Category: Audrey Ostroski (page 1 of 2)

TBT: “Nine Little Days” by Audrey Ostroski

It’s Throwback Thursday here at 186 South College! With Thanksgiving Break just around the corner, we wanted to revisit this piece by Audrey Ostroski from 2017 about the anticipation leading up to well-deserved break from course commitments.

Thanksgiving break is almost here!  One might not think that this nine-day break is a big deal, but we look forward to those nine little days all semester.  Throughout syllabus week, while appraising the work to be done this semester and debating whether or not to drop a class, you can hear the people making the occasional joke, “Is it Thanksgiving break yet?”  So, what is it about those nine little days that we all anticipate?

For starters, after 12 weeks of unrelenting class after class, lab after lab, exam after exam, project after project – those nine little days are an oasis in the desert that is the fall semester. Honestly, the semester routine just starts to get old after a while. After the tenth, six-page physics lab report, you start to cringe every time you glance at the Excel icon on your desktop. After the third group project in two weeks, you start to hate the smell of the library study rooms. Even your dorm room might start to feel like it is closing in on you. And sure, there might only be two weeks after we come back from Thanksgiving before finals. Some might say that we should be able to push through without the break. But no, those nine little days are essential and you are not going to be able to convince me otherwise.  

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Having a Job While in College by Audrey Ostroski

This semester, I got a job for the first time in college and I absolutely love it. I have had many jobs before, just not during the semester at UD. I didn’t think I would like to work while I was also taking classes – I thought it would be too much to handle and that my already-high stress level would just blow through the roof. But I needed a job for the summer and my Mom encouraged me to offer to start working on weekends during the spring so that I could get some experience before summer begins. And, for more than one reason, she was right to push me.

I work at a restaurant on the canal in Lewes, Delaware called the Wheel House, and it is about an hour and a half away from UD’s main campus in Newark (that’s why I only work on the weekends and not during the week). The restaurant is huge and has a lot of outdoor seating with a beautiful view of the sunset. It has great food, a great atmosphere, and great staff, and I thoroughly enjoy working there.

I have never worked at a restaurant before so I was very nervous about starting. I was also nervous about meeting this huge group of new people. I am not usually very good at that. But surprisingly, I made friends quickly and everyone there is very nice and helpful. Right now, I am just bussing tables, but I hope to be a server eventually. I am very good at what I do and that is a great feeling.

That is just one of the reasons why I would encourage everyone to get a job while in college. A lot of people I know don’t want to have to juggle a work schedule and a class schedule. They just have to work so they can earn money, but there are so many other benefits to working. Even if you don’t get a job related to your major, it can still be beneficial. If you are just working at a movie theater or at a coffee shop or serving in a restaurant, you can learn life skills that will come in handy down the road. These include dealing with difficult people or just a good work ethic. If you work hard and put a lot of effort in, you will be good at your job. And if you are good at your job, you will feel accomplished, which is very important. Sometimes, college can be rough – you take hard classes that you aren’t necessarily good at, no matter how much you study, and it’s just frustrating and demoralizing. Trust me.  Having a job that you are good at can help you regain some positivity and confidence in yourself. It can make you feel appreciated and fulfilled.

A job also gives you a distraction from school. It is a different kind of distraction than Netflix or parties. It is a constructive distraction. It allows you to take your mind off of stressful school work or other stressful events in your life and completely immerse yourself into something you enjoy and something that makes you feel good, all while earning money. I have a long drive to work where I get to listen to music and just be by myself. It allows me to recharge after classes all week and before my shift begins. I work long shifts since I only work a few days a week and it gives me plenty of time to unwind from a long week of school. I get to have fun and joke around with my coworkers, as well as be outside. This is very helpful to me, being outside with fresh air and nature has a healing effect for me. My job also forces me to be very active since I have to run around a large restaurant carrying heavy bus tubs, balancing plates and glasses, and running up and down stairs. This is a nice refresher after sitting through lectures all week.

Overall, my restaurant experience has been amazing so far. I actually look forward to my weekends and don’t mind leaving campus to work. At this point in my life, it was just what I needed and I am very grateful for it.

Why is the Blue Hen UD’s Mascot? By Audrey Ostroski

It’s an unusual choice. Don’t you think? It’s not your typical Knights or Bulldogs. It’s unique and that’s precisely why I love it. My high school had a unique mascot as well. We were the Pandas. What is it that causes these educational institutions to choose such obscure animals to represent them? Maybe it’s because they aren’t that obscure at all.

One would think that the reason why UD’s mascot is the Blue Hen is that it is Delaware’s state bird. But the Blue Hen became our state bird on April 14, 1939 and UD has been using it as a mascot since 1911. The university used it as a symbol before the state did. There must be another reason why UD chose this bird to represent it. The Blue Hen is not a recognized chicken breed, and it’s not native to Delaware. It’s not even native to the United States! So it’s not like someone saw a bunch of wild Blue Hens running around Delaware and then suggested that it be our mascot or state bird. Why would we pick an unrecognized, non-native animal to represent the university that represents the state? Doesn’t seem to make much sense – yet there is a reason.

There are a few explanations for the fame of the Blue Hen. They all go back to the Revolutionary War and a military captain named Jonathan Caldwell. Captain Caldwell was from Kent County, Delaware and bred a chicken known as the Kent County Blue Hen. These chickens were renowned for their ferocious fighting abilities back when cock fighting was legal in the US.  Captain Caldwell claimed that no other fighting chicken could compare to his Blue Hens. Captain Caldwell’s company of men were also renowned for their ferocity during battles against the English. Therefore, they became appropriately compared to Blue Hens. Some also say that the nickname stemmed from the fact that the soldiers used cock fights as entertainment during the war.

Knowing this information, the choice of the Blue Hen makes more sense. Of course, we would choose a vicious fighting machine to represent our students and sports teams. We want our students and sports teams, just like the men of Captain Caldwell’s company, to be known for their ferocity and persistence in pursuing greater knowledge and winning their games. The university has a small group of the birds on campus that they breed, and they have even started bringing three live Blue Hens to football games. “The Birdgade,” as they are affectionately known, consists of Private Poultry, Corporal Doodle-Doo, and Captain Cluckers. Their presence reminds us of our history and that we should uphold the Blue Hen reputation as we fight, fight, fight for Delaware!



Lionfish, turtles, and barracudas! Oh my! By Audrey Ostroski

Studying abroad. If you’ve done it, you know how amazing and life-changing it can be. If you haven’t done it, you should. During winter session, I participated in a month-long marine science study abroad program in the Cayman Islands. We stayed at a research institute on the beach on Little Cayman Island. When I say, “on the beach,” I mean, I took five steps off the back-porch steps and I was in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Little Cayman is tiny. It is only ten miles east to west and one mile north to south. There are more iguanas (2,000) than humans (200) on this island. Unlike some of my peers, I was actually excited about this aspect of the trip. I am a big nature buff so I was looking forward to the relatively untouched wild. I took two classes over the course of the month: field studies of coral reef environments and scientific diving. The trip was absolutely amazing, but I didn’t think it was going to be.

When I first applied for the program, I was so excited. I heard about the trip while I was still in high school because my friend went on it a few years ago. As soon as she told me about her experiences, I knew I just had to go. Now all I had to do was get into the University of Delaware, apply and get accepted to the program, and get SCUBA certified. Easy, right? Wrong. The first two steps were fairly simple and straightforward. But the SCUBA certification presented some unforeseen challenges.

I took the SCUBA class offered at UD. Everything was fine during class. I thoroughly enjoyed diving in the Little Bob’s 13-foot diving well. And I thought I was going to enjoy my certification dives. It was my first chance to finally get into some open water and do this thing for real. Fast forward to the 40-degree, rainy, windy, sunless weekend in May at a quarry with incredibly low visibility and 50-degree water. Then there’s me wearing heavy gear on my back and so many layers of neoprene that I can barely walk as I trek up and down a steep hill to get to and from the frigid, murky water. I’m already nervous about having my lungs explode because I forget to keep breathing on the ascent. There’s also the possibility of getting paralyzing decompression sickness because I went too deep and came up too fast (aka “The Bends” or “getting bent”). And now there are all of these terrible conditions on top of that, not to mention that I was underweighted and having a hard time sinking. Surprisingly, this is quite an annoying problem to have while diving. But alas, I push through it. After two days, four dives, losing one contact lens, and having to do my last dive half blind in five-foot visibility, I was certified and all ready for my trip to the islands.

I thought the fear was over. I was wrong. For a while after being accepted to the program, it was all excitement, bragging, and dreaming of the warm days and cool critters. Then, I started thinking about all of the things I had to do to actually get there. There was the packing puzzle, gathering an absurd number of documents, and calling the bank about my credit cards, just to name a few. I had never been out of the country like this before. I went to Costa Rica for nine days when I was in high school, but we flew as a group, everything was planned out for us minute-by-minute, and we were never without a teacher. This was different. I was flying out of the country by myself and I was going to be away from my family for a whole month. Considering I went to college 15 minutes away from my house, this is something I had never done before. Plus, all of my SCUBA fears were resurfacing (pardon the pun). I was definitely going to get bent and die or run out of air 100 feet down and die or get eaten by a shark and die –  I was OK with the last one because that would be a cool way to go. Let’s just say the certification dives did not placate my misgivings about SCUBA diving, but rather exacerbated my fears and even created some new ones. Yay. So now it’s two months, one month, three weeks, two days before I leave and I am absolutely freaking out. I scream at my family that I am no longer going on the trip, as I frantically run around with tears streaming down my face, trying to pack everything I need into two bags with a combined weight of 55 pounds (yeah, that was interesting). I was simply not going. It was too much stress and effort to be worth it. They all just rolled their eyes, knowing I was being melodramatic.

But once again, I was wrong. It was worth it. It truly was the experience of a lifetime. Now, I am not saying that it was all bliss and island relaxation as soon as I got there. “I’ll get there, see the water, sit on the beach, and be fine,” I said to everyone after telling them I was extremely nervous. (I did this mostly to convince myself more than anything.) Again, wrong. It was rough for the first week and a half. I was homesick, getting used to the food, cold showers, and bathrooms (which were composting, i.e. no indoor plumbing, i.e. holes that led to the dark abyss of nothingness and were thoroughly terrifying at night as the wind howled through them, making a noise similar to what I can only imagine was the last noise the victims of the harpies heard before they were whisked away to their doom). And then there was the diving. Yes, I was still panicking about diving. The first dive we did was a check-out dive. The SCUBA instructor from the research institute needed to dive with us and have us perform certain skills to ensure we were ready for our scientific diving training. One of these lovely skills was the dreaded mask removal. Yes, we had to fully remove our masks underwater and then put them back on underwater. Forty feet below. And this wasn’t the first time either. This was the skill that caused me to lose one contact lens on my certification dives in that awful quarry. And here’s the thing, I didn’t really have a choice. It was either take my mask off, or not dive at all for the entire month, which I was OK with at this point, if it wasn’t for the large sum of money I had spent on this trip and the fact that I would fail the class, tanking my GPA. After warning the dive instructor about my storied past with this particular skill, I hopped in the water, descended, and did it. I just did it. It actually wasn’t that bad and on that same dive I saw a ginormous spotted eagle ray. Definitely worth it. It took me a few more dives to become completely comfortable, but I soon went from last off the back of the boat to first in the water every time. I couldn’t wait to get down there.

As soon as I became comfortable with diving, I had a blast. We dove almost every day, sometimes twice a day. We did deep dives where we went to 100 feet. We did night dives where we saw sleeping sea turtles, basket stars, octopuses, squid, and bioluminescent plankton. I got to swim with some of the most amazing creatures on Earth: spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays, parrotfish, nurse sharks, Nassau groupers, barracudas, sea turtles, moray eels, and so much more. Every day was an adventure and I learned so much. Besides learning how to catch and clean conches, we learned how to identify different coral species, how corals live and grow, and how islands form. We ran transect lines and collected data on reef composition, built quadrats to which we mounted GoPros in order to take pictures of the reef, analyzed our pictures using computer programs, and then compiled our data to take a broader look at the reefs we explored all month. I also got to meet some amazing people from around the world and made a great group of new friends from UD.

My message for you from all of this is that you need to go outside of your comfort zone. As you can see, I forced myself way out of my comfort zone and ended up having a fantastic experience that I will never forget. I was so close to calling it off because it stressed me out and I didn’t think my temporary discomfort was worth anything. But like I’ve said many times throughout this post, I was wrong. I almost missed the opportunity of a lifetime because I was scared and stressed. If you know deep down (and you always will, go with your gut) that something is going to be good for you, just do it! I learned invaluable lessons from the experiences I had. I made new friends. I saw cool things. I gained a lot of knowledge. I mean, I went from never wanting to SCUBA dive again to wanting to go back a few days after I got back to the U.S. You never know what awaits you outside of your bubble.

Nine Little Days by Audrey Ostroski

A slightly delayed post…

Thanksgiving break is almost here!  One might not think that this nine day break is a big deal, but we look forward to those nine little days all semester.  Throughout syllabus week, while appraising the work to be done this semester and debating whether or not to drop a class, you can hear the people making the occasional joke, “Is it Thanksgiving break yet?”  So, what is it about those nine little days that we all anticipate? Continue reading

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