College Life at UC Disneyland
Meet Aly Catolico. Aly is a bright-eyed, almost-22-year-old alumna of UC Irvine, recently graduated with a double major in Urban Planning and Education Sciences (and a minor in Global Sustainability, because a double major just isn’t enough). She’s a California native who enjoys hiking and good food, and is a self-described “Disney Enthusiast” (she has an annual pass — more on that later). She plans to go into the field of Environmental Education, a perfect cross-section of her various fields of study. She’s a young woman who’s known what she wants to do for years and has set herself on a precise trajectory.
Like many folks born at the tail-end of the millennial era, much of Aly’s life has been recorded for posterity on social media. She has been taking and editing video of her adventures for years, and started using the 1 Second Everyday app as a tool to document her daily life during the summer of 2017. She’s chronicled late-night study sessions, travels and work in several national parks, a research trip to Costa Rica with UCI, and many, many trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Aly first encountered 1SE at work. Her boss at the time is one of the many parents who use the app to record her children as they grow up (for a similar story, check out our user profile on Paul Gi), and shared her videos with Alyssa and other coworkers. It took Alyssa a few months between when she started using the app and when she started sharing her videos on Instagram, but once she started sharing, she realized that videos made with 1SE could be used not only to tell stories about life, but also to share experiences, reflect on projects, and teach viewers about new ideas.
Aly shares monthly 1SE videos on her Instagram channel, and also publishes her yearly videos on Facebook. This way, anyone who’s interested can see the 30-second chunk of video that represents her most recent month, but those who want to see her longer-form videos (who Aly assumes will be people who are her real-life friends and family) can watch the six-minute video of her whole year.
When I ask about her feelings vis-a-vis posting online, she responds without hesitation, “If you have a public social account, it’s like art. You’re responsible for what you put on there, and hopefully you can use it to inspire people.” Aly is part of a generation that seems to instinctively understand that what goes on the internet is forever and that each of us is responsible for what we put into the world.
At first, Aly was on-again, off-again in her use of 1SE. She had a hard time remembering to grab a snippet of video or a photo each day. Since she wasn’t filling up her months, she didn’t feel like she really had anything to share. Then she went on a trip that really seems to have jump-started her regular use of the app.
1SE as a Research Documentation Tool
In March of 2018, Aly discovered the power of 1SE as a tool for sharing experiences outside of social media, when she took part in a research program that traveled to three different communities in Costa Rica. Part of her assignment on this 11-day voyage was to present some of what she learned and experienced during a symposium at the trip’s end. She suggested that members of her cohort use 1SE’s Freestyle function to create reflective videos about their experiences. Freestyle allows 1SE users to create videos that include multiple snippets per day, and the research trip Aly took is the ideal use case for the feature.
She says that 1SE was great for the collegiate group, because while much of their travel would have made carrying a lot of video equipment difficult, everyone in the group had a phone capable of capturing video, and using the app to edit this footage made each member of the cohort their own documentarian. While Aly wound up explaining how she’d edited together the footage of the trip and talking a lot about 1SE during the symposium, she says it was a really useful tool for sharing her first-hand experiences after the fact.
“There’s a lot of power in video and how it can communicate and teach others, so I think 1SE is very valuable just for that,” she says. She hasn’t made use of Freestyle since that trip, preferring to log her day-to-day college existence with a classic timeline, but she has plans to travel in the near future, and says she’ll be using Freestyle timelines to document all of her travels.
One upcoming 1SE feature that Aly is especially excited about is the potential for collaborative timelines. The idea ability to share a timeline between multiple 1SE accounts would make it much easier to create these Freestyle videos with multiple points of view. It would also simplify matters for Aly’s regular 1SE journal. She shows up in a lot of her own videos. “My boyfriend takes a lot of videos of me, and then airdrops them to me to include in my 1SE,” she explains. The idea that he might be able to simply drop those moments in a shared timeline is attractive, to say the least.
Evolution and Reflection
Another change that helped her to start using 1SE more regularly probably has more to do with the change in perspective that comes with growing up than with any sudden event. “When I first started, I wanted it to look a certain way, I wanted to present my life to look good, and I was worried about how one second would flow to another,” Aly says. “But by my last year of college, I was more concerned with the memories behind the videos. It was like ‘this is what my life was like, and I just want to remember it. The memories are more important.” She still prefers to stick to happy times when recording her footage, but a recent family event that involved a lot of time in the hospital was included in her monthly mash. In spite of the pain associated with it, she says, “it brought the family together, and that was worth remembering.”
This focal change from outward-facing to inward-facing has made 1SE a more personal tool and resulted in her more diligently using the app. “A lot can happen in a month,” she says. “It’s important to remember the successes and the struggles, and you can look back at each month and go ‘this month was amazing, this month was a struggle.’” She says that two years of recording and editing videos have also changed the way she sees being a student. She’s able to see the value and the growth that came from times that seemed rough. These videos have made her realize that those tough times were often the ones when her lasting friendships really grew and blossomed, and when she developed the most as a student. As someone who went through college before the heyday of smartphones, I’ll admit to a pang of jealousy when Aly talks about these memories.
What Aly is most excited about sharing is an extension of her chosen career path — her dedication to caring for the environment. When she’s out in the field, she always tries to capture her seconds there. As a volunteer with Orange County Coastkeeper, she’s put many hours into helping to clean and protect the beaches in Orange County. While still at UCI, Aly worked at Crystal Cove Conservancy, organizing field trips for students to learn about ecology and environmental protection. She says that 1 Second Everyday is a great tool for non-profit organizations with limited funds that rely on volunteers, because the app itself is free, and provides a great platform for quickly editing videos to produce recaps of events, to record the work done by volunteers and organizers, and to share these stories with the public.
Several of the parks where Alyssa has worked or volunteered have restricted and protected areas that are not open to the general public. As such, Alyssa’s documentation of her work in these areas makes her a kind of liaison between the environment and the public. She loves fieldwork and the exploration that comes with it, and hopes that her video footage of California’s state and national parks inspires others to do more outdoor exploring. She’s been to all nine of California’s national parks except for Pinnacle, but she notes that she’s been to Yosemite more than once. She’s lived in California all her life, but has family as far afield as Hawai’i, and as she notes, “The world is enormous. There’s so much to see.” The strongest reaction she has to seeing her own footage from these conservation-focused projects and events is that “it reminds me to try to enjoy things more.”
The Happ1SEst Place on Earth
There’s little that Aly enjoys more than Disneyland. For the last several years, she’s had an annual UCI student pass to the park, which is only twenty minutes or so from campus — so close that she sometimes refers to her school as UC Disneyland. She’s made the most of the pass, generally heading there once a week. She says she grew up spending a lot of time at a theme park near her childhood home, but for Aly, the attraction of Disneyland isn’t just the rides, food, and people-watching — although those are all part of it. She loves the escape from day to day life that the park provides, and the real magic of the park — the childlike wonder and the nostalgia that she feels when she goes there. “It’s like I’m on vacation,” she says. She’s not alone. Aly is a member of a Facebook group of UCI students who like to spend time at the park and share their adventures and discoveries.
Her experience at the park varies from visit to visit, depending on who she goes there with. A quick perusal of her monthly videos shows the huge range of activities available to dedicated Disneyphiles. For every pose with Goofy or Mickey, there’s a quiet moment with a cup of coffee and a treat, the laughter of friends, a rollercoaster, a stroll through one of the green spaces, or a live band. Sometimes she goes just to enjoy and snack and walk around. Sometimes she spends a whole afternoon on the rides. Either way, it’s an escape from college life that leaves her refocused and rejuvenated when she gets back to campus.
Although Aly has known for years what line of work she wants to get into, she’s weighing her options carefully. There are opportunities in environmental education everywhere. When I ask her what her plans are for life after college, she looks conflicted. Although she has built connections to both people and places in California, she looks forward to the prospects of traveling. Recently, she and some friends traveled to Zion National Park, where she was exposed to a taste of the beauty that lies beyond California’s borders. “I’ve lived in California all my life, and there’s so much to see here. The mountains, the desert, the ocean…” She pauses, and I can almost see the possible paths that lie ahead of her in her face.
“…but the world is enormous!”
1 Second Everyday is a video journal app. For an in-depth description of what 1SE does and how it came to be, check out the story here. This is the first of what will presumably grow into a series of user stories, featuring folks who exemplify large cross-sections of 1SE-humans who not only use 1SE regularly but also share their stories on Instagram.