Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My History Major Side

Ok, so I know the title of my blog says I'm a journalism major... But I actually created this blog before declaring a double major at St. Mike's.  This was before the 4-4 curriculum (4 classes per semester, 4 credits each) was implemented and it was no longer required to have a minor with a journalism major.  Before this, history was my minor since I came in with a lot of history credits from AP classes and an introductory college course I took one summer.  I declared a double major when I figured out I had room in my schedule to do so when the 4-4 curriculum was implemented.  So, if you want to read more about the journalism major, click here. My friend and senior seminar project partner Gabbi Hall gives a GREAT description of what the journalism department is all about.  However, I want to talk about my history major since it was this semester more than any semester that I really got in touch with my history major side.

Even though this semester has been one of my most challenging as far as the history department goes, I've really come to love the history department as much as I love the journalism department.  Even though I'm a self-declared American history nerd, the department has really helped me broaden my history horizons.  I've taken classes like Modern East Asia, History of Rome, World War II in Europe and Race, Women and Culture in the Americas while at St. Mike's (not to mention History of the Italian Mafia while I was in Italy).  Each class has sparked my interests in a different way.  It is required by the department to take a variety of history classes in a variety of historical areas to fulfill the major.  History majors can even specialize by adding an American Studies, East Asian Studies or Medieval Studies minor.  It is also required to take a certain number of introductory courses as well as some upper-level seminar classes (which are usually smaller and more specialized).

I have found history classes especially useful in learning research and presentation skills, since those are also vital skills in my journalism major. This semester in particular, I had the opportunity to do some research in the St. Michael's library archives regarding the Edmundites during WWII in England, and it has been one of my favorite projects I've ever done in college.  I also wrote a senior thesis this semester that combined history, media studies and politics (one of my other interests that did not pan out into a major or minor). The professors in the history department were all very supportive and helpful throughout the entire process. Both of these projects required a lot of long-term research, self-motivation and patience.

Me holding my finished senior thesis - Media Effects on Presidential Elections: Television vs. the Internet.  This was the longest thing I have ever written, numbering 64 pages by the end (not counting bibliography or cover page).  I was recently given Honors Program credit for it!

As is true with many other departments on campus, history professors are very approachable and more-than willing to help students. It's a pretty small department like the journalism department, so it's easy for students to get to know the professors outside of class too.  After studying abroad in Italy, I was told by both Professor Dungy (Latin American studies) and Professor Dameron (Medieval studies - with a focus in Tuscany in Italy) that they wanted to meet with me so I could tell them all about my trip.  The best part about the history professors at St. Mike's is they are passionate about their areas of research.  Professor Purcell (British history) is constantly saying, "I'm so excited about this! Aren't you guys excited?" when teaching about a specific topic in her World War II in Europe class.

Being a history major is awesome, and I highly recommend it.  It has been really fun getting to know the history professors in the department and get to go more in depth about really cool history topics.  The classes (especially the upper level seminar classes) have really sparked my interest in a variety of topics.  The last class I will take in the history department next semester is called "Deviant Women," and I am SO excited to dive right in!

If you have any questions about the History Department or about my life at St. Michael's College in general, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (@LizMurraySMC) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).


Sunday, November 25, 2012


Hi all!!
Just writing a quick post to let you know I'm still alive and will be getting a real blog post together really soon! I really did not have much time during Thanksgiving break (ironic, huh?) to actually sit down and get things done, and this week is going to be VERY busy since I have my presentation of my history thesis and my journalism senior seminar proposal both due by the end of the week.  Alas, the life of a college senior. I will do my best to write again as soon as possible! Thank you all for understanding!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Excitement!


A week from tomorrow, I will be heading home for Thanksgiving break.  This will be my first time home from school since the year has started, and I CAN'T WAIT!  This will be a very needed break since my classes are becoming much busier with the final fall semester push.  Within the next few weeks, I have my MJD senior seminar proposal due, my History senior thesis due, a thesis presentation, and a final archival research paper due.  Hopefully, I can come back from break all charged and ready to take on the last few weeks!

I got to spend Thanksgiving last year with my friend Rui from Japan!! We made hand turkeys!! 

In an attempt to keep my spirits high while I trudge through my massive pile of work, here are some things I'm looking forward to during Thanksgiving break:

1. Home-cooked food – Though learning how to cook in my townhouse this year is fun, I've gotten rather lazy during the past week or two and have visited Alliot more than I would have liked.  Alliot food is good for the most part, but nothing beats a home-cooked meal. I can already taste the turkey and stuffing!

2. And did I mention, apple pie? Yes, folks, that's right. I am REALLY looking forward to apple pie.  Every year, my family and I make several apple pies from scratch.  We have it down to a science now, with an assembly line-fashion preparation: I peel the apples; my sister Katie cuts the apples up; my brother John makes the special mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg etc. that goes with the apples; and my Mom makes the crust.  It is absolutely delicious, and the house smells like pie for days.  I. Can't. Wait.

Yum! Homemade apple pie! 

3. Family and Friends – Since I haven't seen most of my family members or friends from home since I was dropped off in August, it will be really nice to see them all again.  I even have one friend with a countdown on his phone to mark when I will be coming home! I am so excited at the prospect of sleepovers, bowling matches and movie nights.

4. A break from studies – And, boy do I need it... Senior year is great, but there is so much to do in so little time!

5. Turkey Tap! My tap teacher from high school has invited several of her "former" students (well... we're still kind of her students) to gather during break to tap all together! I love any opportunity to tap with my teacher and fellow tap friends. I always end up learning so many new things!

When I come back from break, my roommates and I will be ready to start celebrating Christmas! We have already had Christmas music playing in our house even though it's still more than a month away.  We're obsessed with Christmas, but we're ok with it! :)

If you have any questions about my experience as a student at St. Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (@LizMurraySMC) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock: Looking Back Six Months

Two days ago (Nov. 4) marked six months since I officially came back the United States from Italy.  I used to refer to this jokingly as the worst day of my life, but I have found ways to use my study abroad experiences in my life now and enjoy any opportunity to help enrich the campus community with my experiences.  Working for the study abroad office has given me quite the outlet, as well as participating in PALS.  I'll pretty much jump at any opportunity to talk about Italy, and my friends find this quite amusing to say the least.  So yes... I've held off for a while, but here's a post about Italy (or rather my experiences after Italy).

Anyone who knows me knows that I had a bit of trouble adjusting back to the United States when I came back (aka reverse culture shock).  I compared everything to the Italian equivalent, yelled at the Olive Garden "Taste of Tuscany" commercial, still wanted to say, "Ciao, grazie," when I left public establishments, and talked about Italy non-stop. I was – and in some respects still am – an Italian snob. Yes, I'll admit it, I was a bit out of control.  But, can you blame me?  I had just returned from the four most wonderful and adventure/experience-filled months of my life and had an intense passion for the Italian culture as a whole.

I first went through sadness of leaving Italy.  Then there was the excitement of being home and being able to tell all my stories to more than willing ears.  Then when those willing ears diminished in number, there was denial that I was actually back in the US for more than a week.  After a few weeks of being home, I moved to Boston to do my internship.  That was a bit of a distraction from my obsession, but I still felt rather sad and alone when I thought of Italy and how much I wanted that experience back.  I started journaling about everything Italy and writing down memories.  I even read "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Eat Pray Love" among other books to curb my obsession.  I'm still quite obsessed six months later, but the aching for Italy has become happiness that I had the opportunity to experience studying abroad in the first place and still missing Italy a little bit when reminded of my experience.

Right after leaving Italy, my group of friends and I made a private Facebook group for just us so we could all keep in touch, exchange phone numbers and US contact info, and obsess over Italy in private. I probably would have gone nuts if not for the messages from the girls and numerous Skype sessions filled with, "Oh my gosh, nobody understands," and, "Today I spoke to an old woman in the supermarket about my experience because my parents are sick of Italy stories."  My study abroad friends became my support system, and I still love hearing from all of them about junior/senior year in college.  When Hurricane Sandy hit a week ago, there were messages of "Stay safe," and "Love and miss you." Now and then, there is still the occasional post about certain fashion shows happening in Italy or encounters with Italian students/speakers on our various campuses.

During the summer, I made a list of all the things I experienced during my reverse culture shock. Here are some of the top things I can remember right now (the list was pretty long).  Everyone goes through reverse culture shock in some way, but everyone experiences it differently and for varying amounts of time:

  1. I thought I broke the toilet on the day after I came back from Italy.  I forgot that American toilets had standing water in the bowl, so when I looked into the toilet, I had this awful sinking feeling in my stomach that something was wrong. In reality, there was nothing wrong, and I quickly remembered I wasn't in Italy any longer. 
  2. Hearing English and only English again was really weird.  On the other side of that, not having to prep myself in another language before speaking to a native was also really odd.  At first, it was nice to be able to understand everyone, but after a while I really missed hearing the musicality of different languages being spoken all around me. It also took me a lot of effort not to respond in Italian in certain situations.
  3. Food was a HUGE adjustment.  I was definitely spoiled because of my meal tickets while I was abroad.  These tickets allowed me to eat out at Italian restaurants for most of the week.  My program, AIFS, really understood that food was a huge part of the culture and one part we should not miss out on.  Americans just cannot do Italian food well because they end up complicating what should be simple and delicious. 
  4. Going from a beautiful half-medieval city with cobble-stone streets and buildings so close together you could practically reach across the street from your window and touch your neighbor to rural Adams, Massachusetts, was really weird. I went from having everything to do to nothing to do and from walking everywhere to driving everywhere.  
  5. As I mentioned, I talked about Italy non-stop when I came home.  Everyone was really interested at first, but this interest quickly went away.  It was also really difficult to tell stories to people who had not lived in Italy for four months and did not understand Italian culture the way I knew it.  Explaining the layout of the city was really difficult too until I figured out I could show everyone a satellite view on Google maps.  Unfortunately, interest had gone away by the time I discovered that. 
This might sound like a depressing return to the US, and it was for a little while.  However, now I'm just really thankful that I was able to experience everything in the first place and that I'm able to share my experiences with my peers and family members (in a less overwhelming way now, of course).  Right now, it would be culture shock for me to go back to Italy since I've adjusted back to the American culture so much (though I resisted for a while).  Someday, I will return and will probably still remember my way around and be bombarded with all the memories I made during my four months there.  I look forward to that return trip, but I know I have important things to complete in the US first.  Until then, I hope I can a way to use my study abroad experience during the rest of my college life and afterward.

My friends (excluding my friend Ryan) on one of our last evenings in Florence on top of Piazzale Michelangelo.  Photo courtesy of Molly Byrne.

If you have any questions about my study abroad experience or my life as a student at St. Michael's college, please feel free to email me (, Tweet me (@LizMurraySMC) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Exploring WWII Edmundite Archives

This semester, I had the privilege to take a World War II in Europe history seminar class.  It is taught twice per week by the history department's British historian Professor Purcell, and it has easily turned out to be my favorite class this semester.  I had never taken a class with Professor Purcell before this semester, so I did not really know what to expect, especially since this is an honors section of the course. She has turned out to be an awesome professor – high-energy, thought-provoking, witty and creative.

For the first half of the semester, we read (lots of reading) about WWII from its very origins to the end, even breaking it down by country.  The class was broken into three groups: USSR, Germany and France.  Professor Purcell is currently teaching the British part of the course since that is her area of expertise.  Each group had to lead discussion for two consecutive classes on the WWII experience within its particular country.  I was excited to get Germany, even though all of the countries are interesting in their own way.  It was fascinating to look even further into each country and discover things I never knew about the war! I was a bit disappointed that Italy was not one of the countries examined (since I'm a little obsessed...), but I quickly got over it when I found out that Italy was a player in the war, but not a gigantic player.

Now, we're getting into what I think is the best part of the semester so far: exploring archives! Professor Purcell had not planned to do this when she originally wrote the syllabus, but when she discovered that there were archives from WWII era from and about the Edmundites in Britain, France and Vermont, she changed her mind. Instead of spending more time discussing and reading about the war, our class gets to explore these archives and try to create some kind of storyline about the Edmundites during WWII.  These archives range from photos and correspondence to ledgers and personnel files.  It is SO exciting to be some of the first people to work with these archives and make sense of them.

My part in the project is to write a biography from the correspondence and personnel file of Fr. Olivia Langlois, who was an Edmundite priest connected with St. Michael's, but who was at the church in Whitton, England, throughout the war.  So far, I have mostly been reading Langlois's correspondence to Fr. Nicolle (for whom Nicolle Hall is named), who was residing in Vermont at the time, and Langlois has turned out to be a very interesting person! His personality shows right through his writing, and I have found him to be very witty and rather blunt at times.  He definitely sends lots of tidbits of gossip from Whitton back to Fr. Nicolle throughout the war.  It is also fun to see other "characters", like Fr. Cheray (for whom Cheray Science Hall is named) pop up through my reading!

This is definitely one of the most fun projects I have done in any of my classes at Saint Mike's.  Hands-on learning activities like these are one of the many reasons why I love Saint Mike's so much.  It really is enriching academically, and it adds to the research training I have already gained through both my majors.  So far, there have not been many challenges for me other than trying to make out Langlois's handwriting, but I'm expecting some to pop up through the process of writing his biography.  I am really excited for what else is to come from exploring the WWII archives!

If you have any questions about classes at Saint Michael's or my life as a student, please feel free to email me (, Tweet me (@LizMurraySMC - I recently changed this, so be careful not to type @LittleLizzie33 anymore!) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Halloweekend!

As we all know, Halloween is coming up this week, so this past week and weekend were jam-packed with Halloween preparations and festivities! Starting last Friday, my roommates and I (and also my PAL Suyeon) decorated my townhouse with lights, streamers, wind socks, and whatever other spooky decorations we could find!

Suyeon decorates our windows! 

Hannah and Leah figure out the outdoor decorations! 


Pretty lights!

Front end of our house!

Back end of our house!
Henry the Scarecrow in the corner!

This Friday, we had trick-or-treaters from the mentoring groups on campus come around to the townhouses in their costumes to get candy! My friends and I loved handing out candy to all of them! Two of my friends who live next door to us even dressed up as a devil and an angel for the occasion. All we had to do is put the sign that was given to us on our door so the trick-or-treaters knew it was a house that was ok to come to. It was a ton of fun, and it really put us in the festive Halloween mood.

The sign!

Hannah and Tori (the devil) wait for trick-or-treaters!

My wacky wonderful neighbors :) 

Totally in character, of course! 

To finish out the 'Halloweekend', there was a Halloween dance held on Saturday night on campus.  My friends and I all dressed up in our costumes to attend! The Halloween dance is, in my opinion, one of the most fun events of the year! This year, I dressed as Twiggy, the model from the 60's/70's.

Me (left) and Twiggy. What do you think?? (Photo from

Leah and Atlas :)
Fun fact: My dress is made out of tee-shirts, thanks to Mary Jo's help! (Click here to see a tutorial!)

TH 208! (Me, Jill, Leah and Hannah.)

Last year's suite! (Adrianna, Jill, Leah, me)

Me and Riko! 

Happy Halloween from TH 208! 

If you have any questions about my life as a student at St. Michael's College, feel free to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wait... I'm a Senior... in College?

So, if you're a senior at Saint Mike's and you recently got this in the mail...

                         ... you may or may not have had a reality check moment like me.

For those of you who do not know what these colorful forms are, they are the materials given to students so they will start thinking about registering for their spring classes.  Now, if you're a senior like me (and not on a 5-year plan because of an engineering major or something), getting these forms this year was really weird.  It automatically dawned on me that it would be my last time registering for classes as a student at St. Mike's.  Holy. Canoli.

Before registering for classes, students must meet with their advisors in their respective majors so the advisors can discuss the students' choices and ultimately approve them for registration.  Since I'm a double major, I will have to meet with my advisors for both of my majors (Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts and History) and I will have to be approved by both.  Usually the professors put sign-up sheets on their office doors so students can sign up for an available time to meet for the advising session.  I will be meeting with Professor Dungy, my history advisor, on Thursday Oct. 18 and with Professor Griffith, my MJD advisor, on Tuesday Oct. 23.

Since it is my last semester and I created a graduation plan before travelling abroad, I pretty much already know what I need to take in order to graduate.  There are a few things, like an internship, that are not required but for which I left space in my schedule just because I thought they were too important to miss out on.  My list of potential classes looks like this:

1st choices:

  • MJD 460 A – Senior Seminar 
  • MJD 413 A – Internship in Media Studies 
  • HI 395 A – Deviant Women 
2nd choices:

  • MJD 219 A – Social Media Theory and Practice 
  • HI 465 A – Haiti 
I am currently leaving the fourth space open in my schedule since I am still waiting on proper credit for a history class I took while I was abroad.  If I get the proper credit, I can take the social media course.  If I do not, I will take the second history class.  I will discuss these things with my advisors when I meet with them during then next week or so.

In other news, I've been working like a mad woman on both of my senior seminar projects!  Gabbi – my partner in crime for the book we will be writing throughout the school year for MJD – and I have been meeting in the library a lot lately to work out the critical literature project we have due on Monday (5-7 pages, 10 pt. font and 1.5 spaced).  I have also been sorting through all the material I have for my history thesis – due at the end of this semester – and have begun to write.  I am about 4 pages in after teaching myself Chicago style and getting into a little bit of a groove.  It has been a little daunting so far, but I've started now so I'm confident that I'll get it done in a timely fashion. My first rough draft of the paper is due on November 2.  Here are the topics I have chosen for my projects:

MJD: We will redefine media events, as originally defined by Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz in their 1992 book Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, but using social media and new media technologies instead of television as our base for the definition.  The final product will be a book.

History: I am comparing television effects on presidential elections to social media/new media effects on presidential elections to see which is more effective on the overall election and explore the ways in which both effect both the candidate and the electorate.  I will explore other forms of media in my introduction (like newspapers, radio, etc.) since these later converge on the Internet and are still used to cover presidential elections.  The final product will be a 40-50 page thesis paper.

So, currently, my desk in my room looks like this:

All my research separated by major (and by sections of my thesis, for history).  #doublemajorproblems
Bring on the rest of senior year!

If you have any questions about my life as a student at Saint Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).  I will do my best to answer any question you ask me!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 Hours in Montreal

Saint Mike's is pretty far north in Vermont, so one thing students can't miss out on is visiting Canada at least once during their time here.  Now, I'm a senior.  I've been overseas several times by now, but I have never visited Canada before now.  Why? I don't even know.  I guess I just never got the chance!

Luckily my roommate Hannah's family lives about 2 minutes from the border of the US and Canada (on the Vermont side, of course).  During our break this past weekend, she offered to drive my other roommates and me to Montreal for a night and let us sleep over at her house afterward.  It was the perfect opportunity to finally visit Canada and have fun with all my roomies! Unfortunately, Jill was not able to join us because she was sick, so Hannah, Leah and I made our way up to Canada on Saturday evening.

First, we stopped at Hannah's house to drop off our things and meet her family.  We spent an hour or two playing with Hannah's 2-year-old brother Max, petting the kitty Samantha, getting to know her dad and step-mom and eating a delicious home-cooked meal (spaghetti, homemade tomato sauce and fresh garlic bread).  Hannah's family made Leah and I feel right at home!

Hannah's view from her backyard! So beautiful! 

Leah (leaning left) and Hannah, my adventure partners!

Leah petting kitty, Samantha.

Soon, we made our way to the border.  The Canadian border police checked our passports, asked us a few questions like 'Where are you going?' and 'What are you doing there?', and then we were on our way! It was already dark out, and we were in the middle of nowhere for a while, but after about 45 minutes, we started to see bright city lights! The most beautiful view of the night (of which I was not able to snap a clear picture from the car) was heading over a huge bridge and seeing the city lights of Montreal reflecting in the lake water.  It was so pretty!

Once we got there, we found a parking spot and decided to walk around for a little while.  We walked to St. Catherine Street and explored a few stores.  Hearing French and other languages being spoken so regularly and seeing European-style clothing worn reminded me of my time abroad.  It was so nice to hear those other languages again and feel that same sense of adventure.  Finally, we stopped into a tiny cafe called "Second Cup" and drank cappuccino and chai latte.  Of course, a photo-shoot ensued! It was the perfect end to the night.

On the streets of Montreal! 

Awesome metro station.

Leah, in Second Cup cafe!! 

Yum! Cappuccino! 

Hannah and me in Second Cup.

Sipping our hot drinks and looking very classy.

Pooling our Canadian money.

Hannah on the street.

Hannah in front of a church on St. Catherine Street.

Hanging off a street pole! 

Leah looking adorable in front of a fence on St. Catherine Street.

The next morning, we had homemade pancakes and fresh bacon for breakfast and then took a trip to the Target in Plattsburgh, NY.  It was definitely worth the trip since I am obsessed with Target and there are no Targets in Vermont.  We also took the scenic route back to campus through the northern Vermont islands.  It was the best 24ish hours of adventuring I've had so far during this school year!

Mission accomplished! Photo courtesy of Leah Allen.

If you have any questions about my life as a student at Saint Michael's, please do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).

Ciao :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pre-Study Abroad: Tips for Success

Ciao tutti!
This year, I am doing my work study in the Office of Study Abroad as one of two students working with Peggy Imai, the director of Study Abroad.  Peggy only picks study abroad returnees for these positions since they are often able to help her with students who plan to go abroad sometime during their college careers.  I love my job, not only because it gives me a free excuse to chat about my experiences abroad (and get paid for it, no less), but it also allows me to help and bond with other students who want to study abroad.  Studying abroad is a GREAT opportunity if it fits into a student's graduation plan, and I would encourage anyone who can do it to definitely do it.  What other chance will you get to completely immerse yourself in a different culture for an extended period of time and not only get to personally experience the culture, but academically experience it as well? It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and I personally don't think that anyone should pass it up.

Most recently, there have been a lot of students coming into the office in Klein to start weighing options for future study abroad opportunities.  Many of them I know from having classes together or through mutual friends, so it's really great to hear what they would like to do and where they might like to go.  The process beforehand of choosing where to go and which program best fits your graduation plan can be a bit overwhelming, so here are some tips as to how to handle it best:

1. Start exploring on the Saint Michael's website. 
If you visit the Saint Michael's website on the study abroad page, you can learn more about studying abroad and view specific programs in different countries.  This is a good way to start looking at your options, especially if you do not really know what you might want to do or where you want to go. This will also give you more of an idea of specific courses you might want to take while abroad.

2. Plan a meeting with Peggy Imai.
If you are really lost, or would just like to know more options for a country you are targeting, you can schedule a meeting with Peggy through her online appointment book.  Peggy can suggest different programs that might work best for the focus of your studies and provide you with catalogues and other information that may be useful in your research.  This way, you can also pick up an application for when you do figure everything out.

3. Meet with your advisor. 
Schedule a meeting with your advisor to help figure out your graduation plan and see if studying abroad fits in. Your advisor might also be able to recommend programs students have done in the past that will work well for your program.

4. Speak to visiting study abroad programs. 
Throughout the semester, representatives from specific programs come to campus and table in Alliot.  If you are interested in learning more about that program or curious as to what it offers, it may be in your best interest to visit these representatives' tables.  They're here to help you, and they give out cool pens and stuff (which is always a plus)! Also, there are sometimes former study abroad students from the school who table with these representatives, so you can hear directly from them about the pros and cons of their programs.  Look out for posters around campus and emails as to when these program representatives will be visiting.  There is also a study abroad program fair at least once per semester in Alliot.

5. Speak with students who have been abroad. 
Students, even though they may be biased about their specific programs, can give you one of the most honest descriptions of what they liked and did not like about their programs. They are usually really excited to talk about their programs too, so go ahead and pick their brains! (I'm always willing to talk about study abroad since it's a new person who has not heard any of my stories, and I LOVE talking about Italy!)  Also, if your parents need persuading, students who have already been abroad may be good people to have them chat with to set them at ease (or even the parents of these students).

If you have any questions about my life as a Saint Michael's student or would like me to write a blog post about something specific to student life here, do not hesitate to contact me via email (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Learning to be P.A.L.S.

One of the projects I have been working on most recently resulted because of my position as a work study student in the Study Abroad Office on campus.  As many of you know, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, last semester, and I absolutely loved my experience.  I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat and take any chance I can get to talk about my experience or bond with others who have had or are having the same kinds of experiences.

My friend Kat studied abroad in Ecuador in the fall and Chile in the spring last year.  While in Chile, she decided to take part in a program called "TANDEM", where she was given a Chilean student partner who she could hang out with and experience the culture through, as well as practice the Spanish language.  Though she was not best friends with her partner, it was someone Kat was able to say "Hello" to or eat lunch with.  Her TANDEM partner also helped her find her way around the city, and attended cultural events, like shows at the theater, with Kat.  It helped to integrate Kat more fully into the Chilean student population - one that was much larger than our student population of 2000 at St. Mike's.

When Kat came back this year, she realized that she was a senior, but she did not know any of the international students who attended our school. She approached Peggy Imai, the director of Study Abroad (and my boss) who then recruited me and her other work study student Larissa to help Kat in an idea she had.  Kat wanted to create a program much like the one she did in Chile on our campus, but she wanted it to be student-run.  This program would come to be called P.A.L.S. (Partners Applying Language Socially).

The goal of this program is to better integrate international students on our campus by pairing them with a native U.S. student with similar interests who can be their friend for however long the international students attend St. Mike's. We recommend that the partners meet at least once per week for an hour minimum, but we will not keep track of the hours spent with the partners.  It is up to the students to plan times to spend with each other.  If they want to spend more time together, that's even better! The partners can spend that time doing whatever they want, from studying and eating lunch to visiting Lake Champlain and going apple picking.

Kat, Larissa and I all hope that this program will give international students a stronger tie to our native US students and that learning can happen on both ends. We're trying to get students who have been abroad more involved as well since they also know what it feels like to be isolated in a completely unfamiliar country.  This will help them relate to our international students more fully.  Through my almost four years here, I've made a few Japanese friends at St. Mike's.  I have had some of my favorite experiences with them, and I still keep in touch with both girls.  I think that making friends with international students is one of the best experiences a student can have.  It is a great opportunity to share your own culture while learning about a culture completely different from your own. Plus, it's awesome to keep in contact afterward.

We visited a few of the international student classes, and many of them are very excited to get started with P.A.L.S. This week, we will be sorting the P.A.L.S. and choosing partners based on similar interests.  I am so excited to make a new friend and to help others make new friends too! We were also featured in an article in the Defender, the school's newspaper.
Our poster on campus!  Join us now! 
If you have any questions about my life as a student at St. Michael's, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).  I would love to hear from you and will do my best to answer any questions!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Townhouse Living

Possibly the best and most different thing about being a senior on campus is getting to live in a Townhouse.  Yes, sometimes juniors are lucky and get to live in a Townhouse during their junior year, but for seniors, this is the place to be.  A Townhouse is pretty much exactly what its name says it is: a little house.  Townhouses on campus typically have 2 levels, complete with bedrooms for at least 4-6 people, a living area, a kitchen, and a bathroom.  While living in a Townhouse, students have a limited meal plan (unless otherwise arranged) of 40 meals per semester because they are expected to be able to cook meals for themselves in their kitchens.  On campus, there are four areas of townhouses: the 100's, 200's, 300's and 400's.  I live in the 200's on one of the farthest points of campus.

I share my townhouse with three other girls, and it is awesome so far! Two of the three girls I lived with last year, so we already knew what to expect when living with each other.  Our fourth roommate is a junior transfer who got randomly placed with us when our other fourth roommate was given a Resident Assistant position in a freshman dorm.  We were all a little nervous that she would feel left out when my two friends and I were already so tight, but it turned out that she was a perfect fit for our house!  We also got a house next to another group of our friends, so we have had a barbecue, a potluck dinner, and several hang-outs and gatherings already!

Check out my townhouse!!

So far, everything is going smoothly with our living situation. We had to collaboratively create a roommate contract and sign it at the beginning of the year, so we all know what is expected from our other roommates while living together.  Communication and respect are key when living in any situation on campus.

The most interesting part of living in a townhouse is the cooking.  I've never cooked many things for myself beyond pasta, so this is a very different experience for me.  My roommate Jill is the chef of the house, and we have cooked many of the meals so far.  We've tried to be creative and healthy, while at the same time not breaking our budget when grocery shopping.  I've actually really enjoyed cooking and have found it to be a pretty relaxing study break (especially when I have the time to spare).  Alliot trips are also more exciting because they happen less often, and when we do go, we feel like we're seeing everyone for the first time in months!  (Yeah, the two's are a little far away from everything...)  So far though, I haven't burned down the Townhouse or killed anyone with my cooking! I successfully made chicken twice, and the first time I did so by myself!  I'm excited for what culinary adventures are in store for the rest of the semester.
Two of my three roommates (Leah, left, and Jill) join me for a roomie dinner!  My third roommate buys a lot of her own groceries since she lives close-by, but she joins us for dinner too sometimes!

Italian sausage, green beans, and Annie's white cheddar mac and cheese. Yum! 

Honey mustard chicken (done on the stove), green beans and potatoes. Mine was a purple potato!

If you have any questions about my senior year or student life in general at St. Michael's, please do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).  I will do my best to answer whatever questions are asked.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back to School: Senior Edition

I apologize that it's been so long since I've blogged! After ending my internship in Boston, I moved back home for a few weeks, and then moved back up to school, so it's been a whirlwind for the past month or so!
ANYWAYS... I just wanted to give an update on my current life right now.  There will be pictures and things later, but here are the top five things I have been up to lately.

1. Classes have begun! I am taking Concepts of Chemistry, Europe during WWII, History Senior Seminar and Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts Seminar.

2. Speaking of senior seminar.... I've been working on researching for a 40+ page thesis essay I'll have to write for the end of the semester and brainstorming ideas for a journalism senior seminar topic to write a book by the end of the spring semester with my friend Gabbi Hall (also a blogger).  My topic for history is media evolution and how it has affected presidential elections and my topic for journalism is redefining media events with the new media technologies existant today.

3. Since I'm a senior, I get to live in the townhouses (some of the best housing on campus).  I'm living in the 2's, which are the farthest away from everything... but at least I'm getting my exercise! This year, I'm living with my friends Jill and Leah and a junior transfer named Hannah.  I was a little worried that Hannah would be overwhelmed by me, Jill and Leah since we are all so close, but she's actually fit right into our group of friends! A perfect match!

4. Townhouse living means lots of cooking! Jill and I have been doing a lot of the cooking for the last few weeks, but it's really fun! Before this year, I was very much a pasta girl.  I've now learned how to prepare and make breaded chicken, sausages, garlic bread and more!  I'm hoping my cooking skills will be awesome by the end of this year.

5. Tap club is back! While the co-president and I were abroad last year, we left the tap club in the hands of some of our newer members.  They did a great job of keeping it going, but the participation rate dropped quite a bit toward the end of the year.  This year we're back, and we have a lot of interested new members! Our rehearsal last Wednesday was AWESOME! Everyone was so excited to be there and spread the tappiness.  I hope this week goes just as well!

Well, that's just about everything! I will blog more in-depth about the beginning of school soon and post some pictures of my townhouse! If you have any questions about my experience as a student at Saint Michael's, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on formspring (lizmurray3).
Ciao ciao for now!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Study Abroad Re-Cap: Tuesdays with the (Italian) Beatles

Probably one of my favorite activities in (and now memories of) Florence was attending the Beatles cover band night every Tuesday.  As many of my friends know, I have always been a huge Beatles fan, so I was really excited when I heard about this weekly event from my roommates.  Unfortunately, I did not get around to actually going to the concerts until around mid-semester since it was held at 11 p.m. on a school night each week. But after a while, I figured I could sleep when I was not in Italy anymore.

The first night I went to Beatles night was with Liz and her boyfriend Mike, who was visiting Florence at the time, and our friend Ryan.  Beatles night is held in this little, literally underground bar called "Be Bop" just past the Duomo.  We had to walk at least 20-30 minutes across the city just to get there, but it was always so worth it. Upon arrival, we walked down a set of stairs into this tiny, dark room crammed with tables and people craning to see the four men on the little stage.  On that first night, we entered in the middle of one of their songs, and I immediately was impressed (and really excited) because the cover band sounded almost just like the Beatles! Even though the looks were not exactly right on, they even dressed up in character!  The four of us were shuffled into another room past where the performance was taking place since there was no seating in the first room – and thus no good view of the performance – so we just stood and listened for a while.

I was familiar with most of the songs, as were Liz and Mike, but Ryan was not a die-hard Beatles fan and was just along for the fun.  In the middle of each song, one of the Beatles (usually the men who played Paul or John) would speak to the audience in English in a British accent to try to get the crowd excited.  It was difficult to figure out if the Beatles were actually British or Italian that night, but I eventually figured out on a later occasion that they were Italian (since they talk to each other onstage in Italian). Even though we didn't get to see much of the show that first night, it was still a ton of fun to bob to the beat of familiar songs and see what the Italian take on The Beatles was.
The Be Bop sign onstage! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins.

Looks just like the real drum!!! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins.

The second time I went back to Beatles night, it was just Ryan and me.  Everyone else was either too tired, too lazy or had too much homework.  This time, the show was not as crowded and we were able to snag ourselves some front-row seats. Now, when I say front-row, I mean practically onstage since the room was so tiny! I was practically sitting on top of the speaker at the very front of the stage.  As the show went on, more people trickled in, but it was not nearly as crowded as the first night.

The Beatles, whose collective stage name is Vox Power, played everything from classic oldies to drug-induced hippie songs from The Beatles' repertoire.  It was about a two-hour show with a set break in the middle, where the band members would often visit with audience members.  (This was how I was eventually able to meet the young man who played George, and he recognized me on other occasions when I attended the show.  He was my age and we became friends and still keep in touch, which I hope will continue until the next time I visit Italy. I was very happy to have made an Italian friend!) People would get up to dance during "Twist and Shout" and sing along to other popular songs.  The whole night was a blast, and I was always sad when it had to end.
Vox Power on stage! From left, Paul, George, Ringo and John.  Photo courtesy of Liz Salois.

George, who switches to the keyboard halfway through the show, shares a reaction with Paul! Photo courtesy of Carly Cummins. 

I only had to skip a few Beatles nights during the rest of the semester, but I tried to make it a weekly activity.  At first, it was just Ryan and me who attended each week, but we eventually persuaded our other friends to come too. Unfortunately, it was near the end of the semester, and they left wondering "Why didn't I start coming sooner?"

Beatles Night, though not a traditional Italian activity, is one of the things I miss most about Florence.  I loved the quirkiness of four Italian men speaking in British accents and singing Beatles songs, and the shows were always a ton of fun.  It was also an interesting way to meet native Italians since half their audience members were Italians while the other half were tourists.  Since I've come back to America, every Tuesday at 5 p.m. I long to be back in Florence (since there is a 6-hour time difference, 5 p.m. in America = 11 p.m. in Italy) to see the beginning of the show and dance and sing along to my favorite tunes.  I fully intend to go back to Florence sometime in the future, and when I do, I will aim for a Tuesday so I can spend it with my favorite Italian Beatles.

If you have any questions regarding my study abroad experience or my life at St. Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).  I will do my best to answer whatever question you may have.

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Articles from my Internship!

Hello everyone!
Sorry for being incommunicado for the last few weeks! I've been really focused on my internship and have been writing a lot of stories! Here are the newest ones since the last post:

Dorchester Schools Win Awards for Healthy Initiatives 

Best Educators of the Year 

Mayor Chooses Members of Fairmount Advisory Board 

Dot Talent Fuels Baseball Team's Winning Ways  (This was my first story above the fold on the front page - with my own original picture too!)

- Dot Descendants Celebrations

- Fairmount Group's First Meeting (Second story on the front page above the fold!)

- Dot Native a Soccer Missionary (Front page below the fold!)

- St. Mark's Episcopal one step closer to National Register listing

- Sheriff's Deputies Cited for 'Heroic Actions' 

- School Committee Takes Hard Look at K-8 Model

I've been learning a lot from all my internships and meeting a lot of really cool people! That's what I really love about the internship – writing so many feature stories and getting to meet so many interesting people in both Dorchester and Boston.  I'm learning how to handle myself as a journalist in professional environments, think on my feet, ask the tough questions, and be as thorough, but as concise, as possible with my writing.  I'm experiencing some situations – like school committee hearings and mayoral-elected board meetings – that are completely new to me, so they are really learning experiences.

Finally, I've learned to dress for any kind of assignment since I never know from day to day what I will be covering (aka I covered a baseball game wearing a dress and low heels, but heels nonetheless and my feet were not happy afterward) and how to work with media relations people to get the information needed.  Media relations employees seemed to become the bane of my existence during the past few weeks as I felt like I was constantly chasing them down, but I tried to be as polite and accommodating as possible so I could get the information needed for my stories.

I hope you enjoy my stories! If you have any questions about my internship or my life at St. Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (@LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).  I will do my best to answer any question!
Ciao for now!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cooking in Cape Cod

Since I'm interning in Boston for the summer, I have been staying with my Uncle at his house in Somerville.  It just so happens he also has a house in Cape Cod, so we will be spending most of the weekends there.

Uncle Rick got his shellfishing license in Cape Cod this summer, so we are able to go get fresh shellfish on Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday (but only once a week so we don't overfish).  We tried our hand at collecting mussels yesterday.  It was raining all day yesterday, so the first time we went out, we were not able to find any and it started to rain on us while we were looking.  We did not stay very long, and we did not quite know what we were looking for either.  I decided to stay in while Uncle Rick went shopping for plants for his garden that afternoon. He came back at around 3 p.m. with a half bucket of mussels!  He had gone without me! (I didn't have the proper gear anyways.)

Today we cooked our mussels for lunch, and they were delicious! We cooked them in a curry butter sauce on the grill. Since my uncle was working in his garden for most of the afternoon, I was in charge of preparing the mussels.  I do not have very much practice with cooking, so it was a slow process, but I think they came out pretty well in the end! Here are some pictures of the finished product:
Checking to see if the mussels opened on the grill! 


The finished product!

Mussels in my bowl.