A Month Later: A Few Reflections

Well, it’s been just over a month since I got back from Spain, so I figured I should write a blog.  I admit that I have been avoiding doing this, and I couldn’t figure out why at first, but I think it’s because I haven’t wanted to sit down and compare Spain to Erskine, because I love them both so dearly.

First, I had a wonderful, quick, ten day vacation at home with my family for the holidays, but even though I had the initial shock of being back in the United States and missing Spain, it wasn’t until coming back to Due West that I really felt the difference.  For one thing, I was ready to be home with my family for Christmas, because no matter how happy I was in Spain, I still felt the need to be back in Charleston to celebrate fully.  I also had so much going on – Christmas, New Year’s Eve, my birthday, a couple of meetings with friends, appointments, unpacking, packing back up again, etc. – that I was pretty focused and distracted.

So then it was time to go back to college.

We’ve got three days left of J-term, which means that and I’ve been back for three weeks, and it has gone by so quickly.  Although nothing major has changed about Erskine externally (besides some fixed sidewalks and rearranged furniture), a lot has changed in the semester of my absence: some faculty changes for me, an entirely new class of freshmen who I am slowly getting to know, people have changed. . . and I have changed.  A lot.

Although I didn’t feel like I had an entirely life-changing experience that turned me into a completely new person, I realize now how much I have changed internally.  More than anything, my perspective has changed a lot, in many ways.  I feel like I have a much clearer view of things in life – my priorities, and a healthy balance of everything.  For example, I really value the relationships in my life more now, as a combination of being away from everyone and seeing how much importance the Spanish place on the people in their lives.

I also find myself comparing people and culture here to Spain, which doesn’t help with missing it.  I like to think that I don’t miss Alicante as much – that I am happy and getting used to being back – though it can vary a lot by the day.  I suppose overall it is better, but there are some days when I just ache to be back over there.  But regardless, I still am very glad to be back in Due West, believe it or not, because the Erskine family is just something unique that I dearly missed in Spain.  Too bad I can’t just take all of my family and good friends over there with me.

For now I’m just looking forward to jumping into the regular spring semester, being involved in all of my music and theatre again, and remembering to be thankful for what time I did have in Spain, and everything that it taught me.


Famous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once quoted, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” This freedom is something celebrated on Erskine’s campus, especially during times such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Program that was held this past Monday. Combining students, faculty, and even visiting prospective students, a gathering was held in Bowie Chapel to reflect on the life of this courageous and influential man. Listening to songs performed by the EC Gospel Choir and hearing a wonderfully delivered message by local Pastor Kenneth Dean, this celebration proved to be an enjoyable experience for those of all backgrounds.

To me, MLK Day is is a holiday that honors the life of MLK Jr., but also celebrates the progress that has been made after his time of leadership ended. While all prejudices and sterotypes have not been banished yet today, steps have been taken over the past decades to provide more equality. At Erskine, we celebrate this day by being aware of our past but optimistic about our future. By striving to promote diversity among the campus in all aspects of student life, Erskine takes a step in the direction of the equality Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to fighting for.

Following this celebration, I attended a mini-session (one of the many other unique things provided during J-term) whose topic dealt with a conversation about race. Led by the President of Erskine, Associate Director of Admissions, and Director of Campus Life, this session allowed students the opportunity to relax in an open environment in order to discuss the problems presented by racial stereotypes and explore ways in which these can be overcome. Talking openly about these issues in a structured format allowed voices to be heard that would be much quieter in a casual conversation setting. Exploring how far we have come, yet how far we need to go opened my eyes to a new view as I was able to converse with both Caucasian and African American students about what it means to be an individual and what it means to be a part of my own race.

People of all races owe a great deal to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle he endured to help create the America that we see today. As a citizen, I am grateful for the free interaction I can have with people from all backgrounds. As a college student, I am grateful for the diverse group of friends I have formed on this accepting campus. As a prospective teacher, I am grateful for the unique class I will encounter each year. And most importantly, as a human, I am grateful for the everlasting marks and memories that have been placed in my living scrapbook that were made possible by inspriational people like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Erskine ICIFIED!

Erskine icified!!

Snow in South Carolina?? When I was a prospective student looking at Erskine there were many strengths I saw. It wasn’t only the small town feel, academic challenge,  and volleyball opprtunity that drew me in, but the warm weather. I would love to experience a winter without snow. So naturally I thought South Carolina was a safe choice, but boy was I wrong!!

The chaos started Sunday. I went grocery shopping and people where running around in a frenzy. The first thing to go was the staple foods like milk, bread and eggs. The toilet paper was slim pickings as well. Among the people, one lady thought out loud and said, “Do they make milk in cans?” What is going on here?!? It sure doesn’t look like it’s going to actually snow. News flash: Snowfall does not mean the world is ending!  

 You could say I was being a skeptic to the magnitude of the snow storm moving in on Due West. However, I was proven wrong. In the morning I woke up to a nice 3 inch blanket. And by mid-afternoon we had 5 inches topped off with a crunchy sheet or ice.

Our brontosaurus! Can't you tell??

Our brontosaurus! Can't you tell??

Am I in Minnesota?? Iowa?? If I were at home, I probably wouldn’t have played outside because it’s noting too exciting. But here, everyone was out and about. People were sledding in the mall area, playing football on Robinson field, and So I joined in on the festivities! My roommate and I walked her dog around town and made a brontosaurus ice sculpture! Wow I felt like a kid again. I love snow days! I thought my snow day time was over once I headed south bound, but SURPRISE! The snow follows me everywhere!

A little reminder of home

My front yard decorated by mother nature!

My front yard decorated by mother nature!

The snow we were blessed with this week was a little reminder of home. Not just home, but Christmas BREAK! I thoroughly enjoyed being with my family and friends; even if we were engulfed in 30 inches of snow! So, here is a a little replay of my break!

Just a day after my last final I was homebound to the closer North Pole, MINNESOTA! Just a day before I was scheduled to come home, the majority of Minnesota got hit by a blizzard making it questionable to whether I was going to be able to go home on time. 😦  After a 3 hours of delay due to cold weather in Atlanta, I was home sweet home. I was welcomed  by 22 inches of white fluff, breathtaking air, and my very much missed parents.

Ugly Sweater Parties!

Ugly Sweater Parties!

 When I was home, I  tried to soak in everything I wouldn’t be able to go when I got home. Like baking and cooking. It’s nice having a full kitchen and hungry mouths! I use to always cook for my dad and brothers so it’s a fun past time. I also got to shovel snow!! If I still lived in the Midwest I wouldn’t be so excited, but it is fun the first few times! Since I’ve been at college I have shopped a lot less then I use to and I miss it so much! I mostly did window shopping and shopping for others since I don’t like to travel with a lot of baggage. I also got to see my high school and college friends… a lot! Most of my friends and I haven’t missed a beat, which is really cool. I also got to let the little kid in me be unleashed while I played with my 3 little nephews. Man have they grown since I saw them last…. 5 months ago! All those little things make being home so great! I love it!

A little holiday bakng to share the love

A little holiday bakng to share the love

All I wanted was face time with the people that I care about so much and have been with me through thick and thin. That is the neat thing about living so far from home; when I come back home I appreciate the little things. Whether it being the cold, the pigs, shoveling snow or being in short driving distance to see my friends and family. I will hold on to those memories until I’m home once again… after graduation!

Hello, New York!

Friends at home often look at me quizzically when I say I’m going back to school on January 2nd, since that date is significantly earlier than the start-date for most colleges. I’m never reluctant to return, however, even after enjoying weeks of delightful holiday relaxation. Why is this? Because during January, Erskine students take only one class—a lovely way to ease back into the hustle and bustle of the regular semester on the heels of Christmas vacation.

J-term enables us Erskine students to study one subject deeply and thoroughly, to explore disciplines unrelated to our majors, and to enjoy unique classroom experiences, such as taking a trip to Columbia to study state politics hands-on or taking a course on detective fiction (which involves Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie—so it has to be good!). Since I’ve been at Erskine, I’ve found that January is a month filled with fun, time to hang out with friends, and awesome new experiences.

This year is no exception, since I’m in a J-term taught by Dr. Brad Christie and Professor Glick titled “Flight to the City: EC in NYC.” Yep. We’re going to spend eight days in New York, viewing sites and theater events ranging from the Empire State Building to the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen. In preparation for this horizon-widening, fun-filled journey, we’ve discussed the best way to observe and analyze art (which will come in handy as we keep detailed journals of everything we encounter), how to navigate in New York City (skills which we’ll especially use during our liberal amounts of free time), and how to best appreciate and learn from events such as the opera or a performance by the New York Philharmonic. In addition, each student in the class of eighteen is giving a presentation on so
me site or feature of New York, either before or during the trip. Listening to several of those reports today was a great way to learn more about the city…and has made me that much more incredibly excited about all that I’m about to see and experience. Hello, New York!

The Fruits of the Spirit

I would like to begin by saying that I had a fabulous Christmas break and I hope you enjoyed yours as well. Christmas trees, cookies, and presents all seemed to go too quickly and now it is that time of the year where new resolutions begin as we all try to get back into the groove of school and work. Luckily, I have the opportunity to make this transition during J-term rather than jumping right back into spring classes. Although it is only day four, it is safe to say that this could be one of the most amazing months I have had here at Erskine.

After attending my morning class, taking a two hour nap, and eating some dinner, I dove into a book I have been waiting to read. (During the regular semester, I don’t find much time for leisure reading). It is an inspirational book from a Christian perspective. During my reading yesterday, I came across this quote, “In particular, when we are in the flow of the Spirit, we become increasingly full of the fruit of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ The best indicator that I am living in the flow is the growth of the fruit.” I feel that J-term is offering a more relaxed academic environment that is allowing me to focus more on my spiritual fruit growth.

Well, last night I worked on more than one growth of the fruit as I spent the evening playing Apples to Apples and Bananagrams with a few close friends and some people I have never had the chance to hang out with. As simple as it may sound, taking a break from the stresses and ordinary focuses of life to spend time playing games actually makes me feel closer to God. Through these moments, I am able to regain focus on the more important meanings of life that aren’t associated with good grades and money. Rather, I get to enhance my spiritual growth through laughter with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I feel that J-term is allowing me the time to enhance my Christian walk through the most simple interactions and thought-provoking discussions that are often overlooked during the busier days.

Only at Erskine

The titular phrase of this post is one that we here at Erskine sometimes say, during those inevitable moments of frustration which are part of life, in a less-than-affectionate tone. I had an experience today, however, which brought a huge grin to my face and caused me to voice that phrase with a far more wonted tone of delight and affection.

This afternoon, you see, I went into the kitchen to make my daily cup of tea—yes, I should have been British—and while I was heating it, I walked over to the vending machine to ascertain the cost of a bottle of water. Three members of the Erskine Maintenance Staff happened to be in the kitchen at the time, and one of these friendly janitors, upon observing my perusal of the vending machine, asked me in a jovial tone whether I wanted to get something. I said I did and that I was about to go to my room to get some change.

In response, he pulled out his wallet and handed me a dollar and twenty-five cents, despite my appreciative but embarrassed insistence that he didn’t need to do that! As he put the money in my hand, he looked at me with a sage twinkle in his eye and said, “Well there are lots of things in life we don’t have to do that we do anyway.” And I couldn’t argue with that. So I got a bottle of water and left Robinson kitchen with a big smile on my face, blessed to be a part of a community that doesn’t extend only to the student body, but rather includes everyone, from the president to the staff. Only at Erskine.