The Home-Stretch (Literally)

As my time abroad is rapidly coming to an end, I’m having a hard time grasping how quickly it went by! Although I can’t deny that I’m so looking forward to being back on campus in the Spring…a part of me never wants to leave this place. In my opinion, one semester abroad is no enough to get a full grasp on anything. You travel to new cities and countries every weekend, but only get a small taste of what life is like there. It’s unfortunate that you can’t immerse yourself in every culture you visit – but that’s just another reason to return!

Being away from my family and from Trinity has given me some valuable perspective on life. I don’t want to claim myself to be incredibly cultured or an avid world traveler; I was only in Europe for four months and visited 8 countries. However, the small things that I picked up along the way – in my opinion – are priceless. The way other cultures welcomed you into theirs as an honored guest with warmth and kindness will stay with me forever. Also, traveling alone made me realize that I am (and am not) as direction impaired as I thought I was. Traveling with a group of friends can make the experience so much fun, and you will have a collection of memories that you will hold onto forever. However, after getting over my fear of traveling solo, I realized how much more I got to learn about myself and the place I was visiting!

If I had to offer some advice for future abroad-goers, some of my top sentiments would be:

  • Travel as much as you can. I’m not saying you have to have every single weekend booked solid for the entire semester, but travel as much as possible! Everyone’s budget is different, but passing up the opportunity to visit at least a couple different cities while abroad will be a regret you have for the rest of your college career. However, don’t forget to explore the city you’re studying in as well! Many times students spend so much time in other countries that they don’t know anything about the place they’ve been living in for an entire semester.
  • Bring a friend. If you are lucky enough to find someone in your program or in your classes that has similar interests or traveling goals as you, then make plans to travel with them! Large groups are fun but can be difficult to manage if you’re traveling a lot. Sometime when it’s just a pair of people, you can fit in more sites and things on your to-do list.
  • Take photos. Investing in a small camera before you go abroad might be the best investment you make all year. Your phone is definitely a great tool too – especially for keeping your snapchat fans updated on your adventures! Either way, you’re going to be so proud of the collection of photos you’ve accumulated by the end of your time abroad.

Like I said, I’m not a world traveler or anything, but I can definitely say I’ve conquered my fear of flying! As the idea of leaving next week looms over my head, I’m so sad that I don’t have more time here. More time to explore, to talk, to learn, to travel, and to discover.

If you have to opportunity to go abroad while at Trinity, I urge you to take it. It will change your life!

 

Hidden Study Spots

One of the things that I have missed the most about Trinity while abroad for the semester is having access to my personal roster of hidden study spots. Although Trinity has an incredible library with lots of space (something I’ve come to appreciate—the main library at St. Andrews is smaller for a larger student body!), during finals it can get a little tight. Sometimes it’s necessary to camp out in the library for hours, defending your space with your life. However, this aggressive environment can get old really quickly, especially when you add the stress of exams and final projects into the equations. At the risk of giving away some of my secret spots, here’s a list of lesser-known study spots on campus:

  • Departmental libraries and common spaces: This is my go to for longer study sessions where I really need to be productive. These locations feel official and motivating and are often empty. Many academic departments at Trinity have libraries or study rooms. My favorite is the Classics department in Seabury, but I also enjoy the Religion student lounge in McCook and seminar rooms in the English building.
  • Vernon Social: Although Vernon Social and Goldberg’s are always bustling on the weekends, I’ve found that the space is often nearly empty during the day. I like to sit at the chairs by the windows that overlook Vernon Street for the light, or the inner chairs for a more secluded feel.
  • The Cave and the Bistro: These are more locations that are great during off-peak times. Sometimes all I want is a table to work at or a place to study for an hour in between commitments, and the Cave and Bistro fit the bill.
  • Austin Arts Center: I love the central location of the AAC and there’s always background music playing in the lobby, where there are several tables.
  • Early Morning Library: I know I began this post by dissing the library during exam week, but it’s difficult to completely ignore the building when looking for study spaces. If I do go to the library during finals, I make sure to secure a place as soon as possible. I like to go for the study carrels on the top floor because of how private they are, making it easier to ignore how full the library is getting while I work.

Trinity’s campus is full of great study spaces, and these are just a few. Good luck with finals, and find a space that works for you!

Why Being an English Major is #Lit

Why Being an English Major is #Lit

Choosing a major isn’t easy – especially at a liberal arts school where students are required to take classes in varying disciplines in order to graduate. So how does one go about choosing a major their sophomore year? Although some students may arrive on campus their freshman fall knowing what they want to concentrate in, the majority of Trinity’s population arrives unsure.

From a personal perspective, I had a decent idea that English would be one of my primary majors, and I had some experiences within my first two years of Trinity that confirmed this for me.

  • First English class at Trinity.

I enrolled in my first English class here at Trinity my freshman fall. This course was titled “Intro to Literary Studies.” Although I am currently concentrating in Creative Writing within my English major, I had heard that this class was one of the major’s pre-requisites, and I had also been told that the professor for this class was incredible. This advice proved to be right, and helped to enforce my decision to become an English major. Throughout this course, we studied multiple types of literary styles from an assortment of different authors. Not only did this course introduce me to one of my favorite contemporary authors, but it also provided me with an opportunity to bond with an incredible professor who has still continued to be an immense influence throughout my Trinity experience today.

  • Attending a Career trek

Although I knew that I would most likely become an English major upon attending Trinity, I also knew that I wanted to enter a media-related occupational field upon graduation. Therefore, I was a little bit apprehensive of the lack of a communications major or program. My freshman spring, I saw that Trinity’s Career Development Center was hosting a “career trek” over Trinity Days: a four-day weekend that occurs once per semester. This specific “trek” included a trip to New York City in order to network with alums working within marketing and communications fields. Although these “treks” explore multiple occupational avenues within Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C., I chose to attend this New York City media trek because of its close link with my area of interest. Throughout the trek, we met six different alumni within multiple organizations in the city. Not only was the networking opportunity incredibly valuable, but most of these individuals claimed that throughout their time at Trinity, they had chosen to pursue a major in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Therefore, this experience helped me to solidify that I was on the right track in choosing a major for my duration at Trinity, and also for my post-graduation interests.

  • Discovery of a Creative Writing Thesis

A third defining experience that helped me to decide to become an English major was the discovery that I have the opportunity to write a Creative Writing Thesis. For Creative Writing concentrators here at Trinity, students can choose from a range of options including the opportunity to write a series of short stories, a novella, a memoir, a novel, one-act plays, or poetry samples. The idea of being able to spend a large amount of my senior year planning, crafting, and editing a large creative piece that I could work towards potentially publishing after graduation appealed to me immensely, and still excites me currently as I look forward to this experience, even though I have roughly a year prior to immersing myself in it.

Ultimately, I love to write, and because I love exercising this creative skill, I throw my efforts into it completely until I’m absorbed in the act itself. Although I am speaking from a mere twenty years of experience, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that passion drives success, and if you’re able to incorporate your passion into your occupation, then you’re guaranteed to soar.

How to Recover from Class Registration

Class registration at any school is a stressful process. Priority goes to upper-year students and then — you guessed it — first-years. I’ve come to find that it is normal to be unable to get into a class you could have sworn had twenty open seats before you registered. It’s also normal to be stressed from this process. I have a few suggestions on how to recover from class registration:

  1. Email the professor: If you did not get into a class you need or really want, then email the professor. Introduce yourself and explain why you want to be in the class. It wouldn’t hurt to list any other classes you’ve been in that you think have prepared you to take this course. By expressing interest you will be more likely to get off the waitlist than a student who isn’t doing so.
  2. Waitlist: When you add classes to your enrollment shopping cart before you register, be sure to check the box that says, “waitlist if full.” This way you won’t be automatically locked out of a class. During class registration, you want to be as efficient as possible.
  3. Check other sections: Other sections of the class you want may still be open! Maybe the 8am section wasn’t as appealing to you as the 9:25am section, but beggars can’t be choosers. Earlier classes tend to go later than the others. If you want to be in a class badly, then maybe it is worth reconsidering which section you enroll in.
  4. Enrollment shopping cart: For future class registrations be sure to fill your enrollment shopping cart with many options. You can fill your cart with as many classes as you want, but can only enroll in 5 course credits at one time. It is smart to have back ups already waiting in your cart in case something goes wrong.
  5. Sit in on the first class: If the next semester comes and you still want to be in a certain class and have been unable to get on the attendance list thus far, go sit in on the first class. Introduce yourself to the professor after class so they can put a face to the name. If the professor decides to admit more students, you will have a good shot because they will see you are interested. It’s all about putting in effort!

Avoiding Paper Panic: Writing Tips

No matter how confident I feel going into a new semester, my first essay never fails to strike fear into my heart. Pending deadlines have a knack for making any task seem impossible and causing me to forget how much I have been prepared for my classes. However, after five semesters I have developed several strategies to help me along in the essay writing process from start to finish.

  • Read and reread the prompt as soon as it is assigned. You can write the next great American novel, but if it doesn’t satisfy the prompt you’ll still be out of luck. If you have questions, ask your professor or TA sooner rather than later.
  • Before you write anything, brainstorm and choose a thesis. There’s nothing worse than seeing a blank page and not knowing what you’re going to say, so get your ideas straight first. There are lots of different ways you can do this—outlining, sketching, free-writing, verbal processing, and more. Once you’ve organized your thoughts, decide what you want to argue and make this your thesis.
  • Break up the drafting process. I enjoy writing, but even I don’t like writing a 10-page paper in a single day. Give yourself enough time to write your rough draft over a few days—it’s much more relaxing this way!
  • Revise your rough draft. This is also connected to giving yourself enough time—even the best writer benefits from going back over her work and checking for grammar, spelling, and clarity.
  • Go to the Writing Center! As a writing associate I may be biased, but I love making use of this amazing resource on our campus. The Writing Center can help you at any point in the writing process, whether you just have the prompt and want to brainstorm or are looking for help going over your final draft. Go here to learn more about the Writing Center, book an appointment, and use our amazing writing resources (pro tip: appointments fill up quickly the closer we get to exam week, so make sure you save your space early!)