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!

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!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Liturgical Choir Trip Diary

Hello everyone!  So sorry I haven't blogged in so long, I have been extremely busy with my classes and other activities!  I can't believe this is already the fourth week of the semester!  However, amidst all the work, I've been able to fit in some fun, including a trip to Smuggler's Notch (which I talked about in my last post) and going to Al's Frenchy Fries for the first time with my wonderful friend and fellow blogger Alex.  Much of my time outside of classes so far this semester has been focused on preparing for the annual Liturgical Choir/Ensemble trip.  Last year the group traveled to Portland, Maine (see my post about it here). This year we went to NYC/NJ and had an absolutely wonderful time! We left on Thursday afternoon and returned to SMC on Sunday night. Here's what we did with our time!
On Thursday afternoon, we loaded the bus and headed for our first stop (dinner in NY, near Emma's hometown!)
Emma (right) and me, ready to get going!
After dinner, we went straight to Bergen High School in Oradell, NJ, which is an all boys Catholic high school.  We set up all our equipment and headed to the hotel.  As many of you know, Emma and I are roommates here at SMC and we were lucky enough to be roommates on the trip as well, so we were very excited!  Here's a picture from our hotel window:
Beautiful city lights!
On Friday morning, we got up bright and early so we could get to the school on time to practice before Mass started.  It was a little chaotic since it was our first Mass of the trip, but everything worked out and we had a great time!  Afterwards, the school provided a delicious lunch for us.  When lunch was over, we headed back to the hotel for some downtime, which Emma and I spent working on some homework and taking mini naps.  Then, it was time for one of the best parts of the trip - heading into New York City!  I have been to the city before, but I absolutely love it and was so excited to be going with some amazing people from SMC!
Since there was a total of around 40 people on the trip, we all split into groups so we could choose what we wanted to do in the city.  Here's a picture of my group before our adventures began:
Ellen, Sarah, Emma, me, Father B, Amelia, and Jordan
I would love to post all the pictures I took here, but there are way too many!  So I'll just stick to the best ones:

New favorite roomie picture :)
Rockefeller Center!
What color M&M are you?
Becca and me - part of our photo montage!
We also got to go to the Lego Store, Saint Patrick's Cathedral (where Father Brian gave us our own personal tour), eat dinner in Rockefeller Center (at a place called Tri-Tip delicious!), see the Empire State Building, and of course experience all the excitement of Times Square!
On Saturday we got to sleep in a bit, thank goodness!  After breakfast, we went to Liberty State Park.  We had planned on walking the boardwalk, but unfortunately it was closed off do to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.  But it was still very nice to walk around and I got a great picture of the Statue of Liberty!
We were also able to see New Jersey's 9/11 Memorial.  Once we left the park, we headed to a restaurant called Laico's where I enjoyed some delicious chicken parmesean!  Afterwards, we headed to church to practice, set up, and perform at Mass.  After Mass, I sold CDs from last year's trip with an alumnus who accompanied us on the trip named Marianne.  She was so nice and I was so happy to be able to meet her!  It was wonderful to receive so many complements; I could tell the parishoners truly appreciated us being there.  Once the bus was loaded, we headed to another church to unload and set up.  When we finished, we proceeded to another hotel called Breakers.  As you can see, it was absolutely gorgeous!!
Even though we spent less than twelve hours there, it was wonderful!  On Sunday we got up bright and early to have breakfast and then sing at two Masses before heading back to Vermont.  At each Mass we were able to present a check (one to the parish and one to the connecting high school) to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  I was so honored that we could help the community in such a way - it was clear that they were extremely grateful!
Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time on the trip.  It was tiring, but so much fun.  One of the things I loved most about it was getting to know some of the other members of the choir a bit better (shout out to Sarah, Ellen, Jordan, and of course Becca!).  And of course, the choir director, Jerome, picked out some great music that I genuinely enjoyed singing.  It is always wonderful to share my faith and my love of music with others!  If everything goes as planned, I will be studying in Ireland during the time of the trip next year, but I am already looking forward to going when I'm a senior!
As always, thank you so much for reading my blog and let me know if you have any questions, about Lit Choir or anything else!