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Blog posts by hannah

Disney College Program

Months after I have put my cap and gown away and retire my school textbooks and pens, I will be packing up my swimsuits, shorts and tank tops and heading down to the sunny city of Orlando to take part in the Disney College Program Internship. While I don’t need to receive credit for doing the program and will be working for the company, this is one of the many internships that is offered through Aquinas to gain credit towards your degree and experience in the real world.

It has always been my dream to move down south to soak up the sun and explore the beaches, to work in the hotel/resort industry and gain more experience in providing guests with the best possible vacation. Since I was unable to study abroad during my time at Aquinas, this is a great alternative. No matter what you major in, the Career and Counseling Center can help you find an internship program. Ranging from being in Grand Rapids at Amway or Kids Food Basket, somewhere across the country helping a company make the switch to be more sustainable or caring for patients in a hospital, these types of programs can provide experience that is invaluable and otherwise not learned in a classroom.

As my fellow seniors and I are anticipating graduation day in the next month, I often hear friends discussing the jobs that they have lined up for the future at accounting firms or the graduate school that they will attend in Chicago. Often, I feel a tinge of jealousy creep in as I think of how uncertain my summer plans are and my life after Disney. But I have to keep reminding myself I get to take part in an experience of a lifetime: working for one of the most well-known companies in the world, meeting people from all over the globe, and making magical moments for people every day. Finding an internship that lets you live out your passion and point you in a path you want to go down or perhaps show you what you want to avoid is a great part of the college experience.

Experience GR

So, you’re thinking about coming to Aquinas. You’ve sent in your application, strolled around our campus and heard all of the little details about our school from your Admissions Counselor. Now it comes down to the main question: can you see yourself attending AQ? Maybe you’ve always had your heart set on a bigger school, and you’re wondering if Aquinas can provide you with everything you’ve ever wanted. Does the small school atmosphere seems enticing to you, but are you worried it’s going to feel too small?

I can’t deny the fact that as a smaller liberal arts institution Aquinas has less than 3,000 students, and our campus doesn’t sprawl across hundreds of acres of land, but consider this for a minute—Aquinas is in Grand Rapids, MI. The second largest city in the entire state is home to some of magazine critics’ best tasting burgers, the World’s 2nd Best Brewery, host of America’s largest 25K road race, and is only a half an hour away from some of the most beautiful beaches in Holland and Grand Haven. During the fall months, ArtPrize graces the streets and venues of downtown in a display of hard work and talent. Springtime brings LaughFest and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games to attend, not to mention countless concerts by everyone from Michael Buble to Jason Aldean.

In a city that is so vibrant and alive, there is always another opportunity to discover. Living here for the last four years I have gotten to try new things and still have more to experience. Aquinas’ campus is a small and a hidden getaway located just a few miles out of the city. Aquinas isn’t its own college town, but rather it is a part of an even bigger destination.

The Little Things

This time around last year, I was packing up my swimsuits and summer clothes, donning a sombrero, and flying south to Mexico for a spring break trip. This year I would give anything to go back again and spend a week in the warmth and sunshine. Thinking about how my last college spring break involves me going nowhere (for the first time in pretty much my whole lifetime of spring breaks) I came to the realization that I could still make this week off of school worthwhile.

 The sun has started coming out and making the snow melt little by little, which turns even the worst day in a better direction. Getting to spend my spring break celebrating my grandma’s 80th birthday and getting my car fixed might not have been a part of my plan, but the little things are just as enjoyable. Too often we all forget about them, because we have some bigger ideal plan in our heads.
Spending time with family and friends is just as nice as traveling somewhere new, so is reading a good book that I haven’t had time for, or driving out to the lake and walking on the frozen waves. Trying out a new recipe, crafting for the house, or simply singing along to your favorite song in the car can make any day brighter. Even though I won’t be spending this next week laying out on the beach with a tropical drink in my hand, there are a lot more important things in life than that and I plan on having just as amazing of a time enjoying the sun that shines here in Michigan.

Below Zero

To say this winter has been snowy would be an understatement, and today as I brushed what seemed like a mountain of snow off the top of my thankfully 4-wheel drive car, I realized the winter is probably far from over. We can thank this snow for allowing us at Aquinas only one sort-of snow day, but also providing us with a million different snow adventures and spectacles. I am one of those people who watched out my window as a PT Cruiser was pushed into its driveway, not by a cop but the cop car itself. In the spirit of all things icy and cold, I thought I would share some wise winter tips that I have gathered from living through the Polar Vortex of 2014.

1. No matter how much snow accumulates over night, make sure to clear a trail up your front stairs to the front door so your mail man can have a more convenient experience. And if you don’t, be prepared for him to ask you to do so. I don’t want somebody put in the hospital from slipping at my place of residence.

2. Take an extra second and fold your car mirror in to the window if you are parking on the side of any road. Let’s take a moment of silence for all those departed car mirrors claimed by the winter driving; spotted hanging by cords, flattened to pieces, or missing altogether. And if you can’t move your mirror I suggest you beg your roommates to let you park in the driveway!

3. Expect to get stuck once (or probably twice) in your driveway or somewhere in the middle of the street. If you can, avoid driving but in all honesty, you will have to leave eventually, probably for class. Have some shovels at hand to attempt to dig yourself out of the snow or some friends who can use their muscle to push you along. Also, avoid going up steep and hilly roads at all costs. (especially the hill on Fuller and Fulton streets.. it’s a trap.)

4. For your winter attire, try to look cute but be prepared if you look more like a snow bunny: Mittens. Scarves. Layers. Gloves. Neck warmers. Boots. Do NOT  forget the mittens or gloves, especially if you’re brushing off your car… which you will be.

5. Speaking of brushing, if you don’t have an ice scraper/brush, go buy three because one is probably going to break from all the accumulated ice. The ones with the “built-in-glove” seem attractive but let’s be honest; in the Michigan weather they just can’t keep up or do the best job.

6. If you look out your window and feel as if you’re stuck in a snow globe, assume you really are. Throw some cozy socks on, warm up the hot chocolate, and crank the heat up a few extra degrees. Curl up with a good Netflix movie– you know you would normally be doing that anyway.

If you are lucky enough to have a day off I would suggest hitting the slopes at Cannonsburg or Bittersweet for some fresh powder! If you can’t, do your best to stay warm, safe and un-stuck.

Final Exams & the AQ Difference

As snowflakes are falling (and making parking on campus nearly impossible), the time of year for holiday cheer and stressful meltdowns has yet again arrived. Somehow the amount of work for finals week I had to do piled up while I wasn’t looking, much like the amounts of snow in my driveway. The coffee carafes in the Moose Café can hardly stay full with students chugging it like it is the golden ticket to acing every test. Also, a fun treat for me is having my birthday during exam week every year! But never fear, there is a bright side to all the madness and frigid temperatures.

Freshman year this came in the form of 23-hour ‘quiet hours’ in the residence halls, and that extra hour made all the difference. In the one non-quiet hour, stereos blasted from every floor, students ran through the halls while others danced outside of their rooms to blow off some steam before we buckled back down at our desks. One of our floor programs was decorating a tree with ornaments and this brought a little bit of home to Regina Hall for our first Christmas season away in college.

Sophomore year, my team and I used intramural volleyball to distract ourselves from our looming exams and coursework. Whether your team played for fun or sheer competitive nature (like mine), everybody got a break from reality on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Regardless of class, age, whether you played a sport or not, everybody loved a good volleyball game.

When Christmastime came around my junior year, I resided in a building that had an actual kitchen—one that was more often than not filled with the baked goods of my housemates. Christmas cookies, candy canes, and birthday cupcakes kept us all hopped up on sugar through our all-nighters.

My workload was nowhere near light during my senior year, and it seemed like every distraction from the previous years could possibly do the trick. I even would make the excuse of cleaning up the house in an attempt to avoid writing papers (shameful, but true). I am crossing my fingers before I go home for Christmas break that I can take a stroll downtown Grand Rapids to admire the lights and the beautiful city, because it really is a treat.

At Aquinas, finals week means: some professors will let you switch your exam time if too many of your’s fall on the same day, bosses of on-campus jobs are understanding of the stress you are under, a Christmas Tree Lighting event to ring in the holiday cheer before returning home for break, and free coffee and endless snacks in the library for when you are there all night. The stress of finals can get you down, but when you could go ice skating at Rosa Park Circle or make a snowman in the middle of the soccer field at 2 a.m., it doesn’t seem half bad after all.

BY 150

During my first semester my freshman year, four out of five mornings you could find me at 7:50 a.m. rolling out of bed for my 8 a.m. class. I would begin walking the woody path from Regina Hall to Albertus Hall in sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and in a daze. After a 2-minute walk I would meet up with my fellow AQ students, sometimes before the sun had even risen, for Human Biology lecture and lab.
Not being a morning person was my first struggle to these days, and the second was that science had always been a difficult subject for me. What I didn’t know was how fascinating the subject of human biology could be, and that the professor who taught my class was one of a kind.

Dr. Bahl was a friendly and energetic teacher who made those early mornings a little less rough and sought to share his knowledge and extreme passion with all of his students. From doing labs that tested our blood type to getting the unique experience of observing a cadaver for the first time, Dr. Bahl made biology interesting to every student in the room. Upon taking the final exam and completing the course, I was confident I had picked the right science elective and had a newfound respect for science.

Students can’t fall in love with every class that they take, and certain general education classes may leave students questioning what the importance is, but you never know what you will end up gaining from a class until the credits are completed. While I didn’t pursue a degree in the science field and I didn’t have the pleasure of taking class with Dr. Bahl again, sometimes I will see him running through campus or in the Sturrus Sport and Fitness Center and when he smiles and says hello I think fondly back to those first memories of BY150.

Life at the Library

From the moment I set foot into the Grace Hauenstein Library on my first tour of Aquinas, I knew my heart would be stolen by the building with all the books. I pictured myself there: studying diligently, inquiring at the library reference desk to submit the greatest papers in all my classes, staring out the window to watch the soccer team score another win, and admiring the leaves change color in the fall that make campus so beautiful.

What I didn’t know was how the library would also come to be a place of comfort, where I could go in the warmer months to escape the heat, or find a sea of familiar faces along all the study tables and computers in the winter. The front desk workers were people I ran into elsewhere on campus and who greeted me warmly when I returned. During exam cram weeks I came to count on all of the free snacks, coffee, and ice cream to make life a little less stressful. This library holds a little something for everyone; you just have to take time to find it.
As I walked into this haven the other day on the first day of my senior year, I was overwhelmed by how much love I have for it, but also how I have taken it for granted. Before the page turns to another chapter in your life, make sure to make Grace Hauenstein a part of your journey.

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