Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Break in NYC

I'm sure I've said this before, but one of my favorite things about St. Mike's is definitely the location. First of all, the Burlington and Winooski area is definitely a Vermont sweet spot--and if you're cool with being behind the wheel for a couple hours, there are so many travel possibilities to check out. I've been blessed this year to have friends willing to have me tag along when they go home for breaks, and that's allowed me to experience so many new places as well as faces. As a really awesome first-year-finale, I got to spend Easter break in New York City. Four amazing days in the Big Apple! I grew up in a town with one stoplight, so spending time in the greatest city in the USA had me pretty much in a constant state of awe. We left on Thursday afternoon, six college kids and numerous bags of junk food crammed in a Ford Explorer. Although it took about six hours, the road trip was fun and driving along Lake George in New York was seriously beautiful. 

 I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed the Met. We must have spent a couple of hours there, wandering the exhibits and discussing the art like sophisticated adult people that I used to make fun of. The Frank Lloyd Wright room is very cool, as is all the Van Goghs and the famous George Washington Crossing the Delaware painting. The New York Public Library is also super cool- beautiful architecture, magnificent reading rooms. Can you imagine if Durick Library looked like this? Maybe I would study more... 

 This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. After having a nice leisurely lunch in front of the water at Battery Park--and by the way, it's absolutely true that NYC bagels truly are the best bagels--we walked along for a while and came to (I don't know what it's officially named) a big patch of land that was transplanted from Ireland. Now, I don't know who decided that it would be a good idea to take a little chunk of land out of Ireland and put it in New York City, but the result is pretty cool. John, Joe, and I walked along the rock wall on "Ireland" and admired the new World Trade One building. It's really a beautiful building, and the memorial waterfalls surrounded by the names of those who lost their lives in 9/11 is a very powerful sight; it makes you take a deep breath, and for me, it took me back to the morning it happened, and where I was when I found about the attack. So, this picture is essentially a photo of World Trade One... viewed from (technically) Ireland. How cool is that??

And if I'm being honest, one of my favorite things to do in NYC is just get a latte and people watch. We sure saw some interesting things. Here is a photo of some Hare Krishnas signing gibberish in Union Square. 

I was sad to leave the city, but so grateful for the experience and pretty blown away by the place. My freshman year is coming to an end and while it has gone seemingly at light-speed, I have had many opportunities to experience new places on the East coast and I absolutely love that! This weekend is the legendary P-Day at St. Mike's and, having heard to much about it, I can't wait to tell you guys all about "Preparation (Party) Day" and the whole exciting Spring Weekend that SMC has planned for us. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Birthday Weekend

5K Color Run for the Congo!!

On Saturday, I did a 5K Color Run for women in the Congo. It was three laps on the nature trail behind campus, among mud and roots and people lurking in the trees throwing colorful powder at you. It was the perfect running temperature: cloudy, a bit chilly but just enough so that you don't get too hot. All the racers wore white shirts, and by the time we all finished we were covered in patches of pink, orange, blue, green, and purple (if you spray the shirt in vinegar, iron it, then wash it with cold water, the color will stay on, sort of like tie-dye). There weren't too many participants because it was a rainy day and it was also Earthfest day, but nonetheless a great event to participate in. 

 Monday was my 19th birthday. Vermont gave me one of the greatest presents of the day: sunshine and 80 degrees!! Which is a bit of a miracle, considering how today--a day later--it is currently snowing. I really had a great day. I woke up to a few care packages, birthday letters, and a nice vase of flowers sent from my dad. By 1:00 the sun was high in the sky and it was almost hot outside, enough to warrant shorts that had been hibernating under my bed for the long winter. I grabbed some friends and decided that the beautiful weather was a message from the heavens telling us to skip class and head to the beach. So, not to ignore such a message, we hopped in a car with the windows rolled down and headed north to a little sandy beach we discovered last weekend, up right before the bridge to North Hero Island. Although there was still a bit of ice floating on Lake Champlain, we laid towels on the ground and soaked up all the sun that we could. In Vermont, you gotta take what you can get!
Later on that evening, we headed down to one of my favorite Burlington restaurants, The Skinny Pancake, for crepes. I had the Strawberry Short Crepe, as it was similar to what my mom usually makes me for my big day. This was my first birthday that I spent away from my family, and it made me a little homesick. But I'm thankful for all the friends who helped me celebrate!

It's crazy to look at a calendar and see how little time is left in the school year. It makes me wish spring had decided to show up earlier. When the sun is out and everyone is out on the green, relaxing and reading and kicking soccer balls and tossing frisbees and playing guitars and hacky sack and football and everything else you can imagine that we do for fun around here, I get reminded why college is such a darn nice place to be! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Quad

Freshman: Pick a hall, any hall!
If you are an incoming freshman, you will quickly become accustomed to these four buildings, which make up what we call "The Quad": Lyons, Joyce, Ryan, and Alumni. With the new development of the Dion Student Center, the four buildings are linked in the middle, making it so that when it is 20 below and windy outside you can get to your friend's dorm for an emergency Chinese date without having step outside into New England's Antarctica. You can also get a quick bagel and coffee from Einsteins without even changing out of your PJ's or putting on shoes, because it's a short inside walk from all rooms in the quad. Maybe this makes us lazy; maybe this makes us efficient. The quad is where it's at; it's one of the best locations on campus because it's so close to everything you need. The academic buildings, Alliot (the dining hall) the library, and the gym are all a short walk. Ryan, Lyon, Joyce, and Alumni are pretty similar in both exterior and interior. Each have laundry facilities in the basement and are made up of doubles, singles, and a rare triple or two. The mailroom is in located in Joyce, and Health Services is in Alumni.

I live on the second floor of Ryan. My floor is composed of all girls, and we have the only lounge in the building. Ryan is the closest residence hall to the tennis courts and the the Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts building, Bergeron. It's also the oldest building in the quad, and there have been rumors of remodeling in the near future.  The photos of the left are of my room, taken just before my roommate and I moved in (it is much more decorated now... but the outdated pictures are due to the fact that we have reached a point in the semester where organization and room cleanliness aren't too high on our priority lists). The rooms all have closets with doors, but unlike the other three, they do not have shelves. They are all carpeted with one window, and come with  a bed, a desk, a chair, and a small dresser. And just in case you were wondering, yes it is absolutely possible to build a blanket fort within the room. The basement of Ryan is what we call The Swamp. You'll see a photo of it below. Mostly upperclassman live in the Swamp, and while it looks a bit frightening, I promise it's not that bad. The rooms down there are more spacious and have higher ceilings.
The below photos are of Joyce and Lyons (the photos were taken this fall--it's not quite that summery here yet). The interior of these buildings are pretty similar to Ryan, except they have different closets and shelved walls. One of my favorite parts of the quad is the grass space between Joyce and Lyon; dotted with picnic tables, slacklines, and frisbee groups, it's kind of the freshman domain. This afternoon, there was even a band playing out there, which seemed to act as an announcement: Everybody, get off Netflix and out into this beautiful springtime sunshine!!

 The Quad is used cheifly to house all freshman, but some sophomores and upperclassmen reside here as well. At the center of campus, it's the perfect location for those that are new to St. Mike's, and those that are new to the whole college experience. I love the spindly vines that grow up the brick walls; we sure don't have that in Minnesota. Conclusion: The Quad is a great place to start!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

No-Expectations Exploring

Tuesday afternoons are beautiful to me: with only one morning class, I'm usually left with a wide-open afternoon, which I usually use to hop on the bus and explore someplace new. I like to walk around Burlington, South Burlington, or Shelburne, dipping into little shops, finding nature trails, sampling interesting bakeries or finding a new lunch place. But this Tuesday left me with a new predicament: with the Chittinden County bus drivers all on strike, I was constrained to wherever I could get to on foot. But it was beautiful and sunny and finally felt vaguely springy outside, so I pulled on a fleece and my Nikes and walked west down the hill, without any expectations in mind. Which is a mindset that I don't find myself having very frequently, but I think it's pretty cool. April in Vermont apparently means unpredictable weather and a plethora of mud, but the springtime sun on your face sure feels good.
 So, I found a really cool coffee shop. I know, that's pretty cliche college-kid of me, but so what. It was tucked in a little corner of a building, with floor-to-ceiling windows that just flooded sunlight. I had a iced maple-vanilla latte and sat down with the book 'The Help', but I found myself looking out the window more than the book. Someone walked by toting three tall and regal-looking greyhounds--I surmised that they were triplets, and they probably had their own bedroom in the owner's house. Vermont's a state for dog-lovers.                      

This is a photo from a little road trip I took with my friend John this Saturday. We didn't know where we wanted to go, just started the car and followed some signs. We walked around Middlebury College (very pretty--the white and grey buildings are refreshing in contrast to all of our red-brick ones), crossed a very cool bridge over to upstate New York, explored Crown Point, and checked out Ticonderoga (but I still don't know if that's where they make the pencils). There is so much to explore out here, and I'm so thankful for my friends with cars--especially, the ones who put up with my DJ'ing. Road tripping is one of my favorite things in the world.

Anyway, on with the busy-ness of the week-- registration, advising meetings, figuring out housing for next year, exams. Amid all the things that fill up a college student's schedule, it's important to take some time away to explore or just get some sunshine, without any plans or expectations.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Break

It didn't really hit me that spring break was officially over until I spent five long hours in the Washington-Dulles airport because it was snowing and they had to de-ice all the planes, resulting in four consecutive plane delays and a very tired Cecilia. I had spent the past five days in beautiful Sun City Arizona, where it was 80 degrees everyday and the oranges just fell off the trees. I'm not going to lie, when I got back to Saint Mike's I was pretty somber to put my flip flops back in the closet. But what a wonderful spring break I had!
My friends Emma and Kylian invited me to spend some time in Boston with them, and I was super excited at the opportunity to see Beantown for the first time. I spent three days seeing the sites downtown, and two days checking out the beautiful little towns on the north shore. Had my first cannoli at the famous Mike's Pastries in the North End, hung out at Harvard and pretended I was an Ivy Leaguer, watched some seriously talented street performers and walked through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, rode many packed and smelly subways. I liked Boston but decided I was more of a small-town girl; I really enjoyed exploring Marblehead, Salem, and Nahant. We did a "neck run" in Marblehead, which is when you drive through the streets looking at all the beautiful and humongous beachside houses (they go from super expensive to insanely grandiose), and then climbed on the rocks by the lighthouse. In Salem we walked the pier at Salem Willows and wished that it was summer so we could go swimming at the beach, but smiled when the sun began to go down into a creamy sherbet Atlantic Ocean sunset. We got caramels and massive peanut butter cups at a cute little chocolate shop, and walked the brick streets of Salem, stepping into a few of the many witchcraft shops. 
 On Wednesday I woke up early to get to Boston-Logan and fly out to Phoenix, Arizona. My grandparents live there in the winter and invited me to come down to get out of the New England eternal winter. So I spent the next five days in Paradise! Spent everyday under the sun, swimming, playing tennis, reading, and just relaxing. It was absolutely perfect. I love spending time with my grandparents, and now that I'm in college it's really fun to discuss what I'm learning with them. On Sunday night my mom, little brother, three cousins and aunt flew down and we got to spend Monday together. It was such a good time and I was pretty dang sad when it had to come to an end. But there's much to look forward to! Five more weeks of school, and summer is on the way. Full speed ahead!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Snow Day at SMC

They said it would never happen. They said it was a once in a blue moon occurrence, that we shouldn't hope for it because we would inevitably be disappointed. They said "keep dreaming". They said that it wouldn't make sense, that we are a 100% residential campus and can trudge through anything. They told me that in my four years here, St. Mike's would never call a snow day. 
They were wrong. 
This morning I woke up to a text alert and and email from the Vice President saying "We've decided to take it easy on you all. It's too dang cold, there's so much snow and wind that it blinds your eyes when you try to walk to class, and we love you too much to have you suffer. Take the time to sip hot cocoa made in your grimy dorm room microwaves and bash Mother Nature for giving us a huge snow storm two days from spring break. Happy snow day, people." 
Ok; I fabricated a little. What it actually said was "Due to weather conditions, SMC will delay opening until 11am this morning." But hey, it's enough for me!! I'm calling it a snow day. Thanks to last night's Nor'Easter (that's what they call it out here, right?) I was able to get back in my warm and cozy bed, shut off my increasingly irritating alarm, and then have a leisurely breakfast, which at this point in the semester is much preferred over debating the politics of George Orwell's dystopia in the novel 1984 while starving for some real food and pretending to think of something other than how comfortable your bed is.
So, hallelujah for weather delays, but I am 100% ready to trade my Sorels for flip flops and be able to walk around with my camera without my digits freezing and falling off into the snow drifts. But thanks to a beautiful little thing we call Spring Break, I will soon be able to feel the sunshine on my face again. This coming week is going to be one for the books; I'm heading to Boston for four days, then I fly off to Phoenix for the remainder of the break. I'm psyched to get my first taste of Beantown, and the fact that I'll be there during St. Patty's day will make it all the more exciting (everyone tells me St. Patrick's Day is THE DAY in Boston). And I so, so can't wait to bust out my swimsuit in Arizona and spend some much-awaited family time with my grandparents, mom, brother, cousins, and aunt. And hey, hopefully when I get back my skin won't be the same color as all the snow on the ground.
Best wishes for a safe and wonderful fun spring break, everyone! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Burlington Does Mardi Gras

Who knew that a snowy little city in northern Vermont went so hard on Mardi Gras weekend?
I didn't. To be honest, I wasn't even positive what Mardi Gras was--I've never been in a place that really celebrated it--and was expecting a quiet snowy weekend, not one strewn with beads and beer and celebration. But it was a lot of fun! Every year the Magic Hat Brewing company puts on a huge parade down Main Street in Burlington. There are a ton of food vendors, street performers, a costume contest and photo booth, and bands playing all day. I took a shuttle downtown on Saturday with a couple friends to watch the parade, and we all came back with layers of beads around our necks and pockets stuffed with mini moon-pies and Lake Champlain chocolates. 

We may be 1,589 miles from New Orleans, but Burlington grabs any opportunity to turn a weekend into a celebration. What a great place!