When College Destroys Your Joy

By junior year, the newness of college has worn off, much like the sheen that used to brightly gleam on my room key. During the summer, I found myself lacking the familiar, bubbly excitement at the prospect of returning to friends, classes, and the typical routine that I have grown so accustomed to. Don’t get me wrong. I dearly love the people and the work (yes, even class work) at Erskine, so this emptiness was both puzzling and disturbing. Have I grown more cynical in just nineteen years of living? Has college sucked away my soul just like people joke about? How could I lose enthusiasm about something that used to give me so much joy? I used to be that girl who equated the first day of school with an unofficial holiday because of how special it was. Feel free to make fun of me at will.

This blog post doesn’t necessarily answer my query. I suppose you could see this as the electronic scribbling of a tired junior. However, all of these reflections provoked me to crack open my Bible in search of a specific verse in Philippians that popped in my head. Instead, I flipped the pages to the book of Hebrews, which is so full of rich, clear, references to the beauty of God’s care for us. In the middle of reading, I was reminded that I don’t need to be excited about school or classes in order to give thanks and praises to God for all that He has given. My focus should not be on the my current workload or how overwhelmed I will feel from being immersed in a concentrated community after only spending time with family or a small group of friends during the summer.

The twentyish minutes that I spent with those thirteen chapters in Hebrews filled the void that was so deeply rooted in my stomach, but not for the reasons I previously described. I still feel overwhelmed and apprehensive about the rest of the year, but I am trusting that I can make it through each day with a joy that comes from hope that is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). I firmly believe that the only way I can survive each day is through sheer dependence on God’s goodness and love. At the beginning of the semester, I was given a morning prayer that has become my prayer for the rest of the semester, but also for the rest of my life. I hope this excerpt, which runs through my mind continually throughout the day, is as encouraging to you as it is to me:

Take my life and make it count. Take my little and make it much. Take my weakness and make it strong. Renew me through and through.

Fueled by his Erskine experience, Pete Savarese moves forward

Pete-with-secret-society-signs-cropIn 2016, Erskine’s Pete Savarese marched across the stage at commencement after a long journey through five years of college and seven surgeries. And he wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“I think for me, for my personality, I really needed a small school. I definitely needed an environment where I could know everyone,” he explains. He knows some people want a big school, but that was not for him.

“I would have been lost and only had a few friends. Instead I left school with eight or nine hundred friends!” he says. “Any time I am asked what made Erskine such a great place to be, I always have one answer—the people that make up the Erskine family.”

Considering this, he concludes, “I think the biggest advantage I received from Erskine is a mindset that every person counts, every person is valuable, and every person around you deserves your time and effort.”

Read the full story: » Fueled by his Erskine experience, graduate moves forward (Erskine News)

The Presidential Scholarship: It’s Not Just About Winning

It was a bleak, grey morning. Rain splashed on the windows and flooded the pavement. Everyone was packed into one small building, nervously sipping coffee and quietly talking. Nobody knew what to expect, where to go, or who to talk to. 

If you were a part of the semi-final round of the Presidential Scholarship last year, you can relate to this scene. When I pulled up to Watkins with my friend, Katherine, I was overwhelmed with how impressively mature my competitors looked, but how gravely solemn they were too. During the opening ceremony at the Bowie Chapel, there was a tornado warning so everybody had to head to the basement in the building. When we were finally released to go to our various interview rooms, the Mall at Erskine looked like the Wood Between the Worlds, flood-style.

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I met my interviewers, looking and feeling like a drowned puppy. However, they were so kind and understanding that I quickly lost most of my discomfort.

The group of students that I was a part of was definitely an experience in itself.  Now, I want to clarify that I did not get called back to the final round of the Presidential Scholarship, probably because I gave terrible answers and did not present myself as confidently as a Presidential Scholarship winner should. When asked my favorite person in history, I said Jackie Robinson. Why him? Because I really don’t care about things in history, let alone have a favorite person. Shoot me. That being said, I was amused while listening to the other people in my group. It seemed like they tried to answer each question with one of their accomplishments. I can’t remember any particular quotes, but I do remember listening to this one guy who listed off all of these things that he was captain, leader, and president of such-and-such. I feel bad now, but I kept thinking, “Wow, he’s totally making up some of this.” That was my first experience of any sort of interview and I walked away feeling completely underwhelming.

So do I have any advice for future participants of the Presidential Scholarship? Well, you definitely don’t want me to coach you on how to win over your interviewers. I would just be clichéd and tell you to be yourself and be honest, blah blah blah. Ask your parents. I’m sure they have a lot of good counsel. However, the competition isn’t just about winning the Presidential or the Solomon scholarship.

So here are some things that you should keep in mind when you’re competing at Erskine:

1. Get to know people. One of my biggest regrets about competing for the scholarship is that I didn’t talk to many students while I was there. Once I got to Erskine, I found out that I had missed out on meeting my roommate, my best friend, and lots of other good friends. You’ll be thankful for having familiar faces greet you when you roll up to Erskine in August.

2. Get to know Erskine. Erskine really is a great place. The school is beautiful on the outside, but there is so much more beauty to be found in Erskine through the students, random events, and other opportunities. I’m still finding out things about Erskine that are pretty sweet. I mean, did you know that there’s a prayer room in the upper level of Watkins for students to use for group prayers? I think that’s pretty special. Also, we just had a Jackson Pollock day where students got to throw paint at shirts and sheets for funsies. That’s pretty special too.

3. Get to know ME. Not to be biased or anything, but I’m a pretty cool person, if you’re into reading, running, cooking, singing, playing piano, basketball, pandas, colors, laughter, pool, or sticky notes. Also, the other student ambassadors are also pretty great. Granted, they may not be as great as me, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t talk to them. 😉

Hopefully this gets you a little excited about the Presidential Scholarship. I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to go to Erskine until I stayed overnight in the dorms with a friend. That one night changed my mind, which changed my future four years. If nothing else, the Presidential Scholarship is a great step to experiencing Erskine.

J-Term: A Study of…?

For those of you who don’t know, J-Term, or January Term, is a mini-semester in January during which students take one class every day for 3 hours. These classes can range from a trip to Japan to studying the Apocrypha to figuring out the math behind certain puzzles and games. Basically, students get to ease into the spring semester by taking a light class that appeals to their interests. So what class did I sign up for? I’ll answer your question with a riddle:

You hear it speak, for it has a hard tongue. But it cannot breathe, for it has not a lung. What is it? 

Have you given up yet? Okay, here’s the answer: a bell. Props to you if you guessed correctly!

That’s right, I’m taking a class on English Handbells for J-Term. Now, you may read that and scoff at how lame that class sounds as many other people did. However, I am here to declare that you are wrong because handbells are definitely the opposite of lame. I get to actually feel beauty when 10 students come together and create music. I don’t just hear the beautiful music or feel happy because we survived a 4 page song. I actually feel beauty. Who knew that someone could do that? Now, sometimes there’s only chaos and a cacophony of clashing notes, but that’s just something to laugh about and improve the next time!

So, other than the class that I enjoy so much, what’s so great about J-Term? Well, let me tell you something. The free time during J-Term can either be a curse or a blessing. J-Term starts to feel like a drag when you have a lot of free time and nothing to do. Of course, that is remedied simply by finding things to do and people to be with. I’m freed up to do so many activities that I never had time to do last semester, but I have a hard time organizing everything that I want to get done each day. I end up not getting anything done because I just watch Friends on Netflix and exercise. To be fair, there are those rare occasions when I sit down and knit a beanie or practice piano for an hour. I feel pretty productive after those days! It is also a little odd that I don’t really see as many people throughout the campus as I used to, but I definitely appreciate the people that I do get to see! Plus, I get to push myself to make plans to spend time with people that I never really spent time with last semester. Last night, my friend Grace and I got to take a girl shopping to celebrate her birthday and we had a great time! I can pretty much promise that we would be studying hard if it was Tuesday night during a regular semester. Thank you, J-Term, for making that valuable time available!

Maybe the sleepy, relaxed atmosphere at Erskine is abnormal for J-Term or it’s completely normal. Regardless of the answer, I’ve got to say that I do really enjoy J-Term. It is really nice to have a light 3 week workload at Erskine before the spring. J-Term may not be perfect, but hey. If something was perfect, we’d just find some way to screw it up, right? Plus, J-Term has a lot of strengths, such as fun classes, lots of free time, the ability to overcome procrastination, and the ability to bond with people (if you can find them).  😛 It’s just another perk of going to Erskine!

Perks and Probs: Roommate Edition

If you’re reading this post because you wanted to see what I could dish out against my roommate, then you’re about to be sorely disappointed. Honestly, I really enjoy having Dominique as my roommate. When we’re in our room, we don’t feel the need to chat all the time. We can just rest, relax, and recuperate from the day.

So then, what am I going to write about? Well, get ready for me to knock your socks off.

I’m about to tell you why it’s such a pain to room with me.

Dominique and I requested to room together at the beginning of the school year. We had never met before and our only communication had been via Facebook. We got along really well and we both prefer cold, neat rooms. Perfect combination, right?

Well, what Dominique didn’t know at the time was that I have the worst sleep habits ever. I’m not just talking about getting back to the room at 1 am after studying, or even waking up at 7 am to get ready for the day. I mean, I do both of those things, but that’s not why I have the worst sleep habits ever. I am actually the most annoying when I’m unconscious and snoozing on my bed.

Here’s a list of sleep activities that I’ve done since the beginning of school:

– Talking/Conversing

– Singing (I think I had been dreaming that I was in a gospel choir)

– Screaming “OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.” (Something I would never do when awake)

– Jumping from my loft bed to the ground (I woke up as I fell to the floor– slightly embarrassing)

– Burping (I don’t even know…)

-Grinding my teeth (technically I wear a mouthguard at night, but Dominique thought that there was a dog in the room because I was chewing on the guard)

I’m sure the list is even longer, but those are all the things that Dominique has told me that I do. I haven’t sleepwalked yet, but I’m sure that I’ll probably do that too. So, all in all, I’m really thankful for such a patient roommate who is also a pretty heavy sleeper. I don’t know what would have happened if I had been paired up randomly. If my roommate had been a light sleeper, one of us would probably be dead. She could be dead from lack of sleep or I could be dead because she finally caved in and strangled me. God works things out pretty well. 😉

Happy Birthday, Erskine!

This Saturday, Erskine hosted its 175th birthday party. There were events such as ghost tours, a silent auction, a fire performance, the Erskine homecoming soccer game, and so much more. I wish I could write about everything that was going on that day, but unfortunately, I only did about half of the activities.

I began my day as an Erskine Student Ambassador. The Admissions Office hosted an event for prospective students and all of the Student Ambassadors were paired off and were put in charge of a tour group. My tour partner was my sophomore friend, Kasey.

My sweet friend Kasey

My sweet friend Kasey

We gave a tour to a group of 5 families and I felt so lucky to have Kasey be in charge. Since I’m a freshman, I’m still learning what I need to say on tours and how I need to say it. Kasey glossed over whatever I missed in an easy and informative manner. Basically, I’m saying that we rocked our tour.

After the tour, I headed to Erskinefest with my friend Grace. We were both starving, so we rushed to be one of the first people in line for lunch. At lunch, we met up with our friends John and Ives.

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John and Ives

After we finished eating, we went to pick up passports that had the schedule of events on one side, and fifteen different opportunities to get stamps on the other side. Erskine students with five stamps could get Convo credit for the day, and anybody with 5, 10, or 15 stamps could be a part of a drawing for a prize that would take place at the end of the day. I had the small job of giving out one of three special stamps during the early afternoon. My stamping improved so much by the end of the day.

Anyway, my first activities after lunch were to play corn hole and to jump on the bouncy castles. I wasn’t able to get Convo credit for the bouncy castle, but it was totally worth it.

We love bouncy castles!

We love bouncy castles!

After we left the bouncy castles, Grace, John, and Ives left to go do more activities while I spent time with my family. My parents and my older brother came to Erskinefest in the middle of the afternoon. We spent a little time at Subway, but then looked at the Archives in Reid Hall, climbed the towers in the Erskine Building, attended the Erskine men’s soccer game, and watched the parade of floats go down Main Street. Erskinefest was already a lot of fun, but it was even more fun to experience it with my family.

My wonderful parents and me in the Erskine Tower

My wonderful parents and me in the Erskine Tower

Finally, to conclude my day, I got to see a fire performance and then I danced with my friends to the music by The Fantastic Shakers. Let me just say that THE FIRE PERFORMANCE WAS SO COOL AND I WANTED TO CRY. IT WAS SO AWESOME. Seriously. My friends told me that when one performer was doing acts with a flaming hula hoop, my eyes were huge and my mouth was hung open the entire time. I totally believe them because IT WAS SO AWESOMELY AMAZING. Then one performer BREATHED FIRE. Ahhhh, I had been looking forward to that all day and that surpassed all of my expectations.

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FIRE-EATING

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FIRE-BREATHING

The music was really good too. Throughout the day, there were various bands and singers performing, including Erskine’s own Choraleers and Gospel Choir. In my opinion, the last band, The Fantastic Shakers, was the best. The musicians alternated between old, jazzy songs and more current, popular songs. It was a lot of fun to dance to, but I got so tired out!

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The Fantastic Shakers

Most birthday parties just have cake, a few friends, and gifts. This birthday party blew all other parties out of the window. Way to go, Erskine! I can’t wait until your 200th birthday!

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The sophomore float

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The inside of the Erskine Tower was covered in student signatures dating back to the early 1900s.

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2014 Erskine Homecoming lineup

Rock Climbing: An Unknown Wonder of Erskine College

For those of you who are opposed to attending Erskine because you’ll be bored out of your mind, let me just tell you something. There is always something to do here, as long as you have the motivation to find it. Now, if you have been dutifully reading my previous blogs, you know that I rarely have free time to do anything. One thing I do try to make time for every day is exercise, because I’m terrified of that freshman 15. Free, unlimited vanilla ice cream definitely threatens my resolution to weigh the same at the end of the year as I did when I started school. Thus, every day, Grace (see God’s Gift of Grace) and I drag (sometimes we literally drag) our friend Daria to a fitness room in the women’s dorm adjacent to ours, and we exercise for an hour. We use weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals, a funny looking ab doodad, dumbbells, and even some kind of foam yoga mat. We’re basically female versions of Chuck Norris.

Get on our level

Get on our level.

Back to the point, along with exercising with my friends, I also joined a rock climbing club here. Membership only cost $10, which was my main motivation to join. I’m definitely not super strong or flexible, but I can scale up some of the easier walls without too much trouble. Tonight, I actually conquered one of the routes that was one of my projects. I think I’m at a disadvantage because I’m super short and I can’t reach the rocks that other people with normal heights can reach. But I do have a friend who’s super amazing at climbing! Her name is Darby and I look up to her so much because she is so intensely amazing! She’s tiny, but she’s so strong and tough.  I secretly think of her whenever I need the motivation to not give up when I get tired or frustrated.

Darby likes to come down Spidey-style. :)

Darby likes to come down Spidey-style. 🙂

I have really enjoyed the rock climbing club because it has pushed me to make a bunch of friends that I probably wouldn’t normally even talk to. The leaders of the club were so inviting and encouraging, that I was ready to become a member regardless of whether I could actually make it up a wall or not. I have really loved getting to know them and I have also loved improving my climbing skills. I like to think that rock climbing is a practical, hands-on application of the muscles that I build when I work out in the exercise room. I can tell that I’m able to push myself a little bit more on the walls, each time that I go.

Here’s how this blog relates to you: whether you’re in high school, in college, or in whatever prime of life that you think you are, GET INVOLVED! Find things that you enjoy and make awesome memories by doing them! Don’t make the excuse that you never have time… because you might just be doing something that you hate or you’re just too lazy to start something. If the former is true, then you should just stop doing it. Obviously, you can’t skip out on important things like working or cleaning. But if you’re in a knitting club, but you hate knitting, then leave the club! Find something else that will make you happy. If the latter is true, then I feel bad for you. Because if you’re going to let your laziness get in the way of your happiness, then.. you’re just worthy of pity. Get off your potato-chip-covered couch, smooth out the 10-inch, potato-shaped indent, and cross something off your bucket list!

Want to see some pictures of my cool rock climbing pals?

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