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What I miss about Juniata over break (and what I’ll miss for the rest of my life)

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

It took me a long time to get homesick during my first year of college. I missed my family (especially my dog), of course, but the intense homesickness we often hear so much about just didn’t set in. I believe this is because I’ve always felt like Juniata is my home just as much as my real home is my home. I’m reminded of this fact every time I leave Juniata for fall, winter, spring, or summer break. No matter how long I’m away from Juniata—whether it’s four days or three months (or eight months when I studied abroad)—I find myself homesick for the same things.

The first thing I always miss—obviously—are my friends and loved ones at Juniata. My roommate, my significant other, my favorite professor, my friend group… these are all people Juniata has led me to. But more than missing just these people and the wonder and excitement they add to my life, I miss the social aspects of campus that simply don’t exist in my hometown. Things like bingo on the quad or waving hello to someone from my window in Cloister’s arch. I miss having everything I need less than a city block away from me; friends and support system included.

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Halfway through freshman year already?!

I can’t believe it’s already February. Time here at Juniata goes by so fast, and I have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that in a few short months, I will already be done with my freshman year of college. It has been an amazing experience so far, and as I begin tackling my second semester at Juniata, I can’t help but look back on the last six months and think about how wonderful they have been.

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My Two Worlds – Reflecting on Fall Break

Going home for the first time after being gone for two months is a weird experience to say the least. I was of course ecstatic to go home, see family and old friends, sleep in my own bed, and most importantly see my dog. Although, I couldn’t help but feel slightly conflicted when I got there. I found myself wanting to walk around campus, or go to Baker with friends. I even caught myself instinctively grabbing my dorm room key when I walked out of my house. Home is home, but Juniata is becoming my new home as well. It took me a minute to get accustomed to being home again, reverting back to an old schedule I’d had for so long. I spent four nights back in New Jersey, and Sunday came way too soon. I felt like I just left Juniata and now I was leaving all over again.

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Third time’s the charm

It is now my senior year at Juniata, and for the third time, I traveled to Quebec during fall break (October 11th to the 14th). Unlike previous years, this trip was something that I especially looking forward to for several reasons:

Fall break this year came about 2 days after the Fulbright program’s deadline. The application process was very challenging, and by far, it has been the most difficult application that I have written. I applied for a linguistics research Fulbright in Cote d’Ivoire, a project that stemmed from my internship in Strasbourg, France in the Spring of 2018. I worked diligently with a cadre of faculty members who pushed me to craft a competitive and compelling research project. The process got overwhelming and intense at times, so after the Oct. 9th deadline, I was excited to travel to Quebec and celebrate, alongside another Fulbright applicant and a friend of mine, Annaleigh Baremore.

Annaleigh and I are French club officers and worked together to plan this trip, despite meeting many obstacles. First, the Quebec trip did not occur during the previous year when Annaleigh and I were abroad. Professor Henderson who is head of the French department and also the club’s advisor was away on sabbatical. As seniors, Annaleigh and I wanted to bring this trip back, and travel to Quebec one last time. Another issue that we encountered was the high cost of transport, which almost canceled the trip. However, at the very last minute, the Office of Student of Activities gave us a minivan and two vehicles to go to Canada!

Posing for a group photo!
Posing for a group photo!

This 3rd trip to Canada was in my opinion the best because we had a diverse cadre of students. The trips were previously dominated by French speakers, but this time we had students who spoke Spanish, Korean, German and Hindi. I was happy to see them participating and learning about francophone cultures. They all tried poutine, maple syrups, all specialty of Canada. In addition, because we all shared various backgrounds, we tried other cultural foods: we went to a Korean restaurant in Montreal called Kantapia and drank some bubble tea at Chai. Once in Quebec City, we had dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and tried a delicious tapioca desert!

Although the experience was tiring, given that we had a 12hours ride back to campus, I would do it once again if could. As it is my last year at Juniata, I will be looking at various memories such as this trip to smile back on.

Fall break spent chasing waterfalls

Last week was fall break. This year it happened to line up with my older sister’s fall break which has never happened before. My mother decided we should all meet up and do a girl’s trip for a few days. We decided that Asheville, NC was a good midpoint between Huntingdon, Annapolis and New Orleans.

We started out by going shopping in the adorably artsy town that is Asheville. My mother bought so much Tupelo honey that she actually had to check her bag on the flight home. We also tried on a million pairs of shoes, several were described by my mother as ‘feeling like a butter’. Yes, apparently shoes can feel like a single butter.

My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.
My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.

Our next stop after shopping was the Asheville Pinball Museum. I’ve never been a museum person but this one was incredible. We spent hours playing old-timey pinball games and classic Pac Man and Donkey Kong arcade games.

We visited Biltmore Mansion, I saw lots of fancy tapestries and wood carvings and Mr. Biltmore’s mesmerizing library. On our way out of the Biltmore gardens, we saw a black bear about 30 seconds into a Chinese Fire Drill. I didn’t realize it until after we left, but that was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. The bear was so incredible to see that I momentarily forget my intense fear of bears.

The main reason my mother had wanted us to visit Asheville was to see the changing fall foliage. Unfortunately, the leaves were behind schedule and hadn’t started changing yet because the weather has been so crazy lately. We had to drive until at least 5000 feet above sea level to see even the slightest bit of color.

Even though we had an extreme lack of color in the foliage, we went on a driving adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find some waterfalls. My sister sang “Waterfalls” by TLC for the entire car ride but the view more than made up for it.

I never really appreciated the mountains until I came to Juniata. Growing up in Annapolis meant that I spent most of my days 39 feet above sea level, crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. My only real childhood memory of mountains is from the trip we took to the Grand Canyon when I was nine. The mountains in Asheville were incredible and lush and honestly one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.

View from Biltmore Mansion.
View from Biltmore Mansion.

The views from the Cliffs and the top of 1000 steps in Huntingdon are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the Smokey Mountains. The mountains of Huntingdon and the mountains of Asheville are vastly different and not at all what I am used to, but they are both immensely fun to explore.

I can’t wait to embrace my newfound love of mountains and spend more time exploring in Huntingdon. In conclusion, Fall Break was amazing, we did go chasing waterfalls and we did not stick to the rivers and lakes that we were used to.