Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Experiential Learning Day 2015

Today, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 was Experiential Learning Day (ELD) here at Albertus Magnus College. I attended five panels, participated in two Art Therapy Graduate research projects, and had the honor of lunching with Professor Kendrick and Dr. Bourgeois.

The first panel I attended talked about the differences between the education systems in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. My friend, Kirsty, is here in America, from Belfast, studying business. Back home, she is a math major, but here she chose to tackle business. What I learned about their education system, I found extremely fascinating. For example, in the UK, students are expected to know what they want to do by the age of 16. You will either go into College, which is like trade school, or you attend University, which is where you would study in your chosen field: math, in Kirsty’s case. I thought that was crazy! To be expected to know what you want to do in life, by the age of 16, seems insane to me!

The second panel I attended was all about Japan, its population crisis, and how the world forced its way back into Japanese affairs. My friend, Ben, was the speaker. He is a Global Studies major and right now he is writing his thesis paper on Japan and different aspects of it. I really hope that he lets us read the paper before we graduate.

By 10 o’clock, Ben’s panel was finished and my friends and I picked up our belongings and hustled over to Aquinas, room G9, to go and listen to our friend, Matthew, talk about New Haven’s ex-utopian status. At 10:30 AM, we were high-tailing it back over to the Tagliatela Academic Center for Emili’s talk. During the fall semester, Emili had written this amazing research paper discussing the uses of Virtual Reality and its potential downfalls. It really does get you thinking about all the technology we use during the day. Why do we use it? Do we need all of it? How do we feel when we use it? Don’t use it? It is quite the hot topic right now, especially in regards to children, early development stages and the effect that technology has on children.

Have you ever noticed that children are no longer satisfied with just the attention of their parents or with the interactions with toys? How much attention does a child really need? Is it the instant reaction time of a smart-device that they seek?

Does human contact still matter?
I have been asking myself questions like these all day long.

The final panel that I attended for the day was focusing on Punk Rock. Where has the punk rock genre gone to? Is it gone or is it just slowly re-emerging? Who are the key punk bands currently? What issues are they targeting and protesting? My friend Sam is working on an independent film project. Her goal is to define punk for herself and possible on an international level. It brings up awesome questions of feminism/anti-feminism, war promoters/rejecters, and civil rights questions. 

What is right? What is punk? Ah…that is the question.

During the lunch hour, I had the pleasure of discussing the definition of a “young adult” in terms of literature. Professor Kendrick is a sociologist and studying people, behaviors, and classifying them is a big part of it. I was telling her about my dreams of becoming a writer, and when she asked me what kind of writing I do, I replied, “Mostly fiction, short and longer works. I am currently working on a novel.” We got into talking about the use of the phrase “Young Adult (YA) literature”. It really is a fascinating time to be a writer because the genre classifications we know and love could very well change right before our eyes. Students are not on the same reading levels as others simply because of circumstances out of their control. I feel that the YA age bracket could change drastically, based on how kids are educated; but, this is merely my opinion and thoughts I had today. I do not know if they truly fit together, but they are mine and I will continue to work on them.

I almost wish that I had to write a thesis paper for my major.

Oh well…

Monday, March 23, 2015

But who's counting?

There are approximately 53 days left to my time here at Albertus Magnus College, this institution of higher education. My to-do lists are getting longer and the time frame in which I have to complete all of the these tasks is getting shorter.

This past Saturday, the Breakwater committee met and in four hours, we had picked all of the poems, photos, and short prose pieces that will be published in Breakwater this year. 
This is an exciting time for me because this is my chance to really play the role of Editor. My Co-Editor and I make hard and fast decisions about layout, formatting, fonts, font size, and the order in which Breakwater is put together. I am proud to say that this year I have a poem and a short prose piece being published in the magazine. “Just Like Breathing” has also been entered into a writing contest held by the Room of Her Own Foundation’s Short Fiction section. I am still waiting to hear back from them. I can’t help but feel these knots in my stomach every time I think about the contest. 

In fifty-three days, my room will be packed up, and I will walk across a stage after earning my diploma, four years in the making. I am trying my hardest to stay on top of my school work and bask in the glory of being a senior, but sometimes it is difficult to concentrate. Operation Finish Line is about to go into action. In this plan, I organize job prospects (already in the research and organization process); I map out assignment deadlines, final exam dates, and important graduation dates. My criminal justice final is on April 18. Once that class is completed, I will have one less course to stress about. I only have one real final and I think I can handle it. As long as I stay on top of my grades from now until final’s time, I should be fine. 

Right now, I am taking school one day at a time. Tonight, I am taking my senior yearbook photo and I have work in the pub until 11. Tomorrow I will tackle Breakwater stuff.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On a more serious note...

Lately I have been feeling a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I have all of these impending assignments that are coming due, and I have midterms next week. I am kind of freaking out!

I received good news in my Heaven and Hell class with Dr. Imholt. He gave me an A- on my first paper! That is really amazing because his classes are way outside my comfort zone, but at least I am a good writer, so that helps the cause. This first paper is part of a greater semester project/paper in which we will build our own Utopian society. It won't be perfect, but it's a Utopia...nothing is actually perfect.

Sometimes, with all of my RA duties, my hours in the pub, the time I spend working on Breakwater, and the nights I spend tossing and turning in bed, I start to get overwhelmed. This week has been a little more overwhelming for me, but I just have to remember that there are so many people I can talk to in times like these: friends, family, and co-workers. Then, I got to thinking that maybe some of my fellow students were experiencing the same types of stress...or worse, and that maybe I should provide some helpful resources.

First, the school has a link to Counseling services at Southern Connecticut State University that Albertus students can utilize for free. You can talk to them about anything that is stressing you out and affecting your well-being. All you need to do is call them and one of their representatives will either come to Albertus or you can visit their center at SCSU. 
Then there is Deacon John Hoffman, in Campus Ministry

here at Albertus. He is a confidential resource in case you feel like talking to a stranger is weird or if you feel a family member would not understand or would judge you. Lastly, there is Elizabeth Magenheimer in Health Services. She is another resource here on campus that students can go to if they need to talk or if they need information about other health issues. You can talk to anyone in student services as well. Resident Assistants are also excellent resources, even if you just need someone that will listen to you about  a problem you are having in a class or with a friend. Talk to people. Let them help you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 5: Lent Edition

When I was younger, I never believed in giving up something for Lent. I just did not see the point to it because, why should I sacrifice something that I love? Well, for the second year in a row, I have sacrificed something I love: meat. I have not eaten any meat products at any meal in 5 days now. I am kind of proud of myself because I have been eating so many more vegetables than I was before. Today at dinner, I had a salad made of romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, sliced cucumbers, shredded cheese, and buttermilk ranch dressing. Actually, I have been eating that for the past three days. 

I do not always make it to Breakfast, but I have these protein shakes in my room. Bolthouse makes these delicious shakes. My favorite one is the chocolate shake, of course, but they are super good for you. I also love this one shake that is mostly red fruits...except for the banana component. They are meant to be used as a meal replacement, not as a drink you have with a meal. I have one in my fridge that is made of mostly green vegetables, but I have not been brave enough to try it yet. 

I have also been making a better effort to get to the gym in the mornings. I have a routine, but the snow has really, really messed it up. I try my best to go at 7:30 for at least three mornings a week. Sometimes, it just feels really great to sweat and guzzle water and sweat some more. My arms and legs have been getting stronger lately. I go on the eliptical for 10-15 minutes and then I use the circuit machines for 2 sets each. It has been really hard. School and the RA schedule has been rough. Most mornings my alarm goes off and I just get up and turn it off. Back to sleepy land. People tell me that it takes 21 days to develop a routine, and I am determined to develop mine. When I get back home, my sister and I are going to do Tae Bo in the basement. I am so uncoordinated, but I have a lot of fun just exercising and hanging out with my sister. I can't wait for Spring break!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Falcon for a Day!

Today, I got to do something that I have not done in a very, very long time.

Okay...four years...but who's counting?

I was invited to come and join the potential new freshman class at the Falcon for a Day event hosted by the admissions office. This is the day where the accepted students get to come in, tour the school, and participate in some fun events in order to get acclimated to the school itself. Since I am a pub bartender, I offered up my afternoon to work the pub so that our guests could get sodas and snacks; it was all free, courtesy of admissions!

It was  a lot of fun for me because the last Falcon for a Day event that I was at was my own, back in February of 2011. I remember that day very well. Aunt Mary Anne, Mommy and I all piled into the car for a final look at Albertus Magnus College. I was just a timid, little high school senior, still hiding behind her mommy as we toured the school grounds and asked any final questions I may have had before deciding on my destiny. 

It's funny to think of your next four years in college as a destiny you decide on, but if you really think about it, sometimes it is. I know that I would not have succeeded the way I have in any other college besides Albertus Magnus. I was destined to be here. 

I remember how scared I was after the opening remarks. Mommy and Aunt Mary Anne left me here at school, and I was left to mix and mingle with the other accepted students. We walked along every path on campus, explored a few of the dorms and saw how the then RA's lived in McAuliffe, and then we walked back down to the Pub area to play some trivia. My team won! I was escorted to the bookstore and that's the day I came home with my first piece of Albertus Magnus College attire. We were each allowed to pick one thing from the bookstore, within a certain price limit, and I selected a lovely, royal blue fleece jacket. I wore it constantly that year. It became my good luck charm in a way. That fleece jacket was only the beginning. Now, I have a whole Albertus wardrobe!

I was nervous, my palms were sweating, and I barely spoke two words to anyone because I was afraid they would not like me. It was a lovely day though because I had the chance to sort of get-to-know current students. They were so nice to me; they made me feel so welcome. That's how Albertus feels, welcoming. There are certain spots on this campus that feel like home to me, and no matter how happy I am to be graduating in May, I will always miss this place because for four years, it has been my home. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Does Everybody Really Love Raymond?

For the last two weeks, I have been using much of my free time to re-watch Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix. It has been a very revealing experience for me because I pick up on different aspects of Raymond Barone’s character that are just so male-typical. As a child, I would watch this show with my family, and I would laugh at the jokes and at some of the things that the members of the Barone family said and did. Now, I have begun to realize that this show highlights the difficulties of close-knit families, the chauvinistic ideals of married men or men in general, and I discovered how much Everybody Loves Raymond tends to annoy me.

During some flashbacks, you see how exciting the prospect of having Ray’s family so close seemed at the beginning of their marriage. After a few years, it no longer seems ideal because that’s when the lines are crossed and boundaries are invisible. Marie Barone (the mother) constantly barges into Ray and Debra’s home and instructs her on how to handle the kids, clean the house, cook her food, do the laundry, etc. Marie believes she is giving constructive criticisms, but often she just offers criticisms. It goes along with that old saying “Mother knows best”. Sometimes while I am watching it, I wish that Ray would stand up to his mother and tell her off, tell her she is being intrusive; but, he never would because he is the eternal Mama’s Boy. He lived at home until he was 30 years old and getting ready to marry Debra. That should have been a clue for her right there.


*Note: Do not marry a man who is still living with his mommy and daddy at 30 years old. It does not end well.

As a child, I thought it was funny how close he was to his mother and how she honestly believed that he could do no wrong, but now I see how she neglects Robert and just refuses to see that Raymond is actually not the best of the two. 

Something that really gets to me about the show, now that I know better, is the obvious fact that the men in the Barone family view women as their slaves. Women are meant to do two things: cook and clean, and maybe a bit of the unspoken third "obligation". It is disgusting to me now, but as a child, my siblings and I would run around the house repeating some of the demanding, scripted lines of Frank and Raymond. 

"That's what a woman should smell like: lemon pledge and meat sauce" provides the idea to society that women only have two places in this world, but the show offers two women, who are wives in two very different times, but come together and learn from one another. Debra sees that Ray is just taking advantage of her as the new nurturer in his world. His mom is no longer living with him, but she did everything from cook him breakfast to dress him for his wedding day, and he wants that again. Luckily, Debra is a smart, feminist and she sees right through his "I need my mommy" facade. Marie is the matriarch of the family and she lived through a time where women were just housewives who were expected to cook, clean, and care for the children. She is happy to continue doing so, even though Raymond is now a father to his own children. She is happy to baby him and he readily accepts what he was so used to. 

It begs me to ask myself the question: Do I really love this show? Yes, it is comedic at times, but if you really take it apart and look deeper into it, then you realize just how messed up some of the characters truly are. The invasion of privacy, the critical in-laws, the mixed-up family values...
I just pray that one day this does not become my family.
It seems to me that as I mature and age that I will open my eyes a little bit wider to the world.

Mid-Semester Blues

I've got the blues...big time. 

It's that point in the semester where I start to feel drained from my schedule: classes, running Breakwater, doing Res Life stuff, working in the pub, and most importantly -- my lack of sleep.

It's turning me into a mad woman! I feel as if pretty soon, I will have the Mad Hatter and the March Hare singing un-birthday songs to me in a land with disappearing/smiling Chesire Cats and Hookah smoking caterpillars!

Thank goodness Spring Break is right around the corner. I just have to hold on until then. Spring Break means dead battery recharge. Luckily, it also means celebrating my 22nd birthday (ya-hoo) and making a little extra cash back at my internship. I could really use the money and my mom could really use the help, so it all balances out nicely. Really, I want to just sleep, but someone has to increase that very low number in my bank account. 

I am down to my last 88 days of school here at Albertus, and to be honest, I am feeling extremely overwhelmed. Sometimes I sit through my classes and I feel like I don't understand what they are talking about. My brain is shooting blanks. 

I look around to my classmates and try to find the direction I should be going in, but I am just too far behind all of them. I have to work on finding my own path in these classes. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Help!

I realized something today...well, technically yesterday. There are 101 days left until I graduate and I am terrified. All along I have just been so excited about finally finishing school and having all my hard work pay off. I forgot that I actually have to graduate. I have to wear a huge black robe and a terrible black cap that won't stay on your head without a million bobby pins and I have to shake the President's hand as I wave goodbye to school. I will say goodbye to friends and a place I have come to grow comfortable in. 

People keep asking me, "What are your plans for after graduation?"

I don't know...honestly.

There are so many jobs that I have taken a look at and they are all in so many different locations. Right now, I am looking at entry-level jobs in publishing and in film, particularly, continuity. I think it is so fascinating to watch for mistakes and make sure everything is as it should be in every single take. 

That could mean re-locating though. 

I don't know what I actually want to do; I know what fields I am interested in though. 

I am just going to apply to everything that I think I fit into and every job that sounds good. I just need something to keep the cash flow happening while I write my book. 

I started a new one, actually. I think I like this one much better because I can relate more to my character. We will see where it goes though. 

I am aiming for about 20,000 words, and, at this moment, I have about 998. 

Making progress!

I actually submitted a short story of mine to a contest. I hope I win. It would be an excellent start as a real writer. Otherwise, I will just have to keep submitting until someone says, "I like this. Let's publish it."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowy End of January

This past weekend it snowed...oh boy did it snow. Saturday was the first big gust. The picture to the left was taken on Monday morning as I was leaving Sansbury for the gym. Isn't that such an awesome picture?! The little bird sitting inside the bush just completes its beauty. 

We were snowed into our buildings. Monday, it snowed again, this time resulting in a day and a half off from classes. 

Snow days can be fun.
Snow days mean pajamas all day and never having to leave bed.
It means reading books and drinking tea.
It also means more time to get started on homework assignments that you have been shirking aside and putting off for a week. 

For me, it meant indoor workouts, tea time and finally, finally unpacking from Christmas vacation. I have been here since January 8, and I had not unpacked my bags yet. I have just been so busy with Res Life stuff and classes. It's crazy how fast the pages fly off the calendar. 

My workout regimen this weekend was a very new one this snowy weekend. On Saturday, I did Pilates and I tested out my Julianne Hough's Cardio Ballroom Dancing dvd...I surrendered to exhausted legs and pain-filled thighs. On Monday, I used my kettle bell that my mom got me for Christmas. The lady on the workout dvd is a very tough cookie. She really pushes all your limits. I think that as long as I keep up with it, it will get better over time. My schedule is really crazy this semester so it's getting harder to actually get to the gym during the week. Some days I am just way too tired to go to the gym in between classes, even if the schedule says so. 

The good news for the week is that I got a 96 on my first criminal justice quiz and I survived my first Literary Theory paper, with the help of my good friend Emili, in the Writing Center. It was the toughest paper I have had to write and it was only 1000 words. What gives?!

I am going to stay on top of my work for the rest of the semester. I have so much to look forward to in the coming months. I don't want to ruin it. Tonight, I am working in the pub. I have piles of homework and about a million emails to send out.

Everyone should come down and make a fleece blanket at 8!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stephanie Katherine Fidis: Cum Laude

That's what they will call me at graduation in May. This semester was one of my hardest ever during my time here at Albertus Magnus, and I am positive that my final semester will be its equal; it was, however, an incredibly fruitful semester. 

I received all of my final marks this morning and I have earned my Christmas vacation with a 3.9 GPA (for this semester) and all A's. I was flabbergasted...still am. If someone presented me with this report card in high school, I would have thought that someone higher up was bribed. 

All A's...
Can you believe it?!

I really want to earn Magna Cum Laude status for graduation, but my overall GPA is only a 3.5 (Cum Laude). To be a Magna I would need to have a GPA of 3.7 by graduation time. Is that even possible? Maybe I could just convince Dean O'Connell to read the Cum Laude part as he calls my name?

When I look back on my earlier school years, I realize how far I have come and how much hard work has been applied to my academics. I work harder in school than my other siblings. Homework and tests comes so easily for them. I feel much better about myself now that I am on their level a little more than I used to be.