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“Caring for CompAnimals” by Erin Jackson

About one year ago, I lost a best friend: my fifteen-and-a-half-year-old beagle named Billy Bob. Being only twenty myself at the time, that meant that I hadn’t been without Billy Bob since I was four. I had no idea how I was going to survive without him when I literally could not remember what my life was like before he was in it. He completed our family, made every Christmas card picture, and warmed his way into the hearts of everyone who met him. He cured me of my fear of dogs the day I met him when he ran right up to me and licked me in the face, and now I am headed towards a career in veterinary medicine. While I miss him dearly and could write about him for pages on end, that is not what this post is about. This post is about other dogs like him. While there will never be a dog exactly like him, there are countless dogs out there who are full of love and special in their own ways. And unfortunately, a good number of them are without a forever home.

There was definitely a hole in my life after I said good-bye to Billy Bob this winter, and it took me a while to figure out how to fill it. At first, I didn’t want to fill it because I needed time to grieve over my loss. But after a while, I knew there had to be something else I could do to help myself move on. The perfect opportunity came to me in the form of CompAnimals Pet Rescue. I had a few friends who told me they were “pen pals” for some of the dogs who lived there. No, they did not send letters back and forth through the mail like your conventional pen pals. But they did have the chance to form a special bond with the dog they were matched with. The relationship starts out by walking the dog a few times around the park directly behind the shelter. As you grow more comfortable with the dog and the dog more so with you, you can take them on short trips away from the shelter to get them out exploring a new area. The ultimate goal is to even bring these dogs to UD’s campus and other places where they can be seen by the public and promote the shelter or even get noticed for adoption. As a broke college student in an apartment that would not allow dogs, this seemed like the best opportunity to get some quality time in with animals requiring some much-needed attention. 

I sent in my application, and a few short days later I was meeting Charles, an incredible survivor dog from the streets of Baltimore! He ended up at CompAnimals after getting hit by a bus, and he did not arrive in the best condition. Missing fur in some places, his skin was rough from his life on the streets. He was not too social after spending so much time on his own, but he was great on a leash, and I fell in love with him instantly. For the next few weeks, I went and visited Charles at the shelter, watching him grow so much in our short time together. Luckily for him, Charles was quickly taken into a foster home, where he still resides, and he looks more amazing every time I see him. His coat is gleaming, and he is all smiles around everyone he meets. It cannot be long now until he finds his forever home.

Since the start of the summer I have now been volunteering at CompAnimals once a week, getting to meet so many animals and see so many of them into new homes. CompAnimals really emphasizes making sure their animals that get adopted stay adopted, working closely with the more difficult dogs to train them and ultimately make the perfect match. I am sad that my schedule does not allow time to continue volunteering next semester, but I look forward to finding a new pen pal! To all my fellow dog-lovers out there, I highly recommend looking into CompAnimals Pet Rescue. They are only ten minutes down the road and are always looking for extra help. There are dogs out there who need love, and they are only ten minutes away from a school of almost twenty thousand students! If we all work together, I think we can make a huge impact on the quality of life for these wonderful animals. Even just one walk goes a long way.

“Rewards for Participation” by Chris Hope

Tear-off flyers and pamphlets. You see them all the time walking around campus: in Trabant, in the Little Bob, even in some classrooms. Most pass by these sheets of paper without a second glance, or even an initial one. “Take this survey,” they say, or “Come to South Campus and sit around for a bit and answer questions.” They seem to range between extremely minuscule and exceedingly out-of-the-way. One day, however, I decided to actually look into one of these research opportunities.

Thrice a week I make the trek from Caesar Rodney Dining Hall to Main Street where, behind one of the buildings (you know, down an alley and into a parking lot), I have my Linguistics 101 class. Strange location aside, it’s here where I’m greeted every day by various studies being advertised by the Department of Linguistics & Cognitive Science, or that of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Coming into class one October morning, one of these flyers caught my eye — Nap2Learn. So I thought, why not?, and took a tab. Two weeks later I found myself on a shuttle to STAR Tower to take part in a five-hour study.

Now, what could possibly motivate me to willingly take five hours out of a Thursday to take part in a study all the way on south campus? Three factors: the study is related to linguistics (my major), there was an advertised fifty dollars in Amazon gift cards at the end of it, and I knew I’d be bored that day — my only class that day was the last UNIV of the semester, so my schedule was pretty free. The study itself was detailed in the paper pinned to the corkboard outside my Ling101 classroom; I’d be taking part in a five-hour study wherein I would answer some questions about sounds, take a nap, then answer more questions.

The study itself was neat — I had to distinguish between some sounds not found in English and got an EEG cap put on me before I was told to take a nap for the next four hours. I don’t tend to take naps, however, so really it was an hour of me sleeping and three of me sitting in bed in a windowless room. Afterward I distinguished the same sounds and was asked to complete some sets of shape and spelling tasks. And it was done; I was handed my fifty bucks and went back to take a shuttle up to Morris.

I hadn’t really thought of taking part in any studies prior to this experience, but I’m glad I decided to go through with it. It was interesting being able to take part in research related to my major, even as a subject rather than as one of the researchers. If anyone reading this has the opportunity to take part in studies based around their major, or really any studies at all, I strongly recommend them. Yes, there’s the monetary incentive or—in the cases of two studies I’ve taken part in since—extra credit, but taking part in such studies was a nice experience for me. Again, if you ever get the chance, take part in one of these if you can; money’s good, but getting experience and possibly even connections within your major is an excellent asset.

Picture from: bernardon.com (http://www.bernardon.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Bncrft-UofDTower-4199.jpg)

“A Trip to the Big Apple” by Lauren Wrightstone

My friends in Redding and I had been wanting to take a trip to the “Big Apple,” or New York City, for a while now. It was originally just timing and money holding us back—buses are expensive!—so when we found out that the English Language Institute was sponsoring a bus ride there and back for only twenty dollars, we hopped on it. 

There were way more people than we had expected, and the crowd filled five or six coach buses. We boarded at seven in the morning and arrived just before ten in NYC, where they let everyone loose on the city. This wasn’t before handing out instructions on what to do if you got left behind at the end of the day, which wasn’t super reassuring, but I guess some information is better than no information. 

Having never been to the city before, it was way bigger and more crowded than I was expecting. Our small group nearly got lost several times. Everywhere we wanted to go was incredibly crowded, to the point where some places had lines out the door. Luckily, most of the places we really wanted to hit were touristy, so were built to accommodate huge amounts of people. 

Our first stop was the Rockefeller Center, every NYC visitor’s goal during the Christmas season. We then migrated to Central Park, and Times Square, and even a cute open-air Christmas market near the park. We also wandered through a mall with some… questionable statues apparently called “Adam and Eve.” You can look them up yourself.

I think the coolest thing about the day was just the excitement about being able to wander around a new place with friends. My original group was just people from my section (including my RA), but we were joined by two people from another floor. It was nice to get to know people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met. 

That’s actually something I enjoy about living in Redding. Everyone there is an Honors student, so we already have something in common. Plus, we often have classes together, so we see each other everywhere. It’s just nice being part of a community. 

While we were in NYC, we had to work together to figure out where we were going. My friend, Amanda, was in charge of directions, but we still ended up taking a few wrong turns. Near the end of the day, we were just searching for things to do, as we had run out of ideas and our plans didn’t account for having extra time. We decided to search for a bakery, but after encountering three with lines out the door, we decided to get dinner instead. This proved to be its own challenge and we debated back and forth for a while, until finally just getting Chipotle. 

Overall, the day was really fun, even if the temperature was in the twenties all day (I really wish I’d brought gloves). I exchanged Instagram handles with the two people I’d just met, and then we all slept on the way back to UD. 

 

Pictured from left to right: Avery Houle, Tara Cain, Galen Nare, Me, Abbie Pierson, Amanda Reed (in the back), and Kya Lomax (in the front)

“Becoming a Tutor” by Jenny Gloyd

This semester I tried something new. I became an online tutor for AP Chemistry, and it has been a super fun and rewarding experience. It started off as a way to use my talents to make some extra money for the semester, and I quickly figured out that I enjoy teaching, and that I was learning a lot myself. I decided it would be fun to share what I have gained from the experience.

I was re-learning the information. Every Wednesday, I sat down and re-read my AP Prep Book, and I was then expected to teach what was written. I am a believer in the theory that you only really know material well if you can teach it to someone, and so putting what I had learned to the test really helped me to solidify my chemistry basics. I began to remember small details that I otherwise would have let slip through the cracks, and my student asked questions that I may not have considered when I was in her place. I began to see the effects of the sessions in my own classes. I was more sure of my fundamentals, and it helped me to approach classes like organic chemistry with more confidence. It was entirely a win-win situation, both my students and I were scoring higher on tests!

I became a better tutor. I learned that to be a helpful tutor, you not only need to know the content, but you need to know how to explain it well, and it is entirely possible that you may need to explain a concept entirely differently than how you learned it. It was important to check in and see how my approach to the content was translating to my students’ understanding, and their overall success in their class. And, not only did I need to know the material backwards and forwards, but I needed to be a cheerleader. I believe that a positive attitude helps you to do well. If you are encouraged and excited about the content, it is easier to get through. On the business front, I learned to keep track of lesson plans, tailor them to the student goals, and to keep on a schedule. I started to notice it was less important to write things down for myself and more important to communicate my plan clearly. 

I enjoyed being a mentor. Not only was I making some spending money for the semester, helping both myself and my students to do better in school and honing in on my tutoring skills, but I also made a friend. I always enjoyed actually checking in on my student, making small talk, and cracking nerdy jokes, and I think it actually helped to take the approach of being more of a friend than a teacher at times. I became personally invested in someone else’s success and it was amazing to watch them improve and succeed! 

I would recommend this job to anyone. It has greatly improved my semester, and if you are willing to put in the work, it is a job that you can gain a lot from. I plan to continue to teach next semester, and maybe even branch out into new subjects. Posiblemente, pueda enseñar español.

“The End of the Year & My Spotify Wrapped” by Lauren Mottel

There is something special about December. It holds a certain nostalgia from childhood that is almost tangible — the warm, gentle glow of a fireplace; being bundled in a love of family and friends; the wafting scents of gingerbread and pine; that feeling you get where the clouds hang heavy and the air smells like snow’s about to fall. And, of course, there’s nothing compared to the unbridled joy of getting a call for the all-holy Snow Day.

 As we grow older, we make more and more associations with December, whether it be important deadlines, dreaded finals, or feeling as if we’re running out of time — especially with this year marking the end of not only the year, but the 2010s. This month also becomes a time of self-reflection, which brings a newfound sense of fulfillment, brimming with potential, and not to sound like a cliché motivational Instagram page, but it truly is crazy how much happens in one year, especially for freshmen such as myself. A year ago today, we were submitting college applications, with proms, graduation, and a genuine summer with no school work sitting as far specks on the horizon. A year ago today, we had no clue about the walks from Redding to Willard, building an automaton out of posterboard, or the bottomless pit of Turf rocks that collect in our shoes. We were completely different people then, with completely different people in our daily lives than those who are present now. 

December truly is a contemplative time when we can reminisce about our childhood and witness how much we’ve grown as individuals, and it just so happens that in recent years, we’ve been able to reflect on the past year in another fun and fresh manner: the annual Spotify Wrapped playlist (my condolences to all my AppleMusic users — this won’t be 100% relatable content, and if you still use Pandora — we need to talk). An in-depth analysis of your past year in music, from summer jams and lo-fi study beats, to songs to sing in the shower and songs from your “Mercury is in Retrograde, and Now My Life is Crumbling”-esque playlist, all wrapped up in one collection. 

In my (very humble) opinion, Spotify’s algorithm and graphic design team really outdid themselves with both the stats and presentation this year. I appreciated how Wrapped showed how your music taste shifted in the season — from wistful acoustics in the winter to the upbeat melodies of summer — because it’s representative of how we felt in those moments during the year, capable of bringing up memories long forgotten and reminding you of how those memories molded you into the individual you are today. 

Another new feature I appreciated was the World Citizen, where it broke down the countries of various artists; of course, some of mine were really obvious, with Lorde in New Zealand and ABBA for Sweden, but it also led to pleasant surprises, like discovering Hozier is from Ireland (the more you know!). The World Citizen feature is not unlike how we are broadening our horizons here in college — every day is a new opportunity to meet new people and have conversations about worldviews different than your own. This extends into another graphic in this year’s Wrapped, which included a bar graph of your top five genres listened to. In displaying the variety of genres you listen to most, I was reminded of how we as individuals  (and sleep-deprived college students) are not subject to only one genre, but rather contain multitudes and contain the most potential to explore what we desire to any extent. 

And, of course, the stats we all look for in our Spotify Wrapped: Artist of the Year, this time including Artist of the Decade in celebration of the end of the 2010s. I regret to report that after four years of having Sleeping At Last as my top artist (highly recommended, by the way), he has been dethroned by the (equally talented and lovely) Florence + the Machine. I won’t lie, it was a lot to take in. I had to sit down. Spotify pairs this by showing how much time you’ve spent listening each year toughout the decade, and like showing the top artists, it shows the time and dedication you have put into supporting these artists, appreciating their work, and catering to your study session needs. It also demonstrates and promotes the connections made between artists and their fans, which I found to be particularly beautiful, because it proves that we are truly never alone. 

Ultimately, December can bring many things: the holidays, finals, cozy nights in, existential crises, etc. — y’know, the usual — but it also brings self-reflection, and what better way to look back on your year than to listen to its very soundtrack? Obviously, growing up and finding our place in this world can be anything but easy, but at least we are able to shed some light on our troubles and embrace those feelings through music to help us cope. In the wise words of Smash Mouth, “the years start comin’ and they don’t stop comin,'” but we can at least say that for this semester, that’s a wrap!

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