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Blog posts by mary

Why the “Because I don’t drink coffee” is Never a Valid Response

I am, unashamedly, a coffee snob.

I was a Starbucks barista in high school and since entering college, I have been to almost all of the coffee shops in the greater Grand Rapids area. The reasons I choose to spend my time in those places, actually, have very little to do with the actual beverages offered. Okay, they have a little to do with it, c’mon I need some caffeine, but I promise there’s more to it than that!

-I go to coffee shops for the atmosphere.
People are so focused on the tasks in front of them that it’s a great place to people watch and hear some awesome music that you wouldn’t have found otherwise!

-I go to coffee shops because I can be productive there.
When I’m on campus, everyone is so friendly and sweet that I find I’d much rather socialize than cross things off my to do list! Though the former is preferable, the latter is sometimes necessary so things can get accomplished!

-I go to coffee shops because they are the perfect food alternative, budget and time wise!
Sipping on a latte and nibbling on a croissant is a surprisingly filling alternative, that allows for multitasking, as opposed to finding the nearest restaurant where you have to wait to order, yada yada yada. As far as spending $3.47 on said latte, it’s filling, relatively healthy, and cheaper than a full meal food option yet it leaves you just as contentedly full.

-I go to coffee shops because it’s one of my favorite adventures!
Stepping into the coffeehouse atmosphere makes me feel like I am stepping into another world! There are usually paintings on the walls, books on the shelves, and it makes me imagine who owned the building in another life, who donated the books, who painted the paintings, who in the world sat at the table by this window and did they look through it and lock eyes with a stranger who became the love of their lives? Coffee shops are homey, romantic, and full of adventure, about so much more than “just a little caffeine.”

My “Grand” Coffeehouse List

Disclaimer: I am 100 percent positive there are more lovely coffee places than what is on this list, but here is where I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last three years =)

  • Clique Coffee Bar
  • Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge
  • The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand
  • Lyon Street Cafe
  • The Bitter End
  • Madcap Coffee
  • Common Ground Coffee House
  • PaLatte Coffee & Art

The Cake Fiasco

Ask anyone the best week of the year and they may say: “The week between Christmas and New Years!” or “The week of Spring Break!” or even, “The week that includes Good Friday and Easter!”  

All are good answers, regardless of the reasoning, but, ask any AQ Saint what the best week of the year is and you’ll get a different sort of answer! Chances are you’ll hear something along the lines of “St. Thomas Aquinas Week!”

My freshman year I remember that week rolling around and thinking  ‘umm, ok..? cool.’ I had no idea what it was or what was even going on. Fairly typical of college, I was a distinctive mix between disinterested and straight-up confused. Three years later and days in advance, I was jumping on my roommates bed to inform her of the upcoming events of St. Thomas Aquinas Week. Needless to say, at 1:27am, she was less than pleased.

My enthusiasm was warranted, even if my timing wasn’t, because there really are so many amazing events that go on during the week: the family dinner with the Dominican Sisters, Mass at St. Thomas, the Leadership Conference put on by Student Senate, AQ Idol, and that isn’t even half of them! It’s a busy and exciting time, but it’s yet another reason why being a Saint is such an awesome experience!

One of my favorite traditions is the AQ Family photo! Due to personal reasons, I wasn’t able to make the picture this year, but I love that everyone comes together to show mutual love for our school! The photo is the culmination of the AQ difference to me, because you can really see the spirit of the students and faculty come alive in one moment, even if it’s just that one moment. The whole experience is captured in a way that draws others in, making them not only want to be a part of the memories, but to share them with others as well.

Another tradition well-worth mentioning is the cake.
Cake in the Academic Building.

Cake in the Wege.

Cake in the Cook Carriage House

Cake in Albertus Magnus Hall.

I don’t know if there’s cake in Holmdene but it stands to reason there probably is, since Juan obviously needs cake too!

This week is really just an opportunity for everyone to come together to celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas, the things he stood for and everything he taught, which is in essence, the things the College stands for, and also to eat cake.

It really is great to be a Saint!

Midterm Madness

October 12, 2015 – October 16, 2015

This week has been called many things. The most school-appropriate being “the week before fall break.” The student version being something along the lines of a midterm-shaped padlock, in which only completed due dates can unlock the doors and set the captives free. Midterms are the first point in the semester when students collectively commit to studying harder so they don’t need to cram during exams. The time when students who actively avoid the library all year, suddenly make Grace Hauenstein their home. I am one hundred percent, shamelessly, one of those types of students. My friends know I view the library the same way I view formal clothing: a solid idea, but if the idea becomes a reality for any longer than absolutely necessary, I get antsy.

Yet, my absence from the library has not detracted from the commitment I made as a student. I make every effort to get the most out of my tuition dollars. I hand in my assignments on time, study for my tests, and make a deliberate effort not to skip class on a daily basis. Sometimes, I’m successful, other times I’m not.

The understanding that school is a balancing act is imperative for making it out alive. I mean, ahem, graduating. Positive study habits are important, and learning time management a skill that will come in handy for a lifetime. Above all else, comes personal wellness. However the importance of this often becomes lost in the midst of the final exams, projects, and presentations.

I, personally, am not a perfect student.

I’ve gotten grades that aren’t A’s.

I’ve groveled shamelessly for extensions from professors.

I’ve happily procrastinated before a due date, in absolute, complete denial.

Typical college student issues.

I’ve found, that the time is going to pass one way or another. Fall break came around for all of us eventually and so there really is benefit to putting in the effort now.

At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself, let me know if that sounds convincing to you!!

Either way,

Congratulations everyone!

Ya’ll survived Midterm Week!

Shakespeare, Chaucer and Jane Austen, Oh My!!

As a junior at Aquinas College, I began pursuing my undergraduate degree in English as a sophomore. I can say with complete honesty, I had no idea what I was in for. I signed up for as many classes that would be a checkmark on my major-required courses list, and it wasn’t until I was in two 300-level literature classes that it occurred to me that I had never taken a literature class before.

What followed was pure chaos. As unconventional as a narrative strategy as this may be, I am going to skip to the end and tell you I made the Deans list for the first time in my high school and collegiate career that semester.

Sounds like a happy ending right? Like everything worked out?

Not quite.

What that Deans List certificate didn’t show was the lack of sleep, the cups of coffee, the stress, the anxiety, the tears, everything that went into that semester and more. It didn’t show the frustration, or the fear that my program wasn’t the right fit, essentially all of the struggles and anxieties most college students have. While I did put in a lot of work that semester, my family and friends were my rock, the people who got me through. I all but lived in my professors’ office hours and bothered them until I had the answers to the reasons I was getting grades that weren’t A’s.

I made the Deans List but I lost my sanity that semester. The good news is two-fold, the first being that that semester is done with. Thank God. The second being that I learned more than I ever would have if I had been the kind of student who always received A’s without effort. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I was that kind of student on an hourly basis, but I’m thankful I will be able to cross the stage at graduation knowing I really learned differing skills and took advantage of the liberal arts education that Aquinas offers. As excited as I am to graduate, I am thankful for all I have learned and continue to learn here. As a junior in the English program, I am now in my capstone major literary authors study class and I’m incredibly thankful to have made it this far and to continue to explore all the post-graduation opportunities Aquinas has given me. I’ve never regretted choosing AQ and I am forever proud to wear maroon and white.

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