartment they are expected to live in *sarcasm*: alcohol, glowsticks, a lighter, shot glasses, a thousand bottlecaps, etc. GREAT… I was under the impression that the people who had just gotten there the night before were COMPLETE party animals. They’d been there one day and already made this mess? I immediately went to the office with all my assumptions and asked if it were possible to be moved, but it was too late in the day. Now, I like to have a good party with friends every once in a while, or have a drink on occasion, but I am by no means a partier. I am not the type to put up with a bunch of partiers either. Gross. Luckily, come to find out, the girls that made the mess had actually been living in the apartment for a month or so before the four newbies moved in, so that was sort of comforting I guess… At least that big mess wasn’t caused over a 24 hour period.
I picked the first room I saw that was empty, which was bedroom #2. It was towards the back of the apartment and had a bathroom that was meant to be shared by the four girls living back there in bedrooms #2 and #3. The front bedroom (which clearly housed someone already) had a bathroom of its own. Because I had no food (and no appetite really either), I walked down the street to Wendy’s and called my mom and then my sister and sobbed while “eating” my food. It’s not the first time I’ve looked totally pathetic in public. My boyfriend Eric and I endure a long-distance relationship, so bawling in public (particularly at airports, hotels, and train stations) is a popular practice for me. Leaving my boyfriend AND going somewhere that’s NOT home made for double the tears. What I would have given to know SOMEBODY there.
Once I got back to my room, I cried some more and attempted to Skype with Eric. Quickly I discovered that our apartment’s internet was absolute garbage. If you are moving into a Disney apartment, expect to travel back to 2000 when high-speed internet was first introduced and sucks by today’s standards. Also, be prepared to not have free wifi, because you have to buy your own stone-age router in order to get the internet wirelessly. Eric told me that I HAD to unpack and try my best to make the white-walled, crappy apartment bedroom look like home. The biggest mistake I made was buying mostly new things to decorate my apartment with. Try being in a totally unfamiliar environment with no familiar items to ease your sorrows, but rather, totally new items that really have no meaning to you yet. It makes the change that much harder. I wish I would have had something from my own bedroom back home, even if just a tiny teddy bear.
That night, I met one of the people who would unknowingly help me survive the Disney program with her company – my suitemate Tatiana (Tat). She lived in the bedroom next to mine, except her original roommate she had picked online was moving out due to allergy problems in the room. Tatiana tried to move out too, but the staff at the apartment is about as charming as dog poop that’s been stepped on and is now stuck in the little cracks on the bottom of your shoes. The staff even made her cry shortly after that. In other words, she wasn’t going anywhere. Right when we met, we discovered that we were both interested in the performing arts, her in theatre and myself in dance, so we had a lot in common. While we were talking, another girl stumbled into the apartment looking completely disoriented and exhausted. Because I had not seen anyone who lived in the apartment already, except for one of the girls from the front bedroom who made herself scarce, I thought this girl already lived there. Nope, this girl was just arriving and would be my roommate – Aurelie. I never would have imagined my first roommate would be anything other than American, but Aurelie was from Nice, France and I could not even pronounce her name at first. By the end of the program, I had a small group of French friends, whose friendships I will treasure always.
That night, surprisingly, I slept like a rock. I was so exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally, I think my body just kind of crashed. The next morning, I woke up disoriented wondering where I was and why I was still in this crappy place. I was crying and looked over at the other bed. Aurelie was crying too.
Day 2: The day after moving in, I caught the F bus to Cast Services. I needed to go get fingerprinting work done to prove I wasn’t a criminal. This was one of the only times I ever got on a bus without showing my I.D. Why? Because I did not know that I had to. No one from the company bothered to share any of the information you need to know before you get there, so I was lucky that I was not yelled at. Instead of dropping me off in front of the building, I was told to walk a mile down the road from the Downtown Disney stop because the bus did not stop there anymore due to construction. It only made an exception the day before. Awesome… I fought back tears the whole way there and cried on the way back as well. I actually started crying when signing forms in the Cast Services building, but I blew it off and pretended I was having “really bad allergies and my eyes were watering and itching” which the woman helping me believed, luckily. I was told that my skin was too pale to house red nail polish and was sent on my way to a housing meeting at one of the other Disney apartments, The Commons. I cried the whole way there too.
I had forced myself to eat an apple I had from when I left Eric’s house, but otherwise my stomach was eating itself for the rest of the day. I couldn’t stomach anything but my stomach itself. I fought back tears once again as I sat at the housing meeting. Luckily, the meeting was helpful as they explained how they knew many of us probably felt scared. The meeting room was also set up like a club, so that made the tears a little less obvious. After that, I had a couple days off before I would have my Traditions class (the main meeting all employees have to go to in order to be introduced into the company). Those next couple days would be torture, especially since you are not allowed to go to the parks until after you have your Traditions class and your company I.D. What I would have given for SOMETHING to do or SOMEWHERE to be. It was awful. I did not eat until the next evening.
I am going to continue this blog with my first official journal entry since arriving at the program. My journal was my lifesaver. Other than a few notes here and there, things are going to get very emotionally candid and come straight from my journal (word-for-word), but I think it’s the best way to express what was going on with me while I was adjusting to the Disney College Program experience.