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taylor

Blog posts by taylor

A Saving Grace

It’s the third week of school and already I’m missing her.

Italy.

I’ve had a lot of: “I thought you graduated!” and “Haven’t seen you around campus, it’s great to have you back!” and “How was Italy?” said to me in these first couple weeks. I’m overwhelmed. I’m incredibly happy to be back with my friends and classmates; seeing their affection at my presence warms my heart. Yet there’s this huge piece of me stuck in the memories of my time studying abroad in Italy.

To cope, I’ve buried myself in my literature and writing. I’ve never been more grateful for my passion for reading and writing. Being a part of the English Major community is where I belong. I came into college as perpetually ‘Undeclared’ but deep down I knew that studying English literature and writing was what I was born to do. I didn’t learn how to tell stories. I simply and easily told them. I created them in mind which gave me a rough start in life. I was bullied because words flowed from my mouth with absolutely no filter when I was a child. I shared my stories with my peers and made-believe that they were real. They didn’t like this so they began to ridicule me.

I lied.

But is it really lying when I was taught that I am what I read?

I am a horse-owner, a princess, a lawyer, a dragon-slayer.

I have all of these people in my mind and so do you. We possess the ability to be whoever we want to be!

In kindergarten, we were asked a simple question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

I wanted to be a firefighter. So many other kids in my class said the same thing. I think back on when the planes that flew into our twin towers. It’s like our six-year-old selves knew a tragedy like this terrorist attack would happen and we wanted to be important; we wanted to save lives.

I hope you find your place here. Aquinas College with its hired faculty has helped me flourish in not just finding a degree, but finding my passion. I pray it does the same for you. AQ will make you the best person you can be. I hope you become that which makes you fully whole.

Saint Stock Wonderland

Typically, I am an introvert. There’s no denying this statement unless I’m with my friends and I can be as goofy and outgoing as I want to be. Coming into my freshman year at Aquinas College I wanted to reinvent myself from shy, loner girl in high school to the social butterfly type I have the potential to be. I figured this wouldn’t be too difficult because I came to Aquinas knowing absolutely no one so I set my attitude on positive and was determined to be the girl who brought smiles and giggles to everyone’s faces. I sit here at the villa in Rome surrounded by my friends on this Italy study abroad trip and I notice that I’ve finally accomplishing my goal by all the smiles and laughter coming from my friend’s faces.

To be social you have to be involved on campus, plain and simple. At the beginning of each semester Aquinas has an event called Saint Stock where every club at AQ presents what they stand for and the cool activities they have planned for the semester. Saint Stock takes place in our Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center where you walk through the gym doors to find rows and rows of plastic tables set up with decorations pertaining to each specific club at Aquinas College on their surfaces. There is pizza, candy, soda, doughnuts, pens, pins, plants, telescopes, and so much more. In my opinion it’s one big fiesta. The energy in the room vibrates with sweaty students from all four years just trying to find the place where they belong in their college careers.

When I was a freshman I walked into Saint Stock and signed up for EVERYTHING. It wasn’t very realistic and I wound up being involved in two clubs. I’m a huge music lover. I sing all the time anywhere and any chance I get so Music Club was a no-brainer to sign up for. We did so many amazing activities like getting tickets to the Grand Rapids Opera and Symphony, setting up outdoor concerts for anyone who signed up to perform music in front of the Arts and Music Center or in the Moose Café, and we drew musical notes on t-shirts and decorated them. Also, where there are clubs, there is food! I ate better at my club’s meetings than I did in my dorm room.

I was completely content with just being a part of Music Club but then AQpella audition flyers went up around campus. One of the biggest weaknesses I have is performing in front of a group of people so never in a million years would I have thought of allowing myself to sing in front of anybody. Singing was reserved for showers or belting out Taylor Swift lyrics in the car. Two days before the auditions I still hadn’t made up my mind whether I should find the courage to audition or not. With the encouragement from my friends on my floor I started picking a song to sing leaving me with only two hours before the audition to practice. Not that I encourage procrastination, but the pressure to cram practice in rewarded me with a spot on AQpella. I became an official acapella singer for Aquinas College. When I got the acceptance email I felt so much excitement and accomplishment for conquering my fear. As a result I was able to do something I’m so passionate about. I told myself that when it comes time to performing at the Moose I would let myself freak out but for the time being, I had fun learning songs, making new friends with amazing girls that shared the same passion as I do, and hearing the beautiful melody flowing out of our vocal chords that we made simultaneously in different pitches and ranges.

I was a part of something.

You can be a part of something too!

If there is any advice I can give you it’s to pursue your hobbies in college. Robert Frost, one of the greatest American poets of all time, wrote a poem called “Two Tramps in Mud Time.” He spoke of a person’s hobbies in the poem saying, “The blows that a life of self-control/Spares to strike for the common good,/That day, giving a loose to my soul,/I spent on the unimportant wood.” Our hobbies help us keep our sanity in the face of insanity and stress. We’re all college students here so we know stress all too well, which is why we need our hobbies to lift us out of the hole we dig ourselves in from excessive amounts of homework, writing papers, and studying for exams. I’ve learned from my three wonderful years at Aquinas College that you have the power to decide how your four years of college go. Whether they’re awful four years or the best four years of your life is up to you. My wish is that you chose the latter option.

Arrivederci—till we speak again!

Decisions

One of the most important things I’ve learned coming to Aquinas College is that we will never stop making decisions. Some decisions are wrong and others are right and we learn from each choice along the way. One of the best decisions of my life was choosing to stay at Aquinas my freshman year because it lead me to this beautiful Villa in Rome where I currently reside.

I am not one who gives up easily. However, when you are faced with sharing a dorm room with a person who makes you uncomfortable, thoughts of transferring may arise. When the situation got worse and confrontations spurred and “sub-tweets” were made about me I finally grew a backbone and stood up for myself. I know how I deserve to be treated and I will settle for nothing less. That is my hope for you to find that strength inside you because I have no doubt that you possess it. I left my home in Chicago to enroll at Aquinas College with positive thoughts where I knew not a single soul and, unbeknownst to me, I was walking right into a negative situation. You can’t foresee these types of things—they happen and they’re beyond your control. This kind of thing happens to a lot of people in college. You’re not alone.

If I can tell you one thing it gets better. Not many people know what to do in this situation and they can feel stuck. It took me exactly one week to figure out where I could possibly live to get away from this situation. When you want something so desperately, you will be amazed at the lengths you will go through to achieve it.

Residence Life is there to help you! Area Coordinators are pleasant and they care about you and your college experience enough to help you through this ordeal. Most importantly your experience will be whatever you make it to be so don’t suffer by staying in an uncomfortable situation. It doesn’t make you weak that you leave, it makes you stronger that you realize you don’t deserve to be treated badly by another person.

I moved out of the room second semester with the help of my friends at the time. I remember feeling so safe knowing that I had friends and family in my life who cared a lot about me enough so that they helped me carry all of my things into another residence hall.

Eventually you will find your people. It’s a given. It’s taken me three years to find the lifetime friends I have now. Studying abroad in Rome has filled my heart with an incredible amount of joy because I’ll find myself sitting on the community couches, taking a look around, and seeing all the smiles on my friend’s faces as they look at me—at each other—with love. I never thought I would be lucky enough to feel this happy because this is the exact moment I’ve been waiting my whole life for.

You have the power to make decisions that are good for you. Choose wisely!

Arrivederci for now!

Traveling Abroad Butterflies

I’m well into my junior year of college here at Aquinas and I’ve been antsy to board this plane on October 2nd that will fly me to a destination that I sincerely hope will give me more assurance of who exactly I am. Roma, here I come!

I was accepted into Aquinas’s Italy Study Abroad program and I have been waiting for this moment ever since I did a report on Rome’s Coliseum in the eighth grade. I fell in love with the architecture I saw in books. Being an English major and a writer, I find it incredibly hard to resist the history Rome has to offer. This international airplane ride will transport me to the most crucial moment of my life—surviving in a different country for three months. This is an experience of a lifetime that Aquinas has offered me and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. I’m leaving everything I know and stepping out of my comfort zone because I know myself well enough that I most certainly can accomplish learning in an entirely different culture. As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as Romans do!” and I have every intention of doing so.

As for my faith, I will reside five miles from the Vatican—five miles from my Pope—in a beautiful monastery! I worked hard to be in this program because every fiber of my being wanted this experience and I can’t wait to obtain it and cherish it forever. This is the first time I have ever been out of the country and I find comfort in the fact that Italy yearns for me as much as I ache for everything it has to offer. A country is just land without anyone to nourish it and give it purpose. I know that I’m already changing from this experience because I have a fear of the unknown. However, as I wait these final days for my flight all I feel is eagerness to study Humanities, Poetics, Art and Architecture, and Theology in what I believe to be the most influential city in this world—Rome. It is beautifully surreal and now I have goosebumps just imagining what my life will be like in Rome. The excitement I have about going on the planned excursions is in full bloom and the excitement for unplanned excursions is even more palpable.

My wish for you is that you are able to step out of the bubble you feel safe in and plunge yourself into a whole new world. There are so many amazing places out there you can’t even imagine exist! But they do. They’re waiting for you to find them so that you’ll always carry a little piece of their essence inside you forever. I hope you challenge yourself and study abroad as I am currently doing because in the end, no matter what, you will change. I encourage you to seriously think about a study abroad program here at Aquinas College. Our college gives you chances to grow and all we, as students, have to do is accept them. I look forward to sharing more of my experiences abroad on the Saint Scoop Blog. Arrivederci—until we speak again!

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