(eighty) or how to senior year

I’ve been doing some reflections on my senior year, and I wanted to share some things that I think helped me have a great year.

  1. Make friends with staff/faculty/administration. Like actual friends. I think this is my most important take away. You’re a senior now- you’re already foot in foot out, so might as well strengthen the bonds that you have. Your professors are (shockingly) actual people who do fun and exciting things! Try to get to know them as a person rather than the individual who is in charge of your grade. You already have the same intellectual interests, so try to remember that soon you will no longer be a student (you will be a glorious alum) so it’s ok to talk to them about things other than academia. Ask about their cats, for example. If they have more than 2 you know that you have some real relationship potential there. In all seriousness however, I have been lucky enough to have made amazing connections, and I find them to be some of my most loving and supportive relationships.
  2. Recognize that you’re leaving soon. I think this is a point that I personally had a really easy time with, but some of my friends did not. Try to enjoy the time that you have left here, but remember that very soon it won’t be your campus in the same way anymore. You can get involved for your alma mater in other ways- Philanthropy is a huge option, through volunteering your time or your money. But for now, try to remember that this is temporary and soon you will need to find a way to give back in other ways.
  3. Job search early. Or apply for things early! Even if you’re graduating in May it still feels really good to practice writing cover letters and editing your resume. You need to be super proactive and take charge in this regard, so I find that the more you do it the better. Plus, you’ll be able to improve your networking ability which is always an amazing skill.
  4. Spring Clean. It’s time for new adventures, which means that you can finally recycle that “What to do in Bryn Mawr Town” pamphlet they gave you your first year here! Go through your stuff, and pursue things. Sell things you’re never gonna use again, donate things, recycle (or trash) things. It’s going to feel so good when you do it, plus you really don’t have the space for it to bring to wherever you’re going next. Granted, I’m not telling you to throw away your freshmen year dried flowers, but take a serious look at the things you never use anymore.
  5. ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR TIME HERE! Go to the keynote speakers, go to LILAC to talk about your future, enjoy the dining hall special meals! Do the things you’ve been meaning to do for your time here but kept saying “It can wait”- you can’t wait anymore. You just gotta do it and enjoy the experience. Or don’t enjoy the experience, but at least you did it and tried!

(seventy nine) or last spring reflections

I think my last Bryn Mawr Undergraduate Spring has sprung! It’s been quite rainy here, but it’s only been paving the way for the flowers and the buds to burst their way through the ground. One of the things that I love the most about Bryn Mawr is the foliage that appears in the spring, and in particular, the cherry blossoms.

I know that the pathway from the Pems to Rock get a lot of attention because they’re a beautiful row of cherry blossom trees that suddenly erupt into color all at once, but this spring I’ve been paying particular attention to the solitary Cherry Blossom tree that stands by Rhoads. A few days ago I was exiting the dorm through the back way- the door that leads closest to the library (next to the outdoor trash heap)- when I felt a sudden gust of wind that brought a shower of little petals down on me.

I think it was one of the prettiest things that have ever happened to me at Bryn Mawr. I was surrounded by little pink petals dancing in the wind. Moments like this make me super sentimental and appreciative for the beautiful campus that I get to call home. Talking to alumnae, a lot of them have expressed a sort of compassion for these trees. After four years of awe, I understand how hard it must be to leave them. I’ve been basking in their beauty for a while now, but I will soon have to give it up.

My freshmen year I remember walk ing through the Rock Row late at night. It was like a million little stars were flickering on the branches of the trees.

My sophomore year I had a picnic under their blossoms, picking out petals that had fallen in my lemonade.

My junior year I watched the cherry blossoms freeze over as we got a strange second winter. The flowers bloomed in the snow.

And this year, my senior and final year, I was given a windy hug by the little pink petals that seemed to have followed me through out my four years.

(seventy eight) or finals

Around the beginning of April every year, I begin to feel the need to work on my finals. As with every other year, I have begun to feel this feeling. I’m not sure why or what prompts me to start working ahead, but I just do it. I think being an HA and knowing that finals week is hellish for a lot of my residents encourages me to get everything done that way if something horrible does happen, I’m done with all of my work so I can be available for someone who needs me.

This year I’m doing the same thing. It’s also nice because for the first time I’m doing finals that aren’t just exams or written work- I’m producing a movie. Granted I have 0 experience with film making, and yes, I don’t own any equipment, but HEY! I can do this because I can do anything if I try long enough. And try long enough I will- I’ve already spent an hour trying to figure out how to use “iMovie” and upload videos from my cell phone onto my computer. It’s looking good so far.

I think that by pushing myself to do something out of my normal, I’m stretching myself and my comforts. I’m actually really worried about this film because it does have the potential to go up in flames. But here I am regardless working on it and trying to make it something that I feel good about turning in. I’m hoping that my professor feels that way too, not going to lie. But we shall see.

Another cool thing I’m doing for finals week is making a workshop. Again, this is really out of the ordinary for me because I haven’t done this for a final before. I’ll be presenting to the Junior History majors, so this is also my excuse to try to convince them to produce some sort of thesis for the department next year. I’m hoping that my workshop will show them that you don’t need to write a paper or use traditional methods to get information across to a group of people.

Anyway, I’m a bit nervous about my execution of all of these things, so wish me luck.

(seventy seven) or garden party grief

So far I’ve asked three lovely people to garden party for me. I have one last person, my hellee Mackenzie, but I am stumped on ideas. Every idea that pops into my head doesn’t feel special enough. When Mackenzie asked me to hell her she made a scavenger hunt which ended in her room with a cake, sparkling cider, and roses. I want to do something just as meaningful and thoughtful as she did for me! I’ve known her for three years, so I know what she likes and doesn’t like, but everything I come up with pales in comparison to how amazing she is!

Part of me wants to do a scavenger hunt just like she did for me, but I also want to give her something new and special. I think I’m going to end up making a movie of all of our memories together- that way she can watch it at her leisure, but she also has a special something that she can keep forever.

Regardless, I’m really excited to ask her, and I can’t wait to graduate!

(seventy five) or ice ice baby

It’s gorgeous outside. Like drop dead beautiful. Having grown up in Florida, snow is a mysterious, magical phenomena that only impacted the north, so now that I’ve made Philadelphia my home I feel like I’ve been allowed into some secret world.

One thing that will perpetually shock me is how bright it is outside. When everything is covered in a snowy blanket, the sun seems to be 100x amplified. It’s beautiful to see a huge patch of untouched snow reflecting the sun in a million little ice crystals.

I’ve also found a love of trying to walk on top of the snow. I have found that you can only do this on certain types of snow, but I have made it my mission to find out where I can do that. The occasional fear of falling through towards the solid ground gives me a sense of adventure on the way to classes. It’s also really pretty to walk across snow versus slogging through it ruining the pristine blanket that covers the earth.

The only “downside” is when the wind picks up and blasts you with an icy chill. It seems that no matter how much I bundle up a part of me is always cold. Usually it’s my ears, and I return inside to find them numb and in a bit of pain, but it’s very worth it to go across my own personal winter wonderland.

I find that in weather like this students tend to stay indoors a bit more than usual. I understand why, but this only gives me more of an opportunity to go outside and play. Pam has had it with me (having grown up in places that were super snowy) and my ways, but she’s a good sport and lets me take longer paths just so I can hear the crush beneath my feet.

(seventy four) or snow day part two

Yesterday I was able to enjoy the second snow day of the year! We were expected to get a pretty nasty snow storm, so the school decided to make the decision to cancel classes. I had planned to wake up super early and get a bunch of work done, but when I woke up I looked outside and couldn’t muster the emotional strength needed to get out of bed. It was just so warm under my blankets, and the snow was coming down heavily, so I made the wise choice to remain wrapped up watching the storm progress. Last snow day I learned how to ski, but this snow day was probably the most stationary I’ve been all year.

I’m finally taking my own advice to slow down and enjoy things as they come. I’ve began reading Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses after having finished his Midnight’s Children and enjoying it. I think the premise of Satanic Verses is super interesting- what if instead of receiving prophecies from God, prophets were being intercepted by Satan instead? I had never thought of that as an idea, so I’m excited to read his interpretations of it.

Apparently his story was based upon The Story of the Cranes, which I had never heard about. I’m taking it all with a grain of salt, however, and recognizing the Rushdie’s work is a production of fiction and that the Story of the Cranes is highly disputed among theologians. Also if you google it you get a bunch of apocalyptic literature and hateful topics so I would highly recommend not doing that.

The Story of the Cranes goes as follows according to the As-Sunnah Foundation of America;

“Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – saw rejection coming from his people, so he sat in isolation, wishing to himself: Would that nothing is revealed to me that would drive them away from me. Thereafter Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – approached his people again and made overtures to them, and they responded to him. One day he sat with them in one of the usual public gatherings around the Ka`ba and he recited to them “By the Star when it setteth” (Sura 53, al-Najm). When he reached the words:

19. Have ye thought upon Al Lat and Al Uzza?
20. And Manat, the third, the other?
the devil interjected two phrases (kalimatayn) upon his tongue:
“Those are the elevated cranes: truly their intercession is dearly hoped!”

Allah’s Messenger spoke these two phrases then went on to finish the entire Sura, then he prostrated and all those in attendance prostrated. Al-Walid ibn al-Mughira took a handful of earth and [applying it to his forehead] prostrated on it, for he was an aged old man who could not prostrate. It is also said that Abu Uhayha Sa`id ibn al-`As was the one who did this…. and some say both did it.

They [the Quraysh] were elated at what Allah’s Messenger – Allah bless and greet him – had spoken, saying: “We definitely know that Allah gives life and gives death as well as creates and sustains, but these our gods intercede for us before Him, so if you give them their share, we are with you.” This statement of theirs bore heavily on the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – and he withdrew to his house. When evening came, Gibril came to him and rehearsed the Sura with him, whereupon Gibril said: “Did I bring you those two phrases (al-kalimatayn)?” Allah’s Messenger said: “Have I said on Allah’s part something He never said?” Whereupon Allah revealed to him [p. 206] the verse: { And they indeed strove hard to beguile thee (Muhammad) away from that wherewith We have inspired thee, that thou shouldst invent other than it against Us; and then would they have accepted thee as a friend.} (17:73)”

The moral of this story is I don’t know anything about this, but I find it super interesting, and therefore am hoping to learn more about it. If you’ve read this book and have thoughts please feel free to share!

(seventy three) or declaring a major advice

I’ve been getting several very endearing (but also panicked) messages from underclassmen who are about to declare their major, are thinking of declaring their major, or have just declared their major and are worried now, so I thought that I should write down what I learned from my experiences.

  1. Choose Something That You Like: I know, I know. Everyone tells you this, and you say “But I like everything!” or “I don’t like it enough!” That’s fine. You don’t need to love it and want to do it forever and never do anything else, but you do need to think long and hard about what classes/themes/ideas make you think harder/longer/better than other courses do. Have you found yourself actually enjoying the readings for your History of Art class enough to talk about it with your friends? Do you find that the professor who teaches your math class has ideas that you’ve always wondered about? Locating and narrowing down a topic is the first step.
  2. Choose Something That You’re Good At: This one is a bit more tough love advice, but it’s true- if you declare a major in something that you’re not good at, your GPA will tank and you will be a stressed puddle come graduation day. You need to find that perfect balance between what you like and what you’re also good at. You don’t need to be naturally good at it, but you do need to be good at it enough that if you study hard you’ll be able to understand what’s going on.
  3. Look At The Department: This advice is a bit more specific, but it’s important to see what type of people you’re gonna be around for the next two years. Is the department made up of one-year professors who you’ll build a relationship with but then they’ll have to leave? That’s gonna be a bit hard on you, and on them. Do you hate every single professor in the department with a passion? Look into Haverford and see if you get along with them better? Regardless, these people will be your mentors, and especially if you’re going to be writing a thesis, you’re going to see a lot of them.
  4. Look At The Requirements: Especially if you wanna go abroad. A lot of the times the requirements for STEM fields are not conducive to going abroad, so if this is a big deal to you, try to talk to someone to figure out an option that works for you. BMC also has options to go abroad in the summer (along with funding!!), but you’ll need to start this process early. Besides going abroad, you may also have required courses that you need to take within the major (Sociology, for example, requires a statistics course). During this time you should also look at if you need to complete a thesis or not. It may not be a big deal now, but it will be when you’re a senior doing a zillion things. It’s always good to look ahead and see what’s coming for you.
  5. Look At YOURSELF!: This one sounds a bit cliche, I know. But it’s important! You need to ask yourself “What type of person do I want to become?” You may want to be a good person, you may want to be a rich person, you may want to be a happy person- all of these are valid! Now you have your first goal. Do you think that you can see yourself becoming your goal with the academic path you want to choose? By this I don’t mean “I want to be rich, therefore I want to major in engineering.” I do, however, mean “I want to be financially stable, and I can achieve that with a English degree.” Make sure that your goals match up with what choices you’re making (This extends to things besides your major, too!)

Overall, declaring your major is a bit of a stressful time. My experience was a lot of going back and forth, worrying if I was going to do something to permanently damage my future prospects. But the truth is you will always have time to go back and change your mind. Your future isn’t a straight cut line unfortunately, but rather a bunch of unexpected curves, and drops, and hills. Luckily you will graduate with a great support system that you can rely on! So yes, right now it feels like you’re sealing your fate but in reality you’re opening a bunch of new doors that have wonderful and exciting opportunities behind them!

(seventy two) or happy birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to Me! I got to spend an amazing day at home with my parents. My mom made my favorite dinner (her baked chicken) and my dad made this amazing cake. The cake was called Gateau Concorde, which is a recipe from Gaston Lenotre. I’m about to get really nerdy so prepare yourself.

Lenotre (spelled Lenôtre but I can’t get my keyboard to do the top hat over the “o”) was a French chef, and was pivotal in french cooking, specifically pastries and desserts. The concorde cake was named after the plane that flew in 1969. The cake is a bit tricky and technical to make but it was very worth it. My dad spent a long time on it, but he indulged my silliness by letting me pipe the meringue. I wasn’t quite good at it, and now have more respect for patissiers.

Whenever I’m anxious I watch baking videos to calm down, so actually getting to pipe the top part of the cake was pretty fun. Apparently this recipe is only meringue and mousse, but it 100% fooled me because I could have sworn it had a thin layer of gooey cake. Regardless it was delicious, and I think Pam would also have really loved it. I’m thinking I’ll try to make it for her once we move in together.

It was cute to see so many of my friends (even some that I haven’t talked to in a while) wish me a good day. I think all this positive energy is helping me get over this stupid flu I’ve had for what feels like weeks! I’m feeling very loved, and very happy, so overall today was an excellent day.


(seventy one) or family friends

When we first moved to Florida I was a rambunctious toddler who had a tendency to wander away to her next adventure. I was doing just that when I met Donna. Running towards her tree swing, I was more focused on the swing than on my father who was chasing after me. Luckily for me, Donna was able to slow me down long enough until my dad caught up with me. And that is how my family and her family became life long friends!

Donna introduced me to her son, Anthony. Ant is 364 days older than me, so I will never let him forget the one day that we’re the same age. I was introduced to Donna’s sister Susan, and her partner Kip, at around the same time as meeting Donna.

I’ve grown up with this parallel family! Donna and Susan have become like second mothers to me. I love them so dearly, and I am so thankful to have them in my life. It’s interesting because whenever something big happens in my life my list of women to tell goes- Pam, Mom, Donna, Susan. Always! Susan and Donna are strong women, and have always been excellent role models to look up to. They’ve been with me through thick and thin, and they’ve taught me excellent life lessons (and some not so excellent ones- Donna taught me how to hook a worm when fishing)

We try to see them when I’m in town for breaks, but we always make sure to celebrate Anthony’s and my birthday together. Anthony is technically my oldest friend. I think that I’m his, too, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m going to give myself that title regardless. Anyway, yesterday we went out for our joined birthday dinner, and it was an amazing time. Not only did I get to see my family, but we got to enjoy a delicious meal together. I ate a lot more bread than I should have, but birthday bread doesn’t count right??

I’m happy that I have such wonderful people that I can call family. Even if they can’t offer me a kidney because we’re not genetic matches still doesn’t mean they won’t try, and I think that’s pretty kind.