“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)
It has been exactly two weeks since I left my home and entered a new life at Erskine. I haven’t quite gotten homesick yet, but there are a few things about my home that I didn’t start cherishing until I left. In fact, if someone asked me what the hardest thing about college has been so far, I wouldn’t say it’s been the workload or the classes or even the communal bathrooms. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things have taken a while to adjust to, but they definitely haven’t been the hardest thing to get used to. The biggest trial that I have had to overcome is the loneliness that comes from not being surrounded by the close friendships that I had at home. I’m not gonna lie. It’s hard to go to a college where you don’t know anyone, even if it’s only 30 minutes away. It’s hard to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to meet people while feeling pressured to find your best friend in the crowd. It’s hard to hold onto the hope that you will make lifelong friends even though you’re not as outgoing as others around you.
I got so lonely and frustrated during the first few days. I mean, obviously you can’t rush into a close friendship. Friendships grow over time. But I just wanted one good friend with whom I could laugh and talk and be myself around. I prayed to God for days to either send me a friend like that or to give me the strength to keep my head up and continue to hope in His plan. Thankfully, He answered both prayers! He sent me an awesome girl by the name of Grace.
She’s funny, crazy, wise, and really in love with God. We hit it off as soon as we started talking! At first, we bonded over the shared qualities of our boyfriends, but we soon progressed to becoming really good friends in a matter of hours and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Well, not really.. We aren’t always together. However, we try to eat meals together; we share two classes together; we even study together in the evenings!
I’m so thankful for her. Her sweet spirit always warms my heart, plus she’s really fun to pick on! For example, we have this game at the cafeteria where we try to steal each other’s plate and take them to conveyor belt for the dirty dishes. I normally win, but I have a slight advantage, being a ninja and all.
So in conclusion, I’ve been so blessed by God in several aspects of my life. However, the biggest blessing that He’s recently given me is the gift of Grace as a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing friend. I’m so excited to seeing what the future holds for us and our friendship. She might even convince me to give horseback riding a try!
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!
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! 🙂
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 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!” 😉 ]
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.)
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 🙂
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! 🙂
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!
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?
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.
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!
Where did today go? Whether we are knee-deep in classes or on break, it seems that time skips gaily by while I am left in the dust wondering where it went so quickly.
Today I promised part II of my list of blessings, so without further ado, I shall continue. [Sidenote: yes, I have been reading poetry. Why do you ask?]
Books, books, books. What is the best book you have ready lately? What is the last book you read? I have been an avid bibilophile since I was little and scared myself silly reading too many Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. I used to get in trouble for reading when I wasn’t supposed to. (Yeah, figure that one out.) Literature has provided me with entertainment, friends, profound emotional experiences, a greater understanding of the world, a better perspective of the human condition, and a basis for my understanding of God. Though I am not the most talented writer in the world, I have a sincere respect and appreciation for those that are blessed with a such a talent. And I am truly, deeply grateful for the gift of words.
Home is where the heart is. Home can be anywhere, and is anywhere. Some once tried to tell me that I couldn’t be homesick for Scotland because it was never home–I respectfully disagree. I believe that home is anywhere where there is a piece of your heart; though I only spent 4.5 months there, it was enough time for my heart to grow some and leave a piece behind. Of course, home is definitely wherever my family is, too.
I am getting ready to graduate and go to grad school, though I’m still not sure where yet. I literally have no idea where I will be in 6 months. But I am so fortunate to have places to call home. And I am excited to see where else God will let me call home!
I am blessed to have friends all over the world, even though I don’t get to see many of them very often. Friends amuse, encourage, love, provide companionship, and help you learn valuable life lessons. True friends are hard to come by, and quality is definitely more important than quantity. Who cares how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have? I am grateful for those who know the real me–good points and flaws together–and love me regardless.
Not much explanation is needed here. Though I would/will praise God no matter what, I am grateful for the health that I have enjoyed thus far in my life.
Hope allows me to dream. Hope gives me something to smile about on the worst days. Hope has guided me through darkness. The capacity for hope is something which separates us from the rest of God’s creation, something which beats pessimism and cynicism. I hope for a lot of things, and it gives me direction and goals. Hope shapes our lives in so many ways.
Christ died for me on the cross. What else needs to be said? But there IS so much to say. I mess up daily, hourly. I am the queen of making mistakes. God’s forgiveness is one of the single greatest blessings I have known; and I truly appreciate forgiveness from friends, family, and foes alike. I am grateful for the capacity to forgive others, and how I learn and grow through that process. I am sp blessed that forgiveness affords me opportunities for new beginnings.
Breathing is, well, necessary for survival. I am blessed to have every breath that God has allowed me in my life.
Speaking of life…how incredible is the world in which we live?! We get our food, the components of our clothes and houses, and so much of our inspiration from the natural world. From the daffodils blooming everywhere right now to the mountains to the vast ocean, and everything in between, I consider the earth to be a blessing from God. Though it’s easy to take it for granted, I appreciate any opportunity to be out in the fresh air soaking up the sun. Or being rained on. Snow is great, too. I’m not really picky. And sunsets are often known to stop me in my tracks. God is truly the greatest artist!
The more I hear about the war and unrest and fighting in other areas of the world, the more I feel blessed to live in such peace and stability. (Governmental disagreements aside.) Yes, crime happens. Yes, We have been victim of terrorist attacks. But compared to countless millions who live in constant fear for their lives, I am so blessed to sleep each night feeling safe.
How can the sight or sound of a young child–especially a baby–not make you smile? Children represent imagination, innocence, hope, joy, love. I hope to be a mother some day, and for now I cherish any opportunity I have to spend with kids. Every child is truly a gift from God!
22. Emotions–all of themWhen I say all of them, I mean the bad ones as well. Without sadness or anger, how can you understand true joy? Without frustration, relief means little. Emotions remind me that I am alive.
23. (one to grow on) YOU!
Whether I know you personally or not, I know that God made you with care and that He has a great purpose for your life. I consider it an honor and a blessing to share this world with you, and to be able to share pieces of my life with you.
Wow! Starting a blog series right before midterms week was poor timing on my apart. I apologize for taking so long to start writing again! I am not going to publicly admit how many days last week I napped in the Student Center rather than getting a proper night’s sleep. This was one of my most overwhelming midterm weeks ever, especially considering that I had no midterms in St Andrews…
Speaking of St Andrews: I was in Paris, France, a year ago today! My, how the time has flown. I miss so much about Europe and am looking forward to visiting again some day.
But on to my post for today. A week ago I turned 22 (which feels sort of old when you live in a dorm full of 18- and 19-year-olds…) and despite my hectic and stressful week, so many little things along the way reminded me just how blessed I am. Lent is a time of reflection, preparation, and gratitude, so today’s post is 22 things for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for my Faith in God, in His love and mercy. I have faith and hope for forgiveness and salvation. My faith has strengthened me and saved me in my darkest moments. I have faith in people, in love, in goodness, in the future. Faith is all-encompassing in life and the anchor for my soul.
We are by no means perfect, but my parents and siblings are my biggest support and encouragement. I am so blessed to call my mom one of my best friends. I appreciate [though I do not say it nearly enough] that I can sit and talk to my parents for hours about literally anything. I am so grateful to have a little brother with Down syndrome. Growing up with a special needs sibling has taught me countless valuable life lessons and given me a completely different outlook on life. I know no one who embodies unconditional love the way that Luke does.
Though originally I had no intention of going to Erskine (who wants to attend college where her sister goes?!), I am so glad that God led me here. I have learned so much, been challenged in ways I never expected. made amazing friends, travelled so many fun places, gained valuable life lessons and mentors, and become more certain of the path which God desires me to follow.
4. St Andrews
Just as Erskine has shaped me and changed me for the better, my study abroad experience is probably the single experience of my life that has most helped me to realize who I am and gain confidence in myself. I left last January knowing not a single person, and left 1 June with scores of great friends and countless life-changing experiences. I have a stronger faith and a different perspective of the world from studying in Scotland and travelling around Europe. Of course, I now have what feels like an insatiable desire for travel and adventure…I am so excited to see what my next opportunity will be!
I by no means have the best voice in the world, but I truly love singing and that voice that God DID give me has allowed me the opportunity to be involved in so many different choral ensembles, from my church choir to high school chorus and show choir to several groups at Erskine. I am a veteran member of the Erskine Choraleers and have also sang with Bella Voce and the Chamber Singers. I am grateful for the ministry that music provides in my personal life as well as the opportunity to use music as my ministry in church.
From the time I knew what one was, I wanted to be a ballerina. When we played dress up as kids, 9 times out of 10 I wore the tutu. When I was 6 or so years old, we hosted a French exchange student who taught me how to do a pirouette and I practiced until I was too dizzy to walk. My family moved to SC when I was 8 years old, and within a year I started taking ballet lessons. I continued for 6 or 7 years, even progressing to learning pointe (yes, dancing on your toes. yes, OUCH). High school afforded me the opportunity to branch out and learn some different dance forms, as well as the art of singing AND dancing–a.k.a. show choir. Since I’ve been in college, and especially since studying abroad, I have fallen in love with all things swing dance related: traditional, Charleston, lindy hop, blues…[Speaking of which, if you have never seen the I Charleston St Andrews that we in the St Andrews Swing Dance Society made last year, you should definitely watch it!]
Dance is a part of my heart, a part of who I am and how I relate to the world. I am grateful for any and every opportunity to practice and share my love.
No, I am not going to list every art form that I can possibly think of (though I am definitely grateful for all of them!). Singing, dancing, and acting, though, are all art forms which I especially love. I truly enjoy acting on stage, doing tech work or working back stage, and watching performances. I love the challenge of learning a new character and bringing her/him/it to life, the challenge of improvisation, the chaos of tech week and opening night, the feeling of pride earned by a successful performance. Long rehearsals test patience, energy, and relationships but ultimately strengthen all of these. I know that my participation in theatre will only help me in my life.
Sounds cheesy, or cliché, I know. But how many countries actively persecute Christians? How many countries severely limit the rights of women? Yes, we can sit here and debate the meaning and context of the word “freedom,” but I am grateful for the opportunities that growing up in the United States has afforded me.
If college has taught me anything, it is the value of sleep. I think back now to when I hated going to bed as a child, or when I used to wake up at 4AM and go to the basement to read or play by myself while everyone else slept. The 22-year-old me wants to ask the 6-year-old me, “WHY?!” It is so easy to make other things a higher priority than sleep, but it really is essential to proper functioning and good moods. I truly am grateful for the times that I get a good/full night’s sleep. Nap time, anyone…?
Along the same lines, who doesn’t like food? It’s delicious. It’s satisfying. It’s strengthening. It makes you feel happy, body and soul. Nothing says home and love like Mom’s home-cooked dinner. Food is a common denominator of our social gatherings. Food encompasses culture, tradition, seasons, memories, creativity (yeah, that art thing again…), nature, and love. Though I cannot say that I love every food I have ever tried, food is definitely one of the ways I know for a fact that God loves us.
11. Social Media
“Aha! Another Facebook addict!” I know you’re thinking it. Yes, you. And perhaps I am slightly guilty as charged, though I’m working on it. While realizing the importance of maintaining a healthy balance, I do believe that most of these platforms can be very useful. My primary use for Facebook is staying in contact with all of my friends from abroad and all over the United States. We are using Pinterest as a common space to plan my sister’s bridal shower, and I use it to collect articles and information relevant to psychology and therapy. I get the majority of my world news from Twitter. Everything in moderation, but I really am grateful for these connections.
Odd place to stop for the day, but I’m halfway and this is quite a long post. So…stay tuned tomorrow for part II! [I seem to like multi-part posts.] Until then, I’d love some feedback! Do you agree with some of the points that I made? Do you disagree with any? What are you most grateful for today? What am I forgetting? How cute is my little brother? [Correct answer: the cutest!]
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.
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.]