University students reveal unusual hobbies during National Hobby Month

By Jenny Horne

Quad Day offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Kate Hawkins, senior in Engineering. Upon seeing “Bellydance UIUC,” she was attracted to it because it was an opportunity she would never have again. 

While some hobbies are more common than others, bellydancing was an unexpected surprise for Hawkins. With January being National Hobby Month, students reflect on how they like to spend their pastime. 

“It was convenient; it looked fun,” she said. “I wanted to learn it, so I thought, ‘What sort of fool would I have to be to not try this?’ This opportunity is not going to fall into my lap when I’m an adult with a full-time job.”

Hawkins said one of her favorite memories was from last spring, when she choreographed a dance to the song “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” from the movie “Lilo and Stitch.” 

“At the end of each semester, we have a big dance showcase and party,” Hawkins said. “The students in the club get to show off the dances they’ve learned. UIUC’s belly dance troupe, Trikhala, performs their latest dance, and we invite all the local belly dance troupes and soloists to perform as well. It’s a great intermingling of styles, creativity and good cheer.”

While some campus students choose to shake their hips, Cody McClintock, junior in Engineering, chooses to fall from 10,500 feet. McClintock started a Registered Student Organization his sophomore year at the University. The RSO is formally known as the “10,500ft Falling Illini” and is a group of students who skydive as a hobby.

Although skydiving has its obvious risks, McClintock said he went a few times and got hooked on the adrenaline rush.

“It’s skydiving. We jump out of an airplane at 10,500 feet in the air and fall toward the ground at 120 mph,” McClintock said.

He is particularly fond of the time he went skydiving in Miami because of the beautiful views. His passion for this hobby has encouraged others to go skydiving as well, and he now enjoys the activity in a group.

Catherine Ernst, junior in LAS, is not involved with a student RSO but rather enjoys her hobby at home. Ernst has been hunting since she was in eighth grade, when her dad encouraged her to get her hunting license.

“I got into hunting because my great-grandpa taught my grandpa, and my grandpa taught my dad, and then my dad taught my siblings and I. So, it’s a family thing for me,” Ernst said.

The first time Ernst went hunting with her dad, she shot a teal, which is the fastest flying duck and typically the hardest to shoot.

Ernst said she has learned a lot from her seemingly unusual hobby.

“This hobby is pretty unusual for a girl, but it has taught me so much discipline and patience more than anything,” she said. “I would encourage anyone to try it for something new and exciting.”

Hawkins said her hobby has not only helped her achieve a personal goal but also engage with other students from diverse backgrounds.

“I think this organization attracts a much more diverse set of students than most others,” Hawkins said. “I like to attribute this to the fact that this club is about teaching anyone whose interested and helping them fulfill a personal goal.”

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