Hi everyone! In this post I am going to talk a little bit more about my collegiate experience. You can go here to see the first post I did on Stef’s blog. This one will give a bit more detail as that was an over view of my four years of competiting and being on the team.
From what I understand, because I have yet to have first hand experience, is that the real world of ballroom dancing is completely different from the collegiate side. You don’t have a team routing for your number, you don’t travel with 50 people and get stuck sharing a hotel room (or a dorm room floor) with a few of your other team mates, and you don’t have your registration handled for you (at least concerning the am/am dancers). In the collegiate world you have all this and more.
I have been told the collegiate setting is probably one of the best experiences in ballroom dancing you can have. Things are much cheeper and you have an entire team supporting you, from low level newbies, to Amatuer National Finalists. And I would have to agree. Learning in the collegiate setting is amazing. I was able to go from newbie to gold in 3 years, and now I am competiting at the Open Level. I feel very lucky that I was able to find amazing coaches at decent prices, while everyonce and a while being able to slurge on a professional lesson with my partner.
There is also a real sense of team bonding that happens. I mean, how can it not when you are stuck on a bus with these people for a total of 16-20hrs for an entire weekend? When you compete on a team, you sort of become a family, and in my early years of competiting that was exactly what I needed. I am a comuter student to my school. I live about 15minutes away, and if I hadn’t found ballroom, I would just be sitting at home most afternoon and days without very many friends. On the team, you see people everyday (or almost everyday) in your designated practice space (in our case a non-airconditioned volleyball gym), and talk and teach and dance with each other. I was able to make friends and connections that I couldn’t have outside of ballroom because I just didn’t live on campus with all these people.
Though, now as I become a higher level dancer, it becomes harder to be in the collegiate setting. I definately want more freedom in the competitions I choose now, how I want to travel, and where I want to stay. Maybe it is also a factor of that I am getting older to and will graduate in less than a year (11 months!!!). But I am definately pickier than I used to be. I also want to be able to practice when I want, and in a climate controlled room. It’s great that the university gives our team free space on campus to use, but it’s usually at times that are either too early in the day for me and my partner, or too late at night when we are both pooped.
Even with all my recent complaints, and the need to distance myself from the collegiate world, I still think it is an amazing place to start dancing, if you haven’t started already when you were like 5. I believe that even if you just have a smidgen of an inkling that you think you might someday want to learn to dance, and you are in college, freaking go for it. Classes are usually, if not always, free to beginners and you will have a great time learning and making friends who may or may not be in your major. (I am the weird studio art odd ball on my team being surrounded by engineers and comp sci majors.) And the best part? If you found out you don’t like it, at least you didn’t spend $20 bucks on a group lesson at a studio. And if you did like it, you will gain so much knowledge and have a hobby for life.