Alumni

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Last weekend was very hectic. I’m in the process of looking for jobs near Doylestown and finding a place to move into. Meanwhile, I am still living at home in NY while working at the shelter. I’ve been having a lot of interviews.

On Monday, I visited Del Val with Kevin for the first time since I graduated. The college looks completely different than it did when I left it in December. Everything looked so green and alive. It was Finals Week for the students, so many people there were in the process of moving out. Of course I was excited to be back on campus because I missed it a lot.

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I remember many times in college when I wasn’t sure if I would make it to graduation. In my head, I pictured myself driving down “the road of life” and looking back at Del Val in my rearview mirror. It feels peaceful to finally put that part of my life behind me.

I’m still not sure where I’m going. Every day is full of anxiety and confusion. Now it finally feels like things are slowly coming together. However, I still worry that things won’t work out the way I’d like them to. One moment it feels like I am in total control and the next moment it feels like I know absolutely nothing.

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Looking back on my time in college

I graduated in December, but it just hit me now that I finally finished college.

This past year has felt kind of emotionally messy. (As in the past 12 months… mainly 2016.) Every now and then I think back on my final semester at Del Val and I wish I could erase it. Then again, I also made great friends and became closer with other great friends that semester, so I tell myself it was all worth it.

Luckily I have such a kind, caring, supportive boyfriend to help me cope with my stress. I’m not sure if I would have made it out of college alive if it wasn’t for him. So I truly have him to thank. He wasn’t the cause of my messy semester, he was right there beside me to help me clean up my mess.

I guess I can blame it on the stress of being a senior-year college student. Yeah, that makes sense. Classes are ridiculously challenging, plus you have an extreme life change standing right ahead of you. In a way, the pre-vet students had it easier. Sure, they had to work a million times harder than the rest of us, but at least they had a plan. After graduation, they know exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing for the next four years. After I graduated college, I didn’t even know what I would be doing for the next four months. And here I am, nearly four months later, and I’m still lost.

It’s funny, looking back, I can see that your high stress levels in college turn into a sense of comfort. College students always have something they need to be doing, which is actually very comforting if you think about it. Studying is a form of meditation: you put all of your focus into a single topic until the rest of the world zones out. In a way, studying was like an escape from reality. And registration (picking classes for next semester) makes you feel like you are the master of your own destiny.

So, college students may be slowly dying inside, but they’re happy about it. It’s an illusion that makes them feel like they have control over their lives.

When I first came to Del Val, it was pure bliss. I felt this sense of belonging I never felt in high school. Everything was perfect. Then, as each semester went on, stress levels got higher. Why can’t every year of college just feel like freshmen year? When you go to a university, it’s easy to pick out the freshmen from the upperclassmen. The freshmen class is full of hope while the upperclassmen have drained spirits and permanent dark circles under their eyes.

As my time at Del Val was coming to an end, it was Hell. I lost a very close friend who I met my freshmen year, and each attempt I made to restore our friendship, I ended up pushing her away even more. I said things to people out of pure anger that I did not mean. With college coming to an end, my comfortable illusion of being in control of my life was fading away. I clung onto the illusion as hard as I could by trying to manipulate others and get my own way. I was holding onto people I needed to let go of, and ignoring people who deserved my attention the most. I did some bad things to people, and people did some bad things to me.

Unfortunately, I left Del Val on a bitter note. I keep reminding myself of all the amazing things my experience at Del Val gave me: the love of my life, valuable friendships, confidence, bravery, will-power, faith, and an easier time talking to strangers. But I’m fixated on the bad: how I looked like a total idiot in many situations.

One time during chemistry lab, sophomore year, I was about to drop something into a test tube. The professor looks at me and panics, “DON’T!” and for some reason, as soon as he said that, I dropped it into the test tube and of course it broke and glass smashed all over the floor and I bursted out into tears. It was extremely embarrassing. But then my lab partner asked me if I was okay, and I told her, “just one of those days…” and she completely understood.

But that wasn’t nearly as bad as the time we had to pick a disease to give an oral presentation about. I have no idea how (I guess my subconscious really likes to f*** with me) but somehow I ended up picking a topic that someone else was already planning on using because they already did a presentation on this specific disease in a previous class we had together. So this person thought that I purposely stole their project from them. This person even confronted me about it but I thought they were just joking with me. I didn’t actually realize this until I already started the project, and so I figured it was too late to change my topic. I really wish I did though, because it was the most awkward presentation I’ve ever given.

I still have anxiety about my college experience, even though it’s over now. It’s crazy how you can meet so many people, and still, not a single person becomes less important. Each person I met in college was like a puzzle piece, and removing somebody (no matter how small their “part” was) makes it incomplete. There are many people from college who I know I will stay in contact with, and that makes me so happy! And then there are other people from college who I most likely will never see again, and that truly upsets me.

If you’re reading this and you attended Del Val, I can promise you that you were an important part of my life. It doesn’t matter if we are still in direct contact through social media or not, you still matter. You’re very important to me and I look back on our memories with happiness. I apologize for not letting you know how much I care. If I have ever said/done anything to hurt you, I swear I didn’t mean it, and I am sincerely sorry. Every single soul I met at Del Val is beautiful. There’s not a single person who I wish harm upon. I want the best for my former classmates.

It is time to finally let go. Peace out, Del Val!

 

The graduate

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I started college at Kutztown University as a psychology major. I ended up regretting my decision. I think I rushed into attending KU without fully comprehending it. I didn’t think about how it would be, attending a townie school instead of a state school. Most KU students come to college with a good portion of their high school classmates and commute from home, no longer than 20 minutes away from campus. So, it wasn’t much of a welcoming environment because everyone else was settled with their friends and home while I was starting over. I did end up making a few great friends, but there were many reasons for transferring out – 15,000 students was too large for me, I wasn’t sure about my major, KU mainly specializes in education majors, and overall it just didn’t feel like a good fit.

I looked around at other colleges with a new perspective and an open mind. I thought more about my future and my career path. Delaware Valley College, or Del Val, popped out at me. It was a much smaller school, consisting of merely 2,000 students. My mom talked to her friends about my situation, and one of her friends just so happened to know a girl my age at Del Val – Laura (I know, same name as me… freaky coincidence!) So I signed up for a tour at Del Val and arranged to meet up with Laura G afterwards. I talked to her and a few of her friends to get the inside scoop about Del Val and to figure out if the risk of transferring schools would be worth it. Immediately I felt a good, strong vibe about the college. The people seemed so friendly. The campus was beautiful – with the gardens, gazebos, lake, and little trails. KU had a nice campus, but nothing compared to Del Val. KU’s campus felt more utilitarian, while Del Val’s campus felt like it had true personality.

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And that’s why I love Del Val: it’s authentic uniqueness. It’s not a state school, nor is it a community college. It’s a small, private college with a deep focus on agriculture. It offers a kind of experience that you will not find at any other college. Every class comes with hands-on experience. It’s not just about sitting in lecture, taking notes, and being tested. It’s about getting your hands dirty, trying new things, and being pushed out of your comfort zone. They don’t just offer biology as a major; they offer small animal science, large animal science, wildlife management & conservation, zoology, and several other specific majors you won’t find at other schools. Thanks to Del Val, I was able to practice working with REAL animals: rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, cows, chickens, insects, reptiles, and even fish! I was able to take cool classes you won’t find anywhere else such as Introduction to Animal Management, Animal Training & Enrichment, Canine Behavior & Training, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Human & Animal Interaction, and so on. I’m proud of the education I received.

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I came to Del Val at a crucial time. When I first transferred, people were discussing Del Val possibly reaching university status. Sophomore year, they built a brand new building for more classes with a Starbucks kiosk. Del Val started rapidly expanding right after I had arrived.

Delaware Valley College became a university my junior year. It was a bittersweet experience. The staff and faculty, especially the president, was ecstatic about becoming a university because it “looks good” and means more money for them. But the students felt much differently. We were upset that Del Val was on the road to losing its individuality and becoming just another plain old university. Some people even transferred out because of this. Us agriculture majors were annoyed that Del Val was taking its attention away from our majors, and instead, focusing on the new majors such as business and criminal law. Since this change, Del Val has been obsessed with quantity and has completely disregarded quality in order to compete with other universities and climb its way to the top. The new Life Science building that was added my junior year is very nice and modern, but before it was built, it was a garden area I used to sit at with my friends. Quality professors are retiring and Del Val is struggling with trying to find decent replacements. With more students being accepted every year, parking spaces have become much more scarce. And, also with becoming a university, comes the implantation of stricter rules. So, on one hand, I suppose graduating from a university as opposed to a college looks better on my resume. But I feel sorry for the younger classes who come to Del Val when it becomes too late to appreciate its uniqueness and impressive agricultural focus. I hope that the future agriculture students of Del Val get the same amazing opportunities I had. I hope Del Val never loses its character.

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My classes were extremely challenging and there were many times when I thought I would not make it. Classes that I thought would be “fun” like Animal Behavior turned out being extremely challenging, and classes I thought would be pretty hard like “animal anatomy & physiology” ended up frying my brain. I feel pretty smart now.

College was a time of major growth for me. I had a lot of difficult experiences along with many great memories. I feel like a very different person than the person I was freshmen year.

Now I am cleaning out my apartment and pretty soon I will be home again in NY. In the future, when I have the space and the funds, I am really interested in starting my own animal-related business. I’ve had a few ideas in my head for a while now. I can’t say for sure how everything will specifically work out. Until then, I’ll be working at different places and developing my skills as an animal-caretaker. Personally I am not fully motivated to chase after a large paycheck. I want to save the world and live my passion. I want to help the animals!

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22

Last week I turned 22! My birthday was on a Monday, but lucky for me I have off on Mondays! I celebrated by going hiking/climbing at High Rocks with Kevin. It was a little scary and a lot of fun. We came home for a much-needed nap. Afterwards, we ordered takeout from Bertucci’s because I’m not a big fan of eating out. I don’t hate going out to eat, it’s just a little uncomfortable for me and so I would rather eat at home. The pizza was delicious and they also gave us free rolls with a spicy oil dip.

The weekend right before my birthday, my friend Laura G. came to visit from LI. She was my first roommate at Del Val, freshmen year. (Barness 111!) It was so great to see her again. A few other friends also visited last weekend and the apartment was packed! We had fun at Peace Valley.

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On Saturday night some of us went to Poco’s for drinks and chips/salsa. I had a delicious pina colada!

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And now the semester is finally wrapping up. Tomorrow I have an exam, on Wednesday I go home for Thanksgiving, and then there is only 1 full week of class before finals. And I only have 2 finals!

My new kitten!

Words cannot express how excited I am right now! My boyfriend surprised me with a kitten this weekend. She’s only 3-months old, and she’s tiny! Her name is Venus. She is mainly black/grey tabby coloring, sort of brownish in the light.

She was very scared at first, but warming up so quickly! She goes through cycles of extreme hyperness, followed by extreme lethargy, followed by more extreme hyperness, etc. She loves playing with her little toys – jingle balls, fake mice, and so on. When she’s tired, she loves to cuddle. She really enjoys my bed and slips under the covers for warmth.

I am incredibly ecstatic right now. This is bringing back memories of when I got my first kitten, Buttermilk, for my 9th birthday. Now I remember why the fourth grade was so great for me. Kittens are different from adult cats because they are so fragile and require much more attention. -Much, much, much more attention. I think this is a great time to get a kitten because with my current schedule, I spend a lot of time at home (usually doing homework) so I can be with her often. It’s adorable how needy she is right now. As she grows up and becomes an adult, she will become more independent. I truly hope she can live a long, healthy, and happy life. She could live to see my future children… so crazy!

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In merely three weeks, I’ll be back home in NY with my family. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m starting to feel pretty homesick. I can’t wait to introduce my new kitten to my family.

There are only four weeks left of this semester. Goodness!!! Last Thursday I had to do a solo presentation for my clinical pathology class about Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, a neurodegenerative spinal cord disease. I feel like I did decent enough, but I’m nervous about my grade. The instructor is such a tough grader. Next week I have to do another solo presentation for my senior seminar class. I feel like the hardest part of my semester is coming to an end. I’m feeling less stressed… although I still feel pretty tense about school because that’s how it always goes until you get your final grade.

Canoeing Adventure

My boyfriend Kevin recently bought a fairly priced blowup-canoe for us to use. We do a lot of hiking so we were looking for other things we can do outdoors. Kevin had only been canoeing once when he was about 12 or so on a family vacation. I have done a lot of kayaking growing up, thanks to my aunt Nancy and uncle David! We always go kayaking on family camping trips. However, I think it’s been a few years since I have been on a kayak and I have really missed it.

So we went to Lake Nockamixon and canoed for about 2 hours. It was scary at first because we thought it might deflate and tip over easily. It was actually very sturdy. We weren’t able to go as fast as an actual kayak, but we still picked up some speed. Being out on the lake is truly an amazing feeling. I was a little nervous about canoeing (even a little worried I’d get bored or too tired), but once we got out there it was such a blissful moment of peace. For anyone who has never gone kayaking or canoeing, I highly recommend it!

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It’s that time of year when everyone is starting to really stress over classes. Luckily with my half-semester, I feel way more at peace. But the stress is certainly contagious. Just hearing other students talk about how stressed out they are makes me feel stressed. My clinical pathology class is the toughest. What makes it worse is that the woman who teaches the class is lazy and confusing. Everyone complains about how hard she is to deal with. I appreciate teachers who care about their students doing well – but this lady does not care when her students fail because it’s not her problem.

I was feeling really good this morning… just one of those good moods that hit you and you have no idea how long it’ll last. After coming home from class and getting on my laptop, I started feeling extremely anxious. I can’t really explain why. Part of it was feeling sort of lonely – most of my friends are so busy and wrapped up in their own lives these days. But I was also thinking about the election. People are beginning to rip each other apart on Facebook and that makes me really sad. The presidential election is no excuse to be rude to others. According to a recent article I read, never in U.S. history have presidential candidates been so hated. Both Trump and Clinton are painted as monsters who will ruin our country somehow, someway. I am sick of all the fear. These are just two people with two agendas. I’m still not registered to vote and I’m starting to think I do not want to be involved in something that causes so much hatred. Maybe the USA is just too damn big. Too many conflicting opinions. Ideally, I would want a presidential candidate that every single citizen had the chance to meet face-to-face and have a real conversation about our country. Instead, we rely on a bias media to tell us who to vote for. I think you can tell A LOT about a person by simply being in their presence.

Anyway… enough political rambling… my point is that I was feeling really anxious earlier today. I texted Kevin and told him how I was feeling. He suggested I take a short walk by myself. I thought that was such a perfect idea. I live at Fonthill apartments which is located right next to Fonthill castle. So I walked down the woodsy trail that leads to Fonthill castle and to my surprise, my worries melted away. It’s amazing how therapeutic nature can be. No one else was around, so I just sort of let go and explored. I even did a cartwheel, knowing that if someone happened to walk by right then they would definitely judge me for being weird. I walked, I meditated, I climbed, I jumped, I even fell down. I didn’t even care. I laughed.

The presidential election reminds us that there is a lot of hate in the world. It reminds us we are seriously living in a war zone where anything can happen. All of those people feeling that hate, I want them to take a solitary walk in nature and let themselves be healed. Let them feel the freedom of no longer being restricted by time or judgement, even just for a brief moment. My nature walk today reminded me that our world needs nature, and I will always fight to protect this earth.

Pumpkin season approaches

The semester is going by faster than I thought. Two weekends ago, I went exploring Peace Valley again with Kevin. This time instead of taking our usual hiking trail by the nature center, we went to the lake area and walked through a small valley. He was trying to find fossils by chipping the rocks with a knife. Apparently they are supposed to be more common than you’d think. He didn’t find any fossils, though he did find something close that looked like a leaf fossil with a cool pattern.

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Then the following week, my family – parents, sister, aunt, and gram – came to visit my apartment. We started with dessert: ice cream at the market. The salted caramel was delicious. Kevin was finishing up his shift and joined us for dinner at Uno’s. Obviously I had pizza with garlic. I came home super stuffed with leftovers for later.

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I started cat enrichment, which I do 2 days a week. The little kittens are so adorable and they are only nine months old. They were just recently added into the lab. The last batch of cats were adopted into homes (people who already worked with them before, like lab techs or instructors or previous cat enrichers) after about 4 or 5 years of being in the lab. Those were the cats I worked with my sophomore year. Now we have a fresh litter and there are 8 of them this time instead of 6!

My classes are going well. Though it’s still very early in the semester. My first exam is this Friday. So far my labs haven’t been too bad. They are still challenging… but a healthy amount of challenge. So far. They have also been pretty interesting. In repro we toured the school’s sheep farm and in clin-pathology we’ve been working with blood (not to sound morbid… but blood is my favorite!).

I’m so glad that the weather finally cooling down. Being stuck in a humid classroom is horrible. I’m really looking forward to graduating. Instead of buying an expensive yearbook, I decided I would make my own personalized yearbook instead. I started a project on Shutterfly and put collages together of the best photos I’ve taken during my years at Del Val. It brought all the memories right back. It’s crazy how every semester was so different, but they each had their own pros and cons, I can’t say that any semester was better or worse than the others. It’s also interesting to think about all the people that have come in and out of my life, who stayed and who drifted. When I was putting it together this weekend and thinking about all my memories, it felt so happy and so sad at the same time. Sad that the memories are gone and how people and life circumstances are always changing. But happy that I got to have all of these amazing experiences that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. It’s bittersweet but it’s something important.