Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Best Questions to Ask Your Tour Guide, Part 2

Sorry to keep you waiting, folks! As you know, it's "the most wonderful time of the year" (and I mean that with every ounce of saracasm I can muster) in terms of massive assignments and very long papers. But hey, we're all hanging in there!

And when you're hanging with your tour guide, here are some more questions you should remember to ask:

(You can find the first part to this series here.)

3.) What is the social life on campus like?

While there are a lot of things you can probably expect to find on almost any campus, there are also a lot of unique social aspects to each school. Size alone certainly makes an impact: at a small school like Saint Mike's, where everyone lives on campus, you'll know that there's always someone to talk to and that you're never alone. You can also expect that if you don't know someone personally, you probably have a friend who does, and so we're all really connected that way. That's not common at large universities.

I can also mention here that I never heard the term "suitcase school" until I toured colleges myself. Apparently some smaller schools earn this reputation when a majority of the students pack up and go home on the weekends. I've gotten the question a lot on tours, and I can definitely guarantee that at Saint Mike's, everyone stays on campus over the weekend. I live about five hours away, and I believe the average distance for students is somewhere around four. Even if I did live closer, I wouldn't want to leave. If we go away for a weekend, we come back feeling like we've missed too much!

And of course, speaking of weekends...

4.) Don't be afraid to ask. Have the alcohol talk.

A lot of students and parents don't know how to approach this question, but more often than not, it's on everyone else's mind too. The rest of your tour group will probably be grateful you asked.

When students ask me what the "party scene" is like, I tell the truth. Summed up in one sentence: Saint Mike's is what you make it. If you come here looking for a party, you'll find it. If you want to drink, you'll figure out a way to do it. On the other hand, if the party scene isn't your thing, you'll find other people who feel the same way. There are plenty of things to do on weekends that don't involve alcohol or drugs: RAs put on social events in all of the dorms, you can go get free food in the Quad at midnight, you can attend a concert at Higher Ground or a show at the Flynn, hang out on Church Street or at the waterfront, go to campus events such as plays, movie nights or speakers, or even just relax in your friend's room. During the day you can sign up for Wilderness Program outings, MOVE service events, or a number of other things to keep you busy.

I think what I like most about Saint Mike's is that no matter how you choose to spend your time, the other students are very respectful and they don't judge. If you don't want to drink but you enjoy a good dance party, your friends will be cool with that. I've never been pressured into anything that I don't want to do, and I love that. The culture here is one of respect. Students respect each other's choices and decisions, which is another reason why we're constantly talking about the amazing community we have here. 

5.) What has surprised you most about coming here?

A father once asked me this on a tour and it stopped me in my tracks. Thinking back for a minute, the answer came to me quite obviously: I couldn't believe how quickly I started calling Saint Mike's "home".

I distinctly remember going home for the first time my freshman year. I was happy to be back in New York, but I missed all of my friends at school. I don't remember what exactly I was talking to my mom about, but I mentioned that I was going to do something "when I get home."

WELL. Let me tell you, it's not very easy for a mother to hear those words. She freaked a little that I was using "the H-word" in reference to a place that was 5 hours away from her. I grew up in the same house for 18 years, so yes, that is my home...but I've also spent the past three years in a very accelerated state of living on my own, making new friends, and completely navigating a new place. And naturally, the longer I stayed, the more I fell in love with it. So yes, Saint Mike's is my home now, too. And there will always be a special place in my heart for this home--no matter where in the world I am!

So, there you have it. Part 2 of TBQTAYTG. Remember to ask any and every question that comes to mind--you don't want to leave the campus with any lingering questions, and your tour guide doesn't want you to either!

Have a very happy Thanksgiving, and if you're traveling, be safe!


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