Student hits Utah slopes for semester

When I told people I was going to do a study-abroad alternative in Utah this semester, people would often give me a funny look.

"Why go to Utah?" they would ask. I would reply with, "I want to ski," and that's just what I did. For the past semester I've attended Westminster College - previously not even a blip on my map - taking 17 credits and skiing or doing other activities on the weekend. Another Geneseo student, sophomore Ian Szalinski, also participated in this program that I found advertised in a skiing magazine.

The program took us to the Olympic Park in Park City, and I got a chance to ride the bobsled track used in the 2002 Olympic Games. I was able to ski at every resort in the area, spend a weekend camping in the mountains and also got to do some backcountry skiing. Everyone in the program got a chance to get Level 1 Avalanche Certification, and we even got to go snowmobiling for a day.

The real experience I got out here, though, was detaching myself from everything I previously knew. Salt Lake City is a completely different place than Western New York, and aside from Szalinski, I didn't know anyone coming into this. On top of that, I knew very little about the Salt Lake area. To give you an idea, the Mormon population is anywhere between 40-60 percent, and the beer is only 3.2 percent alcohol (not that I drink or anything).

The mountains surround the city so that anywhere you look there is a beautiful view: this makes for a wicked sunset. Sometimes, I even think they're better than Geneseo sunsets. It also seems that the amount of people obsessed with outdoor activities is slightly more than in Western New York, but that may just be because I surrounded myself with them.

After four months in a different environment, I've realized a few things. Living out here, aside from having to take on all new responsibilities, has shown me that life here isn't that different from home. Everyone here is dealing with the same things at Geneseo - getting work completed, paying for things and remaining sane in spite of the stress.

I've also realized that if I want to do something - then I should just do it. I have not regretted my decision to come here for a second.