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.

Oh, Sandy!

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Sandy you don’t need to be
so darn close to me.
Pumpkins, candy, trick or treat,
washed away down Charles Street.
Staying in is fun
when you have movies for everyone.

Yes, there is a hurricane coming my way, and I‘m so happy I don’t have classes tomorrow, but it’s also Halloween week and I am not letting Sandy dampen my days.

I really like Halloween. A lot. It’s possibly one of my favorite holidays. Probably because of it being in the fall (favorite season), but also because there are so many options to be had for its celebration.

I have very fond memories of trick-or-treating with my parents when I was little (except for the time I got chased by a teenager with a chainsaw. That was so not cool): going through the ritual of pumpkin carving, dress up, pictures, walking around the neighborhood, and as soon as I returned home, sorting through all the candy and giving my dad all the Almond Joys. As I got older, I went out with friends and in high school started the tradition of watching creepy “Doctor Who” episodes and sleeping over at someone’s house.

Now that I’m in college I can’t really go out trick-or-treating, but my roommates and I have found other ways to celebrate Halloween without going out only to be drenched by torrential rain and 60 mph winds.

We decorated our apartment early this month but we added some decorations this weekend:

Snoopy

I also sketched out some designs for our pumpkins while listening to Pandora’s Halloween music stations.

Post carving swirls

Pre carving facepost carving face

The week leading up to Halloween I wear festive earrings, and my roommates and I will be wearing Halloween appropriate clothing on Wednesday. I might even spike my hair!

some crazy earrings

I think the best part about Halloween in college (besides having an excuse to eat candy) is bonding over movies, whether they be horror, cheesy, classics, or down right strange. A bunch of my friends and I watched The Ward (by “watch”, I mean I sat with them facing the opposite direction of the TV and provided humorous sarcastic commentary based on their reactions) on Friday and have plans to watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum tonight.

I really miss the 1940s black and white “horror” movies like The Wolfman and Dracula. Oh, and you cannot miss Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy! Even though it isn’t really an official Halloween movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has to be one of my all time favorites of “strange” that is shown at this time of year. Make sure you have toast on hand when you watch it!

True, this kind of Halloween celebration is fairly low key, maybe not your typical college experience. I’d love to go to the Lantern Parade in the city, but Sandy kind of nixed that this year. Maybe next year will be clear and crisp and I can have an outdoor Halloween adventure!

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….