This winter, I was fortunate enough to be part of undergraduate research on campus. I learned new laboratory techniques and experienced some new chemistry first hand. I also found out that I really enjoy what winter at the University of Delaware has to offer, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts here.
First, it was an entirely different feeling from fall and spring semesters at UD. The whole campus was much quieter, and most buildings and restaurants around campus had reduced hours. It was a good change of pace, there were less people walking across the green, and shorter lines at places such as Einstein’s Bagels — which I frequented over the winter session. Places that were normally noisy became quiet study spots and the reduced hours for many buildings forced me to be efficient with my time, and to stay organized. I also took advantage of the lack of crowds to start going to the Little Bob more often. I developed a gym routine I liked, and made a habit of going by the time spring semester started.
Second, really focusing on one task was a very valuable experience in my opinion. I was able to put all of my effort into research this winter, without also having to juggle multiple classes. It turned into a morning routine to sit down with a coffee and read from chemistry journals, something I had told myself I was going to do, but never could find the time for until this winter. I learned about the type of chemistry I was involved in, and what my research group was working on, as well as reminding myself of the basics. I understand now why people sit down with a coffee and a newspaper in the morning; it was very peaceful and I felt like I accomplished something before the day even started. On top of that, when spring semester rolled around, I had already been able to dedicate the time to understand the research I was doing, and to learn new laboratory techniques important to the project. I am now more confident in the lab, and it has allowed me to accomplish more this semester despite splitting my time between classes and research.
I also would recommend, if you stay for the winter, to use it as an opportunity to work within your future field. I have already mentioned that I have learned an insane amount of chemistry over these past weeks, but I also was able to learn what it is like to work in an academic lab. I am one of the only undergraduates in my lab, and so I am mostly working with professionals. It was very valuable to see how others with more experience were able to collaborate and problem solve. I learned how best to communicate my ideas, and to ask questions. I saw how others in the lab communicated their ideas in our weekly meetings, and it inspired me to be a good and informative scientist.
Winter at UD is very worthwhile to gain a different perspective on campus and to dedicate your time to something you care about. I hope this encourages others to seek out more opportunities on campus outside of the fall and spring semesters.