Life After Graduation

Jessica Carrington

Ohio State Newark Alumna, English

First, congratulations! You are graduating college and that is no small step! Take a few moments to be proud of yourself and celebrate your accomplishments before worrying too much about the “real world”. This is something to be proud of. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to this day, and I’m proud of you for it.

Enjoy some free time if you have it. Do some traveling this summer, even just day trips around the area. Go somewhere new, do something outside of your routine, and learn something new! Learning experiences are everywhere, and a lot of them are free– take advantage of that.

One of the biggest tips I can give you is to network. Networking is vital, I know you’ve heard that a lot but honestly, it is incredibly important. I didn’t realize just how important it was until after I graduated. Stay in touch with your professors and mentors after graduation, they can put you into contact with people in your field. Look into volunteer and community service opportunities in the community–it’s a great way to do something productive and meet people to network with. You never know what sort of opportunities may fall into your lap, take advantage of those.

If you’re in search of a job post-graduation, apply for everything. If it is mildly interesting and you’re mostly qualified, apply. Your first job probably won’t be your dream job but apply for your dream job anyway. Write a new cover letter with each application and tweak your resume to be tailored towards each specific job. You will get rejections, you will get people who never contact you back, you will get interviews, and you will get a job. It takes time, but stay positive. Do practice interviews with your friends or even yourself. Research frequently asked interview questions and prepare answers to those in advance. Remember that you are on your own journey and it doesn’t have to match up to exactly what your friends and peers seem to be up to.

If you’re going to grad school, congrats! This is another huge step in life and I’m proud of you for being accepted and continuing to reach for your goals. Remember the study skills you’ve learned so far and the most effective ways you personally learn and apply those. Connect with people– peers, professors, mentors… network! Remember to take care of yourself, too. Sleep, eat, hydrate, go for a walk. You are your most important asset, so make sure you are taking care of you.

If you aren’t sure what your next step is, that is okay too! That’s where I was. That’s where a lot of people are. Take some time and do some soul-searching–figure out what you really want to do in life and what you’re passionate about, and start taking steps toward achieving those things. Don’t forget that as alumni you have access to various career services and career fairs, too. I’ve discovered that a lot of adults still don’t know “what they want to be when they grow up”, and that is perfectly okay. Stay positive.

Lastly, you are graduating from The Ohio State University, and that is nothing to scoff at. I’m proud of you. Lots of people are proud of you. Take a moment to be proud of yourself, and then go out there and tackle the world–in whatever way makes the most sense to you.

Kasey and Karaoke Update

Guest Blogger

Kasey “Aaliyah” Jackson, Sophomore, Forensic Science Chemistry, COTC & Ohio State Newark

Hello again everyone, 

Last year my karaoke journey ended in Las Vegas as I placed 30th in America after I had placed 2nd in the Ohio Karaoke Championship which took me to Las Vegas. 

In Vegas, I did well but not well as I could’ve because I got sick and lost my voice two days before we left. I tried to press on anyway. 

Because of my hiccup for 1st place in the Ohio Karaoke Championship was a music arrangement error, I have decided to re-enter and I have gone through the proper lengths to purchase my own rights to the karaoke songs I have chosen this year so that I can practice and guarantee my practices and performances will be the same. 

This year the Karaoke World Championships have moved up so Karaoke Nationals has also moved up, which also means Ohio Karaoke Championships has moved up placing me in the first round of qualifying on April 3 at 9:30 p.m. Instead of having two songs this year for the first round they are only accepting one. The event will be held at Pastimes Crossroads, 121 E Campus View Blvd in Columbus. It is free and open to the public. If I qualify on April 3, the semi-final round will be held on April 24 and that will determine if I move on to the Ohio Karaoke Championship on July 12. I’m hoping for the best and I’m coming for that 1st place spot! I’d like to thank all the students and staff here at the college for all the support they’ve shown me throughout this journey. The best is yet to come!

New Experiences

Sam Morgan, Biology

Imagine going into something brand new with no idea of what to expect and without someone you know by your side every step of the way. Think of how scary and terrifying it could be to be alone in a brand new world. For me, this was what walking into college was like. I knew no one and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My family was over an hour away, and if I’m being honest I think I missed my animals most. This wasn’t going to be like high school. I knew that. Everything was a brand new start to my future.

Being accepted to The Ohio State University was exciting, yet terrifying. I knew that college would be different from high school. I expected it to be insanely hard and full of parties, due to the way the media portrays college. However, when I arrived on move-in day, I knew this would be something far different from what television or movies had told me. I would sum up my first week in one word: scary. I had to share my room and get used to going all the way down the hall just to use the bathroom. I had many doubts and I felt there was no way I would be able to keep up with everything. I was worried I wouldn’t have friends, be involved, or be able to get a good G.P.A.

The first week of classes had me running all over the place. These classes were longer than any class in high school and that made paying attention a little difficult. Since I didn’t know anyone, I had no one to sit by which made me feel weird, like an outsider. I had no idea what was normal in college, so I spent a lot of time in my room that first week. At home, my room was always the place I would go to if I wanted to be alone or if I needed comfort. Now, I wouldn’t be alone in my room and that was weird. On the first day of move-in, my roommate and I went to get Chinese food. That’s when I saw someone I met at orientation! We invited him to eat with us but he had to go meet his roommate. After we ate, I was determined to find him so that I would have at least one other person I knew. I went to the third floor where he said he lived and I made my best guess at which room was his. Knocking on that door has changed my college experience for the better. His roommate answered and I asked if someone who fit the description of who I met at orientation lived there. Lucky for me there was. My roommate and I spent time that night talking to and getting to know them. As time went on we became great friends and that’s when I knew college wouldn’t be as scary as I thought. I realized that I wasn’t alone in this because they knew as little about college as I did. We all hung out every chance we got. We spent many nights in the amphitheater on campus just looking at the stars or by the fountains talking about our days or venting about our problems. We got to know each other very well, very quickly. We each brought new friends into our little group and soon it wasn’t so little. The friends I have made here are truly who have gotten me this far. They have helped me study, made me laugh, helped me through tough times and even let me drag them to ice skating. They are more than friends to me. I consider them family.

Through the Buckeye Generation Learning Community (BGLC), I soon got to know many other people on campus and I gained the confidence to introduce myself to more of them! I ended the semester on the dean’s list and that was more than I could have ever wanted. After my first semester went so well, I decided to try to get involved in things during my second one. I now volunteer with third graders in a program called Diversity through Artistry. Those kids have made me so happy and I have learned so much from them.

Overall, I like how my brand new start has begun. The beginning was scary. I was alone and I didn’t think that would change, but as the year moved forward, I made friends, passed all of my classes and I believe I did the best I could. Second semester is looking just as bright as the first. I am so grateful for every opportunity and for the BGLC. I intend on continuing to volunteer for different things because it makes me happy. Some people say that high school is the best four years of your life, but I disagree because college has already been so much more fun and informative about everything. I’m glad I applied to and chose Ohio State because my life has truly changed forever for the better.

More about Sam

My major is biology because I want to go into the medical field and work with children as a pediatrician, but I’m considering changing it to become an elementary school teacher. Either way, I love working with kids and helping them become better versions of themselves. I graduated from Hilliard Bradley high school.

Misconceptions

Emily Simila, first-year, psychology

When people think of Newark, Ohio, the thought of a city like Los Angeles or Chicago doesn’t exactly come to mind. Why is that? One tends to believe what they hear, and not what they observe for themselves. Therefore, when I give campus tours, the number one statement that I hear is how happily surprised people are with the size of the campus and the endless activities that we offer. However, let’s get real here. The general population thinks that regional campuses won’t have that “homey” feel or the fun social activities for students. Ohio State Newark proudly breaks that stereotype.

You may be asking, “What activities are you talking about?” The gym, Adena Hall, is the peanut butter to my jelly. When I give tours, the gym gets the crowd excited, as if they are seeing one for the first time. With the renovation of 10,000 square feet, Adena Hall now has a separate room that has a pull-down projector screen that allows you to put on any guided workout videos. With basketball, dodgeball, laser tag, volleyball tournaments and much more offered, Adena Hall is extremely hard to miss. The Warner Center is one of the top attractions. With a ping-pong table, foosball, pool tables and endless food, how could you go wrong? Lastly, when Ohio weather chooses to come through and cooperate, sand volleyball is the name of the game. Because Ohio State Newark is a smaller campus, a majority of students get the memo about certain activities; therefore, it is much easier to make friends.

Our Office of Student Life here pulls through like no other. The office sends out notices of MANY different and fun activities (and I am not just using the word “fun” for the heck of it)! Every week multiple events gather students in for a night they will happily look back on. Karaoke night, comedy shows, trivia, movie nights and adventurous games like “Murder in the Dark” and “Hungry Hippos”. Yes, we are in college, but we know how to put a smile on people’s faces.

At Ohio State Newark, it is our goal to make students here feel like a huge family. That is why community dinners are occasionally offered, free of charge. Pancake night was the top attraction so far this year! However, if you are an adventurous soul, Ohio State Newark can still supply you with all of your needs. Along the outside premises of our campus is a trail that travels several miles long, with beautiful views of nature. This is a common attraction for students that like to longboard, bike, run, roller-skate and so on. In addition, Newark has several parks, and one is located right off of the trail, behind McConnell Hall. One of the best activities to do in Newark is to rent a canoe at our local Infirmary Mound Park! Lastly, Dawes Arboretum is a nearby attraction that literally catches people’s eye.

You may be thinking “Emily, what if I want to do more stuff off of campus?” Well, if you are looking for a fun night off campus, right across from our residence halls is an ice skating rink. On Friday nights, many students go to this rink and have the time of their life. A bowling alley, roller skating arena and movie theatres are all around our campus too! Additionally, about two miles away from campus sits a street that will become your best friend; North 21 street. There is a Roosters, Panda Express, coffee shops and more. Additionally, just nearly 5-10 minutes away from Ohio State Newark, is a golf course, a spa, a country club, fitness centers, a theatre and more fun activities!

I can assure you that if you seek out these attractions and attend the activities provided by student life Ohio State Newark will be the place that you call your new home. I look forward to seeing you all next year!

More about Emily:

I am a freshmen here at Ohio State Newark, and I am also a buckeye guide on campus. I went to high school at Upper Arlington (go bears), and I am very interested in becoming a sport psychologist, therefore my major is psychology. I have always wanted to be a buckeye and have the privilege to say that I go to Ohio State University.

A Fresh Start

Bryce Mortera, first-year, pharmaceutical sciences

January 8th, 2018, January 1st, 2018, and August 22nd, 2017. All of these dates may appear arbitrarily related to one another, but they are not. Each of these days signifies to me and to many other students something important: the start of something new. These days are the start of college, the start of a new year and the beginning of the new semester. Beginning a new experience is a unique time for many; having a clean slate offers so many possibilities that can allow individuals to grow and strive to achieve new goals for themselves.

Starting Right

One of the most important things to starting fresh is starting right. Although that might be an obvious statement, it is not always easy to do. I know this first hand. During my senior year of high school, I entered it with the mindset that “Senior year will be a time for easy and fun classes, along with some cringy senior quotes.” Although my senior year was far from that, that made for a good transition quote. College, as many new students will find out, is a place where you are in total control over what you do, and I do not mean that in the causal sense. As a first-year student, the number of responsibilities including complete control over your classes, maintaining contact to build strong relationships with faculty, attending your lectures and labs and much more fall on you. Such responsibilities may overwhelm some. Make it of the highest importance to organize yourself from day one.

Organization

As my second semester just started a little over a week ago, I had realized from last semester that I needed to be optimistic about the spring semester and the new opportunities that are ahead. This is one of the easiest parts of making a new semester and college in general as successful as possible. Besides maintaining optimism throughout this new experience, laying out goals and making a plan are also both highly advantageous for many. Knowing what you want to achieve for this specific time period is the first part of making a plan, followed by actually developing a way to finish those goals, whether it is through using a calendar system or just writing down the steps to complete your objectives. The third and final step that I would recommend to help stay organized is to be prepared to modify. Flexibility is the key to making any task or job work; so, be open and able to make sudden shifts to your original plan and or goal(s).

New Year, New You

Hearing the phrase “New year, New you” is a common occurrence around this time of year, but actually becoming “new” is a matter of determination and how well prepared you are to actually succeed in change. As I have said, starting fresh in college and in general provides everyone with the opportunity to become the best they can be. Here at Ohio State Newark, it applies just the same. Striving to become a well-rounded student in and out of the classroom is well within reach of all incoming and present students. Following your goals, staying optimistic, and passionate about those goals through developing and modifying a plan can lead everyone to succeed in a Fresh Start.

More about Bryce Mortera

I’m a Buckeye Guide here at Ohio State Newark! I’m currently working towards a degree in pharmacy with a minor in marketing or financing with plans to open a business in addition to working in a hospital pharmacy. Some of my hobbies/things I follow: Science news (especially chemistry!), markets/politics, and I enjoy volunteering with friends and family. My hometown is Mount Vernon, Ohio (which is about 40 minutes north of Newark); I graduated from Mount Vernon High School.

Kasey and Karaoke

Guest Blogger

Kasey “Aaliyah” Jackson, Sophomore, Forensic Science Chemistry, COTC & Ohio State Newark

My singing history is very long, so I’m just going to touch on my recent success. About a year ago I auditioned for Ohio State Newark’s Got Talent where I placed second. After that performance, fellow students Elizabeth Beatty, Melissa Tobin and Hunter Spittler and Assistant Director for Student Life Justin Khol told me about Karaoke Night, so I started to going. I don’t think I’ve missed a karaoke night since.

This past spring the karaoke night event holders Tim and Vickie Craft asked me if I wanted to compete in karaoke. I told them I usually go home for the summer and that I wouldn’t be back until school started again. They said they would take my information and contact me when it was starting up. I came back and I went to the qualifying round, where I qualified and was the female winner for the first round. We were supposed to have a semi-final round but that round was eliminated and I immediately became a finalist. Finals were held at Woody’s Pub and Grill in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. We went two rounds; my first song was ‘Georgia On My Mind’ and my second was ‘And I am Telling You’ by Jennifer Hudson. The second was a little difficult because the arrangement was slightly different than what I had been practicing so I got stuck in the beginning of the song and the judges penalized me for it. I ended up getting second place still qualifying for Vegas; but only the first place winner had their fares paid. A very generous anonymous giver believed in me so much they offered to pay for me and my boyfriend’s way to Las Vegas so I could compete.

In Las Vegas, I will be representing the State of Ohio and in competition to win a prize of $1000 and a chance to represent the USA in Helsinki, Finland.

Las Vegas Karaoke Competition Schedule

ROUND 1 is Thursday September 28, and Friday September 29th.

I will compete Thursday between 10 am and noon.

I will compete Friday between 7:30 pm and 10:30pm.

ROUND 2 is Saturday September 30th if I make it.

I’m so honored to even be considered in this event and on this type of platform. I’m hoping to win, but if I don’t I am very happy to have had this opportunity to represent my state and schools.

After this competition is over I’m looking forward to finishing my education strong and seeking more venues to perform at. I want to thank those who have pushed and believed in me. Thank you to Justin Khol and Vorley Taylor for always making a way for me to perform. Thank You to my voice coach Perry Meyer. You are the reason I am going to Vegas, without you this would be impossible. Thank you to Vickie and Tim Craft for having so much faith in me from the beginning. Thank you to my entire family and all my friends. I appreciate EVERYONE!!!

My performances can be found on my facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/aaliyah.jackson

Meet Taryne

Taryne Porter, Junior, Middle Childhood Education

Hello! My name is Taryne Porter and I’m a Middle Childhood Education major at The Ohio State University at Newark. I was born in Ohio, my family settled in Pataskala. I was raised in Licking County and graduated from Licking Heights High School. Wanting to see the world, my college journey began when I accepted an academic scholarship to West Virginia University. After becoming homesick (you don’t know what you have until it’s gone) country roads led me home to Columbus where I continued my education at the Columbus campus. Realizing the class sizes were enormous, and that I was being exposed to more people in a 5-mile radius than I had ever encountered in Licking Country, I decided on one final move. I found my home on the Newark campus. I was thrilled to discover that while it was also closer to home, it offered me the opportunity to complete my major. The education program here is extensive, fulfilling and has enhanced my passion for teaching. The time here has provided me with exposure to amazing faculty members, fellow students, alumni and community members that all share the same love for our humble campus. Wonderful things happen here! During my time at Ohio State Newark, I have had the honor of being crowned homecoming queen, spent multiple years volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters as a lunch buddy and community match, and I have had multiple field and volunteer opportunities through the education program that has allowed me to impact the youth in our community.

Off campus I share my love for cheerleading by coaching at an all-star facility in Gahanna. I also spent years giving back to my high school and their affiliated youth league as a coach and program director. Working six days a week outside of school definitely has its challenges, but in my book challenges are welcome. When I miraculously have a day (or even an hour) off, you will find me in a nook of campus with my nose in a book or at home gardening and hanging out with my animals.

I currently only have three semesters remaining before my time is up. I am cherishing every moment on this campus with my friends and fellow Buckeyes. My goals in life are to provide my students and athletes with empowerment, confidence and the ability to become successful in the real world. I am thankful for my time at Ohio State Newark and for being a Buckeye. Being one has allowed me to thrive in my own fields and I look forward to representing the Scarlet and Grey for life! Go Bucks!

 

 

Meet Melissa

Hi, my name is Melissa Tobin. I am from southern California, specifically Los Angeles County. My family and I moved to central Ohio my senior year of high school. I graduated from Granville High School and decided to attend The Ohio State University at Newark. I choose this campus because I did not want to move again after just moving across the country, and I knew that smaller class sizes work best for me. Ever since I started college people always ask me why I left California or why I would ever want to leave. My mom’s job brought us across the country, and it was my mom’s job that moved my family again just before I started college.

I am in my fifth year on the Newark campus and I am majoring in psychology and minoring in professional writing. It took me some time to figure out what path I wanted to pursue; eventually, I was able to figure it out with some help from my family. I plan to continue on to graduate school with a focus in counseling. I would like to find a job as a counselor in the military. I am interested in becoming a counselor in the military because I have always enjoyed helping others and several members of my family have served in the armed forces.

Cutting wood for the Habitat for Humanity build in Alabama.

I am the vice president for the Campus Activities Board student organization and I am a team leader in the Adena Recreation Center. I was a part of the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge for two years where we traveled to Georgia and Alabama during spring break, Naps Against Poverty where we held clothing drives to collect and give to children in need, and Active Minds where we helped bring awareness to mental disabilities. My college experience has been more enjoyable since I have become involved on campus through work and student organizations. I have participated in many opportunities where I have met many students, faculty and staff, and I have made great friends.

When I am not busy on campus with school, work or student organizations, I enjoy spending time outside, a love that I developed while growing up in Southern California. When I am relaxing on campus, I am usually in the Warner Center with my friends.

Meet Beth

My name is Beth Beatty.

I went to a smaller high school in south eastern Ohio where I graduated with about 150 people, so I knew large classes were not for me. Knowing that I wanted smaller class sizes helped me decide on going to The Ohio State University’s Newark campus. I went to Newark full time for two years before I became a dual-enrolled student. Now I am a fourth year dual-enrolled student both on the Newark and Columbus campuses. I am majoring in health sciences with a minor in clinical and individual differences with the goal of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. I begin applying for grad school this summer, and of course Ohio State is at the top of my list. I spend every home game in the ‘Shoe watching the best football team! When I’m not in class, I’m most likely in the Warner Center either downstairs with my friends or upstairs in The Office of Student Life. Last year I started two different jobs within Student Life: I work at the front desk along with being a student assistant for student activities.

When I first started classes at the Newark campus I’m sure I felt the same way as most of you do now… I was ready to pack up my things and move right on to Columbus. I was convinced that Newark was going to be a boring campus. I was sure that I wasn’t going to make any friends nor have anywhere near the college experience as my friends in Columbus. My entire experience was flipped once I became involved on campus, I joined my first club as the secretary of Student Government. A few weeks later the next opportunity came for me to really enjoy my time on campus. The Campus Activities Board was starting back up and they needed someone to take the media position. In my following years on campus I became the President for Student Government, became active in Active Minds, went on the Habitat for Humanity spring break trip twice, created my own student organization Naps Against Poverty, and stayed active with Campus Activities Board. After that, I was permanently attached to this campus. I have been given even more opportunities to grow and meet new people in the past four years.

As my senior year quickly approaches I have realized how much this campus has made a positive and lasting impact on my life. I cannot say if it’s the faculty and staff, the opportunities I have been given or the fact that everywhere I am on campus someone knows who I am. I can for sure say that I am anything but ready to graduate and leave this wonderful campus community where I have been shown what it means to be a Buckeye.

Adventures in Cuba

Josh Flickinger, sophomore

In late May, a group of 22 Ohio State students had the opportunity to travel to Cuba. I was one of those students. Some of us were from the Newark campus, and some were from the Columbus campus. We were there to learn about race in Cuba and how its perception has changed over history, but the experience ended up being something much more than just another class for many of us.

For ten of the eleven days, we stayed in Havana. The homestays there are called Casas. We were split between three of them. A faculty member stayed with each group. Ferdinand Avila-Medina, the learning skills specialist at Newark, stayed with my group in Casahabana. Dr. Alcira Dueñas, a history professor at Newark, lived with another group just a few blocks from us on the same street. Dr. Tiyi Morris, our professor for the class, stayed a bit farther away with the rest of our classmates in Matilda’s Casa. Each morning we would wake up to a breakfast of fresh fruit and juice, strong Cuban coffee, warm bread and butter and eggs served by Casahabana staff. Then we would meet our bus and go to the morning’s educational activity. There were two each day, one before and one after lunch. We were free between the afternoon activity and dinner. My housemates and I usually used that time to write the reflections required every day by the course. After dinner, we were allowed to explore Havana until curfew at 12:30.

The course was focused on race and Afrocuban culture. Most of our activities pertained to how they manifested in Cuban culture in general. We went to museums on the slave trade and Afrocuban religions. We attended workshops where we got to dance, make art and to build our teamwork skills. We watched performances of dances, visited historical sites and met with religious leaders. We talked to world-renowned professors and journalists about racism, opportunity, history and education. It was a lot to take in, especially in such a small amount of time, but being there in person allowed us to actually experience the things we had been learning about in class. They became memories for each of us instead of just words on a page.

Of all the official activities we did, my favorite was our visit to the Los Positos neighborhood midway through the trip. It was a sweltering hot day, and we met with a professor who led us on a hike through an underdeveloped and impoverished part of town. We started walking down a crumbling alleyway which soon turned into a dirt track that snaked down a long hill into an overgrown river valley filled with shacks. The dwellings in Los Positos seemed to be built out of whatever materials could be found, and they were jammed together along the sides of dirt paths since there were almost no roads through the slum. There was garbage everywhere, piled up on the hillsides, lining the streets, and floating down the creeks and water that flowed through some of the tiny alleys. Waste management services were not in place in the area, so where else was it supposed to go? The people there had come to Havana for many different reasons. Some had fallen on hard times, some had emigrated from the rural countryside looking for opportunity in the city, but most had grown up without many social resources, and they were stuck. All of us who went on the hike were sweating and worn out by the end. To be honest, it was one of the most uncomfortable days of the trip. The people who lived there couldn’t just leave when they were tired of the conditions. There were state and university programs at work trying to provide resources. We even met with an Abakua religious leader who worked in the community. Despite first appearances, there were many people at work trying to help those living in Los Positos, but that afternoon served as a stark reminder that despite its beauty, Cuba is a society that has problems to address, much like any other.

Not all of our activities were academic, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t learn from them. We had the opportunity to explore Old Havana, the historical part of the city that had most of the beautiful plazas and buildings. There were lots of tourists, but many of the people who filled the streets were Cubans going about their everyday business. We got to tour most of the historic squares and see some of the important statues and buildings. We walked around in groups, looking through the shops and exploring. For the most part, the Cubans didn’t speak much English. I didn’t speak much Spanish, and only a few of the students did. It made trying to figure out prices for taxis or souvenirs interesting, but by the end of the trip we picked up a few words and phrases. The Cuban people were generally forgiving of it though, and they seemed to be excited to meet Americans and practice their English. For us students, being somewhat independent in an environment that was so different from our usual lives gave us a chance to solve problems we had never faced before, and to try to see things from points of view that we never would have considered otherwise. To understand why Cubans did things certain ways – such as charging for using the restroom, congregating on street corners to use the Wi-Fi, or walking most places instead of driving – we had to think about what it would be like to live in a society outside of the United States, while experiencing it for ourselves.

We did have one free day during the trip. On Friday, we took a two-hour bus ride to Varadero in the Matanzas province. It was a beautiful drive. A few of us even noticed the sights in between naps. The Cuban countryside has everything from mountains, hills and valleys covered in tropical forests to vast empty fields used for agriculture. Varadero is a resort town, and the beaches there are considered some of the best in the world. When we arrived, we spent the day in and around the ocean after we checked in to the hotels. I was too sunburnt to do much more than loaf around in pain by the end of the day, but a few other students and I got to watch a live band cover 80s. Some others went to a nightclub nearby that the locals said had the best dancing. There was dancing almost everywhere in Cuba though. Everyone I met could dance, and almost all of them could dance better than most Americans I know.

At the end of the trip, we all had to write reflection papers that incorporated what we learned from the experience. For me, that was one of the most difficult papers to write because there was so much. The class showed us a side of Cuba that we hadn’t looked at before, and put what we already knew into historical context. The academic activities done while we were in the country cemented what we learned in class, and let us experience firsthand everything we were reading about. But the trip was more than that, it let us live with Cubans. We saw them go about their daily lives, we took part in those lives, and we picked up on social cues that we didn’t even know we were getting. And that’s why travelling to another country is such an amazing experience. There are some things that can’t truly be explained with words.