It is Monday morning. I am on the bus, overhearing conversations in Italian. I am holding onto the overhead bar for dear life as the bus speedily whips around the sharp corner up the hill. We pass small cars, historic buildings, and apartments with laundry hanging from the balcony. I am still groggy from the lack of sleep since my body hasn’t adjusted to the new time zone yet. But at the same time, I am jittery and excited; the espresso I drank that morning along with adrenaline are coursing through my veins. I can see light just peeking up over the horizon as we approach our stop. When I step off the bus, my jaw drops at what I see. The sun is rising up over the water and the cliff-side homes, casting the entire city in a warm yellow and pink glow. I hear the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks below and scooters zooming by as people are headed off to work. Everyone in my group pulls out their phones to take pictures. Our site manager is finally able to draw our attention away from the spectacular view to tell us to turn around. As we do, we see towering stained-glass windows covering the front of the building and palm trees lining the path that goes up towards the top of the hill beyond the front gates. We were staring at the hospital we would be commuting to every morning for three weeks. This was how my mornings went while I studied abroad in Genoa, Italy this past winter.
Like so many students here at UD, I spent our comparatively long Winter Break taking Winter Session classes – more specifically studying abroad! I traveled alongside about 20 or so other UD students to Leipzig, Germany for a four-week long Winter Session. It was a truly amazing opportunity, and I’m so thankful to the German Department and IGS for organizing the session alongside the institute where we studied, InterDaF, for making this all possible! I was initially set to go on this study abroad program back in January 2022, but due to the situation at the time the program was unfortunately canceled. Thus, getting to go this time was an opportunity I did not want to take for granted. I could go on and on about the entire experience, and I could probably write another whole article or two about it, (isn’t that the typical experience of talking with someone who’s just studied abroad? We, accidentally or not, always find a way to bring it up!) but some of my experiences over in Germany truly encouraged me in different ways, even those outside of the classroom. Of course the program helped me with my language skills, but living over there for a month taught me new things about myself and habits I’d like to keep up during my final semester and beyond.
The morning sun greets you from its climb in the sky as you exit the train station, backlit by clear blue skies and seagulls circling overhead. You don’t even have to think as the click of your boots on the pavement guide you across the street to a small storefront with an orange awning. As you cross the threshold, an 8-bit rendition of “Für Elise” announces your presence to the display case of croissants, torsades aux pommes, chocolate muffins, and other treasured pastries. And there, before you and your friends can take a half-step further into the bakery, the owner excitedly walks out from the back kitchen exclaiming, Les filles! Bonjour, les filles! and ushering the cashier away so she can select our pastries for us with a grin.
With the end of winter break and, for many, Winter Session classes, comes the spring semester. The spring semester marks a nice return to campus to see friends again, and even as a break from the break! I’m glad to have had the long break; however, since my winter study abroad was canceled, I had that itch to return to the groove of campus and the classes I enjoy. What’s even more poignant about this spring is the return of the student body altogether. Many of us haven’t experienced a full, in-person spring semester either at all or since spring 2019. My first spring semester was cut short by COVID’s beginnings, and in my second spring, I happened to have a single on-campus class, allowing me to be here last year. Because being on-campus all spring long is new for so many students, here are some ways to really take advantage of the spring semester no matter your year. Continue reading
This past year has been very isolating, physically as well as emotionally. I remember how much in disbelief I was when we got the email last spring saying that we had to go home and take classes online for the rest of the semester. I honestly believed that by the summer, life would be back to normal. I believed that I would be returning to campus in the fall and seeing my friends very soon. I did not picture spending many long months in quarantine, isolated from everyone. I did not imagine the toll this would take on my mental health. I did not expect to feel so anxious, lonely, and fearful of the future. But something else I didn’t expect was to be listening to three new albums by Taylor Swift. This past year, Taylor Swift released the albums folklore and evermore, and just recently, her 2008 album, Fearless, but rebranded to Fearless (Taylor’s Version). I do not know if it was fate or some higher power that knew I needed these albums when I did, but every single one was released right when I needed her music the most. Continue reading