Moving In: A Whirlwind of Adventure

As the campus settles down and starts to recuperate from yet another busy move-in day, I am sitting on my spankin new bungee chair in my somewhat newish dorm room with my super new roommate, Dominique, and running through everything that I did today. It was totally crazy, from the time I woke up at 6:30 to finish packing odds and ends, to arriving at Carnegie and being surrounded by an army of Busy Bees ( upperclassmen who volunteered to help with Orientation), to running around attending countless meetings and group projects, to dressing up like a flapper and getting a tutorial on how to swing dance. I’m pretty sure I need to invest in a bucket that I can fill with ice for my feet…

My dad finished packing our mini van and my Subaru with all of my stuff around 8 o’clock in the morning, all the while giving me skeptical eyes for possibly overpacking. I finally made it to Carnegie around 9 o’clock. People had both cars unpacked and everything in my room by 9:05. Seriously, I barely had time to register myself and collect a bundle of papers before they had everything in my room. It was pretty darn impressive. From there, it was just a matter of unpacking my stuff. Easy, right? HA. SIKE.

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Waiting to unpack the cars

I had barely gotten my bed made when I had to rush over across campus to a 10 minute interview for a Student Ambassador job. Student Ambassadors get to take prospective students on tours, help out with events, and host prospective students in their rooms. I love meeting new people, so I’m really excited that I got to apply! So anyway, I went to the interview, returned to my room and then had to go to lunch 30 minutes later. I barely unpacked my school supplies..

After lunch, I picked up my Ipad from the Admissions Staff (a little gift incentive for enrolling early), dropped it off in my room, and then headed over to a Welcome Session with Erskine’s new president, Dr. Kooistra. After we were welcomed, the students were split into 12 Orientation groups and headed out to take an infinite number of pictures in a sweltering heat while the parents got to stay in the air-conditioned room for a Family Meeting. Lucky ducks..

The torture finally ended and the groups separated with the duty of making a banner, team name, and cheer within the span of 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes were up, we performed our cheers in front of people. Some groups had cool cheers. My group did not.. Haha But that’s okay! Not everyone can be winners.

The last event before families were supposed to leave was the President’s Reception and Signing of the Tablecloth. I was a little skeptical at first, not to mention hot, sweaty, and exhausted. However, there were cookies and the tablecloth was actually kinda cool.

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There’s my name :)

Finally, my family left and I had a few minutes of down time before the soiree started. The soiree is an Erskine tradition. Every moving day, there’s a themed dinner and a dance held for the freshman girls and guys. This year’s theme was the Roaring 20’s. I borrowed my good friend’s prom dress and bought some long pearls, so I was set.

Lookin fly in 20's guise

Lookin fly in 20’s guise

All of the girls dress up and wait upstairs until their name is called. Once their name is called, a O-Staff male student will escort you down the stairs while you pray that you don’t trip on your heels and hand you off to a freshman guy at the front of the line. Then the freshman guy will walk you arm-in-arm down to the Mall where tables and chairs are set up for dinner. I won’t go into details, but I did learn that I will still have an awesome time, even if my date forgets my name and if we have completely opposite personalities. After dinner, we learned to swing dance and then later I made it back to my dorm where I finally finished unpacking at 10.

So that’s basically a long summary of what I did today! Want some pictures of my dorm room?

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My beautiful roommate and me :)

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My desk area :)

The Countdown for College

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I leave my comfortable, small-town environment for an unfamiliar, smaller-town environment. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I say goodbye to my family, my friends, and my church and say hello to new friends who will become my new family and a new church where I will make new friends. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I go from being a superior senior to a feeble freshman.

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I share my room with another person for the first time in my life. 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until all my anxious fears and anticipations become realities. 

 

14 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes until I move in to Erskine College. 

 

If you were to be one of the hundreds of people who asked me if I was excited to leave my home and start a new life at college, I would easily reply with a hearty “Oh, yes!” But in my mind (and somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach), there is something uneasy and gray that keeps me from bubbling up like some of the other incoming freshman that I have met. I can’t explain why it exists. Perhaps it stems from the uncertainty of whether I will succeed in my schoolwork, or the fear of forcing myself into unknown terrain in order to make new friends, or the inevitable pang of homesickness that I will get despite the 30 mile proximity of my house. Regardless of the reason, I have decided to label the sensation as the Pre-Beginning Jitters, or, PBJ’s.

 

Any person who has ever been a starter for a game, or participated in a music program, or has had the opening line to a play can empathize with me after I explain the Pre-Beginning Jitters. Since I played church basketball (I know, I’m hardcore) for 6 years, my experiences are perfect examples of the PBJ’s.

Throwback to my 9th grade basketball team (I'm the four-eyed #20)

Throwback to my 9th grade basketball team (I’m the four-eyed #20)

Here’s a timeline of my emotions and thoughts as a basketball game approaches: (I was the starting point guard, for the record)

  • 1 Week Before The Game: I know there’s a game next week and that I can’t schedule anything that night. No big deal. I can’t wait to practice tonight!
  • 1 Day Before The Game: All of my teammates are freaking out, but it’s not big deal! Even if we don’t win, it’ll still be fun to play.
  • 30 Minutes Before The Game: Okay, I’m starting to get nervous, but I’m sure everything will be fine! I just need to focus on the here and now.
  • 10 Seconds Before The Whistle Blows: OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. I’m so nervous and anxious that I think I might actually throw up on the court. How embarrassing would that be? Oh man.. if I screw up right now, I’ll never live it down and the rest of the game will be ruined. What if I miss the ball? What if the other team scores a point? What if someone breaks their nose and we have to cancel? I think I’m gonna be sick..

Have a virtual Pokemon face cookie as a reward for surviving the danger zone of my crazed mind and continuing to read this post. ;) IMG_1379

 

Back to my point, that timeline of emotions is exactly how I had been feeling about college. I was nonchalant and even indifferent about leaving for college and then suddenly, BAM. I graduated from high school and I had to start thinking about what going to college actually entailed. Now I’m at that 10 seconds point before the ball is tossed up. The game hasn’t quite started yet and I don’t know what to expect from myself or the players around me. The one thing that I do know is this: thousands of people have felt the exact same way that I am feeling right now, and not only did they survive college, but it was one of the best experiences of their lives.

So bring it on, Erskine! I’m ready to handle anything that you throw at me! There may be some nervous puking, and I will probably cry at some point, but I’m ready to take on the challenge!

P.S. Stay alert, because I’ll be sharing all of my crazy, exciting stories with you throughout the year!

Tiffa-Wiffa-Maniffa-Bodiffa (And Other Related Matters)

The first thing I did after I did after I got out of my last class on Friday was take a nap. (That wasn’t particularly exciting, but since I am a college student I often have to make sleep a priority whenever I can!) But AFTER I took my nap, I left Due West and headed out for my exciting weekend!

I started by having dinner with my lovely (graduated) roommate from my sophomore and junior years of college. The sweet and kind Victoria lives in Anderson with her husband, Michael. Victoria and I went grocery shopping, made dinner, and talked and talked and talked! It was a lovely dinner and I am pretty sure all three of laughed through the entire thing!

My sweet Victoria :)

My sweet Victoria :)

After I left these dear friends around 9 pm, I drove myself back to Due West and then met Tiffany in the Carnegie parking lot to begin our drive to Columbia. (Considering that we were only going for the weekend, I assume you will automatically know that we were going the city in South Carolina rather than the country!) Now, before you comment that us driving to Columbia at 9:30 pm at night is strange, let me tell you what my response is going to be: you have probably done some strange things in your life! Also, Tiffany had a concert on Friday night and I had dinner with the Green family, but we both really wanted to get to Columbia on Friday night so that we could be there bright and early on Saturday morning! :)

Several weekends ago, we went to Columbia and played with puppies!

We needed to get to Columbia to get back to these puppies!

What, you may ask, put us both in such a hurry to get to Columbia? Good question! This weekend I had the privilege of spending the weekend in Columbia with not only Tiffany, but also her parents AND grandparents! Now, in case you are one of those poor unfortunate souls who does not know Tiffany and her family or who has not read my blogs enough to become familiar with them, Tiffany has been my friend throughout my entire four years at Erskine.

Tiffany came to see my sister and I at my house back in January!

Tiffany came to see my sister and I at my house back in January!

Tiffany and I actually met on the very first day of freshman orientation, in the dorm, as we were getting dressed and ready to go to Soiree. I suppose what you might expect me to say next is that we instantly became friends and have been best friends ever since! While that would be rather cute to say, that is not actually quite what happened. After that first night we each went off and made new friends and hardly saw each other during the first few months at Erskine. But, as we were both math majors, and had several classes together second semester, we gradually started studying together and then gradually spending more and more time with each other. And then suddenly I had a new best friend! [For those who are literarily inclined – “Gradually and then suddenly!” ;) ]

I actually wrote a blog which includes the story of how I met Tiffa… which you can read by clicking here! :)

Many lovely weekends in the past several years have been spent in the company of Tiffany and her family, especially this past semester. After Tiffany and I returned home from Scotland, we were used to spending every day with each other. Suddenly forced apart as she lived on campus as an SLA and I commute 30 minutes to school, we had to begin actually making efforts to spending time together. (That is, when we were in Scotland, we shared a room. So literally all I had to do was roll over and look at her to have a conversation. Now I have to drive half an hour- which MOST people would consider to be more effort than simply rolling over in bed.)

This weekend we had such nice weather! :)

This weekend we had such nice weather! :)

Weekends with Tiffany and her family are the absolute BEST! Not only do I get to spend time with Tiffany, I get to spend time with her entire family. First of all, Tiffany’s mom is hilarious! (Actually, when I told her that I was going to write a blog about her this weekend she cracked me up by offering up all sorts of wonderful descriptions I could use for her in my writing). While almost all of the terms that she came up with are mostly true, I really love spending time with her because she is so much fun to be around. As soon as Tiffany and I walk into the door she is running around, telling us stories, and (of course!) handing us lists of things to do!

While Tiffany’s father is not nearly as talkative, he is equally as kind. Tiffany’s dad is really good at planning and making sure every need is taken care of- from making sure that everyone has all of the ingredients to make dinner to checking that each person has their favorite drink at dinner. Before any of us even think of anything, he has already thought of it- and taken care of it! I suppose that might be described as foresight? Whatever it is, he has it!

Tiffany’s grandparents are such darlings, and they say the most hilarious things. For instance, Tiffany and I were hanging out with them today and talking about the recipes Tiffany wants to learn to make before she wants to get married. She listed them all – chicken and dumplings, chicken tacos, baked chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken….. and Tiffany’s grandfather just looks at her and says, “Chicken, chicken, chicken, bawk, bawk, bawk!” Tiffany’s grandmother is so sweet! She and I both like to collect and send greeting cards- she has hundreds of them in her room! Spending time with them and Tiffany’s parents made this weekend, and many weekends in the past, a memory I will always cherish :)

We all went out to lunch at the Lizard's Thicket yesterday- but, don't be fooled! They don't actually serve lizards!

We all went out to lunch at the Lizard’s Thicket yesterday- but, don’t be fooled! They don’t actually serve lizards!

One of the reasons that I am so happy I chose to attend Erskine is that it has given me the chances to make friends with sweet girls like Tiffany, and get to know them over a period of time as we take many classes together. Yes, there are only several math majors at Erskine. But because there are only a few of us, we really have the opportunity to bond and get to know each other way better than we ever would have otherwise. Tiffany and I will both graduate from Erskine this May- only 40 days, 13 hours, and 20 minutes from now- but we plan to be best friends for the rest of our lives! :)

Tiffany is as cute as this puppy- and that's saying something!

Tiffany is as cute as this puppy- and that’s saying something!

The Proof of a Good Friend

If you ever looking to see a mix of reactions in a group of people, tell them that you are a math major. I’m not even kidding, this is actually quite hilarious! I am a double major in math and psychology at Erskine and, because everyone in American culture routinely asks college students what they are majoring in, I often have to tell people about my majors.

Their reactions usually follow one of two extremes: the look of awe, as if I have personally halfway completed the quest to cure cancer, or the look of extreme disgust as they wonder what kind of torture I must have endured as a child to voluntarily subject myself to such a fate. Meeting a new group of people is almost as always interesting as the various new acquaintances either nod at my announcement or, alternatively, may go to great lengths to express their dissatisfaction with my decision. Some even go to such extremes as to pretend to stick their fingers down their throats and make gagging noises….. quite an extreme reaction, in my opinion!

As a math major, I have spent a lot of time learning how to prove various statements. (This is also somewhat funny because in psychology, my other discipline, to say that you have proved something is akin to saying you wish to torture small animals or something equally ghastly.) Proving a statement in math is quite difficult for me and often takes a lot of work, but I am usually quite proud of any proof I have written! I have a friend at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland called Scott who also studies math and is absolutely brilliant at writing proofs. I am pretty sure that any proof I could write now, he wrote when he was about twelve or thirteen. Nonetheless, studying math and proof writing is really awesome because it is cross cultural — anybody, no matter what language they speak, should be able to read and understand a well written proof in math. Even as a study abroad student in Scotland last semester, the language of proofs was still the same!

For instance, here is a proof I attempted to write last night for abstract algebra!

For instance, here is a proof I attempted to write last night for abstract algebra!

One thing I have learned in life is that not everything can be as neat and tidy as a math proof. Friendships and relationships can be difficult, and not every question so easily answered. Sometimes situations can arise where no one is sure about the right answer, and tough decisions have to be made. I think that one of the things that makes Erskine special is that, not only do we learn about life inside of the classroom, we have a lot of opportunity to learn about life outside of the classroom. As I have studied how to prove that the square root of two is irrational, I have also studied questions about my closest friendships. At Erskine I have had the opportunity to explore: what is the proof of a good friend?

Even my abstract algebra textbook has life advice to offer!! :)

Even my abstract algebra textbook has life advice to offer!! :)

Proverbs 17:17 tells us that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” One of my biggest blessings at Erskine for me has been the opportunity to make close friends, both at home and abroad. The word love is also defined for us, in 1 Corinthians, and probably quite familiar to you. I think of my darling Elisabeth, who is always so patient with me and sweet Samantha who has never said an unkind word to anyone. Friends who are humble, like Rachel who enjoys whatever the Lord has blessed her with and does not envy the possessions of others. Or Ben, who has so much to be proud of, but does not boast in his own accomplishments, and Kate who is not proud even though culture might say she has every right to be.

Some of my good friends: Kendra, Kate, & Tiffany!

Some of my good friends: Kendra, Kate, & Tiffany!

My friend Vannah, though she has been through many trials, does not dishonor anyone- at least, not that I have ever heard! Girls like Tiffany who are not self-seeking, but constantly look to support and help others. Or how about my roommate, Victoria, who lived with me for two years but was never easily angered by my crazy living habits?? I have, also, to think of Kendra, one of the most forgiving girls I know, who constantly looks for the best in people and keeps no record of wrongs against her. And how would I survive without Heather, who does not delight in any sin in my life, but rejoices in learning God’s truth with me. Last night my dear friend Christine went out of her way to protect me- to bring me dinner when she knew I had none. My beautiful Sarah always trusts that I will be a good friend to her, my friend Amanda who has always had such high hopes for all of her friends, and Lolly has persevered as one of my closest friends since the very first day of orientation!

As a student at Erskine, I have learned many lessons in math and psychology, about how to prove a mathematical statement and how to demonstrate ideas about human nature with psychology. My favorite learning experiences, however, have focused on friendships. In the past four years I have learned much about how to be a good friend and know a good friend when you see one: and these (hopefully) are not announcements that make any one want to gag!

An AMAZING Academic Experience!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in one of the best academic experiences I have had as an Erskine student. And considering that Erskine is a highly academic college, and I have been here for four years and had a lot of academic experiences, that is a pretty strong statement!

So what did Holly do that was so fab???, you may be asking yourself. Let me tell you! Last weekend Dr. Elsner, another student called Christine, and I went to the Alpha Chi National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. This is a three day conference for the Alpha Chi National Honor Society which takes place every year! Students from all over the country gather together to present their research, listen to speakers, and enjoy exploring the city together.

 

Ready to explore the city!

Ready to explore the city!

If you are ever experiencing low self esteem as a student, I recommend that you attend an academic conference. At a conference, all of the students are treated like serious scholars. While we were there, everyone wore nice clothes and dressed up all of the time. We stayed at an extremely nice hotel in St. Louis and were served fine foods. As Christine and I clicked everywhere in our heels, she commented to me exactly what I was feeling, I have never felt so professional!

I make weird facial expressions as a present my topic! :p

I make weird facial expressions as a present my topic! :p

Besides presenting some of the research that we have done in our majors (I presented on a paradox in game theory known as the Traveler’s Dilemma and Christine presented on a study she is conducting concerning the effects of seating on attention), we were given the whole of Friday afternoon to explore the city of St. Louis. What a fabulous time we had! Dr. Elsner is possibly one of the most fun college professors that has ever been! We spent the afternoon eating out at a nice restaurant, walking around downtown, and exploring the city! We even got to go to the top of the St. Louis arch!

 

Dr. Elsner at the top of the arch!

Dr. Elsner at the top of the arch!

I suppose that after we went to the top of the arch, we got stuck in picture taking mode. If you think about it, that makes sense. When you do something super awesome, like go to the top of the St. Louis arch, you tend to start taking a lot of pictures. And then when you get down, you think to yourself: that was really fun! I want to take some more really fun pictures! And then you end up walking around St. Louis attempting to pose next to random statues you find all around the city!

 

Duck lips??

Duck lips??

 

We pretended it was a chocolate bunny!

We pretended it was a chocolate bunny!

 

Christine's scary face is much better than mine!

Christine’s scary face is much better than mine!

One of the coolest parts of the trip took place on Friday night. Dr. Elsner, Christine, and I were invited over to spend time with two students who graduated from Erskine several years ago. They heard that we were in town and invited us over to enjoy some chocolate cookies and great conversation! One of the phrases that it often used to describe the Erskine Experience is Forever Connected. Having the opportunity to meet two awesome alumni simply because we were in town and they wanted to meet us, I think, is a perfect example of how this statement rings true.

 

Service Learning at the DreamCenter (Men’s Volleyball)

The Erskine men’s volleyball team just returned home from a trip to California that included a couple matches at West Coast colleges plus five full days of service at the DreamCenter in Los Angeles.

The DreamCenter is an organization staffed by volunteers who serve thousands of individuals and families in the LA area via humanitarian outreaches, education, and community programs.

The volleyball team spent 5 days working at the DC, and pitched in to help with everything from child care to loading the food truck, doing construction, talking to folks, and picking up trash from local streets. Their days were jam-packed with activity, led by DreamCenter volunteers who themselves have often been recipients of help and care from the DC.

Coach Derek Schmitt writes in his final entry about the trip,

We closed our week [at the DreamCenter] with some $5 Hot-n-Ready pizzas from Little Caesar’s as each of us talked about how we are different from when we checked in to the DreamCenter on Monday afternoon.  There were a lot of great things shared including spending more time in prayer and in the Bible, having more of a servant mentality, being more appreciative of the things we have, having more faith in God and His power, and much more.  It has been exciting to see the guys invest in the DreamCenter this week and the impact it is having on each one of them.  

Read more from Coach Schmitt about the guys’ experience at the DreamCenter:

First day at the DreamCenter

Day 2 at the DreamCenter

Day 3 at the DreamCenter

Day 4 at the DreamCenter

Last Day at the DreamCenter for Men’s Volleyball.