I just graduated from the Disney College Program, what’s next?​

Whoa, what a journey. The Disney College Program has been the most life-changing experience over the last four months. I’ve spent every day working and playing in the Disney World parks, and it has been the most joyous time. I loved my job and the people I have been surround with. But, like all good things, it must come to an end. As much as I would love to stay here (and trust me, I REALLY would), I am at peace with my decision not to extend my program. I got my graduation ears yesterday and have five more shifts of work until my program is officially over.

So, what is next? I’ll be moving back to Johnson City, Tennessee. My mom and sister are meeting me here in Orlando to play in the parks for a few days beforehand and then help pack all my stuff up and begin the 10-hour drive home. I’ll have a few days to get settled in and catch up with friends and family before starting back my job with the Communications team at FCC. I’ll be working on a cool project that I am excited to dive into and looking forward to seeing my amazing coworkers there!

I’ll be back on East Tennessee State Univerity’s campus in the fall to start my SENIOR YEAR of college. I can’t believe my last year of undergrad is already here. I only have five classes and two big tests (a critical thinking skills test and a major field test) standing in the way between me and a bachelors of science in media and communication. It’s crazy! I technically could squeeze that all into one semester and graduated in December, but with being gone this semester and getting used to being back on campus, I’ve decided to stick with the full four years and graduate in May 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with Disney, and I can safely say that this isn’t the end. I will be looking into Professional Internships and other positions within Walt Disney World for post-graduation in the hopes of returning next year. This has been an amazing company to work for and one that I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to just yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do another College Program! Whatever may come, I know doing this College Program will be a great door opener and I cannot wait to see what my future holds.

Goodbyes and really hard and this next week is going to be emotional, but I’m going to take advantage of every moment I have to make some magic!

❤ / Bailey

nine years later

Nine years ago today, life changed. I was coming home from school after meeting up with my mom who had been running our mother’s day plant sale. We hopped in the car and hurried home. We got there and dad was home too, which was off because he usually worked late. I began to run up the stair exclaiming, “I’m gonna go get ready for dance class!” When I was told to stop, come back, and sit on the couch. It was at that moment everything changed.

That was the day that I found out my uncle had passed away. It was unexpected. He had a simple foot surgery a few days prior and I had just talked to him on the phone the day of. He was supposed to be fine. Turns out, things can change in the blink of an eye.

My uncle was one of my favorite people. He was constantly showering my sister and me with so much love and joy. He really cared for us and would always remind us of how beautiful and loved we were. He was the person who could always cheer me up and make me smile. Even though he lived in Pennsylvania 11 hours away, he was someone I was super close with. The number of people who came to his funeral and spoke so highly of him was a true testament to the impact he had on this world. He was and still is, a major inspiration as to why I stay so positive and try to make people happy.

To this day, my uncle’s passing is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Grief is a monster and one that in nine years still hasn’t gone away. I went through all the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Except I still think I might be stuck in that last one. Yes, I know my uncle is gone, but there is sometimes a part of me that still thinks he is just at home in Pennsylvania making people smile and laughing with friends. It’s just how my mind copes!

I think about him every day, and when I think about how much I miss him I can’t help but cry. I struggle with grief a lot. I tend to internalize things too much and suppress the sad emotions deep down inside. I’m a glass half full type of person, so much so to my own fault sometimes. However, on May 6th I will let myself grieve. I will tell myself it’s okay to cry about because there is pain from missing home. I won’t let it consume me, though. That’s not what he would want! He brought so much joy to me and everyone he knew, and I know he’d still want me to feel that joy even on this day.

Nine years later, and I still miss him. I’m sad that he missed out on numerous dance recitals, high school graduation, proms, dances, my sister’s graduation, and so much more. But, I know he would proud. He’s smiling down on me from heaven while I’m making magic at Disney and guiding me with light. I hope I am making him proud and honoring him in the way I try to spend joy.

❤ / Bailey

ONE MONTH LEFT | DCP SPRING 2019

Where has this year gone? I cannot believe that it’s already down to only one month left of my Disney College Program. I am excited to be seeing my family and friends that I have been missing back at home soon but am heartbroken at the thought of saying goodbye to this program and the people here. It has been the best time of my life and I have grown in ways I never could have imagined. So, what’s been going on since the last time I’ve posted?

I worked a lot. From the start, I’ve loved my job and that love has only grown as the program has progressed. I get to work alongside some of the most amazing people who provide my days with laughter, professional growth, encouragement, and immense joy. I’ve had some amazing guest experiences whether it be a little kid hugging me exclaiming it has been “the best day ever” to just having a chat with an older couple who are annual pass holders about the love for Disney and seeing the joy on someone’s face when they ready “East Tenn State Univ” on my nametag and are from that area or went to ETSU as well. Of course, there are rough moments but the good always outweighs the bad and I’ve grown in my ability to handle all types of situations.

I’ve had plenty of park days. When you have the unlimited ability to go to a Disney park, why wouldn’t you take full advantage of it? Most of my off days and several mornings before work have been spent exploring the parks and resorts. I rode Big Thunder Mountain for the first time (and now it’s one of my favorites) with my roommates Sam and Kendra, ate at the iconic Beaches and Cream with Maddy, ate a lot of festival food at Epcot’s Flower and Garden, and even built up the courage to enjoy some time by myself in the parks (well, besides the thousands of other strangers there).

I’ve had hilarious late night chats with my roommates. I honestly don’t think I could have gotten better people as my roommates for this experience. One of my favorite things to do is have late night chats with my roommates after we get home from work! We even had a late night waffle party that was full of laughs and delicious Mickey waffles.

With only one month left, I’m hoping to make every moment count. I want to play in the parks whenever I get the chance and make tons of memories with my friends here before we go our separate ways. I’m looking forward to celebrating Earth Day and Easter in the parks this weekend. In a few weeks, I’ll also be having some visitors and I cannot wait to share with them this place I love so much.

Here’s to the last month and everything that it will have in store!

❤ / Bail

MAKING DECISIONS | DCP 2 & 1/2 MONTH UPDATE

It’s no secret, I’m pretty bad at making decisions. I have been for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s deciding what to eat for lunch, what color to dye my hair next, or what to wear to class, you can bet I’ve had an in-depth thought process happen while trying to pick. I’m an overthinker, no doubt about it! This *special* trait of mine has been really apparent recently.

I’m currently two and a half months into my Disney College Program and loving every moment of it. So much so, that I applied to extend my program through the summer. Now, when I went into the program, I was pretty dead-set that I’d be coming back to Tennessee in May. Little did I know just how much I’d fall in love with this company, this city, and the people here. It’s truly felt like home and the amount of love and joy I feel every day is something I don’t think I can fully describe.

So, when the opportunity to apply to extend arose, I took it. I wrote a couple of paragraphs about why I wanted to stay through the summer, chose my role and location preferences, and a few weeks later I was offered an extension. Then, I had a decision to make.

QUE THE BIG YIKES AND MANY DAYS OF ASKING MYSELF  “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”

There was something different about this decision. It was a really big one to make. I had a lot of reasons for staying in Florida. I love working at Disney World, I’ve made some INCREDIBLE friends here that I dread saying goodbye to, and l want to keep my journey with Disney going. However, there were also a lot of factors tugging me back home to Tennessee. A lot of my family members are going through a lot right now and I physically want to be there for them, the job that I loved back at home was being held for me until May, this is my last summer to be at home before GRADUATING college, and there are a lot of people and things I just miss about Johnson City.

Can you see why I was having such a tough time choosing? Plus, they only gave us about four days to give them an answer to whether or not we were accepting the extension. Talk about added pressure! After several days of constant inner debate, inner-lip biting (s/o to you, anxiety), praying, and a few tears shed thanks to it also coinciding with period week, I made my decision.

I declined the offer to extend my program and will be moving home to Johnson City in May.

It was a REALLY tough choice to make, but one that I’m at peace with. I want to be able to spend my last summer before entering the real adult world (post-graduation) at home in Johnson City and be close to my family who is going through a lot right now & could need me.

Don’t worry, I don’t think my journey in Orlando and with the Disney company is quite over yet! I’m already planning a trip to come back in June to celebrate my 21st birthday. I’m also planning on applying to Disney’s Professional Internships once I graduate next year and will definitely be looking into career paths in advertising and public relations with Disney.

I’m excited to see what the rest of my program will hold and will be soaking in every second of the experience! I’ve got some friends from home who are coming to visit in May, fun adventures to come planned with friends here, and many more days of working in the best park. The best is yet to come, I’m sure!

As far as what I’ve been up to recently, the last month since I’ve updated has been a blast! My sister, best friend, and their friends came to spend part of their Spring Break with me and I got to show them around my favorite place!! I got to go on a backstage tour of the Haunted Mansion ride with my coworkers. Spent a beautiful day Kathy & Wendy. Ate at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & friends. I went to the parks a lot and worked A LOT. It’s been the best of times!

Here’s to learning to make decisions. I’ll see you in May, Johnson City!

❤ / Bailey

A LIFE UPDATE | DCP SPRING 2019

First of all, sorry I’ve been a little MIA on the updates. I know a lot of people back home have enjoyed staying connected through reading my posts (at least I hope so). I’ve been a little busy! Between work, school, and hanging out with friends, I haven’t had much time to myself. But, here I am, back on the blog with a life update. Buckle up, because my brain is ready for a dump.

Time is a weird concept. I think I say that a lot, but especially recently. As I continue to settle into life in Orlando, I’m constantly surprised by time. The days run together and the thoughts of what my life used to be are becoming fainter. Every day that I drive into work underneath the Walt Disney World sign I have to pinch myself as a reminder that this isn’t always what my life has been like. My program is going by so fast, and yet it feels like I’ve been here forever. That’s something I’m not too mad about either. I’m glad this place feels like home.

I was looking at my Snapchat memories and “on this day” last year was the last time I was in Orlando. I was here with a group of amazing people from First Christian Church for a conference called Exponential. On that day I was having so much fun with people I love and didn’t have a clue where my life would take me. One year later and I’m back in Orlando, have been living here for over a month and a half, and am working for Walt Disney World. Crazy, right? I can’t believe that was a whole year ago and how much has changed since then.

I do miss home and the people there. I miss my family and friends. I miss my cat and all the fur babies I pet sit for. I’m extra thankful for things like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and FaceTime that keep me plugged into people’s lives back home so I don’t have such a big case of FOMO.

I’m also thinking a lot about the future. Do I want to apply for a DCP extension and stay in Orlando through the Summer? Is Orlando where I want to move to post graduation in 2020? Do I want to do a professional internship with Disney at some point? All very important questions that I need to try and figure out. I know whatever happens, it is God’s plan, but it’s easy to start to worry and contemplate.

For now, I’m just taking things day by day and trying to soak up every moment that I can. I’m still in love with where I work and the people I work with. Of course, there are hard days when dealing with thousands of people, but the magical moments like having a kid exclaim, “this has been the BEST DAY EVER,” make them seem so much smaller. My coworkers also make coming to work every day a joy. I honestly miss them when I’m off (but enjoy having time to rest, shop, & explore). They’re quickly becoming some of my favorite people and close friends. I can’t say enough good things about how this program is going.

I hope everyone is doing well! I miss all y’all in Tennessee, and am sending you my love.

❤ / Bail

ONE MONTH IN | DCP SPRING 2019

It’s been one month until since my DCP journey began and I moved into my apartment in Orlando. What is time? I can’t believe so much time has already passed when it feels like just yesterday I was leaving the snowy mountains of Tennessee. It’s been a month full of learning, growing, immense joy, and some stress all mixed together.

Overall, my DCP has been an amazing experience already. I’ve been learning constantly, about my job, guest interaction, doing things on my own, and myself in general. I love my job and what I’m doing, mostly in part thanks to the people I work with. My coworkers are amazing and I have great leaders and coordinators who have answered my many questions and are just awesome to work with.

I get to talk to so many new people every day and I’ve enjoyed seeing the joy on people’s faces as they describe the fun they’ve had at Animal Kingdom. It’s especially rewarding when coming from a little kid. Seeing them spring up from their strollers telling me it’s been the “best day ever” or receiving a surprise hug from a little girl that got to see so many “cool animals.” Seeing people smiling and excited about what they’ve experienced is why I wanted to do this program. I wanted to work for a company that excels at making people happy!

Of course, I have had my rough days. Not so much when dealing with guests, but more so when dealing with myself. It’s been hard to be so far away from my family friends and back at home. A lot of the people I hold dear to my heart are struggling through something right now and a big part of me wishes I could be there to help out. I pray for them constantly and send any support I can from where I’m at, but I do wish I could do more.

I also had my first mini-crisis yesterday. I lost my keys. Yeah, I made an oops! Not only was it my car key, but my apartment key was also attached. You can imagine how that would be an issue. I knew there were only a few places they could be, but no matter how hard I searched I couldn’t find them! I may have gone into full-on panic mode. I went the whole day without them and had to spend the day worrying about who could possibly have them or if I was going to have to get a new apartment key and somehow manage to get someone to make me a new car key! I had to miss out on galentine’s day brunch because of it which just added onto my already bummed feeling. This was the first unfortunate thing to happen while I’ve been here so that probably amplified my anxiety about it all. Luckily, they were found by last night underneath the passenger seat of one of my roommate’s cars. I’m so thankful to have them back and will now be stapling them to my body (okay, maybe not that extreme but you get what I mean).

Other than the little hiccups and stresses that come with adjusting to being on my own, I have had the best time here in Orlando. I’m loving going to the parks with my days off, am enjoying getting to know my amazing coworkers, and making really great friends! Just from this one month, I have been reminded over and over again that this is the place I am meant to be at right now. God is continuing to reveal that this is a part of the plan for my life, and I couldn’t be happier with the phase of life I’m in.

Here’s to the next month of my program and everything that it will hold!

</3, Bailey

 

THINGS I MISS FROM TENNESSEE

It’s weird to think that next week I will have been in Orlando for an entire month. What even is time? I’m loving life in Orlando, but I am starting to miss certain things from home. It’s healthy to get things off your chest, right? I won’t make the whole post about missing my cat (even though I could). So, here’s a list of the things I’m missing.

People | I miss my friends & family. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some AMAZING people here in Orlando that have made this city feel like home. However, I do find myself missing my people from home. I’ve kept in touch as best as I can, but with conflicting schedules, it can be hard to get in that call or FaceTime. I’m super thankful for social media keeping me in touch while I’m away. I can stalk all y’all online (in the fun way, not the creepy way) to lessen my FOMO.

The Food | What I wouldn’t do for a pinecone and a strawberry bubble tea from Daylight Doughnuts right about now! It just isn’t the same without an inaugural first day of the semester breakfast. I couldn’t make this post without mentioning my near constant desire for peachie sprite and frenchie fries or cheddar rounds. Nothing here can compare. Also, Cootie Brown’s pizza, Jack’s wraps, and Label sushi are a big miss in my present life.

Pets | I miss my little, black cat and his precious cuddles! He always knows how to comfort me and I miss his sweet meows. I’m thankful for my momma who FaceTimes him for me so I can still see his sweet face! I must say, I also miss all of my pet-sitting regulars. I was watching them so much & I miss all those adorable fur/feather/finned babies. At least I get to work in Animal Kingdom, so I’m never too far from some animal friends! It has gotten to the point though that every time I see a security dog outside DAK I really have to refrain from disturbing it’s work and petting it.

Open roads | Oy vey, the Orlando traffic! I knew coming into this semester that it would be bad, but boy did I underestimate things. I miss when going 4 miles didn’t take 15 – 30 minutes. Plus, the Orlando drivers are just as bad as Johnson City. Except for this time, there’s no Southern hospitality involved.

Mountains | Florida is so flat and I’m not used to it in the slightest. I miss seeing the mountains everywhere I turn and watching the sunrise/set behind them. They really are a beauty that I took for granted.

Southern Hospitality | Don’t get me wrong, everyone in Florida is really nice. The thing I miss is the little southern hospitality moments like waving at another car to let them pull out ahead of you, people saying please & thank you, and all those moments that would make your momma proud.

Maurice’s | The place I used to get almost every item of clothing from. Yeah, I looked it up the other day and the nearest one is an HOUR AWAY. I’m not very happy about that one but my wallet might be.

There’s a lot more that I’m missing from home, but I’m gonna end this list here. I really do love Orlando and this place has grown a special spot in my heart. I know when it comes time to go home I’ll be dreading saying goodbye, so I’ll enjoy the current moment!

❤ / Bailey