I can't believe it has been a year since I checked in to my Patterson Court apartment for the Disney College Program. At that point, I had no idea how much my life was going to change. (Whoa, so cheesy, am I right?)
The DCP was one of the best experiences of my life. Those five months taught me so much about myself and other people. I gained irreplaceable friendships while making my way through working at one of the best companies in the entire world. How many times can you say you've done that?! To work alongside some of the best in the business and learn from a company that continually changes lives and makes people happy was insane. And I am so, so grateful for it.
I am a changed person since last year. I still point with two fingers (Disney point--all day, everyday). I sometimes have the urge to "psst" at others to get their attention (thank you, Fantasyland). Strollers are horrifying to me and I still cringe when I see one. But even more than those, Disney helped build my confidence, gave me experiences in dealing with people from all walks of life and showed me what it's like to work full time in a rather challenging job.
As a cast member, you are held to a standard that others aren't. You must follow many rules, adhere to the Disney Look, be kind and courteous at all times and deal with enormous amounts of people on a daily basis. Disney is a level above the rest and we have to rise to meet that challenge. It is truly unlike any other job I've ever had. I have never been so stressed, tired, annoyed or overwhelmed in my life.
The thing about Disney is that while it's crazy and there are tons of people and not all of those people are particularly kind, it's like being part of a giant family. Everyone that goes to Disney, whether they are a cast member or a guest, loves the company and the stories and the fun. We all have the same goal: to make sure the guests have the time of their lives. That goal can be met in ways big and small. I have made the biggest difference in a family's trip just by smiling and giving the kids a Mickey sticker.
There were many times while working that I wanted to cry because of the rudeness of guests. However, there were more times than I could count that I wanted to cry on the job because of the joy of a guest seeing their favorite character or the gratefulness of a family with a Make-A-Wish child. Knowing that I was helping make magic for them would literally bring tears to my eyes.
In addition to the job itself, I had to move one thousand miles away from home, live in an apartment with 5 others girls (14107 for life!) and fend for myself when making decisions, buying groceries and missing home. It was crazy learning how to grow up while being in a place that constantly reminds you of what it's like to be a kid.
I miss Disney every single day. Seriously. I'm not over it! After five months of living and working there, you might think I'd get sick of it. But nope, I still wish I could go to the parks on my days off, make reservations at Ohana or in the World Showcase just for the heck of it or head to Magic Kingdom simply to watch the fireworks after a long day. I still perk up whenever I hear someone discussing anything Disney-related and I am constantly looking up plane tickets back to Orlando.
Participating in the Disney College Program was life-changing. It was nothing short of magical. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
If you'd like to learn more about the DCP, check it out here! You won't regret it!