In Adopt-A-Grandparent, once a week a group of about 10 of us heads over to a local nursing home and hangs out with a handful of wonderful elderly adults. I bet you’re all thinking, “Pshh…they probably just play BINGO every week…” You would be correct. And it is…AWESOME! I have never seen anyone play a seemingly simple game so strategically. Take one of the residents Sylvia, for example. Every week once the BINGO cards are brought out, she spends at least 10 minutes staring at all the cards, choosing which three to play this week. Not one of the residents aimlessly picks their BINGO cards…oh no. It is a strategic, decisive process, and one that requires deep concentration and no disruption.
The group of (mainly) women I spend every Monday evening with take their BINGO very seriously. If one of the ladies momentarily breaks one of the game’s rules, at least two or three other residents are quick to point out her mistake and correct it. Every round is a competitive battle, and each week is genuinely looked forward to by all who partake.
I can honestly say that this is one of the best and most fulfilling volunteer opportunities I’ve every participated in. First of all, it is a very little time commitment with a huge benefit to more than just the residents. Not only are the women I get to see every week extremely happy and grateful to have a fabulous group of college kids come play BINGO with them to brighten up their Mondays, I am given an hour and a half once a week to break from the chaos of being a college student. I get to talk to some pretty amazing women, all with vivid stories to tell. Every week I feel disappointed that I must wait a whole week before returning, but also full of happiness and thankfulness that I am given this opportunity to help others and myself. Another thing, it is more than just volunteering…it’s FUN. I have never enjoyed playing BINGO so much as when I play with the residents every Monday night. All the women are so different and enjoyable in their own ways. From Pat, the resident sweetheart, singing old songs from her youth, to Helena cracking jokes throughout the games, every minute is incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.
I would not trade the time I’ve spent with the residents for anything in the world. It’s a time to step outside of myself, my stress, and my own life in order to help others. And by helping them, I’m also helping myself. I highly recommend all students to find SOME way to get involved, whether or not Adopt-A-Grandparent is the right organization for you. VIA (Volunteers in Action) is an amazing on-campus resource that organizes a bunch of different volunteer opportunities, varying from those working with children to Spanish-speaking adults who need help finding jobs. Service and volunteering is not just a matter of benefitting others, but also yourself, and I GUARANTEE you will feel like a better, more whole person through any kind of volunteering.
Tonight is Adopt-A-Grandparent night, so I’ll be sure to tell all the residents that they are now the headline of an internationally known Blog!!! Well, a campus-wide known blog. I’m on my way, right?
The two competitors finally arrive to the battle zone, preparing to conquer their opponent and leave as this year’s winner. The strict rules are explained by the game maker, a man called “Dad.” As we crouch into our starting positions, everything moves in slow motion. Thoughts of winning are racing through my mind as I give my sister one last glare of challenge and ferocity. Finally, I hear my dad yell “GO!” and the game begins.
The two participants make a mad dash in opposite directions, Hannah bolting for the kitchen and I bounding towards the family room. We are both on a mission, viciously searching for the small, pastel-colored, plastic eggs of glory. There are 20 hidden throughout the war zone, known as our main floor. Territories include the family room, kitchen, dining room, and living room. Every other piece of turf is off-limits and hold no bounty of eggs.
I see the first egg behind a window curtain and quickly snatch it and throw it in my safely guarded basket. I leap to the couch and aggressively throw the pillows and blankets aside as I retrieve yet another magnificent egg filled with surprising wonders. I now have two eggs, and can already smell the hints of victory. As I continue my competitive search, I see Hannah placing a third egg in her basket. . .NO! I must win and be crowned victor. It’s my year.
After collecting a few more eggs from the family room, I rapidly sprint to the kitchen to search for any remaining eggs that Hannah may have missed. I find one in the silverware drawer, making my collection of eggs at 8. I yell to my opponent, asking how many eggs she has retrieved, hearing the gruff response of “9!” THIS CANNOT BE. 3 eggs left and I must beat this skilled opponent or suffer another year as loser. Running to the living room, I spy a carefully hidden egg in the seat cushion of the couch and I forcefully grab it and throw it in the basket. 2 eggs left. It’s on.
To my shock and horror, I see Hannah snatch an egg from within a vase. There is 1 egg left. Hannah is ahead by 1. Will she win? Or will we tie? I MUST MAKE THIS A TIE. I WILL NOT LOSE.
We both stare at each other, with looks of vicious hunger to defeat the other. The two competitors race to the dining room and search for the final egg. After aggressive pushing and shoving, I see the glare of a small, pink egg basking in the sun behind a pile of books. As fast as I can, I run to the site of victory and grab the egg. I have made the game a tie. I didn’t win or leave as victor, but I didn’t lose. And that’s enough for me.
This year’s game is over, and the two participants divvy up the earnings. We are surrounded by chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and peeps. As we gorge ourselves on the sugary goodness engulfing us, we both strategize for next year’s game.
The above story is a typical Easter Egg Hunt my sister and I participate in each year. It is a long awaited challenge, and thought of very seriously. For those of you who have read the books, I equate each year’s hunt to The Hunger Games battle in the arena. Tomorrow is the big day, and I promise, readers, to win…for you. HAPPY EASTER!
Unfortunately, the above statement is completely false. However, there is some rather exciting news I have yet to share with my loyal readers….over spring break I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!
I was lucky enough to join my mother on a business trip down in Florida this spring break and received the opportunity to visit Harry Potter World for a day with my sister. For those of you who do not know, I am quite the Harry Potter fanatic. I was the girl who read all of the books within two days of their release, dressed up for the midnight premieres of the movies, and held onto the dream of receiving a Hogwarts acceptance letter in the mail ever since reading the first book.
Going to Harry Potter World gave me the chance to finally be a part of the stories I grew up with and will always keep close to my heart. I finally got to feel as though I was living the fantasies I’d created in my imagination for over ten years. It was the opportunity of a lifetime!!!
The minute I walked through the gates to my own personal Mecca, the magic of Harry Potter was upon me. The Hogwarts Express was picking up young witches and wizards and the Butterbeer keg was flowing while keeping the Floridian magicians hydrated and happy throughout the hot spring day. Being the skilled witch that I am, I rode a dragon on the ride “Dragon Challenge” and explored Ollivander’s Wand Shop as I bought my supplies needed for my first year at Hogwarts. I strolled through Honeydukes Candy Shop and gorged myself on Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans…watch out for the Bogie Flavors!!! I dined at the Hog’s Head and finally toured my future home…Hogwarts Castle. In the castle, I encountered Dementors, giant spiders, dragons, and even got to meet my future headmaster DUMBLEDORE!!!! What a bro.
All in all, my day spent at Harry Potter World was magical (pun intended). It far surpassed my expectations and made me feel as though I was actually a part of these treasured tales. I can’t wait to go back and experience the amazing adventure again someday.
**PS Shout Out to my boy who lived Harry Potter.]]>
With the delightful change in the weather comes some equally pleasing changes on campus as well. The first change that occurs with the dawn of springtime, is the reawakening of summer clothing. Temperatures will hit no higher than 40 degrees, and I guarantee you will find at least one person waltzing around campus decked out in shorts and sandals. With this amazing 70 DEGREE weather we are experiencing, you will find not a single person wearing Uggs, coats, or even long sleeves. Say goodbye to the wooly sweaters, hats and mittens, and fuzzy socks and say hello to walking around in little more than a bathing suit!
Another thing you’ll notice at UST with the change in weather is the unprofessional frisbee and football players returning to their now visible turf, the quad. Both upper and lower quad pulse with excitement and adrenaline as students enjoy their time soaking in the sun while playing a pick up game of soccer or volleyball in between class time. From the moment the sun rises and until the stars brighten the sky, brace yourself and walk with caution through the quad, keeping your eyes peeled on any incoming frisbees or baseballs coming your way.
Looking for a place to study for your midterms? Try laying out in the upper or lower quad! You can be sure to find plenty of students studying, or for most girls tanning, on the grass while getting their daily dose of sunshine. Be careful though, don’t forget to put on sunscreen! You’ll burn like a crisp!
Unfortunately, my time outside has been pretty limited as I’ve been cramming in some last minute studying for all of my midterms. I can’t help but stare out the window every five minutes or so, wishing I could be enjoying the nice spring weather. Thankfully, spring break is a mere three days away and I’ll get all the time I need to lay out in the sun and rejoice the end of winter.
Happy Spring everyone!]]>
I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a few weeks and now I’m finally doing it! I don’t know if I mentioned this in a previous post, but three weeks ago I was given the opportunity to work on Andy Grammer’s tour crew when he visited and performed in Minneapolis! If you are unfamiliar with Andy Grammer, he is a singer gaining popularity quickly with a hit called “Gotta Keep Your Head Up.” You can hear him on Cities 97 or Ks95, for all you locals out there!
I had met Andy Grammer for the first time in September when I went to Colbie Caillat’s concert at First Avenue (see September blog posts) and this was the first time I heard Andy Grammer perform. He was incredibly talented and I immediately fell in love with his music and, let’s be honest, him. Meeting him was amazing, he told us about how he got started as a performer and my friends and I got to ask him loads of questions! Leaving Colbie’s concert, I was hoping that Andy would be able to come back to Minnesota and perform as a headliner.
About a month after seeing him live and subscribing to all things Andy Grammer on the internet, I received an email asking for volunteers to help with promotion when Andy was touring, including in Minneapolis! Two of my close friends and I immediately sent in our application and we found out days later that we had been chosen to be a part of Andy’s Minneapolis tour crew!!!!!! When we found out we’d be seeing him live again AND hanging out with him…….let’s just say there was a lot of squealing like little girls and dancing around the room.
The day of Andy’s concert finally came, it was the first night back at school and we were totally jazzed to be starting up the second semester with a bang. We were put behind the merchandise table and sold T-shirts, CDs, and wristbands to the hundreds of adoring fans crowding the Varsity Theater. I never thought I’d work behind one of the concert merchandise booths, but it was an adrenaline-rushing thrill that wiped me out of all my energy. What an experience! It was pretty amazing and I had a blast getting to see a behind-the-scenes look at a real, professional concert and the work it takes to put on a performance.
As an additional perk to volunteering, I got a free t-shirt, pictures with Andy and his band, and I even got to make an appearance in his webisode!
I wanted to blog about this experience because it is a great example of something new and exciting that St. Thomas students can do off-campus. There are SO many more opportunities, events, and venues similar to this that UST kids have access to, and that’s one of the big reasons why I love this school. The world is at our feet!
Let me set up the scene for you. It was a dark, blustery, frigid night (ehem Saturday). The clock had just struck 12:37 as I was riding back to campus in my friend’s ice-cube of a car. No sign of life was apparent in the deserted tundra of Portland Avenue, we were alone.
Over the sounds of American classic “Look at Me Now,” terrible choking noises were heard from the hood of the car as the vehicle slowly halted to a stop in the middle of a deserted road a block from campus. We were so close to being back to our UST homeland, the golden, hazy lights were visible in the distance. After multiple attempts to revive the poor car, two girls in the front seats got out to apply as much force they could muster to push the car to campus. I courageously took the wheel and steered the beast of a car while we slowly inched forward.
Upon the realization that it would take days to get back to campus, and seeing as we had no provisions and would surely suffer from hypothermia on this bitter night, I had an epiphany. A certain number had been sitting dormant in my phone contact list since Freshman orientation, un-dialed and yearning to be of use. As I scrolled through my phone, I came upon the contact “UST Public Safety.” The three survivors huddled in the car as our trembling fingers dialed the number.
After a few rings, the voice of an angel answered and we relayed our cries for help. Mere minutes later, not knowing when they’d arrive or if they would make it to us alive, two bright headlights appeared and our saviors floated out of the notorious Public Safety truck. And then they retrieved the most glorious object in human existence from the trunk. . . a jumper cable. Our heros, whom I now refer to as Superman and Hercules, miraculously jumped our dead car.
After showing our eternal gratitude, we finally trekked back to UST. Upon entering the warm, beautiful land known as my dorm room, I kissed the ground and thanked the heavens above for our safe arrival from a tumultuous journey through St. Paul. And that, my future Tommies, is the tale of my heroic rescue by UST Pub Safe.]]>
I won’t lie, it was a rude awakening having to go to class again after having so much time off. It’s already almost the end of the second week of school and I’m still getting used to waking up at a normal time! This semester is jam-packed with reading-heavy classes. For the end of my Sophomore year, I’m taking Research Methods (with a lab), Psychology of Infancy and Childhood, English-Jane Austen in Her Time, and Spanish 212. I already feel slammed with homework and have returned to my second home at UST. . . the library! However, I have found yet another favorite study spot on campus that’s in. . . . . . (drumroll please) the NEW STUDENT CENTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am now going to transition into professing my love for the new Anderson Student Center, the most beautiful place a student could ever dream of. Throughout the past year and a half or so, I have been watching what started as a pile of scaffolding and slabs of concrete transform into the newly opened student center. All the students and faculty have been anxiously awaiting the grand opening of this amazing building, and on January 17th our dreams became reality! I cannot even put into words how much I love this building and it is now one of my very favorite places on campus. It includes all new dining options, a beautiful merchandise store, plenty of study spaces, a bowling alley, a gaming center, and, my favorite, a coffee/smoothie bar. The student center is constantly abuzz with students and it truly completes the campus feel. This will definitely draw even more students that UST already attracts to our school and I’m sure will become a beacon of student life and school spirit.
I have much, much, MUCH more to blog about but I’m off to my next class! As much as I’d love to stay and write more, I need to go talk about Jane Austen. Be prepared for more to come! Stay warm in this suddenly nippy weather!
It was my second year performing in the Christmas concert, last year as a member of the Concert Choir and this year as a member of the Chamber Singers. It is incredibly difficult to explain how much work goes in to making these concerts as superb as they are, but I’ll do my best to give you an inside look at the concert and the preparation needed to put on the Christmas concerts.
In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that I don’t like singing or listening to Christmas songs until Thanksgiving has passed. Well, as a member of the choir, we begin rehearsing the Christmas carols and songs for the concert sometime in late October to early November. Talk about an early start to the holiday season! Typically the group Christmas carols are easier to learn and polish for the concert, but the songs specific to our choir are more difficult and take a longer time to perfect. This means we start working on these songs (usually two of them) earlier in the year, sometime in late September to mid October. Every rehearsal (three days a week, 1.5 hours each rehearsal) is spent working on these songs and making them perfect.
The day of the concert is one of the longest, yet most enjoyable days of the year. It is filled with choir love and bonding, something that I cherish so much. The day begins at the crack of dawn-well, for a college student that is-and ends long after the sun has set. Here’s a rough schedule of the day:
7 AM: Alarm goes off. Hit Snooze. Obviously.
7:15 AM: Second alarm rings. Once again, hit snooze.
7:30 AM: Third alarm. Ok, fine. It’s time to get up.
7:45 AM: Put on the comfiest clothes I own.
8 AM: Straighten the bed head and put my face on (aka makeup).
8:30 AM: Head to Orchestra Hall.
9 AM: Warm Ups.
9:30 AM: Onstage for rehearsal numero uno.
10:30 AM: Hour long break. Go to Caribou. Need. Caffeine.
11:30 AM: Back onstage for rehearsal number two.
12 PM: Lunch Break. Jimmy John’s. As always. #4 please.
1:20 PM: Final Dress Rehearsal. Goodbye comfy clothes. Hello big red dress.
3 PM: Lay around the practice room. Maybe sleep. Or take pictures. Or watch “Bridesmaids” on my friend Alison’s laptop.
4:00 PM: CONCERT 1 WOOHOO!
6 PM: See the family, rest, eat dinner, rest.
7:30 PM: CONCERT 2 WOOHOO!
9 PM: See friends, get comfy clothes back on, BYE orchestra hall.
9:20 PM: 25 Facebook notifications from all the choir love happening online.
9:30 PM: Crash.
That is just a rough sketch of what our day usually consists of. It is LONG, arduous, tiring…but so much fun. I can’t imagine spending that much time with anyone except my choir family. I love you all and can’t wait until next year’s concert!]]>
My desk in my room is cluttered with hundreds of flashcards, ranging from “Aristotelian Beliefs on Happiness” to “Statistic Confidence Interval Tests,” empty candy wrappers from my late night sugar binging, and post-it notes ready to bookmark any important notes or chapters in books from this past semester. Flynn 151 has become a black hole of notes, books, pencils, erasers, bookmarks, endless amounts of caffeine and sugar, music (only in the form of orchestral music because we like to think it helps us focus), sweatpants and sweatshirts, and the constant buzz of the printer copying slides of powerpoint sets and last minute papers. This is just a handful of what a typical student encounters during finals. All that is on our minds is study, study, study, study, sleep, study, study, study, coffee, study, study (with a few breaks here and there to keep hold of our sanity).
It’d be a lie to say that finals week is enjoyable. But, there are a few things pertaining solely to this week that I do find some happiness and comfort in.
The thing I enjoy most about finals week is the common commiseration amongst the whole student body during the week. This is the time of year where the library is packed with people and it is a battle, similar to Rambo, to find an open table. Although there is ferocity in trying to snag a table before it is taken, there is a feeling of bonding as you and your fellow students do your best to tackle the last of the semester.
Another thing I find enjoyable about finals week is the various events that UST provides for students in order to de-stress and relax in the wake of an anxiety-ridden week. Every year there are free massages in MHC on a first come first serve basis, and there is always a long line for the campus favorite Aqua Bed Massage that is well worth the wait! On Study Thursday, the wellness center is hosting the “Stress Spa” day, where all students can go receive massages, color, or play with play-doh. It may seem kiddy to you but there’s nothing more stress relieving than taking a trip back to childhood and doing simple things like playing with coloring books molding play-doh into yellow pizzas or blue snowmen. There’s also a lot of free food being handed out at various places across campus, like free breakfast in the residence halls on Study Thursday or free lollipops sitting on all the tables in the library, warmly welcoming any student diving into studying for the day. Events like this make the students a little less bitter and a little more relaxed during an extremely stressful time and are always quite enjoyable.
Yes, while finals are definitely stressful and a busy end to the semester, there are a few things during the week that make it somewhat more enjoyable. With all this being said, I should probably get back to studying for my own finals that are quickly approaching. Good luck to all students on the end of the year tests and with the last day of classes! J-Term is just around the corner!]]>
Well, everyone is back from Thanksgiving Break and gearing up for the final stretch of first semester. This last chunk of the semester is oh so crucial as we approach the most dreaded thing of the year…finals. Teachers cram in last minute unit exams, projects, papers, and lectures, while students struggle to remember all of the information gained and lost over the last few months. It is quite a glorious time….
However, I am going to save talking about finals for a later date and focus this post on Thanksgiving! Here are some of the things I did in preparation for and during Thanksgiving break:
This just about sums up my Thanksgiving holiday and I hope that all of you had a great one too! I’ll be back soon to vent about finals and the upcoming stressful holidays!]]>