The student news site of Patchogue-Medford High School

The Red & Black

The student news site of Patchogue-Medford High School

The Red & Black

The student news site of Patchogue-Medford High School

The Red & Black

ERAU Summer Program

A course on the experiences of space flight, and learning to navigate living on campus
Photo by Daniel Sheridan
Daniel Sheridan with peers taking a photo with astronaut Mike Baker at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL.

This summer I did the unthinkable, I chose to go back to school for three weeks, but this wasn’t just any summer class, I traveled to Daytona Beach Florida to go to college by myself.

Yes, I know I’m crazy but that was probably the best part of the trip, that I did it, alone.

Ok, now I didn’t just go to Florida alone just because I wanted to, I enrolled in a Summer Camp at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for an Introductory level College class about the basics of Space Flight.

Getting into the class was the first obstacle, I had to apply and get selected by their admissions officers just to attend the camp.

While there, I would have to complete the work any college kid would have to do if they took this class during one of their semesters, meaning I could fail the course and be sent home early.

So, there’s me, a barely senior in high school doing rocket science 922.24 miles away from home for college credit. Crazy.

While I was in Florida, I learned so many things, not just about the class but about what college would really be like.

The first realization I had when I arrived was privacy. I had not just one, but three other roommates at this school, and I had to share a bathroom with them.

The only thing that was going through my head the whole four-hour flight (which got delayed of course) was “what if my roommates smell?” “What if I don’t like them?”

My questions were answered when I finally arrived at my new home for the next three weeks. I ended up liking my roommates immediately, which was good because I had class the next day, so I was going to need friends.

Now this was an extremely selective camp with only twenty-eight people attending it, so that meant that I was stuck with these people.

After only one day I had spoken to almost everyone there and befriended most of them, I’m still friends with some of them now. I was the only one from New York and one of three from the Northeast so I got asked to say “water” and “coffee” a lot.

My roommates were from California, Texas, and Florida. While the rest of the camp had students from Massachusetts, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia, and many more states. So, lots of different accents but apparently the New Yorker’s was the most interesting, but it was a good ice breaker.

Sitting in the class for the first time, I had felt a little underqualified, as the professor, Erik Seedhouse, had almost been an astronaut, written thirty plus books, and completed a Deca Triathlon, suddenly my one job ever, seemed a little less impressive.

Besides that, the first day was very mellow, we only went over the syllabus and got to socialize for a little, but that was not the case for the rest of the time there.

Soon we were presented with our first test, which would be that Saturday, and we would have a quiz every day except Saturday (because we had a test… every Saturday) and Monday.

The schedule was worse than I would have imagined, I had to wake up at 7 a.m. for breakfast until 8 a.m. when we started class. The lecture lasted about four hours until lunchtime at 12 p.m. until we finally returned to our classroom at 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Quite a long day if you ask me, and this was Monday through Saturday too.

With only one day off a week, and hours of homework every night, you would think that there wasn’t much time to socialize, but we made do.

The class wasn’t all bad, one of the tasks we were challenged with was to make a wooden plane that had to glide 100 yards, for a grade might I add.

Although a little difficult at first, a quick crash course in aerodynamics allowed us to make our planes as ideal as possible, and most importantly sparked my interest in learning about the sciences that go into creating and maintaining flight.

Also, as the class was an “Introduction to Space Flight” we saw a couple rocket launches, three to be exact. If you’ve never seen one, I strongly recommend it.

The first adventure off campus was to Walmart where we had the opportunity to buy anything we forgot from home, and we got a couple of “toys”.

One of my roommates had found a spray bottle for thirty-eight cents which he used to spray a couple of our neighbors with, this consequently sparked a “water war” to say the least.

Soon every person in the camp had a spray bottle with them at all times except when in class. This unfortunately was shut down after two of my roommates hit the wrong person with the water and got all the spray bottles taken away.

Roommates. I really enjoyed the ability to just go hangout with my new friends in the middle of the night or doing homework in the common room, it kind of felt like a super long sleepover.

This really allowed everyone to get closer so much faster than if you only saw them for six hours per day.

As the trip was during the 4th of July, since we didn’t have class that day, we were presented with a surprise trip to Universal Studios in Orlando.

I was very enthusiastic about going as I had never been and have always wanted to go.

Not including the sweltering 110-degree heat, the trip was so worth it, and I had so much fun. The Hulk Rollercoaster and the Velocicoaster were in a close tie for first place, but I might have to give it to the Velocicoaster because that was sick.

The food situation was not as straight forward. Besides the Chick-Fil-A that was on campus (but only open Monday – Thursday 11am –5pm), most of the food was less than mid quality.

So, I ate more chicken.

Suddenly, I realized what the “Freshman fifteen” really meant after eating dining hall food the whole time. All joking aside, it wasn’t all that bad once I realized the other lines had different food being served and it wasn’t just burgers and fries all the time.

Overall, my experience in Florida was one of my favorite trips.

Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior, if you ever have the opportunity to go away from home for even a few days, take it.

I was a little scared at first and right before I went, I wanted to bail, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I would have missed out on so much if I never went.

So, take the risk, book the flight, apply, because I’m glad I did, and you will be too.

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    Miles DiekmannOct 3, 2023 at 9:06 am

    This article is very interesting and makes me interested in finding a summer program I would like to attend.