Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yes Mom, I'm Being Taken Care Of

Happy Sunday! I wanted to share with you a few things about all the amazing people here at SMC who have helped me out over the past week.  I could probably go on forever, but I'll try to cut to the chase.

Last Friday, I unfortunately found a nail in one of my tires.  Although I'm perfectly able to get gas, fill up my tires, get a car wash, and other basic things like that, I'm rather incompetent when it comes to bigger issues relating to my car.  Long story short, I ended up needing a new tire.  Since I don't live in Vermont full time, I wasn't sure what I should do to find a truthworthy and reliable person to replace my tire for me.  I ended up calling my mentor of sorts and the Lit Choir director, Jerome, and asked for his mechanic's information.  Rather than giving me a name and number and leaving me to my own devices, Jerome called me back with a plan to take me to a number of different places to ensure I found a tire that would be compatible with the rest of my tires.  The next morning (which was a Saturday), he took time out of his day to accompany me in my search for a new tire, which ended up being a success.  He even called his mechanic to make sure they thought my new tire would work with my old ones.  Before calling Jerome, I had thought about driving all the way home to my own mechanic, but I'm so glad I didn't.  I felt so blessed to have Jerome's help in what otherwise would have been quite a difficult situation for me to handle by myself.

Marianne (who I met through Jerome), myself, and Jerome

This past Friday brought with it a whole different adventure of sorts.  After attending the Career Symposium (which was a fantastic event, more to come later), I really didn't feel well.  I thought after I got some food in me I would feel better, so I headed to my friends' house for some pizza.  Unfortunately it didn't make me feel any better, so I decided to go home and go to sleep.  My wonderful friend Sharon came up North with me, missing the shuttle back to Main Campus to make sure I was alright.  I was so grateful to know that I had someone there if I needed anything.  I ended up sleeping for a while and feeling much better by the end of yesterday.  Both Sharon and my friend Cait checked in on me multiple times, which made me feel really special and important.  Not that I like being sick, but in a sense it served as a reminder that my SMC family will always be there for me, especially when my immediate family can't be.  Usually when I'm sick, all I want is my mom (which may sound childish, but oh well).  But this time, I was totally content (well, as content as I could be while sick) to have my friends take care of me.
Sharon and me :)

Sharon, myself, and Cait being a little crazy

Not only does my SMC family make me feel better, they help my mom and family out as well.  When I first came to college, my mom, being her wonderful and loving self, wanted to make sure that I would find people who would always have my back when she couldn't be there for me.  I would definitely say that I've done just that.  I couldn't be more grateful for the amazing people I've met here, many of which aren't included in this post (by name, at least).  I know I've said it before, but I honestly couldn't be happier to have attended Saint Mike's.  The community that I've been immersed in has been so welcoming and continues to help me in whatever way I need.  I am going to miss it immensely when I'm abroad next semester!

Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!
~Merrill


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Appreciating the Scenery

Hello everyone!  It's now arguably the most beautiful season in Vermont - fall.  Personally I think the Saint Mike's campus is gorgeous all year round, but there's something about fall that stands out.  I have been extremely busy with classes (we just had midterms), but it's so refreshing to be able to see the beauty of nature right as I walk out of my dorm or my classrooms.  I wanted to share some pictures I have been collecting over the past few weeks:
 
A gorgeous tree up on North Campus, where I live this year.
Red is my favorite fall leaf color!
A view of Camel's Hump from the field across the street from SMC.
I love these clouds! On the highway right near SMC :)
Some more cool clouds across from SMC.  I also like this photo because to me, the biker is
so "Vermont" - many students (including me) ride their bikes around campus all the time.
Lake Champlain is just beyond this photo, taken in
South Burlington where I babysit.  I love the sun shining through the trees!
We've had some fantastic sunsets as well, but my camera never seems to do them justice!

Anyway, in addition to the scenery, I think it's extremely important to take time out of our busy days to appreciate what's important to us - especially the little things.  This year has been particularly busy for me (hence my lack of frequent posts, my apologies for that!), so whenever I get the chance to spend some time relaxing or hanging out with my friends, I am very grateful.  SMC students had this past Monday and Tuesday off, so I was able to go home for the weekend.  It was great to see my family and some friends and take a bit of time off from homework.  However when I returned, I was reminded that while I love being home, I love Saint Mike's and the people here just as much.  I've said this before, but I really am so happy to have found a place like Saint Mike's which is truly beautiful from the inside out. 

I hope you can find time to come visit us - I promise you won't regret it!  In the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions you might have or find me on Twitter to get some little tidbits about my life here at SMC.

Thanks for reading and have a great night!
~Merrill

Monday, September 23, 2013

Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Hello everyone! Hopefully this post finds you settled back into the school routine.  These first few weeks of the semester have been pretty busy for me, but I'm doing my best to enjoy every minute.  This past weekend I was able to get away from all the craziness and go on a retreat with the Liturgical Choir.

As some of you may know, I have been a singing with the Lit Choir here at SMC since my freshman year.  It is my absolute favorite activity on campus, not just because it got me to sing (something I never did much of before college), but because the group has truly become like a family to me.  Saint Mike's is known for its community atmosphere, and I consider Lit Choir to be its own community within SMC.

Last spring, Jerome (the Lit Choir director) began to think about having a retreat for the choir and he asked me if I would help him plan it and give a "talk" during the weekend about prayer.  (As you may remember from my last post, I returned to SMC a few days early to have a "team retreat" for the core group of students working on the retreat for the whole group).  After lots of hard work throughout the summer, everything finally came together.  The retreat was held at Saint Anne's Shrine in Isle La Motte, Vermont.  It was an absolutely beautiful location for the retreat.  Our group (along with the men's basketball team) was actually the first to stay at the Shrine.  All of the staff were extremely friendly and provided us with delicious food!  Here are some of the beautiful views from right outside the cafe:

 

As I mentioned, Jerome asked me to give the prayer talk on the retreat.  I honestly feel so blessed to have had this opportunity, especially because I never would've expected anything like this to come about from simply deciding to sing in the choir.  Being a part of the choir has shown me that something that seems so small can really have a big impact.  I look forward to Mass each Sunday because I know that I will see many familiar faces who all share my love of prayer and worship through music.  The choir is a place that makes me feel comfortable and confident expressing myself, through faith and through the silly jokes that I bring to the group each week (which usually involve pirates).

One of the things I loved the most about the retreat was that it brought old and new members together.  Some of the people in the group have been singing with Jerome for many years, and it's awesome to hear about their past SMC experiences as well as to know that even after I graduate, I will still be welcomed back into this SMC community.  The fact that a 2013 graduate returned tonight to play violin with us goes to show that once you are a part of the SMC (and Lit Choir, in this case) community, you never really leave it.  It comforts me to know that the place I've come to call my second home will always be there to welcome me back.

I hope that the Class fo 2017 is starting to feel like SMC is a second home and that those in the midst of the college search will come see what SMC is all about :)

Until next time, I'll leave you with some more pictures from the retreat.  Thanks for taking the time to hear what I have to say and have a fantastic week!
~Merrill 
Marianne (one of Jerome's friends who helped us plan the retreat),
myself, and Jerome
My lovely roommate Emma, enjoying the sunset on the beach!
Group photo!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

SMC...No Place I'd Rather Be

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a fantastic summer.  Mine was jam packed with camp counseling, babysitting, math tutoring, vacationing, hanging out with friends, and of course getting ready to come back to Saint Mike's.  I absolutely loved being at home in New Hampshire, but I couldn't be happier to be back at school.

I was able to come back to Vermont a few days early because I'm participating in a retreat for the Liturgical Choir, so I've been here almost two weeks.  This past week was the first week of classes.  I have a lot of work to do, but I really like what I'm taking and I'm starting to get back into the groove of balancing studying with relaxation and time with friends who I haven't seen all summer.  Here are the classes I'm taking:

Religion and Science, which meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:45 - 10:50.  It is an honors course which also fulfills my upper level Study of Christian Tradition and Thought Liberal Studies Requirement (LSR).  I have always been interested in learning about how religion and science interact (or don't), and this class seems like it will be the perfect fit for me.  I have an Irish professor, which is perfect because I'll be studying abroad in Ireland next semester.  More on that later!

Adolescent Development, which meets every MWF from 11 - 12:05.  If everything goes as planned, I want to be a high school counselor.  The three class periods I've had so far are already confirming my plan to work with adolescents, which I'm really happy about!  Professor Susan Kuntz teaches the class, and while I've never taken a class with her before, she seems like a great professor who I look forward to working with.

Sociological Theories, which meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:45 - 11:20.  Last semester I decided to add a sociology minor to my psychology major.  This is the second sociology class I've taken so far.  We have been reading philosophy which is challenging for me, but the discussions we have in class have helped me to better grasp the material.

Abnormal Psychology, which meets every T/TH from 11:30 - 1:05.  I'm really enjoying this class so far.  We have been working on distinguishing between disease, illness, and sickness and applying these terms to mental disorders we are familiar with through everyday life.  From what I can tell, this class is really going to help me in thinking critically about how I as well as the general public view mental disorders and people with them, which I think is very important.

I love my schedule because I'm interested in what I'm taking, but also because I don't have class earlier than 9:45 every day.  Also, having my classes back to back works really well for me.  That's one of the many things I love about college - you are able to create a schedule that works for you.

As I've written about before, I believe that attending a residential college means so much more than just taking classes and getting a degree.  There is something unique and special about living with your friends around you and being able to participate in so many different activities.  I mentioned above that I will be participating in a retreat for the Liturgical Choir, which is why I came to VT early this year.  I couldn't have asked for a better start to the year than having the opportunity to come up early and spend time with other people (students as well as adults) who will be on the retreat.  I don't know how else to describe it other than to say I could feel myself growing (intellectually, that is) the moment I arrived back on campus.  I didn't realize how content I had become at home and how much being at Saint Mike's allows me to develop as a person.  I have met so many amazing people during my time here and look forward to meeting more throughout the next two years.  I can't believe I'm a junior already - it feels like just yesterday that I was moving into Lyons, my freshmen dorm.

Okay, enough with the reminiscing.  I would like to end by extending a huge warm welcome to the Class of 2017.  I have loved meeting some of you and can't wait to meet more of you as the year goes on.  Cherish your time here at SMC because it goes by way too quickly!  And for those of you who might be just starting to look at colleges, best of luck in your search!  I'm glad Saint Mike's has caught your eye...it really is a spectacular place.

I'm off to do a little more homework before getting ready for another week of class.  Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week everyone!

-Merrill

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Family - in New Hampshire and at SMC

Hello everyone! I hope all my fellow SMCers are having a wonderful summer so far - I know I am!  I've been able to see some of my friends from home, spend some quality time with my family, and catch up on TV, sleep, and reading.  And of course, I've been hanging out with my pet goats :) I officially start work in a few weeks so I'm enjoying the time off for now!
My best friend Paige and me :)

King Jack!
As crazy as it may seem, I missed being at Saint Mike's almost as soon as I arrived home to New Hampshire.  I have been thinking a lot lately about how far I've come in terms of my comfort in being away from home.  Before going to college, I was a nervous wreck and honestly didn't really want to leave everything I knew and loved in New Hampshire.  But I'm so happy to be able to say that I couldn't have made a better decision about where I wanted to go to college and, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm so thankful for the wonderful people that are part of my SMC family.
 
Luckily for me, I started to form my SMC family before arriving on campus the fall of my freshman year.  The reason I was able to do this is because I decided to go on POW, which stands for Pre-Orientation Weekend and is one of five summer programs for new students.  I'm sure you've read about it in the New Student Guide you received in the mail.  I met my friend and fellow blogger Alex on POW.  Seeing some familiar faces (which included new students as well as my POW leaders) when I arrived on campus in the fall definitely helped ease some of my anxiety about being in a new place.  Speaking of the leaders, I wanted to give a special shout-out to someone you've probably read about before on my blog: one of my best friends Cait.  She is going to be a POW leader this summer and I'm so excited for her and all the students she will get to meet!  (On a side note, Cait is a biology major and just started her own blog about her internship at an aquarium this summer, so be sure to check it out!)
 
So, the moral of the story is that I highly encourage you to sign up for one of the summer programs SMC offers if you haven't done so already - you definitely won't regret it!  It is a great way to meet new people and get even more excited about living in Vermont. :)  Also, if you are in the position to sign up for a summer program, that means you've committed to SMC, so a huge congratulations are in order!  I hope every member of the Class of 2017 comes to love Saint Mike's as much as I do.

I will keep you posted about anything exciting that happens here in good old New Hampshire over the summer!  As always, thanks for reading my blog!
Merrill

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Journey to Summer

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't blogged in a while - finals week got the best of me! But I am happy to tell you that I survived and it is now officially summer!

The last day of classes was last Wednesday, and finals went from Friday - Wednesday (yesterday).  Luckily, I managed to pack a lot of both studying and fun into my final days at SMC.  I finished up my last final yesterday morning and I think it went well!  Since yesterday was the last day of finals, most people had gone home or would be on their way shortly.  But because I am in the Liturgical Choir, I am lucky enough to get to spend a few extra days at SMC so I can sing at the Baccalaureate Mass on Saturday.  I'm really excited!

To celebrate a great year of both singing and academics, Jerome (the Lit Choir Director) took us out to lunch in downtown Burlington yesterday.  We went to Sweetwaters, which is one of my favorite spots.  It was a gorgeous day, so we were able to eat outside.  Then we headed over to Ben & Jerry's for some delicious ice cream! 
All smiles :)
Afterwards, we walked down to the waterfront to enjoy the view.
 
Beautiful sunshine!
We then returned to campus to gather our things, and headed to Jerome's house for a BBQ complete with burgers, dogs, pasta salad, beans, drinks, and of course s'mores!  We even rehearsed the songs we'll be singing for Baccalaureate.  It ended up raining, but overall it was an awesome night and a great way to kick off summer!

Today I was able to sleep in and then go out to lunch with my roommate Emma (who is also staying for Baccalaureate) and one of my best friends Cait (who is staying to work senior week).  We had a great time relaxing, especially because now we don't have to worry about schoolwork.  I've spent the rest of the day packing...I'm so sad to be leaving! But I have a great summer ahead of me, full of camp counseling, tutoring, babysitting, and of course, spending quality time with my friends and family!

I honestly can't believe I am now halfway done with my college career - the time went by way too quickly!  However, this realization is definitely helping me to enjoy every moment, even the more difficult ones.  There are definitely days where work or other issues can be stressful/overwhelming, but I know that I have made a home here at SMC and that I have many people looking out for me who I can truly call my SMC family.  I'm so thankful for them and I will miss them dearly over the summer!

For those of you who have officially decided to make SMC your home away from home in the fall, congratulations!  Enjoy the end of your senior year and make it one to remember!

Until next time, make sure to get out and enjoy the sunshine!  And as always, thanks for reading my blog!
Merrill

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Crazy Week (and Weekend)!

Hello everyone! Hope you had a great weekend! This past week has been jam-packed with various activities, so I wanted to take a minute to tell you about a few of them.
 
On Tuesday, we had our end-of-the-year banquet for Founders Society.  All tour guides, bloggers, day-visit hosts, etc. are part of Founders Society and play a very important role in spreading the word about how wonderful a school Saint Mike's is!  Some awards were given out for especially valuable members, but it was definitely emphasized how much the Admissions staff really appreciates all of us.  After the banquet was the last Knight Chat of the year.  We  had some great questions and it was a lot of fun!
 
As you may know, Thursday was a big day for everyone at SMC (or should I say SMU?).  We had Macklemore & Ryan Lewis come for our spring concert, and it was absolutely phenomenal!  About 3,000 people (a combination of students and people from the local area) packed into Ross Sports Center where members of the Student Association (SA) had been working hard all day setting up (special shout out to Caitlin & Eric for planning everything!).  Macklemore of course performed Thrift Shop as well as many other awesome songs!  There were two especially memorable moments for everyone who was there: 1) he called SMC SMU by accident (and then everyone corrected him...it was hilarious!) and 2) he told the audience about how he had visited an SMC student who was recently diagnosed with leukemia earlier that day.  The letter he wrote about the experience was especially touching and helped me to think of him as so much more than just a rapper.  Here are some pictures from the show:
The crowd is ready to rock!
 
Macklemore & Ryan pumping up the audience
 
Macklemore crowd surfing!
 
My attempt at a panoramic view!
 
 
Last semester, I was a TA for the first year seminar Horses & Healing (you may have read about it on my blog before).  On Friday afternoon, the TAs from last semester drove next semester's TAs to our professor Bridget's house for dinner.  The food was delicious and the conversation was wonderful.  I have never been to a professor's house before so that was an interesting and very memorable experience!  Once we got back to campus, many of TAs (old and new) went to the annual MLK Jr. Society Talent Show.  McCarthy Arts Center was completely packed with students eager to support their friends, and the show didn't disappoint!  There was a combination of comedy, singing, dancing, and everything in between.  Overall the show was great and I would definitely recommend it to students who decide they want to make SMC their home next year! :)
 
Saturday was the highly-anticipated P-Day, which stands for Preparation Day.  As I've talked about before, P-Day is basically a day filled with fun before finals start (this Wednesday is our last day of classes - I can't believe it!).  I signed up to be a P-Day worker, which means I made sure everyone stayed safe on the inflatables and then helped vendors in the food tent (there is a ton of different food available throughout the day - everything I had was delicious!).  The entertainment for the night was a mind reader/sword swallower, which was very cool.  He did some card tricks and actually made it look like he was reading people's minds which was crazy!  After his performance, there was a Late Night Breakfast in Alliot.  This is always a really popular P-Day event - I would say just about every SMC student was in Alliot at some point during the breakfast.  Overall, the day was a success and I'm so glad I was able to take that time to relax before finals!
The victorious Amelia!
 
Lindy and me enjoying some Ben & Jerry's :)
 
Mind reader/sword swallower!
 
As I mentioned, SMC students only have three more days of classes, and finals begin this coming Friday.  I can't believe my sophomore year is coming to an end so quickly!  Going home will definitely be bittersweet - I love my NH family and friends, but I will definitely miss being here in Vermont.
 
Thanks so much for reading my blog, and I will do my best to keep you updated throughout the last few weeks here at SMC!  Also, good luck to everyone making their final college decisions this week!  If you choose SMC, I look forward to meeting you in the fall! :)
~Merrill

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Little of Everything: Classes, Ice Cream, and Boston

Hello everyone and Happy Hump Day!  School has definitely been keeping me busy, but I wanted to share with you some tidbits that have stood out to me in the past week or so.

Class Registration Last week, rising juniors (that's me...can't believe it!) registered for classes for the fall.  Luckily, I got into everything I wanted!  Next semester I'll be taking:
Adolescent Development - an elective for my Psychology major and a nice complement to the Child Development class I'm currently taking
Abnormal Psychology - counts towards my Psych major
Sociological Theories - counts towards my recently declared Sociology minor!
Science and Religion (Honors) - fulfills my upper level "Study of Christian Traditions and Thought" Liberal Studies Requirement
All of my classes next semester will start at 9:45, which will be quite a nice change from this semester!  While it's nice to start early (8 or 8:30) and finish early everyday, there are some days when I would definitely prefer to sleep in.

As I mentioned in my last post, last Tuesday was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's.  I am part of the SMC chapter of an online magazine called HerCampus, so I went down to Burlington with some of my fellow staff members.  I got a New York Super Fudge Chunk cone, which was absolutely delicious!
Me, Emma, Taylor, Alex, and Lauren all enjoying our cones :)
While waiting in line, we saw so many fellow SMC students.  After we got our ice cream, Alex and Lauren made some very cool SpinArt.  Then we headed back to SMC and had a nice dinner together in Alliot.


Last but certainly not least, I wanted to let everyone who was affected by the events in Boston on Monday know that my thoughts and prayers are with them.  As Alex mentioned in her latest post, many SMC students come from Massachusetts.  Times like these have a great power to bring people together, and I think that's exactly what's happening at Saint Mike's.  Although I considered us a family before Monday, I think our bond is even stronger now.  It is clear that everyone is willing to help anyone who might need it.  Yesterday students received a very nice note from the VP for Student Affairs, Dawn Ellinwood, reminding us that she, as well as other faculty, staff, and counselors, are always available for us, the students.

As I learned on my LEAP retreat, we must choose to love, not hate.  As difficult as that is, it's so important.  I like to say everything happens for a reason.  In times like these, I think it's best to focus on the positive.  Many people have already shared this Acts of Kindness article, but I thought it was worth passing on.

Hope everyone is outside enjoying the nice weather, and being thankful for all the blessings in their lives!  Again, my thoughts and prayers are with Boston and everyone affected.  Stay strong and God bless!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Let the Crazy Begin!

Hello everyone and Happy Monday!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend, I know I did!

As I mentioned in my last post, I went on a retreat called Leap.  I can't say too much about it because I don't want to give away anything for those who might read this and go on the retreat in the future.  However, I can say that I returned to campus last night feeling rejuvenated and filled with love for all the wonderful people in my life, both at home and at SMC.  I now consider everyone who I went on the retreat with a part of my SMC family.  Today I was greeted with so many hugs from the people I met over the weekend.  Hugs are one of my favorite things so it was absolutely wonderful!  In addition to all the hugs, many of us who went on the retreat (Leapers, as we like to call ourselves) got together to have dinner in Alliot.  (Apparently we can't be apart for even a day!)  There were so many of us that we had to push together a few tables so we could all fit!


Dinner with my Leapers was definitely exciting, but the rest of my day was wonderful as well.  Before class (bright and early at 8:30), I headed over the Hoehl (the Admissions building) to meet an accepted student so he could shadow me for the day.  I brought him to my classes and then over to Ross/Tarrant (the gym) to meet with the Associate Director of Athletics, Zaf Bludevich.  I had never met Zaf before, but he was extremely nice and even showed us the ski equipment room.

After meeting with Zaf, a few of my friends and I had lunch with my shadow, and then I brought him back to Hoehl so he could have a tour.  I hope he loved Saint Mike's as much as I loved showing him around!

In other news, you may know that tomorrow Ben & Jerry's is hosting Free Cone Day.  My friend Alex and I went last year and we had so much fun, so we will definitely be going again this year!  I can't wait.  After all, who doesn't love free ice cream?!
 
So delicious!

How exciting!
Looking toward the rest of the week, I have two exams coming up and another one at the beginning of next week.  It's hard to believe SMC students only have three and a half more weeks of class before finals start!  I will do my best to keep you updated as much as possible.

Have a wonderful week and as always, thanks so much for reading my blog!  If you have any questions feel free to email me or contact me via Twitter!
~Merrill

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Calm Before the Storm

Happy Saturday everyone!  Hope you all had a great week.  Mine was jam-packed but now I'm home for Easter break, so the hard work was definitely worth it!  This will be the last time I'm home before the end of the semester which is so crazy to think about.  SMC students have about a month left until finals start.  I have something going on every weekend from now until the end of the semester, so I know it'll fly by.  Here's a look of what's ahead for me:
 
LEAP Retreat - April 5-7
LEAP is one of the retreats offered through Edmundite Campus Ministry.  I don't know too much about it, but a few of my friends have been on LEAP before and I can't wait to go!  I will be sure let you know how it was when I get back :)
 
Class Registration - April 8
I am in Group 1 (of 2) for the sophomore class, so I'll be getting up bright and early to register for fall semester classes.  Crossing my fingers I get everything I want - I'll keep you posted!
 
Accepted Students Day - April 13
This will be one of two Accepted Students Days in April.  I'm very excited to be giving a tour in the morning and talk with students who are in the process of making their final decisions about where they want to spend the next four years.  Maybe I'll see you there! :)
 
Accepted Students Day/Symposium - April 20
In addition to giving a tour, I'll be participating in the Experiential Learning Showcase, which is part of the Symposium going on all day.  I chose an artifact and wrote a narrative about my experience as being a Teacher's Assistant for the first year seminar Horses & Healing last semester.  I had a wonderful time at the barn each week and learned a lot about my leadership abilities.  I'm excited to share this with everyone on the 20th!
 
Last day at the farm last semester!
 
Macklemore - April 25
As I'm sure you know, Macklmore & Ryan Lewis are coming to SMC for our spring concert, which will be an amazing way to start off my second-to-last weekend at school!
 
 
Got my ticket :)
Horses TA Dinner/MLK Talent Show - April 26
The professor who teaches the Horses & Healing first year seminar, Bridget Kerr, has invited last semester's TAs to her house for dinner.  Students who will be TAs next semester will also be there - it will be a great opportunity for past TAs to share any experiences and important advice they might have so as to make the experience for next year's freshmen even better.  Bridget was kind enough to schedule the dinner early enough so we could all make it back to campus for the annual MLK Talent Show.  I went last year and it was an absolute blast - SMC students definitely know how to entertain!

My wonderful fellow TAs - Lauren, Alex, me, Meaghan, and Devan
 
Last year's talent show - it's packed!
P-Day - April 27
P-Day stands for Preparation Day and is dedicated to having as much fun as possible before finals week begins.  Last year there were a variety of awesome activities as well as vendors like Ben & Jerry's, The Skinny Pancake, and other Vermont favorites.  I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Last year's shirts - Hunger Games theme!

As you can see, I'll be extremely busy over the next month, but I'm excited for what's to come.  I'll do my best to keep you updated on everything!
 
For those of you celebrating, have a wonderful Easter and a great rest of weekend!  And as always, thanks for reading my blog!
~Merrill

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Break (in Pictures)

Hello everyone!  So sorry I haven't posted in a while!  As you may know, SMC studnets just finished up our first week of classes after spring break.  I had an extremely busy week, but I'm so happy to be back at school.  Before I tell you about my week though, I want to update you on how awesome my break was!

I left SMC on Friday afternoon after class.  My dad usually works from home (in New Hampshire), but his office is in Vermont and he happened to be there on Friday.  I had never been to his office before, so I decided to take a slight detour and go visit him on my way home.  He showed me around the town of Waitsfield, VT (where his office is located) and took me out to lunch.  My dad has come to visit me at school a few times, so it was really nice to be able to return the favor and see where he works. 


After lunch, I headed home to New Hampshire and was welcomed with some beautiful fresh snow!  (My brothers had a snow day...I was jealous!)  I quickly unpacked and then headed over to a family friend's house to watch Pitch Perfect.  My friends make references to the movie all the time, so I figured it was about time I watch it.  It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it was quite funny!

On Saturday I got to hang out with two of my best friends, Paige and Val.  We had a great time doing typical girl things - watching TV, making brownies and eating half the batter, and talking all night long.  I hadn't seen them since January so I really enjoyed getting to catch up on how their semesters were going.

Since my brothers have to get up early to catch the bus every morning, it is tradition for me to drive them to school at least once each time I come home.  I chose Tuesday since they had a late start (which means school started at 9:30 instead of 7:30).  After dropping them off, I stopped by my old guidance counselor Brian's office.  One of the reasons I decided to be a psych major is beacuse I want to be the next Brian.  I hope to be a school counselor someday, and Brian continues to inspire this dream because he was so helpful to me during high school, and whenever I go back to visit him he is extremely welcoming and interested in hearing about how my college life is going.

After visiting Brian, I also visited my old chemistry teacher Viet and my old Ethics teacher Chris.  My best friend Paige happened to be in Chris's room at the same time I was because she was observing his class (for her education class back at school), so I decided to stay and observe with her.  Being best friends, we of course ended up talking and passing notes for the majority of the class, which was a blast.  It was also really fun to talk to Chris about college and how the way he teaches Ethics prepared us for learning in college.

Later that night, I babysat for two of my favorite girls, Genevieve and Grace :)



On Wednesday I headed up to my family's house in Maine with my mom.  We were able to go for a walk on the beach, relax, as well as do some studying (she had some work to do for one of her massage classes!).  As many of you know, I have an extremely close relationship with my mom, so I always treasure the time I get to spend with her.


When my mom and I got home, my best friend Paige came over so we could hang out one last time before going back to school.  We of course had lots of fun!


I finished up the weekend by going to Mass with my family and then going out to dinner with some family friends to talk about our trip to Hawaii in December...is it bad that I'm already excited?! :)

I headed back to Vermont on Sunday (hard to believe that was almost a week ago already!).  I had a lot of work to do this week, but I was able to accomplish everything I needed to.  I have another crazy week ahead, but I'm looking forward to it because I'll be going home after class on Thursday for our Easter break.

I'm off to get some work done, but I just wanted to say congratulations to everyone who has officially decided to make Saint Mike's their home next year - couldn't be more excited for you! :)

As always, thanks for reading my blog and have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recent Happenings!

Hello everyone!  As you may know, tomorrow is the start of spring break for SMC students.  It couldn't come sooner!  I absolutely love my time here at SMC, but I'm definitely excited to get to spend a week at home relaxing.  These past few weeks have been crazy, with schoolwork as well as other fun activities. 

Last Wednesday I co-hosted Dessert & the Divine with the lovely Katelyn.  Since it was February, we wanted the theme to have something to do with love/loving yourself.  Katelyn told me about an awesome activity that she'd done in the past, where everyone gets in a circle and writes their name in the middle of a piece of construction paper, then gives it to the person next to them.  Then each person writes something nice about everyone (on their respective pieces of paper) and you end up with something like this:

Circle of Love!
I loved the activity and I think everyone else did too!  And to top it off, we feasted on some delicious apple pie, ice cream, and fruit.

This past Friday, my friend Cait and I decided to go skiing together.  We drove to Smuggs after our classes and had an absolutely wonderful time!  To top it all off, it was snowing lightly, which made everything that much prettier.  And of course we decided to take some goofy photos at the top of the mountain:

 

On Friday, my roommate Emma, my friend Cara, and I got up early to head to New York for the night for a Lee Brice, Dierks Bentley, and Miranda Lambert concert.  We're all huge country fans, so it was a total blast!  Emma's dad made us some delicious Thanksgiving dinner and then french toast for breakfast - it was awesome!

Cara, me, Emma
 
Our country night wouldn't be complete without boots!
Although we were all pretty tired when we got back on Sunday, it was totally worth it!

On Monday, I had class like usual and then gave my second ever Residence Hall Tour.  I had one family on my tour, so I was really able to personalize it and answer all their questions.  After I finished showing them the different housing options for SMC (click here for the awesome SMC Kribs housing video), I showed them around the rest of the campus, specifically Alliot, the library, and Ross/Tarrant (the gym).  They seemed genuinely interested in Saint Mike's and I had a wonderful time with them!

I spent the rest of my week doing normal homework as well as preparing for the end of the week.  I had two exams today (one midterm and one regular exam) and I have one more exam tomorrow.  Then I'll be heading to my dad's office (in Vermont) for a lunch date, then home to New Hampshire for break!  I am so excited to relax, catch up on some of my favorite TV shows, and spend time with my family and friends (thankfully, two of my best friends have the same break I do!).

For those of you who recently attended an SMC Academic Preview Day, I hope you enjoyed yourselves and are thinking about making SMC your new home in the fall - we would absolutely love to have you!

As always, thanks so much for reading my blog and feel free to ask me any questions you may have through email or Twitter.  Have a great weekend everyone!

~Merrill

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Maintaining Your Mental Health

Hello everyone!  Hope you're all doing well.  This has been a crazy week for me - next week is the last week of classes before spring break so I've had a lot of work to do.  In the midst of all my work and activites though, I find it increasingly important to take some time for relaxation.  I've always heard the saying that you can't have good grades, enough of sleep, as well as a social life when you're in school.  While some days I think this is true, I do my best to convince myself otherwise.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my work that I forget to take a break.  In these times I have to remember that stopping for even five minutes might help me to feel refreshed and be much more productive when I return to my work.

If I'm being honest, I didn't participate in a crazy amount of extra-curricular activites when I was in high school because I was afraid that if I did, I wouldn't have time to get my homework done.  I consider myself a slow reader (although I've definitely gotten faster since the beginning of college!), so I like to allow myself a significant amount of time when I know I have a lot of reading to do.  However in college, my schedule is quite different.  When I came to SMC, everyone told me the best way to meet new people and make long-lasting friendships was to be involved, so that's what I tried to do.  As a result of participating in many different activites, I have to carefully plan my days to make sure I give myself enough time for my school work.  Especially during busy weeks like this one, going to the library works really well for me becuase it provides an environment where I can really focus on being efficient in getting things done with minimal distractions.

Some days, however, I choose to work in my room instead.  As you may know, I have an awesome roommate and we live next door to two of our best friends.  You can probably guess that if we're all home at the same time, it's really tempting to hang out rather than work.  However, I have come to realize that even if I get my work done, I don't feel as good about everything unless I spend some time with my friends each day.  With the exception of meals, the time I spend with my friends is often unplanned, which makes it all the more special.  For example, last night I got home around 9:30 with the intention of showering, working, and going straight to bed.  But it just so happened that a few of my friends were hanging out together so I went to say hi and ended up spending half an hour with them and going to bed later than I had originally planned.  Even though I didn't get as much sleep as I would've liked, I woke up in a fantastic mood because I had allowed myself to spend some quality time with my friends (for the record, I did get the work done that I needed to!).

Especially in the past week, I feel like I have put a special focus on maintaining my mental health by spending time with friends during the week (rather than just on the weekends).  This has happened sporadically as well as by simply texting some of my friends to see if they want to grab a meal together.  Each time I see my friends, I am reminded of how much I love them and how lucky I am to be at a wonderful place like SMC, surrounded by such great people.

Speaking of great people, I would like to give a special shoutout to my fellow blogger and amazing friend Alex.  In addition to cooking a meal for me, she has listened to me rant about various stressors in my life (classes, activites, etc.) a lot this past week.  I read her blog religiously before coming to Saint Mike's and never imagined that we would become such great friends.  She is like the sister I never had and I'm so thankful for all the advice she's given me, whether it be about friendship or how things like class registration work at SMC.


It is quite possible that I think mental health is so important because I'm a psych major, but whatever the reason, it's so important to surround yourself with wonderful friends and make time to show them how much you appreciate them.  I have been working on this a lot lately.  I like to say that my new motto is "It's all about that mental health!" because that's truly what I believe.

Alright, I think that's all I have to say about that!  I have a busy weekend ahead (full of activities to boost my mental health :)) which I will be sure to update you on soon!

As always, thanks for reading my blog!!

PS Shoutout to everyone in my wonderful SMC family, especially those who have helped to make this past week awesome!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home For the Weekend

Hello everyone!  Can't believe it's already Wednesday - this week is going by so quickly!  Here's a quick update on what's been going on for me.  Saint Mike's students had this past Friday off so I took advantage of the long weekend to go home and see my family for a few days.  I spent a lot of time (probably too much) thinking about whether or not I really wanted to make the trip since I would be home for such a short time and spring break is in a few weeks, but I'm so glad I did it.  As I've said before, being away at college makes me appreciate my family and all the comforts of home so much more than I used to, so it was really nice to have the ability to go home for the weekend!  I didn't too anything too exciting, but I did get to spend some quality time with my family (and my goats, of course) and I returned to SMC on Sunday night feeling refreshed and ready for a new week ahead.  As many of you know, I absolutely love snow, so I would say one of the highlights of being home was waking up on Saturday morning to a snowy view from my window:


And if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen this:

Clearly the SMC squirrels followed me home!
As I mentioned, I returned to SMC on Sunday night.  I spent the night doing some homework and hearing about my friends' weekends.  This week has been pretty busy for me (maybe that's why it's going so quickly!), but I would definitely say one of the most exciting things was giving my first tour of the semester!  Three lovely girls from Massachusetts were on my tour.  It was great to have such nice people help me get back into the swing of things and remind me how much I missed giving tours!

I'm off to babysit in South Burlington, but I wanted to give a special shoutout to everyone in Massachusetts who has vacation this week - have a blast!  And best of luck with your college search!  If you decide to make SMC your new home next fall, I can't wait to meet you! :)

As always, thanks for reading my blog and have a great day!
Merrill

PS Parents of accepted students - there is a special Parent KnightChat tonight at 7:30 - click here to register for it so you can ask any questions you might have about SMC!Twitter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The SMC Experience

Hello everyone and Happy Tuesday!  Hope you all had a great weekend.  I know I did - especially because of all the wonderful snow we got!  Unfortunately I didn't make it to Smuggs, but I plan on going again soon!  I spent a fair amount of time catching up this weekend - on homework, sleep, and of course my favorite TV shows!

Anyway, last week in my of my sociology classes we got to talking about how expensive it can be to attend a residential college and with online classes being much less expensive, maybe it makes more sense to do that.  My professor then tried to figure out some of the reasons everyone in my class chose to attend Saint Mike's and whether or not we would consider sending our children here in the future.  He also pushed us to think about what the benefits might be of attending SMC vs. getting a degree online instead.  All of this has turned into an ongoing thought process for me over the past week about why I am okay with my parents making such a big investment in my education and what I am truly getting out of my SMC experience.

For me, one of the most important aspects of living at SMC (a residential college) is getting used to living away from home.  College was the first time I really left - I was never a fan of sleepaway camps during the summer or anything like that.  Naturally, it was a big transition for me, and one that is still difficult from time to time.  However, I can honestly say that even though it's hard sometimes, the relationships with people I have at home in New Hampshire have only gotten stronger as a result of me being at school.  I have learned how important it is to make time to call or text my friends (and family of course) to see how they're doing and make sure they know I'm thinking of them.

Obviously, a huge part of why I'm at Saint Mike's is to get a great liberal arts education.  I can definitely say I'm getting that - I am so happy to be able to take a variety of classes (not all of which pertain to my psych major) and not feel like I'm wasting my time.  As I mentioned last week, I am absolutely loving my sociology class, even though it doesn't count towards my major.  Last semester I took General Chemistry (also not required since I had already fulfilled my lab requirement) and got to have an amazing professor.  Speaking of professors, that is just one thing I love about SMC.  If I decided to take online classes, I wouldn't be able to meet so many amazing people, participate in on-campus activities (and be a part of the campus community), and I wouldn't get to have such meaningful in-class discussions like the one in my sociology class.  All these little things add up to make me so grateful for being able to go to Saint Mike's.

Back to classes though - in addition to my liberal arts classes, I am loving my psych classes.  Now that I'm a second semester sophomore, I've taken a fair number of psych courses.  Each one I take reconfirms my decision to be a psych major, which I'm obviously very happy about!

As important as getting an academic education is, I am tempted to argue that the education I receive outside of class is just as important, if not more, than my academics here at SMC.  As I mentioned, being away from home has taught me a lot and helped me to grow as an individual.  But more than that, living on campus where all my friends and activites are has truly been a blessing for me.  I absolutely love having everything so conveniently close, but also having the option to get off campus if I need or want to.  Choosing to live near my friends this year has been great as well.  It allows us to have sporadic dance parties, great conversations, or go on spontaneous outings and act like complete goofballs (see below).

Cait and me in our animal masks at Shaw's :)
While it's hard for me to put into words everything that being at SMC has taught me, I hope I have been able to convey that there is so much value in getting an education at a residential liberal arts college like Saint Mike's.  I couldn't be happier that I decided to come here and make this place my second home!  And for those of you deciding what school you might want to attend in the fall, I hope you strongly consider all that Saint Mike's has to offer you, inside the classroom and out. :)

As always, thanks so much for reading my blog!  Have a great week!
~Merrill