Moving away from home for the first time can be pretty rough, especially when you don’t know anyone. This is where the Day1 programs have the upper hand. Everyone in the Day1: Watershed and Day1: Great Lakes programs are housed in Lichty Hall, and the other Day1 programs have the option of living there, as well. I was unsure about this. The college was creating a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) community, I understood that, but I didn’t really want to live in what I saw as the “Nerd Dorm”. However, I decided to do it anyway, and my idea of the “Nerd Dorm” was not what I encountered on move-in day. What I found instead were people that shared the same interests as me and had similar hobbies as me, like video games or playing basketball and being active.
The nice thing about living in the STEM residence hall was that everyone else was either taking the same classes as I was, or they had already tested out of them. So it was extraordinarily easy to find someone who could help me understand equilibrium and electrochemistry, or memorize the nitrogen cycle. Living in Lichty may have been a little atypical of the normal “college experience,” but it was awesome regardless.
Being a part of Day 1 Great Lakes has been a highlight of my freshman year. I was able to experience field work, meet lots of new people early on in the school year, and live in the best residence hall on campus! What most attracted me to this program was the opportunity to be outside a classroom setting and do hands-on research. I love anything outdoors, so hiking the Great Lakes dunes and conducting research was something that really interested me.
Four days before freshman orientation week, I and other Great Lakes students moved onto campus. It was nice to come early because we avoided the stress and chaos of freshman move-in day. After we moved into our rooms, all of us Great Lakers attended a picnic at Kollen Park, where we got to know our professors, TAs, and fellow student researchers. The following day, field work began! We drove out to Flower Creek Dunes and collected data on Pitcher’s Thistle, a threatened plant native to the Great Lakes. We scouted the dunes, flagged and tagged Pitcher’s Thistles, and measured information on the plant. It was incredible to collect data on the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan. The second day of field work was similar to the first, but the third day, our professors gave us a fun day. We hiked through the dunes, had a picnic by the water, and enjoyed the sun. Afterwards our professors even bought us ice cream! Overall, the field research was a great experience. It was awesome to analyze our data that we collected and other data pertaining to environmental issues of the Great Lakes in our FYS class. It was also cool to know that the research and statistics we were doing had real world applications to the environment.