Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Better Questions to Ask on Tours

     The May 1st deadline is quickly approaching. Open houses are every weekend. I know, you're probably just as panicked as I am about getting a real adult job. But it is ok. Just sit, calm down, it will all be fine. As you may (or may not know) I am a tour guide here at SMC. I think in my time here, I probably have given well over 200 tours in my four years. Giving tours is something I absolutely love doing, especially if students (and parents) come armed with questions. But as a tour guide, we tend to get the same question over and over again, but are those really the questions that you should be asking or are there better ones out there that will help you more in your college search? Well, I'm here to tell you that while your questions are always appreciated, there are definitely ones that are better than the ones that you are asking. Here are a few!

Instead of "Why did you choose (insert college name here)?" you should ask, "Why did you choose to stay?"
     This is honestly a question that I have never been asked on a tour, but one that I think speaks a lot more to the college in question. Sure, I can tell you my story of how I picked SMC out of the 12 other schools that I applied for, but more important than my original choice of Saint Mike's is the choice that I make every year to stay. Sure, people pick the wrong college all the time and transferring is really easy now, but for me to stay at one institution for all four years and be incredibly happy should tell you something about the school. It is a hard decision to pick a school, and often times it is really hard for a tour guide to explain why they chose the school they did. We all tend to say "we just knew" and we did, but that probably isn't the answer that you are looking for. So instead, I suggest that you ask why your tour guide decided to come back year after year.


Instead of "What is your favorite thing about (insert college here)?" you should ask, "What is your least favorite thing?"
     This question is a little more common, as I have gotten asked it numerous times, but I think that it is important. Just like the first one, it tells you what I like and don't like about the school. It is really hard for me to answer "what is your favorite thing" because chances are, if I have been here for four years, I enjoy a lot. It is really hard to narrow down on just one item. While the second question seems a little bit of a downer, it really helps perspective students get a sense of what to actually expect on campus. I can't list all my favorite things on my fingers and toes, I would need more appendages, but I can list all of my negatives on maybe 2 fingers. I think it gives your tour guide more of a focus. Also, everyone has different negatives, but chances are, tour guides all have the same positives.
To be 100% honest, my least favorite thing about SMC are the puddles. The 300's field (AKA my front yard) in mud season is actually the worst. Often times the puddles feel like this^^


Instead of "How much homework will I get?" you should ask "what was your favorite class, can you explain it?"
     Honestly, it is basically the same question, but the way that you are asking it is a lot different. Normally when people ask me about homework, I get a little frustrated. It is college after all, no one said it was going to be easy, so when someone asks me just about homework, it normally tells me two things:
            1. you don't have a plan of approach for schoolwork, AKA, you need to figure out your study habits ASAP.
            2. you are worried that you won't do well in college.
Not saying that either of these are bad, I certainly fell into both of these categories. But I did ok. All I have to say is that when you ask me about my favorite class, I am able to give you details and it makes me excited to talk about it. Personally, my favorite class that I have had was Race and Ethnic Relations with Maya Bhave. The class was challenging, with three 20 page papers plus exams and reading. While it was one of my hardest classes, I love talking about it. I think that asking this question allows you not only to get a sense of homework, but also how classes typically work.

     Finally, this one may seem pretty open, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask me very broad questions. We are all guilty of it, I know that I definitely did it when I was touring colleges. It really helps to narrow down your questions that you plan on asking. This not only helps the tour guide figure out what to say in the time allotted while also catering the tour to your likes, but it also helps you get the information that you want to hear. So instead of asking a question like "what is there to do on the weekends?" you should really narrow in. Are you particularly interested in the sporting events on campus? Or about the wilderness program? Maybe you do want to ask the infamous question about the party scene. Whatever it is, ask it point blank. I promise that you will get an answer and it will answer the question, instead of answering all parts of the question except the one that you really wanted to hear about.
This is normally my face when someone asks me a question that could literally go in one million directions. Find a focus, it will not only help us to answer your question, but it will give you an answer to something that you really want to know about! 
     And that is all! I hope this helps when you are looking at colleges as that May 1st deadline approaches! Take advantage of all tour opportunities and Open Houses that you can! Ask all the questions that you really want to know! You can do this, I have faith in you!

P.S: KnightChat tomorrow! Register HERE!

Love,
Susanna

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Monday, April 4, 2016

It's Actually Real (+ a little emotional rant)

     I never thought I would willingly go back onto crutches, but I did, I have. Let me tell you, this knee surgery sucks so much more than the first one. It is honestly so painful that I will opt back onto crutches, the pure demon sticks that they are, just to get rid of some of the pain that I have been feeling. To say it hurts doesn't even cut it. My knee is the size of a cantaloupe, it has massive incisions all down the sides and it is so discolored that if I were to draw myself with crayon I would most likely have to use bright shades of green, yellow and purple on my knee, as normal "skin tones" just wouldn't cut it. Granted, this was a much longer surgery and I opted to do it without strong medication but let me tell you, right now I wish I was back home in the comfort of my living room. Just walking to the computer lab and back today was painful. I told myself, I can do it, it is not too bad. Wrong. One awkward step and I got from feeling great to miserable. Nothing is wrong,  I haven't injured anything else, it's just that there is so much swelling that it is nearly impossible to move my leg normally, putting more strain on places that have to work to keep me moving. Essentially, my knee freaking hates me right now, and I don't blame it.
     To be honest, I didn't think it was real for the longest time. After my second surgery on Friday I actually felt great. I was up and moving around my house with very little pain and no crutches. I thought this recovery would be a breeze. I mean, I think (thought?) I heal pretty quickly but today it hit me, and it hit me hard. I hope that this won't be a set back. They say that the biggest part of recovery is your mental state, and let me tell you, right now my mental state is basically non-existent. I'm just drained. Between school and this surgery, I hurt, in more ways than one. Sure, I'm done with my senior seminar and I am beyond pleased with that, but I would have liked to enjoy it minus knee brace and crutches.
     I don't get homesick, heck I call Saint Mike's home. But right now I want nothing more than to be home. You don't really realize how much you miss home until you are in a situation like this. Sure, I'll stick it out and put on a happy face, but guys, it hurts. I sit in bed for hours with my knee up and with ice on it, hoping just for a little bit of relief and normalcy. It normally lasts for about 10 minutes and then goes back to pain. Even the simplest of tasks like walking to the door of my bedroom are hard because I can't move my leg correctly without pain. It drains you. It is so discouraging to live in fear of movement because you don't want the pain associated with it.
     Through it all, I keep thinking "why me" as many people have probably thought the same before. I think what did I do wrong? I replay the exact moment when I screwed up my knee for life over and over in my head just to see if there is something that I could have done differently to avoid the fate that I would succumb to. I think of what it was like to be "normal", one where walking into your kitchen to get a bite of food wasn't an internal struggle of convincing myself that yes, I am actually hungry and that yes, my hunger burns deeper than the pain I might feel in my leg. For a while I hated everything, especially rugby as it is what caused me this pain in the first place. I hated that after almost four years of playing uninjured I ended up with the kiss of death by athletes standards. I hated that I missed my shot at All-Conference, I hated that I wasn't able to play with my teammates one last time and I envied the people that made playing the game look so effortless while I struggled to even bend my knee. For a while I just wanted to shut off from it all. No more rugby for me, that was it. But in times of feeling like pure crap, I appreciated so many more parts of the game. I was able to put on a different hat and look at the game through a different angle. I now have the ability to be called a "coach", something that I didn't know was possible and probably wouldn't have known without this injury. It's an appreciation for all the crap that I put my body through for years. At times I thought my body literally hated me for making it play just one more minute in a game instead of staying down after a tackle, but for some reason I always got up from the ground, no matter how bad it hurt.  I think rugby is a game of resilience, and for me to call myself a rugby player, I have to be resilient. Sure, I miss it every single day and I cannot wait for the day that I can get back out there and play, but that won't be for a while. I think it is one of those things where I just have to roll with the punches and hand what life gives me. If life gives you multiple surgeries in a matter of months, you just have to take the scars, screws, crutches and random pieces of metal and roll with the punches.
     It hurts. It really does. And is this a long-winded rant while I am in a very emotional state? Yes of course. As for where I'm going with this, I'm not entirely sure. I thought about connecting it to SMC and how even though I'm far from home this place is still home, and it is, and I'm happy to have two places that I call home. I thought about really connecting this to rugby and how it has made me strong and tough and able to overcome everything, but then I didn't fully think it out and wasn't sure what I was using as a metaphor to compare things to. I thought about talking about my new appreciation for things no matter how small. I thought about talking about the injury in general and telling you all the nasty details, but then I didn't want to scar you for life. As you can tell, I really have no idea where this is going. It's late. I'm tired. My leg hurts. As for what else to say, I guess that just know that when you ask if I'm ok I will say yes, but deep down, it hurts like no other and just moving is a calculated process that I go through multiple times in my head before I even move an inch. It wasn't supposed to be this bad, but it is. But I'll be ok, because my drive to succeed is far more powerful than the pain that I feel in my leg. I'll get through it and I will do it with a smile on my face.

Love,
Susanna

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

2nd Time Around

     For those of you that don't know, I had my ACL repaired about 3 months ago. During my three month checkup, the doctor noticed a three inch long metal wire that was suspended in my knee. Unfortunately, it needed to come out before any more damage could be done. So, on Thursday I drove the 5 hours home from school in order to get surgery on Friday.
     My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am on Friday morning, meaning I had to be at the surgery center at 6:30am. I was told that it would be a quick surgery, only lasting about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the piece of metal wire had broken in half within my knee. One piece of stuck in bone and the other was lodged in the back of my knee turning a quick surgery into a 6 hour long marathon to extract the wire. I honestly don't remember anything about yesterday as I was really drowsy from medications that I was given.
     Th pain is manageable. I am walking around without crutches (thank goodness, I hate crutches). My knee is extremely swollen and the bruising is starting to come in. I have 4 incisions, 2 small ones and two large ones on either side with a total of close to 20 stitches. Right now, I'm trying to take it easy. The stitches come out in 2 weeks and I should be right back to where I was in my recovery.
     While getting all these surgeries stinks, it has taught me to be strong and if I push through, I can accomplish anything. Right now I'm just focusing on getting better than I was before my first surgery to hopefully get back out on that rugby pitch one day. I wouldn't consider this a bad thing, I just see it was a learning experience. If I can get through this, I'm sure I can get through anything. (Plus, I kind of like the scars, it makes me look a lot tougher than i actually am haha).

Love,
Susanna

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Senior Seminar is Consuming my Life

     Sad title, I know, but I was unsure of how to phrase exactly what I am currently feeling. Needless to say, I have been in a little bit of a rut lately. It is the beginning of second semester and things are rapidly starting to pick up, mainly in the category of senior seminar. It is no secret on campus that MJD majors have a close to impossible, time suck of a senior seminar. As you may or may not know, I am currently in the process of writing, designing and self publishing a book about the ins and outs of summer camps in the United States. Sounds cool, right? Well it is, except when you noticed that you have just under a month to create the entire thing (procrastination and senioritis is real people).

     So basically, I have been a little stressed. I think that in the last few days I have spent about 12 hours in a computer lab along with countless hours in my bed doing research and writing. Trust me people, this is not as easy as it sounds. (J.K Rowling, I give you so much credit.) Unfortunately, this stress has had a negative effect on my mood. I am often pretty cranky, tired and pretty withdrawn from other things. Normally in my free time I would watch some TV, search the web or nap. Recently, free time is filled with eating, showering and more writing.

     On April 6th, I will have the opportunity to have a breather. I will be able to sort of sit back and relax (I say sort of because I am still taking global comm and that is one of the hardest classes in the MJD major). As of now, I am not happy in the progress that I have made. It seems that for every page I complete, I find something that I need to fix or change. It changes what was once an hour of editing into 3 hours of extra work on my layout or the actual writing of my chapters. It is difficult in that situation to not get mad or sad. I have found myself far too many times sitting in bed at night and just crying after trying to spend time writing and failing miserably.

      One thing that I will say about this book is that it has really helped me to find myself. It has helped me be more independent and goal orientated. I have to be organized enough to force myself to spend time writing or sitting in front of a computer screen working in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. I have to set priorities and sometimes, they definitely aren't the right ones, but then it teaches me how to recover. It has helped my mildly introverted self to be more extroverted in the sense that I have to reach out to people that I may have never had the opportunity to interact with. It has helped me to discover more about a topic that I already feel passionate about.

     From now until April 6th will be a difficult time for me, I'm not going to lie. There is a lot of stuff to do and little time. Right now, I have a game plan. I know what I need to do and I plan on accomplishing it because I have become so emotionally invested in this project that I think it would pain me more than anything to not follow through with it.
   
     So, I apologize for the lack of posts recently. There has been a lot going on. I think that taking "me time" and blogging might be a good place to put my energy. I will give it a go and let you know what happens!

Love,
Susanna
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Saving a Little Extra Cash in College

     It is no secret that college is expensive. It is also no secret that my summer job as a camp counselor does not pay me a fortune (but I would not change that for the world). So often times during the semester, I have to sit myself down and look at my spending. As a senior, I live in a house with my own kitchen, meaning that I have to buy groceries and cook my own food. I also have a car, so that is another added expense. While I do work when I am on campus, I often find myself really having to look at the money that I am earning and what I am spending on. So, here are some tips to manage your money while in college!

ONE// Save on textbooks. Seriously. There is almost no need to spend $200 on a textbook that you will probably only open once. I get the majority of my textbooks used on Amazon. They are so much cheaper and in the end, I am totally ok if it has a few highlights or notes written in. Often times, I would prefer that to a brand new book!
     If you cannot find it cheaper on Amazon, the library would be your second best bet. My roommate Candice and I are in a class together and she took out both books that we need from the library. We have been sharing them all semester and it has cost us nothing!
be like Matilda and get your books from the library!

TWO// Pat attention to events on campus. This past weekend we had the Winter Carnival on campus. Along with it being a ton of fun, there was free food! Free food means not having to spend money on something to eat or use groceries for a meal that I could have saved for a different time. These events are not only good for food, but also other things as well! On campus in the next few weeks we are having a used book sale and a clothing sale. These events are great places to go not only if you are looking for something to do, but also if you need a few things!


THREE// Check out some on-campus jobs. On campus we have both work study and non-work study jobs. I personally do not have a work study, but I do have two on campus jobs that are not work study. For me, those jobs are a tour guide and social ambassador. These jobs are super fun and it gives me a little bit of extra cash in my pocket every two weeks! There are also a lot of other jobs on campus that are not work study, such as working in the dining hall. Also, our job link is a great way to find jobs on campus and off!

FOUR// Find forms of payment that work for you. I am a firm believer in using cash whenever possible. That way, I always know just how much I am spending. At this time is not my plan to apply for a credit card, but for those fellows that are interested in this opportunity Credit Card Insider has a Student Credit Card section that could be a good point to start. They lay out the pros and cons of all possible credit cards so that you can see what would work best for you. Eventually a credit card will be in my wallet, but for now I will just stick with cash!
Like Beyonce, I'll stick with cash.
(i also wish i was beyonce)
FIVE// Your I.D. card is everything. Not only is it an important resource while you are on campus (as it controls your meal plan, printing, entry to buildings and laundry) but it is also a great resource off campus. A lot of stores offer discounts to students and they can be anywhere from 10% to 30% off your purchase. There are tons of websites that tell you all the discounts or you can just ask before you check out!



I hope these tips will help you save a little bit of money this semester!

Love,
Susanna

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Kitchen Confessions: Must Haves

     I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I am pretty good when it comes to cooking. I really enjoy it. Some people are intimidated by the kitchen, but personally, it the place that I feel most at home. Sometimes cooking to me means popping a piece of bread in the toaster and then putting peanut butter on it. Other times it means following a recipe or just whipping together a few things that I have in my fridge. Whatever it may be, its something that doesn't seem daunting to me. It is enjoyable.
     I will admit, being in college sometimes makes it difficult to cook. I mean, just think about it. We have a tiny kitchen in our house that 4 people (including me) share. There really isn't all that much space, especially because, for some reason, all of us like to congregate in the kitchen on most occasions. Before moving in, we started thinking up what we could possibly need kitchen utensil wise. Growing up and having a kitchen filled with every gadget you could possibly dream of, I never really thought of the exact tools that I would need to make three square meals a day. So, here is my list for all of you chefs, toast burners and wine pourers.

PREPARE:

Measuring Cups// Kind of goes without saying. These are important, especially if you love to bake as much as I do. When following a recipe, especially if you are making a baked good, it is important to get the measurements just right. I personally just have some plastic ones that were fairly cheap and they do the job just right!

Cutting Boards// We just have a bunch of plastic cutting boards in a drawer in our kitchen. Most people opt for wood boards, but I personally love the plastic ones. They are easy to store and a lot easier to clean. We use them for everything from veggies, fruits and meats.

UTENSILS:

Knives and Knife Sharpener// Again, important. Even more important- make sure they are sharp. I promise you it will make your life so much easier. The sharper the knife, the easier it is to cut things and it also makes it a lot less painful if you do happen to cut yourself in the process. Also, look up a few techniques on basic knife skills and how to cut certain items. It makes prep work a lot easier and safer for those that don't feel as comfortable in the kitchen.

Tongs// For me, I probably wouldn't have thought to bring them. For me, I only think of using tongs when grilling, which I do not do while I'm at school. But honestly, I find myself reaching for these more often than I thought. I use them mainly for cooking meats and roasting different vegetables. They are also useful when plating different meals.

Wooden Spoon// I use a wooden spoon for everything. I think I mainly gravitate towards it because I am forever scared that when I am cooking and using a plastic spoon, it will melt into my food. Unrealistic fear? Probably, but it still worries me! I use a wooden spoon for all of my mixing needs.

BIGGER ITEMS:

Cookie sheets// I use these all the time from actually making cookies, scones, pork chops, chicken and roasting vegetables. I easily use a cookie sheet twice a week if not more!

Saucepan and Frying Pan// Everyone in our house uses these multiple times a day. We use them to make eggs, any kind of meet and vegetables. They really come in handy all the time!

Glass Baking Dish// I love the one that we have here. I use it to make pasta bakes or my homemade mac and cheese! It is the perfect size and it everything cooks evenly!

     As for cooking, I hope to do a little bit more of it this semester. I have a little more free time than I usually do, so I am really looking forward to testing out new things in the kitchen. I think Friday will be my day for trying something new, seeing as I do not have classes on Friday. For today, I currently have beets, butternut squash and broccoli in the oven roasting. On them I made a quick sauce of olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Once they come out of the oven I plan to put a little goat cheese on top and enjoy. The whole house currently smells heavenly!
the final product! 


Love,
Susanna

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

ACL Diaries: Part 1

     As the title says, yes, I am on crutches. You're probably thinking, how did that possibly happen? Well, if you have been up to date with the posts, in early October I tore my ACL playing rugby. I knew that if I ever wanted to play sport again or do anything remotely active, I would need to get it fixed. So on Tuesday, Santa, I mean, the doctor, gave me the great present of a new ACL. Now let me tell ya, I seem happy and cheery now, but if you saw me yesterday, you probably thought I was going to die. Well, it sure felt like it. Essentially, in the type of ACL reconstruction that I had, they took out a piece of my patella and tibia with a piece of tendon attached. They drilled holes in both my femur and tibia and then threaded the piece they had taken out to reconstruct my ACL. Thankfully, everything else looked good so all they had to do was give me a new ACL.
     But, it isn't just a quick surgery. The full recovery for this surgery is 9-12 months and even then, it may take longer for my knee to actually feel like my knee. It will take a lot of time to rehab it and get it back to working condition. Right now, I have started to put weight on it, but I am not allowed to bend my knee yet. The past few days have consisted of a lot of sleeping and watching TV. The medicine that I was on made me really sick, so today is the first day that I have actually been able to eat something and keep it down. I start PT on Monday, so hopefully it won't be too bad. I plan on updating you all about how this is going, just because when I was planning the surgery, I wanted to know more about what to expect.
     As for the rest of my winter break, I plan on resting a lot and getting my knee in good condition. My hope for when it comes times to go back to school is that I can walk with crutches comfortably and that I can make it up stairs! I think its a pretty achievable goal!
     Wish me luck!
Love,
Susanna

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What am I listening to?
(I know, its weird that I am not posting a what I am listening to, mainly because I have not been listening to much music. Instead, I leave you with a what I have been watching. I highly suggest you watch the show Limitless. I have watched the whole season already!)