Back at it for the Spring Semester!
So here I am, back for the second semester of my freshman year here at St. John’s. And I am so excited to be back! Having a month off at home was nice, but I’m ready to get back to the grind. Happily, this semester I am taking a few more challenging classes—classes that count towards my major (history) and also classes that are going to help me fulfill my pre-med requirements.
So the line-up looks like this: Cellular and Molecular Biology Biology Lab Biostatistics History of England II (basically from 1688 to the present) Research Methods for Social Work Theology: St. Vincent de Paul All in all, I have 17 credits this semester, which is a lot, but do-able for me. I’m kind of a workaholic, in case any of you couldn’t tell. In other news, there is SNOW on the ground here!!! Most of you probably just smirked at your computer screen because of that last sentence, but hey, I’m a native Californian…rain, snow, hail—basically any weather other than sunshine and earthquakes is a novelty for me ☺
I’m looking forward to experiencing a real winter and doing yet more incredible things in this city. Some friends and I had the bright idea to go to a taping of SNL and Jimmy Fallon. Not to mention trying to see a few more plays on Broadway and in February see the NYC Ballet Company’s production of Swan Lake! I’m inundated in culture here, so different from the run of the mill “hanging out” which seems to be all I did at home. So basically I am quite enjoying my first few days back in NYC.
So I know on my profile/ bio it says I’m an Ozanam Scholar. I guess I should explain what that means, other than it being difficult to pronounce. (The jury is still out on that by the way, in four months here I have heard Oze-ah-nahm or Oz-ah-nam… tom-a-to, tom-ah-to, whatever).
Anyway, the Ozanam Scholars Program is a four-year scholarship program that focuses on social justice and community service. All scholars must minor in Social Justice, maintain a 3.0 GPA, complete certain required classes, and fulfill their service quota per week (approx 4-8 hours a week). There are some other smaller requirements that if anyone reading this is interested in the program, I suggest you look up the Ozanam program on the school website and/or get in touch with auniversity representative.
Personally, the Ozanam program is a big reason why I came to St. John’s. I mean, yes, the scholarship money was indeed helpful, and considering my parents are public school educators and my younger sister is going to be entering college next year. But what I liked most about the program, and really a major draw of the University, was the emphasis on community service and helping those in need. St. John’s is very hands-on with the surrounding community and respected in NYC because of our charitable services.
As an Ozanam, my specific service site (where I do my required 4-8 hours/week) is interning at a non-profit microfinance organization called Grameen America. Grameen has gotten national attention lately, particularly with the Obama administration because of its work with New York’s poor. Grameen provides small business loans for primarily low-income, Spanish-speaking, female entrepreneurs who are looking to start or expand their own businesses. As an intern, I mostly shuffle paperwork, stuff envelopes, run errands (around Manhattan mind you…it’s pretty awesome), and occasionally deal with a borrower (usually translating Spanish to English). This job (and it IS a job, keep that in mind) has had its ups and downs, but I do see the value in Grameen’s work. I get to say that I am helping to end poverty in one of the greatest cities in the world. That’s something to be proud of and excited about.
That is what it means to be an Ozanam.
Here’s the problem with college: you sleep, you eat, you go out and stay out too late, and then you eat again. College living hours are not what you are used to living at home. Self-regulation and discipline is key. Truly, if you want to avoid the “freshman fifteen” and not get sick and crash because you’re exhausted.
My best advice to anyone going into college, GET SOME SLEEP! All-nighters are not that cool, I promise. I have learned firsthand that a girl’s gotta sleep, or else it’s just not going to be a pretty day. You can have fun, hang out with friends, meet new people, and still get enough shut eye to remain a functioning human being.
On that note, I’m going to go back to every college kid’s favorite pastime: eating. It is a simple fact, I can only go to the dining hall so many times before I decide it’s just not worth the walk and I convince myself I wasn’t really hungry to begin with. The food is decent, honestly. And (sometimes) healthier than eating Ramen, mac n’ cheese, and Oreos. Although I am guilty of that for sure. Even as I sit here writing this blog, I am munching on my favorite Garden Salsa Sun Chips. MMMM. Yummy ☺
My advice to college kids everywhere- especially to incoming freshman who, like myself, are used to eating awesome home-cooked meals by mommy- is to limit your bad snacking, try to hit the salad bar in the dining hall a few times, and always always always take the STAIRS. Oh, and I’ve heard this rumor going around that apparently there is a gym on campus? Who knows, maybe I’ll go in search of that someday… haha.
So one of the pros of living in New York City, and in going to St. John’s in particular, is how close you are to all of the wonderful things this city has to offer. For example, a couple of weekends ago, my friends and I bought tickets to see a Broadway show from the campus concierge. We got $50 tickets for “In the Heights” for only $25! And the seats were pretty good, center stage of the upper mezzanine.
That Friday night turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had in NYC thus far. My friends and I got all dressed up (heels and all, which is quite the feat for me since I’m six feet tall), hopped on the bus and the subway at Kew Gardens and in about half an hour there we were. We took really embarrassing, awkward photos in front of the posters outside the theater, imitating Jordin Sparks’ “vogue poses.” All of these are, of course on Facebook, to my delight.☺ The show itself was spectacular, the music phenomenal.
Needless to say this night out on the towned has inspired more of these trips. Next up on our list of must-sees, “Billy Elliot”, “Jersey Boys”, and “Wicked”. I really can’t wait to see all of them!
Move In Day
Moving from California to New York is quite the trek, in case any of you didn’t already surmise. A six-hour flight with a layover in Milwaukee made for a long day. Not to mention that I was attempting to move my entire life cross-country, packed into seven, very large suitcases. A piece of advice to those coming long distances, pack what you want, but try to travel as lightly as possible. Things can be bought later and also, there really is not a ton of room in dorms. Keep it simple.
Once my family (Mom, Dad, and sister) and I made it to Queens, we rented a van and raided the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond like an invading horde of Huns. ;) Actually moving everything into my dorm (St. Vincent’s!!!) was yet another ordeal. Of course, it was raining…So we literally ran things back and forth between the van and front door of the residence hall. Thank god for elevators, because lugging all my stuff up three flights of stairs would have been no bueno.
All in all though, my room (actually, my third of the room) turned out beautifully. I have all my pictures and drawings up on my wall, books on my shelf, and a wonderfully cluttered desk. I love my dorm now. Moving in was an adventure, I’ll call it. My mother cried, but only a little, at the very end of the day. And while I miss my family (as much as any out-of-stater does) I love it here in St. Vinny’s—at St. John’s.