College Life Hacks

Recent events have transpired that gave me the idea for this post. Like most other things, everyone has their own preference when it comes to the softness of their mattress. While some may love a firmer bed without much bounce, I personally love sinking into my bed at the end of the day. That is why I was very sad to learn that I forgot my mattress pad at home while packing for the new school year.

SO, in order to help you avoid mistakes like this, I have decided to make a list of often forgotten things to bring and do in college. I believe the Internet calls them “life hacks”.

I'm a little jealous of my roommate's mattress.

I’m a little jealous of my roommate’s mattress.

1. Mattress Pads

I’ve already made clear my passion for this first tip. Be it an egg crate, mattress pad, cushion, or whatever you may call it, these are essential for those who like a soft bed to sleep on.

You should be going for this effect.

You should be going for this effect. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

2. Air freshener

Let’s be honest. You’re going to be living in a tight space all year and no matter how hard you try, something will eventually come along and make the room smell stuffy. That is unless you purchase an air freshener or something scented. My friend complemented me the other day on how good my room smelled and I’m not gonna lie, it made my day. It’s always good to leave a nice impression.

 

3. No Brain Activities

There is plenty of work to do in college and combine that with the numerous clubs and work study job you may have, your brain will be running at Will Hunting levels for most of the day. That is why it’s important to make time in the day to unwind. Turn on some Netflix or walk across campus with your friends. Find something to do that is stress free and requires little effort. Hey maybe even nap… I’ve learned to love naps.

My desk decorations.

My desk decorations.

4. Room Decorations

The other day I couldn’t figure out why I felt so uncomfortable in my own room. I eventually realized it was because I had not decorated my space yet. White walls are no fun to look at. So throw up some posters and tapestries and bring some memorabilia to liven up your desk space. Trust me, it will make your room feel more like home.

Even the picture makes my mouth water.

Even the picture makes my mouth water.

5. Order Out

Now I know first hand what it’s like for your bank account to be low and to keep constant track of your spending. Despite that, it is important to order some delicious, often unhealthy, food every once in a while. It’s nice to step away from the dining hall now and again, or in my case from cooking for myself, and it can be fun to explore the different delivery places in town. My favorite in Burlington is Wings Over, the place for wings and fries.

6. Keep a Calendar

Remember when I mentioned how much you’d be doing in college? That’s why having a calendar will help you stay organized. This way you won’t have to remember to attend that event 5 weeks from now that your friend mentioned in passing.

I like to imagine that this is what Boates does when he is alone.

I like to imagine that this is what Boates does when he is alone.

 

7. Alone Time

I find this to be key. While you will likely be spending the majority of your time with people in class, with friends, or with your roommate, it is a great idea to spend some time alone. I like to ride my bike to decompress or marathon a bunch of YouTube videos. Find whatever it is that’s your thing and make time for yourself.

 

Proof that a calendar is super helpful.

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Billy Madison… Back to School

moveinday

My fellow O-Leaders and I on first-year move in day.

OK first off let me address the elephant in the blog. I have chosen to title this post Billy Madison because whenever I begin a new school year, I can not help but channel my inner middle-schooler and sing Adam Sandler’s song from the movie. This year is particularly terrifying exciting because it marks the beginning of my senior year at St. Mike’s. While the idea of this can be stressful, I have every intention to make this year the best yet.

As you can tell, one of my roommates is a master chef.

As you can tell, one of my roommates is a master chef.

One of the perks of being a senior is living in the townhouses. Townhouses are equipped with full kitchens, a common area, a bathroom, and single bedrooms (although some rooms are doubles). I have reunited with three of my roommates from last year and we have wasted no time in making the place feel like home. I feel like our random assortment of posters and ridiculous amount of cookware properly reflect the people in our house. The 200 townhouses seem like they will be a great community. Also, their location right next to Cumberland Farms (what am I saying, I mean Cumbies) does not hurt at all.

The cameras we get for Digital Filmmaking!

The cameras we get for Digital Filmmaking!

Along with moving in, this week also involved the beginning of this semester’s classes. Now I’m not trying to say I’ve perfected the art of making a class schedule, but after three years I can’t picture a better schedule than this semester’s. I am really excited to learn more aspects of theatre in my Directing and Lighting Design classes. I’m also taking another film class this year and yesterday felt like Christmas when Prof. Hyde handed out some gifts for us to have until the end of the semester.

Another part of my schedule this year is being on the e-board for the Drama Club. Keep an eye out for tons of theatre events in the future. For more info follow the Drama Club on Twitter @SMCVT_DramaClub or Instagram @SMCDramaClub.

Well since I still can’t get the song out of my head, you all might as well have it stuck in yours too. Enjoy!

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Playing Grown-Up: My Summer in Burlington

Homemade mac and cheese.

Homemade mac and cheese.

This summer has been the closest I have ever come to adulthood as it’s typically defined. I am living away from home, working a full-time job with another job on the side, and cooking just about every meal for myself.

I have returned as an intern in the Marketing and Communications department at St. Mike’s. It has been great getting back to making videos for the first-year students and working on other photography and social media projects. I was also lucky enough to land a gig designing projections for the Flynn‘s production of Carrie, the Musical. This opportunity is really exciting because it allows my Media Studies & Digital Arts major to mix with my Theatre minor.

The first video I made this summer.

Our living room/kitchen.

Our living room/kitchen.

While work-study students can live on campus in the summer, I opted to live off campus with my SMC friends Kristyn and Richie. We are subletting an apartment from UVM students and are being pampered in a place equipped with a dishwasher, washer & dryer, and… wait for it… AC! We feel incredibly fortunate and have fully accepted that our future living arrangements will only decline after college.

The mini golf crew.

The mini golf crew.

Summer in Burlington is gorgeous. Sunsets on Lake Champlain, the farmer’s markets, and creemees are not to be missed. A lot of St. Mike’s students are in the area this summer and we’ve had a lot of fun going to North Beach, mini golfing, and exploring the different restaurants around town. KKD‘s, with their breakfast sandwiches served all day, is one of our favorites.

Fishing for a lost golf ball.

Fishing for a lost golf ball.

We’ve also spent a considerable amount of time rooting for the U.S., Italy, and the Netherlands in the World Cup and watching movies (so many movies). In fact, a few friends of mine have made it their goal to watch every Marvel movie ever made. I’ve joined them through part of their journey, but not all of the way because I do not wish to sit through Ghost Rider again.

I’m interested to see what the rest of the summer will bring. I look forward to making more videos and the performance of Carrie in July. In the mean time, I’m going to continue enjoying my new place and views over Burlington like this one:

sunsetedit

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Performances, Fishing, and Fenway Park

As frightening as it is to say; finals are over, the class of 2014 has graduated, and I can now call myself a senior at St. Mike’s. These past three years have flown by and I can only imagine how fast next year will as well.

It has been about a month since my last post and a lot has happened since then. I figure the best way to describe these things in a quick and timely manner is by making another list, so here it goes:

1. GODSPELL:

The cast in rehearsal.

The cast in rehearsal.

Throughout the spring semester, I was the assistant stage manager for the Theatre Department’s production of GODSPELL. This show is a musical that intertwines song and dance with different parables from the Bible. My duties for the show included operating the stage’s pit, setting up and taking down prop pieces, and generally making sure the whole process ran smoothly. GODSPELL ran for six nights of performances and it was a great time working with the whole cast and crew. It was also interesting working behind the scenes of a theatre production instead of sticking to my usual role as an actor.

2. Much Ado About Nothing:

The poster for the show. I don't know how to feel about my face.

The poster for the show. I don’t know how to feel about my face.

Speaking of acting, my friend Shannon had the daring idea of putting on a Shakespeare production off-campus. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to act this semester and had a lot of fun playing the villain Don John in Much Ado About Nothing. We performed as a part of Shannon’s first show in her newly developed theatre company, The Witty Fool Players. I have gotten so used to performing on-campus and so I enjoyed the new setting in a black box theatre above the Skinny Pancake in Burlington.

3. Returning home:

A view over my hometown.

A view over my hometown.

After a busy last few weeks of finals and end of the year activities, it has been nice to go home for a couple of weeks and relax. I have been able to see my family and some friends and marathon multiple shows on Netflix (Bates Motel is my most recent addiction).

4. Fishing trip:

Fishing on Lake Champlain.

Fishing on Lake Champlain.

A few days after returning home, my brother invited me to go on a fishing trip he attends each summer. My sister-in-law has an uncle who owns a cabin on Lake Champlain and we spent the weekend fishing off of his boat. I almost left the lake without catching a single fish but fortunately I was able to catch one (tiny) fish.

5. First Red Sox game:

Despite a rain delay, the play continued.

Despite a rain delay, the play continued.

If there is one thing I can identify myself as, it’s a Red Sox fan. That’s why it ached me for years that I have never been to a game at Fenway Park. Granted I live 3+ hours away from Boston, but that is no excuse for not making it to a game there. The 21 year drought finally ended when my girlfriend and her family took me to Fenway last weekend. It was unreal to step out and stare at the Green Monster, eat a Fenway Frank, and cheer on Pedroia as he stepped up to the plate.


In less than a week I will be returning to Burlington and living in an apartment with my friends Kristyn and Richie. Burlington is beautiful in the summer and I am excited for weekend bike rides along the lake. I am returning as an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at St. Mike’s and I am interested to see what projects I’ll be working on. Summer in college is always a unique experience because as much as I enjoy the weather and how relaxing it can be, I can’t wait for school to start up at the end of August.

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A Media and MOVE Collaboration

I’ve written about my Photojournalism class and involvement with MOVE in the past. A few weeks ago, these two things combined.

I was recently given the assignment to document an event happening on campus or in the Burlington area. For the assignment, we had to combine photography with audio and put together a short video. I chose to follow students involved in the MOVE Serve-a-Thon. For this event, students went around to four different sites and provided volunteer work wherever it was needed. I specifically went with one group to the ReSOURCE Store in Burlington. The store takes in household items and furniture and re-sells these donations at an affordable price. When I returned to campus, I joined two students as they made sweets for the senior class. Their hope was to help alleviate some of the stress the seniors are feeling as they prepare for graduation.

But that’s enough from me. Without further ado, here is the video I put together about the MOVE Serve-a-Thon:

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The Suite Life

canter2For the past two years I have been lucky enough to live in the on-campus suite buildings. Sophomore year I lived in Pontigny Hall and this year I live in Canterbury Hall. Cashman Hall is the only suite I have not lived in but I spent a lot of time in the building when my friend was an R.A. there last year. I love the suites because I get to have my own room while sharing a common area with my friends. There are typically 8 rooms per suite along with two bathrooms to share with your roommates. Suites also come equipped with a refrigerator and a microwave. It’s nice because I get the chance to decorate my room however I like and then my roommates and I come together to deck out our common area. On each floor of the building there is also a community kitchen. I love to cook and this provides a nice opportunity to get away from the dining hall on occasion. Various pasta dishes and kebabs have been my specialty this year.

My room!

My room!

My suite's common area.

My suite’s common area.

Each suite building is also equipped with a laundry room on the first floor and a Great Room where students can go to study, watch TV, or play ping-pong. R.A.’s host various bonding events in these rooms and there is always plenty of free food. I am personally a big fan of when R.A.’s order Wings Over Burlington. Last semester when I was abroad I swear I day dreamed about those wings.

The suites have been my home for the last two years and I have a lot memories there. From watching the votes being tallied on election night, to viewing Game of Thrones in a packed common room, to having Nerf Gun wars, the suites are always an entertaining place to live.

Kebab night.

Kebab night.

Canterbury Great Room

Canterbury Great Room

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Hope House- Extended Service Trip

Every year MOVE (the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) offers students the chance to go on an extended service trip during either winter, spring, or summer break. Trips range in location and purpose from working at a school in Buffalo, NY to working at a Mother Teresa home in Kolkata, India. That’s right, INDIA!hopehouselogo

Last year I worked with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, LA and a few weeks ago I went to the Hope House in Long Island, NY. Hope House Ministries was created by a man known as Fr. Frank and offers a number of services ranging from providing a place for the homeless to sleep and eat, to providing schooling for people of a variety of ages, to offering free counseling. We spent various nights and mornings throughout the week learning what the leaders of Hope House do, volunteering our time to make meals for the homeless at the hospitality center, and spending time with teenagers at the Montfort Therapeutic Residence. This allowed me see a lot of the issues I’ve learned about while at SMC first hand and gave me a better understanding of why these problems occur.

My tripmates Bethany and Meggie playing playing some basketball.

My tripmates Bethany and Meggie playing some basketball.

Our group of 6 students and one staff leader (Gary!) lived at a home called the Community House for the week. The Community House provides a place for young men to stay for a number of reasons. Some may have no other home, some may be recovering from addiction. I have no reservations in saying that this was one of the best weeks of my life. I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated when I learned that I would be spending a week with 40 guys I didn’t know. Fortunately, everyone involved in the Hope House was super welcoming. We spent a majority of our time just hanging out with the guys playing cards or shooting hoops. I personally learned how to play Spades for the first time and I keep asking my friends back at SMC to play (no luck yet). Hope House even took us on a number of outings with the guys to places like the bowling alley and the softball field. My personal favorite trip was when we went to do CrossFit. A bunch of the guys were really into working out and they offered to take us to one of their classes at this place called GrassFed CrossFit. I have to admit, that was one of the toughest workouts of my life and even though I couldn’t walk down stairs properly for a few days, it made me feel so great and accomplished.

Our St. Mike's Extended Service group.

Our St. Mike’s Extended Service group.

It was moments like these and just talking with the guys that made me really bond with them and my classmates. Even though they were facing their own struggles, I wanted to let them know that they were great people who were both hilarious and caring. Being there reminded me of a quote I read in my Honors Colloquium class on campus. Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson says “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” We can be quick to cast judgement when we hear what people have done in the past, but this trip made me realize just how special everyone is. Fr. Frank and everyone at Hope House Ministries lives by the motto of “Because all life is sacred.” I think that perfectly sums up what I learned while on this extended service trip.

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A Friday to Remember

The other morning I spent a considerable amount of time where I do most of my important thinking: the shower. It was here that I was able to truly appreciate just how great of a time I had last Friday. For one thing, last Friday was the last day of February, which is a celebration in itself in that it marks the coming of beautiful Spring weather. Besides the day’s symbolic beauty, my schedule that Friday contained numerous exciting events.

My co-host Boates inside the radio station.

My co-host Boates inside the radio station.

After my always interesting Photojournalism and Understanding Music classes, I started my weekend off by hosting a radio show that I started with fellow blogger Boates. St. Mike’s has its own radio station (WWPV 88.7 ‘The Mike’) and students can apply to host their own radio show once a week. Understandably, Boates was out skiing this Friday but fortunately my friends Jill and Dee-Jai filled in for him. We played everything that day from the new Pharrell album to classics such as The Beatles, Buddy Holly, and Frank Sinatra. I find that hosting my radio show is a very relaxing experience that sets a great tone for the rest of my weekend.

After the radio show and a quick workout in the school gym, I prepared myself for a performance that night. The Drama Club on campus put together an entirely student run production of the play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. I jumped on late in the process as a member of the stage crew and moved around set pieces between certain scene changes during the show. I was so impressed by the directing, set and lighting design, and actor performances. The cast had a great ability to present serious issues in an influential, and sometimes humorous way. Although being on run crew was a stressful experience, full of worrying about messing up the set, I was honored to be a part of the process.

The cast of Dog Sees God: a play that explores the lives of Charlie Brown and other Peanuts characters in high school.

The cast of Dog Sees God: a play that explores the life of Charlie Brown and other Peanuts characters in high school.

Richie Bernache as the character Beethoven.

Richie Bernache as the character Beethoven.

My view behind the set while working as a part of the run crew.

My view behind the set while working as a part of the run crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the performance, the night was not over! Last Friday was Friday Night Dry; a night put on by the Residence Life Office that’s full of fun events to attend. The night’s activities culminated with pizza, wings, cookies, and a performance by three student a cappella groups (Sleepless Knights, the Acabellas, and Mike Check) in the student center. The mounds of free food and lovely music was the perfect way to end the night.

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Sleep No More

dramaclublogoOne activity that takes up a large portion of my time during the semester, and with no complaint from me, is my participation in the Drama Club. I acted in a few plays during high school but in college I have found myself immersed in theatre. The Drama Club at St. Mike’s provides opportunities to get involved in all things theatre from acting, to technical work, to improv. This past weekend, the club sponsored a trip to attend Sleep No More in New York City and I was one of the lucky ten to go. Our group of excited theatre students left campus early Friday morning and after 1 stop at Dunkin Donuts, 1 lunch break at McDonald’s, 3 payments at toll booths, and 3 wrong turns, we made it to our hotel just outside of NYC. From there we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the show… however, it is probably better to call it an “experience”.

Glamis hath murther'd Sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more!  - William Shakespeare

Sleep No More is an immersive theatre experience, adapted from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where the audience becomes a part of the show. The set of Sleep No More is an old five-floor warehouse in New York City that has been transformed to look like a hotel. Once I stepped inside the hotel, I was given the number seven from a deck of cards and a white mask to wear. After listening to music in a lounge area, the singer called out the number on my card and a group of us were led to the elevator. Guests were let out on various floors and the show began.

The masks we wore during Sleep No More. Pardon the creepy factor.

The masks we wore during Sleep No More. Pardon the creepy factor.

Throughout my time there, I roamed freely from floor to floor. The incredible amount of detail in each room amazed me. Letters from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth, pictures, and religious shrines were among the many things that filled the rooms. At certain points throughout the night, actors entered the room I was in and performed a scene. I then made the decision of whether to follow the actor after they left or to find some other action. For a large portion of the night I chose to follow Macbeth and saw him murder Duncan, fight with Banquo, and die for his actions among other things.

One of the more interesting aspects of the show is that no one, from the audience to the actors, is allowed to talk. The actors simply used their expressions, choreography, and dance to portray the story. Shakespeare plays can be confusing even with the aid of language behind them, so I was a little worried the experience would be hard to follow. Fortunately, the performers were so talented and expressive that after the shock of how amazing the experience was settled, I was able to decipher what I had seen.

The group talking about our experience after leaving the hotel.

The group talking about our experience after leaving the show.

With a traditional play or movie you use your eyes and ears to take in the action. With Sleep No More I was also able to use my sense of touch and smell as well. This elevated the experience to a whole new level and really allowed me to connect with the characters. I am so grateful that the Drama Club made this trip possible and am interested to hear what show they’ll choose to see next year.

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Photojournalism in the Digital Age

One of the reasons I love St. Mike’s and my major (Media Studies & Digital Arts) is that I can do the things I am passionate about and get class credit for them. This semester I am enrolled in a photojournalism course. I have taken a number of film classes at St. Mike’s and thought it would be interesting to get behind a different kind of camera for a change.

Perspectives

Perspectives

Human Interaction

Human Interaction

Honest Emotion

Honest Emotion

Each week in class we are assigned the task of capturing certain themed images. The first assignment was called “Breaking the Ice” and I had to go off campus to introduce myself to ten strangers and ask if I could take their picture.  My friends, Dee-Jai and fellow blogger Boates, and I decided to travel to Shelburne, VT and visit the local stores in the area. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t incredibly nervous at the start of the project. Fortunately, and this may be a testament to how friendly Vermonters are, most people were more than happy to help me complete the assignment. We met a variety of people from chefs, to store owners, to an actual professional photographer. The task definitely helped me feel comfortable taking pictures in unfamiliar settings.

A few weeks have passed since the start of the class and I have completed three other assignments entitled “Perspectives”, “Human Interaction”, and “Honest Emotion”.

My next assignment is to capture images of “People Without People”. I look forward to roaming the dorms and buildings around campus to try and document a sense of personality in what people have left behind. This photojournalism class has definitely reaffirmed my interest in all things media and I am excited that I can now add photography to my list of skills.

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