One of the most difficult things about spring is allergies. If I could find a way for allergies to not exist, I would. They are painful and awful. I have noticed this spring, however, that far more people are struggling than I have ever seen before. People are sneezing, sniffling, and going through tissues at an alarming rate.
There are a few things on campus that really help with allergies. Besides taking medicine, I like to find creative ways to ease the pain. One thing I do is swim, surprisingly, the chlorine and cold water on my face really calms my nose down. The opposite is also true, so I take plenty of hot, steamy showers. I also make use of the convenience store, where I can buy tissues.
It is definitely necessary to take precautions against allergies, especially because spring is the perfect time to sit outside on campus. The grass is green, the trees are blooming, and everyone enjoys the weather by reading and writing outdoors. During the afternoon you can see students scattered across the lawns in the center of campus enjoying the weather. In order to enjoy and take part in these activities, allergies need to be under control.
Having been through four years of finals (eight if you count high school) there are three main ways I have noticed that someone can take a final. Here are the three that I see on campus.
1) The procrastinator: This student does everything at absolutely the last minute. You see them in the library one hour before the test cramming. They are reading frantically, running around campus, and occasionally missing exams entirely. Yes, this has happened. These students sometimes stay up so late cramming, drinking coffee, and using the library until the latest possible time (2 a.m. for exam week and the week before).
2) The overly prepared student: This student barely studies. They float around exam week with a smile, sleeping in late and chatting with friends. They have studied for the entire semester, and done all of the homework ahead of time. There is no catching up or falling behind with this student. Their exam grades are perfect and they are often the first out of the exam because they know all the answers by heart.
3) The “average” student: This student has done most of their work for the semester. They go to the library to study for their exams, but it does not take very long, only a couple of hours. There are a few exams they feel a bit stressed for, and they are a bit frantic, but overall they maintain a positive attitude through the week.
Luckily for me, I fall into the second category. I have almost no work this finals week, and I am able to relax. What a great feeling!
This week we are presenting our Sociology final presentations for our capstone class. I am incredibly nervous, but also excited. The Sociology department works very hard to produce good research. In fact, last semester, we had to walk around randomly surveying the entire school. The process took several weeks, but it was worthwhile because Sociology posters have some of the most representative information on campus.
The posters are set up in the main campus building, and there is a formal presentation for an hour later today. Everyone’s research is about there interest, and varies from drinking, to studying, to marriage. My specific topic is about the relationship between ethnocentrism and homophobia.
The presentations are usually a lot of fun. People come and ask questions while eating delicious crab dip. It is incredible to think that I am finally wrapping up my entire experience for my major. I worked on this project for the entire semester, and I am proud to present my work this afternoon. The Sociology projects are hard work, but it is worthwhile. Now I have a great thing to show my potential employers, and also a final product from my time as a Sociology major.
This week is the last week of classes. It is hard coming to terms with the fact that it is my last week as an undergraduate. Yesterday I had my last Monday! This is partially exciting, because Mondays are always difficult, but it still feels crazy to imagine that in a few short weeks I will no longer be a student. I’ve been a student for my entire life! At least as far back as I can remember.
People here are getting ready to take off for home or summer jobs, but it definitely feels different knowing I will be saying goodbye forever. Westminster is a nice college town but I doubt I will ever be back in the area again. This makes conversations with friends sort of sad, knowing that it may be the last time I ever see them.
It reminds me of when I was in high school. I went to a boarding school and formed strong connections with my peers through living with them. Despite these connections, we did not really keep in touch once I graduated. I know that as soon as I establish a new life and a new home that the memories and relationships I have from college will disappear. Mostly I am okay with that, I still look back fondly on my high school experience and think that I will feel the same way about college. It’s a scary time here at school, but I am ready to say my last goodbyes to this week of class and move on to the next chapter of my life.
Something that happens during the last weeks of the spring are the senior seminar presentations. This is the time when seniors start presenting on what they have been working on all semester, or sometimes all year, for their capstones. Seniors are making Facebook events and inviting friends to see the culmination of all of their hard work. What I love about this time is being able to share in the accomplishments of my peers. What I hate is having to struggle to put on my own capstone presentation. Many people don’t know what goes into a capstone project, and that is because it is different for every major. I have attended several different types, and will also be presenting my own. Here are what some majors do.
Sociology: As a Sociology major I am well aware of what effort I have put into my research. Last semester I completed a paper, and this semester I spent an entire class making a poster. This may sound easy, but it took the entire semester to get it right. I was working on it constantly to be able to convey to an audience in just a few short sentences what I researched and what it meant. These posters are then displayed for the school to see. People generally enjoy stopping by because all of the data came from the student body. The research quite literally is about the students.
English: English hosts their senior presentations, appropriately, in the fancy room in the library. It is there, tucked away on the third floor, that students talk about literature for twenty minutes, and the twenty some odd page papers they wrote this semester. Recently I listened to a presentation about how war trauma is represented in The Things They Carried.
Communications: This presentation, at least the qualitative one, was done in our auditorium where they frequently play movies. Students discussed qualitative research they did on various aspects of communication, including how RAs on campus negotiate relationships and how technology is changing interaction in restaurants. The nice thing about these presentations was I felt they were very relatable to Sociology, because they also frequently studied the college campus.
All in all I have been impressed with the quality of what I have seen from my friends. I am excited to finish my presentation, and also to see those who majored in film present (videopalooza I think it’s called). There is nothing like ending the year not only completing my own project but being able to support my friends as well.
At McDaniel there are a bunch of different ways to show off your academic skills. There are a variety of forms of “honors” and over the years I have accomplished a few.
1) Phi Beta Kappa – This is the most well known honors society. It is a national society that has existed for hundreds of years, and McDaniel has its own chapter. It is probably the most prestigious, only accepting the top 7% of the senior class and the top 1% of the junior class. I was admitted this (senior) year.
2) Honors in the major. This signifies that you have achieved a good GPA in your major, but also requires completing a project on top of what a normal major does. For Sociology, I completed a research paper (guided by a professor) on top of the general course requirements to graduate. This was fun, but definitely takes up a lot of time considering all that happens is a note on your diploma that you graduated with honors.
3) Honors program! This is a four year commitment to taking honors classes (only for those in the program) and keeping a certain GPA. It comes with housing benefits, class registration benefits, library benefits, and the joys of interacting with the top students in the school. We just had a senior banquet to honor those who made it through the four years, and it was survivor themed. During the banquet we bonded, shared in our accomplishments, and generally rejoiced that we had, in fact, survived the extra coursework and GPA requirements.
4) Honors societies (other). There are loads of other honors societies on top of the ones I mentioned previously. For instance I am also in one for Sociology majors, and was invited to be in one for people studying social science. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate academic excellence.
As a senior it is all well and good if you plan to go to graduate school. Many of my friends are getting acceptances from law school, physical therapy school, you name it. These are the folk everyone else envies as we try to find jobs and internships.
Senior year is overwhelming as it is. With the course load and the final capstone classes there is plenty of work. On top of that, searching for jobs seems daunting and nearly impossible. Many people still have no idea what they will be doing after graduation. I, however, have found a job.
I am not going to school (yet, anyway) but I managed to find a job. There is an easy way to juggle this task into a busy schedule. How did I do this?
Step one: Create a cover letter – this can be modified to work for almost any job you apply for and therefor makes it very easy.
Step two: Make an awesome resume. Almost every job I get interviewed for picked me because of my resume.
Step three: Find a good reliable site for job searches that makes it easy to find what you like. I use idealist.org. Every morning before class spend twenty minutes applying for jobs.
Step four: Ace the interview… and you’re in!
Amazing as it sounds while my other friends are job hunting I have applied and gotten several interviews and had several job offers. I will be leaving to teach in West Africa this July. Job searching is overwhelming, but it’s possible!
Spring has sprung and fling has flung… wait what am I talking about? Spring Fling! Every year we celebrate spring with a day of fun and joyous partying. It is lovely. I like to think of it as a last day off before I buckle down and do some hard work. It’s a great way to relax and spend time with friends before the craziness of finals week starts.
So what does spring fling entail exactly? It is outside in the grass between two dorm buildings. There they set up giant inflatable games and toys. It is basically like a giant free carnival. This year they had a free photography stand where you could get your picture taken with friends and have it put inside of a little ship decoration.
If this doesn’t sound fun enough, there was also music, food, and plenty of dancing. On top of that there were free tie-dyed shirts! Everyone goes outside for spring fling (there was a rain location, but thank goodness yesterday was a nice day). It is a fun way to see friends and have a good time before getting shut indoors to work on final papers and projects. I can’t believe my last spring fling is over!
This weekend and last weekend I helped out with something called admitted students day. This is a day when people who were admitted to the college can come get tours, visit with departments, and generally see what the school is all about before making their final decisions. I worked at the study abroad table promoting international travel to the students.
The event made me feel old. One student even thought I was someone who had already graduated. It was strange to think that four short years ago I was in that position, and now I am about to graduate. The nice thing about this event was being able to describe to everyone why McDaniel was a great place for me to attend, and all of the amazing places I was able to go while studying here. It was also fantastic to see students who decided to deposit meeting their future classmates.
Even though I enjoyed describing the school to students and promoting study abroad, it made me a bit sad and nostalgic. Soon I will be leaving this place and these are the students who will be replacing me. They will be going on study abroad programs while my study abroad program has long since ended. While scary, it is nice to know that for some people, I already look like an adult. Perhaps this is a sign that McDaniel really has made me ready to take on the real world. I hope my confidence in the school preparing me for life was shared with others, and that some of them decided to come here and take the same opportunities I have used to travel to different countries.
Once, four years ago, I was an admitted student making these tough decisions. Now I am making decisions about where to go next. It was refreshing to see the new faces of students and a nice reminder of how McDaniel has shaped me over the years. Seeing these students was scary, but a reminder of how far I have come since then, and I have all of my experiences here to thank for that. I can’t wait to go out into the real world and for the class of 2017 to start their time here. 40 days left!
As college students we try to keep up with what is going on in the world. This weekend there was a solar flare that made a rare opportunity for people to possibly see the Northern Lights. Since nothing else was going on, my friends and I decided to try and see them (despite the fact that it was predicted to happen later in the evening, around 1 a.m.)
Since there is plenty of light pollution from the college, a few friends and I piled into the car and headed out to the country. In Westminster there is plenty of country to go around, I know several people who own multiple horses and live on large farms. After about a ten minute drive we got out of the car somewhere near a bunch of fields, and we could see many more stars.
Although we did not get to see the Northern Lights, it was definitely worth the trip to go star gazing. Aside from the golf course there are not many places to see this many stars on campus. We found the big dipper and generally had a fantastic time looking at the sky without the light pollution. After about twenty minutes hanging out we all decided to go back home since it was cold, but it was a gorgeous twenty minutes. The nice thing about living with friends is that there are always opportunities to go on adventures, and last night was a beautiful one even if we didn’t see what we were looking for.