Leaving the Nest by Stephanie Schoppe, Graduating Senior

Stephanie Schoppe, Communication Studies major, will graduate from TCNJ at the end of this Fall semester. We thank Stephanie for sharing advice, her experiences, and her study abroad trip to South Africa with us! Please read her farewell post for The School of the Arts & Communication blog. Congratulations to Stephanie and all TCNJ students graduating this December!

“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This is a quote that my generation is very familiar with. It invokes a feeling that, even when you leave a place that holds so many memories for you, when you come back it feels like you never left. Leaving that place may be a little bit scary, of course. But while you’re gone, it’ll be there, filled with people ready to hug you and say, “Welcome back.”

This feeling is all too real for me at the moment. This is my final semester as a TCNJ student. I didn’t feel the despair and dread that comes with the registration period. I won’t be here to experience coming back from winter break in January and catching up on how everyone’s break was. Next semester someone else will be living in my room at my house. These things and more, whether I like it or not, are happening, and they’re happening faster than I really want them too.

I’m currently in the process of applying to grad schools. Whenever I work on my applications, I’m taken back to four years ago when I was applying to undergrad schools. The process was so exciting then. “I get to go to college and meet people from all over the state and I get to experience the typical college life and I’ll be away from my parents and it’ll be great!” And it was. It absolutely was. Fast-forward to today, and I still feel that way about applying to grad schools. Only now it’s a teensy bit bittersweet.

These four and a half years, I’ve done things I never thought I’d get to do. I got to act in plays. I got to sit front row to see some of my favorite comedians perform. I got to study in another country not once but twice; I’m going to London in January, which I’ve neglected to mention in my posts until now (sorry). I got to sing with people from Japan. I made a difference in the world just by baking really cool-looking cupcakes. And I got to witness the initial outrage over our now beloved, shiny, and colorful balls.

Do I have advice for my friends who are graduating in May? I do. Don’t worry about it. I have to tell myself that at least once every single day. The more you panic about getting a good grade on the GREs or the LSATs or getting a job right out of school, the more you’ll stress and burn yourself out, and trust me, you don’t want to do that. Don’t overstress yourself so much that you forget to enjoy your final semester as a TCNJ Lion. Go to the C-Store, buy a lot of ice cream, and watch a bad movie with your friends. Listen to your iPod and take a walk by the lakes. Then go sit by the lakes and just be in that moment. Do something as simple as taking a nice, two-hour nap one day. You’ve worked so hard the last four years, and you deserve to enjoy every moment before you leave here.

To the freshmen coming up on completing their first semester of college, you don’t need to have anything figured out now. I’ve heard some of my friends who are freshmen worry about graduating in four years and about what they want to do with your life. It’s okay to not have that figured out now. If you worry about what’s after college, you won’t enjoy what’s going on in college now. Explore a little. Join a club you’d never think to join. Take classes in a variety of departments if you can. Don’t spend all your time worrying about what to do after graduation. You’ve got four years to do that. Also, not graduating on time isn’t as bad as it sounds. Speaking from personal experience, it’s really, totally fine.

To conclude my final blog post as a TCNJ student, TCNJ has been my second home for 4 1/2 years. It feels weird to leave; you’re not supposed to leave your home, right? Some of my best friends are here, and will still be here when I leave. I’m not ready to leave now, and I probably won’t be ready to leave in December. But I know if I need to, I can always come back to TCNJ, where there will be students and professors here ready to welcome me home.

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Stephanie Schoppe: “Take a chance and apply to study abroad!”

Communication Studies Major Stephanie Schoppe is packing her bags and heading to South Africa this summer! Find out more about her health communication internship, “entertainment education,” and why YOU should take the opportunity to apply to study abroad, too!

South-Africa-PC-University-of-Natal-main-campus-pan-681University of KwaZulu-Natal Campus, South Africa

I never really gave the idea of studying abroad a chance until about halfway through my junior year. I was pretty serious about it until I abandoned the idea when I realized going abroad for a semester would mean I would have to stay an extra year at TCNJ (I still have to stay an extra semester any way, but that was unavoidable). I had decided on not studying abroad until earlier this school year.

I took two health communications courses last fall: Health Communications Campaigns and Health Communications. I had heard good things about these two courses from people that were in some of my classes in the spring 2012 semester. I ended up loving those classes, and they’re probably two of the best classes I’ve taken here at TCNJ. The first few weeks of the semester, Dr. Pollock, who used to be head of the communications department, came to both these classes numerous times to tell us about a study abroad opportunity that had to do with the health communications field. He said he would be bringing students to Durban, South Africa, where we would be creating different programs to educate the South African people about HIV/AIDS using the idea of “education entertainment”. We watched this South African soap opera called “Intersexions” and did multiple focus groups about the show and discussed what we liked and didn’t like about it. The urge to study abroad came back and I emailed Dr. Pollock telling him I was interested.

When the time came to hand in the application, I again almost didn’t do it. I had applied for another internship which would’ve sent me to Ohio for ten weeks, and at the time I thought I had that in the bag; I didn’t want to get accepted to both and then have to choose. But I did it anyway. Also, because my overall GPA isn’t as good as it can be, I thought that would hurt my chances too. I handed in the application around noon on a Thursday. I went to check my phone at the end of my 2:00 class and saw an email from the Center for Global Engagement. I thought, “Oh, this is just an email letting me know that they got my application and I’ll probably know within a week or so.” The email said I was accepted into the program, a mere two hours after I sent it in.

It still feels pretty unreal to me. This’ll be the first time I’ll be out of the country. But I’m excited. I never thought I’d be able to do this. I thought time and my GPA would have been an issue. So, if you’re thinking of studying abroad but you don’t think you’re eligible to, go ahead and do it anyway! You never know what might happen! Many of my friends have studied abroad in places like Spain, London, and Rome, and they seem to have had wonderful experiences. Take a chance and apply to study abroad! I believe the South Africa trip led by Dr. Pollock is actually still taking some more people. Here’s the link to see what the trip’s all about: http://cge.pages.tcnj.edu/programs/faculty-led-programs/tcnj-south-africa-summer-2013/