By Hana Shamaa
Watching the fields pass in a blur and rain drops slide down the spotted train window, realization dawns upon me. No longer will I have the freedom to spend time with friends at a cafe in downtown Cairo at any time of day, no longer will I be able to ask my parents for the traditional Egyptian dishes I crave like no other, no longer will I spend the quality time with my family that serves as a reminder for what is most important. That is, no longer until June. The dread of facing deadlines, late night cramming and waking up early grows with every passing minute. However, with all this negativity come many silver linings. The reuniting with friends, the Tuesday night dancing in Elliott and being surrounded by those who understand the charm of UCR. It is not easy to become fully immersed in the UCR sphere after coming back from a long break or newly joining the community and it is very easy to reduce the environment to “boring”, but there are many ways to involve ourselves in the community and make long lasting memories of our short time here.
Noticeably our community of students is on the smaller-scale, but this does not mean that it lacks in extracurricular opportunities. With societies like SportsCo, Cooking Society, Theatra, R.A.W and several more, everyone’s interests are more than likely met. According to each person’s interest, there will be a group of people that share the same one. By joining a society that speaks to you, your feeling of belonging could increase tremendously. If you are looking for a good social experience without necessarily joining a society, Elliott’s Tuesday and Thursday parties are good opportunities to get to know other students and share a drink or two. There are also a few external parties organized throughout the year which are more popular among UCR students, such as a Halloween party, the fall semester’s Winter Gala, the spring semester’s End of Term party and several Intro/Gradweek parties. Student-led trip teams also give students the opportunity to explore the world beyond Middelburg. The Ski-Trip Team, as the name suggests, organizes an annual ski trip. The Summer-Trip Team gives students the chance to discover new cities at reasonable price points. These trips are wonderful occasions during which stronger bonds can be made between those participating.
Aside from activities and fun events, UCR is first and foremost an academic environment. Therefore, those of you who are more engrossed in your studies can also find ways of becoming more integrated within the community. The Elliott Mensa is an ideal environment for a mix of focus and socializing but may not be the quietest of areas at times. Accordingly, Eleanor would be the place to go for a quieter work space, while still being surrounded by students and an opportunity to interact with other people.
All things considered, while at times it may seem like UCR and Middelburg might not offer a substantial number of things to do and social experiences, the opportunities are there. If the majority of students made use of such opportunities the social sphere could become much more enjoyable for everyone, and our memories of UCR could be the best memories of our lives.
Hana: class of 2020, is an interdepartmental major in literature history and politics, from Cairo, Egypt
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