The Many “Firsts” at SLU: Travel Edition

By: 
Mark Jannini Jr.
Class of: 
2018

Home (0 miles)

I grew up in a small town in central New Hampshire. As I always tell people, it was really the perfect place to grow up. My town has three lakes and is five minutes from a ski mountain, 45 minutes from the ocean, and about an hour from Boston—what else is needed? I love where I grew up and was always content spending time there. But when it came time to look at colleges, I had never left New England. And honestly, I only had my mind set on going to a school in New Hampshire—that really limited my options. Then, along came St. Lawrence. 

First Time Leaving New England (300 miles)

St. Lawrence began to push me outside my comfort zone before I even committed. During my senior year of high school, my family and I made the six-hour journey to Canton, New York. It was the farthest I had ever been from home; however, I didn’t mind. For some reason, I considered it “my” campus even though I was still looking at a dozen other schools. That must have stemmed from the strong relationship I developed with my St. Lawrence admissions counselor. When he spoke, I could tell he was genuine and had my best interest in mind—which of course ended up being SLU. Little did I know at the time that the six-hour trip would just be the start of many journeys I would go on during my time at St. Lawrence.

First Plane Ride (500 miles)

Sophomore year at St. Lawrence not only pushed me out of my comfort zone across land but also in the sky—I went on my first plane ride to get to the SLU Connect-D..C Program in Washington, D.C. This program is hosted by Career Services each winter and gives about 30 students a few days to connect with alumni in our nation's capital. We had the chance to go to the White House, Capitol Hill, the FBI, World Bank, and more! From never leaving New England to walking through the house where the President resides made me feel thankful for the opportunities St. Lawrence provides.

Furthest West (1,000 miles)

During the fall of my junior year, I went the farthest west I had ever been so I could take part in Model United Nations in Chicago, Illinois. At this national conference, I learned more about the culture of Chicago, and even got to meet with alumni while in town! At Model United Nations, I was able to connect what I had been learning in my courses to what the conference’s topic was on. I felt that I had an advantage because my courses back at SLU had put me in the position before to critically think so I could solve problems the at hand. I was able to bring the skills and the knowledge that I received in Canton and share it with other students from universities across the United States.  

Flying Abroad (9,500 miles)

I studied off campus in Dunedin, New Zealand, during the spring of my junior year. This was my first time every flying overseas! As someone who hadn’t been outside of New England just three years before, it was sort of a surreal feeling that I was going to then flying 9,500 miles away from home to the southern hemisphere. I remember when I told my mom I was accepted into the study abroad program. She was in disbelief with how simple it was for me to work with the school and be able to study off campus in a country so far away. This is because I had such a supportive department that wanted me to be immersed in a new culture. They want Laurentians to not only gain knowledge in the classroom, but also through experience. Even though I was 18 hours ahead with the time change, I still felt connected to both St. Lawrence & my hometown in New Hampshire. I was able to share the experiences St. Lawrence provided for me with my family and friends and inspire others to take advantage of what SLU allows to happen.

I look back to my first time visiting St. Lawrence and think about how I had absolutely no idea what to expect of my next four years. Never did I think I would go to Ottawa, New York City, D.C., Charlotte, Chicago, and even New Zealand all throughout my time here. St. Lawrence is designed to push students to take each opportunity and to experience more than what we are used to. I cannot wait to see where I will travel to after Commencement. No matter how far it may be, I know I will always have St. Lawrence to thank for getting me there.