One of the best choices I made freshman year at the University of Scranton was choosing to be a part of the Cura Personalis Living Learning Community. There are four Living Learning Communities for first year students: Celebrate the Arts, FIRE, Wellness, and Cura Personalis. Celebrate the Arts pursues artistic goals; FIRE focuses on developing leadership potential; Wellness advocates a well-rounded lifestyle; and Cura Personalis promotes faith, service, and justice. The LLC students live together according to their particular community during their freshman year.
I choose to be a part of the Cura Personalis Living Learning Community, and in particular, I was a part of the Faith Pillar of Cura Personalis. Each “pillar” (faith, service, or justice) planned and executed dorm- and campus-wide programs highlighting a particular issue or aspect of that pillar. For example, the Faith Pillar presented a program on the difference between All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. The Cura Personalis LLC decided to continue into the sophomore year, and we are currently living together on the 4th floor of Gavigan Hall. Cura Personalis was the only LLC to continue past freshman year, and that most likely is a consequence of the bonds its members formed freshman year through living and learning together. In addition, the sophomore Cura Personalis members were each paired with a freshman Cura Personalis member to serve as his or her mentor. The sophomores hope to be guides for the freshman and help them with their transition to college life.
This year, I am a part of the Justice Pillar. This past Sunday, the Justice Pillar presented its first program of the semester, entitled “Sexual Assault and What We as College Students Can Do to Stop it.” The program focused on learning the facts about sexual assault, identifying the mentalities that cause sexual assault, and focusing our efforts on stopping sexual crimes on this campus. Because much of the presented material was dark and heavy on the hearts of those who attended, we lightened the atmosphere by providing candy, Halloween cookies, and apple cider. We had a rather lively discussion at the end of the program about the underlying causes of sexual assault. Overall, the program was a success.
Opportunities like living in an LLC enrich the campus community and provide ways for freshman to become involved immediately upon arriving at the University. To any prospective students reading this, I highly advise that you join one of these programs!
This weekend, I attended one of the University Performance Music Program’s free concerts. The concert was given by violist Andrew Gonzalez and three of his peers, who respectively played the violin, cello, and piano. I and two of my friends sat in the balcony of the Houlihan-McClean Center, where the concert was held; the balcony holds the best seats, in my opinion. Our ears were delighted by the beautiful melodies and harmonies that the string musicians brought forth from their instruments. The passion and fervor with which they played was incredible and inspiring. My favorite piece of the night was by far the last one played, a Dvorak piano quartet with four movements, each evoking a different cadence of emotional response in the listener. I sat rapt in my chair, hardly noticing the time pass as I listened to the sounds intertwining with each other. It was such a surprise when I discovered that the entire piece had been nearly 30 minutes long! One of the greatest qualities of truly good music is its ability to nearly eliminate the constraints of the human experience; the Dvorak piece enabled me to transcend time and place in some way.
Another wonderful thing about the free performance music concerts is that they appeal to both students and faculty alike. Behind me sat one of my professors accompanied by his friends. The opportunity to interact with professors in more casual, social settings like a concert has been a hallmark of my experience at this University. From music concerts to weekly faculty-student gatherings, I often have the chance to get to know my professors more deeply. This is a transformative experience. The discovery that my teachers have lives apart from the classes they teach is humanizing and comforting and helps me relate to them better in or out of class.
So, I’m stuck in an airport. It’s 13 hours before my 8 am class tomorrow, and I’m 1,000 miles away from the University. Let me explain.
I had the exciting opportunity to spend my Fall Break (Oct. 11-14) with my family at Sanibel Island, Florida. My family has been vacationing at Sanibel for years, since before I was even born. It used to be our favorite summer hangout. Now that I’m in college, however, my parents decided to spend two weeks in October on the island, and the deal was that I could join them during Fall Break. Cue a bus ride to Philadelphia, train ride to DC, and plane ride to Florida. Yeah, it was a lot of traveling, but it was completely worth it, in my opinion. Strolling along the beach in 80 degree weather was preferable to power-walking across campus in Scranton’s bone-chilling 40 degrees. I had the chance to relax out in the sun and read my current book, The Kite Runner (highly recommended!). I also attended my first water aerobics class at the local gym, which was an enjoyable heart-pumping experience. I indulged myself in yoga and ice cream this morning. All in all, I had a very good time. I packed my belongings this afternoon and prepared to leave on a 6 PM flight to Scranton with one changeover in Atlanta, GA.
Tragedy (or should I say lightning) struck. The plane I was supposed to take had been struck by lightning on its way to the airport and would require mechanical repairs. Unfortunately, there were no mechanics on site, and they had to be driven in from an airport 3 hours away. The flight out of Florida was pushed back, and I missed my connecting flight to Scranton.
So, here I am, drinking a latte and passing the time by writing this blog. My mom will pick me up from the airport soon, and I will return to our condo. It’s unfortunate that I will miss a day of classes tomorrow. On the bright side, however, I get to spend another day in warm, sunny Florida.
This weekend was mostly a work weekend for me. Midterms are coming up soon, so long studying sessions have become a major staple of my daily routine. I am happy to say that I now have memorized the 5 self-evident truths in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, but I’m still working on understanding the 5 major forces of evolution…
On Friday night, I ventured downtown with a friend for Scranton’s First Friday. This is an evening of leisure and art celebrated by the people of Scranton. After indulging ourselves with some delicious frozen yogurt from Coconut Summer (I recommend the dark chocolate!), we meandered around the city, enjoying the live music. Then, we decided to catch a movie at the local Marquee Cinema near Steamtown Mall. To my great surprise, we saw a horde of University students entering the theater at the same time! It turns out that the University offered an amazing movie and dinner special for that Friday. 250 University students could register to eat at 1 of 13 local restaurants at 7 PM and see a movie at 9 PM for only $5! I was in awe. I will definitely be on the lookout for deals like this in the future.
In other news, I have recently discovered something amazing: There is a Dunkin’ Donuts within walking distance of campus! It is inside of City Market and Cafe, which is a market in the same block as the University’s Hyland Hall. I actually find myself wishing that I had a class down in Hyland this semester so that I could get my Dunkin’ coffee fix more often! Of course, Starbucks still owns my heart because it’s so convenient to access in the DeNaples Center (and I think their Pumpkin Spice Latte is better).
I wish everyone the best of luck as they try to conquer the exams crammed into this last week before Fall Break. And, of course, have a relaxing break!