Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winter Break Bucket List: Week Two

Okay, I'm getting more productive by degrees.  

This week I...
-Went to my brother's holiday tournament...which they won!
-Survived Christmas.
-Busted out the Latin.
-Read more of the Hobbit.
-Made progress on Pachelbel's Canon.

This week I attempted to...
-Work on my Kenyon OCS Proposal.

This week I failed at...
-Cooking a Julia Child recipe.
-Keeping up with my workout routine.

Tonight will be spent with my family, playing board games, eating junk food, and waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square.  I haven't decided how I feel about this past year yet, I think my high points and low points equalled out pretty well.  In any case, I do think I'm on the right track or have figured out what the right track is in several aspects of my life and I'm excited for this year to be over and the next to start so I can put what I've learned in 2011 to use.
It's a fresh start, Happy New Year!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter Break Bucket List: Week One

Alright, so I haven't been that productive.  Well, that's not true, I've been productive but I just haven't crossed much off my list.  

This week I...
-Went to two of my brother's basketball games.  
-Went caroling with the church Deacons.  
-Got into a great exercise routine...SO SORE.
-Helped Mom with the Christmas Pageant.
-Finished Christmas Shopping/Making/Wrapping.

This week I attempted to...
-Go to ballroom at the YMCA with my was cancelled for December.
-Read The Hobbit...but kept leaving it in the car.

This week I failed at...
-Studying Latin...OOPS.
-Working on my Kenyon OCS Proposal
-Doing most of the other things on my list.

Not particularly impressive or interesting but there are three weeks left of break and I really needed some time to sleep and just putz around like I did this week.  Next week will be more productive!  However, our Christmas rush starts in an hour and a half and won't end until Monday night at the earliest so there will be no posts on Sunday or Tuesday this week.  So, until next Saturday, have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Status Update

On Thursday, I had my interview with a representative of Kenyon's Off Campus Studies Office.  My interviewer and I got along very well and while some concern was expressed over my GPA I was still given permission to move forward as planned.  In short, it went very well and confirmed my belief that I should stop stressing over interviews because I've never had a single one that I didn't enjoy.

So what's next?  A lot.  Because the OCS office is concerned that the program I'm applying to might not take my application because of my GPA, I've decided that, after I've gotten my semester grades, I'm going to call the program's offices to find out exactly what their policy is on GPA.  If they will still consider my application even though my current 3.06 falls below their minimums of 3.2 and 3.3, then I'm going to continue as planned.  If under absolutely no circumstances will they even view my application, then I will make the appropriate adjustments and apply elsewhere.

In the meantime, I have to work on my Off Campus Studies Proposal for Kenyon.  Before I can apply to the specific program, I have to first apply to Kenyon and get their permission to study abroad next year.  In addition to the Proposal, I also have to submit an Advisor Confirmation/Departmental Approval form and a Letter of Recommendation.  GPA isn't a problem when applying to Kenyon so my main concern is making a strong case for myself on paper, especially because I'm asking to go abroad for the full year.

It's all due in early February so I'm really glad I'm able to work on it over break because I'm not sure how I'd get it done otherwise!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Someday Sunday: Sleeping Bear Dunes

So, for my inaugural Someday Sunday post I'm actually writing about a place I've been...twice.

The Destination
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

What to Do:
Climb the Dunes!

There are two options here, you can just climb the large dune you see when you first arrive OR you can climb that and then keep climbing dunes until you get out to Lake Michigan...and then climb back.  I've done both and, either way, wear good shoes, bring water, and expect a workout.  And, if you're anything like me, plan on looking pretty ridiculous huffing and puffing and sliding around in the sand!

The first time I went, my travel partner and I chose to climb out to Lake Michigan.  It was one of the most fun things I've ever done but the dunes are incredibly deceiving.  When you're at the top you can only see the dune ahead of you and the water beyond it so you think you're almost done.  Then you get to the top of the next hill and there's another one...and another.  All you can do is sigh and laugh and keep on trucking.

But then you get to Lake Michigan and it's, no joke, the best water you've ever seen...especially if you were air brained like we were and forgot the water bottles in the car.

If you're not feeling up to a several mile long hike (my family, pictured above, wasn't) you'll still have a great experience.  The views from the top of the main dune (shown at the top of the page) are amazing and there are other ways to enjoy the park as well.  For instance, the scenic drive!

The road is very wooded and winding and there are plenty of places to stop and take photos, the most memorable of which is a 450 foot overlook of Lake Michigan.

It's absolutely UNREAL how steep the incline is.  Some people run all the way to the bottom...

...but it can take up to forty-five minutes to get back up.

Even just standing at the top of the slope is slightly dizzying so I would recommend going with someone who will hold you...or your parents who will stand several yards above you and try to coax you from inching farther down the slope.  Either is good!

Who to Take:
Anyone who will climb dune after dune with a smile and no complaints and who will appreciate how stunning the scenery is.

For more information on Sleeping Bear Dunes:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Winter Break Bucket List: The List

Here it is, my Winter Break Bucket List!  Any suggestions for more ways to keep busy?

Stay Fit
Daily Workout Reps
Evening Walks
YMCA Ballroom Classes
YMCA Free Exercise Class-Latin Rhythms

Keep Reading
The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait-Daniel Mark Epstein
The Hobbit-J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy-J.R.R. Tolkien
Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen
To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee
The Song of Lunch-Christopher Reid
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace-Tamar Adler

Try New Things
Prepare One Julia Child Recipe a Week
Try Two New Restaurants
Visit the Figge Art Museum
Erik Ohrn Exhibit at BCA

Spend Time With Family
Basketball Games
New Year's Eve Game Night

Watch and See
Pride and Prejudice (BBC Version)
Sense and Sensibility
The Lion King
Hello, Dolly!
It's a Wonderful Life
The Iron Lady (in theaters January 13)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Monthiversary!

Latitudinally Speaking turns a month old today!  In celebration of this neat (but really completely meaningless) anniversary and the completion of my finals, I'm introducing two new weekly posts:

Someday Sunday: It's actually ridiculous how much traveling I want to do.  Someday Sundays are an opportunity for me to share even more of my wanderlust with you all and, once I've settled into a format, I'll start asking you to submit your own Someday Sundays!

Winter Break Bucket List: Since starting college last year, I have been home for four weeks at Christmas, two over Spring Break, four at the end of May/beginning of June, and one at Thanksgiving.  I have spent the entire rest of the time since September 2010 at school in Ohio and at my summer job in Michigan so, for me, coming home is really quite the get away.  Invariably, I spend my days at home watching television and surfing the web and wishing I was somehow being productive.  So as an incentive to actually do something with my break, this Saturday I'll be posting my Winter Break Bucket List and updating you every Saturday there after with the items I've successfully crossed off.  Let's hope it works!

Until then, continued best wishes to those still taking finals and safe travels to everyone headed home!

P.S. Did you know the actual term for a month anniversary is mensiversary?  It comes from the Latin mensis, mensis just like anniversary comes from annus, anni...Daily Classics Geek Out Complete. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Well, I Do Declare!

As of last Thursday, I am officially a Classics major.  And I have the sticker to prove it!

It's been a long time coming and I'm very grateful to my family, friends, and teachers who were so patient and encouraging while I flip-flopped between majors until I settled on one I love.  
Thank you all and good luck to everyone studying for finals!

And for those looking for more information on the Classics, here are some sites that might be of interest:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

GPA: A Cautionary Tale

Once there was a girl named Elizabeth.  She was always a good student and worked very hard for her grades.  When she got to college she still worked hard but she overloaded her schedule and didn't apply herself quite as well as she had in the past.  She didn't get bad grades, they just weren't as good as they could've been.  At the end of her freshman year she had a 3.06 GPA.  A year later, near the end of the first semester of her sophomore year, Elizabeth was getting ready to study abroad.  She was worried because the programs she wanted to go on required 3.2 and 3.3 GPAs.  She went to talk to an advisor at the Off Campus Studies office and was told to go ahead and apply but to make sure she had second choices ready.  Her advice sounded logical so Elizabeth started looking for alternate programs.  Then, several weeks later she spoke with a different advisor who told her, as nicely as possible, that she shouldn't even bother applying to her first choice schools.  This angered Elizabeth for two reasons.  First of all, she'd never liked being told no and, second of all, she knew it was her own fault that her GPA was so low and so it would be her own fault if she couldn't get into the programs.  But, Elizabeth was a very stubborn girl.  VERY stubborn.  She decided that she was going to play the game her way.  Just like she did when applying to college, she would apply to the programs she wanted first and worry about finding a second choice later.  Will Elizabeth's stubbornness serve her in the end?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Unfortunately, this is a true story and, clearly, it's mine.  It looks like I'll be able to work things out but who knows.  The point is, learn from my mistake and keep on top of your grades.  Don't think, like I did, that because a class is easy you can slack off, don't procrastinate, and don't pretend that the adjustment period after entering college excuses you from putting in your best effort.  I regret having done all of that not only because it might make getting abroad a little more difficult, but also because I didn't get as much out of my classes as I could have.  Kenyon is an amazing and incredibly difficult school but instead of focusing on how great it is, I stressed about how hard it was, put myself in an "I can't achieve anything here" mindset, and, for the first time in my life, underachieved.  Big, big, big regret.  So now I've got two resolutions for the upcoming semester:

1. Work around my mistake to get myself abroad.
2. Appreciate Kenyon more and have enough confidence in my intelligence to push myself to excel again.

Exciting.  Also week's post includes a big announcement!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At a Safe Distance

In the last year, I've spent eight months in Ohio, two in Michigan, and two (split between Christmas Break, Spring Break, and the first half of June) at home.  Living eight to ten hours from home is painful at times.  I've missed out on my brother's sixteenth birthday, his football games, his many, many growth spurts, and the very handsome long hairstyle he sported this fall.  I've missed my mother's birthday and Mother's Day, my father's preaching and Father's Day, my friends, Thanksgiving, Easter, weddings, funerals, new cousins, theater productions at my old high school, and so much more.  As much as it hurts, missing out on those experiences makes me so much more thankful for the opportunities I do have to come home.  My family has done a lot to work around the distance.  For example, this Thanksgiving I had a change of plans that freed up my break.  I wanted to be with my family so they spent their time, money, and gas driving out to Ohio to pick me up and bring me home for the first time since June.  Additionally, when I'm at school, I can call my parents at any time and they'll talk to me even when I'm just being ridiculous or goofy.  Really, I live at a safe distance.  I'm very far away and miss out on a lot but that distance lets me have my independence and my own experiences while still being close enough to get home fairly easily if I need to.

Over break, I think my parents realized that this wouldn't be the case next year.  After our guests left on Thanksgiving we sat down to discuss my study abroad options.  The conversation revolved exclusively around my safety.  At the time, I was irritated because, as my parents pointed out, they were exposing my subconscious insecurities about studying abroad.  In retrospect, I see that the conversation was less about whether or not I could handle myself and be safe abroad and more about my parents' concern that if something should happen to me while abroad, they couldn't get to me quickly.  The reverse is true as well, if something should happen at home, I wouldn't be able to get back quickly.  That's terrifying for all of us, I think.  While my parents probably did, I certainly didn't realize just how alone I'll be next year.  Of course the study abroad programs all have excellent support networks and I'll make friends and have the best time of my life but it's not going to be the same.  Because of the time difference, I won't be able to call my parents whenever I want and if I feel homesick I can't just ask to come home over a break.  Essentially, I'm going to be stranded but I'm going to be fine and I'm going to love it.

This fall, a friend from home explained that the distance is only as great as you make it.  You can let it interfere and become this overwhelming, depressing thing or you can accept it as a challenge.  As usual, I plan to do the latter and I'm sure my family feels the same way.  It's going to be very different, I'll be living at a pretty unsafe distance, but as scary as that is it's also exciting!  This is an opportunity for so much creativity and fun in the way we keep in touch and support each other, there's so much possibility here and, trust me, I've already got more than a few tricks up my sleeve.  So, Mom, Dad, Will, Everybody, Me...don't worry.  Yes, the safety net is going away but the support system will still be there, stronger than ever, and that's really all I need!  There's going to be a lot of adjusting and probably more than a few nervous moments but we're all going to be just fine.  I know I never learned to ride a bike but just pretend I did and let me use this analogy: The training wheels are coming off but I'm still wearing my helmet!  I'll always wear my helmet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Basics

We started our study abroad process at Kenyon a little over a month ago.  At the time, I was actually considering not going abroad because of several personal and academic issues.  Fortunately, my inner child would have none of that and kept poking at me until I agreed to work through or around everything that was troubling me and start the process.  As usual, my inner child was right and it took no time at all for those issues to resolve, get tucked safely away, and/or disappear completely.  Moral of the story: Listen to your inner child and If you have (or have had) even the faintest desire to study abroad, start the process.  I cannot stress this enough.  It is so much easier at any point in the process to decide  that you don't want to go after all and drop out than to realize too late that you wish you had applied.  John Greenleaf Whittier said, "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'"  True for life, true for study abroad.  Even if you have reservations, if you've never thought about studying abroad, or don't think you can afford it I encourage you to at least get through the very basics of the process.
At Kenyon, the basics start with an informational meeting.  it's a pretty standard part of the process at a lot of schools and it's really very simple.  You go, you sit, they hand you an info sheet, and then give a brief overview of your school's programs and resources.  Quick, easy, and painless.  If it's offered, go to it.
For us, this meeting was followed a week later by a programs fair.  If your school offers a fair, the best way to approach it is to keep an open mind.  While it's good to have done a little research and have a general idea of what you're looking for, use that information as a guideline only.  Although I've known for a long time that I want to study Classics in the United Kingdom, I tried not to pigeonhole myself. At the fair, I picked up brochures from programs offering experiences in places I hadn't originally considered and collected information on Internship programs and programs for Arts Management as well as Classics.  While I've ended up sticking with my original plan, getting information on programs I hadn't considered before allowed me to think outside the box and reassured me that I was choosing to study Classics in the UK because I really wanted to and not because it was my only option.

Since the fair, I've been narrowing down program providers from that huge pile pictured above.  Hopefully, when I return to campus after Thanksgiving Break I'll have my first and second choice programs selected and be able to do my interview with the Off Campus Studies Center.
In the meantime, expect more updates here and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Latitude refers both to the horizontal lines used to determine a point's position North or South of the equator and an allowance for freedom of thought or action.  With greater latitude comes a broader range of possibilities and perspectives.  Study abroad gives you greater latitude in both senses.  As the process of applying to go abroad is currently a high priority for me, that will be the main focus of this blog.  For now, you'll mostly find updates on where I'm at in the application process.  Once I've gotten into a routine, I hope to add other resources including interviews with other students who are at various points in the study abroad process.  And then, provided that everything goes smoothly and I'm accepted into a program, I'll share my own experience abroad with you.
Be looking for a post on starting the application process in the next week!