Monday, July 23, 2012

SOAR 2012

Late last night, I got home from my pre-orientation weekend, SOAR. I am going to try and eloquently put into words what an amazing five days I had... But I have to warn you, it's going to be a long post.

First of all, I took the megabus from Boston to Burlington. That was super convenient, as it leaves from South Station and goes to UVM, which is only about ten minutes away from the Saint Mike's. Also, it's CHEAP! It only cost $27, including booking fees, for my round trip ticket. The bus takes about three and a half hours to do the trip, but considering if I was driving it would take over four hours it's an awesome way to get from home to school and back again.

Purtill Hall, where I stayed
Anyways, once I got to campus, I got checked in and went to my room to set up and unpack a little. I arrived a day early due to the bus schedule, and was the first one there. Everyone involved in SOAR stayed in one of the buildings on North Campus. Even though it's not where I'm going to be living this year, it was great to check out what it's like to live in such close quarters with other people. Also, in the future when I am trying to decide where to live, I know that Purtill Hall is a great option. 

Thursday was when the rest of the group arrived on campus. We spent the afternoon playing ice breakers and getting to know each other. Including the leaders, there were about forty students involved in the pre-orientation. It was a great group of people, with an awesome dynamic. We all opened up to each other really quickly, in my opinion. Within a matter of twenty four hours, I felt like I'd known people for months. It was a really amazing feeling. Thursday night, we were surprised by a trip to the Drive In Movies for the premiere of the new Batman movie!

Friday was registration day. Registration itself was an ordeal that deserves it's own blog post, so I'll write about that later. After Registration day was over, we went on a hike. Now, I'll be honest: I am not a hiker. Generally I would never set myself up for anything like a hike. And for most of the way up, I wanted to quit, turn around, and go back to the parking lot. It was a really steep climb with a lot of rocks to get up. It was physically demanding, hot, and I was getting really tired. But the people around me were encouraging. Mo, the leader of the weekend, would not let me quit. He kept lying to me and telling me that we were almost to the top, and that he knew I could do it. As much as I wanted to give up, I kept going, and it was SO worth it. 

A view on our hike.

View from the top.

I made it to the top!
Then, after our hike we went back to Mo's house for some dinner. Let me tell you, all of the work I did on that hike was forgotten once we got to all of the AMAZING food! I tried a few new foods and I'm honestly not sure what some of it was but it was all so delicious. When we pulled up to his house, I wasn't sure that we were all going to fit inside, but we did. It was also a new experience for me to go to a teacher's house. In high school, I had some of my teachers all four years. I knew them really well, but seeing them outside of school was always awkward. Here, it felt totally natural to be sitting on the floor in his living room while his kids played on the stairs and we ate a lot of food. The community at this school felt almost tangible.

Saturday was probably my favorite day. We spent the day at Isle La Motte, an island about forty five minutes north of the school. It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and the weather was warm but not too hot. We started off with two professors coming to talk to us about how important it is to have a good relationship with your professors. They told us about the community at Saint Mike's, and in Vermont in general. It was obvious how much they cared about all of the students at the school, and invited any of us to come talk to them about anything. Then, someone from Counseling and someone from Admissions talked to us about the importance of staying healthy on campus. We got to spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon enjoying the island. We got to go kayaking, enjoyed a nice lunch, and spent the afternoon throwing a boomerang around the lawn and sitting in the shade.

Playing with a boomerang on Isle La Motte.
 In the afternoon, we came back together inside. The student leaders of SOAR gave us presentations on a wide variety of topics having to do with student life: money management, time management, health resources on campus, relationships with friends and roommates, and more. It was all very open and candid, and they gave us real advice that they have learned in their time at school. I feel like I know a lot more about college life just from these presentations. I really feel like I have a leg up. After the presentations, we all piled back into the vans and drove back to campus. We had to get ready for a fancy dinner out!

Hibachi dinner.
 We got to go out to dinner at a Japanese steak house. I had never been to one before, but it was a Hibachi style dinner... meaning they made the food right in front of you! The cooks put on a really cool show, they throw food for you to catch and set things on fire. It is definitely both food and entertainment! Plus, it was DELICIOUS! We had so much food... soup, salad, sushi, shrimp dumplings, chicken and pork dumplings, cooked vegetables, fried rice, noodles, plus some meat! I chose steak and it was so good. It was a lot of fun to dress up and go out.

On a quick side note, I was really nervous about sharing a room. It's something I was not looking forward to at all. I thought I would be really bad at it, because I like having a space to be alone and have to myself. However, I ended up rooming with a really nice girl named Addy. We got along really well. We are even on the same floor of Joyce Hall, so I know that when I go to school next month, I will already have a friend on my floor!

Me and my roommate for the weekend, Addy. 

Of course, no trip to the area is complete without a visit to Church St. and some Ben & Jerry's. We all got ice cream (I tried Phish Food- so good!) then walked down to the waterfront. It was a really great night, I have some good memories that will last forever.

Couldn't come to Vermont without some Ben & Jerry's!
Sunday was the conclusion of our AMAZING weekend, and it was great too. It was a time for a lot of reflection on the time we had together. At the start of SOAR, Mo challenged us to do three things that made us uncomfortable. For me, it was climbing the mountain, trying new foods, and sharing a room. They all put me out of my comfort zone, but I was glad I did all of them. I had immense satisfaction after climbing the mountain. I tried a lot of food, and enjoyed almost all of it. And I made a great friend. I took some risks,  which I think is a trait that will be useful in college, but made some great returns from them. After an emotional conclusion where we worked on defining ourselves, we wrote letters that will be given back to us after first semester. Then it was time to pack up and head to the bus back to Boston.

SOAR was an amazing weekend. I feel so prepared to return in August for real... a lot of my anxieties were alleviated, and I made some great friends. I took risks and saw the reward and took the first steps to finding myself at Saint Mikes's. I can't wait to go back.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Trying to Save Money

I know that I've only had my room assignment for a few days, but I've already started going crazy buying stuff for my dorm room... and there's one big thing I've noticed: it REALLY adds up. So here are a few tips I am going to try to use to minimize the cost of dorm room stuff. Also, I feel like if I write them down, I will be more likely to stick to my rules. Here is what I'm going to try:

1. Make a Master List: Going in to a store like Walmart or Target, where there are already college displays, can be a huge drain on the wallet. Although they have good prices on things, it is so easy to buy stuff I don't need when I'm distracted by how cute everything looks. So I made a 'Master List' of all of the things I need for my dorm room. I've separated it in to a few sections, like Bath Stuff (shower caddy, towels, extra pairs of flip flops, etc). Having my list stops me from buying stuff in the college display just because it's in the college display.

2. Use Coupons: I know that it feels kind of silly to clip coupons, but it's really a valid way of saving money. For example, I knew I wanted to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond because they had a few items I wanted on sale. In the mail, I received their flyer, which came with a $5 of $15. I knew I was definitely going to spend that much, so I brought the flyer with me. I also signed up on their website to receive emails with coupons. That got me a coupon for 20% off one item. For bigger items, a coupon like that is a great way to save money. I ended up saving over $9 on my trip, and that's $9 that I can spend when I'm at school on something way more fun than a shower caddy!

3. Compare Fliers: I get a TON of fliers in the mail, almost every day. They make it really easy to see where I should go for what items. The Bed, Bath, and Beyond flier had a dorm sized trash can for $5.99, but in the Target flier I found one for $2.50 and they looked identical. It might mean I have to make more trips to  different stores, but the savings really add up.

These are just a few things I have noticed so far. I still have a lot of shopping to do! However, that's on hold for the next few days. The day after tomorrow, I am headed up to Vermont for my pre-orientation weekend, SOAR! I'm so psyched about it, I can't wait. I will be in Vermont from Wednesday until Sunday, so I get to spend a decent chunk of time on campus, talking to my adviser, registering for classes, and making new friends. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Housing Assignment!

So, after much waiting (okay, only about a month but because it's exciting it feels like longer!) I have finally received my First Year housing assignment! I will be living in a single room on the third floor of Joyce Hall!

Picture of Joyce Hall from

I am so pleased with my housing assignment. I had a lot of anxiety about sharing a room with someone, but now that I know I have a single, I feel so much better about moving in and college in general. Residence Life has done a great job accommodating my requests, as they also placed me into GREAT housing. I feel like my placement was perfect.

I'll admit there is a downside to having a single, at least at this stage. On the Class of 2016 Facebook group,  people are trying to connect with their roommates to discuss room set ups and who's buying the microwave. I'm a little jealous that they have someone to be so excited about college over! But I have been able to connect to some of the girls who are on my floor, and some that are even in other singles! So far, everyone I have talked to has been super friendly. I can't wait until August when we all move in... it seems so far away, but it's really only six weeks away! I haven't bought anything yet!

On another note, I will be headed to the Saint Mike's campus next week! I will be going up for the SOAR pre-orientation program, and Registration Day. I will get to talk to an adviser and register for classes, meet some of my classmates, and stay on campus. I'm really excited about it! I'll be sure to update about how it goes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

It wasn't a typical Fourth for me and my family. Usually, we go to my grandmother's town in Vermont where there is a really traditional celebration. My little sister and I help to decorate a float, everyone watches the parade from the town green, and there's a town wide barbecue after. Later, there are fireworks in a neighboring town. Rochester, VT's Fourth of July celebration is very Americana, and I look forward to it every year.

This year, my parents and I weren't able to make it because Fourth of July is on a Wednesday this year and we all had to work the next day. My parents went to a parade near by, but I slept through it. In general, I just enjoyed a low key day off, then made dinner for my parents. I made roasted potatoes and chicken, corn on the cob, and apple pie for dessert. Then I watched the Macy's Fireworks online.

I'm sad I wasn't able to make it up to Vermont this year like I usually am, but I'll be up at Saint Mike's in two weeks for SOAR (my pre-orientation) and then in seven weeks for real :)