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The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani Maney head shot in black and white

Hometown: Marblehead, Ma
Major: Psychology/Africana Studies 
Activities: Ultimate Frisbee, Improv Comedy

Favorite aspect of Connecticut College:

My favorite aspect of Conn is how welcoming the community is to new members. Early in my first semester at Conn I was walking around the green with my friends and a group of seniors approached us. They asked us if we were excited about freshman year, told us what they study, and said that if we needed anything they could help us. They showed us around campus that night. I always laugh when I think about that moment. I am still friends with the seniors I met that day. One became the mom figure in my improv comedy group, another is my leader for the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, and the last senior I met is one of my favorite baristas at the Walk-In Coffee Closet. At Conn, there is no power dynamic between senior students and first years which allows students more experienced with academics and student life to share their knowledge. The community is also small enough where you can see people you meet frequently enough to get to know them easier.

 

Favorite memory at Connecticut College:

A couple of days after moving in I saw people playing frisbee on Tempel Green, right outside of my building. I decided to ask to join, as did some of my first-year peers, and we were all terrible. I had no frisbee experience and learned the basics of how to throw. I spent a couple of hours throwing terribly, dancing, singing and making some of my now-best friends. Although my throws are much better now, my first day of frisbee is irreplaceable because it sparked my love for the sport and my team members.

 

Favorite activity in New London or the region:

Going to Muddy Waters Cafe on Bank Street, amazing desserts and lunch options.

Where Should I Live?

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

After receiving my acceptance to Conn, I was extremely excited and completely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that needed to be completed before Move-In Day. My biggest priority was to fill out the housing questionnaire about living preferences. It seemed like where I lived was a do-or-die situation. I thought there could definitely be some wrong answers, but I also did not know which ones those would be. Now I understand that there is a place for everyone on campus, and each building/location has specific benefits.

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We’re Cuban! Somos Cubanos!

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Wilfredo, Essence, Dani, and Isver on the streets of Cuba
Wilfredo, Essence, Me, and Isver on the streets of Cuba

Each time I walk into an airport I get scared–heart-pounding kind of scared. I get nervous about all the possible things that could go wrong, like losing my passport, missing my flight and the inevitability of forgetting a full water bottle in my bag before going through security. I also don’t have a ton of experience flying; I can count the number of airports I have been through on one hand. Despite these things, I have loved the idea of traveling since I was a little kid. As I get older I have wanted to see more of the United States (outside of the North East) and also to travel outside the United States. My choice to study abroad in Latin America and the Caribbean was an easy one. I have always been curious about my mother’s experience living in Colombia before she moved to the United States.

I did not grow up speaking Spanish, but my household was always full of the Spanish language. My aunts, uncles, brother and grandmother, all of whom were born and raised in Colombia, were always around. Because of this, learning Spanish has always been a goal. In an attempt to combine my Africana studies major with my desire to learn Spanish, I applied to study abroad at the Autonomous University of Social Movements (AUSM) in Havana, Cuba. The program adopts a social justice framework for learning abroad. An integral component of the AUSM study abroad experience is the homestay with Cuban families, which was my favorite part of the whole experience.

After facing my fear and making the relatively short flight from Boston Logan International Airport to the José Martí International Airport in Havana, I was met by the director of the Cuban program Daisy Rojas who told me and my roommate, Essence, to follow her to a taxi outside. Essence and I were both wide-eyed during the short drive to the municipality Marianao, where we stayed for our whole trip. In Marianao, I met my host family. My host family was big. Not only did a lot of family members live in my house, but my host family was so popular that there was a constant influx of neighbors, relatives and hairstyling clients.

My host family consisted of nine people: grandparents Lidia and Ariel; their son Wilfredo and his partner Isver; Ariel and Lidia’s daughter, Mercedes, and her husband; along with their sons, Dariel and Liam, and Liam’s wife, Leidi. Almost every day I spent breakfast, lunch and dinner with my host family. At first, my roommate and I spoke minimal Spanish and although my host family was extremely welcoming, it was sometimes awkward not being able to communicate. I was encouraged every day to practice my Spanish, and eventually I was able to understand almost everything in my day-to-day conversations. After a couple of weeks, I truly felt like a member of the family. Not only would we eat meals together (the home-cooked meals were the best meals I had abroad) but we also watched TV together, walked along the streets in our city together,  picked up groceries together, or just chatted about life and politics. Essence and I would often joke and say “Somos Cubanos!”, which means “We’re Cubans!”, to which the host family would reply “Somos Cubanos!”

My host family and I laughed together, cried together, danced together and celebrated birthdays together. We threw a send-off celebration for our host brother when he left to live in the United States and told stories about our lives. Although it is difficult to describe in a short post how much my Cuban family meant to me, I am certain that they are some of the biggest-hearted and hardest working people I have met. They are always there for each other, their neighbors, American students and whoever else happens upon their house on 100 and 61st Street. Leaving my host family, without knowing for certain when I can return, was difficult, to say the least, but I now feel that Soy Cubana (I am Cuban) and I can't wait to travel back soon. 


Left to Right: Wilfredo, Isver, Leidi, Chino, Merci, my dad Charlie, my mom Martha, Me, Essence, Lidia, and Ariel

 

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Were Not in Kansas Anymore: Reaching Virginia

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Mark and Samuel pose in front of a stick on wall graphic of a University of Virginia football player
Mark and Samuel pose in front of a wall sticker of a University of Virginia football player

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. This is the final post in a series of pieces about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

It was tough waking up with an achy back again but even tougher realizing that this was the final day of our road trip. All of our planning, saving, spending, and hanging out together was coming to an end. David had a shift at the vegan restaurant in the morning so we all thanked him and said goodbye. Then we got ready to leave mainly because it’s weird being in someone’s house when they're not there but also because we had to get a move on if we were going to experience our last taste of Nashville. It takes an estimated eight hours to drive from Nashville to Charlottesville, Virginia. After driving for twelve days you understand that Google Maps can’t account for all of the stops and traffic that you will hit so we knew it would take longer than that. We decided to go down to the tourist section of Nashville called Broadway Street before departing. 

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Ultimate Spring Break

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Practicing my throws

In the beginning of my first semester at Conn, I joined the club Ultimate Frisbee team, and even though the spring tournaments Riptide and High Tide were months away, returning team members talked constantly about how great spring break was going to be. So I knew I was in for a fun time when I set out to spend my spring break with 40 of my friends.

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The Walk-in Coffee Closet

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Posing with some of the chalkboard art I created.

The Walk-in Coffee Closet at Ruane’s Den has served as my home away from home since my very first day at Conn. Living in Harkness House, I have the luxury of being able to leave my room and be right at the entrance of the Walk-in, located on the first floor of my building. The Walk-in has been my lifeline. They serve (in my opinion) the best drinks on campus, and they have a variety of pasta dishes, paninis and snacks that are always there for me when I don't feel like walking to Harris Refectory, the largest dining hall on campus. The Walk-in is also one of my favorite places to study because the atmosphere reminds me of my favorite coffee shop at home, and they have the comfiest chairs on campus.

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Sweaty Clothes

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Having fun in the equipment room

My Sundays start like every other Conn student’s, with moving sweaty clothes from a large blue bin to a slightly smaller washing machine—only they’re not my clothes. How did I get myself into doing other people's laundry? The summer before my first semester at Conn I knew I was going to be involved in the Federal Work-Study program, which helps students who receive financial aid get jobs on campus to further reduce the cost of being a college student. I emailed Kelsey Lengyel-Jacovich, the manager of the Athletic Center, and asked her about available jobs for the upcoming semester. There were multiple jobs open so I decided to take on three different positions: ID checker, equipment room staff, and game crew. In my three roles, I work at the front desk greeting people and checking them in. I wash practice and gameday clothes for in-season athletes, and I assist with setup and other miscellaneous tasks to keep the games running smoothly.

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Riot Grrrls!

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

On the first day of my first year at Conn I was intent on declaring a double major in Art and Chemistry. Things don’t always turn out how you planned. I am now a double major in Psychology and Africana Studies and minoring in Gender and Women’s Studies. This change was a result of finding interests I did not know I had and connecting with students and faculty in each major. Despite not being an Art major, there are still a lot of opportunities for me to produce art and share it around campus. I often draw in my room while I am (mildly) procrastinating or as a way to de-stress. If I like what I make, I sometimes post it on Instagram and Facebook. Three seniors at Conn, Gabby Schlein, Catherine Healey, and Katie Soricelli, saw some of my drawings and asked me to produce a few pieces for their senior theater capstone. Senior capstones are final projects that are the culmination of a senior’s work in their major. Capstones are great because they give people outside of the major an opportunity to be involved in and meet new people in different areas.

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Museums On Campus

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum

I recently completed an art history ConnCourse called Mona Lisa to Instagram, taught by Professor Karen Gonzalez-Rice, which focused on historical artists such as Leonardo da Vinci to contemporary artists like Kara Walker. In the final weeks of class, we studied Impressionism and Postimpressionism, and instead of viewing the examples on a projector, which can alter the coloration and size of art, Professor Gonzalez-Rice took us to view The Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s permanent collection of 18th through 20th century art.

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I am a Tempest

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

WE Headshots used as promotion for the show on Facebook

Since coming to Conn, I have become a professional novice, frequently trying out new experiences to find my place within the community. My first semester here I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and tried out for the improv comedy group N2O. Second semester I tried out for “She is a Tempest,” the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative’s annual show.

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Honing a passion for art

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

As a kid, I spent a lot of time in a home that looked straight out of Country Home and Living Magazine, with many wicker baskets and an odd number of duck sculptures and paintings. (I counted once and made it to double digits for ducks/items with ducks on them.) I would meander around this home while eating blueberry pie, admiring the immense gallery of artwork that my grandma created over her 95 years of life. Her quaint yellow country home is where my love of art started.

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Day: 11 Last Day Already?

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

I woke up a little achy from our on-the-grounded sleeping setup. I hadn’t slept that much because I was uncomfortable so I needed to take a nap on David’s bed to recharge. I am a notoriously great sleeper. I take many short naps at Conn when I have downtime. But I ended up falling asleep for a majority of the day and woke up around dinner time.

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Day 9: Memphis

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Samuel navigates on his phone while Mark drives the car through Memphis.
Mark at the wheel and Samuel at the navigation station.

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

I drove from Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee, in the morning. It was another quick drive, and arguably the prettiest. I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road because we were driving through valleys with open fields and hundreds of bulls walking around, eating grass, and laying under canopies of trees. We arrived in Memphis at around 3 p.m., the earliest we have ever arrived at a hotel. I was wiped out from a bout of insomnia the night before so I decided to take a quick nap... that happened to be two-hours-long. I woke up hungry, like always, so I looked up barbecue places in Memphis. A restaurant called Central BBQ in downtown caught my eye. It was 20 minutes from our hotel and we decided it was worth the drive because we needed to get authentic barbeque while in the south. The restaurant was great. They made their own ghost pepper hot sauce. We decided to get a slab of ribs which comes with four sides. We got green beans, homemade pork rinds, mac ‘n cheese, and onion rings. Mark said, "That was the quickest meal of my whole life," because we wolfed down the meal in probably seven minutes.

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Day 8: Red Dresses and Mississippi Music

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Male and female runners done red dresses in the streets of New Orleans for the annual Red Dress Run.
At first, this was a confusing sight.

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

Our second day in New Orleans managed to be even crazier than the first. When we arrived back in the French Quarter, we immediately realized that there was a big event happening on account of the many people parading around the streets in red dresses. Coincidentally, our visit happened to be on the same day as the Red Dress Run. The Red Dress Run, according to New Orleans Online, is organized by a group that is a "self-proclaimed drinking club with a running problem." It was definitely a hilarious sight to see hundreds of tipsy men and women running around in red dresses through the streets of New Orleans for charity. This event was awesome to see and really brought the New Orleans energy that I had missed our first day exploring the city. We danced through the streets to songs blasting from the huge portable speakers of runners. Our soundtrack of the day consisted of songs like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard and "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls. We wove our way through the crowd back to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo for Mark to buy a box of Tarot Cards, which he decided was worth it (he says he's going to use them at Connecticut College all of the time) and I bought a sticker for my fridge at school.

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Day 7: A New Orleans American Horror Story

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani poses in front of the mansion featured in the television series American Horror Story.
Posing in front of the Buckner Mansion, even in broad daylight, was slightly freaky.

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

Day seven was my day for sure. We finally arrived at my choice of destination: New Orleans. As I mentioned in this previous blog post, I picked New Orleans for a lot of reasons like its history with Voodoo and Haitian culture. I wrote my first essay in college about colonialism and its influence on Louisiana Voodoo culture for my Natives and Newcomers ConnCourse. I had some difficulty finding sources to fuel my research for the paper so I hoped to learn more about Voodoo and its history from our visit to the city. I also wanted to visit New Orleans for the food. With creole seafood and delicious desserts, I knew that this place was meant for me to experience. I have always found the energy around New Orleans enticing, stemming from the excitement around Mardi Gras and all of the stories I have heard from family members. Lastly, one of my favorite seasons of the show “American Horror Story: Coven was filmed in New Orleans. Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates star in Coven alongside my idol Stevie Nicks.

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Day 6: Our Longest Drive Yet

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani and Samuel take a selfie in the car leaving Oklahoma City
Peace out OKC

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

Day six was one of the longest drives of my life. It was comparable to my spring break return trip with the Conn Club Ultimate Frisbee team from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Acton, Massachusetts, which took 12 hours and 40 minutes. Leaving from Oklahoma City, we had a 10 1/2-hour-long drive ahead of us, a tough feat after driving consistently for a week. However, it was a trip we were excited to embark on because we had our eyes set on the prize destinations of Dallas and New Orleans. This was definitely the longest drive of our trip so far. The second longest was from Neptune, New Jersey, to Columbus, Ohio, which took a total of nine hours. Many of these times are projected by Google. It's hard to remember how long our drives actually were because when you account for gas, bathroom, and food you add at least an hour or two to each trip.

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Day 5: Accepting Postcards from Kansas

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani posing in front of miles of corn fields.
A corny photoshoot

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

I started my day at 9:30 a.m. (which feels both early and late) by running circles around the parking lot of the La Quinta Hotel. 

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Day 3: History and Heights

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Dani takes a selfie at the bottom of the Arch with an

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

The curtains covering giant windows overlooking Saint Louis were flung open by Mark as a cue for Samuel and I to wake up and smell the coffee that was freshly brewing on the dresser. Our main objective in Saint Louis was to walk the 630 feet up to the top of the Saint Louis Arch, which is actually the same distance wide as it is tall. But before we started this trek, we went to the Old Courthouse across from the hotel, which the night before I noticed was on "Dred Scott Street." I had a flashback to my junior year of high school when we studied the Dred Scott v. Sandford in AP U.S. History. At the Old Courthouse I got a refresher on the case, in which Saint Louis resident Dred Scott sued for his freedom from slavery. It was amazing to be in the exact room that the lawsuit was first brought to the court, and to read all of the museum-like plaques about Dred Scott and his wife Harriet Scott.

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Day 10: Coffee, Vegan Food, and a Dog!

- The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20  - The Experience, Daniella Maney ’20

Bloggers Daniella Maney, ‘20 and Mark McPhillips, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1)

Sleeping in places you're not accustomed to is always a little strange and sometimes scary because you're stepping out of your comfort zone. Being woken up by the sound of a loud fire alarm in one of those strange places is even more frightening. The hotel staff did a great job getting everyone to evacuate their rooms and told us that the source of the alarm was some severely burned toast made by a guest. I found this hysterical and laughed about it for a while but also, as my friends and my family know, I am not a morning person. If I’m going to wake up early I usually prefer a more gentle approach. The fire department arrived and found the burnt toast story funny, and we were let back into our room. We decided that since we were already up we might as well get ready to go to our next destination, which was one of our big ones, Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville was Samuel’s choice because of his love of music (ask him about Patti Smith). We were set up to stay with Mark’s friend David, who he met at summer camp. On the way to Nashville we experienced another downpour. This time Mark was driving and I was backseat driving trying to make sure he didn't hydroplane because that's one of my driving fears.

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