When I was a senior in high school, I would constantly have people telling me that “College is all about learning new things.” Being the typical 18-year old, I never really believed them. Sure, I knew I would increase my academic knowledge, but it was not until I arrived on campus for Wildcat Welcome (orientation week) that I realized that I had a lot to learn about school, friends, and life. I quickly had to figure out how to make friends in my dorm, how to efficiently take notes in class, and which dining hall had the best ice cream selection. However, my most memorable and lasting lesson was the discovery of my hidden extracurricular interests.

During Wildcat Welcome, Northwestern hosts an activities fair that allows new students to get a taste of which different clubs exist on campus. It was during this fair that two booths caught my eye: Women’s Rugby and the Ballroom, Latin, and Swing Team. I had spent the past 15 years of my life in a ballet studio, but these clubs intrigued me. I decided to go to their first meetings and check them out. First day of Women’s Rugby was one of the craziest days of my life; I came back bruised, muddy, but absolutely obsessed with the sport. Somewhere in between a ruck and a maul, I had discovered a new side of me. Although I was not able to continue with rugby during all 4 years here, I still retained my interest in the sport, even attending a professional rugby game during my time abroad in Scotland.

As I previously mentioned, another student group caught my eye during the activities fair: the Ballroom, Latin, and Swing Team, or BLAST for short. I had been a dancer all my life, but I had never tried Ballroom or Latin. However, as with rugby, I decided to give it a try. I attended my first swing lesson, and have been hooked ever since. I ended up joining the cast of their Annual Spring Show as well as the Competition Team, which travels all over the Midwest and competes against other schools on a collegiate level. The pinnacle of my time with BLAST occurred during my last competition. My partner and I ended up placing in every single event that we entered and we both could not have been more ecstatic. The fact that this was a dance style that I had only discovered in college made the prizes all the more meaningful. Looking to the future, I will continue to go social dancing no matter where I am.

When people typically think of a college experience, they think of learning physics. Learning biology. Things related to academia. However, the knowledge I acquired from Northwestern has expanded my horizons in many different ways, both academically and personally.

–Lena Gryaznova

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