Good Morning– It’s Tour!

Sarah and I on the bus

I’ve got a confession to make. It takes me an inordinately long amount of time to wake up and get ready in the morning. By college standards, at least, a full hour and fifteen minutes—during which I get ready, have devotions, eat breakfast, and straighten my room before departing—is quite extravagant. I don’t seem to be able to successfully mirror the vast majority of college students who roll out of bed, throw on clothes, and are ready to meet the world with a  smile—or a least a somewhat pleasant-I’m-essentially-awake look—within fifteen to twenty  minutes. My roommate is one such person, and, especially since she highly dislikes waking up, she knows how to squeeze every possible minute of sleep from the morning before jumping out of bed to look chipper and lovely within minutes.

Orchid in the Botanic Garden in D.C.

It takes me, on the other hand, at least an hour to wake up and render myself presentable. And heaven forbid I not have time for breakfast or leave my bed unmade. Until, that is, a morning last week when, for the first time in my college career…my alarm didn’t ring. Ironically enough, that morning happened to be the only day of the year when an entire bus full of people was waiting on me to get ready. Yes, I didn’t wake up the morning of choir tour.

Schadell, Aimee, Hannah and I with our first host family. They welcomed us warmly into their home with ice cream, Oreos, and good conversation, followed by a scrumptious breakfast of eggs, cinnamon rolls, and fruit the next day. Mmm.

You see, each year the Choraleers leave on Thursday morning for tour. Since midterms and classes don’t end until the Friday before Spring Break, this departure time means that the week before tour is a rather hectic time of scurrying to take tests early and write papers due on Thursday and Friday. I stayed up until about 1:30 a.m. –not bad, really, in a setting where all-nighters aren’t uncommon—packing for the trip and completing a paper that was due Friday. Then, I blithely set my alarm for 6:40 p.m. (whoops!) and went to bed.

Stopping for a meal en route

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of my alarm ringing insistently. When, bleary-eyed and blind (praise God for contacts!), I reached to turn it off, I discovered that I was, in fact, receiving an incoming call from my friend Aimee. And it was 8:35 a.m. What?! Frantically recalling the injunction to arrive in the Due West ARP parking lot at 8:00 or 8:15, ready to roll out at 8:30, I half-shouted into the phone in half-awake disbelief: “Aimee, Is it really time to go?!” (I’m devastatingly witty in the mornings.) Aimee calmly told me just to come as quickly as possible and that she would send someone to help carry my luggage.

Within ten minutes, I was walking onto the bus to the good-naturedly joking welcome of friends who had been on the bus for the last thirty minutes or so. I may have looked and felt frazzled, but an in-bus breakfast and en route devotion soon restored me. At any rate, it was quite an exciting start to tour! Though one I don’t hope to soon repeat…

A Taste of Spain

The tempting picture in my cookbook... how could I resist?

One of my favorite ways of remembering Spain (and perhaps to try and re-live it a little) is by trying to recreate some of my favorite foods from the country.  I even received a cookbook of Spanish foods for Christmas two years ago, when I came back from my trip.  I was flipping through a week or so ago and I spied one of these tasty treats, ensaimadas – little spiral pastries topped with powdered sugar.  They are light, sweet, and a delightful breakfast treat with a chocolate (hot chocolate) or café (coffee).  They’re from the region of Mallorca, but you can find them pretty much everywhere in the country (at least in the major cities).

So, I decided to have a go at my Spanish baking skills – after all, I have a recipe and everything.  It’s not a particularly difficult recipe, either, but I had never worked with yeast before so I was a little worried about messing up the cultures and ending up with flat pastries… but hey, at least they would taste good.  I admit that it was a little bit of a challenge to find all the proper cooking utensils in the dorm, but Robinson is pretty well stocked, luckily.  The only thing that I couldn’t locate was a food mixer, so I had to knead the dough by hand, which was not a problem.  I even documented my progress in this exciting endeavor:

First, before going into the oven, after cooling for 24 hours, then rising for three...

Then, after coming out of the oven, looking pretty good so far...


Finally, my proud final product, lightly dusted and tempting. Not bad!

They didn’t turn out exactly like they’re supposed to, but they were pretty close (and still quite delicious).  Success!

Formals and Friendship

All week I could not wait for Friday night to arrive. After a long five days of school, work, and little sleep, the Friday night formal was all I could dream about. Ringlet curls, pretty dresses, and high-heeled shoes bring a smile to both the girly and tomboy side of this girl. A break from books and blue jeans, the formal provides an opportunity to get off campus, get dressed up, and get ready to have fun with friends!

As a member of the Athenian Literary Society, I had even more excitement, as we were hosting this evening event. Arabian Nights was the theme and the decorations filled the Greenwood Art Center. Aside from a night full of dancing, I look forward to this type of event because I am able to spend time with all of my friends at once, which does not happen often. As a junior, I have become extremely involved in my major, which occupies most of my time. Therefore, my friends who are science and English majors are sometimes difficult to catch up with, while I see my education friends each and every day. However, this event was even more special because this would be the last big event before many of my friends graduate in May. (They love to remind me of this fact, too).

After eating dinner and getting dressed, we were off to the party. Of course the ride there is just as important, because your brain must begin preparing how to bust out some moves on the dance floor. Therefore, we rocked out and sang at the top of our lungs while we traveled. Finally, we arrive and its time to break it down! The first few minutes are always the most awkward, because fewer people are there to mask your dorky dance moves. However, when the first line dance comes on, the floor is crowded and everyone feels right at home. With “The Wobble,” “Can’t Wang With It,” and “The Cupid Shuffle,” down, the rest of the night is set for various styles of dancing. Each person can find some way to fit in.

Sadly, as the clock struck midnight, the lights brightened and the floor cleared. Clean-up time had arrived and the last Athenian formal with my senior sisters had ended. After sweeping and mopping floors, fixing chairs, and cutting out the lights, hugs were given and a glimpse into the future appeared. While it was sentimental and sad for a minute, the moment also lent itself to a great deal of happiness, as I was thankful that I have such wonderful friends that I will miss next year. Through the good times and bad, Erskine has provided me not only with important facts, but also important friends.

Choraleers On the Move

A couple of weekends ago I went on my first Choraleers mini-tour since my return from Spain. I wasn’t exactly sure how the trip would be, since I’m still getting to know the freshmen in the group (who are wonderful, by the way) and was, *cough*, less than certain of all my notes. On Saturday afternoon, we embarked on our drive to August, Georgia, where we rehearsed at a couple of different churches and were treated to dinner by one of the host churches.

Next, we were assigned our roommates and families for our home-stays—one of the best parts of Choraleers mini-tours. Every home-stay has been different for me, and I’ve actually ended up in a couple of mansions (no, I’m not kidding—if ten girls all have their own bedrooms,  the home qualifies as a mansion) during past trips. Whatever the size of the house, though, it’s always fun to get to know different people from the congregations of the churches where we’re singing. During this most recent trip, I had the pleasure of staying with an Erskine alumna and her sweet family. We enjoyed talking about all kinds of topics over a plate of delicious cookies, but when we landed on the subject of Erskine—which involved our friend’s reminiscences about her time as a Choraleer—we just couldn’t stop talking. We had such fun–even getting to flip through old Erskine yearbooks together– that it was quite late before my fellow Choraleer and I finally realized that we’d better head to bed if we were going to be ready for our early morning performance! Despite our less-than-optimal amount of sleep, our Sunday performances—two in the morning and one in the evening—went well, and the trip in general was great fun.

Being in Choraleers has been one of my absolute favorite parts of my experience at Erskine. Honestly, I didn’t realized how much I’d missed singing with the amazing group that makes up the “Choraleer family” until I came back from Spain and felt a though a vital part of my life that had been missing was suddenly restored. What a joy it is to sing—especially once you know the notes—and what a blessing it is to be able to sing to God’s glory with good friends! We also have an amazing new director this semester, Dr. Nabholz. It’s been a lot of fun learning his directing style and seeing the musical effects of the techniques he’s teaching us.

Friends and I on Choraleers tour at Universal Studios (not where we performed...but a lot of fun) in Orlando my freshman year.

Speaking of which, I was incredibly excited recently when, in preparation for our Spring Break tour to Washington, D.C., Dr. Nabholz had us split up into mixed formation during rehearsal. This mixing of the sections resulted in my being flanked by a tenor and a bass, with a soprano directly behind me. Wow, was it amazing to hear the way all the parts meld together! It’s one thing to be in one’s own section, with a somewhat foggy idea of what each other part sounds like—but to hear the subtle contours of each other musical line? That transforms a “piece” into true music. Of course, I may, *cough*, have noted—no pun intended—that I perhaps don’t know all my notes as well as I ought. Gone is the wiggle room of being able to listen the person next to you when you’re no longer in sections. Which means someone will be frequenting the practice rooms quite a bit between now and our departure for tour. D.C., here we come!

Good News!

An exciting update on grad school: first, and most importantly, after two rejections from the other schools, I have been accepted to the graduate vocal performance program at Converse College!  So, I have a new home to look forward to in Spartanburg in the spring, and the relief of knowing a definite answer to that most daunting of questions for every college senior: “What are you doing after graduation?”

The more I think about it, the more I am very pleased with the prospect of my next two years.  I am somewhat familiar with the school and the city, because my older sister, Nicole, got her undergraduate degree from Converse.  This means that I am somewhat familiar with the campus and the character of the school already, and that I can get good inside advice (and babysitting contacts!).  Also, it is a comfortable three hour drive from home (shorter than the distance from home to Erskine), and almost an hour and a half from Erskine – an easy drive to visit for a Choraleers concert, or for friends to come visit me for a weekend.  Also, though I love little Due West dearly, it will be exciting to live in an area with lots of opportunities to see concerts, plays, and other cultural events – both in Spartanburg and nearby Greenville.

Converse is also a small, comfortable size, comparable to Erskine, so I will still enjoy the feel of a small campus and a personal education.  Despite the size of the college, they have a large music department, so I will have opportunities to be involved in choirs, other ensembles, and (most exciting to me) operas.  Plus, there are very nice, brand-new apartments on campus that I definitely would not mind living in. . . a positive to know that I have a good place to stay!

In addition to this sense of accomplishment, I had my pre-recital hearing this morning and it went quite well.  I think that the good news yesterday about grad school helped me to relax, because I was hardly nervous this morning.  Now my recital is essentially ready for the big day on March 31 (coming soon!) so I just have maintain and polish my repertoire.  To top all of this off, Alpha Psi Omega, the theatre honor society that I am involved in, is putting on a Reader’s Theatre this evening, which is going to be really fun.

Although it started quite stressfully, and there may have been a couple of nights with extended naps rather than a good sleep, this week has turned out to be quite a good one!  I have overcome some big hurdles for this semester, so now I can focus on getting through midterms and look forward to leaving for choir tour in a week – Spring Break is so close!

Don’t Blink…

I start to feel old now as I look back and remember the days of applying to and interviewing at colleges. Back then, college seemed like such a huge step in life, much bigger than anything I had ever done before. However, now, college has become such an integral part of who I am, it is just life. I try to remember this as I think about my future and getting a job, moving out on my own, and taking that next big step. While it may seem scary now, soon enough, it will just be life.

I was reminded of these interesting truths this weekend as I assisted with the Presidential Scholarship Competition. Twenty-four students from various backgrounds arrived to interview and compete for this top scholarship. I could see the fear in their eyes and the apprehension in their shaking hands as they patiently waited to be called. (However, they seemed much less fearful and apprehensive than I did three years ago). As I spoke with several of them, assuring them that they would do wonderfully if they just remembered to be themselves, I could not believe I was now in this position that I once looked up to. Three years ago I thought these people seemed so old, mature, and adult-like. I couldn’t imagine being in that position, and now I am! Where has the time gone?

Three years may not sound like a long time to some people, but in the world of school and young adulthood, three years can seem like a lifetime. It is not so much the time that makes it feel so lengthy, but rather all of the changes that occur within that time. The past three years have marked important changes in my education, maturity, personality, appearance, friends, spirituality, and many more aspects of my life. I know that time will only seem to speed up from here, but I hope to still be able to look back on the time and realize my growth and progress. So…on those days that seem to last forever and you just can’t wait to get to sleep, remember the life that you might be missing. Be careful, don’t blink.



Spring Already!

The decorations for our room's door all winter - the only snow that we saw this year.

I do believe that spring has officially come to Erskine.  Many of us, myself included, have been disappointed that we did not have a “real” winter this year, in that it never really got cold for any considerable amount of time, and, more importantly, it never snowed!  Every winter since my freshman year we have had snow, and each year it was considerable enough to cancel classes for at least a day.  We got close a couple of times this year, but we were always disappointed by just another cold, rainy day through which we trudged to class as usual.  The only snow that we have seen is the paper snowflakes that my roommate and I made to decorate our door for Christmas. . . which turned into general winter decorations, taken down only yesterday.

However, yesterday students seemed anything but disappointed with the warm weather.  There were many students outside, enjoying the warm, sunny day of 78 degrees.  Jackets seemed suddenly abandoned for shorts, sandals, and t-shirts, and windows were thrown open around the dorm to enjoy the breeze and console those inside with a taste of the gorgeous day outside.  Today is warm and rainy, a proper spring day, and as I walked around to classes this morning I noticed blooming flowers starting to open up, the grass turning a healthy green again, and how warm the breeze was.  I think students, despite their inherent stress, especially over the impending midterms, seem to be generally more positive, because who can stay in a bad mood with such nice weather outside?