My Summer & Counting Down the Days to College


"Life starts over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I was in the sixth grade when I decided that 13 was my favorite number. To me, a now-official teenager excited to renounce the ways of a childish 12, 13 was a fresh start. 13 was triskaidekaphobia, a fear I was proud to defy (and a word my younger self was proud to boast in her vocabulary). 13 was solid: a good two-mile time, the number of hair ties that survived my move from South Carolina to New York, and the lucky figure that allowed me to pick my project topic first in an English class raffle. 13 was special because I made it so. 13 was different. 13 defied the odds, and 13 was mine.

(In middle school, I even made a video to share with my math class about how cool I found the number 13.)

Five years have passed since my middle school fascination with the unlucky number and growing up faster. At 18 years old, with exactly 13 days left before I travel over two hundred miles to my new home at the College of William and Mary, I reflect in amazement at how much I have changed in these years, but also how much I have remained the same. I have the same mole on my right cheek, just by the corner of my mouth, that marks me as my mom's daughter. I'm a bit bigger now, sure, but a younger Claire and I share the same almost too-idealistic ambition and appreciation for spending time with friends before moving. But experience separates us. I have faced challenges growing up a younger me could have never conceived.

As I start the fall semester of my first year of college, a prospect that thrills and terrifies me, I want to remember 13-year-old Claire's curiosity, determination, and dreams. I want to remember her fascination with the world around her, even with something as seemingly insignificant or purportedly daunting as the number 13.

Hi everyone! It's been a while since my last post. (I promise, my absence has an explanation!) I also owe it to that 13-year-old girl that opened a default template and called it "Bookworm Reviews" to keep this space of the Internet alive. So here's a quick update on where I've been, what I've read, and where I'm going.

Where I've Been

  • The most significant event of my summer was a one-month trip to Korea with my mom and my sister. We visited Jejudo, an island where most of my Korean family lives, and Seoul, the largest city. The days there alternated between slow-going talks with my grandmother shared over traditional food in the village and fast-paced adventures through the city and tourist sites with my uncle and his family. For my mom, this trip was her first visit to her home country in a decade. Meeting my Korean family allowed me to connect with my heritage in a way I never have before. I have so many stories I promised myself I would write about (more posts to come!). I was most blown away by my family's unrelenting kindness. I couldn't speak the language, and we hadn't spent much time together, but I'd never felt a stronger sense of family.

In Seoul, my sister and I got to try on hanboks, traditional Korean dress. 
  • Reconnected with friends old: I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of my closest friends again before college. One is currently a college student who also used to run cross country and participate in the musical production team. She drove all the way from Ohio herself to visit. The other I met in first grade when we both lived in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, over a decade ago. She now resides in New Jersey. Seeing them made me appreciate the power of friendship to withstand long distances and even years apart.

  • ...and new: During my Korea trip, I learned to find creative ways to stay in touch without direct access to the Internet. Some of my favorite summer memories were made over the phone: video chatting two close friends from my grandmother's backyard and streaming and commentating on the democratic debates from home while my friend was away at a college camp.

  • I started playing the piano again and listening to a lot of music. My favorite piece to play recently has been "See You Again" by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa. I've also been listening to a lot of songs in French by Angele and Lomepal.

What I've Read

Not nearly enough! I will try to read as much as I can before I head off to college.
Harry Potter books 5-7 by J. K. Rowling / After what felt like a never-ending reading slump, being completely immersed in these stories was so refreshing. Not many books can capture my attention so strongly anymore. I was content to sit with my Harry Potter books for hours without interruption. To me, they're just as magical now as they were ten years ago.

There, There by Tommy Orange / There, There tells the story of a shooting at the Big Oakland Powow from the perspective of 12 Native Americans. While I found the beginning slow and sometimes confusing as I bounced between the characters, the powerful ending left me thinking.

News in French: A friend connected me to this awesome newsletter that puts my French to practice now that I'm not in school. Starting my day with this email allows me to keep practicing, even if just a little.

What's Next

I'm going to college! (aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!)
  • I'm not signed up for all of my classes yet, but so far my schedule consists of introductory international politics and microeconomics. I will also take a music seminar for a community project program I am involved with, Sharpe, and I plan to sign up for a foreign language.
  • I hope to record more of my college experience, so expect many updates!

How has your summer been?


  1. This is such a heartwarming post to read, Claire. I am so glad that you enjoyed your time in Korea and I can't wait to visit one day. And I really need to start practicing French again like you do but for some reason I never get around to it. Anyways, I can't wait until you arrive at W&M and we should definitely meet up when you're not too busy with orientation and the first week of classes. It can be pretty crazy, but it is also super fun.

  2. Congrats on all your achievements recently! I hope you love college. If you get involved and immerse yourself in the campus life then it can be a very unforgettable experience.