Life Lately (February and March, 2015)

Making rolls
Making rolls

February:

Celebrated… several friends’ birthdays.

Read… Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Attended… a Super Bowl Party, Spirit Cafe (a group discussion at my college church), and Big Monday (a group of friends who get together every single Monday night for a potluck- I was invited by a family from my church).

Dined… at Panera and Buffalo Wild Wings (also got froyo at Sweet Frog).

Created… my first pitcher in ceramics and a calendar for my room.

Baked… sugar cookies, blueberry banana muffins, and cinnamon/dinner rolls.

Went home… and went shopping with my mom, played cards with the family, watched lots of tv, walked with my mom, visited friends and grandparents.

Got a surprise visit… from my sister- we went to Sweet Frog, played Cards Against Humanity, hung out, and went shopping.

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Hiking at Tanglewood

March:

Attended… Arts Alive kickoff (month-long celebration of the arts at our college), Big Monday, on-campus gallery opening (also helped set up the gallery), A Cappella Weekend (we have 3 a cappella groups on campus and they have a concert every year), “Fiddler on the Roof” musical at my high school, Orchesis performance (student dance performance on campus- they’re always really great!), a Save Our Schools Rally, and some meetings.

Read… Eight Girls Taking Pictures.  I’m not quite finished, but it’s good so far.

Exercised… by running once and hiking (a pretty long hike) at Tanglewood once with a friend.

Tutored… at a local elementary school as part of one of my education classes- we did an egg drop project at the end.  We went every week fro 10 weeks, and this past Thursday was our last day :(.

Went home… for a weekend.  Went to the high school musical, hung out with my sister’s friends (along with my sister), and spent some time with some of my old track friends that I haven’t seen in awhile.

Hosted… an overnight (a prospective student that comes and stays with you at college).

Visited… a local high school.  I was going to tutor there, but the timing didn’t work out.

Was visited by… one of my best friends from home.  We went out for drinks, hung out, went out for breakfast, and went shopping.

Finished… putting together the yearbook!!  We were on a really tight deadline, but we finished it on time (I’m sooo happy this is done!).

Completed… the first glaze firing in ceramics- I’m really happy with a lot of the stuff I made!

Overall, the past two months have been super busy.  But they’ve been good, as well, which is always nice.  What have you been up to?

Life Lately 1-29-15

Wow! It’s crazy to think it’s almost February already.  I feel like this month has flown by in many ways.  This is what I’ve been up to since early December.

December:

December Collage

Holiday Banquet at college (fancy dinner) – Took my EAS certification exam (for teaching in NY, I passed!) – Selected and decorated a tree with my pastor here in Elmira and youth from the church – Finals week (pulled my first all-nighter and wrote a LOT of lesson plans) – Potluck dinner with people from college church and their friends – HOME! – Babysat three times – Rang the Salvation Army bell with my sister – Made a wreath with my sister – Baked lots of cookies – Went to the “Nutcracker” with my mom and sister (one of the girls we babysit was one of the soldiers and one of our favorite teacher’s daughters was Clara) – Celebrated my dad’s birthday – Held a Christmas party at our house with my siblings and our friends – Celebrated my 21st birthday (nothing too crazy) and Christmas at our house (hiked in the morning after opening Christmas presents, dinner with immediate family plus grandparents and aunt, looked at old photo slides with an old projector) – Hiked a few times – Shortened jeans – Visited with friends from home – Christmas with our cousins – My brother headed back to Long Island (he was only home a few days) – Grabbed breakfast with some old friends, including one I haven’t seen in 3 years, it was great to catch up – Celebrated New Year’s Eve at home with family (pretty uneventful).

January:

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Hung out with friends from home some more – Went out to dinner with one of my friends to celebrate my birthday – Completed the gallery wall in my room – Panera/Sweet Frog with college friends – Back to college – Hockey game – Potluck dinner with same folks as before – Skyped with one of my best friends from home – Lots of “Gilmore Girls” – Read (Under the Tuscan Sun) – My parents stopped by and took me out to Dunkin Donuts – Ran for first time since last March-Hockey game again.

Some notes about college:

I’m taking 5 classes this term.  Two are education classes: one is in Literacy and the other is in Math and Science.  For those, we meet for class once a week and then on Thursdays, we go into one of the local elementary schools and do tutoring in reading and math.  So far, I’ve really enjoyed that.  It’s nice to work with students again.  I’m also taking Ceramics again (I’m in Ceramics III now).  So far, I’ve made some bowls, a couple tiles, and some cups (I keep meaning to make mugs, but I really dislike making handles, so they keep end up being cups).  I’m taking two other art-related classes: 19th Century Art and Seminar in Art Criticism.  19th Century Art is a directed study, so I only meet with the professor once in awhile and it’s pretty self-guided (I basically have to research the various art movements of the 1800s and write about them).  For the Seminar in Art Criticism class (only 3 students, so pretty relaxed), we watch documentaries about art, look at art work, and visit museums and then write about them.  I was a little nervous it would be boring, but it’s been really interesting so far.  We’ve watched two films/documentaries: “Waste Land” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop”.  “Waste Land” was amazing and I would recommend watching it even if you aren’t into art.  “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is a Banksy film and is very unique.  I’m still not sure what I think about it (plus, many believe it’s a hoax).  I’ve also been continuing to work on the Yearbook with the rest of the club.  The research group I was working with last term has been taking a break, but we’re about to get started on the next step of that this coming week, so I’m really excited to see where it takes us.

What have you been up to these past couple months?  Anything interesting?

Tips for Staying in Touch with Friends/Family While at College

staying in touch- blog

For many people, college is the first time they are away from home for an extended period of time, and it can be difficult to stay in touch with friends and family from back home.  Here are some tips on staying in touch with loved ones, no matter how far away they may be.

Tip #1: Take advantage of Skype.  It’s free (even for group calls), and you can keep in touch with people all around the world.  It’s also nice to be able to see your parents/friends/siblings/grandparents as you talk to them.  Make sure to also set up your parents with a Skype before you head off and if they aren’t great with technology, do a practice run while you are still home to help them out.

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone!  If your grandparents don’t have internet or if your parents don’t answer on Skype, call them!  I’ve also found that sometimes it’s easier to talk to my friends on the phone rather than Skype them.  If you have a limited number of minutes, you can use your Gmail account to call for free anywhere in the United States (you might want to forewarn the person you are calling, as it will come up as a random number they don’t know).

Tip #3: Make a blog.  A blog, either private (and shared only with certain people) or public, can be a great way to keep your loved ones up-to-date on your life.  It doesn’t have to be fancy- just write about the things you are doing and post pictures.  I definitely recommend a blog if you are traveling abroad, as people will want to see all of your photos and hear about your adventures.

Tip #4: Send letters.  I know it sounds old-fashioned, but who doesn’t love getting mail (that’s not bills)?  I’ve also found that this is a great way to stay in touch with people that are very busy, as they can respond when they have the time instead of trying to find a time you are both available to talk on the phone or Skype.  You can use regular notebook paper and normal letters or get pretty stationary- either way, your friends or family members will love hearing from you.

Tip #5: Send an email.  Again, this sounds a bit old-fashioned, but I love getting emails from my grandparents and cousins.  This is a great way to share what you’ve been up to, and you can send it to multiple people at once.  One of my cousin sends all of us an update on his life a couple or few times a year, and I always love getting his email.

Tip #6: To keep in touch with your high school friends, try to schedule Skype dates and phone call dates.  If you had a close group of friends from home, it can be nice to schedule a date with the whole crew.  That way, you don’t have to repeat what you’ve been up to with each individual friend.   It can also be nice to have an ongoing group conversation on Facebook.

Tip #7: To keep in touch with parents, try to schedule a time each week when you can devote an hour or two to talk to them.  I like to Skype with my parents/siblings on the weekends when I’m not as busy, but do whatever works for you.  When I’m bored and don’t have anything to do, I try to remember to call my grandparents as well, since I know they don’t call me because they think I’m too busy.

Tip #8: To keep in touch with your siblings, schedule Skype dates and start ongoing group conversations on Facebook.  My brother and I also exchange weekly emails that summarize what we did that week.

I think the biggest thing to remember is just to make an effort.  We’re not all perfect and there will be times when you’ll slack, but it’s really important to make the time to stay in touch with the people you love.  You’ll be glad you did!

Tips to Consider When Choosing a College

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It’s the time of year when high school seniors have sent in their college applications and are waiting for acceptance letters.  Depending on the colleges they have applied to, they may already have gotten acceptance letters and are now trying to make the very important decision of choosing where to go.  These are my tips for choosing a college.

Tip #1: Look at your financial aid package.  Are there any colleges you know you definitely can’t afford?  As much as we want to pick the right college for us, if that college is going to land you tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) dollars in debt, it probably isn’t worth it.  If you haven’t already, this is the point you should really talk to your parents to determine what their expectations are in terms of paying for college.

Tip #2: Stats and facts about your college can be helpful, but don’t depend entirely on them.  Make sure you visit the colleges you are considering, and if possible, do an overnight.  The best way to determine if a college is for you is by visiting the college.  If you can, also try to sit in on a class within the major you are considering.  If you are comfortable, ask students around campus specific questions.

Tip #3: Think really hard about the kind of college experience you want.  Are there certain clubs and activities you really want to participate in college?  Maybe you are really interested in intramural or club sports or really love debating.  Make sure the college has those things.

Tip #4: Look at the strength of particular programs at the college.  If you are going for business, do they have a good business program?  If you are going into a field where accreditation is important, then be sure to check the program is accredited.

Tip #5: Consider your impression of the college when you visited. Did you feel comfortable there?  Did people seem friendly?  What was your gut reaction?  If you’re not sure and it’s possible, visit the college again.

Tip #6: Consider the size of the college.  There is obviously a huge difference in 20,000 students and 1,000 students, but there is also a pretty distinct difference between 1,500 students and 4,000 students.  While some people love huge colleges, I knew that I wanted a personalized approach, so I chose a college with only 1,200 students.  The bigger the college, the more likely that you will have large lecture classes and the less likely to have opportunities to get to know your professors and classmates.  Small class sizes often mean more discussion-based classes.  Know what works best for you and take that into consideration.

Tip #7: Don’t rule out a college just because it’s close to home.  If it’s a good college and has everything else you’re looking for, it might actually be a good choice.  That said, I do think distance from home is important to consider.  If you’re more than 3 hours away, chances are you will be unable to go home at any time other than breaks, so if you think you might want to take a weekend trip home every once in awhile, you’ll probably want to be closer than that.

Tip #8: Look at where the college is located.  Is it in the middle of a city or out in the middle of nowhere?  Are there things that college students might be interested in nearby?  If it’s located in a city or town, what is the surrounding area like?  Although I love my college, one of the downsides is that it is located in a pretty bad neighborhood and there isn’t easy access to hiking trails (something I would really love).  If you’re outdoorsy, are the outdoors really accessible?  If you love shopping, are stores close enough?

Tip #9: Don’t pick a college based solely on its academics, or solely on its size, or solely on the clubs available.  Just because a school is know for its academics doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love it (and the same goes for clubs/sports/the “type” of college/etc.).  Take into consideration all of the various aspects that make that college the college it is.  Is there good balance between everything?  Are you going to have access to a quality education and also be able to have a good time?

Tip #10: One of the most important things to remember is that life is often what you make it, so choosing the “right” college doesn’t really matter all that much.  Wherever you end up, make the most of this experience- pretty soon you’ll be off on your own in the real world!

Life Lately 5-19-14

Wow! It’s been awhile since I wrote a Life Lately post!  Here’s what I’ve been up to the past 2 1/2 months.

RIT 2014

Spent… a weekend with with 2 of my best friends from high school and had a great time catching up and hanging out.  We watched movies, talked for hours, made dinner together, and went to Barnes and Nobles, where we bought 7 books between the 3 of us to rotate.

Acquired… a lot of new knowledge about theater, acting, ceramics, painting, and Spanish.  For acting, we had to do two different duets (with different people) and an additional monologue.  Although I doubt I’ll venture into acting again, I learned a lot and was glad I was forced to get out of my comfort zone.  Through my theatre class, I learned a lot about the history of theatre and the various types of theatre, something I previously didn’t know a whole lot about.  I ventured for the first time in ceramics and loved it!  For my visual arts education major, I am actually going to concentrate in ceramics.  I learned that painting, particularly for a class and without specific assignments, is not really my thing.  And I greatly expanded my knowledge of the Spanish language, including both vocabulary and grammatical structures.  This was my hardest class and I really probably should have taken a lower level course, but I made it (I did well, even though it was the lowest grade I’ve gotten so far at college).  What I learned definitely helped me when I went to Peru.

Read… Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams and Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  I really enjoyed both.

Attended… two different theatrical performances on campus: “Last Night of Ballyhoo” and “One Act Plays”, which included three different shorter plays.  Both were pretty good.

awards dinner

Received… an award from Phi Beta Kappa honor society for my academics.  There was a ceremony and fancy dinner, which my parents and one of my best friends from home came to.

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Exercised… quite a bit.  Sometimes I went to the gym and used the stationary bike and elliptical, other times I ran, and I also hiked and walked a couple of times.

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Finished… my community service requirement at college.  It’s amazing how quickly 60 hours go.  I did my community service through Circle K, the college version of Kiwanis Club and enjoyed every minute of it.

Took… my first test towards certification for education (the ALST) and passed!

Picked… my new room for next year.  I haven’t really seen the room, but it has a window seat! I’ll be rooming with a new roommate, which is also exciting.

My sister on the right (Liesl) with her friend on the left, who played Maria
My sister on the right (Liesl) with her friend on the left, who played Maria

Went home… the weekend before spring break (and leaving for Peru) to watch my sister perform in “The Sound of Music”.  She was Liesl and did an amazing job!  Our family friends and my aunt and cousin also came to see her perform, and it was nice to see them as well.

Performed… in a violin recital.  I played “Ave Maria” with a piano accompaniment.  Everyone did a great job and was interesting to have a small recital with people at various levels of learning (some who had just begun to learn and some who were very talented and had played for a long time).

Survived… my second semester of sophomore year.  I actually did well in all of my classes, even though I took several courses way outside my comfort zone.

Moved… out of my room at college and back into my room at home.  I didn’t really get to unpack before departing for Peru, so I had to do that once I got back.

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Had… an amazing time in Peru on my school trip! It was truly an amazing trip and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it (getting sick twice was no fun!).  I made some great new friends and learned so much about Peru.

Visited… my brother in New York City prior to returning home (I flew into JFK and my family met me there).  We spent most of the day in Brooklyn attending the Kickstarter block party.  It was fun and really nice to see my brother, but I also really wanted to get home and sleep and take a shower.

Cleaned… a lot once I got home.  My room is finally put back together and the whole house was cleaned in time for my sister’s friends to come over for a barbeque before prom this past weekend.

Planted… 250 Christmas trees with my grandpa at his Christmas tree farm.  It was pretty hard work, but we made really good time (and he took me out to lunch once we had finished).  I also planted a bunch of flowers in our garden and front yard.

Officially finished… my 2nd year of college!  I had to write a 5-page paper in Spanish upon my return from Peru and once that was finished, I was done!  This is both really exciting and also a bit scary- only 2 more years.

Hung out with… my friends, both at college and at home.

Whew! It’s really been a busy couple of months.  What have you been up to?