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April Showers and Busy Hours (Part Two)

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo So where does this all put me? I’ve now been in the Coast Guard for roughly ten months, the whole time living at the Academy. For about ten months I’ve been a 4/c cadet: braced up, squaring, keeping my eyes in the boat, doing clocks, knowing indoc, taking out trash, cleaning the passageways, standing watch. So, the question for me is, “so what?” Honestly, I’m having trouble thinking of something to write. (That’s a new one for me!)

 

I can definitely say that 4/c year went by extremely quickly. It’s incredible to think that it’s over, and in a few short days (after graduation), I’ll be a 3/c cadet! I’ll have full carry on, and all the duties that once fell on me will now fall to the class of 2016. We won’t be the “little ones” anymore; we’re going to be the mentors, the ones that the 4/c look to for guidance and help. It’s exciting, that’s for sure.

 

It’s fun to think about what I was doing a year ago at this time. Last May I had just finished my AP exams, and with three weeks of school left, I was basically riding it easy (class-wise); I was also tying up loose ends and prepping my successors for the clubs that I ran. I was planning summer get-togethers with friends—those one-more-time-before-I-leave-for-the-summer/Academy meetings and coffee breaks and breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that seemed to keep popping up right up until I left for Swab Summer. I was planning a graduation party with two of my friends. I was hitting the gym harder, running farther and faster, and psyching myself up for the intense summer that lay ahead—less than 50 days to go! Wow, I was really excited for Swab Summer! It seemed like the Academy came up in every conversation (much to the annoyance of my friends, I’m sure). Every day I eagerly checked the mail for any new information—the packing list, the company assignments, the R-Day agenda—anything that would bring me one step closer to the Academy. I had never been so excited to go out and buy tube socks!

 

Perhaps what is giving me such an issue with this reflection is the fact that being a 4/c just kind of…ended. There was no big celebration, no culminating event. Basically one day I was at the Academy squaring, etc. and the next I was out in the fleet. My friends and classmates had been scattered across the country—there was not congratulating or cheering. Anticlimactic is probably the best word for it. I’m sure the excitement of seeing the new swabs/fourth class in August will be enough of a celebration—then we will officially, 100%, never-be-a-fourth-class-again, 3/c cadets!

 

One thing I learned about the Academy that I would not have been able to understand until I was actually there is that time moves so quickly there yet at the same time, it seems like ages have passed. Thinking back to first semester, or even the beginning of the second semester, the Academy seems so different. Again, this is hard to explain exactly what I mean, so I apologize for that.

 

As I hope you’ve been able to tell from my blogs, I have had a fantastic time over the past year. I can say—although it’s been said so many times before—that I’ve made many friends, learned loads of information, and had awesome opportunities. But my past year has to get more than that boring sentence. Of course, it is hard to put ten months’ worth of experiences into a few short words.

 

I also don’t have an overwhelming sense that I’ve changed (on the inside). Sure, maybe my parents and friends may see some changes, but I don’t feel like a new, different, or improved person. OK, so I now have more knowledge in areas I didn’t have before—specifically with regards to military customs and procedures—and I am more aware of certain actions (such as walking and talking on the cell phone or eating while wearing a hat). Yet there is still that “but…”. I just can’t place my finger on what follows that conjunction.

 

Swab Summer was a challenge, but I still had an unbelievably fun time! 4/c year was difficult, but I overcame the obstacles and managed to enjoy myself in the process. The past few months were certainly not all fun and games, but I am so pleased to be at the Academy. Not once have I second guessed my choice to come here (as opposed to a civilian college). Eh, so I had a few more parameters to follow than most college students, but my experiences this year—as well as the ones in my future—were (and are) absolutely worth giving up some of the “perks” of civilian college life.

 

With that I say so long. To the class of 2016, good luck! And to all the rest, have a great summer!

 



More about Justin.

 

Last Blog as a Cadet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo Tonight is my last night in Chase Hall, and my last blog as a cadet. In one day my life will experience a drastic change, and I will be a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard. Even now, I don’t think this has sunk in, and everything feels like it is happening so quickly. The past few weeks have been filled with trainings, celebrations, and ceremonies. I have seen my swabs put on their white shields as they prepare to become cadre…it’s been a giant storm…all of it leading to the Class of 2012’s final culminating experience; graduation.

 

Truth be told, it all feels rather abrupt. After graduation we are all going our separate ways, and I might not see some of my best friends for months or even years. One of my buds is going to flight school in Pensacola, Florida, another will be an intelligence officer in Boston, Massachusetts, yet another a deck watch officer in Astoria, Oregon. I myself am going to be a Student Engineer in Alameda, California aboard the CGC Bertholf. Funny though…I won’t be in Alameda for the first five months I report in. Our cutter is going on an Arctic support mission, and will be gone for a good period of time.

 

I packed up my room completely today, and it is amazing the flood of memories I have had as I have gone through all my things. The experiences I have had at the Academy are unforgettable, and I cannot believe how much the past four years have shaped me as a person. There is too much to say at this point, and how I feel right now is difficult to put into words. Such a strong mixture of excitement, sadness, and anxiety…There are so many different people I want to thank for getting me to this point, and I am disappointed I won’t have time to let everyone know exactly and how much they have impacted me.

 

To anyone reading this final cadet blog, especially potential cadets, I would highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to have an incredible college experience. When I was a senior in high school it was between the Coast Guard Academy and UC Santa Barbara, and I am glad I picked CGA. This place is not perfect by any means, but I don’t think it is meant to be. It is meant to be a challenge, and shape young men and women who can work under pressure and stress. Sometimes I was dumbfounded with some decisions made at the Academy, but looking at back, there might be some method to the madness.

 

What the Academy has given to me is hard to describe, because it hasn’t been a joy ride. But if I think about the most emotional moments in my life, almost all of them have been during my time in the Coast Guard Academy.

 

It has been quite a journey these last four years, and I am amazed how much I have grown. There is still more growing to do though…there always is. Thanks for reading, and if anyone has any questions for me I would gladly answer them at cshih31@gmail.com.

 

Good luck to the rest of the Corp as they continue their Academy experience!

 



More about Chris.