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Students close out the decade with new experiences

Christian Helms, a wide receiver on the USF football team, ran a 10k at Walt Disney World in Orlando during the break.

It’s been exactly one month since USF closed out the fall semester and some students wasted no time gaining new experiences and cultures. 

From traveling around the U.S. to beating personal records, these Bulls closed out the decade in a variety of ways.

Gabriella Biltoc, sophomore studying health science, visited Maui, Hawaii with her boyfriend Khristian. She said that her favorite adventure was a whale-watching encounter.

“I went on a whale-watching boat and whales have been my favorite [animal] since I was little so it was really special to see them so close in such a beautiful place,” Biltoc said. 

She also said that she was able to gain experience and knowledge of a different culture while visiting.

“I learned a lot about the culture of Hawaii and how different it is even though it’s still a part of the U.S.,” Biltoc said. “So many things have so much meaning and everything is really sentimental which was amazing to be immersed in.” 

Tyler Blodgett, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, visited New Jersey and New York City after the fall semester ended. 

“It was my first time flying, I was so surprised to see a big city outside of Florida,” Blodgett said.

The biggest astonishment for him was the number of people in large cities. 

“The population density is so high, it’s a different but cool experience.”

He said his favorite part was going to see Times Square in New York City. 

“It was such a pretty landmark,” Blodgett said. “The weather was chilly and with all the lights and decorations — it just felt like Christmas.” 

Other students were able to reach health fitness goals while on break. Christian Helms, a wide receiver on the USF football team, ran a 10k at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“I haven’t run cross country since middle schooI,” Helms said. “It was cool to run and finishing [the race] was amazing. You get a big medal, and it’s at Disney. It’s just a great experience.” 

He even was able to beat his set goal for running time. 

“My goal was to run it in under an hour and I ran it in 54 minutes.”

On the other hand, some students took advantage of the free time by relaxing and leisurely watching TV shows and other videos. 

Chase Strelec, a freshman studying biomedical sciences, had a very laid-back break. Relaxing before the spring semester began, he said most of his break consisted of watching YouTube, Netflix and going fishing.

“I was able to go boating and enjoy the outdoors with my father as we caught seatrout, snook and redfish,” Strelec said. “It was a great calming method before the semester started.” 

Other students stayed home and spent time with family. Megan Kelsey, a pre-med freshman, saw her relatives for the first time in 10 years. 

“I got to reconnect with my cousins, who are my age… We shared stories that I wouldn’t have heard if they didn’t come to visit, and we exchanged socials so we can keep in touch better,” Kelsey said. “I hadn’t seen them for 10 years, so it was very special to have everyone in one place.” 

However, it could be seen that even though many students experienced unforgettable travels and a long-needed break, they also missed the company of their fellow Bulls.

“I missed USF and Tampa because of all my friends,” Biltoc said.

“I missed walking around the beautiful campus and seeing all the nice and friendly people,” Blodgett added. “I always have a tendency to want to come back here, with the people I’ve met and the friends I have, it always feels like home.”