Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Knight Talk with Sarah Silverman '11 from the Ski and Snowboard Club!

One of my favorite events on campus is jib fest sponsored by the ski and snowboard club. I was able to talk to a really cool skier chick, Sarah, all about the club and the awesome events they put on throughout the year!


1.What activities does the ski and snowboard club sponsor on campus?
The ski and snowboard club sponsors Jibfest, a big event on campus where skiers and snowboarders compete on the 300's field performing tricks and skills off of a snow mound, ramp and rail that we build ourselves. We hold bbqs at the base of the mountain which are free for all ShredMC members, and we host ski and snowboard movie premiers throughout the year. We also sponsor another "rail jam" during the spring semester.

2. What are some of the benefits of being part of such a large club on campus?
There is always a ride to the mountain, a few members are now van certified so vans will be available for those without rides to the mountains. You can always find someone to go skiing with.

3. What has been your favorite memory with the club?
Well one of my top memories with the club is winning 1st for girls at JibFest but thats tooting my first horn. Honestly, I love everything about the ski and snowboard club and some of my fondest memories were made freshman year when I met all the great shredders I am now friends with.

4. How do you balance school work and skiing in the winter?
I have to take responsibility for my work and time, planning my schedule solely around school work and skiing. If you arent responsible with your time, then you don't deserve the reward to hit the slopes.

5. What made you want to join the ski and snowboard club?
Well I love skiing, and I know most of the goofiest people come from the ski and snowboard club. I wouldn't wanna surround myself with anything less than the bunch of friends I met through the club.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knight Talk with Ryan Magee '11 from the Varsity Tennis team!

Why did you choose to play a varsity sport at St. Michael's?

I chose to play tennis at St Mikes because I enjoy being part of a team and competing at a high level in athletics.

How do you balance doing your schoolwork and participating in tennis?

I balance my work and tennis by keeping my time somewhat organized and not doing many things that are not necessary to do in a day. I don’t have a lot of free time during the season.

What kind of team activities does your own team participate in?

My sophomore year my team went to Hilton Head, SC for a Spring Break training trip. During the season we do team dinners/movie nights with the girls tennis team and try and do a mixed doubles tournament once a year.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing a varsity athlete at St. Michael’s?

The biggest challenge facing me as an athlete is staying healthy for both of my seasons, the tennis team plays in the spring and fall. In general I feel that the biggest challenge is maintaining the balance of athletics, school and social life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Knight Talk with Siobhan Lavery '11 about 'Not In Our Home' panel discussion

I've been attending some powerful and moving events this year. It amazes me how our SMC Community has been so involved and taking their own initiative to make changes in our world. Last week, I attended the Dear Hilary Campaign and last night I attended a discussion panel called "Not In Our Home", a campaign to stop bullying, hateful words and actions on our campus and in our own lives. The panel discussion, created by senior Siobhan Lavery in conjunction with Common Ground , came in light of the several tragic suicides of teens across our country due to hateful words and actions. The panel consisted of SMC faculty and student members talking about their own experiences with hurtful words and their ideas on how to stop them in our community. The event was incredibly informative and hopefully inspired many SMC students to take responsibility to stop bullying and hate on our own campus. I was able to ask a few questions to Siobhan about her opinions about the event.


Why did you decide to hold this panel?
After attending the common ground meeting the week of Tyler Clementi's death, I talked to my committee and decided that we wanted to do something. The idea for a panel discussion came in later in a discussion with my roommate. Originally the idea was to include speakers from off campus, but after more discussion we figured it would be more pertinent to have speakers who the community knew.


How did you decide who would be on the panel and who would be speaking?
We asked Dave Landers because of his expertise, and Mark Litchfield because of his association with Common Ground and his personal experiences. Sam was chosen because of her work with the OutRight association. Kasey and Mike were chosen because we wanted different gender perspectives from two people who were openly gay.


How did you personally feel connected to the recent tragedies and suicides due to bullying, hazing, and harmful words?
I think that when there are any teenagers that are committing suicide, we have to ask ourselves why. These deaths are preventable. I think about the students that could come into my classroom, and the struggles that they have. It is our responsibility to make their voices heard, to support them. This isn't about sexual orientation; its about people.


What was your favorite or most significant part of the night?
My favorite part was when Sam asked the straight allys to come out of the closet. I think it was just so powerful to see how many people really are in support of each other within our own community.


What was the main message that the event was trying to convey to our community and our students?
The point of the evening really was to show that we aren't immune. This could happen here. Because of that, it is up to all of us to act out, to protect each other and our community. This isn't something that we can push over to other people, but is something we have to take direct control of.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knight Talk with Rachel Stone '12 with the Dear Hillary Campaign for the Congo


On Tuesday, I attended an extremely moving and powerful event. The Dear Hillary Campaign, is a campaign designed and initiated by St. Michael's College students to end the violence in East Congo. Student Global Aids Campaign along with the Peace and Justice Club and with many other students/faculty involved inspired this amazing campaign. Rachel Stone, a junior was involved in the planning of the event.

1. First of all, What is the “Dear Hillary” Campaign for the Congo?

The Dear Hillary Campaign for the Congo is a demand for action. There is a law in place, Public Law 109-456, that is being ignored by government officials and we are asking Hillary to enforce it. The law has several parts but the underlying idea of it is that the United States will no longer contribute to or support the violence in the Congo that is caused by Ugandan and Rwandan forces. Through the Dear Hillary Campaign, 56 chapters across the US and in the Philippines, UK, England and Canada, joined the movement. Each chapter participated in the campaign by watching Lisa Jackson’s documentary, “The Greatest Silence,” which exposed the issue of sexual violence in the Congo, and signing a postcard to be sent to Hillary. The postcard combined a birthday greeting, because we are contacting Hillary on her birthday, with a demand for enforcement of Public Law 109-456. Secretary Hillary Clinton will be receiving a total of 17,000 postcards signed by individuals around the world, all in support of this demand for justice for the women in the Congo.

2. What was the purpose of last night’s flagship event? How did it go?

The flagship event was the second part of the campaign, besides the postcard signing, and meant to spread awareness of the crisis in the Congo. Last night, all of the chapters of the Dear Hillary Campaign around the world held a similar event. Each chapter received a copy of the DVD, The Greatest Silence, along with their postcards, and they showed the documentary to their chapter last night. The documentary has shocking footage from Lisa Jackson’s trip to the Congo and her interactions and interviews with raped women as well as the soldiers committing the brutal crimes.

The event went very well, starting with Hillary’s “birthday party,” we sang happy birthday to her, lead by the Aca Bellas, and then watched the documentary. At the conclusion of the documentary, the audience was encouraged to ask Lisa Jackson questions about the film and her experience, and it was clear through the discussion afterwards that people were moved and upset because of what they just saw, but also inspired to help. That is all we could hope for.

3. Why is the St. Michael’s Chapter so important to this campaign?

The St. Michael’s chapter is important because this is where the whole campaign started. Leah Zieglar and Kate Bailey, two seniors at SMC worked with Professor Laurie Gagne over the summer to start the campaign. Through connections, word of mouth, and a strong presence in the media, the St. Michael’s chapter extended the campaign across the country and the world, creating a total of 56 chapters.

4. What made you decide to become involved in the Dear Hillary Campaign?

I heard about this campaign through a friend who became a part of the committee when we returned to school in the fall. I have been a member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign since freshman year, so I’ve worked on issues regarding the crisis in the Congo in the past, and this was just another effort I wanted to be a part of. The worst part about the genocide in the Congo is that very few people around the world know it is even happening. It is such a horrifying crime against humanity, and I feel it is my job to do what I can as a fortunate, privileged human being, to speak up for those who can’t. This campaign required a simple task that can cause a serious impact; it was easy to commit to it.


5. What do you think is the biggest thing we can do as students to stop the violence in the Congo?
The easiest thing for students to do is to spread awareness on the issue and speak up for the women in the Congo who cannot. The most effective thing, though, would be to go right to the top, contact the people who have authority in our country and are contributing to the violence, and relentlessly demand change. We have power as US citizens living under a democratic rule to contact and communicate with our leaders with extreme global power, and we must embrace that opportunity for control and use it to demand justice.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Knight Talk with Cassandra Burns '11 from International Outreach!

1. What is International Outreach?
International Outreach is a mentoring program that operates through MOVE. Once a week, kids from the
Winooski school district come to Saint Mike's to play, hang out, and get help with their homework if they need it.
We have 17 awesome kids that range in ages from around 6 or 7 to 16. Their families are from Thailand, Vietnam,
Somalia and Nepal. English is not any of the kids' first language, and they are all somewhat new to
America. We see them each week to provide whatever they might n
eed- someone to play soccer with, to help with math homework or to talk about whatever they want or need to talk about. The kids don't have too many constants in their lives, so one of our main focuses is to become one for them.

2. What kind of activities do you do with the kids?
We each have one kid that we spend most of our time with, but we will eat dinner as a group and every other week we do group activities. The kids are read with at the beginning and end of every session together to help with reading ability. So far this year we have played a lot of kickball, gotten Henna tattoos, made friendship bracelets, gone apple picking and a lot of other fun activities. In the future we are planning a trip to Pizza Putt, learning dances from the kids' original countries, and a swimming day. There is a lot of freedom as to what types of things can be done week to week. Sometimes the kids know specifically what they want to do, sometimes they are happy to play musical chairs or freeze tag with everyone else.


3. What made you want to be involved in international outreach?
In a fiction class I was assigned the book What is the What by Dave Eggers and it made me much more aware of how hard it is in certain cases to live in an politically unstable country. After reading it I really wanted to do something to help with the refugee population that lives right down the hill from us. I got an email from MOVE describing the program and I decided to join!

4. How do you think the children benefit from having a mentor?
The kids are still working on their English and living in America is a new thing for them, so we help them to adjust in a good environment. School can be a tough place to have to do that, so we offer them a safe space and a place to just have fun. The program is a 4 year commitment, so in theory a child will have the same mentor for 4 years- which will give them one more constant and influence in their life.

5. How do you become a mentor? Do you have any advice for people wanting to become more involved with international outreach?
If it is something that you want to do, come hang out on a Thursday afternoon with us and see what it's all about! If you end up liking it (who doesn't like playing with kids?) you can sign up and become a mentor! It is a 4 year commitment, but don't be discouraged if you aren't a freshman- I joined my junior year. If you are looking to help but can't commit to every week, Homework Club is also a great way to interact and help with international kids within the Winooski school district. International Outreach is a great program that I think really does a lot of good, and is also a blast!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Maine, Columbus Day Break, FALL!

Hi everyone!

So lots has happened since my last few posts. Fall is in full force at SMC, the leaves look absolutely amazing and it's such a pretty time to be on campus! I've been super busy with all of my classes, Student Association and my internship. I'm loving my classes this semester, especially my photography class and I feel like I'm learning a ton this semester. Graduation is only 7 months away and its certainly still scaring me but I'm trying to enjoy the time I have and not think about it too much.
About two weekends ago a few of my friends on the Student Association E-Board got together and took a fun trip to Maine to relax and spend some quality time together. It was so much fun to get away for a little and not too mention being on a lake was amazing. We ended the weekend by having lunch at one of our SA faculty advisor's house. Here's a picture of us all in front of Lake Champlain!

I had a busy week of meetings, classes and of course swim practice! Swimming is now in full force with our new coach Eileen Hall. Although I was very sad that our old coach, Jim Donoghue had retired, Eileen has been doing amazing things with our team. We've been doing dryland work every day, running, lifting, and a ton of squats...eek. I'm not going to lie...I couldn't walk down the stairs for about a week. But we have been working really hard and I'm excited to see what the upcoming season has in store for us!

This weekend I was able to take a trip home to the Cape to see my family and some of my friends. I met up with some of the girls from study abroad in Boston and we stayed at my friends apartment right next to Fenway, went out and had an amazing time. I've missed them so much and I truly miss Ireland a lot. I miss the country, my friends, garlic chips and cheese, and seeing sheep on a daily basis. :)
I have been working on my internship with the Marketing and Communications department and trying to get my head together for plans next year. I know I definitely want to go into the field of media communications, especially social media. I've been learning awesome things about YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and how businesses, organizations etc. use them to enhance their marketing and connect with people all over. I'm really interested in communications and marketing in general! I'm attending the Career Symposium tonight and tomorrow, and I've been able to talk with The Board of Trustees for the college, and have been making connections here and there! I have my fingers crossed that every thing will come together and my work will pay off someday :)
In the next few weeks, we have HALLOWEEN coming up...which means the Halloween dance. I honestly could not be more excited! And my first swim meet will also be coming up November. I can't believe how fast this semester is going by and its already time to pick classes for second semester. I'm loving fall though and trying my best to enjoy every single second I have here.

So that's just a quick little update. As always, any questions, comments, or suggestions are always welcome!! Talk to you all soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What is your favorite thing about SMC and why?

My favorite thing about SMC would have to be the opportunities I've had to get involved in so many different activties and pursue so many of my interests. Academically, I've been able start as a Biology major, switch to English major and then add my Journalism minor. I've been able to take literature classes, marketing classes, science classes and art classes all in the same semester. Socially, I can be part of an atheltic team, involved in Student Government, and volunteer all at the same time! You don't have to limit yourself to one major, one activity or one specific role at St. Mike's you can do anything and everything that interests you :)

Why did you choose to go into journalism and what has been your experience with that major at SMC?

I'm actually a Journalism and Mass Communication minor but I spend a lot of time with the Journalism department! The Journalism and Mass Communications department at St. Mike's is an amazing program with a lot of different options and opportunity to develop your own interests. I chose journalism because I love to write but I also wanted to pursue different areas of journalism like feature writing, public relations, and creative design. Journalism is changing within our society and the program also allows you to not just pursue writing and newspaper skills but also new media skills. As a Journalism major you will write and manage our school's print publication The Defender, but also learn to create a website, use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, create digital film and so much more. You can also take amazing classes like Photjournalism, New Media, Nature Writing, and Global Communication. Although it's a lot of hard work, I know I'll be prepared in so many different areas when I graduate! :)

Ask me anything!

Wednesday Knight Talk with Sam Hooper '12 from The Defender/Naked Opinion


How does the Defender, our school newspaper reach out to students?
According to the mission statement, as the editorial staff of The Defender, we strive to accurately professionally and ethnically report the news affecting the lives of students and our community.

What is your job on the Defender? What do you do?
I am a Naked Opinion Online Editor. I design the pages for the Naked Opinion section of the Defender Online. I hand drew each button and scanned them onto the website. I and the other Naked Opinion Editors, Erik and Kalin choose a theme of the week and notify students and faculty on campus so that they can share their thoughts and submit written pieces on the theme. We encourage anyone on campus to submit poetry, art, or columns about anything they wish top write about. I also post photos that are submitted by students and Jerry Swope’s photojournalism class.

What are some of the other sections of the Defender?
News, Features, Columns, Naked Opinion and Sports

How does the Naked Opinion differ from the News? Which do you like better?
The Naked Opinion gives students a chance to speak out about anything they desire to. Each week there is a theme that students can write about. Students are free to express themselves through the Naked Opinion which makes it interesting for others to read. The News section of The Defender is much more structured. Students write about a certain news topic and interview sources for their article while submissions to the Naked Opinion are much less structured and more up to the writer.

How do you encourage other non-journalism students to submit to the Naked Opinion?
We encourage anyone on campus to show off their work in the Naked Opinion.

What are some of the topics? What has been your favorite topic so far?The themes for the Naked Opinion have been time, visions, want, and connections. My favorite is connections because I am currently writing a piece about it.

Does the Naked Opinion just accept writing or are you able to submit other pieces of work?
You can submit writing, poetry, art, photography or anything thing else that you feel passionate about artistically.


Visit the Naked Opinion Online and Look for a new issue of The Defender every Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Knight Talk with Mae Quilty '11 from Democracy Matters!

Mae Quilty is a senior Political Science Major and has started a group on campus called "Democracy Matters".

1. What is Democracy Matters?
Democracy matters is a non-partisan, campus-based national organization that works to get private money out of politics and people back in. They offer internships on different campuses across the US and work to train young people as effective grassroots organizers.

2. Why have you gotten involved with this group?
I chose to get involved with this group because as a Political Science major I feel an obligation to take what I learn in the classroom out into the real world. I believe in the importance of democracy and the need to work toward the changes that you want to see. As a part of Democracy Matters, I am able to focus on a wide range of issues while being an active member of civil society.

3. How are you trying to get St. Michael's students involved?
In order to get SMC students involved, I have put information up on the Political Science bulletin board in St.Ed's, sent e-mails, presented to Green Up, tabled in Alliot, and held weekly meetings on Mondays at 5:30 in Eddie's Lounge.

4. What kind of activities and events will you be sponsoring?
So far, we have a few events in the works. On October 21st, the Northeast coordinator for Democracy Matters will be speaking in both sections of Professor Siplon's Introduction to American National Politics classes. In addition, we will hold a panel in the Farrel Room on October 20th at 7:00 with multiple speakers on the topic of money in politics. We are also hoping to host a Rock the Vote Concert to promote participation in the upcoming November election, but details still need to be finalized. Another ongoing project we will be working on is petitioning for signatures for the Fair Elections Now Act which would allow federal candidates to run for office without relying on donations from corporations or lobbyists.


5. Why does democracy matter to you and why do you think it should matter to other St. Mike's Students?
Democracy matters to me because I see it as a privilege. I feel lucky to live in a country where my voice really does matter, and in order to make it count I need to actively engage in my society. There are so many issues out there today that people are passionate about and the cool thing about Democracy Matters is that it is connected to most of them. Whether it's the environment, health care, civil rights, women's empowerment, you name it, it all comes back to the issue of money in politics.

2010 YouTube Video Contest Announced!!

As the social media intern for the Department of Marketing and Communications I've been working on a little project to announce to everyone...



This year's 2010 YouTube Video Contest will be : "Why I Like St. Mike's" Students from all years are encouraged to make a 30-90 second video telling us/showing us why they like St. Mike's. It can be a skit, song, dance, anything!



The first place winner will receive $250, 2nd place $100, and 3rd place $50!

Participants need to pick up an entry form with the contest rules and regulations at Hoehl Welcome Center. Videos and completed entry forms must be submitted and returned to Hoehl by November 12th, 2010.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions mmcgonagle@smcvt.edu

Don't forget to read the Official Contest Rules carefully.


Official Contest Rules:


PLEASE READ THESE RULES CAREFULLY


Sponsor, Administrator, Prize Provider: Saint Michael's College, 1 Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 054391.


Acceptance of Official Rules: By entering the Contest operated by Saint Michael's College you ("you", "yourself", "Participant") hereby accept and agree to these official rules (the "Official Contest Rules") of this Contest, and the decisions of the Administrator and the Contest Entities in connection with this Contest, whose decisions are final.


2. Eligibility: This Contest is offered and open to persons who are (a) currently enrolled in at least 12 credits at Saint Michael's College, and are determined by the Registrar as "matriculated" students of Saint Michael's College; (b) at least 18 or age of majority in state of residence or older at the date of entry in this Contest. Employees, alumni, and trustees are not eligible to participate in this Contest.


3. How to Enter the Contest and Submit the Promotion Video: To enter this Contest, during the applicable Entry Period each Participant must go to http://www.youtube.com/ and upload their video. Videos must be uploaded and a completed entry form must be completed and returned to Hoehl Welcome Center by November 12th, 2010.

Videos must be between 30-90 in length. Participants must use the following tags on their video: Saint Michael's College, smcvt, Burlington, Vermont, St. Mikes, btv, college, university, I Like St. Mike’s. The Participant Video must be of your original creation and only show yourself or people that have agreed to appear in Participant's Video. The Participant Video must incorporate a theme of “I Like St. Mike’s”. Videos need to display why the participant “like’s St. Mike’s” (at least) .

Videos may not include copyrighted material or music and consent must be given by all those included in the video.

The performance incorporated into and embodied in the Participant Video entry must be in English and shall not be disparaging, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, offensive, indecent, or in any way promote or incite violence, racial hatred, terrorism, or illegal acts, or be otherwise objectionable in Saint Michael's College sole discretion. Additionally, Saint Michael's College can deem in their sole discretion to refuse videos that are sexually explicit, sexually suggestive, offensive, illegal, pornographic, obscene, in bad taste, or which otherwise may reflect unfavorably on Saint Michael's College. These videos are not eligible and will be disqualified.


4. Entry Period: The contest will run from October 1st at 12:00:00 PM EST and ends on November 12th at 11:59:59 PM EST. Only eligible Participant Videos uploaded to YouTube with a completed entry form during the applicable Entry Period will be entered into the Contest and be eligible for voting and the prize.


5. Prizes: First place will receive $250. If there are fewer than 10 submissions to the contest, two prizes will be awarded. First place will receive $250 and second place will receive $100. If 10 or more videos are submitted, there will be a third prize added of $50.


6. Judging: The Participant Video will be evaluated and selected by a panel of judges (the "Judging Panel") comprised of representatives of Saint Michael's College and local media representatives, whose decisions will be final and binding in all respects. The Judging Panel will judge all of the Participant Videos uploaded based on criteria decided by the Office of Marketing and Communications.


7. IMPORTANT: By sending your Participant Video, you agree to the "Official Contest Rules" and grant Saint Michael's College an irrevocable, perpetual, world wide, royalty free license, in Participants original video materials incorporated into the Participant Video, to publish the Participant Video with no compensation to you other than possibly getting your Participant Video published on the smcvt.edu website. Participant Videos submitted must be suitable for presentation in a public forum, in the sole determination of Saint Michael's College. Saint Michael's College reserves the right to reproduce the Participant Videos in full or edit and enhance the Participant Videos at their discretion. Saint Michael's College is authorized to use the Participant Videos as they see fit, including usage in advertising. All Participant Videos are licensed to Saint Michael's College in a perpetual and royalty free manner. There is a limit of one (1) Participant Video Entry.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Knight Talk with Wilderness Program leader Drennan Hicks '11

1.What is the Wilderness Program? What kind of programs and activities do you sponsor?

The Wilderness Program is one the the largest student organizations on campus. We run student- lead trips just about every weekend in the fall and winter in many different outdoor sports and activities. All of our instructors are trained to a professional level making us very different from other outdoor programs. We offer programs in whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, telemark skiing, back-country skiing, and learn to ski and snowboard programs. We also offer many technical skills classes and extended trips during winter and spring breaks.

2.How has the Wilderness Program benefited you as a student/athlete/person?
The Wilderness Program has allowed me to continue to purse my outdoor interests. I have always loved outdoor sports and the Wilderness Program has allowed me the opportunity to develop excellent technical skills as well and leadership and teaching skills while leading trips. Plus I have the chance to take people into the outdoors and teach them the things I have always enjoyed. I have always liked introducing people to new outdoors sports. I have also met many new people; instructor that always want to be going out and doing things, and participants that I might not have met on campus.

3.What has been your greatest challenge? Greatest achievement?
My greatest challenge has been developing all of my skills. Every instructors has their own personal technical skills that must be solid, but even more important are the skills relating to your participants. We are working with many different people from many different backgrounds and each trip presents a new challenge for the instructor. I think over my 4 years I have improved my skills in teaching, group management, and dealing with whatever situation may rise on a trip. I believe my greatest achievement is gaining my Single Pitch Instructor certification for rock climbing. Next month I am taking the final test to complete my certification.
4.What is the most popular program or activity? What is your favorite activity?
Every program is incredibly popular. Nearly every trip every weekend is full during the fall and winter. A large portion of our student body participates in a trip every year. Many of the trips fill up a few weeks in advance, because people want to make sure they get what they want. My personal favorites are the climbing trips, I am a climbing instructor for the the program so I spend most of my time leading our introduction and second level rock and ice climbing trips.

5.How do you balance academics with all of your activities?
It is difficult balancing academics and my outdoor activities, if I could I would be doing something every day. What I have tried to do every year is set a few days aside to concentrate on work, and some days that I will try and go climbing. I usually try and get everything done I need to before taking a day to climb or lead a trip, because school is the main reason for being here. Sometimes it turns into me doing work after a long day of climbing or leading a trip all day and coming back and sitting down and doing work right away, but it is always worth it.


6.What would you say to someone that is thinking of participating in the program but might be afraid?
To people that might be afraid to go out on a trip I would tell them that I can pretty much guarantee I have seen someone more afraid then you are. Every instructor in the program has professional certifications and spends days and days in the field refining there skills, and learning more. We are there on the trip so people can enjoy all of our great activities in the safest environment possible.

Check back for more Knight Talk posts every Wednesday! :)
Mairead

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Knight Talk with Women's Rugby President Ellen Missert '11!

Every Wednesday this semester I will be doing a post highlighting a club, sport, or fun program here at St. Mike's. My featured Wednesday "Knight Talk" this week is highlighting Women's Rugby Senior President Ellen Missert. Here's what she had to say!


1. When did you start playing rugby? What made you decide to join?
My roommate Sam and I decided to play spring semester freshman year. We were both athletes in high school, decided not to play a varsity sport at St. Mike's, and just wanted to be part of a team again.

2. What is your favorite part about the season?
Saturdays, most definitely. Everyone loves a solid game day. It is the type of game where you try and tackle the other team as hard as you can, but at the end of the game, we are all friends. When you travel internationally, the minute you tell a foreign rugby player that you also play, you are immediately friends and probably just made their day.

3. What are some challenges you face while in season?
Like any extracurricular, it can be a challenge managing rugby with school work. Everyone on the team always finds a way to handle it and you have the support of 30 team members there with you in the library until late, cramming. We are all there for each other.

4. How has rugby beneffitted you as a St.Mike's student, person, teammate etc.?
I honestly don't know what I would be doing if I hadn't joined rugby. I have made some of the best friends of my life between both the girls and guys team. Also, knowing that I can run and tackle for a constant 80 minutes and survive it, kind of gives me the confidence to do anything.

5.How do you get yourself motivated through hard practices or games?
I just try and think of all the people who are shocked that I play rugby and hit even harder for them :) Plus, it builds character!

6. What is your season like? When do you practice, have games etc.?
We practice Tues-Thurs on North and then on Friday's, we practice on the 3's field, followed by a team dinner. Every Saturday we have a home or away game. We play teams throughout New England and will seldomly have overnight trips. Two years ago we took a trip to the Beast of the East tournament in Rhode Island.

Finally, 7. do you have any advice for someone thinking about playing rugby or someone who doesn't know a lot about the sport?
PLAY! We only have one member on the team who had ever played rugby before. All of us learned when we started. Grab a chair or blanket and come out on Saturday's to watch our team and the guys team play. It's a wicked awesome game and you can't help but not fall in love with the sport.

Check back on each Wednesday for more Knight Talk with an SMC Club, Sport or Program!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SMC...How I've missed you!!

Hello everyone!

SO I'm finally back to school and can't even tell you how much I've missed this place. It's taken me a whole week to catch up with all my friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a year, unpack my mounds of stuff, and decorate my new townhouse! So many things have changed this year but I'm happy to be taking everything day by day and loving every minute of it.
Last Saturday I packed up all my things and left one of the greatest summers of my life to embark on my senior year. I had such an amazing summer on the Vineyard and met so many amazing people, families, and I felt so blessed to be living such a life! I mean...it was a little stressful leaving myself one day to pack up but I did it somehow. I moved into Townhouse 321 on Sunday afternoon and then it hit me...
This.Is.My.Last.Year.

I mean I always knew this day would come but seriously?!?!? Where did the time go. It was so good to see my roommates though Sam, Ellen, and Cassy who I hadn't seen in months because they had all studied abroad as well.
The next few days were beyond stressful. My thought process in Ireland (if I had any at all) when choosing my classes was not organized and I had a lot of rescheduling to do. I finally got my act together and I'm taking Marketing, Film Photography, American Literature, Media Law and Ethics and then my internship with the Department of Marketing and Communications!
That brings me to my next exciting/scary thing, my internship. Like I said previously, I still feel (and some say look) like the 18 year old girl who came to St. Mike's thinking that four years would feel like forty. I was sadly mistaken and now its come time for me to hear scary words like "budgeting" "career" and finally, my personal fave "real world". But aside from being initially shocked, I feel like I'm going to learn a lot with my internship and as the secretary of communications on the Student Association this year.
All in all, I'm hoping to learn, have an amazing year and somehow be ready for that nasty G word (graduation) when the time comes.
I haven't had a chance to take any pictures of my little house yet. But here's a picture of us outside our lovely new home!
The roomies and I have been working away and have just made the addition of some very comfy couches (obtained on a budget price, obviously) and some harvest-y, fall decorations. Pictures to come, don't you worry!
Swimming will be starting up very soon and I'm really excited to get back into the water. In addition, we have a lot of cool things coming up on campus this fall. This weekend is the Welcome Back Bash sponsored by the SA! We're going to be having fun slip n slides, bbq's, music, and activities all outside on the 300's rugby field...conveniently located right outside my house!
I hope everyone is starting to get back into the swing of things...I know its going to be a challenging year with lots of changes and transitions but I'm excited for everything to come! I'll keep you posted and thanks so much for following :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Island Life...

A little more than a month ago I boarded a plane leaving behind one of the best experiences I ever will have in my life. Leaving Ireland, I gained a new perspective about the world, some amazing friends I will have for life and 15 extra kilos in oversize luggage. I was only "home" to see my friends and family for about a week and a half when I quickly dusted off my summer clothes and headed for another place I call my "home", Martha's Vineyard.


I can't remember the first time I went to the island, but I think I was about six when my Auntie rented her first house in Edgartown. It's funny that when you are little, everything looks a lot different then it does now. I remember renting bikes with training wheels, going to my now favorite place The Seafood Shanty, and my 4 year old brother discovering his favorite food was lobster at an alarming young age. Ever since then, I've been back almost every summer and its amazing how the experience is completely different each time.


This summer, I came to the island to live with another family and embark on another unknown experience. Although I was in the same country, state, and only within a few miles and a short ferry ride away, I still found myself having the same nerves and feelings as if I was going abroad. Since then, I've settled in and realized I had absolutely nothing to worry about because so far it's been an amazing summer.


I've seriously lucked out living with a great, welcoming family and being able to babysit such funny and cute little kids! I've also been working on an internship for a company called What's Up Martha, doing social media work, public relations and throwing some fun events on the island! I've met new friends and met up with some of the old while just thinking how lucky I am to experience such a great place for the summer. During the day while the parents are at work, I take the kids to the beach, library or any other adventures they might feel upto. I have a new found appreciation for my own mom taking us to the beach when we were little. It's not easy carrying boogie boards, towels, pales, shovel, coolers, and kids to the beach and then packing it all up again after a few hours!

Right now, my Mom, Aunt and Uncle, and cousin are here to visit for the week :) Last night, we were talking about graduation and I couldn't help but feel completely overwhelmed thinking about leaving St.Mike's and traveling into full force adult-hood. I'm so excited to get back to St. Mike's and see all of my friends that I haven't seen in almost a year! But at the same time, I don't want to be wishing away anything and I think I have so much more to learn. I'm so excited for the incoming freshman because they have the best years of their lives ahead!

So that's just a little update for now! Here are some pictures I've been taking the past few weeks. The island has had amazing weather...perfect for artsy pictures! Another reminder to anyone at all if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me (mmcgonagle@smcvt.edu) , formspring me (on the right) and ask away. Talk to you all soon!



A beautiful beach in Chilmark, up island...



Edgartown harbor at night



The kiddies hard at work at the beach :)



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

There's no place like home...

Hi Everyone!

So huge delay in postage and lots to catch up on!! Biggest news being....I'm FINALLY home!!

I have been home for exactly one week...and its taken me this long to actually realize I'm not in Ireland anymore and my severely overweight baggage isn't going to unpack itself...

My last days in Ireland were amazing. My parents came for a week and we were able to visit relatives in Belfast, Dublin, and had a great time visiting Galway. The vacation went far too quick though and I think we all wished that we had more time. It was so nice to see family, with my family. I loved hearing all of the funny stories from my uncles, meeting some cousins, and showing my brother, mom and dad all about my new life here in Ireland.

I had my last final dinner with my API program and our resident directors, Finn, Kevin, and Maeve. We had an amazing meal at one of the nicest restaurants in Galway and then we were able to spend our last night out and watch the sunset by the bay. I was so grateful to have them here for all of us the last 5 months and they truly made our experience that much better!

My last week in Ireland was crazy to say the least. Everyone was packing, people were dropping out like flies and I had to pack up everything I owned and quired these last 5 months. It was stressful but we all helped each other through it. The last day in our apartment looked like 5 bombs hit my room! It was crazy, my bags were so heavy and I needed to somehow make it to Dublin City to meet my very hospitable friend Fiona! The last few days were so stressful trying to pack and make sure I hadn't forgotten anything so it was SO nice to be able to relax and spend time at her house. We went to see her college, Trinity College in Dublin, went to the seaside Hoath during their hottest few days they had seen in years and then her mom dropped me off at the airport early Monday morning.

Since I've been home, I have gone through many bags of Tostitos chips and taken several trips to Mary Lou's coffee :). I've loved spending Memorial Day with my family and helping out getting the house ready for summer and seeing all of my friends. It's also so weird being 21 here! I feel like I'm seriously getting old...

This week, I need to unpack, repack, clean, organize and do everything I can in preparation for my other big move back to the Vineyard for the summer. I'm so excited because a lot of my friends will be returning and I think its going to be a great opportunity to Nanny and spend time out on my favorite Island! I also have to go through my tens of thousands of abroad pictures and upload them...So look for a few picture and quick little blogs coming soon!

While I've returned home I have realized how many of my friends and family have been anxiously following all my blogs, adventures and stories abroad. It's so nice to hear how people have been reading and truly makes me realize how ridiculously lucky I was to have such an amazing experience. Although I'm so happy to be home, I miss Ireland and the amazing places and people I met there. Keep reading for my adventures on Martha's Vineyard (I promise to post more than last summer..hehe) and my transition back into reality! Talk to you all soon!


Monday, May 10, 2010

The days are winding down...

Hi again!

My semester is winding down, and I can't beleive how fast everything is going by! People in our program have already started to leave and the number of people who are still here is dwindling down. Now that I'm all done with college, I've still been having so much fun here and taking advantage of my time left in this beautiful place!

Last week, my roommate and my friend here both turned 21! We were able to go out to dinner at a mexican restaurant in town ( I've missed mexican!), have a little party at our house and then go out with everyone here. The weather has been really nice here. I've been able to wear flip flops around and it makes me excited and miss Sagamore Beach a little too!


This weekend I had some of the best times I've had so far here. On saturday we went to a part of Galway called Salthill. It's not too far at all but they have such a pretty beach with a diving board! It was a little windy the day we went but the sun was still out. The water was FREEZING but my crazy friend was the only brave one to jump off the diving board. You'd think with me being on swim team, I'd be all for it but really you couldn't pay me to get in that water! I was able to take lots of pictures too. Here's a picture of all of us at the beach and I was able to figure out how to take black and white pictures on my camera! woohoo

On Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays Galway has a market downtown where local artists, farmers, and anyone who wants to can set up a stall and sell things. On Saturday before we left for the beach we went and got delicious crepes and bagels, (there are also donuts too!!) On Sunday we went down to the market again, and sat along the bay and walked around town. I've also been working on a scrapbook I've been making of my time here. I've saved a bunch of random receipts, pamphlets, stickers, train tickets and odds and ends of all the places and things I've done this semester. It's been taking me a few days to go through everything but it's going to be so good (and sad) to look back and see how much I've seen and done here!


This week I'm VERY excited because my parents are leaving Wednesday and will be arriving early Thursday morning! I'm meeting them in Dublin and then we are traveling to Belfast, Donegal, Giants Causeway and then back here to Galway. It's going to be so nice to see my mom , dad and my brother. I think they are really excited too! Tomorrow, we have one of our last program meetings and we are going to have pizza together and maybe participate in some irish dancing...I haven't practiced in a while so I'll have to see just how rusty I am haha!


My friends at SMC have already finished their semesters and all of their finals! I hope everyone made it home safely and that they've already started a great summer! :) I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on the family's visit and everything to follow in my last few days! Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One month left???

Hello again everyone!
So a few days ago I woke up and realized I only had one month left in Ireland. It was the weirdest feeling I think I've ever had. One, I'm really excited to go back to the states and see my family and friends and start a great summer again on the Vineyard. But two, I really don't want to leave at all and it's going to be so sad leaving this country. Really. It's such a bittersweet feeling and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle it...(Here's a picture of the light shining down on one part of a hill in Connemara..also very weird!)

I feel like I saw and did so much but I still need to see and do so much more. I went on amazing trips to London, Paris and Italy. And I especially love that I got to see and do so much in Ireland, the real reason I went abroad. Everytime I went somewhere, it was so nice to be able to come back to my my FAVORITE country and I realized I really did pick the perfect place for me.

Another "weird thing". I've been around the friends, my roommate, and the people in Galway since January. It's going to be so different to just go back to our own schools, go back to life in the US and not see them every single day.

And of course I'm going to miss Ireland life. The friendliness, Irish humor, and most importantly, Garlic sauce for my chips (fries). Oh and seeing cows/sheep on a daily basis...

Although I'm looking forward to summer, I feel like I have another "home" here to add to my list. I have my home in Sagamore Beach with my family, my St. Michael's home that I've missed so much this semester, another summer on the Vineyard-a homey place that feels so familiar, and now my abroad home, Ireland. Each of those places give me the same friendly, homey feeling and I wonder if its possible to call four places home. So if someone asks me where are you from? am I supposed to give the long winded answer, "well I'm from Sagamore Beach, I go to college at St. Mike's, I spend summer on Martha's Vineyard, but I also lived in Ireland?" I guess I can just accept that no matter where I go, I have four favorite places in the world (so far) and I can call each one of them home. Whenever we went some place, a friend would say "I could have studied here!" or "I feel like I could live here!" but the only place that really did that for me was Ireland and it made me realize each time how lucky I was to be here.

So here I am within my last few weeks and since I've been back in Italy I've been finishing up my last few final essays and trying to do as much as possible. I finished my last essay just this morning which means I have less than a month to cram everything in and take full advantage of my family coming in two weeks! :)

In the next month, I have a trip to Dublin planned with my family and we are also going to go up North to see Belfast, where my family is from. I also want to try to take some day trips and make sure I see all my friends one last time in Cork, Limerick and Dublin. I was talking to my Aunt from Galway at Easter, telling her how much I didn't want to go home of course and she told me that I can at least try to go back once a year. Now it's a stretch and I'm not sure if my financial budget will allow me, but I think it would be a nice goal to try to come back once a year or as much as I can. My friend who studied abroad in Galway two spring semesters ago, has been back 8 times already. I guess its just that kind of place. :)

So now that I'm officialy done with school, I'm going to take advantage of everything Galway has to offer. My roommate turns 21 in a few days, we're going to take trips to the Salthill beach not to far away now that the weather is nice and just spend as much time in Galway as possible. And then eventually, my study abroad trip will have come to a close. So, I've included some little pictures along the way here of Ireland. I'll keep everyone updated and talk to you soon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ciao Bella!!

Hello again!

I've lots to talk about from everything that has been happening in the past few weeks!!

SO BIG NEWS...I am now 21 years old!! Who would have thought?? I had an AMAZING birthday here in Ireland. My friend Cassy came to visit from Greece, (read her blog here!) and I had about three days of celebrations! My roommate threw me a great party here at our apartment with all of our friends and they even surprised me with a CADBURY cake! (We all know how much I love Cadbury!) Althought at first I was a little sad to not be spending it with my friends and family back home it made me realize how great the friends I met here are and how lucky I am to be in such a great place! :)

After my birthday, our lectures ended for Easter break. I traveled down to Dublin to spend Easter with some family! I went to Dundalk, Carlingford, and also stayed a night in the center of Dublin. I met some of my cousins, my great uncles and aunts, and it was so nice to be with such a welcoming family for Easter! Easter is one of my favorite holidays at home and I loved being able to spend it with my family here in Ireland. They were so funny and my great aunt and uncle had a delicious dinner and showed me around everywhere. I was also able to see some more of the country and it only reinforces the idea that I may or may not leave when May 25th comes!
After Dublin, I had two days to prepare and then I went off to begin my world travels to ITALY!!! Last Tuesday, we left Dublin Airport to Bologna. We then took a train, that very much resembled the train in Harry Potter ( we were all excited) to Florence. Florence was beautiful, again I don't know how Christine ever left! It was one of my favorite parts of my trip. We were able to meet up with my friend's friends who were studying abroad there. The weather was beautiful in the 70's and we were able to drink wine and watch the sunset from these steps that overlooked the city! Here's a picture of a few of us enjoying the nice weather by the river!

The next day we went to see the statue of David, and explored some of the outside markets. We had a great dinner with all of our friends and it was such an amazing time. The entire trip I couldn't help but feel how lucky I was to be able to see and do all these things!

The next day we started our tour of the Almafi Coast! We stayed in these adorable "bungalows" that were so nice! They had two different rooms, with a kitchen and bathroom and outside with a balcony and our very own lemon trees!! The place where we stayed was also an outside camping site and I felt like I was in a movie again! We took a day trip to the island of Capri where we took a boat ride all around the island, saw the blue grotto (one of the natural wonders of the world), jumped off the boat into the surprisingly VERY cold water, and went around to the beautiful little town of Capri! We also got some delicious caprese sandwiches which I miss dearly now! The next day we took a trip to Positano Beach, the bus ride getting there was a bit dodgy. It was twists and turns and the only thing holding us back from us, the massive cliff, and the water very far down below was a small metal barrier. I was clinging onto my roommate sitting next to me to say the least. Positano beach was amazing and we took another boat ride around the sea and saw how these houses were built right into the cliffs...amazing! The next day we went to the ancient city of Pompeii and saw of the ancient preserved ruins. After that we were on our way to Roma!


We only had one day in Rome so we tried to see and do as much as possible! We went to the Vatican and saw St. Peter's Basilica but the line to get in was so long and it would have taken all day! I was kind of upset that we weren't able to go in but I was lucky just to be there! We saw the colloseum, went to the spanish steps, and threw our pennies into the trevi fountain!! Here;s a picture of me outside the fountain! We stayed another night in Rome, had an amazing last dinner, I ordered fish and lets just say it's not the cape cod fish and chips I was used to the head and everything was on my plate. Luckily, our nice waiter helped me out with that... We woke up early and took our flight out of Rome and now I am back in Galway and back to the real world :)


I can't beleive I have only a little over a month left here. As time goes on I seriously don't want to leave! I have good news for next year though and I'm just as excited to return to my life at SMC where I'll be on Student Association as the Secretary of Communications and be doing a year long internship with the Marketing and Admissions departments! I'm currently on the lookout for a summer job too. I'd love to work back on the Vineyard again but getting everything sorted while your in a different country has definitely proved it's difficulties!

I have a few final essays to do and then my parents and brother come in a month! I'm soo excited for them to come visit!! I'll be doing little trips around Ireland hopefully and taking advantage of everything in the next month and a half! I'll be sure to keep everyone updated until then ciao!! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paddys Day, Dublin and Cliffs of Moher...! (never leaving Ireland :) )

Hi again!!

Lots has happened since my last post....most importantly ST. PATRICKS DAY!! Here, they call it Paddy's Day or St. Paddy's Day. Padraig is Irish for Patrick. And it just so happens to possibly be my favorite holiday...and I was able to celebrate it in Ireland!!

My friends and I dressed up in our Paddy's Day outfits (which took some serious thought and planning, mind you) and headed down to the parade in Galway! I had my green, orange and white knee socks on and my friends and I invested in some temporary shamrock tattoos from the 2 Euro store. Great investment!! The streets were filled with people with shamrocks on their faces and everyone was having a great time. We also headed down to the Spanish Arch, an area outside right on the river, where we were greeted with a mass amount of Irish college kids, with their pints of course, kicking a ball from their balcony into the crowds and shouting...doesn't take much for them to have a good time here..haha!
The next day my friend visiting from home and I went to Dublin! It was a really quick trip but we were able to see the General Post Office, St. Stephen's Green, Grafton Street and we even went to Dublin's oldest pub, The Brazen Head! Of course, I did have to visit to the Guinness factory where I had my first full pint of Guinness. I have to say for a proud Irish-American, I am not fond of the Guinness. But I dealt with it and had a pint just so I could say I did. :) For dinner, we did however hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for my first plate of nachos in about 2 months, needless to say they didn't last long! The Hard Rock Cafe was really fun and I loved walking around the city! I'm also traveling to Dublin again this weekend with my program to do more in-depth tours, to see the Book of Kells, and Trinity College! I'm so excited! I also have friends and family in Dublin that I'm excited to see.

On Saturday, I took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. We were so lucky to have such a nice day where the cliffs for completely visible. They were really high up, my mom would not have liked the look down thats for sure, but I got awesome pictures and I was really happy I finally got to visit! We took a bus tour that brought us to The Burren, and explored/explained a few little towns and sights on the way. I was happy we did the tour because they stopped at a lot of cool places and I was able to be my typical obnoxious photographer self!

I can't believe how fast this time abroad is going by. Everyday I say to myself its going to be harder and harder to leave this country! I feel like I fit in here so well, among the disorganization, lateness, tea drinking and very proud Irish :). I do miss my friends and family at home though sometimes, but I'm excited for my friends that have visited and those coming very soon! My roomie Cassy, currently blogging away from Greece, is coming next week for my birthday! I'll be turning 21 next Tuesday....so crazy!! My family is also coming in May, which I'm very excited to see Ireland with them. My grandmother is from Belfast, so we'll be taking trips to there and visiting some of my other family all around the country!

I'm also going to Italy for a few days after Easter. I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to travel and see the world. I love my little St. Mike's but being able to see how the other world lives is amazing! :)

I hope everyone is doing well! I love hearing from everyone reading my blog! I'll try to keep everyone updated with my travels and adventures. Talk to you all soon!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Paris, Hiking, Letterfrack, and rugby!

Bonjour!

Things have been pretty busy around here :). I have so many things to write about but first, I'll start with the API program trip to PARIS!!


We did so many things its hard to even remember:


On the first night we got into our hotel a little late and we decided to just walk around the area and get some dinner. We quickly found we were staying in the area affectionately labeled "the red light district" it was very interesting...but we were right down the street from Moulin Rouge and at night the city lit up was beautiful. So at dinner, I decided to be adventurous and order the dish of the day (in french, mind you.) Our waiter told me it was fish, and made the hand signal of something swimming. I was like hey, I like fish, I'm from Cape Cod, I can handle it. Needless to say my fish was DELICIOUS. A little bony, but delish none the less. So then my program director, Kevin, told me that it was in fact Stingray. Yes. I hate stingray, in France. We then walked around and saw the, again, VERY interesting sights and headed in.



On Saturday, we walked around, took a bus tour and saw all of the sights. We drove through the city, stopped at the arc de triumph, the Eiffel tower, the opera house, the louvre, etc. I also was able to take a few artsy pictures from afar of Chanel, Dior, (Insert favorite french designer here) etc. As fashion-savvy as I am, I had to look from a distance in fear of getting too close and forgetting my study abroad college student budget.






After the bus tour, we took a small guided tour of the Louvre museum and saw all of the highlights. I was able to sneak through the crowd, (one benefit of being short), and take a picture of the Mona Lisa. Afterwards we headed to go up the Eiffel Tower. The tower was so beautiful and I am so glad we went up. It was windy, and basically freezing but a beautiful view and something I will remember forever. Here's a picture of me kissing the tower ;)

At night, a few Friends and I walked along the Champs D'Elysee, the main shopping street, but again, no bargains in Paris. We saw the city again all lit up at night and then headed back to the hotel!

On Sunday our last day, a few friends and I headed to Notre Dame Cathedral. It was so beautiful and something that you literally have to see in person to know how AMAZING it is. It was one of my favorite parts of Paris. Paris was such a fun city, but I was really happy to return to Galway again. I actually liked Paris better than London. It had so much culture, and the food was so good. Throughout the entire trip, I ate about 5 baguettes, 4 fromage (cheese) quiches, and so many pastries I can't even count. I would stay in Paris for another week to just eat.



When we got back from Paris, we were all super tired and went through another week of classes and hung out in Galway for the weekend. I attended a silent disco at one of the bars downtown, which was hilarious/great craic (fun) What's a silent disco you ask? Well, its where everyone has headphones, there's no music outside the headphones and their are two DJ's playing different songs and you take off your headphones and realize everyone is dancing and singing to different music!! Kind of weird, but so much fun...



This week, we had a small break in classes and my friend Meg and I traveled to the countryside with one of our friends and spent a mini "holiday"-vacation in Letterfrack, Connemara about an hour away from Galway. It's literally the smallest, but still prettiest towns, I've ever seen. We spent a day hiking up Diamond Hill, where I realized how much I miss my swimming lungs, and spent a night in the small town bar listening to the locals compete in a talent show, great fun in itself. I loved seeing the countryside, getting away from the city, and being with such fun people. Definitely made me realize why I came to Ireland and how happy/lucky I am to be here. (I will be posting pictures soon once I steal them from my friend!!)



And on a final note, I went to an Irish rugby game tonight Connacht vs. Glasgow, Scotland!!! It was so exciting and so much fun. My friends were even interviewed for an online TV channel...I think they thought it was funny that we didn't really know what was going on. They ended up tying but it was a great game and the crowd was awesome and so into it!!

Tomorrow, our API program is taking us on their excursion to Connemara. I think it will be fun and different from our own little personal tour this week, and it will be fun to be with everyone!! Next week is College week, with so many events going on for the university students to raise and give money to charity. It used to be called RAG week (raise and give) but they've changed the name this year and it's a pretty big deal around here. Google it ;). I'll have lots of stories coming up in the near future. Hope everyone is doing well and talk to you soon!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Pancake Day!

So I just wanted to write a quick little tid-bit about the delicious holiday and new tradition I discovered today :)

In America, today would be the most hailed of all days- Fat Tuesday. So when I woke up this morning, I decided that for lent (beginning tomorrow) I would give up my daily Cadbury Carmello's and Buttons. But as a last hoorah I would indulge myself with them today, as any normal chocolate lover would and just as I have for every Fat Tuesday before.

Instead, I found that in Ireland, the tradition is quite different. It was instead..Pancake Day.
I had a message from my Irish friend, and she told me to "Enjoy my pancakes today!" Confused, I asked around and indeed found the rumor to be true. If you do not have pancakes for at least one meal today...you're committing a sin. Just kidding...but everyone does it, its tradition. :)

So I woke up at 6am to travel to the immigration office so I wouldn't be "thrown into a dungeon" like my Garda officer affectionately advised me and I received my Irish student ID. Afterwards, I went to classes, went downtown and then went to Tesco (supermarket) and strolled the aisles for pancake mix. After getting sidetracked as usual by popcorn, strawberries, MORE chocolate etc. I asked an employee where the heck the mix could be. He pointed me to the large crowded display in the front of the store. Feeling slightly like an idiot, I made my way through the crowd and bought the two packets that everyone else with an Irish accent seemed to buy.

I then came home, and informed my roommates we were having a pancake dinner. At first, we realized the recipe was a tad milky. And then realized we were making crepes, the mix was titled "PANCAKE MIX" and everyone else was buying it, so we pondered for a while and decided this must be what "Pancake Day" is all about. At first, we nearly burnt down the kitchen or suffered from smoke inhalation injuries before my roommate Kelly had to take over. But after about 65 crepes later, I was making them with no problem. :) And they were honestly so ridiculously good, I was happy to have a new found love for "pancakes" and "pancake day".

So the moral of the story is, I intended this day to be just as every other Fat Tuesday but instead ditched my usual chocolate hoarding for the day and greatly appreciated the tradition that I discovered in my new home. :) Happy Pancake eating everyone, talk to you soon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

London and Cork college week !

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the little break in post-age. I had a busy last weekend in London and yesterday I just got back from visiting some friends in County Cork!

Last weekend, a group of about 12 of us went to London for the weekend! The city was absolutely beautiful and very big. It was hard to try to fit everything into three days but we walked EVERYWHERE and saw some of the major fun places. On Thursday night we got into London really late, so we woke up on Friday morning early and traveled to some of the free galleries and did touristy things! I loved the National Gallery and seeing Van Gogh's paintings up close. We then went to Buckingham palace, Big Ben, Westminister Abbey etc. I loved Buckingham Palace and we really lucked out with the weather! :) Here's a picture of my friends, Kelly, Meg and I underneath one of the famous Lions in Trafalgar Square. I was being a scaredy-cat and they had to do some serious convincing to get me to climb up there:



The next day we broke off into a smaller group and a few of us went to Harrod's department store. Harrod's was one of my favorite parts of the trip. You could honestly spend HOURS in that place. It's about six huge floors and you could seriously get lost if you weren't paying attention ( I did, about three times.) We saw the pet store, food hall, the Princess Diana and Dodi memorial and all of the luxurious fashion... (Although, I had a strong feeling most of the brands are not targeted to study abroad students on a strict budget...sigh.)


The food hall was literally nothing like I've ever seen. They had gelato, fudge, candy, meat, pizza and absolutely everything you could ask for. I had some gelato and fudge, the best lunch a girl could ask for, right?


After Harrod's, we went to the Tower of London and then we went to the London Eye. The London Eye is that massive ferris wheel that towers above London. We went at night so it was so pretty to see the entire city lit up. They take you into these little capsules and you can see absolutely everything. It was so much fun!! Here's a picture of my roommate and I infront of the London Tower Bridge :)



On Sunday, half of the group had an early flight but a few of us stayed for an extra day. My friend Kelly has a friend studying abroad at Imperial College in London so we went to stay with her and saw a play, Jersey Boys, and went around to a few of the shopping centers. I LOVED the play. The play was about the group The Four Seasons and we were surprised how many of the songs we knew and how fun it was! After the play, we went down to the college to watch the Superbowl with a few of the other American students before we left for our extremely early flight back to Galway. As much as I loved London, I was so happy to return to our small, familiar town of Galway :) It made me so happy to know that I consider this another home now, and how happy I am to be settled into such a quaint, friendly town.




I unpacked, got myself into the swing of classes and then on Wednesday night my friend and I traveled down to the south of Ireland to visit Cork. My two Irish friends from the summer, Susie and Aoife, go to University College Cork and it was UCC RAG (Raise and Give) and College week. It was soooo nice to see them and I missed my Irish friends so much!! We went to a few of the pubs and walked around the college and shops. It was a quick little trip but I had so much fun having them show us around Cork and meeting all of their college friends. It was so nice having Irish friends that could show you around, tell you where to go, and the best things to order at food places. For example, I was introduced to the piece of heaven that is "Garlic, Cheese Chips" . They are fries (or chips as we call them here) covered in cheese and garlic. Honestly, I need to find them in the US when I get back because my life's forever changed after having them. At the college, they had so many activities during the day to raise money for different charities around the area. One daring student raised over 150 euro to shave one of his eyebrows off. Another, shameless participant had his chest waxed in the college bar and raised about 300! Anything for charity I guess :) We also went to a Ceili, which is traditional group Irish dancing, on top of the medicine building. A little embarrassing when other students walked by, but I was happy to have a background in Irish dancing so I could keep up with the others :)

This weekend, we're relaxing and hanging around Galway. Next weekend is our program's trip to Paris! I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on all of my travels and adventures :)

On another note, the SMC Bloggers are holding a contest for high school seniors!! We want to know what you guys would like us to write about. We want fun, interesting topics so leave a comment on any of our blogs with what you'd like to hear. We'll gather them all together at the end of February and decide the best ideas!

AND we have another video/youtube contest for SMC Students and a chance to win 500$!! Read all about the rules and info for these on Ross', our social media interns blog:


Thanks guys and talk to you all soon!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Galway is Savage...

So this past week has been super busy with classes and exploring but I have been on a few very blog worthy adventures! I'll start with last weekend...

Last Saturday the API group went on an excursion to Bunratty Castle in County Clare and we also went on a nature walk through a park in Galway on our way home and the autograph tree signed by famous Irish poets. Our awesome resident director, Finn, is so funny and told us so many little stories on the way. I'm a huge dork for that kind of stuff so I was absolutely loving it and taking tons of pictures!
Bunratty Castle was really interesting... I felt like I was in a movie. (which seems to be a reoccuring theme on this trip.) We went on a tour through the castle with staircases literally about 5 inches wide. They were also super steep but it was fun to see all of the authentic tapestries and learn about the huge feasts and parties they had there! :) There was also a little village beside the castle with small cottages, gift shops, and bakeries. We had lunch at a small pub and then went on a walk through an old cemetary and through the forest.


We stopped at the autograph tree signed by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory and also went into a fairy circle. (yes, a real fairy circle.) The Irish are really superstitious so we walked past a perfectly shaped circle of bended trees that supposedly holds huge superstitious value! ;) The fog was really thick so my pictures didn't come out as well as I had hoped but you can still kind of see the weird circle shape the trees made.

You can walk into the fairy circle, make a wish and then when your done wishing you have to leave the circle right after. You also can't enter the circle during nightfall, and if your in the circle and it turns dark you have to sleep there! It was so interesting and a little eerie how all the trees bent into a perfect circle, definitely makes you think about the legend :)

We arrived back into Galway and the next day, Monday, we had a really fun cultural event. Our program took us to PureSkill a place where we were able to try out all sorts of sports and compete in teams with eachother. We were able to try Irish sports as well like hurling, cricket, and Gaelic football. I was so bad at hurling the guy managing the place had to help me. It was really embarassing, my partner Meg and I were the last ones to finish...sorry Meg. :/ My arm was literally sore the next day. I was having a hard time learning that you had to throw a ball and whack it with a wooden stick to score. I have no idea how everyone here is so good at it! Here's a picture of me wearing protective gear without it I most likely would have injured myself..and others. My friend Kelly was in the midst of putting hers on...But after trying hurling and cricket once, I've decided that I'll just stick to water sports, thank you.


This weekend, I also had another quite different cultural experience. A big group of us went to the dog races in Galway city last night. Now usually I would be totally against anything to do with dog racing, just kind of not my thing. I was nervous to go, but a few of us asked the staff at the track and they said the dog's are trained and treated very well. It actually turned out to be really fun in the end and I had a great time cheering and seeing what a race is really like. While studying in Ireland I'm going to have to do things I'm not used to, i.e going to dog races. But I know I came here because I wanted to see what the culture is really like and I really wanted to do something different. The races are a huge part of the Galway culture so I'm glad I went in the end and we all ended up having a ton of fun. :)

Tomorrow we have another culture event with our program making St. Bridgid's crosses.They look like this...
St. Bridgid was my confirmation Saint and another patron saint of Ireland and her feast day is tomorrow. Tradition says the cross will bring you luck and I know my grandmother has a St. Bridgid's cross hanging in her house and I've always wondered how to make them!


I'm so excited that I've been so busy doing fun excursions and adventures here. I'm going to London on Thursday and I'm literally counting down the days! Most of my friends who are abroad have settled in to their own countries by now too and I'm loving hearing all their stories and adventures as well! I know the next few weeks are going to be super busy with London, visiting my friends in Cork, Paris and Dublin ...all in February! And if your wondering about my title...savage is another word for "awesome", haha. I'm totally getting used to calling fries "chips", potato chips "crisps", "cheers" instead of Thank You and saying the word "Grand" 3,000 times a day! I actually love the additions to the vocab and everything else that comes with the country!

I'll be sure to keep you updated of my escapades ahead. Talk to you soon!