186 South College

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Month: April 2016 (page 2 of 2)

How I Changed My Own Life

This past spring break I went on a UDaB trip, although that isn’t really the main point. Yes, the trip was amazing. Yes, I made 40 new best friends. Yes, it was the freaking Everglades. But the point really isn’t what I did this spring break. The point is what I didn’t do this spring break.

Just like any other college student –scratch that, just like any other human- I have had my fair share of struggles with positivity. I’ll be the first to admit that some weeks it just feels like the world is out to get me and nothing can go my way. I’ve had those days where I have to force myself to get out of bed. Those moments where the stress bears down on me and I’m ready to quit college/run away/become an exotic dancer. This spring break, though, I decided that I was going to throw all of my negativity away. Literally. During the first day of the trip, we did a group exercise in which we wrote our anxieties down on a piece of paper, ripped them up, and threw them away. From that point on, I made a personal vow to myself that for one week I was going to try to make the best out of every situation. No longer would I let myself be controlled by my own unconstructive mindset. So, through all the poisonous plants, thousands of bug bites, and sunburn the Florida Everglades had to offer, I stayed positive. For the first time in my life I listened to the cliché advice all those YouTube self-help guru’s preach: happiness is a choice. Choose to be happy and you will be.

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

The Florida Everglades provided an inspired setting for an inspirational experience

I have been trying to take step back from everything in my life that has become the “norm.” Instead of settling for the usual and getting sucked into bad habits, I’ve been looking at situations and trying to decide, really decide, if they are adding to my overall well-being. I no longer want to be put into circumstances that bring out the negativity in me. I’ve learned that it is much easier to be positive when the influences around me are positive. With more positive influences, I’ve noticed that everything that has happened to me has been able to be flipped on its head and looked at differently. Yes, I got a ticket today at a parking meter. At least I have a car to be ticketed. Yes, I was late to work and forgot to take my eyebrow ring out. At least I have a job with a forgiving manager.

I wouldn’t quite say that I have made it to happiness yet. What I will say though, is that deciding to look at the world differently has made the world different. Since making this personal choice I have started doing a lot more things for me. I’ve gone back to the gym, begun eating healthier, ended a few toxic relationships, and become more active in my commitments here on campus. All of this is possible because of an influential trip, with a great organization, and fantastic people. They showed me how easy it can be to take charge of my own life for the better. It does take courage though. I’m just glad I was able to find mine.

~Madeline Williams

Why I Dance by Gillian Zucker

Sadly, everyone has been affected by cancer in some form. From the day I understood what this horrible disease was, I decided that I would fight it once and for all. So, I participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event in my community, later becoming its Activities Co-Chair and Event Lead. In these roles, I put on a successful event that celebrated cancer survivors, remembered the loved ones we have lost, and fought back against the disease, while funding cancer research. Naturally, I wanted to continue my involvement in the fight against cancer at UD, but I wasn’t sure where to start.

Now, let me tell you something about myself. Everyone who knows me and ever sees me in any sort of celebratory setting (proms, weddings, even in musicals) says that I’m a really bad dancer. I’ll admit, this is pretty true. And while bad-dancing is exhilarating, my skills – and stamina – typically quit after a simple “Cotton Eye Joe.” As you can imagine, when I first heard about UDance, the University of Delaware’s 12-hour dance marathon, I was very excited but also a bit overwhelmed. To me, a three-hour-long school dance where I was fist pumping and jumping to Kris Kross’s “Jump” seemed like a lot of time and a lot of energy. For weeks, I wondered: “How do the dancers and moralers at UDance keep up their energy for 12 hours straight? Why do they dance?”

Soon enough, the answer came to me. In the fall, Joe McDonough was invited to Redding Hall to tell the residents his story. I could feel the tears falling from my face as he spoke about the passing of his son, Andrew, after his battle with leukemia in 2007. In order to honor Andrew’s life and help other kids (our “B+ Heroes) who are battling childhood cancer, McDonough started the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. The money raised at UDance helps the B+ Foundation directly support the families of our heroes and fund pediatric cancer research. In this moment, I had an epiphany. I thought back to my own experience helping fight cancer with the Relay for Life. I signed up to get involved in UDance immediately.

When we raised $1,701,667.81 on March 13th, when we proudly displayed our “B+ Foundation” gear all year on campus, and when we pledged to be dancers or moralers at the event, we were not doing any of it for the pictures or primarily for our own enjoyment. We did it all FTK (For The Kids) so that one day cancer in every form will be a myth of the past. Oftentimes, when we are busy with our own lives, we forget just how much of an impact we can have on others. But we need to remember that when we are involved in UDance all year, we are making a difference and saving lives. And that is exactly why I dance: for a smile, for a life, for a cure.

If you give a college student a meal plan… by: Avery Beer

There is one place that is always there for me, greeting me with warm gourmet cuisine with each visit, and a “Hi, how are you?”: yes, the dining hall.  I think we can all agree that every once in awhile we miss home-cooked meals in college: it is one of the only downsides of it. But, for people like myself who


  • have no cooking ability
  • pride themselves in being extremely lazy
  • live in a dorm
  • are foodies for life,


the dining hall becomes our home. I am always greeted there, they know my face, and I know theirs. The employees, especially at Russell (the smaller dining hall on campus) care about my well-being. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be really appreciative and nice to the people that want to feed me. And to be completely fair, the dining hall does not receive nearly as much appreciation as it deserves.

Of course, there are days when many unappetizing questions come into my head: what is that? Why is this crusty?  Is this chicken fully cooked? But we have to remember how many hungry college students the people at the dining hall have to feed and how lucky we are to be able to have so many options at our fingertips. At a time where there is so much going on around us, it is nice to know that the dining hall is constant: it is always there to be a meeting spot for your daily freshman gossip or to fill your empty belly. Also, what other time in your life will there be chewy, delicious cookies readily available to you at any time? Although we rarely admit it, we are totally pampered.

The first time I stepped foot in the dining hall, my eyes widened and my smile grew as large as my appetite. I did not realize heaven existed here at the University of Delaware; yet here I was, an eager freshman roaming through Rodney dining hall. I remember getting lost, a lot, and never knew what “Home” or “The Corner Grill” meant. All I wanted to know was where I could find some chicken nuggets. I never really thought it would get boring. Some days I find myself complaining about it, but really I shouldn’t. None of us should. It is the one constant thing in our hectic lives, the one meeting spot we all have where we can always count on some good grubbin’. So on the days when the dining hall seems boring or downright disgusting, just remember all the good that comes out of your daily dining hall trips: the classic freshman chats while the dishes pile up, the make-your-own-omelettes, the woman that dances as she makes quesadillas, the excessive use of Frank’s Red Hot, the greetings from the friendliest dining hall employees but most importantly, the soft cookies, and maybe even getting yelled at to put the chairs back that you moved.

~Avery Beer

Heather’s New Groove: Volunteering in Cusco, Peru by Heather Brody

I wanted to go somewhere new. I needed to go somewhere new. The school year was draining me of all of my energy and focus and I knew that I needed to get away from my normal routine. I had been searching for months for the right opportunity, and in October I officially signed up to volunteer in Peru with UBelong during my winter break. I didn’t know what to expect, and there were many times in those next few months that I debated calling up my UBelong Mentor to tell her that I had changed my mind and would be staying in the United States. But I knew that this was something I needed to do. I needed to take a risk and do something new and exciting instead of sitting around at home all winter doing nothing. I had travelled to other countries a few times before, but never for more than two weeks and never completely on my own. I was terrified, but looking back, I am so glad that I decided to take this trip and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to travel.


I spent 5 weeks in Cusco, Peru, where I volunteered at a shelter of about 15 girls ages 12-18. All of these girls had been sexually abused and, as a result, were taken away from their families by the state and placed in the shelter. Their families either had to take the time to prove to the state that they were safe and could be trusted to have their daughters back again, or the girls would just sit in the shelter until they turned 18 and were released back into the world. They had so little in the shelter, and what they did have was shared among the girls. They were rarely allowed to leave the shelter, which the women in charge said was because they didn’t want the girls to try to escape. While it was very sad to see how these girls had to live, I loved spending time with them every morning. They were all such wonderful and unique girls who I know have the potential to do amazing things in life. I wish I could have stayed longer with them. 5 weeks is nice, but it isn’t going to make a lasting impact on their lives. I wanted to help them, I wanted to do so much more to give them better lives, but as a random volunteer from America, there wasn’t much I could do in that sense. So I used the time that I did have with them to try to make things more fun, teach them about the things that I enjoyed doing, and help them see how great they are.

The other volunteers that lived in the hostel with me were placed at other projects, like nursing homes, day care centers for kids, and centers for children with disabilities. They came from all around the United States and the rest of the world – from Texas to Germany to Australia to New Hampshire, we spanned the globe. Some of my fondest memories were simply spending time with them, whether it be haggling prices in the markets, befriending a group of wild dogs, or buying too many empanadas at the grocery store. I experienced so many amazing things with them – one weekend we went to a part of the Amazon called Tambopata, where we ziplined through the trees and road boats across the river in search of caymans. We went to the Salineras de Maras, giant salt mines that were stunning from up close and afar. We visited tons of ruins, including the most famous of them all: Machu Picchu. We were a family, and each time a new volunteer checked into the hostel, they instantly became a new family member as well. I remember feeling so nervous before my trip, wondering whether the other volunteers would be nice or whether there would even be any other volunteers there at the same time as me. I ended up meeting a group of amazing people who taught me so many things, and I know I will always look back at our time together and smile.

I know that soon enough people will get tired of hearing about my adventures. My friends will roll their eyes at the mention of Peru and I will repeat the same stories again and again, trying to hold onto things that are now part of the past. The other volunteers and I will move on with our lives. The inside jokes will fade from our memories, and our tongues will forget the taste of yoguis on a warm evening in the Plaza. The girls that I spent my mornings with will become attached to new volunteers, and I will become just another “Miss” that left them forever. I am the type of person who does not handle change very well, so having such an amazing experience and then having to go back to my normal life in Delaware has been a difficult adjustment for me. And while I wish I could go back to those nights of eating alpaca burgers and rapping in the hostel lobby, I know that I will eventually be able to move on and take the things that I learned from my trip with me. Traveling to Peru has helped me become more confident in myself and curious about the world around me. I have decided that I want to take time off after graduating from college to travel around the world and see what else is out there. I feel like I am moving forward with a new perspective on life, as cheesy as that sounds, and I will always be grateful for the experiences that I’ve had this winter.

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