Throughout the last four years, I thought I was working so hard to earn a piece of paper. Fortunately, that was not the only thing I was working for. A few months before my college graduation, my parents informed me that they had been planning a two-week long vacation extravaganza to celebrate my accomplishments. My parents’ best friends, which are basically my second parents, also joined the trip, along with a few others. Here is a breakdown of our unforgettable journey.
Part 1: Graduation Festivities
On Saturday, May 3, 2014, I made the greatest accomplishment in my lifetime so far. I graduated from a great university with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management with cum laude honors. I spent the day celebrating with my family, friends, classmates and even two of my best friends that surprised me all the way from Seattle to see me walk the stage! Luckily, I had already decided to stay at Florida Tech for graduate school, which made the day a celebration and not a sad goodbye to many. The rest of the weekend, we enjoyed the nice weather at my parents’ hotel on the beach. On Monday morning, it was time to pack up all our swimsuits and sandals, because it was about it to get even warmer and sunnier.
Part 2: Feeling Royal in the Caribbean
Let’s just say that after this trip, I realized that a true vacation takes place on a cruise ship. My parents surprised me weeks before the trip that part of this extravaganza was going to be a four-night cruise to the Bahamas! I was so excited because I have never been on a ship this large. We spent one day at Coco Cay, the Royal Caribbean private island, one day in Nassau, Bahamas and one day out at sea. The private island was beautiful with white sand, clear water, music and lots of palm trees. It was a perfect day full of sunshine to lie on the beach chairs, walk through the warm water and enjoy a few tropical cocktails. The next day in Nassau we joined four other cruise ships in shopping and exploring the city. Also, we made sure to enjoy Señor Frogs and Fat Tuesdays! Cruise lines really understand the true meaning of vacation, because everything that you needed was right in front of you at all times. We gorged ourselves with the great food, drinks and sunshine. We met people from all over the United States and did not want to leave the ship. Luckily, when we made it back to the mainland, we had the second half of our wild escape from reality to look forward to.
Part 3: Rollercoaster Mania
The next phase of the trip took place in Orlando, Fla., and oddly enough, we stayed at the same resort that we did when I visited Florida Tech as a senior in high school. It seemed like it was just yesterday that I trying to decide where to go to college and now I have graduated! While in the theme park capital of the world, we enjoyed the first night at Downtown Disney to make sure I got a present “from Mickey Mouse” for my niece. The next day, we enjoyed Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure and CityWalk at night. It was a day full of fun and laughs. Just remember to empty your pockets before the roller coasters or you might lose something like a cell phone … oops. The last day in Orlando, we spent the day at SeaWorld, which is one of my favorite parks. It has great rides, exhibits and shows for everyone in the family. Once we got back to the Condo, we decided to recharge with some relaxation and sleep for the grand finale!
Part 4: Only Calling it Music City is an Understatement
If I were to rename Nashville, Tenn., it would probably be called “THE most amazingly fun, historic, delicious, southern, entertaining city with the best live music around every corner, Tennessee.” I was ecstatic to get there, because we were meeting two of my cousins that came down from Rochester, N.Y. to spend the week with us. We stayed at a hotel right next to the Tennessee Titans stadium that was in walking distance to downtown, where all my favorite country stars started their careers. We enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and even took a day trip to tour the Jack Daniels Distillery. We enjoyed the bars and live music every night and even hung out with a few of the bands. Nashville is bursting with an old presence of old country, the excitement of rock and roll and the heart of young country music that will make you always want to come back for more.
Part 5: Homebound, But Not Over
On our way home from Nashville, we had to make one last stop because of my dad. He is a huge fan of Jim Beam and luckily for us, we had to pass through the Bourbon Trail in order to get home. It was a great distillery that gave me a whole new respect on Jim Beam and bourbon in general. The art and hard work that goes into all of their products is exceptional. The trip was coming to an end, but it was bringing about a whole new excitement — being home with my family. I was able to spend two weeks in Rochester, N.Y. visiting family and friends before it was time to return back to Melbourne to work for the summer and prepare for my next step in life: graduate school.
This was the most amazing trip in my life, and I had no idea that I have been working for it for the past four years. It is great to know that hard work comes with great rewards. I am so thankful for all my family and friends that made my “extravaganza” so remarkable, and especially to my parents who have given the world to me.