Saturday, December 28, 2013

This time next week...

Three more days. On Wednesday night, the first day of the new year, I will be on a plane to London for an entire semester. Talk about new beginnings!

I have been having a great- and extremely hectic- winter break so far. I've spent a lot of time at home with my family and our Christmas celebrations were so lovely. My family always comes over for Christmas Eve and this year we returned to our tradition of sandwiches and pie for dinner and dessert. After we ate, we all opened our annual Christmas pajamas and took some pictures in front of the tree. It ended up snowing a little so my cousins and I went outside to run around in it and to see the tree all lit up. As cliche and it sounds, it was pretty magical to see snow on Christmas Eve.

Christmas was full of surprises, family, and love. I got a bunch of things I'll need for my trip, like power adapters and space bags. I also get some clothes, a pair of shoes, and almost everything else I had asked for. Of course Maggie got a bunch of Walking Dead merch and my cat was in heaven because of the wrapping paper and bows everywhere. My dad made my grandma a bookshelf from scratch and it came out quite beautifully. She was so surprised when he brought it out.

After my sister and I sat down on the couch with our cinnamon buns, my dad came into the room and handed us each an envelope. He said that they were his Christmas letters to us. I didn't think anything of it so when I saw Maggie open hers and quickly slide it back into the envelope, I was suspicious. I opened mine up and there was a ticket to the One Direction concert in New Jersey this summer inside! I literally couldn't believe that my dad had gotten us tickets because everyone knows how ridiculous it is to try and buy them. But somehow, he did it!

It took a few days for the shock to wear off from that surprise, and then before I knew it there was another creeping up on me. On Friday night I drove to my friend Stephanie's house for what I thought was a pizza dinner with her, Maggie, and my other friend Kym. Her mom let us in and Stephanie was right inside waiting for us. After we took off our coats, we walked into the living room and I turned around and saw all of my friends standing in the dining room. I was so shocked to see them all there and after we all greeted one another, Steph told me how she had planned it all with Maggie and Kym. I was surprised my sister didn't let it slip because she usually can't keep secrets. Somehow, they all managed to keep it a secret though and the party was the highlight of my week. I got to see almost all of the people I wanted to see before I leave. It just reminded me of how blessed I am to have such great friends and family. I'll miss them all so much while I'm gone!

Now that I'm so close to my departure I feel like it's finally starting to seem real. I still need to unpack from school and then pack my bags for England, but I've been getting more mentally prepared and excited the last few days. I can't wait to get there and meet everyone in my program.

For now I will procrastinate and watch Dexter on Netflix with my family until I am forced to start packing. I hope everyone reading this is enjoying the holidays!

The next time I write, I'll be in London. Unbelievable.

Until we meet again.

My house on Christmas Eve. It snowed!

I painted my nails for Christmas.

From left: Lisa, Maggie, me.

Playing around with my camera in the snow on Christmas Eve.

Some of my amazing Christmas presents. I'm so excited for August 5th!

My friends threw such a fun surprise party for me on Friday!

Friday, December 13, 2013

London Calling

It's been an awfully long time since I used this blog, but I thought that I'd start it back up again to keep track of my thoughts as I prepare to head to London, England for almost five months. I absolutely cannot believe that I am leaving on New Year's Day. That's less than three weeks away and I literally just got home from Vermont yesterday. Admittedly, I feel really overwhelmed. I have so much to get done before I leave and I just want to curl up with my cat and watch Netflix to ease the stress. I love Christmas but I feel like I can't truly enjoy myself until my bags are packed and all of my affairs are in order. I guess I'm just too uptight about planning things out, and I'm actually looking forward to the change of pace and unpredictability of my trip abroad.

This past semester flew by and despite all of the stress from writing for my school paper and balancing all of my classes, I had a really good few months. Over the summer I worked as a deck hand on a boat and that was an interesting experience to say the least. After spending all of that time slaving away in the heat I was so ready to return to Vermont and to all of my friends. This semester I lived in a townhouse with Liz, Abby, and Erika. It was really nice living with them and getting to know them so it was pretty sad leaving yesterday. We spent our last night in the house watching "Love Actually" and painting our nails. I love nights like those and I'll miss our heart-to-hearts.

Another huge part of my semester was The Defender. I was a photo editor and staff writer for the paper and it was a really great experience... even when I hated it. I guess I never really hated it, but it was really stressful and time consuming. I loved the staff and my professors though, and every time the paper came out it was awesome to know that we had all put it together with our own original content and designs. I'm probably most proud of the interview I did with Kelley Dixon, an Emmy-award-winning film editor on "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead." I tweeted at a bunch of the cast and crew asking about an interview with pretty much no expectations of a response from anyone. It was the week before the series finale was scheduled to air. Dixon responded to my tweet asking me to sell myself a little and tell her more about myself. I was so excited! We exchanged a few more tweets, I gave her my e-mail address, and she contacted AMC Publicity. The next week, after the finale, I tweeted at her again to check and see how things were going with the publicity department's approval and she said that she was ready at that very moment if I was available. I jumped out of my bed and grabbed my recorder while awaiting her call. Sure enough, my phone rang a few moments later. She was so nice, but at first she said she only had a few minutes to talk. I scrambled to narrow down my questions so that I got the best ones answered in the short amount of time I had. I ended up talking to her for fifty minutes! It was so awesome to hear about the editing process and Kelley's experiences with the cast and crew. She told me about the change of environment for her on "The Walking Dead," and explained the difficulties of editing a zombie scene. Besides the awesome experience I had interviewing Kelley Dixon, I also got to cover the dismissal of two custodians/union advocates from St. Michael's for the first issue. It made the cover and caused a bit of a stir on campus. I was so nervous to write it and hearing positive things from so many people when it came out made me feel confident and excited to take on the rest of the semester.

Okay, okay, so enough about academics. It's winter break now and I'm just so happy to be home with my family. My sister and I just baked and frosted some peppermint cookies and now we're watching "Portlandia" on Netflix. I'm pretty sure my dad's asleep. I should probably unpack some more tomorrow but we're expecting a huge snow storm so I'll probably just sleep in, help put up the tree, and watch even more Netflix all day. No wonder I'm stressed...

As the days pass and London gets closer and closer, I worry about fitting all of my clothes and belongings in one or two suitcases, learning as much as I can about England before I leave, spending enough time with my family and friends, how it's going to feel saying goodbye to everyone for five whole months, what it's going to be like when I get off of the plane, and how well I'll transition to life in another country. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a great opportunity so I'm trying my best not to worry, and to embrace the extraordinary realization that I will be having the time of my life in England in just a few short weeks.

Our make-shift Christmas tree courtesy of Erika in our townhouse.

I'll miss my housemates!

From left to right: Erika, Abby, Liz, and me on Thursday right before Liz and I left.

The cookies that Maggie and I made tonight.

I'll try to update this blog often, so if you're interested in my travels, check it out! :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bridging the Love Gap: Long Distance Relationships in College

College is a time of major transitions, hard work, new friends, and freedom from the chains that bound many people during adolescence. Time seems to fly by and opportunities to socialize and network come and go like lightning. While most students are breaking out of their familiar cocoons and becoming social butterflies in college, some hold deeper roots at home because of long distance relationships.

“Long distance relationship” can be an intimidating phrase to hear. Some people cringe at the thought of being bound to someone who is miles away for long periods of time. Others see distance as a small hurdle in their relationship that is worth it in the end. In the age of social media, texting, Internet dating services, and Skype, keeping in touch is easier than ever. But is leaving for college and leaving behind a loved one still enough to drive couples apart? Does it hinder the college experience?

“I think about it so often, how different my life could have been if I wasn't in that relationship,” Jessica Ciulla, a student at Stony Brook University, said. “Instead of trying to go out and meet people my first semester of college, I would stay in and talk to him because of how much he missed me.”

According to the former Center for the Study of LongDistance Relationships, approximately 4.4 million college students are in long distance relationships. In addition, studies show that long distance relationships do not break up at a greater rate than couples who live close to each other. One study found that 23% of proximal couples and 11% of long distance relationships break up after 6 months of dating. Another found that 25% of proximal couples break up after one year of dating, and only 8% of long distance relationships do.

“I did finally start to make friends towards the middle of the semester but he would worry too much and didn't like that I wasn't talking to him as much since I was hanging out with other people,” Ciulla said. “He would get really jealous and basically didn't want me to have fun unless he could be there too.”

According to research by Statistic Brian, the average distance that a couple in a long distance relationship lives from each other is 125 miles. The average amount of times the couple visits each other per month is 1.5 and the average amount of time in between phone calls is 2.7 days.

“Dating someone who doesn’t check their phone or go online often is stressful for someone like me who relies on technology for communication,” Lisa Ritter, a junior at St. Michael’s College said. "When we were apart, it was nearly impossible to get ahold of him to have a conversation. We just got to the point where we missed each other too much and didn’t want to stress out about the distance anymore.”

Matt Egan, a sophomore at Northeastern University has been dating his girlfriend for over two years. They are long distance when he is away at college.

Matt Egan and his girlfriend, Kym Van Heemst. (Source)
“Being in a long distance relationship is definitely hard because there is always the longing to get to see that person,” Egan said. “That being said I think the distance helps build trust and confidence that the other person really cares enough about you to endure the same emotional longing that you are going through in order to stay together.”

People seem to have very diverse views on being in long-distance relationships during college, and how it affects their college experiences.  While Matt Egan is in a successful long distance relationship, not everyone is so lucky.

Jesse Suhaka, a sophomore at St. Michael’s College came out of his relationship of over two years during his freshman year of college.

“I would certainly say that it was difficult to enter college in a relationship,” Suhaka said. “It made the whole transition much harder than it would have possibly been if my Father was the only one I had to say goodbye too. In terms of my social life, I viewed the relationship as my social life. I hardly gave a shit about the students who attend this school and what their lives were like. I was busy counting the days down until I could get home again.”

Matt Egan’s college experience is affected much differently by the distance between him and his girlfriend.

“Being in a long distance relationship has definitely affected my college experience, although in my eyes the effects are positive,” Egan said. “For starters not having the distraction of the opposite sex on my mind while at school because I was already taken was helpful when it came to focusing on academics and success. Also, having such a strong bond has made me realize what's truly important in my life and what I want for my future; enabling me to have priorities which I believe to be above those of most college males.”

Long distance is not as easy for some people. Jake Wexler, a sophomore at the Purchase College, experienced trust issues and realized that his relationship was taking a toll on his college experience.

“We never got to see each other as much as we wanted and trust really became an issue,” Wexler said. “I do not regret it because I learned a lot about myself, other people, and managing a relationship but I don't think I'm ever planning on wanting a long distance relationship again, although I’m not totally opposed if it were the right person.”

Tanya Marceau and her fiance, Clinton Black. (Source)
Tanya Marceau, a sophomore at St. Michael’s College, has been in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend for the better part of 7 years. They have been engaged for the last 2 years.

“I don’t think it’s affecting my college experience at all, I now have extra time for homework and friends which I would not have if he attended my school,” Marceau said. “He would have been too much of a distraction. The benefits would have to be the free time I have, also having the bed all to myself and being far apart helps me keep my individuality -something that can get lost in the shuffle when couples spend all their free time together.”

Although many people agree that long distance is not ideal and quite difficult, there are definitely success stories like Matt Egan and Tanya Marceau.  

“The only downside to my long distance relationship is in its description: long distance,” Egan said. “To me the benefits far outweigh the distance because I know that someday I will get to be with my significant other and every second away from her will be worth the future I pray that I will have the pleasure of spending with her.”

Long distance is a complicated thing, especially in college. The best thing to do is follow your heart. It seems to work out differently for everyone and even if it fails, it can be a good learning experience. Over 4 million college students in the United States are taking their chances with long distance love. As they say in The Hunger Games, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Bruno Mars- "Long Distance" on YouTube. (Source)

Well Cast's Advice and Statistics for Long Distance Relationships on YouTube. (Source)

·         (All personal interviews conducted on Facebook)
·         Jake Wexler, Purchase College, 4/14/13, Facebook
·         Jessica Ciulla, Stony Brook University, 4/19/13, Facebook
·         Tanya Marceau, St. Michael’s College, 4/15/13, Facebook
·         Lisa Ritter, Saint Michael’s College, 4/14/13, Facebook
·         Matt Egan, Northeastern University, 4/14/13, Facebook
·         Jesse Suhaka, Saint Michael's College, 4/14/13, Facebook

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chatting with Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz, a political columnist for Seven Days, came to speak to my social media class this morning. It was a really fun and informal Q&A session and we got to hear about his experiences and social media use in the workplace.

Before I dive into the information that Paul gave us, I'll share the mini-bio my Professor gave us before his visit:
Photo Credit: Dartmouth Life
"A flatlander from Connecticut and Massachusetts, Paul got his start in journalism writing for and editing his high school and college newspapers. While studying history and English at Dartmouth College, he took time off to intern for NPR's "On The Media." After graduating in 2006, he worked as a glorified intern, or "desk assistant," for PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" in Washington, D.C. In 2007, he returned to northern New England to write for the Brattleboro Reformer — covering politics, Vermont Yankee and five area towns. In 2008, Paul foolishly quit his job to paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and write about it for the Boston Globe Magazine, only to see the economy tank and journalism jobs dry up completely. So he turned to the Dark Side and became communications director for U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a job he managed to hold for two-and-a-half years. In 2011, our hero came to his senses and quit his job to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. After completing the trail, Paul spent some time in California trying to write the Great American Novel before conning the editors of Seven Days into hiring him in February 2012. He started out as a staff writer and then took over the "Fair Game" political blog that summer. Paul has never before written about himself in the third person and feels rather sheepish for doing so."

I suppose I'll begin by sharing some of the things that I took away from Paul's visit to my class.
  1. Not all reporters use social media. Paul has been active on Twitter for awhile and is not completely sure how to utilize it for journalistic purposes, but he has colleagues who don't use social media at all. Paul tweets bits of news and makes jokes to bring some of his personality into his social media use so that he can relate to people more. He told us that he wants to "be someone I'd want to follow." Although Paul uses Twitter for his work, not all reporters are required to participate. It's just a common expectation for most journalists to have Twitter and Facebook accounts. "I don't think it's necessary now, but we're getting to where it is necessary," Heintz said. He would like to think that it isn't a necessity but with the competitive nature of journalism it is becoming more and more useful. "I want to think that I can go home at night and read a book and actually think about things," Heintz said. For most journalists it's just another tool to stay connected to the community and that is an important part of the job description. Paul uses social media to stay connected and to self-promote his work.
  2. Tweeting can be dangerous. If you don't think before you tweet you might regret it later on. Journalists love to be the first to break news but if you're working for a weekly publication, like Seven Days, it might be spoiling your work too soon. Other journalists can see what you are putting out there and they might 'scoop' you or try to beat you to the punch. Tweeting is a great tool if you monitor what you're saying and don't give away too much. Some things are better kept quiet until all of the details are pieced together in a complete article.
  3. Break up text online with pictures, gifs, and other multimedia. This is really important because it can really draw in more readers. When there are just large blocks of text it can take a toll on the eyes. Pictures, cool graphics, and gifs that start moving as you scroll past them are really neat ways to tell a story and they add visual flare too.
Paul's visit reminded me of why I love being a journalism major. Even though the job description is changing quite a bit, there is something special about telling stories. When Professor Griffith asked Paul what he would be doing if he wasn't working as a journalist, he said, "I'd probably be unemployed trying to do this." He reminded us that journalism is essential, fun, and plays a role in moving important conversations forward. I'm so happy that I'm learning how to do that, and meeting talented people like Paul reaffirms my love for reporting.

That's all for now, but I'm sure I'll have some more exciting things to share after my visit to WCAX, a local news station, later this week!


(Here's a link to the blog that Paul contributes to often.)

The Countdown Begins

Hello and happy Monday everyone! The weather here in Vermont is pretty nice today which is definitely helping the mood on campus. It's getting close to the end of the semester now. Only 12 days of classes left! I feel like my sophomore year just flew by. Now I'm scurrying around trying to complete my study abroad application for London and start all of my final papers. I took the last few days to wind down after my huge Global Communications project was due. It feels so nice to be done with it! My classmates and I had to make websites on the media and culture of various countries. My website was about Japan. You can check them all out here.

Liz, Mikala, Juliana, Lauren, Me, and Cara at Free Cone Day.
Lauren, one of my best friends and an official SMC blogger, posted about some of the fun things we've been up to lately on her blog. I'll try not to be too repetitive but there are some things I'll fill you all in on.

On Thursday after our Global Comm class was let out a bunch of us went to Ben and Jerry's for Free Cone Day. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the completion of a huge project than with some delicious, free, ice cream with friends. It was a beautiful day and the new Candy Bar Pie flavor is to die for.

This past weekend we all played Quelf on North Campus.
A bunch of my friends and I had game nights the past two weekends. It was really fun to unwind and play games like Cards Against Humanity and Quelf. If you haven't heard of these two games, I'd strongly recommend looking them up. They're really fun for older crowds because they take elements from kids games like Apples to Apples and Cranium and add hilarious twists that involve a lot of adult humor. It felt good to laugh for a few hours and pig out on chips and dip. My roommate, Liz, got an awesome card in Quelf and everyone had to go around and compliment her until someone couldn't think of anything else to say. She definitely enjoyed that!
Macklemore performed at the MTV Movie Awards.
Last night I made some popcorn and cracked open a bag of pretzel M&M's to snack on during the MTV Movie Awards. Lauren and Liz watched it with me and we were excited to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Can't Hold Us," because they'll be here at St. Mike's in less than two weeks to play our sold out spring concert. This is one of the biggest spring concerts that St. Mike's has had in a long time so the campus is really excited to have them here. I plan on getting there as early as possible so I can get close to the stage.

Anyway, there have been some fun things going on to break up the end-of-the-semester workload. I'm looking forward to warmer (and drier) weather in the coming weeks. It'll be nice to get away from snow flurries and rain almost every week. Especially because the second Accepted Students Day is coming up next Saturday and my younger sister, Maggie, is coming to visit with my dad. Maggie recently sent in her deposit and is definitely coming to St. Mike's next year. Her name was recently on the marquee at our high school and she had a photo shoot with my dad in front of it. I'm so proud of her!
Yay Maggie! SMCVT Class of 2017!
I better get back to homework now. I will be posting again in a little while about my social media class's visit from Seven Day's Political Columnist, Paul Heintz. It was a great Q&A session and I'll be reflecting on it in my next post if you want to check it out. Have a wonderful Monday everyone!


Oh! I almost forgot that my multimedia piece about the lovely Green Mountain Derby Dames was published in last week's Defender. Check it out here!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Zombie Prom

 Hello again! I remembered that I never got around to sharing some exciting news. Over spring break in March, my sister got asked to prom by her friend, Cody. Cody is a great guy and he put quite a lot of thought into the prom-posal. My sister, Maggie, absolutely adores AMC's The Walking Dead. She is crazy for Daryl Dixon, one of the show's most popular characters. Not only does she love Daryl, but she is a huge fan of Norman Reedus (the actor who plays Daryl). Cody drew inspiration from Daryl and got a toy crossbow off of the internet. He placed a bouquet of flowers where the arrows would go, and added a little teddy bear and a sign that said 'Prom?'

Cody let me know when he was on his way to the house, so when the doorbell rang I was ready to film the whole thing. I posted the video on YouTube, and decided to tweet it to Norman Reedus as well. I tweeted about three times and the next day I received a text from Cody. Norman tweeted the link to the video! It got a lot of views in a short period of time and my sister was ecstatic. She's his biggest fan and not only supports his role in The Walking Dead, but avidly watches all of his other films and interviews on YouTube as well. She has watched The Boondock Saints too many times to count! Anyway, it was an awesome experience and I'm really glad that I used social media tools to get it out there. If you have something worth sharing, access to social media, and a little bit of luck, you could get noticed by your favorite celebrity as well! :)

Hopefully Maggie can survive the next 6 months until season four premieres. I'm already getting antsy about it myself!