Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vanderbilt, From Start to Finish

It’s amazing to think at just three weeks ago I was heading off to a new state, a new city, and a new home, with four people I had only ever briefly met. I was full of nerves, not quite knowing what I was getting myself into. I was worried about making friends, yes, I knew my cohort; I knew their names, I knew the schools they went to, and I knew their basic interests, but I didn't know if we’d be tight knit group or simply be familiar faces to each other. I’m happy to, now, be able to say that my time in Nashville and Philadelphia was a truly amazing experience, from beginning to end.

Arriving in Nashville was, and I’ll be very honest, mildly terrifying. There I was in a brand new city where I would be living for three weeks, living without any family and without many pre determined friends. I tried my best to set these feelings of uneasiness aside, to enjoy the days I had with my cohort before actually going to Vanderbilt. 

Departure Day, it seems like ages ago
Those days now feel like they were ages ago, I've done so much and made so many new memories since they occurred. Even though they seem like they were so long ago, the content and experiences of what we did are still with me. I can remember exploring Centennial Park with the cohort for the first time, playing around on the swings and taking in the city. Those first few days served as a good adjustment period, they let us familiarize ourselves with the area and get a grip on what exactly our reality would be for the coming weeks.

After those first few days it was time to do what we had been preparing for for months, check in to the Vanderbilt Summer Academy. This whole process was a bit stressful, while Jennifer was there to help us check in and get our room keys, etc., we were pretty quickly directed to the elevators and sent off to settle in to our rooms by ourselves. I distinctly remember stepping off the elevator on the 5th floor, I wasn't greeted by anyone, and struggled to figure out which side of the building my room was on. Eventually I located my room and, after some fiddling with my key, unlocked the door and stepped inside. My roommate was nowhere to be seen, but she was unpacked, and it looked as if she had brought her whole house with her. I thought to myself about how unprepared I was, I didn't bring a laundry basket or throw pillows, but I was going to make due. It turned out that I wasn't alone in my lack of throw pillows, and I soon learned that the reason my roommate had so much stuff because she had driven to VSA. I also learned that I wasn't alone with that nervous feeling, and it pretty quickly went away. 
Some of the many close friends I made at VSA
VSA was divided into two main sections, outside the classroom and inside the classroom. I’d like to start with discussing my in classroom experience. I was part of a class of 16 students, which is probably the smallest class I’ve ever had, making this already a unique experience already. But, making it much more unique, each student in my class wanted to be there, they applied to the class, it wasn't just a general requirement like so many high school classes are. This appreciation to learn that each of my classmates possessed is something that really shaped my experience. Along with that, the enthusiasm that both my teacher and TA possessed concerning the subject helped to ensure I had the best experience possible. 

Concerning the content of my class, it’s truly amazing to think about how much I learned in such a small amount of time. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to take my class because of how, while it was always fun and interesting, additionally each activity we took part in served a purpose and helped us build a better understanding of either what adaptive engineering is or how it can be applied. We also got to have a lot of hands on experiences, whether that be with soldering or using power tools, I know that the exposure I have gotten to those techniques will be helpful for me later in life. 

Our finished car
Speaking of hands on experiences, our GoBabyGo project was an amazing opportunity and I’m proud to say I took part in it. Just being able to learn about the organization would have been great, but getting to take part in a build was so great. Not only was the whole process interesting and fun, but it was challenging and thought provoking. We worked through issues and rethought entire designs at times, but were eventually successful in creating eight custom cars for various children. I hope that each of the kids benefit from the cars and that they will be beneficial where their development is concerned. 

Outside of class, we were almost always participating in other VSA activities. These activities, whether they were arête classes or trivia nights, served as time to (maybe) learn some new skills and always make new friends. I had so many fun experiences with all the new people I’ve met, I’ve formed some very strong friendships through this, and I'm really thankful to the ILC and VSA for bringing us together. 

My time at VSA was truly amazing, it made my summer so wonderful and truly unforgettable. I'm so happy I've had this opportunity and that I've gotten to share it with all of you that have been keeping up with these blogs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment