Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : Study Abroad Impending!

Hello all!
As this is my last post of the semester (sadness!), I thought it would be nothing less than appropriate to share my preparations for my two week study tour with you! We're about two weeks out from departure to Beijing, China, from which we will hop on another flight out to the western part of the country (i.e., an 8-day tour of the modern day Silk Roads), after which we will return to Beijing for a couple of days to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc.!
Through the trip, as mentioned in a previous post, we'll be immersing ourselves in the culture and engaging in a cross-cultural comparison of digital media, internet censorship, and government regulation.

As we delve further into the itinerary and other exciting stuff, we've been delving further and further into the preparation (which, needless to say, has been extensive).

First, we went through all the official stuff- insurance forms, medical forms, and applying for travel Visas.

Now that we have all of that ready to go, we need to start thinking about what to bring.

Minimal clothes and toiletries, universal chargers, international cell phone plans, and for this particular trip, a couple of special apps.

I'm going to be using a free international messaging platform, a Chinese app called WeChat! This way, I'll be able to easily keep in touch with family back home using WiFi or data. I'm really excited about it.

Here's hoping I'll be able to post plenty of photos to Instagram along the way, so be sure to keep an eye out on my account (listed below), as well as @knightlifeVT, a St. Mike's student-run account run by a different student each week, which will be run by me during one of my weeks in China!

Well folks, it's been a pleasure sharing my tips, tricks, and weekly life here with you this semester! I look forward to getting back to it this upcoming fall. Stay tuned!!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #15

Hello all!
This week was the last full week of classes...this coming week, we'll have classes Monday through Wednesday, a study day Thursday, and then exams will begin on Friday! Thankfully I only have two exams, and then I have two big projects due for my other two classes.
It's definitely bittersweet, but I'm thrilled to be finishing up what's been my most difficult semester yet, to be heading to China so soon, and to be embarking on another amazing summer of work and play!

In other news, this will be my last Sum-It-Up Sunday of the semester! Thankfully, I have one of the most exciting events of the year to cover today...P-Day!!!

It certainly wasn't ideal weather for it (us sophomores have yet to have a sunny P-Day), but we certainly made the best of what was still an awesome day!

[Jared and our friend Brian amidst several renditions of Mumford and Sons, right before we broke out Cards Against Humanity.]

 [Brian's excellent candid work.]

At 3, the food tent was opened, and free food from a bunch of different local spots was available to all! 

I was most excited about this local spot...Ben and Jerry are such great guys.

Overall, it was a great P-Day!! Can't wait for next year''s hoping we get some sunshine for it!!

Be sure to stay tuned for the LAST What-to-Know Wednesday and LAST post of the semester on the 29th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : Finals Week Thoughts

Hello all!
As I'm sure many of you know, finals week here at St. Mike's is just around the bend. Things are winding down (and picking up), and it's safe to say everyone is feeling it. Even though everyone is handling it in different ways, there are a few things that cross everyone's mind each time finals roll around: it's just a different school mindset altogether. Whether you're the kind of person who lets these realizations pick you up or get you down, here are five thoughts we all have during finals week:

1.) All of my once called "free time" must go towards studying.

Sadly, there comes a point when if you're not studying or working, you get anxious about everything that still needs to get done. Almost inevitably, you end up working through what would have been your down time at any other point in the year.
As sad as that is to think about now, remember that everyone else will be in the same predicament, so you're not missing anything while you're holed up in the library. Additionally, think of how good it'll feel knowing that you've gotten as much done as possible with the given hours in a day!!

2.) I'm spending more time in the library than anywhere else...
This applies to anywhere that you decide to study: a computer lab, the academic buildings, etc. Wherever you end up, you'll probably end up in there for far more time than you're even in your dorm room. You'll start to memorize the prime times to go there (when there won't be too many other people), you'll start staking your claim on your favorite spot, and you might even start eating there. Get comfy!

3.) It must be bed time by now.

Chances are you'll find yourself getting tired far earlier- sometimes I feel like mental exercise can be more taxing on your energy than physical exercise!

4.) I'm friieedddd...

It's pretty much a guarantee that you'll have way too many cups of coffee and end up sitting in your study spot sweating and hyperventilating until your eyes feel like dried up cotton balls in your skull. This is usually the phase right before you think...

5.) Let's do this!

At some point, you'll realize what you've been suffering for, and you'll feel the motivation, and later, the reward for all of your hard work. Score!!!

So through all of this, remember that you're not the only one, and keep remembering what you're working so hard for! It'll all be worth it in the end.

Hope you all enjoyed today's What-to-Know Wednesday, and be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 26th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #14

Hello all! It's been the first truly warm week of the semester, and I've got to say, it's been pretty amazing. It's incredible what a difference a little sun can make in both your mood and your motivation!
Earlier this week, we went into Burlington for Free Cone Day and some warm-weather-explorin', as was covered in the most recent What-to-Know Wednesday.
Since then, we've continued to enjoy this amazing weather (which has kind of turned out to be quite the double-edged sword with all the work that still needs to be done)!

Friday night, we made use of some saved up gift cards and went to Buffalo Wild Wings! 

Later that night, we went into Burlington, got some Ben & Jerry's, and walked down to the water a little too late for the sunset, but it was still beautiful!

Saturday morning, we decided to try out something new. We found Magnolia Bistro in a cute little hidden corner of downtown Burlington (somewhere between Vermont Pub & Brewery and American Flatbread). It was a thirty minute wait, so we got vanilla latte's in their cafe area (swanky!), and were finally seated. It was such a cool spot. I ordered the eggs Benedict, and Jared got the meat hash. Everything was delicious, but they were pretty busy- and I don't know if it was just that day in particular, but service was pretty slow. Usually you don't go into a breakfast place at 10 and leave after noon, but hey- it was a very cute find.

Afterward, we made our way down to the waterfront with about five minutes to spare before it started sprinkling (that's probably not hard to tell with this picture). So, we headed out for some grocery shopping and a stroll into Pet Smart to see if there were any cute kittens we could hang out with...

But alas, the cutest thing we found there yesterday were these neon fish. 

Overall, it was a pretty solid week! Within the next week and a half or so, things are really gonna start picking up. So it's gonna be hectic, but summer's right around the corner!

Hope you all enjoyed today's Sum-It-Up Sunday, and be sure to stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 22nd!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : When Spring Hits Burlington

Hello all! Well, I think we can say for sure...Spring has officially sprung!!! As I'm sure you can guess, it's a pretty big deal when the weather finally starts turning around here at St. Mike's. It's been a beautiful past couple of days here, both fluctuating in the sixties and seventies. Just taking a single stroll through campus, you'll see tons of people out on the lawn, reading, relaxing, enjoying a walk, or even doing homework.

But I'd say one of the best ways to really enjoy Mother Nature's mood change is to get out! I love a good stroll around campus, since I happen to be blessed with a beautiful one. But there's nothing quite like knowing you'll finally be able to hit the town without a jacket or fear of frostbite!

Yesterday, Jared and I made our way into Burlington for Ben and Jerry's' annual Free Cone Day! We waited in line for a quick twenty five minutes (they were killing it this year!), got us some Chunky Monkey, and set out for some explorin'!

 The line was atrociously long...but it moved so fast!

 [*cue power love ballad*]

For the first time in months, we finally got back down to the waterfront, my favorite spot in downtown Burlington! 
Lake Champlain is gorgeous all year round...but nothing really beats those bright blue sunsets over glittering water, with not an ounce of chill in the air. It's one of my favorite places to be on a lazy day. 

Here's one of those bright blue sunsets I was talking about. And lemma tell ya, the picture hardly does it justice. It's a shade of blue that's so vibrant that it lures you all the way from Church Street when you look down the hill!

 This, however, is a state of Champlain that I'm not as familiar with! Lasting about fifty feet out into the lake is a filmy layer of ice chunks that are slowly melting! Listening to the water slowly roll in yesterday sounded like glass quietly breaking. I watched several people take videos just to capture that sound!

Also at the waterfront is this cute little aquarium, the Echo Center! I've never been in, but I've always been super curious about what's in there. One of these days I guess I'll just have to go for it!

Of course, there's always the option of just walking around and seeing what catches your eye! There's nothing quite like finding a new place that will become part of your downtown routine. 

Now that we're finally warming up over here, I'll probably be finding myself in Burlington a heck of a lot more often (at least I hope I do)! The forecast predicts a rainy weekend, but I'm crossing my fingers for some sun. 

Be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 19th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #13

Hello all!
No surprise, it's been another crazy week here at St. Mike's.
Amongst our usual school schedule, we had quite the busy weekend.
Friday night, my parents and brother were in town to bring him to the accepted students open house at Champlain College! It'll be fun to have him close by next year. We had dinner with them at Our House to finally show them what they'd been missing!

[Next year's crew!! #AlmostAHighschoolGrad]

If you've read my bio in the "About" tab, you'll know that I'm a lifeguard back home, and this weekend, I spent most of my time at a re-certification class at UVM! It was a ton of work, was super physically strenuous, and now I'm doing homework instead of enjoying this incredible weather...but nonetheless, it's over and done with, and it was a nice boost of confidence to remind myself of all that I'm capable of physically.

After my re-certification time yesterday, Jared and I headed on over to the Ross Center (the gym) for the annual Dean's List reception, where my parents met us! After hauling people out of the water all day long, I probably don't need to tell you that I may have had one too many plates of seven layer dip. But hey, we were celebrating after all.

 After the reception was over, we made our way over to another favorite, American Flatbread. It was a long wait, but always worth it.

Today, I finished up my re-certification course at UVM, got out early, and celebrated with some Al's Burgers & French Frys (even though I went for the chicken sandwich). And once we realized that they were officially open for ice cream for the season, we couldn't help but take advantage of this beautiful day.

Unfortunately, that's were the celebration ended! Praying for another nice weekend next week that we'll be able to take better advantage of. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Until next time, and be sure to stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 15th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : Picking Your Classes

Hello all!
It's that time of year again- picking our classes for next semester!
As I've already reviewed in a previous post, we've been meeting with our advisors, discussing our options for the upcoming semester, and loading some ideas we have for classes into the "preferred sections" area on Knightvision. (Wondering what all of this means? Check out the link above for more info!)

On today's What-to-Know Wednesday, I'll be going over some key questions to make sure you ask yourself when deciding which classes you want to try to register for. Believe it or not, there's a lot to consider!

1.) Which of the requirements for my major do I need to get done this year?

Usually, there's a particular set of classes that your program recommends you take each year to get all of them done on time. Distribute these requirements between the fall and spring semesters of each year, depending on how many you can/want to take on at once, which semester they are offered in, etc.

2.) Can I get any Liberal Studies requirements out of the way?

Throughout your time at St. Mike's, you'll have to take various classes that fall under the Liberal Studies Curriculum, including a math, a science, a history, an English, a foreign language, a religion, philosophy, and a few more. I've been working on getting these done as soon as possible so I don't have to worry about them later on as my major requirements get more and more intensive.

3.) Do I want to pursue a minor?

If you find yourself in a situation that you have room in your schedule, it might be worth considering a minor. Room in your schedule is no reason to take up a minor that you're not passionate about, but it's certainly worth thinking about!

4.) Are there any other special requirements I need to fulfill?

An example of this would be the Honors Program, which I'm currently taking part in. We have to take a total of three honors classes throughout our four years at St. Mike's, and a different set of honors courses are offered each semester. So it's not necessary to take an honors course every semester, or even in a row. Check the honors offerings for each semester, and when you come across one you think you'd like or might fulfill a Liberal Studies requirement, it would probably be a good idea to knock another honors course off that requirement!

5.) Do I have flexibility in my schedule this upcoming semester, and if I do, how should I fill the empty spaces?

I've been going through this conundrum in this semester's registration prep. Since most MJD students are putting aside an entire semester this upcoming year to study abroad, the program outline really only suggests certain classes for one semester out of the two. Since I'm getting my study abroad requirement taken care of this summer on my China trip, I have an entire semester to figure out for myself. I hope to get an Internship done and take the MJD program's internship class simultaneously, get another honors course done, and I'm thinking about two other classes that I just think would be interesting to take, but those will be revealed later if I get into them! ;)

Hope today's What-to-Know Wednesday was interesting and helpful, and be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 12th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Happy Easter!

Hello all!
Sorry for the late post...but alas, it was a busy day! I hope all of your Easters were as fun, festive, and eventful as mine was. :)
Tonight's post will be a quick overview of my day this Easter Sunday with pictures and quick explanations.

 First thing's first...the Easter Basket!! A bag of mini Reeses' cups and a couple of Outback Steakhouse gift cards for a couple of cheat meals back at school!

 Easter blooms for the grandparents.

Church selfies. Before you yell at me, mass had not started yet! ;)

Brother/sister Easter photoshoot before heading out to the relatives for the day!

Mom's crab meat-stuffed deviled eggs! These, my friend, were to die for. 

Nana and Papa's festive Easter door! 

Dad's dinner trickery. 

 One of the many Easter desserts at today's family gathering- but perhaps the prettiest of them all: a homemade gluten free, vegan tart by my cousin Brenna!

Tomorrow, we'll be heading back to St. Mike's for a shortened, yet busy week! Hope you all enjoyed my quick Easter overview, and I hope all of yours were just as picture perfect. Everyone enjoy their night, and stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 8th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : Knightchat FAQs

Hi all! As some of you may know, we just had another Knightchat Monday night for accepted students! I always have so much fun hearing all of your questions and concerns; it definitely brings me back to a time when I had the same/similar questions about St. Mike's! What a stroll down memory lane...and lemme tell ya, two years flies.

As each Knightchat comes and goes, we always get these great, thoughtful questions that I wish I'd had more guts to ask back when I was in your place! I'd say there's always a handful of popular questions that get asked at each Knightchat...whether they're about academics, the social scene, or things to do on and around campus. Since there are no more student Knightchats planned for the rest of the semester (as of now), I figured I'd go over some of those frequently asked questions right here, right now!

(Some of these things may have been covered to some extent in previous posts, but I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to go into more depth, and also to have the answers to some of these common questions here for you in one place!)

So, without further ado...

1.) What is a Knightcard, and what kinds of things can you use it for on/off campus? 

Here at St. Mike's, your Knightcard is your student ID! It has your name, photo, projected graduation year, and student ID number.

You use your Knightcard as a key into the dorms, you swipe it every time you go to Alliot (the dining hall), and you also use your Knightcard at all the printers on campus. (When you print a document from either your personal laptop or a school computer, that document goes to a printing queue that will show up on the printer when you swipe your card. From there, you can either select specific things to print at a time, or print everything in your queue! Documents will stay in your queue without being printed for 24 hours.)

You can (and will) also deposit money onto your Knightcard, and you'll have a few different options on campus for doing that: online, at an ATM-esque machine in the campus library, or the Knightcard office on the second floor of Alliot. Once you've deposited money onto your Knightcard, you swipe it in the laundry room for each time you use a washer and dryer, and you can even use it like a debit card at on-campus cafes like Einstein's or Cafe Cheray!

Additionally, a swipe of your Knightcard gets you free access on the city bus, and you can also present your Knightcard at different stores and/or restaurants around town to get college student discounts!

2.) What's the best local restaurant to eat at?

Well folks, that's a tough one, because there are honestly and truly so many to choose from, so I'll go with two of my personal favorites so far.

First is American Flatbread in downtown Burlington. I have a very similar restaurant back home called Flatbread Company that I grew up going to all the time, so this one was an instant favorite! They make the most amazing pizza all with fresh, organic ingredients, and cook them in a brick oven right there in the dining room!

Next would be Our House Bistro in the Winooski Circle (a little rotary about forty five seconds down the road from St. Mike's!). It's a small, homey spot with a specialty in unique twists on classic comfort foods. In addition to other goodies like classic sandwiches, burgers, and chicken pot pie, they also have a mac and cheese menu featuring several different types of crazy, amazing (don't forget picture-perfect!) mac and cheeses!

[Previously featured on the blog twice now, I believe...but nonetheless, check out this breakfast mac & cheese!!!]

3.) How's the food at the dining hall?

St. Mike's' main campus dining hall is Alliot, where students usually have "unlimited" swipes (with their Knightcard!) freshman through junior year (usually this is reduced once you're a senior and have housing accommodations for making your own food). By "unlimited", I believe I mean somewhere around fifteen swipes per day, which, realistically, might as well just be called unlimited, considering you can get as much food as you want at any given time that you've swiped into Alliot! 

As a college student with no particular diet restrictions like gluten intolerance or vegetarianism, I'd say that eating at a dining hall away from home has been pretty easy for me so far. However, I do know some people with the above restrictions, and even they find that Alliot has been accommodating and very, very possible to get a decent breakfast, lunch, and dinner at.

On any given day, there is an egg station running in the morning where you can get either fried or scrambled eggs made to order, cheese or sans cheese. Also, there's always a wide selection of bagels, butter and cream cheese, and different types of breads, peanut butter, and jam if toast is more your thing. Additionally, in the morning, you'll always be able to find breakfast pastries, fruit, yogurt, granola, and some type of hash brown/home fry situation. There's also coffee and tea accessible through all hours of Alliot operation!

For lunch and dinner, there's always a grill running where you can get burgers or grilled cheeses made to order, and sometimes they even have a sandwich special. There's also a stir fry station running every day for lunch and dinner, a salad bar, a sandwich bar, and a burrito station where you can (in a somewhat Chipotle-manner) get either a burrito, or a salad with burrito fixings. And, of course, there's a dessert table and a soft serve ice cream (or, depending on where you're from, "creemee") machine! 
(Keep in mind, these are not the only options you'll be faced with every day at Alliot during lunch and dinner hours. These are merely a few of the options that you'll have on a daily basis! At many other stations, they offer something new and different every day!)

That being said, there are always options at Alliot, no matter your eating habits, and there are always opportunities to mix and match, make things your own, and get inventive with it! That's not to say that not even the greatest dining halls don't get a little boring after a while, but hey, if you ate at the same restaurant every day, you'd feel the same way, no matter how great that restaurant was!

4.) What's the learning atmosphere like in small class sizes?

You've heard the old "it makes for more personal connections!" before, so I'll do you a solid and emphasize a little further. While this is true, there's so much more to it than that.

Yes, in a smaller class, you have a better opportunity to be closer to your professors, get their help more easily, etc. There's also a chance that you'll see a lot of repeating faces in your classmates, which, let's face it, can be a good thing or a bad thing. 
Additionally, on the other hand, smaller class sizes allow you to contribute to the class on a much more involved level, instead of sinking invisibly into a sea of heads, as I imagine I would in a lecture hall of 200+.
Another plus of smaller class sizes here at St. Mike's is the ability to become closer to the other students in your class. I've found that I've been able to unite with other students on the difficulty of a project, get their help on a certain question I might have with a single Facebook message, or even just be able to have another person to say "hi" to in passing!

5.) How do students usually spend their free time / weekend?

This question always comes up, and usually my supervisor has several of us answer, since it really is so different from person to person. I think it's a common misconception (it's certainly one I had in high school) that everyone at college goes to the same events, hangs out in the same places, and visits the same off-campus hot-spots. But that couldn't be more untrue!!

Everyone has their own interests, and everyone finds their own little things that they like to do with the group of people that they like to be around, and it would be super generalizing for me to tell you how "people" spend their time on weekends, because it just wouldn't be true across the board!

For me personally, I usually go into town with Jared (either get dinner and/or see a movie) on Friday's, and have a low-key night in afterward. Saturday's, I go skiing during the day, and maybe see a group of people that night if plans match up. And Sunday is my homework day! In terms of free time in general throughout the week, I'm usually so go-go-go lately (it's that time of the year for everyone, honestly), that when I do get a bit of free time, I like to spend it either relaxing in my dorm room, or taking a walk outside, now that the weather is getting slightly more bearable!

This certainly isn't the limit of popular Knightchat questions, but I think five is a good number for one post! Maybe I'll do another post with some more Knightchat FAQs in the future, but for now, I hope you found these answers informative and helpful! 
And of course, if you have any additional questions on what I covered on this post, or any other questions in general, feel free to reach out to me via email (listed down below)!
There will also be a Knightchat for parents of accepted students on Monday, April 13th from 7:30 to 9 pm, so also feel free to pass on any questions to them to be answered then...I'll be logged on that night! ;)

Hope you all enjoyed today's What-to-Know Wednesday, be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 5th for a special Easter post!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire