It was a sad day in the middle of February 2018 when I was diagnosed with the flu. I sulked from Student Health Services back to my room in Freeman House and was left to my own devices for the rest of the week. I was required to isolate myself, so as to not spread the virus and recover in the most expedient way possible. I was initially worried about missing class, falling behind on work and just not being able to entertain myself for that long. Before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole of internet conspiracy theories that culminated with my discovery of perhaps the most fascinating, interesting topic.
It’s opening night. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., while the team and I arrived in the theater at 6 p.m. The cast warmed up then changed into costume while Morgan, Declan and I placed furniture, decor and did checks for lights and sound. As the hour approached, people began to arrive and wait in the lobby. Around 7 p.m., Morgan and I started pacing, anxiously floating between the lobby, theater space and the “hobbit hole”, a room in which the actors stay before the show.
Like many people my age, I can usually be found on my phone, texting, calling or staying updated on the lives of my Instagram followers. But when I was studying abroad in Havana, Cuba, I was rarely ever on my phone. Due to the Internet connectivity in the area where I was living, I was only able to communicate with my parents and friends by purchasing wifi cards and traveling to a wifi hotspot. The lack of Internet access was surprisingly one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad because I found myself experiencing each moment more. The downside was that I started to become a little homesick after a month of not being able to communicate consistently with my family and friends. My host family made me feel at home and like a member of their family, but I naturally still missed my friends and family.
When I was 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At the age of 8, I declared to my mother that I would be as famous as Demi Lovato, disregarding the fact that I could not sing to save my life. As my career aspirations went from astronaut to black hole specialist to journalist, I entered high school and got into the sciences. If someone looked at my high school transcript, they would assume that I was headed toward a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. They would be correct. In high school, I took advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. I wanted to be a materials scientist. Back then, nothing excited me more than spending hours in a chemistry laboratory seeing what obscure material could oxidize lead.
Mondays are THE BEST. Actually, Mondays are generally the worst, but my Mondays this semester are always a highlight of my week. My schedule on Mondays is definitely hectic. The day starts at 9 a.m. with a lecture and then I have obligations with short breaks throughout the day until 8 p.m., when I finally get to rest. You may be wondering, “Daniella, what is so great about having a Monday that's packed with things to do?” Well, like every good story this one involves a dog.
Everyone has their own way of clearing their head. Maybe that’s going for a walk, playing a game or taking a drive. For me, I turn to my yoga practice. About two years ago I discovered Buti Yoga. I immediately fell in love with this type of yoga and have been practicing it ever since. With its upbeat music and incorporated dance, it helps me release energy. Buti Yoga not only puts me in a good mood but doubles as my workout. The practice also consists of breathing awareness and patterns, creating a sense of clarity and focus in times that I am stressed or feel distracted. All these aspects of the practice have taught me how to ground myself and create a better sense of self-awareness. As someone who previously struggled with injuries from sports, this has been a healthy and healing form of exercise. Buti Yoga has led me to find not only a new passion but a healthy way to de-stress after a busy day of sitting in class.
After getting back to campus from winter break, there was one major thing on my to-do list: hold auditions. The thought of auditions didn’t stir up any anxiety, but the thought of having to select a cast from a group of amazingly talented students did. For about three hours, my team and I scribbled notes on random pieces of paper as students traipsed in and out of the room with their monologues. Halfway through the evening, I got the same feeling I get during a class when I’m the only student not taking notes. I realized I was writing without a clue about what I was supposed to be writing down. I was just scribbling because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?
For international students, choosing a college is a lot like throwing a dart in the dark. We don’t know what the college atmosphere is like. We don’t know how accessible the location is, and, most importantly, we don’t know what the weather is actually like. Why? Because we’ve never had a campus tour. Chances are the average international student has never visited the United States before either. When trying to find the right college for us, we’ve had to depend on the College’s website and whatever location-based information Google can provide. I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in an international high school in Swaziland that was on the visit list for a number of liberal arts colleges. I got to hear from admissions directors about their school’s programs, how each college environment differed from others, and what student life was like on campus.
This semester has been busy and challenging for me. I’m preparing a senior recital for the Department of Music to be presented Sunday, April 14, and I’m planning to perform my Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Senior Integrative Project as part of that recital. This decision has set a major deadline for when the majority of the projects I’m working on for senior year need to be ready to be presented. While it's daunting to realize that I’ll soon be on the stage of Evans Hall performing an hour of clarinet music and my finished project for the Ammerman Center, I’ve realized as the recital nears that preparation comes in baby steps.