Pep Talks & Picker-Uppers

14 Dec

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, 2009, my undergraduate college career came to an end. I graduated from Michigan State University and at my commencements, the senior class speaker gave a speech about what it means to commence; to begin.

Another chapter of my life is about to begin and to be frank, I have no idea where it’s going to take me. I do not have a job lined up yet and a lot of wonderful things and people in my life are leaving soon. I have a very unstable footing right now in life and I find myself getting extremely down quite often. My roommate and best friend does all that she can to say the right things and find ways to make me smile and last night, she gave me a small graduation gift that means the world to me.

I don’t know where she found it, but she gave me a book called “Pep Talks & Picker-Uppers” that is full of one liners and short stories for almost every upsetting occasion in life. The book covers the issues of Life Dreams, The Daily Grind, Financial Straits, Romantic Woes, Family Matters and Self-Esteem. It has lines in it that will make you smile or laugh, and others that will really make you think. If you know someone who needs a ‘pep talk’ or you yourself need one every once in a while, I strongly recommend this book.

Here’s a little something from page 29: “As Drew Carey says, ‘Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.'”

Silly, but I know you at least just cracked a smile. Life is scary and uncertain right now for me but this book just saved me from a few more self-pity episodes.

On the topic of graduation, I want to thank everyone for all of their well wishes and congratulations. I have made the most amazing friends during my time at Michigan State and I cannot wait to see what they will do with their lives. My graduation weekend was one of the best times of my life and I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my life up to this point. I would not be here without you. And on that note, I will leave you with one more line from my new favorite book.

It could be worse.

Dreams are Possible

6 Dec

With graduation only days away, I’ve been spending most of time thinking about my future. However, I know that my future rests solely on my past and there is so much that has attributed to where I am today. Looking back on how scared I was to come to Michigan State University, there are a few things I would like to point out.

Obviously, my family played the most important role in my going away. My parents agreed to let me live at a home away from home and help me out the best that they could. Without their support, I know I would have had a much tougher time not only dealing with the transition of life in East Lansing, but also affording it.

Next, my academic success has granted me many opportunities to excel and experience things that not every student has the chance to. I’ve been an undergraduate teaching assistant, a research assistant, been on the Executive Board for an amazing organization, and held two wonderful internships. The experiences have all been entirely worth it, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Going away to college is not cheap, and for students who think that they cannot afford to do so, I am proof that there are ways. Yes, I am graduating with a scary number of loans, and yes, my parents did help me, but because of my academic success, I was able to receive a few scholarships from MSU that have helped keep me from going further into debt.

For students who don’t know, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences has a ton of scholarships that students can apply for each year. Since my sophomore year at MSU, I have applied and received a scholarship from CCAS. I was thankful enough to receive the John and Martha Aldinger Award, the Communication Arts and Sciences Endowed Scholarship, and the David Ralph Scholarship. So for those who wonder how they can afford to go to a Big Ten University, I know it is possible.

Through a combination of loans, my parents, scholarships, and thrifty living, going away to college is not only possible, it’s the best decision that I have ever made. MSU has opened so many doors for me, and while my future is still uncertain, I can look back confidently at my years here and be thankful for all that I have achieved.

Saturday when I walk across the stage at Breslin in my bright green gown, I know my life is going to be different from that moment forward. And while I am terrified, I couldn’t be more excited to see where life takes me. So thank you to all of my family, my friends, and Michigan State University for all the love and support I have received. I know I would not be where I am today without you.

Love Love

14 Oct

I maintain a few different email addresses between my jobs, my school and my friends and family at home. Family tends to send me chain emails and those go to my Hotmail account. Recently, I received an email that I actually felt compelled to forward on. And with the impending Hallmark Holiday this weekend, despite my current status, I feel that there is something to be said about love.

We throw the word around a lot and it holds many meanings for each and every person. So here’s the email I received, with my favorites in bold…

What Love Means to a 4-8 Year Old

Slow down for three minutes to read this. It is so worth it, touching words from the mouth of babes. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ‘What does love mean?’ The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore… So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’
Rebecca- age 8

‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’
Billy – age 4

‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’
Karl – age 5

‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’
Chrissy – age 6

‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’
Terri – age 4

‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’
Danny – age 7

‘Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.’
Emily – age 8

‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.’
Bobby – age 7

‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,’
Nikka – age 6

‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.’
Noelle – age 7

‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’
Tommy – age 6

‘During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’
Cindy – age 8

‘My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.’
Clare – age 6

‘Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’
Elaine – age 5

‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’
Chris – age 7

‘Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’
Mary Ann – age 4

‘I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’
Lauren – age 4

‘When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.’
Karen – age 7

‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.’
Mark – age 6

‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot… People forget.
Jessica – age 8

And the final one… The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’

Feeling sentimental yet? I know that Sweetest Day for me will not involve a significant other, but that won’t stop me from loving. I have my puppy, who does love me despite me being away at work and class all day, and my entire family. Despite the “Hallmark Holiday”-ness of the whole day, I think it serves a very important role.

Too often we forget to tell those we cherish just how much we love them. So no matter who you’re with, what you do, or how you chose to spend October 17, try to make it a point to tell those you love that you care about them. I don’t think we need a holiday to remind us to do that.

Kisses

Kisses

It’s Okay to Cry

10 Aug

Since I’ve come back from Italy, I’ve been trying desperately to catch up on my life. Tonight, I hit a stalemate and had to give in to all the facts. Between graduating in a few months, my roommate’s new dog and mine not getting along, trying to find a job for after graduation and just plain being a kid trying to finish school, I think I need to pause and breathe.

I don’t want to write a post that’s meant to be a personal venting session, I want to be helpful. I think that if I talk this out, I’ll be able to eventually sleep tonight and hopefully help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.The fact is that life today moves too fast and all the while not fast enough. In the meantime, there are a few things that are key to remember when going through a difficult and confusing time.

Stress Relief Kit

1. First and foremost, it is Okay to Cry.

In fact, it’s sometimes the best thing you can do. Yes, men, you can cry too. Crying is a physical form of releasing tension, anger, fear, etc. Sometimes it just feels good to let go and get it all out of your system.

2. Breathe… In… and Out.

There is a reason that mothers are taught how to breathe during child birth. When you feel stressed, take a deep long breath, slowly exhale, and repeat. When you’re huffing and puffing your way through a stressful situation, remind yourself to breathe and you will feel the difference.

3. Do Something

I am finding that sitting here just writing this post is literally lowering my heart rate. My mind is on another subject and it’s focusing on something constructive. For you, whether this means taking a walk, going for a run, cleaning, or starting a blog of your own, just do something else.

4. Remember, You are Loved

You may be overwhelmed, but it won’t last forever. Think of all those who love you and force yourself to see the bigger picture. No matter what you are going through, love is always greater than any negative emotion.

5. Pray, Talk, or Say it Out Loud

I texted my mom, my best friend, tonight with a list of all my worries. It’s after midnight and she texted me back reminding me of all the good in my life and that “this too shall pass”. Sharing your thoughts will make it feel less like your individual problem and help you see the situation from another perspective.

Through the course of writing this post, I’ve performed each of these steps and I’ve got to say, I feel a lot calmer. I am by no means certified to guarantee that this process will work each time, however, I am a poor, stressed out, typical college kid with more on my plate than ever before.

I promise to sum up my trip soon, but in the mean time, take a deep breathe, and enjoy.

Romance, Derived from Rome

23 Jun

Where better to research the customs of weddings than in one of the most romantic cities in the world? The word Romance after all, is derived from the name Rome!

For my ADV 490 Independent Study course, our current assignment was to pick a topic of our choosing and conduct research about it. I chose to research Italian wedding customs and I found out some very interesting things. For instance, the show I was in a few years ago, “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is a stereotypical and very un-Italian representation. Still, funny as hell.

I did some focus group research with the MSU students on my trip about wedding traditions back home so I had something to compare to my Italian wedding findings. This is the list of things that are very typical of an Anglican/American wedding:

  • Cutting of the Cake (shoving it in each others face)
  • Tinking Glasses to Kiss
  • Throwing Rice
  • Cans on the back of Cars
  • Daddy Daughter Dance
  • Bouquet Throw
  • Garter Throw
  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
  • Gifts: Kitchen appliances, China, Linens

Sound pretty good? I’ve only been to a few weddings but I do have another one coming up soon 🙂 After that, I interviewed Rosa Fusco, the Director of Computer Services at the American University of Rome. She has lived in Italy for 17 years but she’s from London and she married an Italian man. Here are some fun facts that she told me about Italian marriage ceremonies:

  • There are no Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
  • The Bride and Groom each have 2 Witnesses (similar to a bridal party but they are called Testimonies)
  • The rings are bought by the Witnesses
  • The Groom’s tie is cut into pieces and sold throughout the night, the money from this then goes to the happy couple
  • Gifts: Money. That’s it.
  • You eat A LOT during the reception. A LOT.
  • Each guest receives 5 White Almond Confetti nicely decorated (the 5 Almonds represent love, fidelity, longevity, fertility, and happiness and even numbers are considered bad luck)

    Italian Almond Confetti

    Italian Almond Confetti

I also found that picture customs are very similar with wedding photos. Traditionally, pictures are taken the day of the wedding for both Anglican and Italian weddings. I thought in Italy that the pictures were taken on a separate day but because Italy is such a beautiful place, people are coming here specifically to take their photos so it may not be the same day as the wedding. This is a newer trend that is happening with the changing technology and customs.

Lastly, if you want to know some other crazy fun facts, you should visit this Associated Content article I found, Italian Wedding Traditions. It’s got some interesting points about what colors to not wear the day before a wedding and other silly things like that. Worth the read! Hope you learned something cool from this post, it was definitely interesting to research. Ciao!

Worth the Sweat

22 Jun

Inquiring minds want to know, what is my current bug bite count? 14. Awesome.

This past weekend we left early on Friday morning to catch the train to Cinque Terre where we hiked and cliff jumped! Let me start by saying that I can hike with the best of them, but I suck at cliff jumping. You would think that falling off a cliff wouldn’t take skill but apparently, it does. I landed wrong both times I got the guts to do it and cut up my hands, feet, and knees on the rocks trying to get out of the water. It was cool, glad I can say that I did it, but I doubt I would ever chose to do it just for fun again.

The hiking aspect of the day however, I was pretty damn good at. I kept up at the front of the group for the whole hike and sweated out all 4 bottles of water I drank that day. Cinque Terre is comprised of 5 cities all set in the mountains along the coast. We got off in Riomaggiore, hiked to Manarola which took about 20 minutes. From there we hiked to Corniglia which took about 45 minutes or so. We hopped on the train to Vernazza to grab lunch and swim a bit then hiked all the way to Monterosso which took about an hour and a half. The total distance that we covered was 9 km which is about 5 and a half miles!! Last time I hiked that much in a few hours? Oh, never.

View of Vernazza

View of Vernazza

After the sweatiest day of my life, we grabbed dinner in Monterosso and while walking around looking for a place to eat, our professors asked a cute old Italian woman for suggestions. She told us about her cousin’s restaurant at the top of the mountain. Next thing we knew, she was on the phone with him and there was a bus waiting to take us to the top of the mountain for a fabulous Italian meal! It was an amazing view and just goes to show you how helpful Italian families are. We took a cramped train ride back to Rome and I arrived in my apartment around 6:45a.m.

The rest of the weekend I spent at the markets and relaxing in Rome while my roommates were in Capri. Today is the first day of our 5th week here. Wednesday we leave for France and next week Friday we are flying home! It’s going to be a bittersweet goodbye to say the very least. I’ll post later about why I’ll miss Rome but I can’t deny that I’m happy to be going home. So much is happening that I’m missing and I should be home for. I’ll see you all soon enough! Can’t wait 🙂

Hiking to Monterosso

Hiking to Monterosso

Bless You, MSU

18 Jun

If you are a Michigan State Spartan, you should be pleased to hear that yesterday, the Pope himself blessed Michigan State University! And no, that is not a lie. We got up extra early yesterday and traveled down to spend the day in  Vatican City. It reached a high of 90 here yesterday and we watched the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square in the scorching sun. I have never sweat so much in my whole life like I did yesterday, it was disgusting.

Seeing the Pope was amazing and I took some incredible pictures. I also got a video of the five minute English interpretation and naturally, the very last group blessed was MSU so when I post the video, watch it to the end! I will upload photos/videos soon so keep an eye out for that.

From there we got lunch, toured the many, many museums within the Vatican Museum with Susan Sanders and lastly, saw the beauty of the Sistine Chapel. We weren’t allowed to talk or take pictures so naturally Susan told us everything about it while we were there and I got some great pictures I will post for you soon!

Today Aubrey and I went for another run. It was once again amazing but I’m worried my sweat tastes sweet because I am covered in bug bites and Aubrey is fine. Yuck. Tomorrow we are catching the bus at quarter to 7a.m. to go to catch the train to Cinque Terre. Our professor Tom is taking us hiking through the mountains and cliff diving. It will be another super sweaty trip but one I am highly looking forward to. All my roommates and a few other people will be traveling after that but I’m coming back to Rome to shop and catch up on my Independent Study project.

My roommate back home, and my dear friend since kindergarten is engaged so I am researching traditional Italian wedding customs. If you know of anything that you could tell me about traditions/how the weddings compare to American weddings/customs/gifts, any information would be useful. I would like to ideally get her a traditional Italian wedding gift while I’m here so Kerrie, if you read this, hope that works out!

I’ll update again soon with news from Cinque Terre and any findings I have on Italian wedding customs in case you too are interested. Hope you are doing well, miss you as always and I will be home 2 weeks from tomorrow. Gosh time is flying by! Ciao!!