After spending two long years at UR, I decided that maybe it was time for a little change of pace. As it turns out, I’m happy I came here as opposed to some of the other colleges I was considering, but at times I wonder what possessed me to choose a school located in a place with only 170 days of sun per year compared to the national average of 213. Forty-three days may not seem like a lot, but when you haven’t seen the sun in a week, those 43 days are sorely missed. It’s not really the weather that’s causing me to look for a change, rather it’s where I am in my college career that makes me want to switch gears for a little bit.

When you’re a freshman, everything about college is new and exciting. You meet tons of people, you’re not living at home anymore and most people find themselves in a completely different environment from high school – you’re floating on cloud nine and you think the rest of college is going to be just as amazing as that first year. Unfortunately, as many students find out once they come back for their second year, things are a little different.

Unless you’re a pre-med, pre-engineer or in another course-heavy track, in freshman year you can pretty much take a whole array of classes and not have to worry too much about pursuing anything in particular – you can be carefree and “undecided.” But the end of sophomore year marks that dreaded milestone – deciding a major. If you’re lucky, you find your major early on during sophomore year so that you can start taking all of the right classes. For many students, though, picking a major is a process of trial and elimination. Also, grades really start to matter.

Many sophomores, myself included, find themselves in a slump the entire year. Life at UR can be so incredibly monotonous. You go to class, you do work each night, you go out to the same places every weekend and repeat this cycle until some holiday or special event comes along and you get a little bit of variation.

It was in the middle of my sophomore slump that I decided I was going to look into escaping UR for a semester my junior year. I didn’t want to spend another nine months going through the motions with nothing to look forward to – it’s time to experience something new, and living in another country in a completely different culture seems like the perfect answer. Since this year the study abroad program received the most applicants ever, I know other students must be feeling the same way, and more students are catching on to the idea that moving to another continent for a couple of months will provide the excitement that they’ve been yearning for.

Ultimately it’s not really about running away from the monotony or even the weather – as it turns out, I’m going to a country that probably has even less sunshine than Rochester – it’s really running toward a whole new set of adventures and great additions to the college years. That’s what going abroad is all about. College is supposed to the best years of our lives, but no one said you have to spend all four years in the same place.

Weintraub is a member of the class of 2008.



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