Fleeting: uncovering the richness of the summer with little time to spare

Before I had even left Tucson for my cool, green riverside dorm in Rochester, I knew my time in the REU program would be brief. When my friends and family inquired about my summer plans I would say “I’ll be in New York for 10 weeks, but I know it will just fly by.” With barely 2 weeks left I can honestly say I was right.

Last Thursday, as my friends and I ate lunch together, the thought dawned on me that our time was almost up. The warm sunshine shone on their faces as I surveyed the group. They were so wonderful to me, and I was saddened to think our time left together was so short.

My friends and me at a Buddhist temple in Canada

My friends and me at a Buddhist temple in Canada

Those friends were a small sampling of all the amazing people I have met and interacted with since the start of the program. I have gotten to know a couple of them fairly well, but others I am only just beginning to learn about. A sense of urgency has come over me and encouraged me to spend time with the gems I may have neglected thus far. In some cases it may be too late for this.

The red flag with the white circle in the middle is the Tunisian flag. It hangs in the U of R just for Anis!

The red flag with the white circle in the middle is the Tunisian flag. It hangs in Wilson Commons at the U of R just for Anis!

Take my friend Anis for example. We have lived in the same building all summer and yet I only really met him a week or two ago. He was funny and abnormally passionate about the kazoo. He kept several on his person at all times and would stress the importance of practice in order to become a kazoo master. However, I discovered the joy of his presence all too late. Yesterday morning he left to return to his home in Tunisia, Africa for 20 days. Just before he left, he bestowed upon me a golden kazoo as a parting gift (okay so it is not real gold, but it is still so precious in my heart). For him I promised to sing the iconic Lion King song “The Circle of Life” (mostly jokingly since he said people usually stereotype African culture). But just like that he was gone. I’ll probably never see him again… In fact I probably won’t see anyone from the program except Rachel again.

The "golden" kazoo Anis gave me

The “golden” kazoo Anis gave me

Some of my other friends are from different countries as well. Tunisia is one example. Brazil and Mexico are the others. They have invited me to visit them – and believe me I would absolutely love to – but finding the time and money to travel the world will surely prove problematic. Even making my way back to New York after this could be a definite challenge.

Amber and me petting a horse at the farmer's market

Amber and me petting a horse at the farmer’s market

So now I feel a pressure to cram the rest of my time here with fun activities and bonding and new experiences. I want to make the most of what’s left of the program. I saw the first two Lord of the Rings movies for the first time, I went to Niagara Falls, I saw Shakespeare in the park, I went bouldering, I went to the farmer’s market, and I even started a band (it is called Stephanie and the Bandits, and it is sure to be wildly successful). I want to grab at any opportunity that arises. Sure I may be sleeping less, but

what’s life if you don’t live it?


Stephanie is currently an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. She is studying optical science and engineering. For the summer of 2014 she is participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Rochester. Her favorite hobbies are singing and creating YouTube videos.

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