Undergraduate Admissions

Sarah Mueller's Blog

Learning How To Teach

I love being a Secondary Education and English double major here at The U. Not only do we take some really cool classes, but we get to engage in incredible hands-on experiences which have definitely prepared me to become a teacher. 

Currently, I am observing and teaching lessons at Scranton High School as part of my field work for this semester. There, I observe junior American Literature classes. I have been fortunate enough to observe awesome classroom management styles from my cooperating teacher, as well as cool lesson plan ideas. I even got to teach a lesson on The Great Gatsby where we made poetry out of thematic quotes! I have had an absolute blast with my cooperating teacher and my students. Observing at Scranton High School has really reinforced my decision to become an educator.

Additionally, I just began working at an afterschool program at Riverside Junior-Senior High School! Today was our first day working at the program. Myself and two other university students created a poetry workshop (seeing as April is national poetry month!) We split students into groups and taught them the process of writing a poem by having them draw it, adding on to each other’s pictures. Then, they each wrote statements about the drawings, combined their favorite lines, and made a poem as a class! It was a lot of fun and the middle school students were super engaged!

On the drive back from the after school program to campus today, another university student and I talked about how volunteering at the after school program and working with these kids gave us so much joy. We talked about how we completely forgot about all of our stressors that we would face when we returned to campus – the homework, test, projects, and other commitments. Instead, we were completely consumed by our students’ enthusiasm and excitement. Their passion to learn fueled our passions to teach. And that was beautiful to see.

Preview Day!

Spring is my favorite time of year at The U. Not only because the heaping piles of snow have finally melted, or because I no longer have to wear four layers of clothing when I step outside – but because this is the time when prospective students choose Scranton as their home for the next four years!

Preview Day for Accepted Students is this weekend. As a Co-Director for the tour guide program through Admissions, my job is to run the tours for the day. Hundreds of students will be flooding campus this Saturday, eager to answer the question: “Is The University of Scranton the right school for me?” My job is to tell them: “Yes!” and to show them all of the reasons why.

I will be on the tour route, stationed in the library, ready to keep the tour on time, facilitate the tour route, and ensure that my podium speakers have everything they need to sell the UofS to the accepted students who stop at the library on their tours.

Preview Day is one of my favorite events to work for Admissions. I love seeing students fall in love with The U. I remember attending Preview Day as a senior in high school. All of the UofS students decked out in Royal purple were so excited to tell me how Scranton changed their lives. Being able to give back to the Scranton community that has given me so much these past three years is my favorite part of being a student here, and Preview Day is the perfect event to do that!

Women’s Retreat!

One of the things about The University of Scranton that initially caught my interest during my college search were the retreats hosted at Chapman Lake every weekend. The University of Scranton offers a wide range of retreats, stretching from less religious ones like Connections (the freshmen retreat) and Born to be Wild (a hiking retreat) to more religious retreats such as Search and Fourth Day (extensions of retreats such as Kiros or Antioch that you might find in high school.)

The U offers so many diverse retreats, making it easy for students to find retreats that interest them. I have been on a ton of retreat during my three years here. I went on Connections as a freshman and loved getting to know my class. Freshman year, I also attended Fourth Day and Divinely Designed, the women’s retreat. I can honestly say that Fourth Day and Divinely Designed changed my life.

After attending Divinely Designed, I was asked to be on the team to help lead the retreat. Sophomore year, I took part in weekly meetings to plan for the retreat in February. Those meetings gave me an opportunity to form a bond with the other nine girls on team, and allowed me to voice my experiences. I was asked to give a talk, which provided me with a chance to engage in further reflection. Then, from February 28 to March 2, we put on the best retreat I have ever attended or have been a part of.

Leading Divinely Designed gave me a chance to reflect on so many aspects of my life. After giving my talk, a lot of the retreatants came up to me, voicing that my words had inspired them. I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a beautiful weekend.

This weekend, the new team will lead a new group of retreatants on Divinely Designed. I feel so nostalgic that I am not able to be involved with leading the retreat this year; however, I am excited to return as an alumni of the retreat and cook meals, listen to talks, and feel the empowering inspiration that is so present on that retreat!

Here is a picture of my team from last year’s Divinely Designed retreat!

Divinely Designed 2014

Delicious Downtown Food

Walking into downtown Scranton is one of my favorite things to do. Even in a week where the temperatures dipped into the single digits, making the short walk to historic Courthouse Square to Northern Light Espresso Bar is worth it. Situated just past the University of Scranton’s new occupational therapy building that will open in the fall of 2015, Northern Light is always frequented by Scranton students seeking to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, freshly steeped tea, or a sweet pastry snack. Northern Light has carried on the tradition of “Steamtown” in the twenty first century but has substituted traditional black coal and steam trains for black coffee and steamed milk!

Curling up on one of the many couches reading a book or play for one of my English classes with soft music playing over the speakers is an exceptional environment. The cute little coffee shop is filled with crisp aromas and warm colors. At Northern Light I always seem to run into friends, classmates, or even one of my professors! With the close bonds of friendship and camaraderie forged at the University of Scranton it is not out of the question to even meet a professor for coffee after class or outside of office hours!

Another place to meet up with friends is City Market and Cafe on the walk to downtown. The City Market just around the corner from the University of Scranton and Northern Light is also a favorite of Scranton students. A former restaurant, City Market is new to Scranton last year. With no cars permitted on campus until junior year, City Market was a welcomed addition to the community last year. The store provides an establishment within close proximity to campus for students. Just a block past Hyland Hall, sandwiches, snacks, Dunkin Donuts, or grocery items are mere minutes away. There is something for everyone with a full service deli that is filled with entrees named after local Scranton things. Daily Scranton students and local Scrantonians are found daily buzzing in and out for a hot lunch or the quick errand.

In addition to Northern Light and City Market, Scranton offers Osaka, a hibachi restaurant, Eden Vegan (tofu never tasted so good!) and Kildares Irish Pub. There are plenty of other options in addition to these, and I definitely recommend that you check all of them out!

I love Scranton’s downtown area offers so many delicious and convenient options for students. Even though DeNaples and the POD markets on campus offer great food for students, it is nice to know that there are even more locations in such close proximity to the U!

A Busy Girl’s Guide on How to Stay Organized

College is stressful. From classes, to clubs, to work-study positions, students often find it difficult to find a balance and still manage to find time to see their friends. As a crazy, always-on-the-run, and overly involved college student, I want to take the time to provide a few tips and tricks for keeping organized, keeping on top of your work and commitments, and keeping from going insane :)

Like I said, I’m constantly busy. I am a double-major, taking a full course-load. With that full course-load comes twenty hours of education observations at a local high school and ten hours of educational service learning. I have three on-campus work study positions, two of which are leadership positions that require me to put in extra hours and always be readily available. I am in various clubs that meet weekly.  I am in two honor societies that meet regularly.

My days start early and end late – but I LOVE it.

If you are like me and LOVE being busy, then you know how important it is to stay organized. My first piece of advice: Get a planner! And post-it notes! Or use your calendar in your smartphone! Whatever your method, PLAN AHEAD, and write down all of your commitments for the week. On top of that, check your schedule regularly to ensure that none of your commitments clash with each other.

Second, always make sure to eat regularly. Never skip out on a meal as you bounce between meetings and classes. You need energy to keep you going, and energy stems from a healthy diet. Luckily, we have some amazing food options on campus in the DeNaples Center, the POD, and scattered throughout our academic buildings. If you are in a rush or on the run, there are plenty of grab-and-go options for you.

Third, never over-commit yourself. This one seems like a no-brainer; however, if you are like me and never turn down extra work or a new opportunity, saying no is not that easy. I always remind myself that if I spread myself too thin, then I will not be able to give my best effort in my commitments. So only take on new responsibilities you can handle.

My fourth bit of advice goes hand-in-hand with the third. Only commit yourself to majors, minors, jobs and activities which you are passionate about. If you don’t care about what you are doing, then you are wasting your time. Academic advisors are excellent resources in helping you find a major or minor which is meaningful to you. Communicating with your work-study employer or club leader prior to taking on the new job or club membership will help you determine if this opportunity is something you want to grab hold of. Never be afraid to change your mind or change your interests.

My fifth and final piece of advice is this: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s nothing that coffee with a friend or a movie night with your buddies can’t fix. Lucky for us, we go to The University of Scranton – a school where people will go out of their way to be your friend. I have made my closest friends at The U, and I know that whenever I am stressed, my friends and classmates are the first people I turn to. So take a study break, catch up with a friend, and remember to cherish every busy, chaotic, beautiful moment and memory you make here at The U.

Until next week!

Sarah :)

Home Sweet Scranton

Starting a new semester at the U after coming off of an incredible semester abroad made me nervous. Would I be able to readjust to the work-load? Would my professors remember me? Would my classmates remember me? What has changed at the U since I left? I did not really had a huge culture shock upon my immediate return from my semester in Cape Town, but may have had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t trying to jump back into the craziness of a semester. Would I feel the shock more intensely once I returned to campus, I wondered?

I should have known that I had nothing to worry about. The University of Scranton welcomed me back with open arms, and my first week back has been nothing but exciting. Of course I notice differences between Cape Town and Scranton – the first difference being that there are giant piles of snow up to my waist here, whereas Cape Town was an endless summer! But I feel like Scranton absorbed my culture shock, and replaced it with the coziness of home. Friends eagerly made plans to get together and catch up; I fell back into the comforting pattern of going to work and giving tours; I dove head-in to my new job as Managing Editor of the Aquinas student newspaper, and was welcomed by my co-workers; classes have been captivating; former professors reach out to meet and hear about my experience abroad. My little Scranton community has made coming home from such a life-changing adventure easy, and for that I am so grateful.

I miss Cape Town and the people I met there so much. I get hit with waves of nostalgia every time I think about my time there. But being back on campus is a reminder that it is possible to have multiple homes to miss. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, yes, Cape Town became my home. But Scranton is my home too, and it is SO good to be back. Cheers to a great semester ahead :)

Until next week!

Sarah :)

Spreadin’ That Christmas Spirit!

With Christmas a week away, it’s time to blast the holiday jingles we all have been secretly listening to for the past month! During the past few weeks, as University of Scranton students “Dec’d the Halls” (of their dorms) with Christmas decorations, maintenance dec’d the Christmas tree on campus with twinkling lights, ready for the tree-lighting ceremony that takes place every year.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. It gives each of us time to reflect on the year as it comes to an end, all while spending time with the people we love and care about. This past year has been filled with so many incredible experiences and opportunities. I have met some incredible people, strengthened both old and new friendships, and had a chance to see a corner of the world that changed my perspective on life forever.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be on campus this year to enjoy all of the holiday festivities Scranton has to offer, as I was studying abroad all semester. BUT, even though I am home now, and am not with my study abroad friends, we still found a way to celebrate Christmas, Cape Town style! :)
So here is the Christmas card we made as a program, from my K-House Cape Town family to yours!



They even put of a Christmas tree down by the Waterfront!


Last week was finals week at Scranton. Something else I have learned, particularly since being abroad, is that stress around finals time is not inevitable. Living in Cape Town taught me that there are more important things in life than simply “getting the perfect grade.” Sure, scoring well on exams is important, but looking back on college, or any experience for that matter, you will remember the people you spend your time with, the work you did, and the fun you had. So work hard, study hard, but don’t forget to cherish your last few weeks with your Scranton fam.
Don’t miss out on the tree lighting ceremony because you are stressing about a final project. Don’t leave your Secret Santa gift exchange with your friends early because you want to get ahead on making your study guide. Don’t spend every night in the library when you could be coming back to your dorm and spending that time with your friends. Take study breaks. Grab late night with a friend. Go decorate a gingerbread house at the Christmas Carnival. Budget your time. Study during the day and spend quality time with your best buds at night.
Cape Town taught me to cherish every moment I have with each person I meet. Looking back on my study abroad and reflect on my year as a whole, I remember those late night conversations with my friends. I remember the random study breaks, blasting music with my Cape Town housemates and dancing on the kitchen table as we pulled all-nighters to finish our papers, taking multiple coffee breaks at Cocoa Cha Chi where we would end up talking for hours, going to the beach and trying to surf (as if that is less exhausting than studying!). What I remember are not the times that I was stressed over work, but the times that I fostered my human relationships with others – with my students, housemates, and local friends. I remember doing things I am passionate about, taking risks, bungee jumping off bridges, coming face to face with a Lion on safari, hiking, finding random adventures. What you learn inside of the classroom is important – I had better think so, since I am going to be a teacher one day! But what you learn from people, from experiences, and from nature is a gift that resonates with you for the rest of your life.

Happy holidays, everyone! Until next semester!

Sarah :)

Stories to Share

I have been home for a week, and although I am missing Cape Town desperately, it is definitely great to be back.
When I stepped off the plane at the Newark airport (after stepping on and off planes for the past 22 hours in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Dakar, and D.C.), I was welcomed home by my wonderful parents, my smiling sister, and a gigantic sign reading “Welcome home Sarah!”
After eating a New Jersey bagel (boy, I missed those!), getting some Starbucks into my system (don’t worry, barely-caffeinated South African instant coffee – you still have a place in my heart), eating the delicious lemon chicken my mom made for dinner (and almost falling asleep on my plate, thank you 7-hour time difference), I began to share stories.
As I attempt to process my study abroad experience, some of the amazingly perfect moments that I experienced do not feel real. The memories feel like they happened in a dream – in a different world. And quite frankly – my experience was not only ‘out of this world,’ but other-worldly. Harnessing that other world – the Cape Town streets I came to call home, along with the people, my friends, my students – it is next to impossible. Trying to convey the precise feelings I had while living in that country of contrasts is so difficult.
But what I have discovered is that stories help keep my memories alive, and make my experiences real and tangible to me again.
I visited The (Wonderful) University of Scranton last weekend. It was so refreshing to catch up with my Scranton fam again. I loved hearing their semester-tales, and I loved sharing my South African stories with them. As I told my Scranton friends about the friends I made abroad, the silly jokes we played on each other, my mid-semester trip, my time teaching at Hlengisa, hiking, and all of the other aspects which encompassed my time in Cape Town, I felt my study abroad experience come alive again.
I look forward to going back to school next semester, ready to make new memories with my Scranton fam, with my Cape Town memories always in my back pocket.  :)

1554425_1009304985747103_6613123206876347507_n 10371405_1009304982413770_1932460790816380380_n
Happy Thanksgiving! Until next week!

Sarah  :)

Home Sweet Cape Town

Leaving: A word so awful that my friends and I banned its use for our last week in Cape Town.

When you have experienced five months of life in a beautiful place with interesting people and countless adventures, packing up and leaving is the last thing you want to do.
The past five months that I have spent in Cape Town have been some of the most outrageously fun months of my life. I fell in love with the people and the city, with the ocean and the mountains, with the suburbs and the townships. Cape Town has captured my heart, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have had this experience.
The fact that I am leaving tomorrow has not hit me yet. How could I be leaving this crazy, chaotic, beautiful, energetic city – where the three peaks sneak their way into every skyline, where contrasting city, suburbs and townships all somehow unite to exist in one place? I’ve said it before – Cape Town is a place of contrasts. Beautiful, heartbreaking, intense contrasts. And I love all of them.

So here’s to Cape Town. To the laughs, the smiles. To K-House (K-Love/K-Fam). To Hlengisa, where I spent 14 hours a week teaching. To The University of Western Cape where I spent a bit more time than I wanted to. To relying on Cocoa Cha Chi’s Coffee Crushes to make it through the day. To Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, and Lion’s Head – the three peaks that helped me conquer my fear of heights and taught me about perseverance and harnessing inner-strength. To bungee jumping off a 700ft bridge. To sunset Safaris. To exploring the Wild Coast. To the Hout Bay Market and Old Biscuit Mill, markets where I spent many Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. To funny K-House memories like meeting Desmond Tutu (finally) after the Tutu-fake-out when his office stood us up. To afternoons at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. To Stellenbosch. To Kolbe mass (with a Jesuit priest!) To full moon hikes up Lion’s Head. To beach days at Clifton. To surfing attempts at Muizenburg. To sunsets at Camps Bay and Glenn Beach. Essentially, to the “TIA” (this is Africa) attitude, automatically replying “it’s not a problem” when your plans go awry, or when you find yourself at a place you’ve never been before.

Quite a list, right?

They say home is where the heart is, and I can proudly say that after studying abroad, I now have three homes to love, miss, and cherish. I have my home in New Jersey, my home at The University of Scranton, and my new home in Cape Town, South Africa. Although these homes are separate and although I am unable to be present in all three homes at once, I feel so blessed to have each of them. These homes – these places made of people – each hold a third of my heart. I feel lucky that I have three homes to be welcomed into, three homes to miss, and three homes full of people to love. Leaving my new home in Cape Town will be insanely difficult. But jumping back into my homes in New Jersey and at The U will be easy. It is hard to always have people and places to miss, but I am glad that I do. It shows that those amazing people, beautiful places, and life-changing experiences, all of which comprise my homes, mean something to me. And they do. They really do.

My housemates and I went on our last hike in Cape Town this morning :). Here’s a picture of it:


Next time you here from me, I’ll be back in the US! So – Until next week!

Sarah :)

Taxi Tales

Cape Town taxi drivers have always tugged at my interest. They come from everywhere, will drive you anywhere, and usually have a good story or two to share. Taxis come in three forms here: marked taxis, unmarked taxis and mini-busses, or as the locals call them – Kombis. You can call marked taxis to come pick you up, they will run their meter, and you will pay a fair price to get wherever you are going. Unmarked taxis are the ones you find on a main road and haggle with until you get to a price you want. Then you have the Kombis, which are 12-seat vans that drive up and down the main roads. Riding in Kombis are like riding in a party bus. They blast music as the drivers yell out the window to potential customers, shouting where they are going. A huge perk is that Kombis are considerably cheaper than taxis. They they will take you anywhere – even into the city – for 7 Rand (70 cents USD). Kombis are a lot of fun to ride with friends, but most of the interesting conversations happen with the taxi drivers.
I arrived in Cape Town exactly four months ago (can you believe it has already been four months?!), and I still remember my first taxi ride, purely because of the man in the driver’s seat. He asked my friends and I to call him “Mr. Africa” (still unsure of whether that is actually his name), and he spent the entire drive to the V&A Waterfront telling us about Cape Town, about his life before he moved from the DRC to Cape Town, and providing important insight on how to stay safe while living here.
Since Mr. Africa, I have met countless taxi drivers, some of whom openly share their stories of struggle during the Apartheid, of their lives prior to moving to South Africa, of their families who still live in the DRC, Zimbabwe, or Congo – or in other South African cities like Durban or Johannesburg. Others are less talkative – groggy from their early morning start at 6am or simply just less willing to play twenty questions with a tourist. But I have learned that the taxi drivers who do have something to say are definitely worth listening to.
Often times it begins with my question: “Why did you move to Cape Town?” or “What made you stay?” Sometimes they will ask me where I am from, and my answer that I am from The States sparks a discussion about that. Many taxi drivers like to give their opinions on politics, and the trip turns into a taxi-ride-long rant. When that happens, I have learned just to nod my head and smile. But more often than not, I enjoy learning about their lives, and listening to their opinions.
A few weekends ago, my boyfriend and I were on our way to Camps Bay Beach. As we drove past Bo Kapp, a part of downtown Cape Town with colorful houses, our taxi driver launched into an explanation of his heritage, and how he was impacted by the Apartheid. He spoke about reconciliation, about moving forward, and about being dragged back into the past. He explained that a taxi driver is not his profession of choice, with 24-hour shifts and low pay. But even though the Apartheid ended, his job choices are limited. This man’s story and insight were fascinating. I feel like taxi drivers provide such a valuable look into true South African culture. I feel fortunate to have had such meaningful conversations with the different taxi drivers I have met, as they have really developed and enriched my perspective of South African life. :)

Here’s an artsy picture of the marked taxi company I usually call with the scenic Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head mountains in the background (courtesy of google):


Until next week!

Sarah :)



← Older Posts

Newer Posts →