Good Tidings

Well, we made it! The semester is finally coming to an end. I say finally because this has been a rough one for me. It has been a semester of hard work, determination, planning and making big decisions. I joined Phi Sigma Sigma, worked through a history class that was extremely uninteresting to me and even pulled out a decent grade in a public speaking class!

I’ve officially attended the last full week of classes, finished last minute assignments (most of which were papers), and managed to find time to study for finals… with one extra bump in the road: packing my entire room to move out! As mentioned in a previous blog, I will be spending next semester in Philadelphia, so I’ve been trying to tie up ends for when I return to Alma next fall term.

I am one of the more fortunate Alma students, as I only had one final, and it was at the very first time slot for finals, 9 a.m. this morning. That means I’m packed up and ready to go back home, so this is my final blog for the term.

As much as I am looking forward to Philadelphia, I am going to be sad leaving the bubble. I’m going to miss everyone and everything very much. I am looking forward to some changes that will take place while I’m gone, though, especially the SAGA renovation! In the meantime, I hope to check in, blog and keep you all updated from Philadelphia.

I want to wish everyone good luck getting through finals. You can all do it! We’re Scots, and we don’t give up!

Also, I sincerely hope that everyone has a fantastic Christmas break and gets some time for rest and recuperation. After a whole semester of working so hard, we deserve a few weeks to sleep in, eat delicious treats and spend some time with family and friends. It’s three weeks with no deadlines, assignments, or late-night cram sessions, so take advantage of it. Before you know it, it will be January, and you will be back on campus!

Merry Christmas, and Happy End of the Term!

DIY Christmas, Alma Style!

Alma coasters!

Looking for a unique and personalized Christmas gift, or a great coffee table conversation piece? Making coasters is pretty simple, even for those of you who may be craft challenged. I gave this craft an Alma touch, and if you so desire, you can, too!

What you need:

  • 4-inch tiles (one per coaster.) They sell for roughly $.10 each at hardware stores.
  • Mod Podge. You can find this just about anywhere that sells craft glues.
  • Photos of your choice. I printed mine in color on standard computer paper.
  • A sheet of felt, foam or cork for the bottom of the coasters.
  • Polyurethane, also found near the craft glues section.
  • Glue gun
  • Sponge paintbrush
  • Ruler and scissors

Step 1: Choose and Print Your Photos
You need one photo that looks good when cropped and cut approximately 4″x 4″ for each coaster. You can use a regular 4×6″ photo or a printed photo from your computer. You don’t have to use photo paper for this craft, though, because Mod Podge will give it a nice, glossy finish.

Optional: Get creative! If you have a photo editing program, you can add borders or text. To do this, crop the photo just slightly smaller than the top of the tile. Double check your measurements, as different tiles could be slightly different in measurement. When you are happy with the way it looks, flatten the layers, and it is ready for print!

Download the images that I used. (Right-click your mouse or hover over the image until you get a menu that allows you to save the image. Each image is 1200×1200 ppi.)
Remick Heritage Center Dunning Memorial Chapel Bahlke Gate McIntyre Mall

Step 2: Cut Your Photos
Measure, then cut your photos into a perfect square. You can use the top of the tile as a template, or you can measure. It is up to you, but be precise! You don’t want the photo to be uneven on the tile.

Step 3: Apply Base Layer of Mod Podge and Attach Photo
Spread a thin and even layer of Mod Podge onto the top of your tile using your sponge paintbrush. Place your photo on the tile, being careful to center it. Once you have it placed, smooth the photo, pushing down all the edges and making sure that no air bubbles get trapped.

Step 4: Apply Top Coats of Mod Podge
Once your image is attached to the tile, coat the top of it in Mod Podge. The key here is smooth, even layers. Also be sure to cover the edges of the tile in Mod Podge, so the the corners won’t peel. Allow the Mod Podge to dry, and then add a second coat. Mod Podge dries pretty quickly, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long!

Step 5: Polyurethane
Do this step outside or in a well-ventilated area. You’ll thank me later! Like the Mod Podge, the key to polyurethane is to apply a couple of thin coats, allowing it to dry between coats.

Step 6: Attach the Bottom Cushion
Tiles can be rough, so I applied some cork to mine to stop them from potentially scratching on furniture. You also could use foam or felt. Simply cut a square from your material for each coaster, and apply your glue to it. Attach it to the coaster.

Step 7: Enjoy!
You’re finished! Sit back and enjoy your new coasters, or package them up for someone else to enjoy. Scots, this would be a great gift for your parents this Christmas!

Ta-da!

Note: This project also can be done with decorative napkins, invitations, ticket stubs, and pretty much anything else you would like on a coaster. The options are endless. If you make a set this Christmas, be sure to tweet #AlmaDIY, or post a picture on the Alma College Facebook page!

Aiming High

“From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.”

Sororities are nothing like you see in movies and on reality TV shows, at least not here at Alma. At our house, it wouldn’t be unusual to see a bunch of sisters sitting around doing homework, crafting in the living room, or watching movies together. On occasion, you may even catch us hanging out in a blanket fort! Or dressing up as hipster Disney princesses.

This past week, Phi Sigma Sigma did reveals, and I learned that Kayla Roy ’14 is my Sapphire Sister! That means I am a member of the Lilac family, which goes back many years. Along with the rest of my sisters, this provides me with connections all over the country. I have “family” members in Georgia, Texas and even Canada!

And then there are the gifts… lots and lots of them. I could never thank you enough, Kayla! I received a whole drawer full of clothing, awesome crafts, and the most beautiful tie-blanket I have ever seen. It was overwhelming in the best way possible. My room is officially Phi Sig-afied!

After finding out our families and successfully making it through the New Member period, eight of us were initiated as full members of Phi Sigma Sigma. It was an amazing night, and I am so proud. LITP!

What’s next? This Saturday, we head to Saginaw Valley State University for All State Day. Phi Sigma Sigma sisters from Michigan chapters come together for a day of conferences, lessons, and bonding. I am very excited to meet even more girls with similar goals and values.

Even though I have only been a part of Phi Sig for a short while, I can already tell how many opportunities it is going to bring me. When I am in Philadelphia, I hope to hook up with Alma alumni and also some Phi Sigs in the area and see what kinds of connections that I can make.

On that note, I would like to encourage everyone to attend some pre-recruitment events between now and Christmas break. When we get back from break, it will only be a short while before Winter Recruitment 2013! (And freshmen, you can go through recruitment this time.) I hope that other girls will have the same great time that I did during recruitment and find a place to call “home.”

Big News, Big City!

As I was looking at my planner this morning, I realized that I only have four more weeks at Alma until next September. Why, you ask? I was accepted into The Philadelphia Center, an off-campus education program, for this winter term. Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime! From January through May, I will take two classes once a week relevant to my field while working 32 hours a week with a company of my choice.

Here’s how it works: When we arrive in Philly, we are put up in a hotel room for a few days. We go on walking tours of the city, learn about the different neighborhoods and then start looking for housing. We can choose from many different living arrangements: houses, apartments, and brownstones. We are responsible for figuring out rent, utilities and furniture rental, although TPC will assist if need be.

After we polish our resumés and cover letters, we look through a list of 80 companies and plan and conduct interviews. If a job offer comes back, then we begin working! While I plan to work 32 hours a week with one company, working 16 hours a week at two different companies also is an option. Either way, each student is guaranteed an internship within the first few weeks. I want to work in Marketing/PR/Social Media, but the program has internships in all sorts of majors and careers.

Work and classes aside, our weekends are free. I hope to take some day/weekend trips to New York City, D.C. and New Jersey. One specific place I hope to visit is Carlo’s Bakery, home of Cake Boss, in Hoboken! My best friend, Ashley, also was accepted into the program, so I am sure we will find lots of fun things to do on the weekends!

Overall, I think this will be a really great experience. I am, very nervous about it, but I know that it will be a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow as a professional, which is essential in the business world. Given our current economic climate, everyone needs something to make them stand out. Working in the professional world at only 19 years old sounds pretty good to me!

A Day in the Life

Alma students amaze me. Somehow we can take a 16-hour day and make it seem like 30 hours. We are always on the go. Mornings start early and nights blend into the following day around here, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Take a look at what I have planned for today:

7:30 am: Wake up. Press snooze.
7:45: Snooze again.
8:00: Snooze yet again. All chances of showering and looking nice before class go out the window at this point.
8:15: Turn off alarm, roll over and grab computer. Waste time on Facebook while straightening my hair.
8:45: Quickly get dressed. Throw my books into my bag, and check to make sure that I have all my homework. Make cup of coffee.
9:15: As I hurry out the door, my lovely hall mate, Ashley, comes in for a cup of hot cocoa. My Keurig coffee pot struggles and dumps water all over. Of course.
9:29: Run, and make it to class just before the professor.
9:30: Human Communication class.
10:30: History class. Receive bad exam score. Ouch.
11:30: Check in with Admissions and find out that I do not have a tour.
Noon: Lunch, SAGA Healthy Food Day!!!
12:30 pm: Open my email to find out that I was accepted by my internship program. (MORE ON THIS NEXT WEEK!) Print papers for English. Make another cup of coffee.
1:15: Work at Communication and Marketing.
2:30: Creative Writing class.
4:00: Practice speech for later.
5:00: Dinner.
6:30: Speech Communication class. Give speech.
8:00: Homework and studying while trying to find time to do something Halloween related! Another cup of coffee. :)
10:00: Alpha Phi Omega business meeting.
11:00: Unwind and catch up with hall mates. Spend some time knitting!
12:30: More homework and studying. Watch some TV.
1:30 am: Finally in bed for the night. Alarm set for 7 am. Work on Thursdays begins at 8 am.

Exhausting, huh? Don’t let it scare you. There are so many great things to do at Alma, so some of us join as much as we can handle in a day—and sometimes even a little bit more than that!

If being this involved is not for you, that’s fine, too! Life at Alma is what you make it. You can work four jobs, get involved in multiple organizations and be busier than you could ever have imagined, or you can take 18 credits, do your homework and be all set. The choice is yours to do with as you please! Just know you have a lot of choices here.

October in Alma

Midterms were this past week here at Alma College. We call it “Warp Week,” which means that Monday is treated like a Wednesday, and the rest of the week follows suit. For some students, it also meant lots of exams and papers; for others, not so much. For all students, though, it meant a four-day weekend!

Many students hung around campus while others headed home or went off on Alternative Breaks, which are service-based trips. I headed home for family time with a side of sleeping in, being lazy and not having to do homework. Only the family time happened. I had the busiest break ever. Between shopping, going places with my family, shopping some more and trying to find some time to squeeze in the bundles of homework, I barely had time to stop. I fell asleep during the one movie I tried to watch – Hocus Pocus!

Every morning I was up by 8, doing laundry or getting going with my day. I felt even busier than when I am at school! However, now that I am back on campus, I am very thankful to have had a break. It was nice to get off campus for a few days, see everyone at home and get some stuff done that really needed to be done.

Now, the countdown to Christmas break is on. Final paper assignments are being handed out, students are receiving midterm grades, and professors are switching up the syllabus to catch slack or make sure they are on track. Before we know it, the holidays will be here. We can do it, Scots!

Just a reminder: Wednesday the 24th is Food Day, and local farmers will host a mini-Farmer’s Market in McIntyre Mall. Also, Fall Festival in downtown Alma is on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. Be sure to check out these events! They are a perfect break from studying and classes.

Falling into Fall

I feel like just a few days ago, we were all moving back onto campus, reconnecting with friends and starting classes. Now, before we know it, we’re studying for midterms! Next week marks the middle of the semester and halfway to Christmas break. The days flew by just like the leaves have been flying off the trees.

Campus is beautiful this time of year: golds, reds and yellows everywhere. Squirrels are running around collecting food to store up for the winter – which they may be smart to do because it seems that winter is coming in with a vengeance this year. I can’t remember any other year where we had a freeze warning and temperatures in the 20s during the first week in October.

Alma College students were not prepared for this change. Many were walking around campus in shorts, t-shirts and even sandals as the temperatures started dropping into the 40s and 50s far earlier than expected. I, personally, had to meet my family halfway from home for them to bring me winter clothes. I guess it’s fair to say it is Michigan, and you never know what kind of weather you are going to get!

Along with this crazy weather comes some exciting events. Following midterms is fall break, a four-day weekend for us to go home and relax. On October 25, the city of Alma is hosting its Fall Festival. If you have time, you should definitely check it out! It is a good way to see what businesses are located downtown, meet lots of awesome people, and maybe win a prize! For every $5 you spend at a business downtown that night, you will receive one raffle ticket. Prizes include cash, a bike, and dinner for two at Francesco’s Italian Bistro in St. Louis.

We also have two more home football games for this season: October 20th vs. Albion College and November 3rd vs. Kalamazoo College, both at 1 pm. Bring a blanket and some hot cocoa while you cheer on the Scots!

Whatever it is that you decide to do for fun these next few weeks, be sure to enjoy them.  Don’t spend all day, every day locked up in your room doing homework. Before you know it, Christmas break will be here, and you’ll be bummed you missed out on so much!

Sisters Are Forever

After I woke up yesterday, I waited until noon to find out if I had gotten a bid. If you don’t get any bids, you receive a phone call letting you know. I refused to look at my phone until after noon and saw that I didn’t get a call. I figured the rest of the night would be pure excitement.

Not quite.

Around 6:30, I finished dinner and had less than two hours until I knew my fate. The nerves set in. Big time. I got together with a friend, and we passed the time by pacing around my hall, visiting the hall director’s dog, and listening to obnoxious music to clear our minds.

What if the only bid I get is from somewhere I don’t want? What If I get two bids I really like and cannot chose between them? What if I cry? What if I trip and fall while running out? Scary thoughts.

When the time finally came, we all went to Dow and received our bids. As much as I really appreciated the other bids I got, I had no doubt about what I wanted to do. I knew where I would fit. After everyone made their decisions, we headed to the Rec.

When we entered the Rec, we saw hundreds of people all standing around singing, dancing and waiting… for us. I panicked for a second before going into a side room and learning who else signed the same sororities.

Then it was the moment of truth. We went onto the floor, and one by one went up to the microphone and made announcements that would forever change our lives. My announcement went something like this…

“I’m Cailee, and I’m going PHI SIG!!!!!!!!!”

Aim High!

From that moment on, my night was full of hugging and meeting the sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma and hearing my two new favorite words, “Welcome Home!” It is the absolute best feeling in the world: Being surrounded by people who are so much like you and so excited to meet you. I’m pretty sure I’m still on cloud 9… or maybe even 10.

I am so confident and happy with the choice that I made. I cannot wait to really be accepted as a sister and to get to know each and every one of these girls on a more personal level!

Decisions, Decisions

Last year as a freshman, I wrote a blog about Greek recruitment on Alma College’s campus. At that time, I was watching from the outside and trying to get a feel for Greek life. This time, I am writing from a different perspective: I am going through recruitment!

Before the actual day of recruitment, each house has pre-recruitment events that allow non-Greeks to meet the sisters and see the houses. During winter term, I went to Alpha Gamma Delta’s dinosaur egg (Easter-themed) event. We watched The Land Before Time, dyed eggs, and ate dinosaur-shaped chicken and other yummy snacks.

I also attended three other events this fall: Gamma Phi-Esta, Alpha Gamma Delta’s Death by Chocolate, and Bye-Bye Summer Bash with Phi Sig. I met new friends, played Catch Phrase, ate awesome food and had a great time! These events swayed me to go through recruitment.

So what happens next?

This week, all girls interested in recruitment have to do “list-signing,” which is exactly what it sounds like: You sign a list saying that you are interested.

On Saturday, we go from house to house, continue getting to know everyone and decide which sorority we see ourselves fitting with best.

Tuesday night, we receive our “bids,” which essentially are the names of the sororities that saw us as a good fit to join their sisterhood.

From there, we have some time to think through the bids and then… the big announcement! Stay tuned for a follow-up blog on the rest of my recruitment process, and find out if I decided to go through with it.

Take Time to Notice

Lately I’ve noticed changes: Changes around campus, changes in my life, and changes in the lives of other Scots.

This morning, while working in the SAC computer lab, I noticed a boy reading his private text messages from his girlfriend out loud to his friends, and I immediately felt for her. I knew he did not deserve her. I also noticed we had a new stapler.

At lunch, I noticed that SAGA needs more of the tables that seat two or three people. Seeing just a few people take up an entire table for eight is frustrating.

At work this afternoon, I noticed that my co-worker knew someone from back home who is very special to me. This reminded me that even in Alma, two hours from home, I’m really not that far away from home at all.

I also noticed how quickly rain can come and go: I watched a student run and duck from the rain, and momentarily later, I watched someone take their time outside as they enjoyed the warm sun.

I also noticed that I fidget with my shoes a lot when I am sitting in one place for a long time. And that students carry some interesting things around with them on campus. Today alone, I have seen a stuffed polar bear, a scooter on someone’s shoulder, a statue of a bird, and a cooler. Who takes a cooler to class with them? It’s a lecture, not a tailgate.

As Dr. William Palmer, my English professor, reminded us in class: Moments pass us by every day, so sit down, relax and take notice. Sometimes we need a second in our busy schedules (I worked 10 hours today!) to embrace, analyze and enjoy changes, whether it’s something as small as noticing that the grass has grown throughout the roped-off areas (and maybe it is time to start taking the roping away!) to something as big and life changing as potential internship opportunities and career ideas.

There is so much going on around campus that you could never possibly notice it all, but you sure can try.  You might be surprised with what you realize.