My first winter break as a college student was an odd one to say the least. There were many different reasons that this break was different then every other one I have ever had.
To start, winter break in college is a month long which coming in as a freshman is a weird transition compared to the two weeks that you get in K-12 schooling. So, adjusting to have such a long period of time off was interesting but also a challenge. It was a challenge because I had to learn how to keep myself busy for a month. With no school it can be hard at times to find something to occupy my time. I decided to work 20 hours a week during the break so that I could make some extra money. Then the rest of the day I would spend either relaxing or play videogames. It was a good routine for me but then everything changed once New Year’s Eve came around.
My dad at the beginning of that week was feeling a little out of it and I thought he was just exhausted. He was good the next day but then he said he felt sick. Of course, in the year of 2020 I initially thought that he had COVID-19. I personally was worried for him and the rest of my family, but I was not worried about myself because I was exposed to the virus in September and from what I have read the antibodies last around 8 months. But then I thought well he could just be sick. I think everyone forgets that you can still get a cold these days. He got tested the next day this was on 12/30 and he tested positive for
COVID-19 and that’s when this crazy 10 days all started.
The next day my mom, sister, and I all got tested for COVID-19 and the only person that tested positive was my mom. So, I thought that they would isolate in their room for 10 days like I did when I got it. But I was wrong. My sister and I ended up moving our things over to my grandparent’s house who were in Florida on vacation. A whole house to we, something I have never had to experience before. Although I did think I was up to the challenge to running a house and helping and doing all the things that you do when you own a house.
I learned a lot of things from this experience. I learned that I would have to do almost everything around the house. Now I have had chores at my house before and I thought that it was a lot but after this experience I realized just how much more there is to do. All the driving I had to do. I had to get groceries had to pick up all sorts of different things that were needed and I realized just how important these things are.
Anyways the 10 days could not have taken longer I had gained more respect for my parents because it was not easy to keep track of everything and it gave me a sense of what to expect in the future. We were able to come back to our house on January 9th and that happened to be my birthday. So, I spent my 19th birthday unpacking then repacking to come back down to school the next day then I had to finish up a project with my dad and get a haircut. To say the least I had a very busy birthday, but it was alright because I got to see my parents again and I was glad things were getting back to the way that they were before the 10 days.
I am not sure how much more eventful the end of a winter break could be, but I am sure it could get worse than that. To sum this up, I will never forget the first ever winter break I had as a college student and I will remember that break forever.
Experiencing the Disney College Program
Since I was in high-school, I had a goal of completing the Disney College Program. I did so much research on the program, talked to former participants and even met with a program director while on a trip to Disney World to gain more insight. For those who do not know, the Disney College Program (DCP) is a paid internship ranging from a semester to six months long, where college students from around the world can work at The Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort.
This internship is extremely competitive and has around a 25% acceptance rate. I applied a total of three times for this internship and the third time was finally the charm. After filling out the initial application, I then moved on to the online personality test and then after passing that, I participated in a phone interview with a DCP recruiter.
I was ecstatic when I received the email that I would be going to work at my favorite place Walt Disney World, and all of my hard work and dedication had paid off. I would not know my exact location until the first training day, and I would not meet my roommates until I arrived. I was excited, nervous, but ready for the adventure to come!
My program was the fall program which goes from January to May 2020. I flew to Orlando with my parents a few days before my apartment check in date to enjoy Disney Springs and spend quality time before they would leave me with my roommates. Then came check-in day. I got my official program ID and was told I would have SEVEN roommates and was in an 8-person, 4-bedroom apartment. I was surprised to have that many roommates but was looking forward to meeting the other girls. After moving in, the next event was a huge welcome party put on by the DCP staff. We had Disney characters, a DJ, food, prizes and a ton of dancing and singing. It was off to an awesome start!
All Disney cast members must go through the Disney Traditions class at Disney University located behind Magic Kingdom. In this class we learned about Disney as a business, expectations, company culture and the four keys (now five): safety, courtesy, show and efficiency (inclusion is the fifth that was just added). After Traditions, it was finally time to learn my exact role and location and start on the job training at EPCOT where I would be working. I was an attractions cast member and worked at the Journey Into Imagination ride and the Magic Eye Theater where the PIXAR shorts are shown. I also occasionally worked fireworks FastPass+ at the World Showcase for the “EPCOT Forever” show.
I really enjoyed my role because I was able to interact with guests of all ages from around the world. I especially loved talking with the young kids because kids always have the best time at Disney. I was also working at EPCOT during the massive transformation going on and got to walk through the park in the early morning and at close and see the Imagineers hard at work on the new attractions, such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Besides the amazing opportunity to work for The Walt Disney Company and wear the Disney name tag with Illinois State University written underneath my name, I am thankful for the once in a lifetime opportunities I had during my time in the DCP. I was able to experience behind the scenes tours of Disney attractions, take advantage of special Disney offerings like horseback riding and swimming with dolphins at a cast member discount and meet seven great friends who I still talk to every day.
My program was cut two months short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I can say that I made the most of my time there and made so many memories. I plan to pursue future career opportunities with The Walt Disney Company.
Technology Rules Society Today
In my opinion, technology rules society today. Many of us try to deny our attachments or loyalties to our devices and the content on them; but sometimes it’s just not true. The biggest influencer on our constant checking of social media may just be our present global situation. The current status of the COVID-19 pandemic is the topic of almost every news station, reporter, writer, and any informative outlet that we have access to on a daily basis. Another opinion that I feel may be shared with others is this: it can be draining. The urge to feel informed or stay updated on the current national disaster we are enduring is creating an equally disturbing toll, but on the mental health of people of all ages. With this in mind, I’ve taken time to think about my time in Illinois State during this pandemic.
I have been fortunate enough to experience my freshman year with some shreds of normalcy. I am able to reside in Watterson Towers with my roommate and long-time best friend. I have made some amazing friends, who I envision to stay close with even after our time here is done. I have not been able to experience the typical face to face class time, but all online courses instead. I am able to go to the Rec Center to workout, the Bone Center to study, and participate in activities on the quad. My altogether lifestyle has changed. No longer am I in the world of high school, where all your time is planned. I am responsible for my schedule and how I manage my time, skills that I will need relentlessly in my future. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a support system where we all have each other’s backs, even when all 4 of us are confused together. Needless to say – I’ve learned a lot.
My final point comes to this: these current times are a learning experience. I see it as a time to change how you do things, but for the better. Learn to spend less time on your phone, scrolling through endless articles on the vaccine that we may, or may not have in three months. Set aside time for homework, studying, or even reading. Prioritize spending time with the people that make you happiest; this can be friends or family. Another plus of college is that you can find chosen family, or the ones who may not be your relation but have become the closest thing to it. Embrace your passions! I am so excited to be a part of the COB Social Media team, mainly because it has given me the chance to explore what I hope to be my future. This has given me a positive and exciting reason to look forward to my weekly schedule, even if it is a little different than it used to be.
In some way, we are all struggling in at least one way. As we get closer to the end of 2020 with the hopes of a better 2021, the best thing to keep in mind is mindset. By keeping an eye on the positive experiences and lessons developed today, we can all be on track to a much brighter tomorrow.