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Chott reflects on growth at Drake, moves to Paraguay

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STORY BY SARAH FULTON

Senior Anna Chott, an environmental science major, came to Drake University enthusiastic, but anxious about moving from one Midwest state to another.

Now as she prepares to graduate, Chott is confident in her decision to join the Peace Corps and move to Paraguay.

How would you describe yourself coming in as a first-year?

I would say that I was really excited and really optimistic. I was just excited to be studying environmental science and be on a college campus, just a bit nervous about meeting new people and making friends.  

How did that change over the course of your first year?

It was a lot easier to make friends than I thought it would be. I made friends with the people living on my floor very quickly, just started to going exercise classes and watching movies with everyone.

I think I got less nervous now.

Do you still get nervous in new situations?

Actually I studied abroad in Costa Rica and I was not nervous at all about moving to a new country like that because of moving from Missouri to Iowa.

Not knowing anyone in Iowa was such a big change that it did not even seem like a challenge to be moving to a new country.

Was there any specific experience you had your first year that made you feel like a college student?

This is a really specific thing that happened. One of the classes I took my freshman year was called One Earth.

It was just an introductory Environmental Science class. The professor had written the textbook. I realized that on the first day of class and it was kind of a wake up call that I was actually taking classes with people who had written literature and had been published.

What aspects of college had the most affect on your first year?

I think I would probably say living away from your parents. I think it requires a lot of independence to live in a new city, to find friends on your own and navigate on your own.

Were you different going into your sophomore year?

I think what really changed me was studying abroad. The first semester I was not too different from being a first-year.

But after studying abroad I just kind of had to grow up a lot within the first few weeks of being abroad.

A lot of the people in that program were older. Having so much more freedom than here.

Having to learn to get around in a new country with a new language and figure out the bus schedules. Figure out how to tell if a hostile is a good place to stay or a neighborhood is a good place to be.

Did any specific situation abroad show you that you had grown?  

The only story that comes to mind is that I was on a weekend trip to the beach with friends.

One of my friends got really sick and we had to take her to the hospital in the middle of the night.

No one else in our group could speak Spanish well enough to figure out the insurance with the doctors. They basically picked me to figure out how they were going to translate and pay for everything.

Then of course they would not accept our insurances because I am not really sure why. I had to pay with my credit card and then get reimbursed. Just figuring that out in Spanish was kind of a new experience. I am just really proud that I could do it.

Do you think you could have handled that before coming to college?

I do not think so. Personally I think it is because I took a Spanish class at Drake that was really good and the professor was really good.

Second of all I would not have been up for the challenge as a freshman.

As someone who is preparing for graduation do you think you are more ready for other stressful situations?  

I think in general I am more willing to take on challenges that maybe seem stressful, but I know will be good things to do in the long run.

I think I was not willing to take as many risks before.

How is it to be so close to graduation?  

I am really excited about the Peace Corps. I am excited to move on to the next thing and get a job and not be a student anymore.

But I really like being a Drake but I really like being here. I am going to miss my friends and miss being in Des Moines. I am ready excited to move on to the next thing but not excited to leave Drake.

What is the biggest way you have changed over these four years?

I am more willing to take on challenges and be a more outgoing person.

How do you think Drake shapes people over four years?  

I think people come here looking for different things.

Whether they want to be really good students or have a great college experience or get a good job. Everyone’s experience is really different.

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