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How to Spend Spring Break

by Julia Desiato

Starting foundation for the house in North Carolina! Literally just piles of dirt and the cement foundation.

Spring break is typically something you look forward to, starting with day one of the spring semester. It’s a time for relaxation, sleeping in and even finding some time to catch up on any of that work you might’ve missed. If you’re looking to get more out of your spring break though, UConn has so many different opportunities to offer!

My freshman year, I was completely overwhelmed by the many clubs and trips that exist, but luckily I had a friend who helped me find out about this amazing club she was in called Honors Across State Borders (aka HASB). For spring break, HASB takes a road trip somewhere in the United States and works with Habitat for Humanity.

I first did it during my spring break freshman year and we went to Nashville, Tennessee, which was absolutely amazing. As a country music fan living in Connecticut, I was excited to have the opportunity to go see the Country Music Hall of Fame and everything else the south has to offer in just a short 20 hour bus ride. Going into the trip, I had zero experience with power tools and left the trip an expert with a circular saw and nail gun (much to my mom’s dismay). We worked with some incredible people like Tash who has worked with Habitat for Humanity for years and taught us how to side an entire house!

Author hammering some of the thousands of nails for the floorboards.

I recently went on my second trip with HASB a couple of weeks ago to North Carolina this time. We were able to explore Winston Salem and had a totally different experience being in the rural countryside. Instead of siding, we were able to quite literally see the house being built from the ground up. When we first got to the site, there were only piles of dirt and the foundation. Over the course of 5 days, we were able to install trusses, hammer in thousands of nails for the floorboards and eventually get the walls up! The Habitat for Humanity workers were extremely grateful and said that we were able to put their construction over 5 weeks ahead of schedule.  

Going on a trip like this was a great way to spend spring break. I was able to learn many construction tricks and I met a lot of people who were dedicating their lives to Habitat for Humanity, which was really inspiring to see. I chose to do service through Honors Across State Borders, but there are many other service trips you can do through UConn’s Community Outreach or other organizations. Taking part in an opportunity like this is a great way to make new connections with people you might not otherwise meet and allows you to get some service in over your spring break. I would definitely recommend exploring different ways to give back over break because it really is such a fun and rewarding experience.

All 53 club members on the last day sitting in front of the walls they just put up!

           

Expanding My Horizons: To UConn and Beyond

By Julia Assard

 Since I was a little kid, I had always wanted to go to UConn. My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and almost all of our family friends attended this university. In addition, my dad is employed by the university, so that was always an obvious financial incentive. When applying to colleges as a senior in high school, I considered UConn to be my only serious option and applied to other schools as an afterthought. The day I got my acceptance letter in the mail, I sent in my deposit.

 The only down side of attending UConn for me was that it is only a mere twenty-four minute drive to my house. In addition, from my tiny high school with only 400 students, about fifteen people from each grade go to UConn. While many of my hometown friends were going here, I knew that I wanted to branch out as much as I could. I know people here now that only hang out with people that they went to high school with, and while I love spending time with my old friends, I craved something new. I wanted to be around people that I hadn’t known for the past eleven years. The idea of being in a lecture hall of 500 people I knew nothing about was both scary and exciting for me.

The author (center) with her “new” friends

For my freshman year, I decided to choose a random roommate who is now one of my best friends. On the second day of school, we sat with a random girl in the dining hall who quickly became the third in our trio. While I did have one person from high school that I was close friends with all of freshman year, I made it a goal to try to seek out new people and create new bonds. I wanted to be able to have the “Big Chill Weekend” that my parents and their college friends have every summer in the Cape. Finding new friends in college can be difficult, but I have been lucky enough to find people and make new connections and groups every year that has truly made the phrase, “you can always make a big school feel small,” true to me.

Looking beyond (from the Homer Babbidge Library)

 Choosing a college is a daunting task, but it seemed an obvious choice to me. While I have been lucky in that manner and love the school I chose, it is important for people to go somewhere that challenges them in some way. My challenge was entering a school that was about seventy times larger than my high school and being in a place where I didn’t know every detail  about every person’s life. In addition, my first semester of college I took the dreaded CHEM 1127, CALC 1131, and BIOL 1107. This course load was overwhelming, and my first exams came back with lower scores than I had hoped for. The transition from high school classes to college courses was a shock, and it scared me that I may not be cut out to be a physician assistant as I had always hoped. It took dedication, a lot of studying, and good friends, and now I find excitement in being challenged by upper level courses on the path to my future career.  In order for people to gain new knowledge, they have to do things that are scary and run the risk that it might not work out, but if it is a goal then hard work and perseverance will bring you to where you need to be.

Attending graduate school to become a physician assistant is now within my grasp. In my search for programs, I am now looking for schools much further away from home. While I rarely go home other than for breaks, I still have the comfort of knowing I am close and can always visit my dad at work, of course, if I need anything. The idea of being somewhere far from Bolton, CT is a scary thought but a necessary step to take. Attending a graduate school away from home will provide more independence, experiences and connections with new people.  After three years at UConn,  I am excited to be thinking about the next step.  In the words of Bilbo Baggins, “I think I am quite ready for another adventure.”