Author: Heather (page 2 of 5)

“Checking In: One Year After Applying to UD” by Shannon Murphy

While on the plane heading back to Florida for spring break, I found myself aimlessly browsing through the saved documents on my laptop. That is how I stumbled upon something that I had tried to block from my memory, as a form of post-traumatic self-defense: my “College Apps” folder.

This month marks one year since submitting my deposit for the first semester at UD. I remember thinking how annoyed I was that there were so many supplemental essays, at least one for every school. Everyone warns you about the Common App essay: “finish it over the summer,” they say, “that way you won’t be stressed come fall.” Yeah, right. I did that, expecting be in the clear, only to realize that there was a lot more to it than that. Every supplemental prompt was distinct and intriguing, and required lots of time and energy.

Prepared to cringe at my own naiveté, I read through my essays one by one. Some were completely embarrassing (for goodness sake, I even said “UDel” in one! I wouldn’t have accepted me!) while others were still kind of relevant.

One question asked applicants to summarize what makes UD special in two sentences. My response: “UD is the ideal place to continue to hone my skills as a critical thinker and leader in order to best serve my community, country, and world. The opportunities and advantages that are available at UD are exceptional, with the resources of a university and the community spirit of a tightly knit school.”

Besides the groan-worthy clichés, I’m pleased to report that this claim has pretty much held up. To be perfectly honest, UD was not my first choice or my dream school. I always imagined myself at a small liberal arts school in the woods somewhere cold and remote. Somehow, I ended up at the complete opposite, but now I couldn’t possibly envision being anywhere else. Even though it sounds like cheesy glossy pamphlet rhetoric, those two sentences are absolutely correct. Just one year of being at this university has made possible all sorts of opportunities and experiences.

A second supplemental question asked students write about what they expect college life to be like. I wrote about going outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. (My ridiculously small comfort zone does not even deserve to be called a “zone.” Really, it’s more of a compact area of solid ground maybe just barely large enough for me to fit both feet.)

Here’s what I said: “The past year has been spent in anticipation of college—where I’ll fit in, what will be difficult to acclimate to, what will make me happiest. And I’ve realized that to be comfortable, I’ll need to branch out of my comfort zone. Communicating with new people, living in a new and unfamiliar environment, and taking challenging courses will all be things that will require adjusting and courage, but nevertheless are experiences that am excited to have.”

The verdict: totally true. Although by most people’s standards I haven’t done anything earth-shatteringly bold, I like to think I’ve changed for the better. A year ago, the prospect of having to interview strangers would have been panic-inducing. Now, I do it weekly as a reporter for The Review, and even though I still get occasional jitters, it has become much easier, maybe even fun. The new environment has pushed me to expand that growing comfort zone inch by inch.

Without the people, this year would not have been nearly as good. I don’t care if it’s cheesy; I would scream it from the rooftops: I have met some of the best people here.

(I mean, if you asked me a year ago, I definitely couldn’t have predicted seeing Joe Biden give a speech at a building where I go to English class everyday.)

In my application, I said: “Something that I am most excited about for college is to be around people who are like-minded in their passion to learn, but diverse in perspective, background and goals. I hope that college will be a place where people genuinely care about their education, and are excited and inspired to learn more about the world around them.”

Friends from home who are now high school seniors are beginning to hear back from (and get accepted into!) their dream schools. I still remember that moment, opening my own first acceptance letter. It feels like all your hard work has really, finally paid off and that letter is something tangible you now can show for it. It feels really good to be watching from the other side. I can’t wait to see if their applications hold true, too.

“The Biden Factor” by Alyssa Schiff

When considering dynamic duos, some may think of strawberries and chocolate, Batman and Robin, Beyonce and Jay-Z – but none can compare to the greatest duo in history: Joe Biden and the University of Delaware. Graduating in 1965, Biden has since maintained a close relationship with UD, typically making a visit several times a year. When I first toured University of Delaware I remember taking one thing to heart: Joe Biden graduated from here and that the likelihood of seeing him on campus at some point is very high. While Joe visited UD for the first time last semester at the coffee shop Brew-Ha-Ha, I was unfortunately giving a group presentation, and I was honestly devastated when I heard that I had missed his visit. I saw the crowds and zoomed in videos all over Snapchat and I wallowed in my self-pity over not seeing the (at the time) Vice President of the United States. When I began giving up hope that I would see him, a light appeared in the darkness. Continue reading

“The Museum of Modern Art” by Amanda Langell

If I am being honest, I never really had any interest in art before coming to college. I could appreciate the talent it took to produce those types of creative masterpieces, but I could never see myself willingly taking time out of my day to stand around and try to interpret different pieces in a museum. Living right outside of Manhattan, I have had access to some of the most famous art museums my entire life and yet I had only ever been to the MET on a school trip and was more concerned with living out my inner Gossip Girl fantasies than looking at the art. Then, I came to UD and became best friends and roommates with an Art Conservation major and began to see paintings and sculptures a little differently. Continue reading

“Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle” by Amanda Langell

Freshman year, the only exercise I did on campus was walking from Redding Hall to McDowell three times a week. According to the Health app on my iPhone, I actually logged on average 5 miles a day walking. For me, that was more than enough to avoid the dreaded “freshman fifteen.” I was perfectly content doing nothing extra to keep my body healthy and continued with my normal exercise and eating habits for the entire year.

When I returned to campus for sophomore year, the combination of high level major courses and additional extracurricular activities doubled my stress load. In the past, I would relieve my stress and anxiety by re-watching an episode of One Tree Hill I have seen dozens of times or blasting some Taylor Swift and having an impromptu dance party. However, as any college upperclassman can attest, as your credit load becomes more extensive, Taylor Swift does not cure all the research papers and exams taking up every date in your planner. Right at the point I was desperate for a new outlet to calm all the deadlines swirling in my brain, my roommate suggested I go to the gym with her. At first, I responded automatically with a “no;” she had convinced me to go to yoga with her once before and I spent the entire time staring at the clock begging the time to move faster. She seemed more hopeful this time that I would enjoy Little Bob much more than the cramped yoga room in Perkins.
One visit turned into another and soon, we were meeting outside the gym three times a week. Even though I do not believe I need to exercise for my physical appearance, after that first night in UD’s brand new gym, I realized that there are benefits of developing an exercise routine that go beyond trying to shed weight. Even if I can only spend an hour at the gym, the mental clarity it provides shifts my whole mindset for the rest of the day. Since my workouts are nowhere near as extensive as those of an athlete, the fatigue after hitting the gym is not nearly as crippling. Instead, that one break where I get to think about nothing but running on a treadmill and listening to (you guessed it) Taylor Swift calms my entire being. The change I see in my energy levels after getting on a daily workout regimen and drinking water with every meal is immeasurable.

I encourage every UD student to visit Little Bob for a workout at least once this semester. Trust me, I never considered myself a person that would willingly spend time in a gym multiple times a week, but there is something about the atmosphere that makes the once daunting task so much easier and rewarding. Getting daily exercise not only makes you physically healthier, but it also produces benefits to the mind that I have yet to match with any other activity.

“Making Strides” by Alyssa Schiff

Coming into college, I imagined freshman year as the fifth year of high school. While in some respects maybe that has a grain of truth, I’ve found that it really isn’t like high school at all. In high school I was intensely aware of my dependency on my parents. I don’t mean that now in college I’m free and make my own rules and eat ice cream for breakfast and all that jazz, and I also don’t mean that I’m not financially independent and don’t need my parents. In this first year of college, I have signed myself up for a work study position, arranged appointments for therapy by myself, traveled between Boston, New York, Delaware, and Philadelphia, and soon I will embark on an adventure to figure out the T in Boston.

Growing up in a suburb I felt like a car was always the main form of transportation even when I took the bus or train to New York, but now living at college with no access to a car I have explored the endless opportunities afforded by public transportation. Megabus, Amtrak, and Dart have shown me the possibilities of travel on a budget and travel in a pinch. As I bought my Megabus ticket for spring break to Boston South Station, I realized how possible travel is. In some way, traveling by myself or with friends to different cities or staying in my friend’s college dorms has really made me feel like I’m experiencing the beginnings of adult adventures.

Checking with my insurance company and researching different psychologists in the area and emailing and calling has really made me appreciate the support my parents give me and also the strides I’m making for myself. If I could have had my parents do this for me, I know a year ago I would have opted for that, but now having done it myself I’m proud to be making decisions like this for myself. Making doctor’s appointments and checking with my insurance and verifying appointment times might seem like one small step into adulthood, but it felt like a pretty substantial leap for myself.

As I sat at my little desk in the mailroom at Willard Hall, I actually felt pretty proud of myself for seeking out and getting a work study position. It felt good to have worked for something and to have succeeded. Work study, as a distinct college position, made me feel more a part of UD in some way. Obviously making some money is a nice change and much needed, but the satisfaction comes from looking at all of the emails I sent in trying to make this happen.

I didn’t realize that I would feel more adult as I made more decisions by myself for my own well-being. Whereas in high school I knew I was lucky enough to have parents who helped me make decisions, this relationship has changed. Now I will call my parents to tell them of the decisions I’ve made for myself, and I guess this isn’t really a jump into adulthood or a sudden change into an independent person, but it does feel like a change from the norm in high school. I didn’t expect to feel so different from myself a year ago, and I don’t in many ways, but it’s the small strides that sets the person I was a year ago apart from me now. Admittedly, I’m only a freshman and have a long way to go, but I’m proud of the steps into adulthood I’ve experienced so far.

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