And with a final swipe of my student ID, I have clocked out of work for the last time this semester and at this time tomorrow I will be on a train heading home for three weeks. This semester was a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. Academically speaking, I began and successfully completed my first kitchen class, finished my foreign language requirement after passing Spanish 2, created an entire employee handbook as my final project for Human Resource Management, and I took my first ever psychology class. While my classes definitely made an impact on me this semester, it was all of the events, programs and experiences that happened outside of a class setting that really made this semester so unforgettable.
My first semester on campus I didn’t really get involved in anything and I wanted to change that, so this semester I went forward with the mentality of saying yes to every experience that sounded fun or interesting. The first step I took toward putting myself out there was to look for stages. The concept of a stage originated in France (stagiaire is French for trainee or intern) and it is simply an unpaid internship for a set amount of time where a cook or chef works briefly, for free, in another chef's kitchen to learn and be exposed to new techniques and cuisines. I did two, one daylong stages in New York City over the course of this semester. My first one was at a restaurant namedilili. It is a Lebanese-Mediterranean restaurant located in New York’s Flatiron District. My second stage was at Dominique Ansel’s Kitchen in the West Village of New York City. Both of these experiences were eye opening in their own ways. At ilili I was able to experience desserts from a cuisine that I had never even tried before. It also opened my eyes to just how small and crammed kitchens in New York City truly were. My time at Dominique Ansel’s Kitchen was eye opening in a different way. The kitchen was still crammed, so that wasn’t a surprise, but my time there made me realize that I really wanted to go into plated desserts and not a bakery route. Until that point I still had some indecision about which path to pursue and that experience helped me to solidify my decision.
Another way I became more actively involved on campus was with Dr. JJ and Nathan. Both of these guys do amazing things around campus and I have had the opportunity to work with them multiple times. Nathan mainly does the large events on campus along with any of the SPICE programs. I had helped him organize and set up the Cook(ie) Off in December before Winter Break and I volunteered to help him again this semester to organize the annual Chili Cook Off on campus. Dr. JJ does more small-scale events around campus. This semester I helped him prepare the food for a few of his Comfort Food programs and at the end of this semester myself and a few other volunteers spent 10 hours with him preparing and serving food for his Late Night Breakfast program. I love working with both Nathan and Dr. JJ because I get to see different sides of event planning and I truly enjoy helping organize these events.
Along with classes and volunteering I also hold a couple of jobs on campus. I have been involved with the Catering department on campus since last September picking up random events here and there and last semester I also started working with the CE department so I could have more regular hours and it also allowed me to work in a kitchen, which I loved. This semester I also started another job at Post Road Brew House, and it has definitely opened me up to new experiences and possibilities. I never thought I would ever be trusted with so much responsibility and respect in a kitchen, especially not at 19 and yet here I am.
In those few rare moments when I am not running from class to work or vice versa, I have managed to get off campus a few times for some of the trips they offer through our Student Life department. On one of these trips I went to see my first Broadway Play and loved it. I am now looking forward to the next Broadway Show they offer; I am hoping it will be Lion King. We also went snow tubing, which was an adventure in itself, due to a few of the students getting sick along the way and my roommate flying out of her tube where she landed on an ice patch hitting her head pretty hard. And most recently I went rock wall climbing on St. Patrick’s Day. I have never done something that was so physically exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I have a huge fear of heights and that was the hardest thing for me to get over, but eventually I got so absorbed in climbing that the height didn’t even faze me.
Overall, I would say that this semester has been a huge success. I have learned many things about myself that I never could have even imagined, and I have made so many amazing friends along the way. Opportunities I could have never expected presented themselves to me, and to the shock of myself and those close to me, I said yes to almost every single one. I am not saying that it easy to push yourself outside of your comfort zone but at least for me, it was definitely worth it. Now, I have three weeks at home to refresh myself and reconnect with those I love and then it is off to start my next adventure!
~ Remember to Smile :)