For today’s Throwback Thursday post, MACP student Elizabeth Ferauge looks back on the ups and downs of graduate school, from the initial decision to apply all the way through sitting with clients at her internship site. We hope Elizabeth’s story is a reminder that it’s okay for this season to feel a bit like a roller coaster. You’re not alone!

I really wasn’t expecting to begin this journey until I had already taken the first few steps. In fact, before I really knew what I had signed up for, I was already well on my way. I remember poring over website after website of schools and psychology programs, doctorates and masters’ degrees and certificates, each one seeming to offer me the “best education” in exchange for more money than I’d ever spent on anything in my entire life. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto The Seattle School website that I remembered I’d been there before: about a year prior, a friend had invited me to sit in on a class. I vaguely recalled the bright red building by the water with comfortable chairs and crazy artwork on the walls.

I can’t tell you exactly what prompted me to press the “request more information” button. Maybe it was the tagline, text.soul.culture. Maybe I was intrigued by the combination of theology and psychology. Maybe there was something about that class I had attended that lingered in the back of my brain. Maybe it was just part of a long chain of repetitive applications. But within a few days, an admissions counselor contacted me. I submitted my application a few weeks later, and I was accepted by the end of June. Two months later, I stepped through the doors of the red brick building.

It all happened so fast that I barely had time to really think about it. That entire summer was spent in anxious anticipation, buying all my books ahead of time, trying to figure out if it was okay to show up with bright purple hair, joyfully purchasing pink notebooks and glitter gel pens. Sometimes I felt happiness and pride: I’m going to be a graduate student! Other times I felt nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety. So many questions were buzzing in my head as I swung from fear to excitement and back again. Will I make any friends? What will the classes be like? What’s a “practicum” class? As a third culture kid, I’ve always felt ready, for better or worse, to drop everything at the last moment and rush on to the next chapter: from the U.S. to France to Japan and back again. And despite the fact that I was already relatively well-established in Seattle (and had been for two years—which for me is actually an eternity), stepping into The Seattle School did feel like the beginning of an adventure.

And what an adventure it has been. That little building really does contain a whole world of its own. Sometimes it feels like stepping right through the wardrobe into Narnia. Other days I feel like walking in the building might break every bone in my body. It’s now almost three years later, and I’ve spent the past year in my internship, sitting in an office in front of patients. I do feel that I’m being well prepared for this work, but I can also say that I’ll never be done learning, and that realization has been the greatest gift from this institution. My hope is that as you step into this adventure you will realize that there will always be more to discover: about yourself, about others, about God.

Your story is unique, and I can’t tell you I know exactly what you’re going through, whether you’re still making that important decision, or just starting to pack your bags. Everyone experiences transitions differently: for some it will be a breeze while for others it will be the hardest thing they’ve ever done. But you will meet exceptional people whose stories can interlace with yours, reminding you that you are not walking on this path by yourself. And know that you are entering into something quite wonderful: a community that will welcome you with open arms, an experience that will change you, and your own story filled with heartache, joy, and infinite beauty.

Elizabeth Ferauge is a third-year MA in Counseling Psychology student at The Seattle School, dual French-American citizen, and Third Culture Kid who has lived in four different countries: France, Japan, Canada, and the U.S.