October 31, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
When I found out the new Tribe mascot was going to be the Griffin, I’ll be the first to admit that I was not at all enthused. I personally had been a huge supporter of the Phoenix (yes, mostly because of Harry Potter). I have since grown to love the Griffin and am so happy to see him at football games and the like. In fact, at the Homecoming game, I forced him to take a few pictures with me—definitely a keepsake. Now, having a mascot, I realize how depressing it was to not have a mascot. The Griffin inherently brings out people’s school spirit and Tribe pride. While the transition has not been easy for those of us who have undergone the twinges of losing our feathers and then been in limbo, having the Griffin definitely makes it all worth it. I will always remember the feathers and cherish the paraphernalia I have with the feathers on them, but I am also very excited for how the Griffin is going to become an integral part of the culture at William and Mary. Still, to me, we will always be the Tribe.
July 27, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
If you’re not one who handles TMI (too much information) well, then I wouldn’t recommend finishing the remainder of this blog. Growing up, I had noticed even in elementary school that I always had a few more beads of sweat on my brow at the end of ballet class than my fellow dancers. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but as time went on, others noticed my bit of a “sweat problem” and I became more self conscious. I also began to notice how much my dad would sweat when he was cutting the lawn, going on a jog, or grilling. There was a specific instance when we were leaving the gym and I was disgusted at the sight of my dad’s t-shirt. There wasn’t one thread of cotton that wasn’t soaked in sweat. I started to make some connections and decided maybe this whole sweat thing was genetic. Once in high school, I came to accept that I was a sweaty person, and I was comfortable with that. I learned to own my sweat, and the girls in my dance class learned to accept it as well. Then came college, and with that came working out in public at the Rec Center, walking to class on a hot and humid campus in the early fall and late spring, helping with Orientation during barely bearable mid-August, dance parties in places without AC that would qualify for a fire code violation given the absurd amount of people in a small space, and giving tours to prospective students and their families throughout the hottest months (June-August). All of this brought sweat to a whole new level. If you thought the Rec was a good place to pick up guys (or girls), not for this girl. What about class? Not when you have sweat marks from your backpack straps. Okay, well then at least parties, right? Wrong. Apparently boys only like the wet hair look when you’re fresh from the shower, pool, or beach. It took me a while to realize why I didn’t have a boyfriend, but now it’s crystal clear.
Over the years I have found ways to help manage my little problem. My remedy for the gym: sports bra tank tops versus plain sports bras and a sweat towel-I refuse to workout without one. An all around cure: undershirts under everything and extra sets of t-shirts, just in case. Another way to cope is to avoid standing close to others (body heat is not a joke), always taking the shady route, and wearing colors and fabrics that show the least amount of sweat possible. Another tip: men’s deodorant. That ladies deodorant, yeah, it doesn’t do anything.
My college friends have come to accept me, sweat and all, just as my friends did in high school. Honestly, it’s become a running joke among us, and I embrace it. I know you’re saying to yourself “Who is this sweaty freak?”. I’ll be the first to admit that it is a little gross, but it’s a natural biological process of which I have no control.
July 13, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
Simmer for one hour, until tender….whisk together the remaining milk and flour….Bring a large pot of lightly saltedwater to a boil….pound chicken…..saute vegetables until crisp….blanch tomatoes until skin loosens…
Umm…excuse me? Plain English, please. When it comes to cooking, this is my basic general sentiment. Before coming to college, I’ll be honest, I spent little to no time in the kitchen, unless you count packing a PB&J for lunch. Once I came to college, I spent even less time in the kitchen. I fully appreciated what the W&M Dining Services had to offer me. Two all-you-can-eat buffet style dining halls with soft serve ice cream even at breakfast? An a la carte style dining hall with a Mexican food station? Yes! The ability to use flex dollars for Dominos pizza and have it delivered to anywhere on campus? Again, yes! Over my years here I have gotten very good at eating, but not so skilled at cooking. My freshman through junior year I lived on campus, so I validated my not cooking by the fact that the kitchen was down the hall, people would steal my food from the fridge, I’d have to go to the duty office to rent pans, etc. Now, living off campus, the fact that I can’t cook glares at my daily. I watch my housemates conjure fish tacos with seasoned tilapia, avocado, chipotle mayo, and red cabbage on corn tortillas or egg noodle pasta with sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage, fresh tomatoes, red chili pepper flakes, pressed garlic, orange peppers, and chicken broth. Chicken broth mixed with another kind of meat? You can do that? Calling Remy, the rat from Ratatouille to the rescue. I have no idea what flavors, herbs, and spices mix. It’s like elementary school art class all over again, trying to figure out what primary colors to mix to get purple. I can’t do it, but if I eat one more meal out, my checking account is going to drop below $0.00. What do I do? Well, currently I’m working on a deal with one of my housemates that I do the dishes and laundry if she cooks out of desperation, but it’s just getting to the point of pathetic. I am now willing to admit that I cannot cook. Moreover, I need to learn how to cook. I think it’s time I start scouring our course catalog in hopes that W&M offers people like me some sort of hope in the culinary arts.
July 7, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
What do you do when your friends are tired of hearing you talk about something, but you just can’t stop? Perhaps you would talk to your parents or other family member? Maybe go see a counselor? The problem is, my family is tired of hearing about it and the problem doesn’t really warrant a free appointment at the Counseling Center. So what’s the problem? Studying abroad was hands down one of the best if not the best experience of my life thus far, and I yearn to go back more than anything. That isn’t to say that I’m not content with the here and the now. I am happy to be reunited home (William and Mary) and the people who have made it home (my friends and the W&M community), but there are a lot of things to miss and not a lot of people who can fully empathize. I know it doesn’t seem like a valid problem and may even seem like I’m whining about nothing-the rough life of a student given the privilege of studying abroad who loves her home university and experience just as much. It really is a problem wanting to do two things at the same time. I would go abroad again, but at the same time, I don’t think I could stand missing out on another semester at W&M. What I also realized after day dreaming about being back in Sevilla, paddle boating on the Guadalquivir River was that this experience was so unique and special that going abroad again would never be the same. I wouldn’t meet and make the same amazing friends, I wouldn’t go through the same challenges, and I wouldn’t go through the same kind of self growth and improvement. These three things are what really made my abroad experience, and I am so thankful for all of them.
I never would have thought that I would make the kind of friends I did abroad. It’s funny how knowing you only have 4 months is a catalyst for friendships and almost forces you to find comrades instantaneously. We all knew from the beginning that, to an extent, we were all each other had. At first we were just friends to go out and travel with, but it became so much more. We went through each little experience together from home stay mom troubles and riding a Sevici bike to learning an entirely new culture and seeing the Coliseum. Saying goodbye to my friends in Spain was like saying goodbye to a family, because that is what we’d become. In fact, we called ourselves the NO8DO family, NO8DO being the symbol of the Sevillan government. The friendships I formed I know will be lasting-it is not an out of sight, out of mind situation. I have a NO8DO group under my contacts so that I can mass text all of them with one click on my phone, and skype makes it so easy to connect to anyone around the world. We’ve already had a reunion in New York, another coming up in Boston, and one planned for the fall at the USC v Alabama football game in Columbia, SC. I have faith that reunions like this will continue for years to come because we shared such a specific experience in such a crossroads time period of our lives, a bond that is truly unique.
Everyone faces their own set of challenges while abroad. At first, I struggled with not having any close friends who knew the true Cassandra in close proximity. Once that began to change, other obstacles came about. My house mother had a lot of detailed rules that at first I thought were cultural customs. I realized later on that she was overly strict and I was not in a “normal” household. I went to my program to voice my problems with Maria Jose, my host mother, and they put her on a “trial”. At this point, I was halfway through my program and I knew I wasn’t going to get to switch host families because Maria would coast through her trial period, and by the time that was up, there would only be a few weeks until the end of the semester. With only a few weeks to go, the option to switch families would no longer exist. I learned how to cope with Maria and spent a lot of time at one of my friend’s apartments in order to maintain my sanity. The language barrier was a never-ending challenge that naturally became easier over time. Staying focused on school work while trying to get the most out of the other aspects of being abroad was another challenge. I also struggled striking a balance between traveling Europe and taking the time to appreciate weekends in Sevilla. I think my overarching obstacle was time. Toward the end of my time in Spain, I felt like I was racing against the clock. There were too many things on my abroad bucket list and too many last moments I desired to spend with friends for me to get it all done.
The Self Growth and Improvement:
Obviously the self growth and improvement were on an individual basis, but I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the support of my friends from back home and abroad. I became more independent and more confident with who I was. I learned more about what I want out of my life and future. I learned about being in the moment and appreciating life (basically the Spanish lifestyle). It was so strange being in a place where it wasn’t all about getting to the finish line or what the final outcome would be. In Spain people were much more focused on their journey to the finish line or the outcome, and I liked that. Fast food or on-the-go food did not exist. People sat down and enjoyed their meals-they took that hour maybe even two hour lunch break. They sat and met people for a café con leche (coffee with milk) in the afternoon and had conversations with their local fruit vendor at the market. Parents don’t cut off their children at 18 or pray that they move out of the house, and if a student wants to move back home post-graduation to save some money or figure things out, society doesn’t suddenly see you in a negative light. Overall, I just felt like the Spanish had it right. Living there for 4 months put things in perspective and “enjoying life to the fullest” really took on a new meaning for me.
Overall, I wouldn’t take a second back I spent abroad. Does part of me wish that I could be like Hermione in Harry Potter and time travel back to mid January so I could have my semester here at W&M as well? Yes. But who doesn’t want the best of both worlds?
July 2, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
I was never drawn into the Twilight saga phenomena, and after being forced to see the most recent film. I’m actually anti-Twilight. I had no intentions of seeing the movie, especially the midnight showing opening night. Some of the Admissions deans had plans to see the movie and invited the interns along. The only reason I went was because a fellow intern offered to pay for my ticket because I told him there was absolutely no way I would spend money to see the movie. I have been to all of the Harry Potter movies on opening night, so I thought I was prepared for the chaos I was going to encounter in the theater lobby. Right when we walked in we were notified to check our tickets for which auditorium we were in. We thought we were a step ahead because we had bought our tickets earlier in the week, but we also all bought them separately, putting us a step behind. Between the 15 or so of us that were there, we were divided into 4 different auditoriums. At this point I was already regretting my decision to go along for the ride. I sat back and watched as deans and interns ran around begging people to switch tickets so we could all be in the same theater. I was fairly apathetic about what theater I was in or if I was sitting next to people I knew. In fact, I was apathetic toward the whole experience in general. I was warned beforehand that going into this film without having read any of the books or seeing the other films I would be very lost. “Thankfully” I got a summary from one of the deans and was more than ready for what I was about to see-a mixture of bad acting, bad looking people, and bad plotline. Bad, bad, bad (in my opinion). I’m pretty sure I just don’t get it. I don’t know why a human girl feels compelled to choose between a werewolf boy or a vampire boy. I also don’t know why she wants to become a vampire over remaining human. Moreover, I don’t understand why any of this is entertaining, but to each their own because I have an unexplainable obsession with Hello Kitty and still watch Dawson’s Creek.
As Debbie down as I’m being in this entry, the experience was awesome and irreplaceable. It was nice to hang out with the deans and my co-workers outside of the office. It was definitely a bonding experience for everyone regardless of if they were Twilight fans or not. People really came out of their shells and true personalities shined through. I really broke the ice by falling up the stairs in front of everyone before the movie started. Hoping no one had noticed, I casually stood up only to hear cheers from two specific members from the group, calling me out. Needless to say there is no doubt I’ll be at the next staff event to get them back.
June 21, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
For my past 3 years at the College, I had always found it funny that a marginal percentage of the student body had the same large mugs. I figured a store near campus sold them and for some reason they were a William and Mary fad.
Finally, as a rising senior, deans at the Admissions Office clued me in. These mugs were not just any ordinary mugs. In fact, for just $11, you can have a mug and unlimited refill of soda, juice, coffee, and ice cream from certain venues in CW for an entire year. What a deal!! I am so excited about how much money I am going to save. I am confident I have never spent a more worthwhile 11 bucks in my life.
June 21, 2010 by Cassandra Albert
This past semester I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain. While I loved most aspects of my experience, one area that was lacking was the friend department. Before going to Spain, I had high expectations about making a lot of friends while abroad. I knew that by default I would make American friends through my abroad program. What I was more excited about was becoming friends with Spaniards. I figured befriending Spaniards would be the best way to learn the language and the culture, and who doesn’t want a foreign friend (or boyfriend)?
My first few weeks in Spain I was extremely gung ho about meeting Spaniards. I soon came to realize that they had very little interest in getting to know me. My eagerness to meet Spaniards quickly began to dwindle. This was catalyzed by my strengthened bonds with American students. I think because we all felt like outsiders at first, and were going through very similar emotional experiences, forming friendships was seemingly natural and effortless. At first I was very disappointed with the situation and felt like I had given up too soon. The more I talked to other American students on my program and different programs, I heard more stories very similar to mine. Students who did make Spanish amigos were introduced by their Spanish host brother or sister. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity of having a host brother or sister to expose me to an authentic Spanish social life.
While I wish I had been able to develop deeper friendships with Spaniards, I am now comfortable with my attempts and ultimately failures. I still had a great experience and made such good friends during my time at Spain that I don’t feel like I missed out in the slightest.