186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Month: May 2014

Winds in the East

Writer’s block: we’ve all experienced this frustrating phenomenon, we’ve all spent hours staring at a blank Word Document and a blinking cursor.

At least, I assume we all have. If anyone out there in Internet-land has gone an entire lifetime without any sort of writer’s block, make yourself known so I can congratulate you and give you a giant cookie.

Even SpongeBob has fallen victim to writer’s block.

Even SpongeBob has fallen victim to writer’s block.

Anyway, before writing this blog, I psyched myself out to the point of a particularly severe bout with this unfortunate affliction.

The reason? This is my last post – ever – for UD’s South College Blog. *Sniff* I want it to perfectly represent everything my writing stands for, state great philosophical truths, and propose a solution for world hunger. All in that order.

Basically, long story short: I had over a million embryonic ideas, but I wasn’t sure if any of them were worthy of being Caitlyn’s Final Blog.

The cycle of thoughts tumbling around inside my head went a little something like this: “I know, I could write about…my first Zumba class of the semester! Or…the stress of finals! Yeah! No. Too mainstream. Hmm…I got it! A how-to piece about surviving a lack of job prospects! Wait…that’s depressing. Uh…leaving my friends here in Delaware? My recent group project about Jimmy Fallon? …Finals?”gradecard

Also, the main thing on my mind, besides exams and papers, was (and still is) the Ceremony-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. *Shudder*

So, without further ado, here is one of those initial, budding ideas – which includes its fair share of nostalgia. It’s like a blog within a blog (I’m feeling meta).

Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane

When there’s hardly no day, nor hardly no night…There’s things half in shadow, and halfway in light…

new amst

When I first walked into the New Amsterdam Theatre, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

The set reminded me of the sensation of holding’s one breath – the empty street was waiting, anticipating a fresh breeze filled with cherry blossoms and the appearance of someone special.

Mary Poppins was my first Broadway show. Even though my Connecticut home is a mere two hours from New York City, my parents were wary about venturing into NYC after 9/11. Hence, it took years of begging, plus the added security of a family friend who knows the city like the back of his hand, in order for a New York trip to actually happen.

As for my high school self, I didn’t care as much about the classic tourist destinations like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building; I was a theater kid through and through. I wanted Broadway.

Mary Poppins blew me away, just like the ever-changing winds featured in the show itself. This musical made a lasting impression – Bert literally tap dances upside-down from the theatre’s ceiling at one point – which carried over into my college existence.

For my freshman year Honors English course, I selected a class that focused on writing about music. For my final paper at the end of that first UD semester, I wrote about the musical stylings of none other than the Sherman Brothers. Crash course on the Sherman Brothers: they wrote “It’s a Small World,” and composed the music for The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, and, of course, Mary Poppins.

That paper was one of my first “college moments.” I stayed up to all hours penning it, and the process is a blur of Mary Poppins music on YouTube, coffee, 3 a.m. jumping jacks…and more coffee.

kangaroo

Me and some lovely kangaroos versus the characters of Saving Mr. Banks.

Me and some lovely kangaroos versus the characters of Saving Mr. Banks.

Fast-forward to this semester, my last one. When I was home (for either Easter or Spring Break, I can’t remember which), I watched Saving Mr. Banks with my mom. Neither of us expected to love the story of P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, and her creative clash with Walt Disney as much as we did. Half of the story is told through flashbacks of the author’s childhood, which takes place in the dry, sprawling Australian Outback. Not only were these scenes of her rough upbringing both fascinating and unsettling – in the same way that one can hardly look away from a train wreck – but it also brought me back to Australia. Ever since returning from my study abroad trip in the Land Down Unda, I’ve longed to go back.

As someone who dreams of being a writer, I sympathized with P.L. Travers and her fight to keep her source material pure – and free from Disney’s corporate influence. But the movie, loosely based on the real-life conflict between Travers and Disney, highlights reconciliation, a give-and-take.

For me, reconciliation is everywhere in my life at the present moment. The past and the future, my dreams and reality: all of it is currently in the process of being reconciled in my mind.

Mary Poppins selfie, anyone? Finally, one last connection: I was able to dress up as Mary herself with my theatre group recently. *Squeal of happiness* (Not too shabby, right?) Also, please note the practically perfect Australian flag postcard behind me.

Mary Poppins selfie, anyone? Finally, one last connection: I was able to dress up as Mary herself with my theatre group recently. *Squeal of happiness* (Not too shabby, right?) Also, please note the practically perfect Australian flag postcard behind me.

In Mary Poppins, Bert sings the following lines during one poignant interaction with the character Mr. Banks (based on the actual, struggling father of P.L. Travers): “You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone… Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve… And all too soon they’ve up and grown, and then they’ve flown…”

supercalWell, this is goodbye. And I have to say it: it’s been a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious year.

The Summer Reunion

Ah, summer is just around the corner.  All that stands in your way are a couple of monsters known as “final exams”, but even those are no match for you. 

You pack up all of your stuff, cram it into the back of Dad’s truck, and are on your way back home.  You can’t wait to just lie down, sleep, and relax after a long and difficult semester.  But before you do that, you need to start planning a crucial event in your young life: the summer reunion with all of your hometown friends.

Face it: you haven’t kept in great contact with your hometown friends.  Sure, you told yourself you would and sure, you did a really good job of it during the first few weeks of the semester, but now, during the heart of the academic year, when exams and papers have replaced your friends, you’re anxious to hear all about their crazy college stories, and to share your own.  You set up a group chat and start planning the logistics of the event.  Right off the bat, you face the difficult task of coordinating when everyone’s coming home.

Similarly to real estate, the location of your reunion is critical to its success.  Backyards are good, backyards with fire pits are great, and backyards with fire pits and pools are perfect!  Picking the right food to have is also important.  Chances are that your mother, in her happy state due to your return from college, will probably agree to make anything you little heart desires.  But just to be safe, have all your friends agree to bring a dish.

 

Your tedious planning has paid off.  The day of reckoning is here, and your friends will be here in any minute.  You are anxious to see them all, and you are curious to see what all has changed.  Your guys friends will probably be spotting some sort of facial hair in celebration of their collegiate independence, and your lady friends may have a new hairstyle.  Personalities may also differ.  You best friend might now be a devout fraternity brother, and the friend that did nothing but schoolwork in high school might now be Mr./Mrs. Involved-in-Everything.  But what’s troubling you the most is how your friends will feel about you.  You’ve heard horror stories of how high school friends have gone off to college and hated each other upon arriving home, and you hope this isn’t the case for you and your friends.

 

Gasp, the doorbell!  Your friends are here, and the moment has arrived.  Time to re-connect. Even though you were nervous about how college had changed everyone, you remember that these people are your friends for a reason: because they like you.

 

Have a happy summer break, everyone!

~Scott Eisenhart

 

Student Night at the REP

Even our newest readers know, if nothing else, this about me: I’m a theatre buff. I am the “wait on line at TKTS in the winter cold to see a matinee, sit through rush hour traffic to catch a certain musical, act in just about anything” kind of theatre buff.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of my favourite events on campus is Student Theatre Night at the REP. Thanks to the Honors Program and our awesome free tickets program for some of the best events on campus, my friend Brian and I got to see Wit last Thursday. Any attempt to express how excited I was about this would do my feelings injustice; I have wanted to see Wit for over a year.

photo1-3Student Night at the REP actually starts with a meet-and-greet the hour before. The theatre buys snacks and drinks, and all the students get to mill around and chat with each other. There are also a handful of raffles; it turned out to be my lucky night in more ways than one, because in addition to seeing an astounding production, I won at $25 gift card to Deer Park! As someone who doesn’t win raffles very often (and who is made a laughing stock twice a year at family occasions that merit playing seemingly endless games of Bingo), that’s notable. Take that, Mom.

Wit itself is the remarkably beautiful tale of a 17th Century English Literature professor named Vivian Bearing, who discovers she is suffering – and in fact, all but dying – from Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer. She agrees to an experimental and highly intensive chemotherapy regimen, consisting of eight rounds of radiation at full dosage, and the play details her life during these treatments as well as reveals a series of flashbacks which tell the tale of Vivian Bearing’s life before her illness.

It all sounds quite grim, doesn’t it? Imagine the audience’s surprise when Wit managed to have the room laughing within the first few lines. Vivian Bearing is a wonderfully sarcastic narrator, full of pithy references and comments that make her time in the hospital and her interactions with the people in it far more entertaining than we’d have expected.

What is even more captivating than the witticisms (pun intended!) of the comedic moments in the play is Vivian’s touching and deep character development. She begins Wit as a strong, confident woman who stands at the pinnacle of her field of research at the cost of human relationships. However, at the end of the play, Vivian is a shell of who she once was, and is left wishing she had more meaningful memories, more family and friends and kindness and compassion, to look back on.

I heard more than one person say that Wit “hit way too close to home for me,” and saw several people, like me, wiping tears from their eyes as they left the theatre. Wit really makes you think about where you stand right now, consider what matters to you, and imagine a life without those precious people in it. It was, in a word, stunning.

Throwback Tuesday: Rome Edition

I am well aware that Throwback Thursday is already a “thing,” but I decided to make it come a little early this week. I am throwing it back to five months ago, specifically the first weekend in December, when I took a four-day trip to Rome.

 

Admittedly, at first, I was daunted by the thought of being alone in a foreign city. To make matters worse, everyone who I spoke to about being alone in Rome told me the same thing after giving me a disconcerting look: “Be careful; watch out for thieves; don’t go anywhere sketchy.” The looks threw me off more than the advice, because these people were concerned about my safety, which only made me more nervous. I survived the 24 hours of being by myself by playing it smart, sticking to touristy areas and getting back to my room before dark. Besides being worried about my safety, Rome was an amazing city to visit.

 

For all of you history buffs out there, Rome is teeming with historical sites to visit. I am not kidding when I say that you could walk straight into the middle of the city and see ruins of historical buildings surrounded by a booming metropolis area. So, as a history nerd, I was in love. One morning, I was not only the first inside the Colosseum, but I spent a combined 5 hours wandering around it and the Roman Forum right next door. The sites are so enlightening and informative about such an important era of the past.

 

Of course, I visited the Vatican as well. I did not get to meet the Pope, but getting to explore St. Peter’s Basilica and the Museums was well worth it.

 

And, the food. I have never been to a place where all the food is so delicious. I had pizza for dinner one night that was so thin-crusted it had to be eaten with a fork and knife. I went on a pasta tour of a patio one night and didn’t stop eating until my stomach was bursting. Gelato was for dessert. There was a fantastic gelato place outside of the Vatican and I am not ashamed to admit that I considered that to be my lunch for the day. I have no regrets. My mouth is watering just writing about it.

 

Despite fearing my impending death for a short period of time, my trip to Rome was one of my favorite weekend excursions. And, in weeks like these, with seemingly never-ending work, it is nice to think back to that warm Saturday afternoon when I was eating gelato and people watching in Rome.

A "refreshing" memory can improve a less-than-refreshing week.

A “refreshing” memory can improve a less-than-refreshing week.

~Rebecca Jaeger

 

What Inspires You?

This past weekend, I traveled to my home town to see my little sister perform in a dance show. The show dramatized many classic novels, but it was told entirely through dance. It was an incredible production, and seeing this show made me extremely nostalgic, but ultimately reminded me how much I love to dance.

After seeing this production, I was inspired to take a dance class at the University of Delaware in the fall and continue to stay involved in the Dance Minor Program. This semester, I performed in the Dance Minor Concert on campus in two pieces, and it was one of the best parts of my Spring Semester. I had the opportunity to work on a piece with a professor as well as a guest artist from another college. The concert really pushed me to expand my movement quality and adapt to different styles of dance.

danceI realized that dance is what I love, and in order to be fully happy here I need to keep pursuing it. Before deciding on the University of Delaware, I anticipated attending a college in Pennsylvania as a BFA Dance Major. Now that I’m not majoring in dance, I need to find other ways to pursue it.

Dance allows you to be someone that you’re not. I love becoming another character on stage and sharing the performance with everyone else in the number. All the shows I have done remain the most poignant memories in my head. Dance is definitely my passion, my inspiration.

But what inspires you?

I love learning about what inspires other people and what drives them to do what they do. Especially in Honors, students have so many different talents.  People are devoted to politics, the arts, research or their activities on campus. I love talking to all the 48 Honors students on my floor and hearing about their passions and backgrounds. My residents are passionate about service, clubs, and their classes.

Dance is something that I do for myself. It is personally fulfilling and the art form inspires me. With finals coming up and the end of the year nearing, I think it is important to find time to do things you love or to take a short break from academics. Take an hour and write a short story, go out to lunch with your friends, or sing Disney songs on the green. Make time to do things that you love during the hectic final few days of school.

This past weekend, when I saw my sister in her dance show, it hit me that she was halfway done with high school. Suddenly I realized that I am almost halfway done with college. It was a scary yet rewarding realization. I realized I only have two years left to make the most of my college experience before entering my career.  I realized I only have two years left to make the most of doing what I love.  For the next two years, I will truly make the most of my college experience…I’ll dance like no one is watching.

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