If you have ever met me before, you may know that I love to describe everything as “the best thing in the entire world!” or perhaps, for some variation, as “the best thing that has ever happened to me!” Most people roll their eyes at my obvious enthusiasm and tell me that I am exaggerating and that whatever has recently happened to me is actually not the best thing that ever happened. This then starts the frequently repeated discussion where I explain that it really is the best thing that ever happened, because it was happening at the same time as I remembered all of the other wonderful things that ever happened to me. And if something wonderful happens tomorrow it will be even better because tomorrow I will also have the memories of today and every other day!!

Most people think I am crazy.

On that note, this weekend was possibly the best weekend of my entire life! For one thing, I did not even have to solve even ONE math problem or attend ANY extremely long lectures. Instead I got to spend the weekend learning about the Word of the Lord and fellowshipping with Christian friends (and drinking lots of tea!) At this point you are probably wondering to yourself, how did Holly manage to have such an awesome weekend?? What a great question! Cornerstone St. Andrews (the church I have been attending here in Scotland) decided they would arrange a weekend away for the Uni students and I decided I would go along.

At first that may seem like an easy enough decision to you: to leave on a Friday afternoon and go for a weekend away in Comrie with your fellow Christian students. Sounds easy, but I was really scared. After all, I have only been in Scotland for one month (today is my one month anniversary in Scotland!) and have only known these girls for a couple of weeks. What if they did not like me? What if I had an awful time? What if they all thought my American accent was weird and decided not to talk to me for the entire weekend! I was quite scared about how the weekend would go.

Despite my somewhat ridiculous fears, the weekend turned out wonderfully! We left on Friday afternoon and drove for about two hours to a small house in a small town called Comrie. Let me tell you, Comrie has got to be one of the most beautiful places ever! It is surrounded by rolling hills, forests, and rivers with riverbeds of small stones. It was one of the most beautiful places in the entire world! One of my favourite parts of the weekend was going out to the river each morning to spend a half hour praying and reading the Word.

Honestly, I am not quite sure who WOULDN'T want to live here!!

Honestly, I am not quite sure who WOULDN’T want to live here!!

The theme of our weekend was ‘Facing Reality.’ We talked about how in our Christian lives surrounding our whole selves to God is more than an afternoon walk in the park and much more than occasional afternoon or evening entertainment. In our small groups we talked about how surrendering your life to God is something that is more about asking the Lord to change your heart and your thoughts than just trying to be a “better Christian” by just doing more “religious stuff.” It is about changing your entire outlook on life and living your entire life for God. We also had an amazing speaker (called Laurence) from the Netherlands who came with us for the weekend and shared his testimony about how he surrendered his life to the Lord at the age of 17 and the ways that the Lord has grown him in maturity and understanding since that time.

A favourite memory from the weekend occurred on Saturday afternoon. After lunch on Saturday we were given a free afternoon until dinner. I was sitting there thinking to myself, what am I going to do with myself all afternoon? Everybody here looks like they all are going to have fun things to do, but what if none of them wants to do anything with me?? But before I could worry anymore about how I would entertain myself, the girls from my Bible study group invited me to come the nearby town of Crief with them! And we had the most FANTASTIC time! We went to a coffee shop to have some tea/coffee and then we went to the park. Let me tell you, Scotland playgrounds have the funnest toys EVER! At first I was not sure if they would all think I was crazy if I threw my backpack on the ground and ran over to the swings and bouncy things, but then I decided that the opportunity was too good to miss!

You have got to admit it looks like a lot of fun! We were running around like crazy! :)

You have got to admit it looks like a lot of fun! We were running around like crazy! 🙂

After this wonderful weekend in Comrie, I am starting to realize that I really love being in Scotland. I love the scenery, and the weather, and the people I have met. I LOVE the girls in my small group and the time we spend studying the Word together every Thursday evening. I am really starting to feel like I am part of a community here in Scotland!

The 8 girls who went to Crief: 4 mums and their 4 academic daughters!

The 8 girls who went to Crief: 4 mums and their 4 academic daughters!

(P.S. Another sweet moment occurred on the first night we arrived in Comrie. My small group of 8 girls were all staying in one room together in a set of 4 bunk beds. That night everyone was getting ready for bed when I went to take a shower. I took quite a long time and expected everyone to have gone to bed when I got out. I came into our room to find that everyone HAD gone to bed, but that they had left the light on for me anyways! All seven of them were rolled up in their duvets like little burritos to keep the light out, but left it on for me so I would not have to search for my bed in a strange place in the dark. It was one of the sweetest things ever and made me feel really welcomed and loved ❤ )

We were excited to find a sweet shop in Crief! :)

We were quite excited to find a sweet shop in Crief! 🙂


Candlelight: An Erskine Tradition

In my opinion, no college or university is complete without its share of strange and sometimes incomprehensible list of bizarre traditions. Clemson students rub their ancient rock before football games, students attending the University of St. Andrews walk up and down the pier on Sundays wearing red robes, and Erskine College girls hold candlelights.

Arriving at Erskine my freshman year, I had never heard of a candlelight. I was walking around campus in my innocent freshman-in-her-first-week-of-college state where I constantly imagined that there could not possibly exist anyone as mature or independent as I currently was. And then, bam! I am assaulted on the front steps of my own college with three posters! Come to the candlelight! And I thinking, come to whaaaaatt?? I figured that they must be very popular at Erskine (whatever they were) because three of them were being held that week, with one being that very night! I decided to go along and figure out what it was all about.

I probably would have been lost and not made it to my first candlelight on time except for the fact that all candlelights are held right outside of the women’s dormitories. I made it just in time for what appeared to be the beginning of a strange ritual: girls standing in a circle in the dark and passing around a lit candle while singing some sort of song that everyone magically knew the lyrics to. The entire thing was rather enchanting and beautiful until one of the girls suddenly blew the candle out and everyone stopped singing and starting dumping water on her head! (And I am just standing there thinking…. WHAT on EARTH is going on around here???)

But once I had stuck around for the rest of the event, I got the basic idea of what was going on, and over the past three years at Erskine my love for the tradition has only grown stronger. The Candlelight is simple: whenever an Erskine girl gets engaged, she attempts to keep it a secret and only tell one or two of her closest friends (I say ‘attempts’ because we need to be real here: girls, especially the recently engaged sort, have a very hard time NOT talking!) That day or evening her friends plan a candlelight for her to help her announce her engagement to the world; they put up posters all around campus announcing that an Erskine girl has been engaged recently and will be having a candlelight some time that week. They usually include a picture or a quote or something which gives you a clue about who the girl might be: but ideally only the one or two girls planning the candlelight know who is engaged.

Girls love to talk about candlelights! It makes a very fun game: sitting in your room with your friends talking about who could possibly be engaged. People will guess random couples and discuss how likely they think it is to be each certain person. “Oh no, it could not be her because I am pretty sure she was studying all weekend” or “It could be her! Didn’t she say this weekend was her two year anniversary???” Girls will keep on guessing right up until the candlelight starts, when everyone will gather outside of the women’s dorms in a huge circle. One of the girls who planned the candlelight will light a candle and begin singing. We sing a song about love (the same one every time) while passing the candle from person to person in the circle. And we stare at each other. We wonder who is going to blow out the candle.

And suddenly, one girl blows out the candle! She is the one who engaged! Usually everyone shrieks in their excitement and then celebrates her new life of engagement by pouring a cup of water over her head! The girl who is engaged then stands in the middle of the circle, dripping wet, and shares the story of how her fiancé proposed to her. Everyone listens with fascination and then celebrates the fantastic story by picking the girl up and then carrying her over to the nearby fountain to drop her in! It is one of our favourite ways of showing love to our fellow sisters in Christ at Erskine 🙂

And now this story comes with a twist. As you know, there are six students (5 girls, 1 boy) from Erskine studying abroad at St. Andrews this semester. Two weeks after we get here the sole male traveller, Robert, decides that he is ready to propose to his girlfriend, who is also studying abroad. He and his girlfriend, Angel, went to the beach with two other girls from Erskine to do a “photo shoot” when he suddenly bends down on one knee and proposes!

Robert planned the engagement very well: on the BEACH in Scotland!?? How awesome is that?? :)

Robert planned the engagement very well: on the BEACH in Scotland!?? How awesome is that?? 🙂

We are all very excited for Angel, and the four of us other girls who are here decide that Angel ought to be able to have her very own candlelight! But how can we do it? There are only five Erskine girls here total… and there is no way Angel can wait until we get back from Scotland to tell! So Angel decided she will not be able to have a candlelight after all… but the four of us had other plans!

Out plan was fairly simple but surprisingly fun. We told Angel that we all wanted to meet for some ice cream. We convinced her to come outside her dorm and come with us, even if she had not eaten her dinner yet (everyone knows it is the new thing to eat dessert before dinner, Angel!) We all secretly brought a cup of water with us and met her outside on the steps. And just when she had begun to suspect that something was up… surprise!! We dumped water all over and began to sing the song!! We all had a really fun time bringing a little bit of Erskine tradition to St. Andrews to celebrate our friend’s engagement! It was super hilarious because while we were all standing in a circle singing several people walked by and looked at us like…. What on EARTH is WRONG with these people??? But we just kept on singing!


Angel thinks she can get away!! :)

Angel thinks she can get away!! 🙂

And then we went and got our ice cream 🙂



Planning a Trip to Edinburgh

When Tiffany and I first arrived at St. Andrews, we were shocked that people would refer to it as a small university. To us, St. Andrews seemed simply enormous! Students abound by the thousands, the campus is large enough to require a map, and the town has shops, pubs, and dozens of restaurants. This town appeared to be a booming metropolis in comparison to our small town of Due West!

Fairly quickly we realized what they meant. The town of St. Andrews only has three major streets: North, Market, and South. Within an hour of walking around town we had the town layout memorized fairly accurately. Within a week we basically knew where the major landmarks were (with the term ‘major landmarks’ obviously referring to the Italian restaurants, the shoe stores, and the bridal gown shop.)

So it should not come as a major shock to you that after three weeks of staying in those three main streets, Tiffany and I wanted to travel. (If this is a shock to you: perhaps you should sit down and soak your feet to recover from the shocking news.) We got together with two other girls from Erskine (Caroline and Katherine) and decided to take a day trip to the closest city: Edinburgh.

Tiffany and I were up and ready to explore! :)

Tiffany and I were up and ready to explore! 🙂

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the second most popular city for tourists to visit in the UK. The city has many features that draw people to it by the hundreds of thousands: it is very old, it has lots of old structures which are wonderful for photography, lots of people live there, and it has a castle! The Edinburgh Castle is one of the most famous castles in all of Scotland and also one of the most photographed. It has been around for almost 1000 years and has also been involved in several wars. As far as I can tell, anybody who is alive ought to enjoy a trip to the Edinburgh Castle.

Let me tell you, though, planning a trip to Edinburgh is not so easy a caveman could do it (and thus could not feature on the popular Gieco caveman commercial series.) This mainly stems from the fact that gas here costs about $10.50 per gallon, on average (at this point maybe you really should put your feet up from the shock!) Because of this, people do not often drive anywhere. Most students here at St. Andrews do not have cars with them, and everyone either walks or rides the bus.

Which makes the bus routes very complicated. If you walk down the streets of Edinburgh you will see almost no cars, the streets full of buses, and the sidewalks crowded with walking people. There appear to be thousands of buses in Edinburgh, run by competing companies on different routes and turning every which way around the city.

See how the side walks are crowded with people?

See how the side walks are crowded with people?

To help you figure out which bus you need to ride the various companies will publish large timetables with long lists of numbers and symbols to let you know which but goes where at what time. Sort of like a mega excel sheet in brochure form, with each company publishing a different brochure for each new bus route. You walk into the bus station and there are almost a hundred different brochures and before you is a display of almost a hundred different little brochures. At this point you feel like you want to ditch the entire thing and go take a nap, but then you remember that you really do want to see the castle so you decide to plough through and hope you are successful.  

In the end the four of us were successful. We found a bus to Edinburgh and got a map of the city. We saw the Edinburgh castle, climbed Arthur’s Seat and Caltoun Hill, and walked the Royal Mile. We finished with a nice dinner and a little shopping in one of the Scotland Shops, and then headed to the bus station for our two hour bus ride to St. Andrews. We pulled into the bus station at 10:30 pm at night, the end of a 14 hour day of travel.

I am fairly confident that I was in bed by 10:35.

(NEXT WEEK ON HOLLY’s BLOG: Even more details on the Edinburgh Castle! Which famous Scottish king’s birthplace did the girls get to see?? And…. Up close and extended photo commentary!)


Quintessentially British

Last week several girls I talked to informed me that the “quintessentially British” way to spend your evening was to gather a bunch of friends, watch the Great British Bake Off and, of course, drink tea! The Great British Bake Off is a popular reality TV show where contestants have to create delicious baked goods in a short length of time. Judges then go around and taste the treats and decide which of the candidates get to stay on the show and which one has to go home.

Last night I decided to see if they were right. A bunch of girls decided to watch they bake-off after the Christian Union meeting last night and invited me to go along with them. I have to admit: I really liked it! The show was interesting and also really fun to watch with a group of people! I highly suggest that anyone who loves baking should watch it 🙂

One question that many people asked me before I left was: do people in the UK watch Downton Abbey? We all watch it at home and love it; I own all three seasons! The fourth season is supposed to be released in the States in January 2014, but rumours circulated that it would be released in the UK much sooner. I came hoping the rumours were true but not to hopeful so my hopes would not be crushed.

It turns out that EVERYONE here watches Downton! And the show is on live over the semester while I am here 🙂 It was actually the cutest thing: Sunday night was the first episode it felt like everyone in the university was gathering together to watch the show live. I went over to my academic mom’s house and we watched the show together with her flatmate, Catriona. It was great fun and I am super excited for the rest of the season!

The town here is also super adorable. At least in St. Andrews, there are not giant stores or supermarkets. Instead, we have tiny (and quite adorable) little stores! We have a butcher and a grocer and a fresh fruit and vegetable store. We also have cobblestone streets and old stone staircases. We have beaches and castles and golf courses: the view just walking to my lectures in the morning is amazing! I think all of you should come to Scotland 🙂

St. Andrews at night :)

St. Andrews at night 🙂


The First Day of School

This Monday was the first day of classes here at the University of St. Andrews.

As I have been waiting about 100 years for classes to start, I was quite excited. I went to bed early and I got up early (7:30 am). I took a shower, I dried my hair, and I agonized over what to wear. I packed my backpack.

(I had to be fresh. I had to go downstairs. I had to have my bowl of cereal.)

My class started at 9 am. I arrived at 8:45 and waited for Elisabeth and Mairi to get there, and we walked inside. I sat in my seat and got out a sheet of paper to take notes. I opened a new pack of pencils. I was ready for my first day of school!

And…… Class was over by 9:45. So that was pretty much the most anticlimactic first day of my entire life. I had about 45 minutes of lecture, and that was my only lecture for the day. However, don’t feel too bad for me! My professor realized that he would be missing several lectures during the 8th week of the semester, so he decided to schedule an extra two hour lecture on Friday afternoon. This was the first time that this has ever happened to me: at American Universities professors do not typically walk into class on the first day and announce that they will be holding extra lectures!

It is actually quite a common thing here for students to have very little contact with their professors. Students might attend only 1-3 hours of lecture per class, per week and then be expected to do a large amount of reading and studying on their own. I have 3 classes that only meet once per week and this week so far all of the professors have let me leave early.

On the plus side, we have a cleaning service here in my hall! No, I am not kidding!! Every morning someone comes in to take out our trash and once a week she comes in to vacuum the floor, clean the sink, and dust! At Erskine they always say to freshman “you better be neat, no one is going to clean up after you in college!” But here, someone actually does help us out a little bit! It is the strangest thing!



A Little Bit of Tradition

If you hear someone talking about “tradition” in the States, it almost always comes with a negative connotation. At least in my experience it has. I am not sure if this comes from the fact that Americans want to be free from the rest of the world or if it is strangely left over from the protestant reformation or the popularity of the protestant church in the States, but people don’t really seem to value old traditions.

Coming to St. Andrews has already taught me an entirely new meaning of the word. People here love tradition and there are plenty of opportunities to participate. Since being here I have already encountered many lovely traditions that I am very excited to participate in.

Some of the traditions are quite random. They have one here called the Pier Walk. As far as I can tell, several Sundays per year students don their red gowns and meet at the pier to walk… on the pier. They start at one side of the pier and walk down and back. No one is entirely sure how this tradition originated, and yet almost everyone participates. St. Andrews also loves it, and takes hundreds of pictures for postcards and advertisements. I am very excited to participate in this tradition!

Students walking along the pier in their red robes!

Students walking along the pier in their red robes!

My favorite tradition is the St. Andrews tradition of academic families. Every year when all of the new students arrive they are each adopted by an academic mother and academic father. Students are not assigned academic parents, but when an older student meets a younger student they like they might ask if they can adopt them. Some people are academically married and adopt children together, but most parents are not. The first night Tiffany and I went out we were fortunate enough to meet some really sweet girls who quickly adopted us, and a few hours later we also met our academic father. So we have the same father but different mothers… lol 😛 Academic parents help their children not get quite so lost during their freshmen year and also throw a huge party for them halfway through the first semester (More to come on this later!!)

Another thing that is more traditional is the Scottish ceilidh. I have never been to one but… good news! In about two hours Tiffany and I will be at our very first ceilidh for the year! So very soon you will hear all about it! But I best start getting ready before it is too late….. 😛

The First Few Days in Scotland

In case you have been out of the loop on the life and story of Holly, last Friday I left the United States (for the first time) and flew to the UK for my official semester abroad at the University of St. Andrews. I wrote a cute little post right before I left all about how nervous I was and how I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest, but I have no posted since then! Hopefully you were not all too concerned that my heart actually did beat out of my chest due to my lack of posting. Let me assure you, I am alive.

Flying was quite the experience. I had never flown before and I had no idea what to expect. Do you know what happens when you fly somewhere?? You leave the ground! As in, the wheels of the plane are no longer connected to the earth. It is like this: one minute you are just chilling on the runway and the next it is like OMG I AM IN THE AIR HOW DID I GET HERE???? I held Tiffany’s hand and decided I probably didn’t need to worry about a will since I am so young. The whole process from leaving Tiffany’s house to arriving at St. Andrews took about 22 hours and made me wonder how people ever get the motivation to leave their nice, warm, and comfortable beds. I also realized that I could go ahead and cross “flight attendant” and “pilot” off of the list of possible career choices! 😛

Tiffany and I about to leave SC for our flight to Scotland!

Tiffany and I about to leave SC for our flight to Scotland!

Of course, the taxi driver who took us from the Edinburgh airport to the University thought it would be a great idea to drop Tiffany and I off as far away as humanly possible from our dorm! (We live in John Burnet Hall and he dropped us by the David Russell Apartments.) I am shocked he didn’t just drive us back to London and tell us to walk from there!! The walk to our dorm took us over an hour, not only because DRA is a long way off from JBR, but also because we were carrying 70 lbs worth of luggage and we were lost. One could say that we were happy to arrive at our dorm!

Our first day in St. Andrews was spent in town trying to buy things. Because we were only allowed 72 lbs of luggage, we had no space in our suitcases for duvets, sheets, pillows, or things of that nature. We got here at 3 pm and immediately had to leave to try to run and buy things to sleep on before the shops closed in town. Fortunately for us, we still had about two hours left in the day to do this. Unfortunately, about a thousand other students also had the same idea. We went to the local bedding store and found them to already have sold out on every single duvet in the entire store! So we had to run around to other random stores and see if they might be willing to sell us something. We got our duvet covers from the bedding shop, the duvets from a random clothing store, and our pillows from the grocery store (Tesco)!

This week is Orientation (or Freshers) week at St. Andrews. I could probably sum this up by telling you that it is the best experience of my life and also the worst experience of my life. It is the best because I am exploring a new country for the first time and learning to think about and experience things in an entirely new way. So many things that I thought everyone did one way are not done that way here. People here drive on the wrong side of the road, eat strange food, and have oddly shaped currency. (And there are probably many more posts on this subject to come!) It is the worst experience of my life because I do not have any friends yet. Don’t get me wrong, I have met tons of really nice people. But that is the problem. I have met TONS of them! Each person I have talked to for only a few minutes at one social event or the other, but no one for any real length of time. As I am quite an overdramatic person by nature, I am literally quite terrified that I will not make any friends at all here at St. Andrews! Tiffany just rolls her eyes at me and tell me to be patient.

In other news, I have been an absolute failure at life and not taken any pictures since my arrival here at St. Andrews. I hope to begin fixing that, basically, as soon as possible. I don’t own a camera (and the cell phone I got to use while I am here is probably more familiar with communication by morse code than any other form of communication), but Tiffany has offered to let me borrow one of hers sometime!

About to FLY to SCOTLAND!!

Today is going to be one crazy day!!

In fact, it has been a rather crazy week. For the first time in my life I am planning to fly (which I have never done before) and also to leave the country (which I have never done before). I will go ahead and stun you with the fact that I am actually planning to fly out of the country, which is a rather overwhelming combination of these two new things.

Last weekend all of my friends gathered together to host a going away party for me! It was pretty much the best moment of my entire life! I was especially happy because at the party they gave me a box of letters for my trip, so I can read them while I am gone and think of them! My friend also gave me a friendship bracelet she made for me, in Erskine colors, so that I would not forget where I came from while I am away 🙂

After the party was over I stayed at my friends’ apartment. Heather and Sam graduated from Erskine last year and now share an apartment in Greenville. They were the ones who hosted the party and then let me stay with them for two nights and played with me all weekend. Heather and I spent almost the entire day on Sunday worshipping the Lord, by going to church and having our own Bible study. On Monday morning she then drove me to Erskine.


It was lovely to see all of my friends one last time before I cross the pond!

It was lovely to see all of my friends one last time before I cross the pond!

Monday at Erskine was crazy. It was the first day of school and all of the students were running around trying to find their new classes and greet each other after a long summer of separation. It was super weird to be there but know that I would only be there for a few hours; I was not there to sign up for classes with everyone else. I was there instead to try to get several forms filled out for graduation and my work-study job, a process which took about 6 hours of running around campus and required about 13 signatures from various people. I had a huge long checklist that I carried with me and it was super fun to check everything off and feel accomplished.

On Monday afternoon Tiffany and I gathered up my suitcases and left for her family’s lake house in Columbia, SC. We arrived and have spent the week with her family, with her parents and also her extended family. Tiffany and I have also spent a lot of time preparing for Scotland. We have filled out paper work and more paper work, ordered bedding to arrive when we get there, and arranged everything we can think of for our trip. Tiffany’s family has been super nice to me all week and I have really enjoyed spending time with them!

Now it is Friday morning. In about 3 hours I will be at the airport, and in about 5 I will have boarded my plane and be ready for takeoff. I am excited, I am scared, I am nervous. I can’t wait; my heart is beating a thousand beats per minute. Adventure lies ahead!

Bonclarken & Baby Dinosaurs

Tomorrow is my last day working at Bonclarken for the summer.

If you do not know what Bonclarken is, then you are probably not a member of an ARP church. (Don’t worry, I think about less than 1/3 of the students at Erskine are members!) Bonclarken Conference Center is the conference center for the ARP Denomination located in East Flat Rock, NC. ARP churches and non ARP churches alike often schedule week-long or weekend retreats for relaxation and restoration in the Blue Ridge Mountains; Bonclarken hosts hundreds of groups and churches every year.

Every summer about 30 students from Erskine go up to Bonclarken as members of the summer staff, working full-time as a member of one of the departments: kitchen staff, recreation staff, housekeeping, guest services, or in the front office. Students live in buildings that are a lot like dorms, with bunk beds and roommates. When they are off work they all hang out in the lobby and do a lot of late night random things together like any good group of college students would!

This summer has been my second summer working in the front office at Bonclarken, and I must admit it has been rather fun! Another girl, Amanda, who will also be a senior this year at Erskine, has worked with me in the front office this year. We work hard greeting guests, answering the phone, and organizing mounds of documents but we also like to have a little fun when we are not working quite so hard!

One of my favorite things in the entire world is a baby dinosaur. You may have noticed that there are not too many of those walking around these days (something about a volcano or a meteor, who knows??) so I cannot have one as a pet! 😦 I try to make up for this rather sad fact by pretending that I am a baby dinosaur, and so are all of my friends. My coworkers at Bonclarken have also been rather sympathetic to my cause by giving me gifts of stuffed baby dinosaurs, water baby dinosaurs, and this week a set of plastic baby dinosaurs.

A stuffed Baby Dinosaur from Betty, her name is Desdemona :)

A stuffed Baby Dinosaur from Betty, her name is Desdemona 🙂

Of course, since my plastic baby dinosaurs were given to me by Betty (one of the sweetest people ever who works in the front office), I had to bring them to the office to play with them. This was meant to show her that I really liked her gift: everyone knows that if someone gives you a set of plastic baby dinosaurs you have to let them see you playing with them! DUH! So I brought them to the office and then hid them all over my boss’ office! Good thing Lynn has a sense of humor! When I got back from lunch they were hidden all over my desk for me to find! 🙂 The worst part about this story is everyone found all of the plastic baby dinosaurs in about five minutes, except for me who took twenty-five minutes to find them!

I feel like any workplace can be improved by some baby dinosaurs!

I feel like any workplace can be improved with some baby dinosaurs!

The funniest day was when one of my coworkers, Sheri, gave me some of the baby dinosaurs made of sponges. They were the kind that comes looking like little pills where you stick them in water and watch them grow. It is supposed to take about 4 hours for the baby dinosaurs to grow into big sized dinos that you can play with!

Well, let me tell you, my baby dinosaurs were having some trouble. It took them about an entire week to mature to full size! I put them in see through plastic cups in the center of the office during the week and encouraged all of the senior staff here to check on them as they passed through the office. They were like our little office pets, everyone who walked through the office stopped to give them a peak! And by the end of the week they were fully grown! 🙂

I was very excited, so my boss decided to pull a prank on me! She staged an escape for the baby dinosaurs making it looked they had escaped from their watery cages!! There were little water footprints walking away from the cups that led to the side of the filing cabinet, but after that there were no more clues! I had to track them down and see where she had hidden them! The whole thing was super hilarious and super fun! 🙂

We are happy to be working in the office! :)

We are happy to be working in the office! 🙂

If all of this sounds a little strange to you, if you are thinking that the office staff at Bonclarken sounds a little crazy to you, let me encourage you to direct your accusing thoughts towards the guest services staff. When they were bored this summer they all decided to capture a beetle/cockroach/bug thing and tied it to the leash. They then took turns taking the poor little thing on walks! (Leading me to come to grips with the fact that I do really work with a bunch of weirdos!)

But no one ever claimed that Erskine students are normal!

When Your Friends AREN’T Perfect

One of the best things about a small Christian school like Erskine is that the opportunity to get to know your classmates really well and make a lot of close friends. If you have even read half of one of my blog posts in your pasts, you already know this, but I am saying it again!

A great birthday party with friends in the Kennedy Basement!!

A great birthday party with friends in the Kennedy Basement!!

Before I came to college I had this idea that I would simply waltz into the dorm on the first day, arrange my dorm perfectly within a matter of minutes, and then suddenly be surrounded be hordes of close friends who wanted to know everything about me. While that somewhat fairy tale like dream is obviously quite unrealistic, it is not as far off from the truth of my first day at Erskine. No more than 5 minutes after pulling up in front of the freshmen dorms students approached the cart to help me carry all of my stuff inside, setting everything up did not take THAT long, and I did meet several new friends on that first day!

I am pretty sure that everyone reading this is familiar with the concept of soiree at Erskine: on the first night you move in the Student Christian Association hosts a big dance. All of the girls dress up and are randomly assigned a date who escorts them to dinner and (ideally) to the dance. It is a somewhat awkward affair, but for the most part a fun evening with a lot of introductions and new friends! It was on the first night that I met one of my future best friends at Erskine: I saw Tiffany across the room completely dressed up and was shocked that someone my age could be so beautiful! 🙂

Tiffany and her roommate on our first night of college! (Isn't she beautiful, though??)

Tiffany and her roommate on our first night of college! (Isn’t she beautiful, though??)

One of the main things I have learned at Erskine, however, is that having friends is not always going to be a walk in the park on a sunny day with a fresh (non dripping, of course) ice cream cone. In high school friendships are a little easier because, for the most part, they are all by choice. You hang out when you want, where you want, for as long as you want and then you get tired and go home. In college, you share a dorm with a roommate and your college friends may live just down the hall from you. Perceived control goes straight of the window within the first week of your arrival!

For the first few weeks, or even months, everything is magical. Gone are the lonely nights of old when you had nothing to do! Vanished are those times when you wish you had a friend to talk to! All you have to do is open up your hall door and walk around to see if Heather or Lolly wants to hang out. Your new friends are fun, hilarious, and spontaneous! You have never felt so happy, and you feel as if you could love of your new friends for the rest of your life.

Trying to get Lolly's attention so she would come play with us!

Trying to get Lolly’s attention so she would come play with us!

And then, unexpectedly, one of your friends does something crazy. Another says something to you cannot believe that anyone would ever say! Still another decides to ignore you when you need help, to misunderstand what you are trying to say, to do something you think no one in their right mind would ever do! A lot of this happens because of how you were all raised, in your parents’ household you were  never allowed to text while someone was talking to you and then one of your friends starts texting the entire time you are trying to talk to them! You start to wonder what kind of barn that they might have been raised in!

Rest assured most of your friends probably were not raised in barns. What many college students experience is that the people they meet at college, even their closest friends, were not raised with exactly the same set of standards and beliefs. Everyone is different, a unique person with all of their own thoughts and ideas about how things ought to be. That was certainly something I had to realize! Many of my closest friends at college are extremely different people than myself and sometimes wholly unexplainable!

One night we all decided we just HAD to have some Mexican!

One night we all decided we just HAD to have some Mexican!

The good thing about all of this is that through I have learned how to love better. It is easy to love your friends when you are spending a day in Greenville together, talking and laughing about all of your inside jokes! Especially if you do have that fresh ice cream cone! 🙂 It’s a little more difficult when it is late at night and your roommate is having a movie date when you just want to go to bed!  But learning to communicate, to talk about your similarities and differences, to open and share yourself with other people even when you realize they are not perfect is what makes the college experience all the more rewarding!

Sometimes you all just spend an evening together playing board games!

Sometimes you all just spend an evening together playing board games!