snowpocalypse: Erskine edition

In case you live under a rock, or on the opposite side of the world, or in the tropics, let me be the first to tell you that the southeastern United States got snow dumped on us this past week.   Actually, I think I read somewhere that 49 of the 50 states in the Union have snow on the ground.  How often does that happen??

We had classes cancelled Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday this week.  Yes, that means I am currently just past halfway through an unexpected 5-day weekend.  Some of us have been grateful for the extra time to work on papers or study for postponed tests.  Some of us have spent our days [and nights] having snowball fights and building igloos (no, really. there’s a picture further on).  Some of us have discovered how difficult it is to walk gracefully–and walk without slipping–on icy snow.  Some of us experienced our first EVER snow day (poor Floridians!).  Some of us discovered the magic of snow cream.  And ALL of us have enjoyed the extra sleep and fun time with our friends!  Below are some photos I took this week.

outside of Moffatt Dining Hall

outside of Moffatt Dining Hall

someone built a snowman under the Towers! (Erskine Building and Philo Hall in the background)

someone built a snowman under the Towers! (Erskine Building and Philo Hall in the background)

looking out of Carnegie over the parking lot and softball field

looking out of Carnegie over the parking lot and softball field

looking out of my ice-covered car window

looking out of my ice-covered car window

obligatory snow selfie, because I adore snow.

obligatory snow selfie, because I adore snow.

frozen fountain!

frozen fountain!

the Engler house on Pedestrian Highway looking even prettier than usual

the Engler house on Pedestrian Highway looking even prettier than usual

Since many of you have probably not been at Erskine when there was snow on the ground (this is only my 2nd experience in my 4 years), and since I have a lot of friends who are talented photographers, I thought I would share Erskine snow days through the eyes of my fellow students.  There is a lot of scrolling, but I promise it’s worth it.  Thank you so much to all of my friends who have agreed to let me peruse their Facebook and Instagram accounts and include their photos in this post. [Click on any photo for a larger version.]

what a stylish snowman! photo from Autumn Horne '17

what a stylish snowman! photo from Autumn Horne ’17

roommates having fun in the snow! Cali Colbert & Jordan Joseph, both c/o '17

roommates having fun in the snow! Cali Colbert & Jordan Joseph, both c/o ’17

looking toward Belk Hall (background) with Bowie Arts Center to the right. photo by Ashley Strickland '17

looking toward Belk Hall (background) with Bowie Arts Center to the right. photo by Ashley Strickland ’17

friends in the snow! Danica Newton & Ross McEwan, both c/o '17

friends in the snow! Danica Newton & Ross McEwan, both c/o ’17

ready to go sledding! Norma Deluna & Clarissa Stiving, both c/o '17

ready to go sledding! Norma Deluna & Clarissa Stiving, both c/o ’17

I've always loved this tree; Belk Hall is to the right. photo by Sami Maree '14

I’ve always loved this tree; Belk Hall is to the right. photo by Sami Maree ’14

during and before the snow; photo by Sami Maree '14

during and before the snow; photo by Sami Maree ’14

Erskine Building, photo by Sarah Baroody '16

Erskine Building, photo by Sarah Baroody ’16

photo by Sarah Baroody '16

photo by Sarah Baroody ’16

Erskine bushes outside of the library, photo from Sarah Baroody '16

Erskine bushes outside of the library, photo from Sarah Baroody ’16

Someone gave the statue some hipster accessories a few weeks ago. photo from Tegan Van Rijn '17

Someone gave the statue some hipster accessories a few weeks ago. photo from Tegan Van Rijn ’17

photo from Tegan Van Rijn '17

photo from Tegan Van Rijn ’17

looking out of the dorm window; photo by Mika Goyette '15

looking out of the dorm window; photo by Mika Goyette ’15

Pete Savarese (’15) braved the snow in crutches (and shorts!) to spend some more time on the soccer field

Sally Caldwell & Clara Formby, both c/o '16

Sally Caldwell & Clara Formby, both c/o ’16

photo from Sally Caldwell,'16

photo from Sally Caldwell,’16

Galloway in the snow; photo by Corey Marks '16

Galloway in the snow; photo by Corey Marks ’16

photo by Corey Marks '16

photo by Corey Marks ’16

a group of "Erskimos" spent hours building an igloo on The Circle! Over 30 people, including the Due West police, helped out. photo from Jeanne Bell

a group of “Erskimos” spent hours building an igloo on The Circle! Over 30 people, including the Due West police, helped out. photo from Jeanne Bell

photo by Miranda Guthrie '16

photo by Miranda Guthrie ’16

the Erskine Building, photo from Tegan Van Rijn '17

the Erskine Building, photo from Tegan Van Rijn ’17

Alumni Gate, photo by Sami Maree '14

Alumni Gate, photo by Sami Maree ’14

Euphie Hall, photo by Sami Maree '14

Euphie Hall, photo by Sami Maree ’14

Anna Raquel  Robison & Danica Newton, both c/o '17

Anna Raquel Robison & Danica Newton, both c/o ’17

looking toward Memorial Hall; photo from Danica Newton '17

looking toward Memorial Hall; photo from Danica Newton ’17

Norma Deluna ('17) catching snowflakes

Norma Deluna (’17) catching snowflakes

looking across the mall toward Watkins Student Center, photo from Sarah Baroody '16

looking across the mall toward Watkins Student Center, photo from Sarah Baroody ’16

Link: The Value of Quiet Places

This is a student blog primarily, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that alumni offer a student perspective as well — one that’s richer and deeper thanks to their continuing life experience.

A 1977 alumna, Mrs. Harris Cheatham Murray, wrote a wonderful piece for her local paper about the value of studying in a quiet academic village like Due West. If you’re wondering whether it’s “worth it” to forego the hustle and bustle of a busy city university, Mrs. Murray writes,

I was curious about this place that seemed to be a sanctuary, a respite from the busyness of life. Each time we drove through, I felt a sort of awe that such a place could still exist and be viable. Small towns die in the shadow of progress, but Due West did not. It thrived in a quiet way.

The heart of Due West is Erskine College, and due to my familiarity with the town, it was the only other college to which I had applied. It had been my backup plan. And it was only 120 miles away from home. Accepted there, I made the decision to go.

For the next four years, I missed out on the busy life of a major university. Instead I learned the value of a slower pace. For the next four years, I missed out on big city life, with bustling traffic, crowds of people and constant activity. Instead I learned the value of Saturday afternoon bicycle rides through the countryside, the joy of a smaller circle of friends and the creative energy that arises from a mind uncluttered with the trappings of modern life.

For the next four years, I learned the value of quiet places. It was a lesson for a lifetime.

Read the full column:  The Value of Quiet Places, from the Orangeburg Times & Democrat

homecoming 2013

Erskine’s Homecoming, the last of my undergraduate career, was 26 October.  I do not think that finality sank in until just now, as I write this.   Does anyone know where the homecoming tradition came from?  I was on Skype with Aaron, my best friend from St Andrews, the morning of homecoming and in the process of telling him about the day’s events, he asked me what homecoming is. 

How do you describe such an American tradition to one who has never experienced it?  Apparently I did a sufficient job, but he still laughed at our odd ways here on the other side of the Pond.  That was an interesting cultural realisation for me: something which I have always sort of innately understood is an alien concept to most of the world.  But I digress.

This year, Erskine combined Homecoming with our Fall Fest–organised and sponsored by the Erskine Entertainment Board–and parent’s day.  Between the families, friends, students, faculty, and alumni present, it was the busiest I have ever seen the campus.  Breaking character for a day, this quiet little academic village was buzzing from dawn well past dusk.  Also a big deal this year: 2014 marks the 175th anniversary of Erskine College, in case you didn’t know.  On the 24th, we were lucky enough to get to hear about life as a member of the centennial class from Mrs. Dot Simpson Wise, Erskine class of 1939, in a special convocation ceremony.  After the interview, Erskine gave us free 175th anniversary t-shirts, which you will see in a few of the photos below.  Anyone who has been to college understands the excitement of a free t-shirt.  I think I could go a month wearing only Erskine shirts.  This is not a complaint.

classic car, classic shoes, classic Erskine. and the free t-shirt. I love my college. (and my mum-she let me borrow her old saddle shoes!)

this year’s homecoming theme was 1950s; classic car, classic shoes, classic Erskine. and a free t-shirt. I love my college. (and my mum–she let me borrow her old saddle shoes!)  [photo by Evan Gursky]

Traditionally, Erskine holds an event called Fleet-o-Rama the night before.  This involves music, food (often including fire for roasting marshmallows! s’mores, anyone?), float decorating, and other activities.  Despite the chilly weather, it was a fantastic time.

The day itself featured the homecoming parade, an auction, performances by the Choraleers and Gospel Choir, an athletic banquet, exhibition games by various athletic teams, the soccer games and homecoming court, and the concert that evening.  If you are anything like me, you get tired just reading that sentence.  I think we all slept well that night!  The concert featured a band called Air Dubai, preceded by Shane Sniteman, the talented son of one of our professors.

I love seeing the school spirit and pride that everyone shows on days like this.  As stressed out as we may get sometimes, and despite the frustrations that inevitably arise sometimes being in such a small community, I really do love this place and the people here.  I cannot think of another college that supports every student the way Erskine does.  Few outside of Due West know what in the world a “Flying Fleet” is, yet we are fiercely proud of it.

I took very few photos over the weekend, but my talented fellow student, Katie Putnam, took many for the school.  I share some of them below.  There are many more on the Erskine Flickr page.  Enjoy!

The Choraleers singing, directed by the wonderful Dr. Nabholz. It's never easy to sing outside but we were wonderful. Not that I am biased or anything. (I am the one on the front row who isn't wearing jeans like everyone else.)

The Choraleers singing, directed by the wonderful Dr. Nabholz. It’s never easy to sing outside but we were wonderful. Not that I am biased or anything. (I am the one on the front row who isn’t wearing jeans like everyone else.)

At the banquet, six Erskine alumni were inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame

At the banquet, six Erskine alumni were inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame

The freshmen court: Kristen Craft, Amanda Strickland, and Anna Raquel Robinson.

The freshmen court: Kristen Craft, Amanda Strickland, and Anna Raquel Robinson.

The sophomore court: Hayley Rogers, Miranda Guthrie, and Elinor Griffin.

The sophomore court: Hayley Rogers, Miranda Guthrie, and Elinor Griffin.

The junior court: Rachel Talbot, Mika Goyette, and Chelsea Ball.

The junior court: Rachel Talbot, Mika Goyette, and Chelsea Ball.

The senior court: Cate Cardinale, Corin Hallman, Leslie McGill, and April Horne.

The senior court: Cate Cardinale, Corin Hallman, Leslie McGill, and April Horne.

Cate Cardinale was crowned the 2013 homecoming queen. To her left and right are student body VP Hannah Collins and student body President Daniel Prohaska.

Cate Cardinale was crowned the 2013 homecoming queen. To her left and right are student body VP Hannah Collins and student body President Daniel Prohaska.

Shane Sniteman opening for Air Dubai

Shane Sniteman opening for Air Dubai

The lead singer of Air Dubai singing his heart out

The lead singer of Air Dubai singing his heart out

It’s a Small School

One of the things that you will find if you attend Erskine is that all of the students are very connected. You may not know somebody, but chances are you will know OF them, and at least know a little bit of basic information about almost everybody you will see on a daily basis. People have a wide variety of opinions on this, but I think it is just a fact considering that there are only about 500 students attending Erskine each school year (aka: we go to a small school!)

Students at Erskine are often willing to go great distances to help each other out. I can give you an example for this one: last year on my 21st birthday a bunch of friends and I drove a few hours to Columbia, SC to run in the USMC Mud Run. It was super fun! After about two and a half hours of running, though, we were COVERED in mud! I mean, we were swimming in pits of mud deeper than we are tall, so if we came out looking ready for a tea party people might have been a little creeped out!

I mean it... look at the mud all over us... we were SUPER GROSS!

I mean it… look at the mud all over us… we were SUPER GROSS!

I had asked one of my friends earlier in the month if we could come back to her house in Columbia to take a shower before driving 2-3 hours back to Erskine. She had agreed multiple times, so everyone thought we were all set. So we come out of this race dripping mud and freezing cold and wet and we try to call her, and she doesn’t answer. We stood shivering and dripping mud outside, waiting for her to call back, when she finally texted back about 30 minutes saying we could not come over after all. Everyone panicked… what were we going to do??? (I think it only fair to point out that this friend was not ignoring us on purpose, she was in town to take care of a sick family member and a family emergency came up with another one of her family members that same day, so she was very busy!)

Of course, none of us knew this at the time. All we knew is that we are two and a half hours away from home, cold, wet, and quite uncomfortable! To make a long story short, we ended up calling one of our friends who had graduated from Erskine the previous year and was living in an apartment in Columbia while she attended her first year of med school. She, with absolutely no notice and with finals to study for, let all seven of us smelly students come over to her apartment and take showers one by one in her bathroom. Not only that, Megan took care of us by ordering us pizza and giving us water and towels and soap to scrub all of the mud off! It was one of the sweetest 21st birthday presents a girl could have 🙂

i stole this from her Facebook profile.. so I hope she is not too mad! But this girl is seriously too beautiful for words! :)

i stole this from her Facebook profile.. so I hope she is not too mad! But this girl is seriously too beautiful for words! 🙂

Another one of my favorite memories of Erskine occurred my sophomore year, about a quarter of the way through the year. My boyfriend of about six months had just broken up with me, and as a typical college student I was lying around inconsolable because I thought my life was over… (I am known for being extremely dramatic during times of distress, but don’t feel bad for me, this is just a natural part of life that everyone must get through!) My sweet friend Leighton called me the next day to cheer me up, and invited me to come to the Erskine volleyball game with her.

So Heather, Leighton, and I went to this game when I got a random text message. It from a girl named Kristy, who had been my Orientation Staff leader during my freshmen year at Erskine. The previous year she had a great idea that she was going to surprise some of her friends, including me, by knitting them scarves (it might have been all of her freshmen during O-Staff that she was knitting for… I am not sure!) As great ideas typically go with college students, she had not been able to finish it during the busy school year and so most of us never heard about it that year.

Kristy was a softball player at Erskine :)

Kristy was a softball player at Erskine 🙂

But the next year, my sophomore year, she kept working on it! And right about 2 months into the school year she had finished and was coming to Erskine to attend a sports banquet. She texted me and wanted to know if I would be at the volleyball game, because she had a present to give me. I was a little surprised because she and I had not talked at all since she graduated, so I wasn’t sure if she remembered me. But she did! And she saw me at the game and gave me that scarf she had made and I thought I had never been happier! As an extremely over-dramatic college student, I had been so upset and thinking that no one would ever love me again (wah!) when she came out of nowhere with a handmade scarf she had been working on for months! It was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me while I was at Erskine 🙂

The point that I am trying to make here is that I did not know either one of these sweet girls very well. Both of them were seniors during my freshmen year, and even though Megan was my SLA and Kristy was my Orientation leader, I did not get much of a chance to spend any time with either one of them. Yet both of them, during the most important of times, did something amazingly sweet and kind for me that I will remember for the rest of my life.

These are the kinds of people you meet at Erskine.

The Misconception of Due West

One of the first things people realize when they enter Due West is the fact that it is small. This is an obvious feature of our town so we might as well address it openly and quickly. Therefore, one of the first things people assume is that there is nothing to do here. WRONG! I find that I actually rarely have a spare minute on campus. Yes, I have done some of this to myself by joining too many clubs and volunteering for too many activities, but nonetheless, Erskine is a busy place. Somehow, one has to find time for academics, physical health, a little fun, and oh yeah…some sleep!

Academics are the most obvious things to make time for because they are mandatory. (Hello, that’s why we came here!) However, unlike many colleges where classes involve lectures in auditoriums filled with hundreds of students, Erskine is much more interactive. Especially once students have begun taking their major classes, they find that class sizes are small and allow for much more hands-on activities. For example, I am an education major and most of my classes range from six to ten people. This past week, in my Social Studies for Teachers class, we were able to make a model of the South Carolina regions, demonstrating activities we could do with our elementary aged students. Through this, we learned the struggles they will encounter as well as techniques and questions to add to our repertoire of teaching methodologies. In addition, our class traveled together this weekend to Columbia to attend a Geography Workshop where we met with other pre-service and in-service teachers to learn exciting new lessons and innovations for the classroom. Even better, I won some free maps!

Tonight, my physical health and fun were able to come together as I participated in my first ever intramural game! Our basketball team attempted to work some magic, but came up a few points shy. After trying to catch my breath for an hour in order to write this, I realized I did have a great deal of fun. However, other fun an exciting events that have occurred lately have involved my first round of tree golf as well as a “masquerade” (a semi-rave with masks) hosted by one of the societies. I will pretty much use any excuse to dress up hideously in too much neon.

Sadly, sleep hasn’t happen too much lately, but I am happier than ever. As a junior with many friends who are seniors, I am beginning to realize that not much of my college time is left. I fear I may have wasted a few semesters, so I am determined to enjoy this one to its fullest, especially since I will be student teaching next year. See, there are things to do in Due West. The challenge is…to try and find a day without something to do!

Fall Begins in Due West

Due West Fall Festival

Although the weather doesn’t quite feel like it yet, fall is here and it has begun to come to Erskine. We had several days last week that were cooler, teasing us all into thinking that maybe the heat was finished for the season, but we’re back into the 80’s again.  However, here and there the leaves are starting to change a little, even falling in some cases, and this morning was the annual Due West Fall Festival.

I admit that I had never been before, even though I remember being woken up by the music outside my window two years ago, so this year – my last – I decided to make a point of going.  My sister and I went about a half an hour before lunch, and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the festival that Due West can put on.

It was a little like a flea market, with hand made goods – baskets, jewelry, woodworking  – used clothes and house wares, a few inflatable toys for children, a stage with local bands and karaoke, a couple dozen old cars on display, and of course lots of great food, from boiled peanuts to pound cakes.  We found a few nice little handmade things for great prices, and got to meet some really nice people from the area.  I’m glad that I finally decided to take part in this Due West tradition!

Cars on display at the Festival

The Erskine Model A making an appearance at the Festival.

What to do?

Many people wonder what there is to do in Due West on a Friday night? Well, sometimes it can seem like much of nothing if you are looking for fancy dining or a night in the city. However, with a little searching, one can always find something to do. Erskine is famous for its unique types of fun such as tree golf, frisbee golf, or a trip to Lou and Perry’s. However, we also engage in a little bit of typical fun such as sporting events.

While we do not have a football team to root for on Saturdays, we do have 14 Varsity Sports teams to watch as well as several intramural teams to participate on. This past Friday night, I enjoyed a trip to the gym with my friends to cheer on the Fleet as the Women’s Volleyball team dominated St. Andrews with a score of 3-0. With this being the team’s third year of play, they are coming on strong as they have developed as players and as a team. Erskine also has gained Women’s Lacrosse in the past few years and is looking forward to the addition of Men’s Volleyball next school year.

After a long week of school, sometimes we don’t always want to go out all night and stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Rather, my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed dinner and the game, followed by a relaxing night of watching Sweet Home Alabama in the dorm lobby. Often times, it is the unexpected, uneventful activities such as this which foster friendships. Erskine isn’t the place to come for a roaring night-life, but it is the place for a friendship kindling atmosphere.