Need Directions? I’d Love to Help!

For some reason, I absolutely love it when people ask me for directions. I feel thrilled whenever someone approaches me with a confused gleam in their eye and a dejected shrug in their shoulders.

Mostly I get asked while roaming the streets of the University of Maryland, as it is so easy to get lost in the 1,250 acres of rolling hills.  Sometimes I’ll even approach people who are oh so obviously lost. They try to hide their crumpled map and frustrated sighs, but I seek them out and gladly offer up my services.

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Giving directions is a wonderful way to boost your self-confidence. I know it seems silly, but there is nothing better than proving your literal street smarts and helping others in a simple way. It’s also nice to affirm that you know your way around in the world and are so confident with the path you’ve chosen that you’d like nothing more than to share that path with the poor lost souls of the world.

Maybe I’m reading too much into telling someone to take the first left and find the Benjamin Building on their right, but I truly love giving directions and knowing exactly where I am.

(Strangely enough, I also love asking for directions. I think it’s because I’m offering someone the chance to experience the same delight that I feel when called upon to perform in the line of societal duety.)

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Maryland Day: Freebies and Friends

DSCN0537Yesterday, the University of Maryland hosted their annual event, Maryland Day. Basically, this is one day every spring where the whole campus decides to participate in showing off what UMD and the state of Maryland has to offer.

Families, alumni, prospective Terps, and people from the surrounding communities come out in droves for:

  • Wacky science experiments
  • Photo boothsDSCN0554
  • Plant give-aways (for the winners of a recycling game)
  • Musical performances
  • Donations to Terp Thon (the standing marathon I participated in benefiting Children’s Miricle Network)
  • A mini dance festival
  • Caricatures
  • Delicious food (with, of course, crab cakes)
  • Arts and crafts (where it is also acceptable for the young at heart to get creative with sand art and coloring)
  • A chance to meet members of the UMD football team
  • Raffles for fabulous prizes
  • Information on the University of Maryland and the services they offer
  • FREEBIES!

DSCN0538I had a blast going around with my friends and checking out everything available to me that I never even knew existed. And I didn’t even have time to go through the whole event. Just think about how much more there is to explore right under your nose!

But my absolute favorite part was all the free merchandise I scored. Maryland gives you so much in the way of freebies that I’ve had to start limiting myself and asking,

“Now are you really going to care about that yo-yo a few weeks from now?”

“Do you remember the three other yo-yos sitting in your room, neglected and unused?”

“Would you regret for the rest of your life slowly putting the yo-yo down and walking away from the table?”

I successfully ignored the colorful ensnarement of the yo-yo, but that didn’t stop me from bringing in a huge haul that included:

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  • 5 posters (1 signed by the football team)
  • A water bottle
  • Opportunities and information on volunteeringDSCN0566
  • Friendship and a day of silliness
  • Stickers and pins
  • A temporary turtle tattoo
  • Pens and pencils
  • A bit of a tan
  • Memories and pictures
  • A bracelet that changes colors when it’s sunny

I’ve gone to this event every year, and every year it gets better and better with each realization that there is so much available for me to do around here in both a fun and professional capacity.

Do you have anything like this in your area? You should make the effort to see what your community has to offer and chances are you’ll find one or two things of interest that you never knew you could explore.

U Maryland: thousands upon thousands of Terps

I love getting an outsider’s perspective on UMD. Sometimes you can become so consumed in the duties and necessities of life that you forget to appreciate your current circumstances. I’m lucky to be attending such a beautiful and noteworthy school that celebrates traditions and history.
And let’s be real for a sec, I could never take pictures as lovely as these.

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Fear the Terp…

Yes it sounds strange to me too but we will get to that later.

stadiumThe first thing you notice when visiting the College Park campus just outside D.C. is the students. a lot of students. Almost 40,000 students. Let me say that again FORTY THOUSAND!

library chillinThat is a lot of kids, which is not even counting the number of faculty and staff required to educate that many kids. This means that UMD is big enough to swallow most Midwestern cities. It is absolutely the definition of a state flagship university.

They offer 100 undergraduate majors. 100!

When the average American, or human for that matter, imagines American colleges, odds are they are picturing one of two types; the elitist ivy league, or the University of Maryland.

churchIt has a row of fraternity and sorority houses a mile long (figuratively), a football stadium bigger than the Colosseum, and a bazillion kids…

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Stress Out Day

DSCN0493Last week, UMD hosted a “Stress Out Day” on the mall to help students relax, unwind, and release their stress out into the wild where it can run free and uninhibited, while never again allowed to call the shelter of a college kid’s mind home. I decided to go to this event as an excuse to hang out with my long lost buddy, Kalin, and even though it was just a silly school event, it actually helped me step back from my life and relax.

I contort myself into a mess of limbs and grimaces each Wednesday, in what others affectionately call Yoga, to achieve the feeling of calm relaxation I’m granted at the end of every session. But I never thought I could achieve the same feeling through such a carnival-like atmosphere. The event boasted a corn hole game, a wall of aspirationsDSCN0487, free sunglasses, a coloring booth, puppies (which I arrived too late for), and even a raffle for an awesome t-shirt (which I won! only slightly making up for the lack of puppies).

At one station, we were asked to write the thing that stresses us out the most, then we were told to cross it out and write something that relaxes us when we are stressed. Kalin’s answer proves why we’re friends:

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My answers throw into question why people hang out with me:

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Walking around with Kalin, enjoying the weather, and taking a break from the daily rush of life gave me the peace that an hour locked in a smelly fitness class usually provides, and I am so grateful I got to experience this peace with my fellow Terps. I love when the world expresses a sense of community!

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Traditions and Terrapins

umd testudo in front of mckeldinAs some of you may be aware, the University of Maryland holds a deep affinity for its mascot, Testudo.

Testudo is a Diamondback terrapin, but we all affectionately call him a turtle, and warn others to fear him (Fear the Turtle is something of our battle cry). testudo mascotThere is a whole history regarding UMD’s relationship with Testudo, which you can find HERE, but all you really need to know is the major Maryland tradition that Testudo plays a crucial role in.

Before I can explain that tradition, I have some bad news to share. You may believe that the four leaf clover you found as a kid was lucky, or that heads up penny you rescued from the grimy Metro floor, but for true luck, you need to visit College Park, MD and rub Testudo’s nose.

testudo overlooking mallThere’s a statue of Testudo sitting in front of McKeldin Library at the head of our mall and a couple more statues strategically located around campus. When students are in need of some luck or self-confidence, they run for Testudo and rub his nose until it’s good and shiny (which it already is after years of use by desperate students). Before finals, people will leave him offerings in hopes of increasing their favor in his eyes. What Testudo would want with cups of coffee and sugary treats, I’m not really sure, but I know he loves the attention.

The bottles of alcohol are never there for long...

The bottles of alcohol are never there for long…

When tours pass by UMD the potential Terps are encouraged to rub Testudo’s nose, just as the students around campus do. I always imagined myself as too cool for this silly tradition, but how ridiculous is that?! I absolutely LOVE that I’m somewhere that celebrates both history and community, and since I’ve arrived and gotten over my big head and my embarrassment,  I’ve rubbed Testudo’s nose like there was no tomorrow and can personally attest to his powers since I’ve had the best luck and the most fun while attending college.

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Spring Has Sprung!

IMG_1904I grew up listening to my grandmother utter that exact phrase towards the beginning of every April, “Spring has sprung!”. I’d roll my eyes and cough out a chuckle, but after exposing myself to the beauteous weather we’ve been experiencing, I finally appreciate her lame little pun.

IMG_1915The sun has been shining, the birds have been chirping, and the clouds are staying away because they know what’s good for ’em.

IMG_1920IMG_1919Two things have really begun to happen now that the weather’s gotten nice.

1. I actually enjoy walking to class.

2. Once I get to class I don’t want to go inside.

Right now I guess I’m just thrilled to be over with winter. Hopefully spring will be just as long, but if not, be sure to enjoy it while it lasts and take some time to stop and notice how happy nature seems to be at being done with winter too.IMG_1926 IMG_1927

Holi Cow!

This past Sunday the University of Maryland created their own Hindu festival of color, Holi. Pronounced “Holy”, this festival involves throwing multi-colored power at people to celebrate the beginning of spring and the driving force of good over evil. 551462_10151526062127593_100085468_nBut for me, it was mostly a good excuse to make tie dye, hang out with friends, take plenty of pictures, and have an unbelievable experience.

DSCN0450We first gathered around the Administration building on the far end of our mall. After handing out free samosas, but sadly for our poor taste buds, no water bottles, they began throwing packets of colored powder into the air. People went wild. Purples were flying through the air intermingling with a neon green that left its presence known to all those standing below it. Somehow a hose and buckets of water got involved, and though it helped enhance my tie dye, it chilled me far too much for such a warm spring day.

Soon my face was splattered in a comically gory fashion and I marveled at how a mere half hour ago I would have been considered clean. After taking a couple pictures with my friends, one of whom resembled an impish smurf, I headed off to the shower where I would not reemerge for a solid 30 minutes.DSCN0461

I had a blast being a part of this festival, and even though I didn’t know most of the 200 + kids who attended, I still had a great time feeling included in a community and letting myself go. Every once in a while, you need to do something so crazy that even your closest friends give you weird looks when they see the pictures.

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5Ks and Freedom

Only a couple hours ago I finished running my first official 5K. It was held by the sororities at the University of Maryland to benefit Yeardly Love and raise awareness of domestic violence. I went with my friend Jackie who is a pro at running and has done multiple 10Ks, she was so supportive and it really helped me focus on the run.

It cost $20 dollars to participate, and it return, I received:

  • A free t-shirt
  • A “one love” bracelet
  • Confidence
  • Aching feet
  • A stronger friendshipIMG_1931
  • The sense of community
  • A cool visor
  • Memories
  • Hope for my future plans
  • The freedom to explore endless possibilities

I can’t believe that I completed something so challenging while only stopping to walk for 3 minutes. I had a final time of 33 minutes, but for my first ever 5K, and in the beginning stages of training for the Baltimore Women’s Classic, I’ll take it!

IMG_1933Also, UMD was so beautiful today! We ran around a lake and I just wanted to stop and take pictures the whole time. Instead, I took this one of the Chapel near where we began our race.

Looking Up, Literally

I walk. A lot. It kind of comes with the territory of being a student at College Park. Be it trotting along listening to my music, or shuffling to work with my body braced against the wind, I feel like I’m always walking. And, due in part to the frequent nature of my walks, I’ve found myself multitasking a bit too much while on the move. Heading over to McKeldin? Perfect time to reflect on my English paper. Need to go to the gym? Why not call my grandparents on the way there, I haven’t talked about the weather in a while. But, all of these distractions have taken the focus off of something I really need to concentrate on, walking. I know walking doesn’t require much thought. We’ve all been doing it since we were tots and it’s more than second nature at this point. But, with all of our distractions I seem to have taken it for granted, mainly in the form of not looking up while walking.

With all of my distractions I seem to have forgotten that there is a beautiful world out there. Old brick buildings, fidgety squirrels, and enormous trees that are kind enough to lend shade in the sweltering summer but finicky enough to drip sap on a moment’s notice. I’ve been too absorbed in my own world, lost in thought and looking at the ground, to appreciate the one right in front of me. All this week I’ve taken care to remind myself to look up while walking, and the difference it made was striking. Feeling bummed out? Need a pick-me-up? Want to reaffirm your views on life? Simply look up. The ground is lonely and cold, but when you tilt your head back at that slight angle the world is suddenly a better place. Those squirrels are frolicking in the trees, the newly green scenery attempts to overrun the buildings brimming with students, and the sun shines down its blessing on those beneath. This earth is a truly amazing place to live. Never forget to look for that, and  always start by looking up.

 

I can tell the difference, can you?

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