The End of One Chapter and the Beginning of Another

Gloodbye to my pink tiled campus bathroom!
Goodbye to my pink tiled campus bathroom!

My grades were posted online today.  With this one little thing, I am now officially done with my senior year of college!  It is a bittersweet moment for sure.  I have had four amazing years at Elmira College.  No college experience is perfect, but I really did have a great time for the most part.  I have met so many wonderful people, learned so much, and grown so much.

A little bit of numbers: In my time at Elmira College I took 52 classes; earned 158 credits; completed 2 majors; attempted 1 other major; spent approximately 600 days in classrooms learning; was taught by 21 professors; took 24 classes in the arts; took 14 education classes; spent time in the field as a teacher in 5 different capacities (freshman fieldwork, tutoring weekly in both literacy and STEM, first student teaching experience, and second student teaching experience); and spent 3 weeks studying abroad in Peru.

I started college as a Childhood Education major with a Spanish concentration.  I quickly changed my concentration to Visual and Performing Arts.  I hadn’t taken an art class since 7th grade, but after just one art course, I was hooked.  It didn’t hurt that art came quite naturally to me.  My junior year, I added a Visual Arts major, which is a fancy name for art education.  However, just one semester later, I decided it would be too much to finish and I got rid of that major.  Then, in my senior year, I just happened to look up the requirements for an Art major.  Turns out I was only lacking a couple of classes that I could easily take the next semester.  So I am graduating as a Childhood Education and Art double major.

My last week on campus was a good one.  I spent time with my friends, did a bit of studying, got lunch with one of my amazing professors, and finished up the tiles I have been making for over a year in ceramics.  My last full day on campus and in Elmira was on Thursday.  It was pretty close to a perfect day.  I worked on getting my stuff packed up in the morning, and then went out to lunch with a professor off-campus.  The food was delicious, and my professor gave me the chair that I had decoupaged and painted for a research conference that we presented at (our topic was art in the curriculum).  I then went to visit the students that I taught during student teaching this past fall.  It was my first time visiting my kiddos since December, and it was great to see them again!  On my drive there, I saw my dream hobby truck- a 1950s bright red truck!  I then went shopping for about 4 hours.  Instead of dinner, I went out to get ice cream from my favorite place with a couple of friends.  After, I hung out with my three roommates that were still on campus (just missing one, who had already move out) and finished packing and such.  It was the perfect note to end my time as a college student.

On Friday, I had a final in the morning.  I then packed up my car with help from two of my roommates, said goodbye to them, and picked up my glazed and fired tiles from the ceramics studio.  They were finished just in time!  They were actually still pretty warm when I picked them up- I had to wear gloves while taking them out of the kiln!  My trip home was definitely interesting.  I have been having car troubles for about a month, so I was nervous I wouldn’t make it over the hills that are between the exit off the highway and my hometown 30 minutes away.  I asked my dad to meet me in the town that I usually exit off the highway in case I broke down (there’s no cell service, so I didn’t want to get stranded).  However, due to a completely unrelated problem, I broke down before even making it there.  Thankfully, my dad was only about 15 minutes away and was able to come rescue me.  We got the car one exit further and got a tow truck.  We then moved all of my stuff from the car to his truck, and finally made it home about an hour and a half or more later than I originally expected.

I helped my dad finish installing new linoleum flooring in my bedroom on Saturday, and am still working on moving my stuff back into my room and unpacking.  Of course, I’m going on an international trip later this week, so I’m also simultaneously packing for that.  Fun stuff!

Eek! Only two and a half weeks left of undergrad!

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I started packing up my dorm room today.  Such a bittersweet thing!  I still have one and a half weeks of classes left and one week of finals, but my parents are coming this coming week for a ceremony, so I figured I’d start packing so they could take things home.  I went through my desk, dresser, and wardrobe, pulling out anything I know I won’t need in the next three weeks.  About 1/2 to 3/4 of my clothes and 1/2 my desk are now packed away.  I have two great shelves attached to my desk and which have been full of books, journals, picture frames, and little items that make me smile.  I don’t really need them in the next two weeks, so they were among the things I packed.   There are still a couple of things, but it looks so empty and lonely now!

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I have to admit, this is the first time my graduating and leaving Elmira College forever has felt truly real to me.  I know it’s coming, and I even have a countdown (20 days left, in case you were wondering), but it just hasn’t sunk in yet.  I’m not sure it will fully sink in until I drive away that one last time.  I have enjoyed four great years here, and there is a lot I will miss about the “purple bubble”, as we lovingly (well, somewhat lovingly) refer to our college, due to the fact that EVERYTHING is purple.  I’ll miss the people I’ve met, the beautiful campus, the professors that truly care about their students, and living right down the hall from my friends.  It’s weird to think that I’m “this” close to finishing my undergrad experience.  I will be going on eventually to get my master’s degree, but this could be the last time I sit in actual classrooms to learn.

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the view of the “puddle” from my freshman dorm room

It’s funny how when you walk onto your college campus for Freshman Orientation, everything is so new and strange, and now, just four short years later, everything is so familiar.  I remember being nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find my classes or that I would somehow get lost on our tiny campus.  Now, the campus has become my home.  I can tell you exactly how long it takes to walk from one building to another (at a fast pace, you can get from one corner to the furthest corner in about 7 minutes, definitely no more than ten).  I can name every building on campus, and tell you what its purpose is.

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a view of the “puddle” from this past fall, taken while returning from a hiking excursion

My college is going through a lot of changes right now, and I’m not a big fan of a lot of them.  I feel like the college I’ve loved will not be here next year.  Instead, a very different college will occupy the place I have spent the past four years in.  In many ways, I’m glad I’m a senior, glad I’ve only had to deal with a small portion of the changes.  It’s hard to see something you like change into something you don’t  like.  In some ways, all of these changes (and I’m talking HUGE, drastic changes) make it easier to say goodbye.  Even right now, this does not feel like the college I applied to and chose to attend.  There are still many great things about Elmira College, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same place.  I’ll miss it, but I’m also ready to move on to the next phase of my life.

Random Tidbits

Hello everyone!  I hope the weather is nice in your corner of the world and that you’ve had a good weekend!  Here are some random tidbits from my life:

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Hard at work (see #7 below)

1) I went to Rochester, NY for the weekend to visit one of my best friends from high school.  It was a fun weekend- we went to the St. Patty’s Day Parade, hung out, and I got to meet a bunch of her college friends.  She lives really close to downtown and I was impressed with the city.  It was actually a bit nicer than I expected.

2) I got my first sunburn of the year while watching the parade!  I was smart enough to put sunscreen on my face, but I didn’t think to put it on my neck/chest.  Luckily, I was wearing a long-sleeved crew-neck shirt and pants, so only a little bit of skin was showing!  I’m very pale-skinned and I burn very easily.  I try my best to make sure I cover up or wear sunscreen, but it still happens several times a year.  A summer never goes by without getting burnt at least a couple of times, despite my best efforts.

3) The weather has been really nice this past week!  Incredibly warm and sunny for upstate New York in March!  It’s been great to be able to open the windows and air out my college apartment, as well as soak up the sun while walking to and from my classes.  About halfway through last week, though, I realized I’m very short on short-sleeved more casual t-shirts.  I went shopping briefly on Wednesday, but didn’t end up getting any shirts- will need to go back soon!  I have a couple gift cards, so I guess those will be put to good use.

4) Speaking of clothes shopping, I’ve been working on figuring out what to bring to Moldova with me and what I still need to purchase clothes-wise.  It’s a little tricky, because we only get 2 suitcases and have to pack for four distinct seasons.  I got a really nice winter coat for Christmas, and I’ve ordered LLBean Bean boots (they should work as both winter boots and rain boots), but I’m still looking for a pair of black dressier (ish) boots that have good rubber soles and a good tread.  I found a pair I loved, but they didn’t come in wide-calf and the regular-calf ones didn’t fit.  Depending on where my permanent placement is, it might only be acceptable to wear dresses and skirts (and no pants), so I’ve also been trying to build up my dress and skirt wardrobe.  I don’t really mind wearing dresses and skirts (although it is a bit harder to keep warm, so I’m still working on figuring out that piece), but don’t have many.  I bought two dresses and a skirt at Old Navy last week, and also ordered a skirt and a couple of dresses from ThredUp (but ended up returning the dresses- they didn’t fit.  I love the skirt though!).  We’re getting there!

5) We were out of eggs all week last week, but we finally got some, so I made some banana bread this afternoon- we had a few very over-ripe bananas that worked perfectly for bread!  I already had two slice- yum!

6) The end of my undergraduate college experience is getting closer and closer each day!  This semester has been flying by very quickly, and the end is fast approaching.  It’s definitely bittersweet.  I’m really excited to start my new adventure and a new chapter of my life, but there are many things I will definitely miss about college.  It’s been a (mostly) good four years, and I’ll be sad to leave.

7) I’ve been putting off the dreaded edTPA (a portfolio-based assessment to become certified for teaching in New York State) since the fall.  I made a little progress over Christmas break and my February break, but really need to tackle it and get it done in the next couple of weeks.  I spent about 5 hours this afternoon/evening getting some of the lesson plans done, which apparently requires spreading papers across half of the living room floor (see photo above)- oops!  Guess I should clean that up before I head to bed!

Film Photography

I’m taking a lot of art-related classes this term (1 music class, 3 studio art classes, and 2 art history classes).  One of the classes I’m taking is a photography class.  The class is primarily film, although we will do some digital photography towards the end of the term (which is actually fast approaching!).  I thought I would share the photos I’ve taken (the ones I’ve printed, at least!), as well as a photo collage I did for one of our assignments.

So far, I’ve really enjoyed working with film.  All of our photos are taken with a 35mm camera, without flash or any special lens.  We are only allowed to do black and white photography.  I’m using my grandpa’s old camera, which is a Canon from the 80s.  I’ve had some trouble with the camera- for the past couple of rolls, it thinks the roll is done after 27 photos (instead of the 36 it should actually take), and it also won’t rewind, which means I have to unload the film in a darkroom and immediately develop it.  The process is pretty cool, but can also be tiring.  So much time is required just to process the film, and then it takes even more time to print each photo.  It’s also expensive!  But I love the way the photos come out, and the pictures feel more valuable when you’ve put so much time and effort into them.  I’ve only printed about 2-3 photos from each roll I’ve taken.  If I have paper left over after our assignments are fulfilled, I want to print some others.

First roll:

photography002cropAbove: Architecture on my college campus- this beautiful gothic building is the one I lived in last year!

photography005cropAbove: This is the same building, and is actually the arch that is located just below the former photo.

Roll 2:

photography004cropAbove: My beautiful sister, Heather.  She came to visit me the weekend before she left for 6 months in South Africa, and I took this photo on a walk we took.

photography006cropAbove: A stream we saw on our walk.  I loved the way the stream reflected the trees.

Roll 3:

photography007cropAbove: The lounge in Tompkins Hall (Elmira College).  All of the photos I printed from this roll were from the same building (which is the same building featured in the two photos from the first roll- I’m sensing a theme here!).

photography008cropAbove: This beautiful window seat is located on the floor I lived on last year.  The windows in the building are just amazing!

photography009cropAbove: The hall I lived on last year.  The hallway is pretty dark, despite the bright window at the end, creating a somewhat eerie mood.

Collage:

photography010cropAbove: We were encouraged to create a collage from old discards that past students have left behind.  I combined parts from 5 photos to create my image.  Funny story: the whole time I made this, I was thinking that the “motel” sign was a cinema/theater sign, thus the “showing” sign.  It was only after the entire thing was finished that I realized my mistake- oops!  I still really like it, and think my mistake actually might make it more interesting.

So, there you go!  My first adventures with film photography!

Snow and Ice and Rain, Oh My!

I don’t know what the weather’s like in your neck of the woods, but it is especially icky here.  The temperature is hovering right around freezing, it has been raining all day, and the ground is solid ice.  My college didn’t cancel classes, so I’ve had to already brave the horrid sidewalks and have to again in a bit for my afternoon class.  I stepped in a puddle that was 3-4 inches deep (there was no other option-things are flooding!) on my way to my morning class.  The water was so, so cold!  It felt like my toes got to hang out in an ice bath for way too long.  Not fun.  Then after my class, I went to the campus post office to send some letters and check my mail, and the little incline up to the post office was entirely ice!  Very scary.  I’ve survived thus far, though, and my feet finally have feeling back in them after an hour in my warmest, dry-est pair of socks.  I don’t have rain boots, so hiking boots it is for the walk to my second class!  Hopefully, they’ll keep me nice and dry!

I have to admit, though, I didn’t feel so bad about the weather once I called my mom.  My hometown got into the -20s/-30s over the weekend and lost power for over 12 hours.  Most people have electric furnaces, so this has wrecked havoc across town.  Even a couple of days after heat has been restored, people are discovering burst pipes in places that seemed fine yesterday.  My grandparent’s house (they’re in Florida for the winter) has leaks, our church has leaks, the middle/high school has burst pipes, our other properties are still thawing out but most likely have leaks.  Add to that a number of fires, and you’ve got a very miserable February break.  My mom told me the firefighters haven’t sleep in over 2 days, and are running out of food and drink supplies.

I saw someone post on Facebook that at least it’s not snow.  I disagree.  I’d much prefer snow to this icky weather.  At least snow is easier to remove from the sidewalk than inches of water!  And it’s definitely more beautiful.  It has certainly been a weird winter.  It’s been way warmer than usual and we’ve only gotten a dusting of snow here and there.  And now this yucky ice/rain mixture.  It’s only February, but I’m thinking spring can come now (and I generally like winter!).

Update: I didn’t get this posted earlier, so I’m going to add the update that it’s now snowing big fat snowflakes and it seems a lot better out there.

How’s the weather where you live?  Any fun weather-related stories?