Gap Year Part 2: Time is Flying!

Hey everyone!

Things have gotten super busy since my last post! I'm still working at the dry cleaner, but now in addition I have lots of extra stuff too.

I recently started volunteering at my local Red Cross Blood Donation center and the Rochester Museum and Science Center on the weekends. Volunteering was something that I didn't have much time for in high school, so I wanted to use my gap year as an opportunity to start. Although it often means I have to get up early on Saturdays, I really enjoy meeting new people through these jobs, and it feels nice to know that I am helping my community in a small way.

I'm also taking a couple iof evening classes at my community college, MCC. When I decided to take classes, I wanted to choose ones that I could get something useful out of that also had nothing to do with engineering. The two courses I decided on were ASL101 (American Sign Language) and Public Speaking.

I liked the idea of taking ASL because I wanted to take a language this year. I was originally going to take French, but the level that I wanted to take was not available for the spring semester. ASL appealed to me because it is a very different kind of language than written ones. I really enjoy the immersion approach that my professor uses too. We are not allowed to speak while class is in session. Instead, we have to use signs and notes to communicate. As well as learning the language, I feel like I am learning to take myself a little less seriously because it is important to use facial expressions as well as signs to convey meaning in ASL. Some of the facial expressions feel strange or forced when you first try them, but it is important to be able to laugh at yourself if you do it wrong and to relax.

Public Speaking is probably my favorite of the two courses. I can be pretty shy, so speaking in front of a group is challenging. I get nervous and shaky when I have to present to a large group, so I decided to take this class to improve and gain confidence. I have already learned to relax more in front of a group, and I am learning a lot about the preparation and hard work that goes into presenting a great speech. The best part, however, is listening to my classmates share their stories on speech day. Their speeches range from funny to sad to inspiring, and I love listening to every single one of them.

Through public speaking, I found out about the Otis Young Motivational Speak-off, which is a speech contest held in the spring. Current and former students who took Public Speaking at MCC are able to audition for an honors competitive speaking course that prepares them for the speak-off. I auditioned recently and was offered a place in the class, so I am super excited to start! Although I would love to win, I am most looking forward to further sharpening my speaking skills. Hopefully I'll be a pro by the time I get to Olin!  

Another pretty major thing is that I got to go to Candidates Weekend last month! It was so much fun! I got to meet some awesome students and candidates as well as get to hang out with a couple fellow gappies, Matthew and Duncan. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go and share my gap year experience. Candidates Weekend when I was a candidate was one of the best weekends I had last year, and it was just as great this year to attend as a gappie. I wish all the candidates the best of luck as letters from colleges start to come in! Visiting Olin for the weekend has made me even more impatient to go!

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I did a little reading up on Olin prior to CW

Along with school, work, volunteering, and CW, I still have a little time to have fun too. In January, my boyfriend, Tim, and I drove to Boston to visit my cousins in Natick and look at BU and Northeastern as possible schools to transfer to after he finishes at MCC (even though it was still holiday break at Olin, we stopped by and said hi!).

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My cousin Ava showing Tim her "chompers"

We also went to a St Vincent concert last week which was amazing! Also, my friends who are out of town at college are having their spring breaks right around this time, and it's exciting to see them again! So yeah I've been really busy lately...

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St Vincent!!!

Even though I am excited to start at Olin as a student, I am also enjoying the time I have left at home. Time has been going by so quickly. As fun as it is to imagine the future, it is also important to appreciate the present. I am so grateful for the extra year I have at home to be with the people (and dogs) I love, to try new things, and to explore my interests. Things have been pretty great this year!

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I'm so glad I get to spend another year with my Zoë!

Until next time,

Ariana

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