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.

Welcome Back, Scots!

Well, first of all, I would like to say thank you for all the comments that I received on the blog over the summer. It is so nice to know that people are reading it and also that they are able to relate to it.

New dorm decorations that my roommate made

I am now back on campus and like most Alma College students, I am busier than ever. The first few weeks after a long summer aren’t easy. I have been trying to get back into the rhythm of going to bed early, getting up early and remembering everywhere I have to be. Also, I am struggling to remember things that need to go with me to class… I should start carrying books and a planner with me all summer, so I don’t forget them in the fall!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing summer. I know I did. Going back home was weird at first because many of my friends moved away or stayed at their college for the summer. I was able to spend a lot of time with my family, though, which really meant a lot to me. I took a lot of small day-trips or one-night trips to places like Kalamazoo, Cedar Point and Grand Rapids. Near the end of the summer, we headed north and spent a week in Traverse City, which is my favorite vacation spot in the state.

I also invested in my very first Kitchen Aid mixer and spent a lot of time creating and baking new sweet treats! Speaking of purchases, I bought my very first car! (Well… not quite bought, as I’m leasing it.) It is a beautiful 2012 Ford Fusion. Making car payments at 19 is weird, but it is totally worth it!

I was excited to hear that Starbucks and Biggby are carrying their pumpkin spice lattes and caramel apple spice drinks again, because that means that fall is almost here! Campus is beautiful in the fall, with all the leaves changing colors. Also, who doesn’t love bundling up in a sweatshirt and heading outside in the fall?

One thing I want to do this year is get more people involved in the blog. What do you want me to write about? Do you have any ideas for the blog? I am open to suggestions, so let me know by commenting below!

Welcome back, and Happy Fall!

Looking Ahead

With the year winding down, everyone is looking forward to the summer and returning home for a few months. But the summer is going to fly by, and before we know it, we will all be back here, in our bubble, back doing what we do best. What am I looking forward to when that time comes? Here’s a list of some of the most important things.

1.  New classes
This fall, I will finally start taking Communication classes (intro to communication and speech communication) and getting into my major! Since these classes are focused on what I want to do with my life, I am very excited for them. I am also taking a creative writing class for my writing minor and a history class to fill a distributive requirement. Along with new classes come new professors and new students to get to know, which is always a plus!

2. New hall mates
Even though I will be staying in the same hall with many of the same girls, there will be three or four rooms opening up for incoming freshmen, two corner rooms for upperclassmen and a new RA! We are looking forward to welcoming them to Newberry 1st West with open arms. With the arrival of new hall members, I see the potential to build new relationships and find new friends.

3. New job
Don’t worry—I’m not leaving my Marketing and Communications job! I’m just adding another job to my plate. I will be working for Admissions, giving campus tours to prospective freshmen. When I was taking tours, I found them to be critical in my decision-making process. The first impression of a school’s students came from the tour guide. At some schools, I had stuck-up tour guides or tour guides that seemed like they were doing it strictly for a paycheck. I want to be a tour guide because of my passion and love for Alma College.

4. New leadership position
For the 2013 school year, I will be a corresponding secretary for Alpha Phi Omega. This position used to be minimal, but that is going to change. I will be writing monthly newsletters, keeping the Facebook group and page updated, and communicating with A Phi O alumni to keep them in the loop and invite them to come to some of our functions.

5.  Reuniting with everyone I will miss over the summer! (This one doesn’t start with “new” haha)
I have not even left for the summer yet, and I am already thinking about how much I am going to miss having a group of girls to constantly talk to all the time. Going to sleep in a room without a roommate is going to be weird. No more recapping our day and watching Food Network. Also, not being able to run down the hall when I don’t have shoes that match my outfit or the right color headband is something I will greatly miss. Upon return in the fall, I have a feeling this will be one of the greatest things I will be thankful to have back.

I would like to wish everyone a fantastic summer. Take some time for yourself and for some rest and relaxation. I look forward to posting more in the fall!

Looking Back…

As the year wraps up, I want to take time to reflect on my first year as a Scot. Some experiences came and went in the blink of an eye while others spanned the entire year. This top 10 list is not any particular order or ranking, but each experience stood out to me as a highlight:

1. Having so many similarities with my roommate.
My roommate and I did not know each other before coming to Alma, but we were paired up due to similar interests and sleep routines. As it turns out, we had many other things in common that the housing coordinators would have never known: We both are the oldest of two siblings. We have the same noise set for our alarm clocks. We enjoy watching The Food Network to fall asleep at night. It goes on and on. For those of you that do not know, we were born less than 12 hours apart, so we love to joke that June 10th is the reason that we have so many things in common.

2. Making so many new friends.
I have met so many amazing people since coming to Alma College. In my hallway alone, I have met girls from all over Michigan, each with a different story to tell. Although we all came from different backgrounds, we meshed together into a great group of friends. Next year, we will live together in the same hall again.

3. Working for Marketing and Communications.
No, I am not just saying this because they pay me… This really truly has been one of the main highlights of my year. I have gotten the opportunity to work with some amazingly creative people who do things that I am interested in and do them very well. I have made friends with many of the other interns, and I will be sad to see the seniors leave Alma, though I know they are ready to move on to bigger and better things.

4. Going on ACUB trips.
ACUB trips are seriously so great! For a price tag much smaller than going alone, you get to travel, meet new people, and do something super fun! I personally took part in the Cedar Point trip in September and the Red Wings game trip in February. Take advantage of the things ACUB plans!!!!

5. Getting the 210-block meal plan.
After realizing I had almost 100 meals left at the end of fall semester, I switched to the 210-block plan. The day that I converted meals and realized I had almost $300 dollars in Munch Money is up there on the “Exciting Days I had at Alma” list.

6. Living in Newberry Hall.
I know I am biased, but I think living in Newberry Hall this year was a blessing. I did not know much about the halls before coming to Alma. I knew Newberry was close to the cafeteria and library, though, so I made it my number one preference. That was the greatest number one decision I’ve ever made. I love being in a hall of all girls. It’s nice walking to the showers in just a robe and (usually) not having to worry about guys being in the hallway.

7. Taking the Contemporary German Cultures First Year Seminar.
The day I selected my classes, I did not know much about first-year seminars. I selected this one because I was an exchange student in Germany, and I thought German culture was interesting. What a great choice! First of all, who doesn’t like Mr. Richter? He is a great teacher and very relatable person who really helped me in my first few weeks at Alma. Also, most FYS classes have a heavy workload related to a very specific topic. This FYS taught us things that I have related to many other classes.

8. Joining Alpha Phi Omega.
When I joined Alpha Phi Omega, I instantly found a group that I belonged with. The members of Alpha Phi Omega not only value the same things I do, they have similar goals. They all want to help, lead and make a difference. I am so glad I made the decision to rush.

9. Finding The Wooden Spoon.
Even though it is a little bit of a walk, The Wooden Spoon is one of my favorite places in Alma to visit. It’s a small, family-owned bakery with sandwiches and soups. They aren’t open very late, so you have to get there early. They have some of the best baked goods I have ever had. “Stuffed” cookies, doughnuts, yummy breads… Be sure to check it out!

10. Choosing to become a Scot.
I know this sounds clichéd, but really, choosing to be a Scot was one of the best things that has happened to me this year. I had the choice to be a Laker, a Spartan, a Chippewa or a Bronco, among many others, and I always think about what a great decision I made. Alma was the right fit for me and the best location to house the next part of my story. After Alma, I will always be thankful for the things I learned here and the experiences I gained. Go Scots!

Spring Has Sprung in Alma

Spring is in the air on Alma’s campus! Students are breaking out their shorts, sandals and sunglasses as the weather improves.

Volleyball time!

Last Sunday, the temperatures reached the high 60s to low 70s, so many of us spent the day outdoors. I took a walk through campus and saw students having picnics, playing Frisbee and jogging. Behind Newberry, a student played his guitar for a crowd while a friendly game of volleyball took place on “the beach.” Students ate dinner on the porch at Saga, and every window around was open to let in the fresh air.

If I had been on a campus tour, I would have thought it was straight out of a movie. I may have wondered whether the College was paying their students to make campus look so alive… but no, it was just a bunch of happy Scots enjoying the sunshine.

The best way to study.

I joined in, too, by grabbing a blanket and my homework and finding a nice spot. For some reason, doing homework with the warm sunlight beating down on you is much easier than doing homework in the library or sitting in your room. I was in a better mood, and thoughts were coming to me naturally.

This being said, we are all wondering one thing… “Will it last?” Is it time to take home our winter clothes? Living in Michigan, we all know that as soon as you do this, we will get a foot of snow. One day it may be 65 degrees and the next, back down to the 40s.

So Scots, when we get a nice day, go out and enjoy it! Take a break from studying to make some friends, get some exercise or take a nap in the sun. Days like these can be few and far between, so don’t let them pass you by!

What is your favorite thing to do around campus on a nice day?

X Marks the Spot!

Every school has spots that you might only know about if you’re a student. Here at Alma, we have quite a few. I would like to let you in on a few places that I think are the best.

Where to study: The trick to finding a good study setup is going somewhere quiet, calm and relaxing, but also it needs to have some stimulation to keep you from falling asleep! I personally like the larger study rooms in the basement of the library. The huge chairs and table make it a great place to spread out, take your shoes off and get comfortable to stay a while.

Study carrels also are great. There is a small wall that keeps you focused on what is in front of you. Don’t get a carrel on the first floor, though. It’s too busy with the computer/printing stations, Highland Java, and the constant flow of students coming in and out of the library.

With my Newberry girls!

Where to hang out: Everyone wants to know, “Where do you go to have fun at Alma?” For me, it’s my dorm. We all hang out in one of our rooms and kick back with a movie, play some Wii or even order a pizza. The fact that we can have so much fun without even leaving our building is something that I truly value. At a bigger school, you might live in a building with people you never see, but I know almost every girl on my floor on a personal level. It has been a great environment for me to live in.

Where to eat: The gem of all food places on campus is College Corner Coffee & Books. They offer delicious sandwiches, huge salads and some of the best smoothies around. I suggest trying the Twisted Reuben sandwich with a side of Scottish Dollars! Yum! They also have a full selection of ice cream flavors. Make sure you order a size smaller than you want, though, because the employees pack your cup or cone full. The best part of College Corner is that you pay with Munch Money, the debit dollars that come with meal plans.

Where to gather as a group: Besides the obvious classroom meeting places, the Fireside Lounge in Van Dusen creates a quiet atmosphere for group meetings. Also, each dorm room has a lobby, which is ideal for these types of meetings. If your group is going to be a little louder or wants to have some fun, there is a small meeting space connected to Joe’s that has a piano, a pool table and an air hockey table.

Where to grab a late-night snack: Joe’s Place is what would result if McDonald’s and 7-11 had a baby. It has candy, all sorts of drinks and even a full grill. Because it’s open until midnight, Joe’s is perfect if you have an evening class and cannot make it to Saga before closing time. Also, if you need a late night pick-me-up with caffeine, I would suggest stopping by Highland Java for an Awkward Turtle. I cannot tell you what is in it because it would be… well… awkward. Try it!

Where to go off-campus: Check out some of the shops in downtown Alma. Treasures, an antique shop, is a good place to stop in and just look around. Just a few doors down from Treasures is a place that I found one day while walking through town with friends: The Wooden Spoon. This small café serves up paninis, soups and baked treats. A favorite of mine is the cranberry walnut bread, but the potato soup also is fantastic!

What are your favorite spots on campus  – or in the community? Where do you spend most of your time? Let me know!

To all you potential Scots

The school year is flying by, and soon we’ll be welcoming a new class of Scots to Alma. High school seniors are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters, going on campus tours, and sending in that ever-important first payment. It’s a very exciting time.

It also may be a stressful time for high school students and their parents, but I’m here to tell you not to worry. I was no exception to all this stress. After applying to 12 (yes, 12!) schools in Michigan, I spent many days driving around the state, taking campus tours and attending other events for incoming students.

On my Alma campus visit!

At some schools, I didn’t feel very welcome or like I belonged—crossed those off my list! At other schools, I did not like the way the housing was set up—crossed them off my list! It was small things that helped me make my decision. It wasn’t like any school was terrible. You just have to take the time to find where you will be most comfortable. For me, that was here at Alma.

Significant Others
Significant others often are a deciding factor for many people. Do you go to the same college as your boyfriend or girlfriend? This was an issue that touched me in a big way. My boyfriend and I have been together since nearly the beginning of high school. We both applied to a lot of the same schools and even went on many campus tours together. As the decision came closer, we both had it narrowed down to Grand Valley, Michigan State and Alma.

We did not know what we wanted, and for a while, we did not even talk about our decisions. We both decided that we needed to choose the school that fit us best, and if we ended up together, so be it. If we didn’t, then we would make it work. I personally know too many situations where someone followed their significant other to college and ended up breaking up. In the end, I chose Alma, and he chose Grand Valley.

It has almost been a whole school year, and we are still happily together. We see each other far less frequently than we used to, but when we do see each other, it means so much more. Make sure your college decision is your decision.

Scholarships
While I was busy touring schools, I also was busy with one other very important thing: searching for scholarships. How do you make college affordable? Financial aid can help offset the cost of college, making it another deciding factor.

Filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the March 1 deadline is an important part of this process. Some schools even offer a bonus for filling it out on time!

Most schools have scholarship information on their website. See what you can find there. Some schools award scholarships for having a certain GPA or ACT score. Others have scholarships for family of alumni, performing arts or sports. The secret? You have to dig for them.

I received two scholarships from Alma that were directly matched to me. I got creative by entering contests and applying to additional scholarships online. I also had help from my high school counselor, who searched for matches for me every single day.

As you can tell, during my college searches, I was full of questions. I wanted to make an informed decision and choose the school that was best for me (and I did!)

I would like to extend to you that same opportunity. I am happy to answer questions about choosing a college, residence life, campus opportunities… anything!  Post a comment below, and I will be sure to reply. If you have a more personal question, feel free to leave me your e-mail address.

Once a Scot, Always a Scot

Some people have their first encounter with bagpipes, kilts and highland dancers at Alma College. For me, this is not the case. While being Scottish is not a requirement to become part of “the bubble,” it is a requirement that I could fulfill if needed. Scottish blood runs through my veins, as my mother is a “pure-bred” Scot! Also, on my father’s side, my grandmother is of English-Scottish descent, making me around 75% Scottish.

My Scottish ties are extremely important to me, and this connection contributed to why I chose (and like!) Alma. I have been fortunate enough to travel to Scotland not once, but twice! The first time I was only 2 years old, so I do not remember much. During the second trip, however, I was 14. In addition to visiting relatives, we traveled the country extensively: up into the Highlands to spend the night in an old castle in the Kyle of Sutherland, in search of Nessie as we traveled up and down Loch Ness, and down to Edinburgh to visit the castle, which is like a small town in itself. We also visited Greyfriars Cemetery, which has a very amazing story behind it. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Because I still have family living in Scotland, I hope to take another trip there in the near future. If funds permit, I would love to study abroad in Aberdeen as an Alma student, visit my family and learn even more about the culture!

In the meantime, I continue to celebrate my culture at home. I don’t highland dance or play bagpipes, but there are other ways to stay connected to my Scottish ties. Earlier this year, my family rang in the Scottish New Year at 7 p.m. our time, midnight in Scotland. We joined hands, sang Auld Lang Syne, and shouted “Happy Hogmanay!”

This past weekend, I returned home for the annual Robert Burns Supper. This has been a tradition in my family for many years, but one that I only became involved with four years ago. It is a night of dancing, listening to pipes and drums, watching highland dancers, and if you’re brave enough… trying haggis, which is a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with oats, minced onion, suet and lots of spices. (For the record, I think it tastes pretty good!)

The clan ♥

The Burns Supper is an event that I look forward to year round, but this year’s dinner was extra special, as it happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Detroit Burns Club. Also, it was the first year that my four wonderful baby cousins were in attendance, each one of them wearing a kilt!

After reflecting on my cultural ties, I can’t help but wonder: How many people who go to Alma are actually Scottish? If you aren’t, what made you want to fill your college experience with bagpipes and kilts?

Finding a Family

Thank you, everyone, for the overwhelming amount of responses on my last blog. It was amazing! Your thoughts, opinions and stories about Greek life helped me consider it on a deeper level. In part because of your recommendations, I decided to join Alpha Phi Omega.

With my new brothers before the pinning ceremony!

Last night, I became a member of the Winter 2012 pledge class and hope to be inducted in March! Along with 18 other brothers, I will be spending the next six weeks going through pledge activities, learning the history of the fraternity and then finally becoming official brothers. During this time, we also have “fathers” who mentor us and help us grow into the strong, loyal members we all are striving to become.

For those of you who are not familiar with Alpha Phi Omega, it’s a national service fraternity. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… fraternity, and I am a girl? How is that possible? APO is Alma College’s co-ed fraternity, so we all are considered “brothers,” which may seem kind of strange since half of the fraternity is female. It’s just the name given to members from the national level.

APO is the largest collegiate fraternity in the country. It is designed to promote service, leadership development and social opportunities. The fraternity motto is “be a leader, be a friend, be of service.” I decided that this is a good fit for me because service is something I have always taken part in. I was a member of S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking A New Direction) in fourth grade. We did community service projects and helped around our school to inform people of the harmful effects of drugs and what they could do to you. In middle school, I continued working with S.T.A.N.D. and did service projects with my church youth group. I also volunteered at an animal shelter in my community and was an active member of Girl Scouts.

Once high school came around, I began searching for a new service organization because S.T.A.N.D. only went up to eighth grade. I found Interact Club, which is a student chapter of the Rotary Club. In no time, I found myself leading Interact Club as president. My senior year, I also was team captain for our Relay for Life team and served on the planning committee in Dearborn. As you can see, service has always been something that has interested me!

I am very excited to be adding letters to my life and to be associating myself with other students who share the same interests and values as me. Does joining APO mean that I will not be joining a social sorority? Not at all! The fraternity does not allow chapters to have houses on college campuses, therefore allowing students in social Greek organizations to also join APO and vice versa. I am planning to go through fall recruitment, and hopefully, I will be lucky enough to have two sets of letters in my life!

What are your letters? If they were APO, what kind of service projects did you do?