Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Stress-Kicker

Hey Kids! (I'm not sure why, but that has been my usual greeting to all of my friends lately.)

Sorry I've been away from my blog for longer than usual...things are CRAZY but they're so exciting! I have several projects that I'm working on for classes, and they're pretty cool but I've been definitely feeling stressed lately.

So, what better time than the present to write a post all've got it, STRESS! (I'll stop using capitals now, I promise.)

First of all, I'd love to direct you to an awesome article on our branch of the Her Campus website that's called Helpful Tips for a Successful Semester. It's written by our very own Lauren Carter, and it is an excellent source for de-stressing and having an overall awesome semester.

Want to know the ultimate stress-kicker? Manage your time. Easier said than done, I know. Trust me, I know. In fact, I have 7 minutes to finish writing this blog post...I gave myself until 5 to finish it, but since I didn't manage my time and decided to let my phone distract me for the first twenty minutes sitting at this computer, I'm now limited to...6 minutes. And counting.

In all seriousness, not managing your time can result in constantly feeling overwhelmed, and that's not fun for anyone! In fact, I was in such a bad mood last week from this feeling that I had to apologize to my friends and roommate for being so cranky! You don't want to get into the habit of staying up until 2 AM to finish your work--in the end, you're just wearing yourself out, and your grades could even suffer. I'm happy to say that I've gotten back on track and I'm my jovial self again. I bet everyone around me is relieved!

I should get going, seeing as I have one minute now to get to Alliot for dinner. Then, at 6, I'm going to an extended service meeting for MOVE. I'm so excited, and I had the best time in Texas last year! I hope I'll be able to go on an awesome adventure again this year!

Stay un-stressed!


Monday, September 17, 2012

A Canadian Adventure

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry that I'm a bit behind in my posts, but I can't skip over the INCREDIBLE time I had last weekend!

I am a HUGE Jason Mraz fan, and my best friend Sheila has always loved him too. Her cousin, Mike, is his drummer for his current "Tour is a Four Letter Word" tour. Over the summer, the two of us had checked to see if we could get tickets at a location near us, and when we found out that they'd be playing in Montreal while we were at school, we began planning a trip!

I was so stoked to be going to see one of my favorite artists with one of my favorite people in a brand new place! I have been to Canada before, but only when I was very young. Montreal was going to be the experience of a lifetime!

So last Saturday, Sheila and I hopped on a Greyhound bus. It was only about 45 minutes to the border, where we got off the bus and went through customs. It was a rather quick process, and very painless. We weren't staying overnight, so we had packed light with only our purses and jackets. We had our passports ready; they were checked and then the officer just asked us a few questions, like why we were crossing the border and how long we'd be staying. After that we went into a smaller room where we waited for the other passengers to finish up and we all got back on the bus. Then it was just over an hour to get to Montreal!

Once we got off the bus, it took a few minutes to get ourselves accustomed to a different country. We went to an ATM and withdrew some money. We found later that most establishments in Montreal accept American money anyway, but it was still pretty convenient to have Canadian money on us. After that, we looked up where we had to be on the maps that Sheila had printed out on Google that morning. We decided that taking the metro would be smartest, since it otherwise would have been a 40-minute walk with somewhat confusing directions. We were a bit nervous about using the subway system, since it's so easy to get mixed up, but our Google map gave us exact metro instructions so we were fairly confident. We followed the hallway from the bus terminal to the metro terminal, bought some passes, and found the right track. The metro in Montreal is very clean and even more efficient--we went through 3 stops in under 5 minutes! It was so fast that it almost felt like we weren't moving.

Sheila took this "tourist-y" picture of me before getting on the metro.

Anyway, we got off at our stop and went up to street level. This is where things got a bit complicated. We had to get to the Centre Bell, which was the venue that Jason Mraz was playing at and where we were going to meet Mike before the show. However, there were many different versions of the directions that we had, and several addresses. We had no clue which one could be right. We headed off in the direction of the one that we thought could be it, but about ten minutes later when we came upon the location, we saw that it was definitely the wrong Bell--it was some sort of company store. We had to retrace our steps and start again, but soon enough we finally found it!

It was a HUGE stadium!

After arriving, we claimed our tickets. We still had some time before meeting up with Mike, so we walked down the street to a restaurant. After all of that traveling, we were starving! We ate quickly and got back to Centre Bell.

The second problem was that unfortunately, Sheila's phone wasn't receiving service. Mike was expecting a message from Sheila to know when we were there, and she was so excited to see her cousin but had no way of communicating with him. We told a security guard our problem, and he directed us around the other side of the building to the security office. As we were explaining what we needed to the guard there, someone from sound check was signing in. He told us that he would find Mike for us and let him know we were there, but sound check was running a bit late, so he wouldn't be able to come out right away. We sat at the security office for a little while, and finally we saw Mike coming out to greet us. Sheila was so happy to see him! He was such a nice guy, and I was glad to have the pleasure of meeting him. Then, to our astonishment, he brought us backstage!

Sheila's cousin, Mike, and I on his tour bus.

IT WAS SO COOL!!!! Can you tell that I was amazed? Mike brought us out onto the stage and let us sit at his drumset. We looked out at all of the seats and imagined them being full during the concert. It was so surreal to see the view that the band members get from the stage. I felt so small!

Christina Perri was opening for Jason Mraz, and Mike brought us to meet her drummer, Elmo. He was really cool! He told us that he likes to call his mom after a show--we thought that was so sweet! We also got to meet the other band members, including Jason's horn players, and also Mona, a percussionist. She was really nice, and she ROCKED during the concert!

Speaking of rocking during the concert, I haven't even begun to tell you about the best part. Our seats were so close to the stage--only 6 rows back! We had an amazing view. Christina Perri was phenomenal, and she seemed so amazed at the packed venue. It was easy to tell how grateful she was for this experience. Then, after Jason Mraz & co. came onstage, I don't think Sheila and I sat down once! We were singing and dancing along to all of the songs. It was such an energetic show!

Sheila and I in our matching Mraz tee-shirts.

Mraz and Company playing one of their finale songs. Mike is on the right side of the photo, playing behind Jason.

The whole trip was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. Sheila and I were proud that we were able to navigate through an unfamiliar city--although I'll admit that I couldn't have done it without her! We had such an amazing time at the concert, and it's definitely something I will never forget. Montreal was such a beautiful city, too, but unfortunately we didn't get to see too much of it since we left that night! We decided that we definitely want to go back for a weekend sometime!

Show Mike some love by "liking" his Facebook! :

Here is a video from the concert (I found this on Youtube, it wasn't taken by me or Sheila). Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Going to the Fair

Last weekend was tons of fun. The Champlain Valley Fair comes to the Expo (just down the road from SMC) every summer, and we get back to school just in time to go!

Normally, the fair is an orientation activity. Freshman students receive a ticket for the same day and they can all go together as a class. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Irene last year, most of my class didn't get a chance to attend. So, this year, my friends and I made it a must. We went to the petting zoo, rode the ferris wheel, and ate a LOT of greasy-fried fair food, none of which I regretted...forget the calories, fried dough at a fair is necessary!

My favorite girls and me, ready for a night at the fair!

The ferris wheel

A cool view from the ferris wheel!
Animals always love Tanya! This one kept nudging her to keep petting!

If you're ever in Essex Junction around the time of the Champlain Valley Fair, I definitely recommend going. It's an awesome way to spend a Friday night!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back and Better Than Ever!

Ever since move-in day last Saturday, the days have been packed with organizing, learning, social gatherings, and TONS of fun! Let me catch you up on my classes:

Fall 2012 Academic Schedule:

1.) Intro to Environmental Studies: This class meets for one hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, plus a 3-hour lab period every Monday. I have one professor for the lecture class that meets 3 times a week, and then the lab class is split up between three different professors. This is a different setup than other lab classes because environmental studies involves so many separate disciplines. So, one professor teaches the more scientific concepts and works with us outside while the other two focus on the philosophical side of the course, as well as history, law, and everything else that goes into understanding the complexities of human impact on the environment. In all honesty, I was really afraid of how having four professors for one class would work out. It turns out, though, that they all work together really well and the entire class seems to just blend together perfectly. Our class project seems pretty cool too...but more on that later! All in all, this is my first class for my ES minor, and I think it's going to end up being the perfect choice for me.

2.) Advanced Digital Media: This class is a Media Studies elective that is only offered every two years. After taking the required Digital Media: Art, Culture and Theory class, I decided this next level would be a good idea for me. I love Journalism, but I know my weakness in the MJD major is anything having to deal with graphic design or learning different computer programs to create images or web pages. Although computer stuff proves itself a challenge for me, I really liked the first class last semester and I'm already enjoying this one. There's just so much to learn...with constant updates in technology, this field is always changing, and even though it's so quickly paced it's all quite exciting! I have this class for an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and I always find that time flies quickly while I'm there. Professor Sultze teaches it, and she keeps her students very engaged with the fascinating content of this course.

3.) Christianity: Past and Present: This class was the one a bit out of my comfort zone. I'll admit that my reason for taking it was to fulfill the LSC (Liberal Studies Core) requirement; I would have never thought of it otherwise. Before my first class I could only think, how am I going to sit through an hour and a half of straight lecture? After all, this is a religious studies course--there would be no lab component, no class outside, no interactive computer program assignments. But, this is why the LSC classes are so awesome...they're never what you expect, and they always show you another side of yourself and teach you what you can do. I found that it's actually a really interesting subject. I always thought that all of the different branches of Christianity, as well as its relation to other religions, was really confusing, and maybe that's also why I was wary about taking the class. But so far, everything is completely understandable, thanks to Professor Byrne. I also enjoyed the homework that I had to read from the Bible, now that I actually get what's going on! As for the lecture, it turns out that I can get through it after all! We often break into groups to discuss different themes, ideas, and questions, and the class is set up so that all of us can have our questions answered.

4.) Nature and Outdoor Writing: I saved this class for last for a reason--it is my absolute favorite! As my second class this semester with Professor Sultze, it has a very relaxed feel but it's also an excellent learning environment. Besides, all of my assignments involve spending time outside! We had our last class out in Gilbrook, on the nature trails behind the 300 Townhouses--just a short walk from the classroom. We all had to find a quiet place to sit by ourselves and write or draw our observations, including every sensory detail. It was a very calming exercise, and I found when I was done that I was much more focused and less stressed than I had been before I entered the woods. I enjoyed a nature walk with a friend today as well, and was actually able to call it homework because I took pictures for a class project. I'm learning so much already, and this class is also reinforcing my passion for creative writing. I've officially made the decision to declare a Creative Writing minor!

So, those are my classes this semester. I'm a little bit behind on updating you all, and if I had the time now I'd describe my weekend trip to the fair and all of the unpacking and reunions that took place even earlier in the week. However, it's getting quite late, so I will fill you in on all of that fun stuff next time.

I hope you've all had as great and fulfilling of a week as I have. If you're just getting back to school now, too, then I wish you the best of luck. Have a wonderful year!