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McDaniel: #MyTopCollege

Howdy, McDaniel students in the making! I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer!

Recently, Forbes asked college students and alumni across the country to show their school pride online by using the hashtag #MyTopCollege. McDaniel students, faculty, staff, and alumi have gotten in on the #MyTopCollege action by tweeting, Facebooking, and Instagramming reasons why they love McDaniel.

So why is McDaniel #MyTopCollege? Well, 140 characters isn’t quite enough to express what I love about McDaniel. So here’s a list!

1. Our professors are phenomenal

One thing that immediately drew me to McDaniel when I was a prospective student was McDaniel’s faculty. On visit days, they participate in panels and open up their classrooms to prospective students to share what they can about the academic side of McDaniel. They’re very friendly and willing to talk to prospective students individually too, so when you visit, it’s worth stopping by the department of a major of your interest to see if any professors are around to chat.

As a student, my professors have helped me grow both as a student and as a human being. They respect me as a scholar and are vested in my well-being. McDaniel professors are also fun, quirky, and interesting people. We have math professors who crochet and professors who raise sheep and goats. Our professors are not shy when it comes to showing off their interests!

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Here I am with Dr. Kachur of the English department at the spring 2013 literary masquerade. Dr. Kachur is a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe and can sometimes be seen dressed up as the 19th century author and poet, as he is here.

2. Jan Term is a blast!

Jan Term is a three-week-long mini-term in January that allows students to learn about cool topics that their studies might not normally cover. Students can also complete internships during this time or go on a travel Jan Term, many of which take place abroad.

All students are required to complete at least one Jan Term during their time at McDaniel, but for many students, one is not enough. When I was a sophomore, I look an on-campus Jan Term called Coping With Stress, which taught me lots of relaxation techniques. On campus Jan Term classes aren’t very time-consuming, so I had lots of time during that Jan Term to work on other projects of mine, including personal research and starting up my popular English Major Humor blog on Tumblr.

This past year, I went on a travel Jan Term called Travel Writing Across Europe. Thirteen other students and I traveled to Normandy, Paris, Vienna, and Budapest to get a feel for different European cultures and write about our experiences. You can check out some of our writing here.

While in Europe, my classmates and I got to visit the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

While in Europe, my classmates and I got to visit the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

3. The rest of our academics are wonderful too :)

There were three major things that attracted me to McDaniel’s curriculum. Firstly, I really like our McDaniel Plan, McDaniel’s flexible liberal arts curriculum. The McDaniel plan requires students to take classes in a variety of areas, but students have a lot of freedom to choose which classes they take to fulfill those requirements.

Secondly, I am wildly in love with McDaniel’s English department. I’d known since high school that I really wanted to be an English major our English department at McDaniel has suited a lot of my needs–I didn’t want my English degree to consist mostly of literature classes, and McDaniel’s writing minor has allowed me to take, in addition to literature classes, classes in creative and professional writing and rhetoric, making me a well-rounded English major and giving me lots of practical skills that I will use throughout my life and career. And even before I submitted my deposit to attend McDaniel College, I knew that the English department’s faculty are among the very best professors on campus!

Lastly, I’m a fan of McDaniel’s Honors Program. The Honors Program is for exceptionally talented students at McDaniel who want to enrich their academic and social experience on the Hill. Honors students have the opportunity to take electives designed especially for them and they also can choose to live together in suite-style living situations. Honors Program students are fun people, and the classes I’ve taken through the Honors Program are some of the best I’ve taken in college.

Some fabulous Honors ladies at the 2012 Honors Picnic

Some fabulous Honors ladies at the 2012 Honors Picnic

4. Student life is fun-filled and fulfilling

Life outside of classes and homework keeps me busy. McDaniel has dozens of student-run organizations to offer, and I’m a part of our newspaper, The McDaniel Free Press, and our literary magazine, Contrast. I also try to volunteer, attend lectures and speaking engagements, and check out other cultural events a few times a semester. All of these things make life hectic, but I’ve learned a lot during my time outside of the classroom, so they’re worth it. And when I need some downtime, I can always rely on the good company and good humor the wonderful friends I’ve made at McDaniel.

Through classes, activities, dining, and living situations, I've made friends for life at McDaniel.

Through classes, activities, dining, and living situations, I’ve made friends for life at McDaniel.

Oh the places 2014 will go!

When I logged onto Facebook this afternoon, I was delighted to see the faces of two of my senior friends, Amber and Lauren, accompanying an article posted to McDaniel College’s Facebook page. The photo was a fun reminder of the time I spent with them in Europe over Jan Term and the article was full of snippets of what so many McDaniel seniors are going to be doing after they graduate on Saturday.

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My friends Amber and Lauren, in front of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna during our Jan Term.

I already knew that Amber is going to grad school at DePaul University to study rhetoric and composition and that Lauren is moving to Oklahoma to work for the AmeriCorps affiliate Reading Partners–I wrote about their plans and the plans of the Free Press’s other two graduating editors in this McDaniel Free Press article.

These editors are by no means that only two graduating seniors with big plans. As I read through the McDaniel article, the list of seniors recognized and cool things they want to do with their lives kept growing and growing! Lots of students already have full-time jobs and grad school lined up. My friend Andrea, for example, will be pursuing a Master’s in Library Science at Pitt this fall, where she’ll specialize in Archives. A couple of my other fellow English majors are going to go work at Disney World.

Students graduating from McDaniel’s Honors Program have plans that include attending law school, working as a campaign staffer, working as teachers, and going to optometry school.

Some seniors also finished up their degrees in December and have already gone out into the “real world,” doing things like working and even hiking the Appalachian Trail before returning to McDaniel this weekend for commencement.

You’ve got to read this article about McDaniel’s class of 2014. You’ll learn so much about what students did during their time at McDaniel and how they’ll continue to lead amazing lives.

Adjusting to Home

It’s nice that the semester is over. Papers are in, projects are done, and there’s an entire summer open for activities. No more all-nighters, surviving on coffee, or staring absently at a book or screen hoping to understand.

Instead, there’s home, wherever that may be, and for most of us, that means parents and siblings and distance from college friends.

Adjusting to this can be difficult. I think it is. At college, I decide what I do and when I do it. I choose my commitments and priorities. Nobody questions it. I am fully an adult (mostly) and am treated as such.

But at home, waiting to give their input, are my parents. They care what I’m doing and when I’m doing it and believe they have better ideas of how I should be spending my time. They care if I watch Doctor Who for five hours straight or play Pokemon all day.

There’s also adjusting from seeing hundreds of different people a day to definitely seeing at least four (or however many people live in your house).

And the food! Sure, it’s homemade and that is wonderful, but there’s no buffet, and you might be expected to make it yourself (I often am, not that I mind).

It is an entirely different life, especially since I won’t be working before I leave for Scotland in June.

I try to remember that my parents are used to me being younger, their child, and are only trying to help. I try to make sure I have things to do during the day, but given that I’ve played Bejeweled Blitz all morning the last two days, I’d say I need to do better at that. I also try to keep some of my routine, such as exercising, so I’m not changing too much.

But mostly, I try to remember that I’ll be living here for another few weeks and will keep coming back to live here until I am able to move out, and that my parents are helping me through college…so I shouldn’t be too hard on them, and should maybe clean a bit once in a while.

Graduation…My Brother’s, That Is

Last Saturday, I had the honor of being able to see my twin brother graduate with his associates degree…just in time for him to start working full-time this passed Monday. It was a long day since we had to wake before the sun to get there in time, but it was worth it to see him in a cap and gown, getting his diploma.

The experience got me thinking about how fast we’ve grown up. I’m only twelve minutes older than him, so there isn’t much of an age difference to put his experience into perspective. We are the same age, and he’s engaged and graduated. I still remember going to his youth baseball games, senior night for football/cheerleading when our parents had to walk out twice, once with him and once with me. I still remember dropping him off at school and meeting some of his suitemates, who are now a few of his closest friends.

So he has a degree and a fiance and a full-time job.

And I have…plans to be in school for at least another two years, most likely plus however much grad school I decide to take.

Still, I keep thinking ahead, to when I’ll be getting my diploma, because I know I’ll be looking back on his graduation and pondering that it wasn’t so long ago.

But I have another two years for that, at least, and I’m proud of my brother for getting so far in life.

Freshman Year–Over?

Hi all,

I’m kind of in a state of disbelief. Most of my peers are celebrating the end of the year, but I’m not–I didn’t mind being a freshman! Technically I’m a sophomore now, which means that I’m one year closer to being done with college and facing the real world, and I’m still not entirely sure which direction I want to take.

Though I was taking 22 credits this semester, I still managed to do really well in my classes, and though I don’t usually say corny motivational things, I’m proud of myself for the work I’ve done this semester. I’ve been through quite a bit emotionally, but I haven’t let it affect my work ethic, and I’ve still managed to enjoy myself.

Saying goodbye was really hard. I learned in Yellowstone to say “It’s not goodbye; it’s just see you later” but it’s still rough. I tend to get very attached and I don’t like leaving worlds. However, I’ll have WiFi in Yellowstone and I plan to Skype my friends.

My favourite shot of San Francisco at night.

My favourite shot of San Francisco at night.

I’m going to be in San Francisco for 63 hours before getting on another plane to Yellowstone. Though I could barely keep the tears in my eyes from falling as I took off from Baltimore, the couple of months of relaxation and destressing will do me good, and I’m excited for what next year at McDaniel will bring me.

Ema