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June, 2011

Summer

irvin-85

After endless papers, countless pages written and read, I finished freshman year. Exhausted, sleep deprived, eager and most importantly proud of what I have achieved during my first year of college, I turned in my last paper, went through the odyssey of moving out and began my journey home. The stress of finals made home appear like a an oasis in the middle of the desert. After being away for six months and after being under the most intense academic pressure I had ever experienced, home was a necessary stop for I needed to “recharge” my batteries, and as many of my professors suggested, reflect on the successes and downfalls of the year that had just ended. I thank them for their advice for I was considering taking summer courses but after some thought, I realized that that would not have been the best idea since I was mentally exhausted from six months of intense academic expectations.

College tires you out, as high school has done to those who are seniors now. You can only write so many papers and read so many books until you stop enjoying what you are doing and begin to see it as a burden and a hassle. I experienced this at one point during spring term where, when it was sunny and really nice outside, I found myself in the library doing readings for my comparative politics class. Had it been earlier in the term (and less sunny outside) I would not have been complaining about the work that I had to do. After talking to some of my friends about this issue, we came to the conclusion that at the end of the day, we are still kids (although we are older than 18) and that there is a need for us to have fun and put aside the academic pressure that piles on us. Also, we arrived at the conclusion that we need to match our determination to succeed with an approach that assures that we are healthy psychologically. If our minds are tired or stressed, we will not perform our best and thus, a bit of fun from time to time is necessary.

I know that some of us fall under the category of those hard workers that are always looking for something to do. There is nothing wrong with that since it is that work ethic that has gotten you to the position in which you are right now. But remember that you are not a machine (a fact that I tend to forget a lot of times) and that you need rest and time to relax. It is a proven fact that you learn more and are able to assimilate more material when you are not under stress and thus, there is a need for study breaks.

And so, my message in this short blog is that those who are seniors (and now high school graduates), enjoy your summer after what I am sure has been a stressful year. For those who are rising seniors, enjoy your summer as well because you are going to need to be well rested for what will be a really intense year, full of applications and essays. Have a great summer guys!

Oh, the Places YOU Will Go!

abigail-85A year ago around this time, my high school principal read us a passage from Dr. Seuss’s famous book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” At that moment, my friends and I had no idea what the point of it was, I mean after all, we weren’t children anymore; why read to us from a children book?  A year later, I have finally made sense of that infamous passage:

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I finished my first year at Dartmouth College in a way I hadn’t foreseen: energized. Finals went well; I didn’t pull any all-nighters and didn’t stress at all. Now, I have a summer to reflect on everything that happened between September and now, a summer in Brazil! I will spend 10 weeks in Salvador, Bahia furthering my understanding of the Portuguese language and learning more about Afro-Brazilian Culture. Dartmouth is a partner school of ACBEU (Associação Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos) and I will be taking classes alongside students learning English. No amount of exclamation marks can emphasize my excitement of visiting a foreign country but I will say this: THIS SUMMER WILL BE ONE TO REMEMBER!

During the first week of September I will come back to the U.S and spend a few weeks at home until it’s time to come back to Hanover. It’s hard for me to believe that in another year I’ll be reflecting on an amazing summer and preparing for another memorable term. This is only the beginning and I’m sure you all will also have some wonderful news to share in the upcoming months.

Desejo a todos o melhor e boa sorte!

Two Steps Forward

darius-85“I can’t wait to be out of this house!”

Sound familiar?? Of course it does! I’m quite sure the majority of youth have had this thought on more than one occasion. I was so ready to move out that my idea of life “on my own” was jaded by the romanticized portrayal of “the good life”. Of course, once I moved out life was going to be so much easier! I’d be able to do what I want when I want to do it. . . Reality soon snatched me back to Earth.

I never imagined that after living my dream for a semester, my life would be reduced to public libraries and absolute boredom. After I was forced to leave New York, I spent the majority of my time searching for work and trying to get back in school. So far, I’ve had no luck finding a job. Life away from mom isn’t as great as the movies make it seem. Nobody ever taught me how to be an adult, and I personally feel that it should come with a how-to manual! I’ve been eighteen for only seven months, and already I’ve had to deal with hospital bills, homelessness and identity theft. Now I’m so far in debt that I’m at a loss for what to do next!

Instead of fun fun fun, I’m left with emotional breakdowns and a recurring feeling of hopelessness. My summer will be spent teaching an acting class, working (prayerfully) and preparing to go back to school. It hurts me to say this, but…mom was right. About everything. A word of advice, listen to your parents/guardians, they know what they’re talking about usually. College is fun, but there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with growing up. It isn’t all fun and games. It’s like they say, “Life is like a box of chocolates”. Every time you make a choice you’re taking a risk. Either you’re going to like it or you won’t, but the risk is always worth taking. Yeah, I’m struggling right now, but I know that it’ll all pay off. Expect to struggle. Expect not to get it right the first time…Nobody does. You may have chosen the wrong school or the wrong major, you may get involved with the wrong crowd, but everything is a learning experience. This time, when I get to New York, I’ll do it right. Life is a gamble. Every day there’s the chance that you may lose it all… but there’s also a chance for exponential success!

No matter what happens, who gets in your way or how long it takes, don’t ever give up. Because that’s when you lose.

~Darius A. Journigan