Pet Therapy Day

Good news: Today was the best day of the semester!!!

Bad news: There is no way any day this semester will top today.

If you know me at all, you know why I am saying this… today was Pet Therapy Day!! Pet Therapy Day, hosted by the Center for Service and Social Justice, occurs once per semester.   It is a day when faculty, staff, parents, and locals bring their dogs to campus for students to play with and pet.  Pet Therapy lasts an hour and a half, from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.  It is usually outside, on the Dionne Green, but this year it was moved into the Byron center due to the rain. I have always loved Pet Therapy since I miss my dog terribly while at school, but today’s Pet Therapy was extra special….. because Molly came!! My mom, whom I am fairly positive is an actual angel, drove over six hours today (slightly over three hours each way) just to bring Molly to Pet Therapy. Check out the bottom of my post to see some pictures of Molly loving the attention at Pet Therapy.

As usual, it was great fun, and so many people showed up!  I was nervous not as many people would come since the event was moved indoors, but the Byron center was filled with students the whole time.  Molly was very happy to meet all her new friends, and they were thrilled to meet her too.  Everyone I saw seemed to be having a great time, both the dogs and the humans :).  If you missed Pet Therapy this semester, don’t worry – there will be another one in the spring semester!  Get excited 😀

I usually write about my experiences from the past week in chronological order, but I thought Pet Therapy was a worthy enough reason for going out of order.  I get so excited about it, it just has to be first!

But besides Pet Therapy, a couple standouts from the past week have been Praise & Worship on Thursday and the Lunar Eclipse / Super Moon on Sunday!

Praise and Worship is a student-run faith group which meets every Thursday night.  My friend and apartment-mate Shannon invited me to come with her, so I went for the first time two weeks ago and again last week.  She has been inviting me to come for so long now, and after going for the first time I wished I had gone sooner!  I will discuss Praise and Worship further in a future blog post, but I highly recommend for anyone who reads this to check it out.  We meet in the Montrone Multi-Purpose Room from 9-10 pm on Thursday nights to sing Christian songs and discuss faith.  The atmosphere is very relaxed and welcoming, and I have loved the past two times I have been.  All are welcome, so give it a try!

On Sunday, as I am sure you already know, the moon was a super moon AND there was a lunar eclipse!  My friends and I were all very excited about this rare Blood Moon, so we decided to view the moon together from the top of the parking pavilion.  It was a very nice way to end the weekend, and I am glad I got to see something so beautiful with the people who make my life beautiful. I watched the moon with my friends Jess, Shannon, Chris, and Kyle.  There were dozens of other people there, too, some of whom I knew.  My friends Summer, Alex, Lizzy, Dillon, Brina, Juliana, and Christa watched the moon from the parking pavilion, as well.  It was such a beautiful night and I am so grateful I saw the moon in its rare position.

Have a great rest of your week!



And, as promised, Pet Therapy pictures!…

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Family Weekend

This past weekend was Family Weekend!  Unfortunately, my parents could not come since they had a commitment.  They were so disappointed – they love Family Weekend and have come the past two years.   Nonetheless, it was a great weekend!

Friday afternoon right after my last class, I went to the local farmers’ market with some of my friends! My apartment-mates Cait, Jess, and Natalie came, along with our friend Abby.  We went to the Co-Op Farmers’ Market, which is a 5-10 minute drive from school.  From July through November, this open-air market runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12 noon until 6 pm.  We were all so excited to buy fresh, delicious produce and support local farmers while doing so.  I bought tomatoes, cucumbers, and white peaches.  The tomatoes are unbelievably fresh and delicious; they are perhaps the reddest tomatoes I have ever seen!  The cucumbers are perfectly crunchy and crisp.  The peaches are so sweet (white peaches are sweeter than yellow).  The only downside is that white peaches are more delicate and bruise easier than yellow, so they have to be eaten quickly after being picked.  Come to think of it, that is not really an issue… having to eat peaches is a pretty nice “burden”.

I highly recommend going to the Co-Op Farmers’ Market! There are about twenty different vendors selling a huge range of items – fresh produce, maple syrup, baked goods, meats, breads, flowers, and on and on!  There is something for everyone – Abby got peaches and bread, Cait bought an apple cider doughnut, Natalie had a mini pumpkin pie, Jess bought flowers for our apartment ( 😀 ) and nectarines.

Then, on Friday night, we (Abby, Cait, Jess, Natalie, and I) went to the movie night on the Dionne Green! The movie was Inside Out.  I had already seen it over the summer, but I was excited to see it again.  It was just as good the second time… maybe even better since I did not cry the second time. 😆  We missed Emily (who went home for the night) and Shannon (who was with her parents) terribly. 🙁

On Saturday, Cait, Jess, and I went to the Viewmont Mall to buy fall clothes.  This sounds like a pretty typical activity, but shopping is my very least favorite pastime.  I avoid it at all costs because I always end up cranky and irritable!!  But I can only get away with avoiding it for so long, and since I had approximately two fall outfits, I figured that was my cue.  I was pretty nervous Cait and Jess would see a side of me I definitely did not want them to see.  But, much to my surprise, I ended up having a great time!  I should have known – I always have so much fun whenever Cait and Jess are around – but I just thought there was no way I could enjoy shopping.  They kept me laughing all day, and I actually found a few clothes I loved!

On Saturday night, Cait was working the USPB After Dark Family Weekend event, so Emily, Jess, Natalie, and I visited her at her post.  The event was held on the second and fourth floor of The DeNaples Center.  Cait was manning the Photo Booth on the second floor, so we decided to take pictures together! We used so many different props and ended up getting some hilarious photos. I wish Shannon were there, because then it would have been the whole apartment, but she was with her parents still 🙁 After the pictures, we went upstairs and played bingo for a few minutes… then we realized we were neither lucky nor patient, so we went to the game show.  It started out as a trivia game with the audience members locking in their answers on clickers, then the highest-scoring participants got to go onstage and answer questions. We got to go on the stage!! Well, that only happened because one of the highest-scoring teams had left so we (erm… I) begged to go in their place and the host let us.  Regardless, we did pretty well, even though we did not end up winning.  We attended the last game show, so once it ended, the event was over for the night.  It was a great success and I am so proud of USPB for putting on yet another awesome event.

On Sunday morning, I went back to Parker Hill, the church Shannon took me to last week! The second week of the How To Wreck Your Life series was all about Isolation, and it was just as powerful as the first week on Anger.  I am so thankful Shannon invited me to church with her; I love this church and even signed up to participate in their Starting Point program, where I can explore my faith with other members of the community.  I will be in a group of 8-12 people and 2-4 leaders for eight weeks.  I am so excited to get started!

Enjoy the rest of your week, and HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL! Go jump in a pile of leaves to celebrate. Or don’t, because leaves are not as much of an insulator as the powers that be would like us to think.  Eat pumpkin pie instead.


Relaxing Weekend, A Cappella Concert, and SJLA Banquet

This past weekend was relaxing, restful, and rejuvenating for me!  I hope everyone else had an equally great weekend.

I had no big plans for the weekend, and I think that is just what I needed.  I stayed in the apartment and worked on homework every day… which sounds incredibly stressful, but it was quite the opposite.  After all these years, I have finally decided to listen to my teachers (past and present) who said “do not wait until the last minute”… as it turns out, they were right!  Hopefully I can convince myself to keep this up, because I accomplished more work this past weekend than most weekends and remained stress-free!!

Another very exciting accomplishment: I went to bed at 9:30 PM on Saturday! I know and accept that I am actually 80 years old.

A few weeks ago, my friend and apartment-mate Shannon told me that she tried out a new church in the area and really liked it.  The church is called Parker Hill, and they have three locations in the area.  She offered to take me with her, so I went on Sunday morning at 11:15 AM!  The service was unlike anything I had ever experienced (I have only ever been to Catholic mass), and I loved it.  It lasted a little over an hour.  They started with live music: upbeat songs about living for Christ, played and sung by an enthusiastic band.  Many of the people around me knew the songs, which was nice to see; they also had the words on screens for everyone to sing along.  After a few songs, we received a beautiful sermon from the lead pastor, Mark Stuenzi.  This past week was the first week of a new series called How to Wreck Your Life.  Pastor Mark delivered a powerful message about anger in our lives.  He referenced and quoted the book of Proverbs over and over throughout the sermon, which I loved.  His message really spoke to me and got me thinking; I hope to return for the rest of the How to Wreck Your Life series to hear what else he has to say.  Feel free to watch a video of his sermon here – it is titled “Let Anger Consume You.”  My experience at Parker Hill was great; I am so glad Shannon invited me to come to church with her!

On Monday night, I attended the USPB Coffeehouse event.  The co-ed a cappella group Eh440 performed outside on the DeNaples Patio for an large and lively crowd.  Their performance was incredible; each member of the group has an outstanding voice.  My favorite part was when they sang Michael Jackson!  The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, and I am so glad I went.  I also got a free water bottle for being one of the first 25 people to show up, which makes it even better 😀

Last but certainly not least, I attended the annual SJLA Freshmen Welcome Reception.  All SJLA students are required to attend, and it felt very different this year as a junior… I still cannot believe I am an upperclassman!  I had fun socializing with the other SJLA juniors (as if we do not already do that enough – we have class together every day!) and catching up with my past SJLA teachers.  It is interesting to compare my mentality at the past three receptions.  Freshman year, I had no idea what to expect with SJLA.  I was excited and terrified.  Sophomore year, I had one year of SJLA experience under my belt, but I was even less sure of what to expect than I had been a year prior.  And I was still terrified! This year, I am starting to get it.  Although no one can ever properly or fully explain what SJLA is or why they are a part of it, I am beginning to understand why I listened when people encouraged me to participate in SJLA, and why I am still in SJLA.  I have grown as a student, as a friend, and as an individual, because of SJLA.  I am more conscientious because of SJLA, and I am far more self-aware because of SJLA.  And while I love SJLA for all these reasons, yes… I am still terrified.


Enjoy the rest of your week!


Labor Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!  This past weekend, I went home for a concert (Fifth Harmony at the Maryland State Fair).  I loved the concert and had fun being with my family, but I missed Scranton so much!  Even though I was only gone three days, I could not wait to be back with the other girls in my apartment.

I spent the majority of the weekend baking, unsurprisingly.  I wanted to have something to bring back to my friends, and baking is one of my favorite hobbies, so it was a win-win situation!! I made magic cookie bars, cookie dough truffles, red velvet cake balls, buckeyes, and a peanut butter-chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream frosting.

Unfortunately, going home this weekend meant missing one of the best weekends of the year in Scranton… La Festa Italiana! All weekend, the Courthouse Square was lined with vendor stands celebrating Italian culture (and by that, of course I mean SELLING INCREDIBLE FOOD).  I had so much fun at La Festa the past two years, so I was disappointed to miss it this year.  I hope you all made it to La Festa, and either way, I highly recommend everyone goes next year… I will be there, probably all three days!

I came back to a very warm welcome home to Scranton on Monday night.  I was so happy and excited to see my friends again.  My amazing apartment-mates made a “Welcome Home Tori” sign that they hung up in my bedroom!! They drew cute pictures on the sign – Jess drew the six of us and Natalie drew plants and animals… including my very favorite animal, an alpaca.  All the girls I live with are so thoughtful and kind, and I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.  The sign is just one instance of their constant reminders to me and to each other how much they care.

Tonight, I went to a stand-up comedy show hosted by USPB, the University of Scranton Programming Board. The event was held in the Moskovitz Theater, which is on the fourth floor of the DeNaples Center.  I have never seen the theater so crowded – there were over 200 people at the show, and almost every seat was taken.   The comedian who came tonight is named Taylor Tomlinson, and she is hysterical.  She is only 21 years old!  The crowd loved her; the laughter was nonstop from the time she started talking until she stepped off the stage.  I came to the event to support my friend Jenn, who is the co-chair of the USPB Comedy committee… but I stayed because the Taylor put on a great show.  I am so glad that I went to this event!

The USPB Mission & Identity committee has been working hard, too, and all week they have events to support Suicide Prevention Week.  I think this is an incredibly important cause and I am so proud that they are bringing awareness to it.  Stop by the second floor of The DeNaples Center between 11 AM and 1 PM on Wednesday and Friday to participate in their events!

Have a great rest of your week!


Junior Year Begins

I am back on campus and I could not be happier!  I had a great summer but I missed my friends from school and I am thrilled to be able to see them every day.

I moved in about a week and a half ago on Friday, August 21st.  This year, I am living in an apartment on-campus in the Mulberry Plaza, a junior and senior residence hall.  Each of the apartments are slightly different.  Ours is a beautiful and homey two-level apartment with a full kitchen, living space, and two single bedrooms on the first floor; on the second floor, we have two full bathrooms, two single bedrooms, and one double bedroom.

I live with five other girls, all of whom are incredibly sweet, fun, and loving.  We are having a great time together! Their names are Shannon (who I also lived with last year), Caitlin, Emily, Jess, and Natalie.  The past two weekends we have busied ourselves by playing Guitar Hero on the Wii.  Natalie plays on expert, while I can hardly pass a song on medium (when I first started, I could not even pass a song on easy!)  We have also been singing karaoke on the karaoke machine Shannon brought… it is so funny and such a great time.

To make things even better, some of my best friends are living one floor below us.  I am so excited to be living in the same building as so many of my friends!

Last week was the first week of classes, and I love all my classes so far.  I am taking two classes for SJLA (Special Jesuit Liberal Arts program): The Jesuit Magis and Philosophy of Conscience. I am also taking two math classes: History and Philosophy of Mathematics and Chaos and Fractals.  Finally, I am taking Physics and Physics Lab (the follow-up to the physics and physics lab I took last semester).  We have already been moving quickly in all of my classes, but I love the challenge- plus, I have gotten used to that from taking junior-level mathematics in my past few semesters.  All my classes this semester, with the exception of Physics, are very different from any class I have taken before.  I am very excited to learn and think in new ways this semester.

Last week was also USPB (University of Scranton Programming Board)’s Fall Welcome Week, jam-packed with fun events to welcome us back to campus.  On Tuesday night, they hosted an outdoor concert on the Dionne Green; the band Two Worlds came and put on a great show.  On Wednesday afternoon, they had the Royal Rewards Launch on the DeNaples patio, where students received free prizes for following USPB on social media.  I got a USPB lanyard and USPB EOS-style lip balm, and they also gave out USPB sunglasses and ice cream.  On Thursday night, USPB showed Pitch Perfect 2 on a 40′ inflatable TV screen on the green.  Here is a photo, courtesy of USPB’s Facebook page, showing an aerial view of the campus with the huge TV screen visible on the green:

USPB from space

On Friday afternoon, USPB hosted the Downtown Scavenger Hunt – which I did not participate in this year, but I did Freshman year, and it was so much fun! On Friday night, for their final Welcome Week event, USPB had a DJ called KAOS (Killing All Original Sounds) on the Dionne Green.  I did not attend this event, but it looked and sounded like fun!

So far, I am loving junior year! I have great friends, great classes, and a great apartment, and I could not be happier.  I hope everyone else had a smooth transition back to school and getting back into the swing of things.  Have a great rest of your week!

– Tori