Before this summer if someone had asked me where I would love to visit, the University of Alabama would most likely be the very last place on my list — down there with cattle herding in Brazil. In Alabama there is a bitter rivalry between Auburn and Alabama football fans that runs as deep as the ocean, and I happen to fall onto the Auburn side. This rivalry sounds a bit silly, but the fans take this very seriously.
However, at the beginning of June, I found myself packing in preparation to move into Rose Towers, a residential hall at the University of Alabama, for five weeks. The Rural Health Scholars Program, the reason why I temporarily relocated to ‘enemy territory,’ is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It gives rural high school students considering a medical profession a chance to see what it is really like to be a doctor.
All of that being said, I was much more than slightly nervous about moving into a two-bedroom apartment with two strangers and sharing all of my experiences with twenty-six other teenagers. On June third, my parents left me alone at Rose Towers with those twenty-six teenagers and five college counselors. I was four and a half hours away from home, and I was terrified.
I spent most of the first night there unpacking all of my things, eagerly anticipating what my creative writing and chemistry classes would be like. Would my professors be nice? Would I get alone with the kids in my class? It felt like kindergarten all over again. The time when I was not unpacking, I was spending time getting to know my roommates Caitlyn and Quachetta, who seemed to be pretty nice.
The next day, our group of scholars filed to the registration building in order to obtain the things we needed to function in Tuscaloosa. After that, all twenty-seven of us attended our two classes and ate lunch together. Nothing really spectacular happened on the second day until eight o’clock that night.
Mrs. Cynthia Moore, the woman responsible for organizing the program and all of its activities, set up an ice cream social so all of the scholars could become more acquainted with one another. When I and my roommates walked down the hall to the area where the social was being held, we heard a lot of loud rap music and boisterous laughter. Upon further investigation, we discovered the source of the noise was one of the apartments down the hall overflowing with all kinds of people.
In a room approximately the size of a one-car garage, there were about thirty people dancing choreographed steps to the rap songs. As soon as we took one step through the doorway, we were immediately surrounded by the mob of jumping bodies. All of the people in the apartment were so polite and offered to teach the three of us the dances they were doing.
I, not being particularly gifted in the art of dance, took a few minutes longer to learn the dances than the average person in that room. Eventually though, every person new to the room learned the choreography and was dancing along to the music. It was a moment like those seen in movies — ”the ultimate bonding experience, all due to a little music playing in an apartment.Over the next four and a half weeks, not only did I learn about chemistry and creative writing, but I also learned about life.
The bond among the scholars and counselors of the program continued to grow with not only with our movie nights and game nights, but it also grew with our commons crises (such as realizing that you need to print off your poetry for creative writing but you are lacking a printer).
Living in Tuscaloosa forced me out of my ‘comfort zone’ and into the real world. My journey, my trip, my experience, was one that I will never forget, and I am constantly thankful I was able to meet those wonderful people while attending the program. I now see that meeting new people is not something to be feared. People are vibrant, interesting, and each one has a story unique to him or her. While my story is most likely not one typically entered into this scholarship competition, it is important to know I wrote about this particular trip because this journey has forever changed my life.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.