I was studying abroad in London, topped-up Oyster card in my wallet and an email saying, "hey, we'd like you to volunteer with London 2012 Ceremonies all the way through the end of the Paralympics!" in my inbox. Life was good.
And then reality happened. My student visa expired in June, which meant I would no longer be allowed to work and would have to leave the country. I attempted to get a work visa, which you need a sponsor (aka your employer) to sign off on, only to find out that L2012C didn't sponsor visas. I went to the U.S. embassy for help and was literally turned away at the door (thanks a ton, America). So I grudgingly packed my bags and bid a tearful adieu to my hopes of working at the London 2012 Olympics.
It sucked. Goooood times.
Now, let us return to the present. As I'm not working or interning for the USOC (*pointed look in their direction*), I applied to be a volunteer with them at the USA House during the Sochi Olympics. The USA House is basically the USOC's hospitality center during the games, for sponsors, athletes, athletes' families, etc.
|It's where Shaun White meets Wayne Gretzky. Because, y'know, why not? [via]|
|It's also where Jim Craig speaks to the media in front of a GIANT CHALK MURAL (!!!) that was also signed by Bonnie Blair, Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Dan Jansen... [via]|
Welp. Reality, once again, kicked me in the shins. Round trip flights to Sochi are almost $2,000, Russian visas cost $305, and the USOC doesn't cover any of its volunteers' expenses. So that means I'd have to find a hotel to stay in (HA) for three weeks (DOUBLE HA), as well as pay for transportation to and from Olympic Park and meals (and the exorbitantly expensive souvenirs, because let's be real). Basically, if I wanted to get myself to Sochi and stay in a hotel -- not going anywhere else, not eating anything, and not buying souvenirs -- that would cost me a cool $5,000. And that's a conservative estimate.
Considering I, a) make minimum wage, which is barely enough to cover my living expenses, b) don't have five grand to my name, and c) am biding my time before student loans come and hit me like a truck...
For the second time in under a year and a half, I have the opportunity to volunteer at the Olympics, and have to turn it down.
How. Is. This. Even. POSSIBLE?
I feel like this is becoming a joke. Applies for USOC internships for four straight years? Rejected. Tries to volunteer at London 2012? No visa. Tries to volunteer at Sochi 2014? No money. That's funny, universe. Reeeeeally funny. At this point I think it'd be easier to become an Olympic athlete and get there that way.
|I could totally rock those pants and be a curler, right? PyeongChang or bust! [via]|
But I'm not here to whine. (Well, okay, I'm here to whine a little bit, because... I mean, seriously? Seriously?) This whole situation has made me take a step back, take a deep breath and appreciate what I'm doing and what I have.
Since being out here in Colorado Springs, life has sort of fallen into a rhythm, and it's really easy to lose perspective of how freaking cool this all is. But sometimes I'll be returning to the OTC from work, and there'll be tourists posing in front of the Olympic rings that I see so often it's become routine. Or I'll be eating lunch on a Saturday and spot a tour group being led around outside. And just the other day, when a shooting coach asked me what I was here for, his response to hearing that I'm an intern was, "Oh, so you're someone, huh?"
It's interesting going back and reading my old posts about how badly I wanted what I have right now. Two and a half years ago (omg) I wrote this post that says:
And being vocal about my passion will one day lead to blog entries written from inside one of the Olympic training centers as I eagerly await the start of my internship.I'm kind of impressed with myself, to be honest. Granted, things didn't happen exactly how I pictured them, but I came pretty damn close. And then there's the added benefit of being the resident ceremonies expert during London 2012, and the resident volleyball expert when Rio 2016 finally rolls around! Working for an NGB is incredibly cool, as is working for an organizing committee. Had everything happened the way I originally wanted it to, I might not have gotten the chance to learn this firsthand.
So even though I'm about to decline yet another awesome volunteer experience