It has been over a week since students left the summer programs and the campus definitely feels different without them. Last week I reached out to a couple of students for some testimonials about the time they had.
I'm about to share what Juan David Figueroa (Bogota, Colombia), Erica Dirk (Tewksbury, MA), Ted Johnston (Amherst, MA) and Sarah Gold (Warwick, RI) had to say about their Summer College experience.
"I crossed paths with these amazing people for a reason, a reason I'm still trying to figure out, but I'm sure I'll always cherish the moments we spent together and the points where our paths crossed." - Ted Johnston
There seemed to be a common theme about not knowing what to expect the first day, naturally. Erica said she "was very nervous about meeting new people" and Juan David explained how "the only people I knew when when I arrived to the campus, were my four Colombian friends". These fears disappeared within a matter of hours. Erica "learned shortly that making new friends was not going to be a problem," and she "instantly clicked and became best friends" with her roommate Usha Houeix. Juan David didn't hesitate to mention how "then almost everybody knew each other, which is great."
"I made a lot of close friendships through the college program that I know are going to last. It was very strange to leave on the last day because I had been living with the same people all day, every day for two weeks and we were now going our separate ways." - Erica Dirk
Juan David really emphasizes how "while you are studying and having a new experience, you make friends and meet awesome people." There is no major component in Summer College programs, it's all about balance. You learn more about your academic interests but at the same time meet a very diverse group of people who help you grow at a personal level.
Ted talks about how the people he "lived with for two weeks became family, we're still talking now, and sometime I hope we're all blessed with the opportunity to live with each other again" and Sarah agrees with that because she "made so many close friends in just a couple weeks which is insane and I plan on keeping in touch with them for a while".
"Going to the summer college at UMASS Amherst was one of the best decisions I've ever made, I definitely had such an amazing and unforgettable time." - Sarah Gold
Erica was amazed by the fact that everyone was so different and states that "whether [others were] living in Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, New York, China, or Colombia, I made lasting friendships."
The students enjoyed many nighttime activities which achieved this bond. As Erica says, "soccer was definitely the favorite nighttime game to play outside" and Ted adds that "not only was it a great work out but it was amazing bonding experience". Other activities took place as well, Sarah told us how "the PAs are the best people ever and stayed up late with us playing cards against humanities which was such a fun night." Erica, also states that "after curfew, we would all go into the lounge to watch a movie and play cards or play manhunt with nerf guns all through the building."
"I had a great time at UMass, I enjoyed every moment there mostly because as you know I'm Colombian and the experience was totally different for me." - Juan David Figueroa
Ted remembered when, in his program, they "did secret Santa in July, and we all got each other gifts to symbolize our growth and friendships. I learned a lot in my program, more than just environmental justice, but also about myself. " Sarah, part of the Documentary Film Making program, considers that "just the course itself was great and I learned a lot. "
All in all, students not only got a taste of what college might bring to them, but also about how life is in general. I couldn't be happier about the fact that they experienced so much.