With Thanksgiving today, I’ve felt rather homesick and so I wanted to reflect on why I am grateful for my home (Bryn Mawr) and why I’m so excited to be back in less than two months! I thought I would get over missing Bryn Mawr while abroad yet it never really happened. I have had incredible adventures this past year and I wouldn’t trade them for the world but they have also made me appreciate just how much Bryn Mawr means to me and just how profoundly the people there have impacted my life. I will actually be coming back a week early to see friends and participate in a management workshop because I couldn’t bare to be gone any longer after an eight month hiatus. I am counting down the days until I will be reunited with both my campus and my fellow Mawrters. To get you all as pumped as I am, here are all the things I am super excited for for next semester!
I specifically chose to study abroad in the fall so that I could be on campus for Hell Week,a week where freshmen get to break social norms and out of their comfort zones to perform silly tasks for their sophomore “hellers” who make them schedules based specifically on their interests as a way of community building and to break the monotony of the dead of winter, and May Day, the Sunday before finals start where we all wear white dresses, eat strawberries and cream for breakfast, dance around maypoles, jump in bouncy houses, and enjoy spending one last sunny, beautiful day altogether as a campus before saying good-bye to the seniors. I love and missed the first two traditions, Parade Night and Lantern Night, but nothing compares to all the fun and energy that go into making Hell Week and May Day so wonderful! This will also be the first semester my “Hell Family” will finally all be together on campus at the same time since one of my hellers was abroad in France in the fall and the other was in Poland in the spring plus now I’m abroad in Denmark. The heller of your heller is your grandheller; creating a family dynasty that connects you in some way or another to nearly every person on campus. I can’t wait to be a grandheller as well because I get to sit back and enjoy Hell Week while the sophomores have to do all the work of creating schedules and coming up with crimes and punishments for their freshmen during trials in their dorms. I was tried for loving Bryn Mawr too much so I had to dress like an owl, surprised?
2. The food!
Bryn Mawr has topped the lists of universities for their delicious food, thanks to all the hard work our Dining Hall staff and students put into us. My freshman year, we had a Harry Potter themed dinner where we all got to pick a house (Hufflepuff represent!) and dress up like the characters. There were costume contests, all of the dining hall staff dressed up (some even brought their kids), and everything was decorated with loving detail from the long tables set up in Thomas Great Hall to resemble the Great Hall to the butterbeer and movie showings. We’ve also had lots of fun events like Spring Fling where we got to eat ice cream out of a kiddie pool with a shovel! Cooking for myself has also improved my cooking skills so I’m excited to prove myself with some new recipes at the stir-fry station at Erdman. I also can’t wait for tasty desserts at the end of every meal, especially Sunday sundaes! I already have many plans to go out into Philadelphia, a foodie mecca from the city’s diversity, to eat all the delicious treats from Indonesian food to Reading Terminal Market to discovering food carts around the city.
3. The events! (Especially Mumford & Sons!)
One of the hardest parts about living in one of the most expensive countries in the world is that every time you want to go out and do something, you have to pay for it. I’ve ended up rarely going out this semester since each time comes with such a price tag and I decided to save my money for travels. I absolutely can’t wait to be back at Bryn Mawr where my biggest problem is that I have too many things to pick from! Culture shows to acapella concerts to plays to open mic nights to movies to concerts to guest speakers; there’s always something going on in the tri-co! I’m also psyched for all of the events going on in Philadelphia as well and D.C and New York are only a bus ride away which allows for endless weekend opportunities. I’m particularly excited that I’m going to be seeing one of my all time favorite bands with one of my best friends and her friend in Camden during Hell Week (it’s going to be quite the eventful week!) We were ecstatic when we found out they were coming close to Philly because originally I was disappointed because they are touring Europe in the spring, when I wouldn’t be there. Tickets sold out in a matter of minutes but our friend Meredith was amazing and managed to get us orchestra tickets all relatively near each other. I’ve heard so much about how amazing they are live; the recordings are just so that they continue to play gigs. I expect it to be one of the most best nights of my life.
4. The campus!
Commuting to a city campus has been a valuable experience for me to see the other side of college living but I miss our beautiful campus. I miss our dorms like palaces, the way you run into everyone you know down the long path to Erdman, doing late night art projects in Arnecliffe studio, the cherry blossoms that cover the campus in the spring, the hammocks in warm weather, the grassy hill near Rhoads that’s perfect for sledding in the snow, the serene creek behind Batten, laying out in the sun on Carpenter green, remembering to never split the friendship poles when you’re walking through Pem Arch with a friend, just everything in every way. I’ve also been extremely lucky to have rooms with beautiful views of nature: my freshman year room looked over Rhoads Beach and the duck pond and my sophomore year my room. Copenhagen is also beautiful and I’ll miss passing the sea, forests, horses, and sheep on my morning commute but nothing compares to the impressive Gothic architecture and grassy spaces perfect for lounging about on sunny days.
Bring abroad, my extracurriculars have become commuting and cooking myself since DIS doesn’t offer too many opportunities and these take up a large portion of my day. While I volunteer at the Copenhagen International School and work in the architecture studio, at Bryn Mawr I keep myself busy with everything from several jobs, attending Self Government Association meetings, being on the art club executive board, and teaching art classes at a local elementary school. While I will have no dorm leadership responsibilities like I did last year, I am sure I will find new opportunities to keep myself busy. But that’s the way I like it! Being busy helps me manage my time better, gives me a sense of purpose, and gives me the opportunity to make a difference both on campus and in the greater Philadelphia community. Can’t wait to get involved again!
6. New friends!
Going abroad has allowed me to meet and become friends with Mawrters I didn’t know well or at all school. It’s taught me that there’s so many cool people who may end up having a huge impact on your life who may be hiding in one of your classes or working in the dining hall with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out of your own social circle! Mawrters have a special wonderfulness that connects us on every corner of the world. Next semester is going to be great because I get to meet all my friends’ friends and introduce them to my friends! All of the connections I’ve made to people through various contexts have become connected to one another in ways that I couldn’t possibly imagine. I feel like all of the loose threads are finally coming together. Of course, I can’t wait to meet all of the 2016 freshmen! It feels odd not knowing 1/4 of the campus currently but I know future lifelong friends are merely waiting to be made once I’m back.
I was lucky enough to be a part of several tight-knit, supportive communities at my time at Bryn Mawr so far. My biggest issue with DIS is that it’s so big which has made me further appreciate my small pockets of supportive love from the families I have created over these past years. I’m counting down the days until I get to reunite with my Hell Family, my Brecon 4th customs group, and my bi-co Indonesia family.
8. The people!
Whether we are close or not, I have a massive amount of respect for every Bryn Mawr student. There are so many who I look up to, who have become my role models and mentors who have shared their wisdom with me; as well as the many who inspire me with their energy and motivation who I feel proud to help shape their Bryn Mawr experience. Every single person has a story to tell. Sit back and listen sometime and you will learn the most fascinating things about the people at our school.
9. The little moments!
My favorite moments at Bryn Mawr often tend to be the small moments of simple pleasure. Some of my best memories have been of procrastinating on homework with friends and all our crazy antics from screaming at the top of lungs on Cambrian Row to getting into a war with friends over who could send the most ridiculous picture. My friends and I love going to events on campus and eating free food, particularly the spinach bread bowls they serve at stressbuster movies during finals. Actually most of our moments together tend to revolved around food: making root beer floats in Erdman, Tiffin take-out nights at the end of every semester, fancy cheese and crackers at customs teas. Call me crazy but as much as love traveling and going out and having adventures, nothing quite beats being cozy in blankets while watching a movie or spending all night just talking about everything with people you care about.
10. The “Bryn Mawr”-ness!
Being abroad with people from so many different schools has made me realize just what a special and unique place Bryn Mawr is. There’s a sort of quirky dorkiness combined with dedication to academics, passion, and critical thinking. My Bryn Mawr friends and I here at DIS often make remarks that something is “so Bryn Mawr” which others don’t seem to get. It’s hard to quite put a finger on what exactly makes something so Bryn Mawr but the shared appreciation for feminism, traditions, and owls comes close.
And while I can’t wait for Bryn Mawr, I don’t think I can even come close to expressing my gratitude for the opportunity I’ve had to travel to three different continents in less than a year: for the educational institutions that funded me, for the incredible people I have met along the way, for all the culture and food and every moment of beauty I’ve had the chance to experience, and the friends and family who encouraged and supported me to pursue my wildest dreams and see the world despite never having traveled internationally before.