Home for the Holidays

This past week was super busy! I cannot believe I’m already home; these 3 and a half months went by faster than I could have ever imagined. But now that I’m back, I am so excited to tell all my friends and family about my first semester at the U, starting with last weekend.

Last Saturday, Octaves kicked off the holiday season by caroling on the fourth floor of The DeNaples Center! We had the honor of singing for a large group of well known donors for the school that were highly impressed with our singing. The carols we performed for this occasion were the same pieces we sang at the annual tree lighting. The advent tree lighting took place on December 7th at around 7:45. It was a beautiful ceremony led by campus ministry and was followed by Christmas on the Commons (an event in DeNaples filled with holiday crafts, a photo booth, build -a-bear, etc)! Although I was too caught up in preparation for finals and writing essays and couldn’t attend Christmas on the Commons, the night was a lot of fun!

Here are some pictures from the tree lighting!

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The same day, before the tree lighting, Men and Women for Octaves (both Royal Harmony and Octaves) performed in their annual winter concert. It was such an amazing feeling being back on stage and singing all the songs we’ve worked so hard on throughout the semester! Some of my favorites were Chandelier, Chick Mix and Mary Did You Know (which we wore Christmas sweaters for!). You can find all the videos of our songs on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!

As the semester was wrapping up, in my First Year Seminar course my professor asked the class “What’s one choice you’ve made so far that you’re glad you made? What would you encourage a younger sibling or friend to do in the first semester at college?” I immediately thought of Octaves. I believe it is so important to keep your hobbies and passions a priority even while you’re in college. For me, singing is an outlet; it allows me to de-stress and is, as it always has been, truly and simply enjoyable. Just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite activities. If you do, you’ll really miss it! Music has been important to me for as long as I can remember and I am so lucky I can continue pursuing it at the U.

Unfortunately, the fun had to end once Monday came around. Although I only had two actual sit down final exams, three essays wasn’t too much fun! But I must admit, there is no greater feeling than submitting or handing in final essays. This semester was jam packed with assignments and exams, but I honestly feel that I learned so much. My professors definitely challenged me through the months, however I never felt as if it they pushed me too far beyond my limits. Scranton is known for its friendly environment, and that is absolutely true for staff as well.

This semester, as I always say, truly flew by! But as much as I love being at school and with my new friends, I have never been so happy to be home. Not only can I sleep in my own bed, have home cooked meals, AND see my high school friends, I can do this all with no worries of having work! These next 7 weeks are going to be nothing but fun and relaxing.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year! I’ll be posting a few times over break so I will be back soon! 🙂

(Just another picture of me, my floor-mate Courtney, and our two commuter friends Jillian and Sammi, in front of the tree after some beautiful snow had fallen on campus!)


The Final Weekend of Song

Here I am, back in 105 Driscoll Hall. I’m currently listening to the incredible voices of ten men singing an absolutely beautiful a cappella arrangement of the classic Christmas song O Holy Night. I had the privilege of seeing these ten men, a group known as Straight No Chaser, live this past Friday in Red Banks, NJ.

The concert lasted about two hours but honestly felt like twenty minutes! Straight No Chaser performed a 2 segment show; the first half showcased their most popular covers and medleys, such as The Man Who Can’t Be Moved and  Billie Jean/Poison. The second half of the show was dedicated to the group’s Christmas music, like their notable version of the 12 Days of Christmas and O Holy Night (both songs the group used to perform in college together!). Although I’ve always loved a cappella music, actually being a part of an a cappella group on campus made me appreciate this concert even more. Just in the first semester, Octaves has taught me so much about the handwork that is required by a cappella singers. It takes a truly talented male vocal ensemble to accomplish what Straight No Chaser does.  Check out this video and their website!


Although I was already getting in the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving, since it is now December, I can do that with no guilt! The first day back on campus I noticed a beautiful, full tree in the corner of the Dionne Green. This made me even more excited for this weekend! As I mentioned in a previous post, on Saturday the University is celebrating its annual Advent Tree Lighting. After the beautiful Christmas Mass, this tree will be twinkling with lights and a golden star at the top. (Of course, including a carol or two from Octaves!) It seems like it was only yesterday when Octaves had their first caroling practice. I cannot believe we’ll finally be performing this weekend!

But alas, our performance is a reminder that the semester will be over soon. Winter break is just around the corner; 10 days away to be exact!  I know the time is going to fly by and since final exams begin next week, I’ll be keeping my “Five Tips for the Final Stretch” in mind. 

With that being said, I’m off to continue working on my final essays and begin some study guides! Hope you’re all staying warm and listening to Christmas songs on the radio just as much as I am!