This weekend, I had the exciting opportunity to attend the Southern States Communication Association‘s Undergraduate Honors Conference! As a part of the Senior Seminar course of my WRC major, several of us submitted our work to this conference, and three of our papers were accepted! So we, along with a sophomore student who also got a paper accepted (even more impressive!), got to spend the last several days with one of our professors and an alum in Tampa, Florida presenting our work and learning from other students and professors from across the country.
But that’s not even the coolest part.
I was excited to present my project, but I was a little anxious about the trip in general. I knew the other students attending, but wasn’t super close with any of them. We all work in the writing center, and I’ve had a couple classes with them, but I wasn’t sure what we’d have to talk about for five whole days together. Plus, the conference fell on the last week of classes for the semester, so I was nervous about catching up before Finals Week began.
It wasn’t long before those worries disappeared. I talked with my professors before I left, and they were so helpful in telling me what to do to catch up for class. So that concern was taken care of!
We hadn’t even arrived in Tampa before I knew this trip would be so much more fun than I’d originally thought, and it was all thanks to some bad travel luck. On the long drive down, every little thing seemed to go wrong — from missing turns and ending up back on the interstate, to awkward waiters at every restaurant we visited.
We’d been commenting on our bad luck along the way. At some point, we started seeing billboards for Cocoa Beach, a supposedly fabulous tourist destination. As we continued casually complaining about our bad luck, missing class, and being nervous to present, someone jokingly asked the driver if it was too late to go to Cocoa Beach instead. They responded, “It is never too late for Cocoa Beach!”
Now, I know that exchange isn’t particularly funny, but after you’ve been in a van for eleven hours, your sense of humor changes. Suddenly, the trip wasn’t awkward anymore. We were all cracking up at the thought of taking a vacation instead. That comment would be the first in a long list of lines that grew into inside jokes we’d reference throughout the trip.
We never made it to the beach, but we did have a wonderful time at the conference. Our presentations went well, we ate at great local restaurants, and met people from across the country.
But what I will remember the most is sharing the experience with acquaintances who became great friends. Looking back, I should have known not to be nervous about that. I am so grateful that Transy, WRC, and most importantly, Cocoa Beach, brought us all together.