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Posts Tagged Thanksgiving

Homesickness 101

seanna-85A niggling of homesickness and sadness washed over me as I glanced back at my friend Alejandra.  Just like most of the campus, she was heading to the airport…excited about going home for the Thanksgiving break.  And unlike most of the campus, I was walking to my Latin class for a mid-term…and afterwards, I planned to return back to an empty room.  I’d spent previous holidays away from family, but up until this year, I had at least always been surrounded by friends.  While I knew that there were many people going through far worse situations, I still wasn’t feeling very optimistic about the next four days.  School work and silent hallways did not seem like good company.

I was wrong…

Okay…actually, the school work was not fun.  And the hallways were silent to the point of creepiness, but my break was still great, all because I chose to get involved around campus with other remaining students.  For Thanksgiving, I helped cook with our campus’s SOCA organization (Student of Color Alliance); I was personally responsible for the green beans and a strawberry cheesecake.  Before that evening, I was once again apprehensive about sharing this meal with basic strangers, but the awkwardness seemed to bring us together.

The food was amazing—together, we compiled ham, turkey, chicken, green beans, greens, mac n’ cheese, potatoes, corn, lasagna, cheesecake, pumpkin pecan pie, brownies, cornbread…the list went on and on.  Some of the leaders set out tablecloths and played music.  Afterwards, we sat around the table and played games.  Some of the guys watched football, sprawled across the couches in the room.  At some point, I looked around at the group of people and realized that I should count my blessings.  Even thousands of miles away from Arkansas, I was able to find a place to call “home”—a community of students who had most likely felt the same misgivings about the holiday, but still managed to find a silver lining.  We may not have gone home, but we were together.

And so…let me end this hunky-dory post with the lesson that I learned, one that I keep learning over and over.  College is all about new experiences.  Keeping an open mind and finding ways to reach out can help lessen feelings of homesickness or loneliness.  In applying for college and choosing a four-year (or two-year) abode, don’t allow physical distance to deter you from a great community.  You find great people in unexpected places…which can always lead to memories that you never imagined having.

Giving Thanks

jesse-85Thanksgiving was spent away from home but I was still able to enjoy it in great company. There is an organization on campus called RAZA which is centered around Mexican-American culture. Every year for the past 4 years, RAZA goes to Ed’s house for Thanksgiving (Harvard ‘06). It was so much fun being able to spend it with this new family I have been able to find here at Harvard. I ate A TON!! It was delicious.

It was hard being away from family but I was able to Skype with them on Ed’s computer. They were, of course, playing the rancheras and the cumbias back home but we had that playing at Ed’s house too so I felt at home. Seeing my family over Skype was definitely a great feeling. I felt as if I was right there with them.

So, remember, even though you may be thrown into another world once you get into college and might not be able to see your family during the holidays, there are still ways to enjoy this time apart with close friends and with 21st century technology.

I am thankful for my family, mentors, and friends who I owe my life to. I wouldn’t be the same without the experiences (good and bad) that I have shared with them. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have at hand, especially ones like the CSO Opportunity Scholars Blog which give me the opportunity to show you future first-generation college students that college is possible no matter what your background is.

And I am thankful for you, the reader, who has taken the time out of his or her schedule to learn more about my college experience. Hopefully you can find it in yourself to acknowledge the strength you have to break the mold and make it to college. Keep working hard and make the best out of every situation. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

gobble gobble!

tereza-85It’s already 2 weeks until Thanksgiving and I know most of you high students are looking forward to it because that means a 4 day weekend! I remember thinking that last year and couldn’t wait for it to come.

What I also remember about this time was that I was getting ready to start my college application process and I hope all of you high school seniors are too. If you have not started yet, don’t worry it’s not too late to start.

There are so many colleges out there and some students are probably wondering “Which one do I want to go to? How can I pick?” What I suggest doing is making a list of everything you look for in a college and go off of that. Some sample questions would be:”Do you want to stay close to home? Do you want to be in a city or in a college town? Do you want to go to a big school or a small school? Does diversity in your college matter to you?” and more questions similar to that. By answering a bunch of questions like that can really help narrow down your search and make it easier to pick which colleges you are interested in. I myself answered questions like that to help me narrow down my search because before I did that I was feeling kind of overwhelmed by how many colleges there where and this helped me eliminate some. For questions which you could go either way on like “how big do you want your school?” just apply to both because then you can never have too many options.

I would also suggest to at least apply to 5 schools. Every school will offer you a different financial aid package and different things and like I said before, keep your options open!

Try making a time line for yourself especially when applying to schools that have application deadlines. You do not want to miss an important deadline. Some schools may have rolling admission so there really is not a deadline but it is always better to apply sooner because then it’s more likely you will get a spot!

If you have not already figured out which teacher you would like to write you letter of recommendation it would be good if you made that decision soon so then you can ask that teacher. Also so then they could get started on it if necessary because just how you don’t like doing papers at the last minute, they don’t like doing letters of recommendation at the last minute.

You should probably begin creating a personal statement if you have not already started and I highly suggest you have someone else read it and help you with it! They can help you improve it and make suggestions that you might have not thought of before.

After you have all these things done all you really have left to do is wait to hear back!

To all you freshmen, sophomores and juniors, you can do all of these things too because it is never too early to start college preparation. Of course you cannot apply to college yet but you can have everything ready so that when you are able to apply for college all you have to do is fill out the application because everything else is already done. Also make sure that you take the ACT/SAT and make sure you are prepared for them which means study!

I wish everyone the best of luck and if you need help or have any questions don’t be afraid to ask your parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, or even me! Just leave me a comment after you read my blog.