Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back to School: The "Last Semester" Edition

Hi everyone!

Sorry I've been MIA for so long. I've been crazy busy trying to adjust to my new schedule and get back into schoolwork.  I'm officially back for my last semester in college as an undergrad... EVER. As weird as it is, I've made it my mission to make the semester count by keeping up with classes, making some awesome final memories with friends, and doing activities I have not done yet (like going to the Mardi Gras parade in Burlington or going on LEAP).  So far, it's been a good two weeks back and I'm looking forward to the rest of the semester.

One big change from last semester is I have a new roommate, Amanda! My roommate Jill graduated a semester early, so Amanda moved in with us after returning from studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain.  I miss Jill A LOT, but Amanda is turning out to be a pretty awesome roommate.  Since pretty much everyone knows I will take just about any opportunity to talk about studying abroad, it has been really fun to bond with Amanda over all of our experiences.

From left, Tori, Amanda and me on the bus back from Burlington.

My class schedule this semester is pretty awesome, and I'm more than happy to say I am back in Bergeron again in full force.  Last semester, I had no classes in the journalism building (and really had no good reason to be there), so I felt pretty displaced.  I am taking both Social Media - Theory and Practice and working on The Defender again as well as spending time working on my senior seminar book with Gabbi, so I will be in Bergeron A LOT this semester. I am more than ok with that.  I really love all my journalism classes, especially the social media class. This is the first time St. Mike's is offering a social media class, so I am really excited about the skills I will gain from the class that I will be able to take with me into the 'real world'.  For example, we recently got to follow the Inauguration via Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of different news sites and later analyze how the different news sites used the tools.  It was really fun.  Never have I ever heard the words, "Ok class, grab a computer and log onto Facebook," until now.  The final class I am taking right now is called "Deviant Women," and it is also super interesting.  We are currently learning about witches, and will be learning about more women who 'misbehave' throughout history during the semester.

Lastly, I've been trying to spend time with friends.  This past Friday, I met up with my friends Suyeon (from South Korea) and Akane (from Japan), and we went downtown to Starbucks.  I was able to have dinner with them and more of their international friends downtown at the Asian Noodle Shop afterward.  It was a lot of fun, and definitely an interesting cultural experience!  Instead of giving the food recommendations, I was able to be given recommendations for food at the restaurant.  It was a little intimidating to have to use chopsticks in front of all my international friends, but it was so much fun in the end! I really enjoyed the experience.

It's a little blurry, but (from left) Ah Young, Suyeon, me and Akane on Church Street last Friday!

From left, Akane, Suyeon and me at Starbucks on our coffee date!

Also on Friday, I was able to cover a concert downtown at a place called Nectar's.  I went with another Defender editor who was writing the review, and I took pictures during the concert.  The coolest part was we got to get in for free because we were "with the press," and the music was REALLY good.  The main act was a band called Spiritual Rez, a reggae funk group based out of Boston, MA.  Not only  were they impressive, but their opening act (Richard James and the Name Changers) was also really good.  Of course, the way they caught my attention was by playing a lesser known Beatles song, "Taxman," and turning a two-minute song into a really funky eight-minute jam.

If you have any questions about my life at Saint Michael's College, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (LizMurraySMC) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3), and I will do my best to answer them!

Ciao ciao for now :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Hi everyone!

Today I want to tell you about the special opportunity I had this Christmas.  As you may know, I am one of the founders of P.A.L.S (Partners Applying Language Socially) which pairs international students and four-year American students together based on similar interests to enrich the college experience for both partners. My P.A.L. Suyeon (from South Korea) and I have become GREAT friends, and I consider our friendship one of the many success stories we've had with P.A.L.S. so far.  Before the holiday break, Suyeon and I were sharing stories about our different holiday traditions.  This was when Suyeon told me that she had never had a real Christmas, which had always been a wish of hers.  Suyeon said it was because her family was not religious, so her parents never felt the need to celebrate Christmas.  This left Suyeon to have little celebrations with her friends, including decorating a mini-tree and exchanging presents.

So, my family and I made it our mission to give Suyeon her first real Christmas - an American Christmas! My family invited her home with us for about two weeks, and she became practically another member of our family.  Though Christmas activities were spread out over the two weeks, we still kept ourselves busy! Not only did we go Christmas shopping to find presents for family members, but we also...

Putting the first ornament on the tree! 


Me and Suyeon in front of the finished tree :) 

Making paper snowflakes!
Oooh how fancy! 

Our "special" snowflakes.

Homemade chocolate chip cookies before the oven...

...and after the oven. We didn't add enough flour, but they tasted pretty darn good! 
Decorating Christmas cookies :)  
Aunt Jackie helps out! 

Suyeon got to keep the first ornament she put on the tree! 
 Suyeon even came with my family and me to a Catholic mass on Christmas eve, and then to my aunt's house for a pre-Christmas gathering.  On Christmas morning, she got to share in the excitement of opening gifts, eating Christmas dinner, and spending quality time with the family.

Christmas morning! 

Christmas break wasn't all Christmas preparations though.  We also attended my sister's high school's production of A Christmas Carol and visited the fourth grade classroom in which my mom is a paraprofessional.  Suyeon is an English and Education major, so she told me it was really interesting to visit an American classroom.  The fourth graders were able to ask Suyeon about South Korea and her experiences in the US so far.  Suyeon didn't think the children would ask so many questions, but they really knew nothing about South Korea so they were very curious. Does Korea have television?.... Did you drive here?... Can you say something in Korean?  It was all very interesting to watch and listen to Suyeon's reaction afterward.

The best part of Suyeon's visit was the little things – the inside jokes, learning Korean, trying to find English subtitles for movies, trying out a Korean aloe face mask.  That is only the short version of the many memories though – there are too many to count! We both had so much fun together, and I think I can speak for Suyeon when I say she gained an American family.

Asian pose :) 

Me, Suyeon, John and Katie.

Suyeon and Dad.

Suyeon and Mom.

Uncle Tim, Suyeon and Aunt Jackie when we dropped Suyeon back off at SMC!
If you have any questions about my life as a student at Saint Michael's College, do not hesitate to contact me via email (, Twitter (@LizMurraySMC) or formspring (lizmurray3).