Autumnal Elation

Ah, autumn has come at last! Leaves crunch underfoot, wind whips down alleyways, and it wouldn’t Ireland without a good dose of cold rain.

And by rain, I mean torrential downpours that come at you sideways broken up by squalls of lighter, slightly more tolerable rain. What would have been a pleasant walk to the train station was more like a swim. I mean, I was soaked. I could squeeze water out of my pants, that’s how wet I was.

Now, why on earth would I subject myself to such unpleasantness?

For Science!

Ahem, sorry, *cough*. I mean, For Service!

The study abroad program at Loyola requires all students complete an immersion project, which can either be a massive scrapbook (including interviews!)/paper reflection about your experiences, or 15 hours of service while abroad and a reflection.

Erin and I chose to do the latter, so we were very happy to hear that there was a service fair provided by the chaplaincy to make it easier for students to find service organizations to volunteer for. At the fair, we came across a table for Fota House, a restored 19th century mansion and grounds that holds events and workshops during the year and hosts tours during the spring and summer.

Being the history and reenactment nerd I am, I was super excited to check them out. And by excited I mean I filled out the volunteer form and returned it to the house this week, full of anticipation for working in what is basically Downton Abbey.

This week Erin will be helping with Halloween workshops for kids, and the following week I’ll be pressing apples for cider with the gardeners! Ah! So psyched!

I think a large part of this excitement is missing the fall traditions of home. Not exactly homesickness, but just certain things that are my favorite memories at Loyola or New Jersey.

In case Halloween/Autumn Fever hasn’t hit you yet, here are a few things to get you in the mood!

  1. Dorm Decoration! I’ve had so much fun with this the past two years. Whether or not you opt in for kids trick-or-treating at your door, it’s still fun to get your orange and black on.
  2. Apple or Pumpkin Picking. Ok, so I haven’t actually done this since high school, but it’s a blast. I keep on seeing pictures of friends on facebook picking apples back home at Terhune Orchards, or with a Loyola group on a trip.
  3. Pumpkin Carving. While it’s technically an extension of the above, it’s by far my favorite Halloween activity. Ever since I can remember I would design the pumpkin faces for my family, and eventually got to carve them myself. I don’t care how gross pulling out the “guts” can feel, it wouldn’t be Halloween without the smell of pumpkin in the apartment!
  4. Halloween Movie Marathons. Whether it’s Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein or Friday the 13th, everyone loves a good movie scare. And if you’re not up for scares, ABC Family is probably showing Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus (Ah, the good ol’ days).
  5. Foooooood. Everyone loves it. Grab some orange frosting and ice some creepy cupcakes, or turn pigs in a blanket to mini-mummies. No matter what you make, Halloween themed foods are the best.

Sensory Exploration

Shuffle shuffle fwoomp, ugh, sweater hair, straighten. Slip tie, slip tie, up we go. Shrug shr-, oh drat arm’s stuck; I’ll have to repair that sleeve hole, -ug, straighten, slip button slip button. Hoist, grunt, mmf, shift, check jacket collar, earbuds in, pull the handle, step, step, Step…
Stairs!
Step…
Step…
Push, check reflection in windows, push, step step and
Woah.

It’s overpowering. Crisp air, gray sky, fresh leaves, slight breeze, chilly fingers, stinging eyes.

It’s autumn.

If you ask me what my favorite smell is I wouldn’t be able to give you a direct answer. I would debate and question myself indeterminately for hours and it would still be tied between woodsmoke, old books, freshly fallen leaves, and sautéed onions.

More leavesRight now two out of four infiltrate my nostrils as I walk to classes and a third will be served with tonight’s dinner. As I sit writing this at my dining room table, steam rises from the air vent outside, hits my window, and makes visible waves of moisture, reminding me of Jack Frost’s fingers on a snowy window pane. It’s getting me excited for November.

I can’t wait for the crunch of leaves underfoot, the wooly happiness of snuggling into a scarf, the smell of hot apple cider, the

Oh. Wait. Cider.

Just thinking of it makes my mouth water and transports me back to second grade, staring at the giant wall of trees in the state park at home. My Girl Scout troop is tramping through the dew covered leaves, wiping away at bleary Saturday morning eyes and hungrily looking ahead to the trail-mix in our leader’s backpack. Orienteering always meant an energy-zapping morning followed by hot cider stored in thermoses, PB&J sandwiches, and the previously mentioned trail mix. I’m pretty sure there was an early bedtime when I got home.

But that cider.

Sweet, spiced, and simple, the piping hot drink will always make me happy, no matter how busy or stressed I am.

I usually don’t get homesick, but right now I have to admit that I kind of miss the fall rituals from home. Even though I’ve outgrown some of them, it’s still nice to look back and bask in the memory of reading Harry Potter with my dad after a bike ride on the canal path, or frantically looking for a tissue after coming inside from raking leaves in the chilly October air.

Postcard1Postcard2Postcard3

Yeah, I’m definitely missing the pumpkin carving and corn mazes right now.

If I’m this psyched over fall, I hate to think about how I’ll be come December.

Don’t get me started on freshly chopped pine trees.

Fall’s Furry Friends

As soon as he said “Breathe in slowly and exhale, feel your muscles relax. Breathe in and let the stress flow away from your body,” I knew that as Friday wrapped up a wonderful weekend would begin.

I was not wrong.

You might be wondering why on earth I’d be psyched about a little meditation, but trust me, after the week I had, I was really happy the Student Leadership Corps focused on stress and time management in our weekly session.

Taking time to unwind is crucial at school; I know I sound like one of those info sessions everyone gets dragged to in high school, but it’s true. I’m usually wound up really tight (both physically and mentally) so having an evening to hang out with friends, while partaking in not quite “conventional” entertainment for 19 year olds, is really appreciated.

What might this unconventional entertainment be?

Build-A-Bear

My friend turned 19 last week, so she requested we go to Build-A-Bear as celebration of this momentous event. My roommates and I met her on the East side of campus, where I noticed the trees were changing and got really distracted by the beautiful colors:

SO PRETTY
I love little inconsistencies

After a brief ride to the mall, we embarked on our journey to make new furry friends (Hey, I’m just quoting their website).
Paige, me, Nicole, and Erin

And yes, we did do the little dance/embarrassing series of hops and hand motions to ensure our bears had hearts full of love. No shame.

So much love

Here is Dr. Hiddles Holmes, one of the newest members of my room’s family.
Be jealous guys, he's a triple threat!

After eating the obligatory food court dinner and meandering through some shops, we headed home and (literally) chased down a shuttle to take us back to our dorm.

Some hours of sleep later found me yet again taking an early morning stroll to the art studio (I’m amazed my roommate hasn’t thrown a pillow at me yet for waking up at 6 on the weekends).

I love this tree by Knott HallBones are very interesting to draw...

As much as I love art, I wanted to get back to my room so we could decorate for Halloween. See, my mom sends me care packages labeled with “Do Not Open Till” leading up to various holidays (including International Talk Like a Pirate Day) so my roommates and I were pretty excited when we opened the box full of fall decorations.

So festive!

Don’t worry, the festive atmosphere didn’t go unseen by others! Students from the Alpha  Theology class I’m an Aide for came over for spaghetti dinner that night. Apparently our room has a very homey atmosphere, but is very clearly “young adult” oriented (Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory stares me down when I walk out my bedroom).

Homemade Sauce, too!!!We have so much leftover....Anyone want to come by for spaghetti?

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. Jam packed, but totally worth it. I live for those moments that seem to span an entire day when it’s only been a few hours. Sadly, those days are the most tiring, and right now it’s coming back to bite me.

Maybe I’ll put those relaxing exercises to work later this evening….