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Nelson Photo I always tell people, “This semester has been a blur. It’s gone by so fast!” And that never ceases to be true, however, I would say more realistically, “The days are long, and the weeks are short.” What I mean by that is, our daily schedules are so full of activities and classes that by the end of the day, I am often shocked that what I did that morning didn’t happen two mornings ago. For me this craziness can be overwhelming at times, and the weekends are definitely the time for me to relax from the previous week. This is where my sponsor family comes in.


I would highly, highly recommend signing up for a sponsor family for those of you interested in attending the Coast Guard Academy. It is like your family away from home. I have had mine since the end of Swab Summer, and they have been truly a blessing to spend time with. This past weekend, I got to spend the night with them on Friday and part of the day on Saturday, and it was nice to live in a normal home doing normal home things for a few hours. And also it was great to hear about someone else’s life outside of the Academy. For example, my sponsor brother got drafted for Little League baseball, and my sponsor sister has a dance recital that I am going to try to go to. For me having that type of tie to the outside world is really important and is something I think we cadets can forget about.


Another thing that I like to do on the weekends is go with friends to someplace away from the Academy grounds. For example, a few weekends ago, I went with a bunch of friends to their sponsor family’s house, and we hiked the woods behind the house for a few hours and watched movies in their basement. While these seem like trivial things to get so excited about, it is very important to keep up with normal life, even when academics and military obligations seem to be the brunt of the work.


The last thing is to keep up with any religious practices/church that you normally attend. I often see my friends and other cadets not going to church because they feel too bogged down by homework and other things. Academics are hard and demanding, but at the end of the day, what you pour your time into is what you value most. Learning can be fun and rewarding, but I cannot say that I value it above God, family and friends. This balance has been a tough one to learn, and I am by no means perfect at it. However, for those incoming swabs and even parents of them, make sure you work to keep up with those parts of your “civilian” life that you want to take with you, such as religion, family, and friends.


More about Jessica.