186 South College

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

Month: January 2014 (page 2 of 3)

Follow the 2014 Honors Study Abroad in Italy

Fourteen Honors students (including one of our own bloggers) are studying abroad in Italy under Professor Alan Fox for the month of January. Below is an excerpt from one of their many blog posts, documenting their experiences abroad. If you would like to comment on any of the posts, please comment on this post and include the title of the post you want to say something about.

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Happy 20th Bi-Det Liz!

Today, I would like to give a huge twentieth birthday shout-out to one of our own group members, Liz Kirk.

We started off our day today with another 6:00 am wake up time to get a second good look at Pope Francis at the Papal Audience in Vatican City. While getting up this early is a little rough on the group, in the long run, it becomes well worth it when you get to stand a few feet away from the religious leader of about 1 billion Catholics worldwide.

After another deliciously simple Italian breakfast, we made our way to the metro station a short walk from our hotel. After three days using the metro, I think I speak for all of us when I say we are becoming pretty adept at making our way around Rome by train. To get to Vatican City it’s simply a one-stop train ride to Termini from Cavour, a transfer to Train B on the red line and then an arrival to your destination at the stop Ottaviano.

Security getting into St. Peter’s square was no trouble as we flashed our tickets for the Papal Audience. Mark informed us that on his trip in 2012, Pope Benedict held his Papal audience inside. However, Pope Francis’ Papal Audience was set up outside right on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. We can only assume that since Pope Francis is estimated to be attracting 3 times the visitors of Pope Benedict, the papal audiences are now held outside in order to allow more “fans” to catch a glimpse of the popular Pope.  Luckily, we were able to get great seats right along the aisle where the Pope would pass through on his “Pope-mobile” and not too far from the stage set up in front either.

Even YoUDee enjoyed the architecture of St. Peter's Basilica!

Even YoUDee enjoyed the architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica!

It was our third time seeing St.Peter’s Basilica in three days, but I found myself still staring at it like I had never seen it before. The detail in the statues lining the top of the enormous building was enough to occupy me for the wait till the audience started…

Read the rest of the Honors students’ adventure here.

The Big 2-0

Today I am celebrating my 20th birthday. I have lived for 175,200 hours, 7,300 days, 240 months, and two decades. My teenage years are coming to a close and the reality of “aging” is setting in. I think I might even have my first wrinkle. It’s a pretty groundbreaking moment when you realize that you consider yourself to be old.

More important than the numbers and my need for eye cream however is the fact that it will be my first birthday celebrated without my family. This winter, I am in Washington D.C., fulfilling some credits and (hopefully) making some connections in the field I desire to one day work in. My mom won’t wake me up with a song or a freshly baked muffin. I won’t get to choose my favorite entrée for dinner or blow out any candles. Instead, I’ll get phone calls, a package that is scheduled for delivery some time between 4 and 7 pm, a poorly worded early morning text message from my father.

The cake I make for myself every birthday.

The cake I make for myself every birthday.

This feeling of distance is part of growing up. We are all destined to find ourselves in foreign territory at some point. The most successful people in the world don’t remain homebodies. They seek to see the world, to absorb knowledge, to extend the bounds of their comfort zones. Long distance relationships aren’t just the basis of rom coms or reality television. Chances are that most college students are in one, with parents, siblings, family traditions.

As the timely distance from childhood increases, there is loss. We stop believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy. We lose the favorite stuffed animal we once couldn’t sleep without. We begrudgingly accept the fact that money does not spring from wallets and that laundry is real life. We realize that our parents aren’t invincible. We give up traditions that once seemed so important (like being awoken with freshly baked goods on the morning of your birthday). Magic is replaced by knowledge.

This year, my birthday will be bittersweet. I’ll be in a city that I love, participating in a program that could potentially set my future career into motion. I’ll be attending a hearing on Capitol Hill, something most U.S. citizens can’t say they have done (and something I am very nerdily excited for).  I’ll be surrounded by new friends. I’ll likely consume all manner of fatty delicacies at Good Stuff Eatery.

However, I highly doubt that anyone will awaken me with a song or a cake, and I don’t think candles are allowed in our student residence. My boss won’t take the excuse “but it’s my birthday” for any lackluster performance and my parents won’t be around to refer to January 9th as “my special day”.  I will miss these little things that once made the passing of a year of life so astronomical, so exciting, that sleep the night before was impossible. But this aging thing brings about a new kind of thrill, new prospects like drinking legally and living in your first real apartment and graduating, more important milestones than an anniversary of being born. 

Erin Dugan

Polar Vortex Survival Guide

The single-digit temperatures and ungodly wind speeds crossing most of the United States this week are the freezing, unwelcome results of a polar vortex (also known, forebodingly, as an: Arctic cyclone, sub-polar cyclone, or circumpolar whirl). All home protection techniques and safety precautions aside, here is my first and foremost recommendation for surviving the Polar Vortex of 2014: do not go outside if you can help it. Instead, and to make the most of the next few frigid days, consult this Polar Vortex Survival Guide (with helpful pictorial aids!).

photo (61)-A hot drink. Take this from the girl who drinks iced coffee all year round (and yes, I do get some strange looks while ordering a caramel iced coffee, light and sweet, in the middle of January). Pictured is one of my favourites, a homemade salted hot chocolate.

-A cozy blanket, to be wrapped in while sipping the aforementioned hot drink. You should also find the comfiest place in your house to curl up, be it in your bed, on the couch, or right up next to the heater.8286316104_7f69219cf1

-A good book. Now that you’re tucked in with your beverage and your blanket, pick a book. An old favourite, a Christmas present, a recommendation from your mom… Just make sure it’s a book, because we all know we won’t have time to read for pleasure once we’re back on campus in the spring. Right now, I’m reading Tenth of December by George Saunders.

photo (64)-A fluffy hat. This one is self-explanatory. The window for wearing warm winter hats is painfully narrow, and I wait ten months of the year for December and January to roll around and let me wear my ridiculous hats. Even though I’m not stepping out into the Arctic tundra, I’m not going to miss out on the chance to wear one of these fabulous pieces of headgear around the house all day (owl plushie not included).

-A laptop or tablet. StumbleUpon, BuzzFeed, Tumblr… Not to mention the Almighty Netflix. The powerful tools of procrastination are yours to command, guilt-free, over the remarkably long winter break UD students have to enjoy. You will not find a better time to start a new show or to catch up on your neglected ones*.

*For those readers who are finally tiring of watching Breaking Bad straight through for the seventh time in a row, might I recommend: CBS’s Elementary; ABC’s Castle; USA’s Suits; BBC America’s Orphan Black; the BBC’s Downtown Abbey; and, as always, the BBC’s Doctor Who.

photo (65)-A board game that takes a really long time to finish playing. Once those unfortunate members of your family who had to venture outside into the abyss return to the warmth of your home, settle each of them down with their own fluffy hats and tuck into Monopoly, the notoriously lengthy family board game. Winter break is about seeing your family, too, after all, and there’s no better time than when you’re all tucked up away from the cold.

Happy Polar Vortex-ing!

Claire Davanzo

Coming Home

John F. Kennedy Airport is an ugly place. With a confusing layout, thousands of rushing travelers, and a plethora of not-so-happy workers it is not my favorite place in the world, to say the least. But, on the afternoon of December 20, I was never more happy to be anywhere in my life.

Yes, it was my homecoming. My much-dreamed-about return to the United States. While I loved studying abroad, coming back to the U.S. was one of the happiest days of my life. Needless to say, I was a hot mess in the airport. My brothers were incredibly embarrassed by my excited sobs, but I did not care. I was just so thrilled to be back on American soil.

My journey home was quite the adventure. My nine-hour trans-Atlantic flight turned into an eleven-hour voyage. Because of strong winds, my plane was forced to stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia to refuel. Although it was quite painful to be stuck on a plane for almost twelve hours, I was able to add Canada to the list of countries that I visited on this trip. Additionally, due to the time differences and my inability to sleep on planes, it was also the longest day of my life. I was up for over twenty-four hours straight. So, although I was happy to be back, it was not the easiest day.

But, amid all the traveling and waiting, I realized that there is no feeling like coming home, especially around the holidays. I’ve truly never felt such elation. Yes, I was that kid stuck on a crowded airplane in Canada, with a huge smile on my face from pure excitement. Although everything at home was the same as how I left it, everything felt so new: the busy highways packed with cars, the Christmas lights glowing on the houses, the hugs from my family. It was such an incredible feeling to be back, it’s almost indescribable.

My first weekend home was a blur. I might have been suffering from jet lag, but I did not let that stop me. I did many of my favorite things: slept in my own bed, went shopping, watched some rom-coms, and ate some of my favorite foods (chicken parmesan and chocolate cake). It was probably one of the best weekends of my life.

Studying abroad was easily the most exciting thing that I have ever done. In my 3.5 months in Spain I learned Spanish, challenged myself, and saw (part of) the world. I could not have asked for a better experience. But, I also learned that Dorothy was right when she said that there is no place like home. Home is one place that will always welcome you back, no matter what. So, go travel (you might want to avoid JFK), have incredible experiences, see the world, but never forget to come home.

How the Jew Stole Christmas

Christmas has always been a mystery to me. I see the lights and the trees and the sales, but I always wondered what it would be like to actually celebrate Christmas. My friends ask me things like “What do you do on Christmas if you are Jewish?” or “Do you actually go to the movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas?” Yes, we do go to the movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas. What else is there to do?! Christmas is just another day in my life; nothing special really happens for me on Christmas.

I actually remember getting upset around Christmas time when I was younger. I would always ask why there were so many Christmas lights and decorations on the houses, but none for Chanukah. I did not like that people cared more about Christmas than my holiday. However, now that I am older, it does not bother me as much. After all, Chanukah isn’t even a major Jewish holiday! Once I understood that, I began questioning something else: Christmas. What is Christmas all about? What do people do on Christmas? What is it like to pick out a tree and decorate it and make cookies and milk for Santa and open presents the next day? This year, my questions were answered.

Christmas is so tiring! From right to left: Me, Matt (my boyfriend), and Alec (Matt’s brother)

I have helped my friends’ families pick out a tree and decorate it and their house before Christmas, but this year was the first year that I was able to see what happens on Christmas day. I went with my boyfriend’s family to his aunt’s house and once we stepped inside, I was immediately overwhelmed. No other families had arrived yet, and his aunt’s family was still preparing for the day ahead. They were rushing back and forth, wrapping gifts and setting out food. Pretty soon the other families came and greeted us. We then said a prayer over the food. Heather’s Awkward Jewish Moment #1: Of course as I was standing there in the corner of the room during the prayer, I just looked around at everyone for a few minutes and wondered why their heads were down. OH WAIT. That is what Christian people do when they say prayers. Oh yeah. So, I put my head down with them as the prayer was ending. Oops. No one noticed… Right?

I always wondered what people ate on Christmas, besides ham. It is actually a lot like Thanksgiving food, which I got really excited about. I love Thanksgiving! The meal was delicious and once our stomachs were full, we watched some TV together – great family bonding, right? Later it was time to open presents! We all gathered around the tree and handed out the presents that surrounded it. The tree was beautiful – I noticed that the top part of the tree was decorated entirely with ballerina ornaments. I later found out that my boyfriend’s cousin dances, so it became a tradition to get her a different ballerina ornament each year. As the presents were passed around, the pile in front of me continued to grow bigger and bigger. No one told me I would be getting so many presents! I guess my boyfriend’s relatives wanted me to feel less awkward, so they got me presents too. I ended up getting more than anyone else, which did make me feel a little awkward when it came time to open them in front of everyone… Heather’s Awkward Jewish Moment #2!

We ended the night by snacking on cookies, fudge, and the Oreo truffles that I brought. We also used those scratch-off lottery tickets and I ended up winning five dollars! I still need to cash that now that I think about it… All in all, it was a wonderful day. Christmas is no longer a mystery to this Jew. It was definitely better than movies and Chinese food!

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