And the Snow Falls

Snowfall

Every beginning has its end. On February 25, I put up my first post. Now 10 months later, this is the last. This is my last post I will have this semester and most likely the last post of mine here on WordPress. We, as in Cougar Diaries, are moving on to a new platform, Facebook. There, we hope to connect to even more people and share the small moments of life here at Saint Xavier. It was fun doing this blog. It has given me time to think with workloads that sometimes prevent me from thinking of myself and of what is the world around me beyond the classroom. But as an end to this blog, as it may be, it is also a beginning.

 

It is the first snow, a fitting beginning for an end. The snow is white, fluffy and has a gentle coldness to it. There is no dirty or uncomfortable slurry of freezing rain. There is just a silent falling that sounds in the air. No cars are out heading to 103rd Street. No people are out to disturb the blanket of white snow. Only the hum of exhaust from steam above on the roofs of buildings and the ambient sound of the wind tells me I am not deaf. It is more than just frozen water constructed in beautiful and unique shapes, but the end of a time. The campus is empty, not a soul out as I walk slowly through the cascade of gentle powdered sugar. It is fitting that on this day that the first snow fall is the last day I am to be here on this site.

 

There is sadness and anxiousness within me. I am somber to the fact that I no longer will be on this site. And with the load of finals on my back, I find it hard to finish this. But I also find a comfort in the quiet snowfall. The end of the semester seems so far away yet in only a few days I will be leaving this school for home once more. It’s quiet as I sit by the window watching countless snowflakes fall to never be seen again. And in the haze of the snow, I smile, knowing only at this moment in time will it be so. The day is drawing to a close and I have much to do. But let me take one last look outside and remember the day I first wrote to you here. It’s not the end of Cougar Diaries. We will continue on here. It’s only another beginning for stories of this school and its people. The day draws to a close and the snow falls.

 

Celebrating ‘Friendsgiving’

The holiday season is less than a week away and I feel as though no one is as excited as I am for it. Everyone has their own holiday traditions that they have with their friends and family. A few traditions that my family does for Thanksgiving is say grace before we eat. Christmas, we celebrate at my house which I love because all the leftovers are at my house, including all the homemade desserts, such as cake, pie, cannoli and even brownies. Food is the best part of the holidays with the family.

 

A Thanksgiving tradition my friends and I have is that we have “Friendsgiving.”
“Friendsgiving” is when you and a bunch of friends bring food, pot luck style, then just celebrate being together. What I love most about celebrating “Friendsgiving” is that everybody wants to be there — not because their parents forced them to come to the party. Everyone gives small gifts with a lot of thought behind them, and each gift usually has a small background of an inside joke that nobody but that friend can understand.

 

In all, the holidays have a few things in common that everyone can agree on which is spending time with loved ones, laughter and reminiscing about the memories made over the year. The winter holiday season is full of exciting feelings that are hard to be explained. The best way I could explain it is that it’s a celebration of loved ones. The coldest time of the year becomes the warmest time for people’s hearts.

Defeat Boredom

Every now and then, there comes a time when boredom creeps up. The good thing about this though is that there are ways to get rid of this feeling. I’ve created a list of activities you can do, which includes future Saint Xavier University events to attend.

1. Watch a movie with friends
2. Organize your closet
3. Paint/draw
4. Write a poem
5. Work out at the gym (The Shannon Center is free for SXU students!)
6. Learn a new dance
7. Grab a cup of coffee and catch up with friends at Starbucks
8. Go to a baseball game (On September 30, a bunch of SXU students went to the White Sox game over at Cellular Field.)
9. Join an intramural sport, such as volleyball, powderpuff football, soccer and many more
10. Meditate
11. Study at the library
12. Throw around a football in the quad
13. Play a computer game
14. Take a Zumba class
15. Go to a pumpkin patch
16. Go to Six Flags Fright Fest
17. Have your pet blessed at 5 p.m. October 4 at McDonough Chapel
18. Relieve some stress by petting the therapy dogs in the student lounge on October 6 in the afternoon
19. Participate in the Cougar 5K Run/Walk at 9 a.m. October 8
20. Practice yoga
21. Rollerblade around campus or even in the city
22. Attend a sporting event (October 8 is the big SXU Homecoming football game!)
23. Have a photo shoot

Try doing something new like Rollerblading with friends, whenever you feel that you are bored with your same old routine

Rollerblading with friends: Try doing something new whenever you feel that you are bored with your same old routine!

Common Mistakes A Freshman Can Avoid

Freshman year of college is most likely the most exciting thing to happen. You are finally away from home and you get to meet new people and find a newfound freedom. With all those things, you tend to make a few mistakes along the road every now and then that you learn from. As a freshman resident last year, I noticed that there are three things that my fellow peers in my class and I had made the mistake of doing. These could have been completely avoided if taken noticed of.

1. The first most common mistake a freshman at SXU could make as a resident is not budgeting their meal plan money. I used to budget myself to spending no more than $25-30 a day. This had worked perfectly because I had a surplus of meal plan money. I remember there were a few of my peers who depleted their meal plan to $0.01 with a month left in the semester and they would get embarrassed to constantly ask people to buy their meals. Since, I had a surplus of money, I felt it was only polite to help those who didn’t budget correctly. Although, with every meal you buy someone else whose surplus quickly diminished, the more likely you are to find yourself without the funds you need. The school meal plan is designed to be used for one person; thus, the lesson of this first common mistake is to budget your meal plan correctly as well as avoid buying other people food on your meal plan.

2. Another common mistake made as a freshman is missing class. I personally as a freshman last year had gotten sick and had to miss a whole week of classes. Granted I had talked to my professors and given doctor’s notes to them, but I had missed so much class it was difficult to catch up. Now that was just my scenario of missing class. The biggest mistake you could make is missing class to sleep in. There are ways to avoid being so groggy in the morning: Have a set schedule for sleeping, avoid all-nighters and eat breakfast. The way I get myself to class is by giving myself an incentive. Usually, I reward myself for going to all my classes for the week by allowing myself to eat my favorite snack or binge watch a show on Netflix. The reason I stress going to class so much is because you are basically cheating yourself out of money every time you ditch. You already paid for school, so by not going, you are wasting not only your money but the opportunity to pursue an education as well.

I hope you avoid these mistakes not only as just a freshman but in general for your time at school. I know this seems like logical advice to follow because we, as students, have been told this since we could comprehend the meaning of responsibility, but once you start developing these simple habits you will see how much less hectic and how much more organized your life will be.

Living with Roommates

Residence life is a great way to not only get involved with the school but make friends on campus. While living on campus, I have made so many friends. Since attending Saint Xavier University, I’ve dealt with almost every scenario with a roommate. Each thing that had occurred though had made me learn a valuable life lesson on handling situations. I’ve made lifelong friends as well as grown distant with some friends, none of which I would take back since it has made me grow as a person.

Regina Hall (Freshman Year)
My first experience with a roommate was my freshman year, and she was LITERALLY non-existent because my roommate never showed up. I had a room all to myself, and believe me, it was great! I had been given the chance to decorate my room however I wanted. I had a spare bed for my friends when they came to visit. I combined both desks to form a “super desk.” I even used the extra dresser as a pantry to store all my snacks. The only problem was that sometimes it would get really lonely. Even though I had so much space, there were times I wish I had a roommate to share experiences with as well.

For four weeks, I had a room to myself until I met a girl who was on the cheerleading team with me. We instantly became friends, and when she told me she was having issues with her roommate, I offered for her to come live with me. That week she moved in, and I no longer had that feeling of being alone. Not to mention when she moved in, the room looked much livelier, since there was more stuff to fill the room. We would have late night conversations, snack, do each other’s hair and makeup, go to practice together and rescue each other.

There were two girls who lived directly across the hall from us whom we both became close friends with. We instantly knew we were destined to be future roommates, including our close friend who lived six doors down the hall. It came to the point that we would just leave our doors open so we could easily come in and out of our rooms to hang out. Our little group would eat, sleep, study, motivate, sing, dance, play games, and even play pranks on one another. We would even have conversations from our separate rooms because the dorms were that close to each other. We had formed such a strong bond that we couldn’t imagine living with anyone else.

O’Brien Hall (Sophomore Year)
The four of us girls from that second floor of Regina Hall couldn’t wait to move into our new building we currently live in. We finally had our own microwave, toaster oven, and bathroom. (If you’ve lived in Regina Hall, you’d understand the struggle.) Having these girls as my roommates is a dream come true. I mean who wouldn’t want to live with their best friends. We do all the stuff we did before and more. The first week back we had all binged watched in our living room the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” One of my roommates and I designated a napping schedule. Our sleep schedules have become so in sync that we wake up in the middle of the night around the same time.

Studying has become not only easier but a lot more fun. We do our studies in our living room and when someone is stressing out over something, we tell a joke or share a funny story to lighten the mood. My roommates and I even motivate each other to do better in everything that we do. Our support system is strong and gets stronger with every day that passes. I can’t thank Saint Xavier University enough for not only giving me a place to call home but for giving me my best friends. There’s no better feeling than coming back to my dorm at the end of the day and seeing three girls smiling and yelling with excitement “Amber’s back!” It’s honestly the best thing ever having roommates — especially mine!

My roommates and I wearing matching SXU rain jackets

My roommates and I wearing matching SXU rain jackets.

Greetings to Another Year of School!

5D1FC65F-9994-4AA1-BCD7-BB01CEC842F2Hello all and welcome back to another year of my blog!

For those you who have been constant readers for the past two, going on three years now, thank you. It’s always amazing to know you are reading these posts. For those of you who are new to Cougar Diaries, welcome! Cougar Diaries is an up-close and personal view of SXU students during their time at SXU. I love getting to share my own experience at SXU with others because I love SXU!

Here’s a little introduction about me: I am a Junior with a Middle School Education Major, and endorsements in Language Arts, Reading, Social Science, and ESL Studies. I hail from the shivering cold Minneapolis, Minnesota, where winters are long and summers are under construction. I am the eldest of four siblings. IMG_1334My sister Maya, 18 years old, starts her first day of college tomorrow in New York, our birth place. I’m extremely proud of her for making this huge step into adulthood but know I will miss her. My brother, Emiliano, is 13 years old and although he is my only brother, he is my favorite brother! He has great taste in music, movies, and we can talk about Pokemon GO. And the baby of our family is Luna, 7 years old, and she is one of my favorite human beings in this world. She is the sweetest, most passionate, Snow White princess I know.

This is my third year living in Regina Hall, the first-year resident hall, and I could not be more excited about it. Like last year, I am living on the third floor but this time as a resident assistant. So far, the third floor ladies have been nothing but outstanding, and I am so excited to be serving them this year!

A8A8A554-9917-4691-8185-E0BCBAC56A0FOne thing that stood out to me when I first visited SXU was the community that made the campus home. This year I will be a student ambassador, going on my third year in the program. I have loved getting to work with prospective students and their families as a tour guide. One of the things I love most about this job is getting to meet the students who I gave a tour to. On those days when I’m crazy busy with work and classes, knowing that the conversations I had with touring students made a difference makes me feel great.

I will also continue my involvement with campus ministry by being the Justice Peer Minister, a completely new position this year! My role will involve me working with campus ministry and the SXU community on social justice issues. This will work with my positions for Mercy Students for Peace and Justice (MSPJ). My board positions for MSPJ are the vice president and the immigration head committee. At its most basic level, MSPJ draws inspiration from our collective human desire to alleviate the suffering of our fellow human beings. We empathize with other people and long to relieve their suffering. MSPJ strives to encourage and nurture that concern for others and channel it into contemplation and action so that we may better ourselves, our families, our community, and our world. We draw inspiration from the Sisters of Mercy, the religious order that founded Saint Xavier University. The special characteristic of the Mercy mission includes a consideration for, and service to, the poor and marginalized of society. The Mercy tradition emphasizes compassion, concern and action. We invite students, faculty, and friends to embrace this tradition and draw upon it in their lives.

This year I will be doing my second year as a Transition Peer Mentor (TPM) where I will be working with an instructor on a one-credit course on how first-year students transition into college. Last year I had a great class, and after one meeting this past week, I am looking forward to working with these first-year students on making the most of their college experience.

Something new that I will be a part of this year is Schmitt Scholars!A0435816-45F9-4114-AF87-97946EC9E26D The Schmitt Scholars Program promotes the development of promising Saint Xavier University student leaders, helping participants advance their leadership efforts at SXU and preparing them to make a broader impact on the world after graduation. Schmitt Scholars receive a merit-based scholarship and participate in a program of activities that provide them with opportunities to reflect on and develop their leadership potential. I am looking forward to the growth and development that will occur throughout this program.

This year I do have a lot going on, but I look forward to sharing my involvement and activities with you as a reader! Posts about cute siblings, puppies, and exploring Chicago are guaranteed! Please continue reading throughout the year and let me know if you have suggestions for what I should include in my posts.

And So It Begins Again

And so it begins again. After a summer of listlessness and procrastination, the school year has now begun once again here at Saint Xavier. The sea of emerald and forest green has been cut low to gently bristle the toes. The looming trees that line the road remain standing tall to shade the palaces of which one reads on a summer day. Cicadas sing their nostalgic song of childhood days gone by remaining from high up in the trees, the steamy air of summer still gushes to tell us ‘not yet.’ And as that first day began, the sight of lost doe-eyed freshmen brings back a sense of amusing youth and nostalgic naivety to the school grounds.

It’s a marvel to be had seeing the faces of those first years and remembering that once we were so. With their nice collared shirts and prim and proper summer dresses, their almost foreign appearance becomes apparent in the sea of dull-eyed upperclassmen. It is so out of place seeing these magazine catalogue-looking kids walking down the hall with almost a swagger about them. And despite the small gap in our ages and my own youthful age, I feel old, old in heart and temperament. While they walk aimlessly playing the latest mobile game, I yearn for the free days that I may remember such a time that I was able to wander into the park district and fish for snails along the rocky shores or weaving words into a story of people and places and places with people and people from places. Like an old man watching rambunctious children walk off to school while he remains glued to his stoop, I find myself content in my amusement of the strangeness of youth as if I am somehow separate from it as if I were somehow detached.

Perhaps it is I that is out of place as I sit lazily in the diner with worn sandals and dirt-covered sweats and Tee. Is it really the excitement and nervous fright of the first years that should be alien to this school as so many others? Does feeling a sense of adventure in the sea of the mundanity of those of us accustomed to life here so wrong? I wonder if such a feeling as that is such a bad thing in this place that sings a song of flight. We all want to get out and get into the real world but when we’re there we want to go back to these carefree days when being a kid was something we took for granted. And here, I feel myself at a crossroads. The nervous fright of nearing the end of my time here begins to loom over me now. The eventual bidding of farewell to friends only a year older draws near every day. Here I am hapless as I inch towards the inevitable day when I will be left only to remember those days when nothing but what I’d do tomorrow mattered. It is these things that bring up this bitter and yet so sickly sweet nostalgia for those endless summer days that have me stepping back to that warm feeling of independence from home but still knowing I had a place to go back to. But perhaps the misguided ventures of the first years are just the end of that same accustom they had the year before as their days as high school students went by. And perhaps it is that same feeling of adventure and nervous excitement that will come when I am handed that diploma and take my first step out the door on my way to work. And so it begins again and the days count on as they had done before.

“What are you going to do after graduation?”

Welcome back, readers!

I wish I could say that I had the most fantasitc and productive week ever, but alas, very few noteworthy things have occured since I last blogged.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I turned 22 on Wednesday! I suppose that’s an event, although I’ve come to realize that the older you get, the less birthdays are really celebrated. If you ask me, it should be the other way around. Making it through a year of childhood is a blessing indeed, but making it through a year of adulthood is a victory. That is something to celebrate.

Just a couple of 22 year-olds!

Just a couple of 22 year-olds!

I did get to venture home this weekend to celebrate with my family. Our plans didn’t pan out exactly how we intended (nothing ever does), but we made the best of it. I got to hug my nephews and have most of my family all in one place and it seems that this matters to me more than anything else as an adult.

On Saturday afternoon, we did a couple of quick, fun, fall activities at Undead Acres (see previous blog for details on this great establishment) and then we hung out at home and ate some birthday cake. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 22 years it’s that you have to cherish little moments like this. A quote that I have been TRYING to apply to my life recently comes to mind, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

Sitting with our nephews at Undead Acres

Sitting with our nephews at Undead Acres

That being said, registration for Spring Semester is upon us here at SXU which means all students have to meet with their academic advisors and get approved to register in the coming weeks. It has occured to me that this will be my final registeration for college classes and it has everyone and their mother asking me, “So what are you going to do after graduation?” And the only concrete answer I have to that question is “I don’t know.” That answer will most likely be accompanied by a detectable hint of shame as if I have come all this way and exercised and expanded my mind only to come up empty handed. You would think after four years of study I would have everything figured out, but that’s just not the case. I attribute this uncertainty partially to the nature of the major and partially to my personality. A lot of majors lead right into a specific career, for example, my sister is an elementary education major, so when someone asks her, “what are you going to do after graduation?” she can, with a good degree of certainty, say “be a teacher.”  As a communication major, I will be qualified and trained to do a wide range of things. To give you an idea of what I mean, here is a list of the concentrations I will have completed by the time I grab my diploma in May:

  • Journalism
  • Online Communication
  • Advertising and Public Relations
  • Communication Studies
  • Health Communication
  • Corporate Communication.

I could give you some general areas of interest I have, but even those change from time to time. I wish I had a clearer path at this point, but I’m anticipating a period of trial and error after I graduate and I think that’s o.k. I think as humans, especially as college students, we interpret a lack of direction as failure, but when you really think about it, trying different things until you get it right is the way you’ve learned everything you know now, from first steps to college degrees. So if you ask me that question, believe me when I say “I don’t know.”

Depsite all of this uncertainty, I am confident in what I have accomplished so far and everything I do, including this blog. It gives me a little more experience and a little more insight as to what my future might hold.

Thank you for bearing with me as usual!

Until next time…

 

Doing Things That Make You Happy

11863237_1040415949324571_9133901594397760549_nMidterms are this week and the horrible stress weighs us all down. Times like this remind of well, any other week where the stress of midterms is not on me. So for this week, I’m going to be focusing on doing things that make you happy!

Yes, I know your first thought is probably, “Genesis said I don’t need to study for midterms, yippee!” and so of course my answer is no. I know of course there are things in life that we all have to do that we don’t really want to do; midterms is one of those things.

One thing that people always ask me is how do I do it all? And my answer is “I dunno. I kinda just do it.” This week, though, I realized that everything I do makes me happy. 12038305_1159419904072873_110222659428685842_nOf course some days I am more tired than others, some days are just crappy, and some days nothing goes my way. But there are days where simple little moments can make my whole day. Maybe it’s after a tour where a perspective student is so excited that afterwards they clap for me (which seriously is one of the best feelings ever). Or when one of my transition students is no longer freaking out and they feel better. Or even something as simple as having one of my residents hug me after being in distress. I love these simple things where I did something to help—even just a little. Honestly I think everything that I do makes me happy.

Today in one of my education classes we talked about how work isn’t really work when it’s something that you love. This really got me thinking about everything that I was involved in. From doing Broadview to being a Resident Peer Minister to every little thing in between: I love what I do.12032920_757997394306696_3591963017190083193_o Being happy makes doing so many things possible. Yeah, for sure, I do things that I don’t really want to do (like take my first midterm tomorrow…) but overall, I try to surround myself with activities and people who make me happy.

One awesome thing that happened this week was MSPJ’s October 2 trip to Broadview which was featured in the Chicago Tribune! Within the article it talks about SXU, Broadview, and immigration. I also have a couple of quotes within, so give it a look by checking out the link here!

I would like to wish everyone good luck on midterms this week! I know it’s going to be a long week, but we got this! Two things that I’m  looking forward to this week are the NSCS induction ceremony tomorrow and my sister Maya is visiting from Minnesota this week! So yay! Stay tuned next week to hear all about it!

New Season, New Challenges, New Opportunities!

Well, another week of my Senior year is in the books and it’s finally starting to feel like fall on campus! There was a chill in the air towards the end of this week and it’s starting to hit me that my walks to class are going to be getting a lot colder. Fall is one of my favorite seasons, but I am not sure I am ready to face the bitter cold that follows. It has also occurred to me that since I’ve moved to the Saint Xavier apartments, my walk is much, much longer. SXU does offer a shuttle service that picks apartment residents up and brings them to campus and I do utilize that quite often, but I’ve found that sometimes it isn’t as reliable as one might hope and other times it just simply doesn’t work with my schedule. Hopping in my car for a two-minute drive to campus seems like a waste of gas, but I am anticipating I will be doing that a lot more in the coming months.

This week presented some challenges and some great opportunities. I had to give my first presentation of my senior year and I also had to give the prayer at Saint Xavier’s annual scholars and benefactors celebration dinner. As a communication major, presentations and public address are something I am called to do quite often, but it still takes a while to get back into the swing of things and rebuild my confidence after a long break. Luckily, both engagements went well and I am glad they are behind me.

IMG_1452

The celebration dinner in the Butler Reception Room

As previously mentioned, Wednesday night I attended the celebration dinner. This event, held once a year, is an opportunity for benefactors and scholarship recipients to meet, mingle and share a meal together. I had the opportunity to speak with some representatives of the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation which funds and supports the scholarship program I am in. It is always heart-warming and encouraging to know that so many people have invested in my future and recognize my potential. I was honored to give the prayer at the dinner and spend the evening with such distinguished and generous people.

The program

The program

October is sure to be a whirlwind month for me as many deadlines for my senior project are approaching. Today marks exactly ten days until I turn 22 which is almost unfathomable at this point! I am looking forward to what October has in store…many highs and lows I am sure!

Happy Fall!