A Three Week Love Story

July 24, 2008
Toni Lynn Iyoha

At Academic Connections, a program set up for high school students to experience the college lifestyle, the students are forming romantic relationships. In a program lasting only three short weeks, are any of the relationships that are formed able to withstand the distance or the change back to the students daily lives?

These couples spend a lot of their time outside of class together; many made the move from just friends to a relationship within the first week. Observations of these couples hint towards lustful bliss as they walk around holding hands. Few of the couples spend time with people other than their significant others. When asked why, several couples say that since they do not have a lot of time together, they want to make the best of the three short weeks.

Residential Advisors Clash on Relationship Opinions

The Residential Advisors and some teachers witness these relationships. The RA’s are around the students all day and enforce the program’s rules. Since all of the RA’s are in college, they are able to judge the content of the program and help prepare students for college life. Returning Residential Advisor, Salvatore Fanale, incoming senior at UCSD, says that he’s noted some hand holding, some snuggling at movie night, but doesn’t really care. “It’s just a weird summer camp thing that happens. After the third day of the program kids are running around like ‘oh i love you’ to each other…you don’t love each other. You’ve known each other three days, you can’t love each other”

Some RA’s feel it is understandable to feel so close to someone so quiuckly. David Luong, first time RA as well as third year student at UCSD, feels that people making such close connections so quickly is understandable because “Everyone comes from different places, and completely pulled out of their daily lives at home with family and usual friends and put into this situation with 255 other students that are in the same scenario.” He feels that students need to make these ties, even if only for three weeks so that they can feel comfortable. Luong says it is an unconscience motivation that makes the students form these relationships.

Even Fairytales Have An Ending

The relationships are going to either last a long time, or have a limited existence. Fanale thinks that the relationships will not last past the closing day ceremonies. Fanale shakes his head as he explains that even if the two live near each other,the relationships are not real, and will not last. The relationships are not at all like actual college relationships according to Fanale because students act as if they have known each other forever.

Similarly, Luong says that it would be difficult to have the relationships last because a few days after returning home, students get back to their daily lives and do not have as much time for each other anymore.

Contrary to what these RA’s may say about these relationships, Claudette Enriquez, 16, and Mark Fernandez, 17, say that they hope to stay together. The duo met at AC on the fourth day and say that they instantly hit it off, which is apparent from their frequent giggling and glancing at eachother. The two say that they have a system for dividing time to hang out and time to study or be with other friends. Enriquez says that they just text message each other when they have a moment or when an activity looks like it would be fun to participate in. If the two are not doing an activity, they like to hang out together around campus. One couple also says that they are the only ones they 9nly like being together during the days. After just three days, John* asked Jane* to be his girlfriend because of some special connection he felt they had. The two believe that they will be able to stay together for longer than just the program despite the distance or obstacles.

The Past, Present and Future

In the past the relationships have not lasted long and are not expected to in the eyes of the adults around. The true test will be when the students get back home. Some relationships have been able to outlasts AC. Emily Nichols, a high school junior who participated in 2007 Academic Connections, says there were several relationships last year too. One couple met up afterwards to have both of the families meet and get to know each other. For another pair she knew, things ended with the program because of distance issues. The boy lived in Oklahoma, while the girl lived in San Diego. The two still talk via Facebook, but are no longer an item. Nichols says that Facebook has allowed her to talk to the people that she met at AC and a lot of the couples maintained relationships despite the distance, at least for a few months.

*names have been changed

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