Last Day of Undergrad Classes

This year has officially come to a close! That’s right, today is my last day of classes and it’s pretty bittersweet. I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet because I’m excited just to be done with homework and projects, but I will greatly miss the friends, professors and routine of each day. However, I think I’m truly ready for a new stage of my life and am really looking forward to living in Grand Rapids for the next three years. It’s been pretty comforting that I’ll only be 45 minutes away from Holland and Hope in general, so I don’t have to say goodbye forever. It’s also nice knowing that some of my friends are going to be in the Holland area, so saying goodbye at graduation will be more of a “See you later,” which will hopefully prevent some tears. With everything wrapping up, I’m excited to be spending the last few days with some of my best friends, especially at Spring Fling this afternoon.

The past two evenings have also been a great way to wrap up senior year because the two intramural teams I was on (frisbee and soccer) ended up winning the most competitive leagues. I’ve been a part of these teams for the past few years and it was a great way to end this great era because we won shirts for both teams. On top of that, I was able to score a great goal in the soccer game last night, making the evening extra special and memorable. I don’t think I could have ended my time here at Hope any better considering intramurals have been such a highlight for me these past four years. I’ve loved playing the sports but also getting to make friends I would not have otherwise gotten to know.

It’s so weird to have a final countdown until graduation because I have one class today, one exam Monday and then nothing the rest of the week until graduation. I think it’s going to be a surreal week just knowing that I’ll see these familiar faces for only a few more days and then never again unless there’s a great turnout at a future class reunion. I think the most scary thing about ending undergrad is the comfort and bubble we’ve been living in and now having a level of uncertainty of the future. I know for me, I still have more school so I’m certain of the next three years but many of my friends have a lot of anxiety because they don’t know what’s happening after graduation. Despite all of the nerves, I’m so happy and proud of myself and my friends for surviving college and getting through some tough times. I truly think it’s time for people to challenge themselves again and continue making memories. I’m beyond thankful for Hope and how it prepared me for graduate school and just life in general and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me and my friends in the future.

Ultimate Frisbee Champions! Alliance of the Magicians
Ultimate Frisbee Champions! Alliance of the Magicians
Most Competitive Soccer Champs! Yeah Chupalo!!
Most Competitive Soccer Champs! Yeah Chupalo!!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Last Spring Fling in a Week

The countdown to the end of the school year has officially started! For the seniors out there, it means the final days of college. I know I have friends who are excited to be moving on, but more often than not, most people are scared either because they don’t have jobs lined up or they fear losing touch with friends. For me, I’m excited and ready to start a new chapter in my life and challenge myself once again. With that being said, I feel like I need to appreciate these final two weeks with my friends and classmates. One of the main highlights of the year is an event called Spring Fling. For those of you who are unaware of what this is, it’s an event put on by SAC each year (the Friday before finals) in the Pine Grove.

Each year there is typically a surprise event that wasn’t there the year prior. For instance, last year had a zipline, which a lot of people had a blast with! Let me give you a brief overview of Spring Fling. First of all, it starts at 3 PM, but people usually start lining up an hour beforehand in the Pine Grove to sign in and also get a gift (usually a shirt or sun glasses) and people proceed to take part in various activities. Such activities include a mechanical bull ride, caricature drawing, bounce house games and competitions, and other games people brings themselves such as Frisbee or ziplining. The previous years there has been a live band playing as well as dessert carts containing ice cream and other yummy treats. Around dinnertime, people on a meal plan use their ID to get a plate and a huge picnic is put on in the Pine Grove.

If you ask nearly any student here at Hope, they’ll probably say this is one of their favorite activities to attend during the year. Whether it’s because of the event itself or the idea that classes are over and summer is approaching, that’s up for you to decide. I know I just simply enjoy being outside, hanging out with friends and trying to enjoy myself before everybody is swarmed with commitments for studying for their finals. The activities are so much fun and a good way to de-stress which is why I’m excited for it this year (actually only a week away!)

I hope you are able to attend if you go to Hope or this will be something to help persuade you to come to Hope in the future if you’re a prospective student! Anyway, best of luck finishing these last few weeks out strong!!!

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Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Wrapping Up Senior Seminar

There’s officially 11 school days left in this academic year and I have quite a few mixed emotions about that. On the one hand, I’m so excited to be graduating and moving on to other schooling and adventures. However, I’m going to miss the comfort that Hope has provided me, as well as seeing all of the familiar faces I’ve grown accustomed to each day.

Senior Seminar is one class in particular that has allowed me to reflect on my time at Hope and made me analyze the past few years as well as my years prior to college. I had mentioned in a previous blog that I had to write a paper called “What Moves Me” for this class and the ideas and realizations I had from writing that paper allowed me to write my “Life View” paper. This past week I had to present this paper and discuss my life view with the rest of the class. I’m not much of a public speaker but this presentation was a lot easier than I had thought going into it. Everybody in my class is so comfortable with each other so anything I said or revealed was going to be supported and respected. Although I was able to find meaning in the experiences in my life thus far, I really enjoyed listening to my peers and their stories.

The remaining time we have left in the class is solely dedicated to presenting our own life views and I’m actually looking forward to it. So far I’ve listened to only a few and they are such a joy listening to because people really open up about what makes them who they are. Some people take a humorous angle while others discuss the losses and personal tragedies they have faced, presenting a wide range of life events that my peers have faced. I feel so fortunate that my classmates are willing to share such personal things and I have a greater understanding and respect for each person because I’ve been able to get to know them better. Some presentations have actually inspired me and have challenged me to see from different perspectives. It’s crazy how much you learn simply from your peers and see what different obstacles everybody has had to deal with and how they cope.

I found it so beneficial to take this specific course and take a step back to analyze my life. It seems like something that everybody should do occasionally and learn from oneself and one’s experiences. Without this class, I wouldn’t have been able to decipher why things really happened or didn’t happen to me and having this understanding really helped me grow and appreciate people, situations and events in my life. I’m sure I’ll stumble across this paper a decade from now and really enjoy reading my perspective as a young adult and see how much I have changed since writing it and if I can find even more meaning that I didn’t see this first go-around. I strongly encourage you to simply sit down and take the time to see what you value in people, relationships, friendships and yourself. For me, I gained a new perspective of myself and I’m very grateful that I have found meaning through my actions. Even if it’s just writing in a journal, keeping track of your thoughts will be interesting and beneficial in the future looking back. See if you can learn something new about yourself!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Last Intramural Season!

This truly makes me sad to say that the last intramural season I will ever participate in at Hope has just started. Intramurals have really been such a highlight for me through my four years here and I honestly will miss playing various sports and hanging out with friends. This season, I’m playing co-ed soccer and ultimate frisbee, which happen to be my favorite intramural sports besides tennis. The soccer team I’m on is a ton of fun, but this year we are in the most competitive league, which will be really difficult but I’m excited. As for frisbee, I’ve been a part of a championship team for the past couple of years and I have no doubt that the streak will continue this year. The best part about intramurals is having fun, but also winning shirts! I thought it would be fun to have this post be a flashback on the many teams I’ve been on in the past four years.

Freshman Year

Not knowing anything about intramurals, I took the opportunity to participate in as many sports as possible. My friend Tim and I played tennis together and won the “Less Competitive” division. I was also on a women’s volleyball team, which was a ton of fun because I never really played before so it was definitely a learning experience. I also had the chance to play ultimate frisbee and at first, hated it because nobody on the team knew what was going on. However, it was fun just goofing around and struggling together. I joined a co-ed soccer team as well, which was interesting because nobody knew each other, so we all got to know each other pretty quickly.

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Sophomore Year

Again, I played tennis with Tim but we unfortunately didn’t win this year when we joined the “More Competitive” league. This was the first year I got involved with co-ed soccer, basketball, and inner tube water polo. Soccer was a ton of fun but water polo was a huge struggle because it was so hard to see with everyone splashing and being completely lost with the rules. Fortunately this year I joined a different Frisbee team with people that understood the game and it was a lot of fun! We won and got a championship shirt from it, which was an added bonus. At the same time, I played co-ed soccer with some friends and all I can say was that it was VERY entertaining because we had soccer players on the team as well as people who have never played the sport before. Good thing we were in the “Less Competitive” league!

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Junior Year

This was probably my favorite year because I played tennis with Tim and we played some of our best tennis ever! We won “More Competitive” and man that felt like a huge accomplishment. In addition, I played co-ed volleyball and still managed to under-perform in that sport, but oh well! As for soccer, my team was really good but ended up losing in the finals. However, we won Frisbee! I was on the same team as sophomore year and it’s the same team I’m on senior year and I’m sure we’ll pull out another win.

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Senior Year

Unfortunately, Tim and I couldn’t play tennis this year, which was the biggest disappointment because it was my favorite intramural. However, I played women’s indoor soccer and we lost in the semi-finals. Right now I’m on the same co-ed soccer team as last year as well as Frisbee team. I’m very interested to see how this season goes for these two sports and if we can pull out two championships or not!

That’s all I have for this week, so don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Memorable Spring Break (Part II)

I thought it would be nice to split up my Spring Break adventures into two separate posts, since I had so much going on. Here’s Part II:

Wednesday

On Wednesday, Audrey and I decided to go back downtown to tour the Castillo de San Marcos fort, which was awesome! Going through all of the different rooms and sleeping quarters was really interesting. Plus, when walking through, some people carved their names into the walls and we saw a couple who dated their names in 1883!! After walking around the fort and getting some good pictures, we were craving some Mexican food and stumbled upon Fiesta Jack’s, which had great burritos. We chowed down and headed back to our condo and read for a while on the porch and just enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to celebrate by making some puppy chow and watching some TV to end our eventful day.

Thursday

It happened to be raining on Thursday, so what better thing to do than get pedicures! Audrey, her mom and I got pampered for an hour in those massage chairs while we got our nails done. We then ran a few errands and later enjoyed listening to the rain while reading. There’s nothing better than snuggling in a blanket and reading while it’s pouring outside! We read for a while (followed by napping) and decided to watch “What a Girl Wants” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” Audrey had never seen either of the “Sisterhood” movies prior to this break, so I made her experience them both! Once the movies were done, the sky had cleared up and we were able to look up at the stars and just hang out and chat before heading to bed.

Friday

This was probably the most eventful day yet! Audrey and I woke up early and went zip lining over crocodiles and various other creatures. It was my first time zip lining and I had such a blast because the instructor was on the ground watching both of us, so we were completely on our own. Luckily we survived the snarling albino crocodiles and didn’t make complete fools of ourselves while people below us were watching. Following this adventure, we decided to go back to the outlet malls and buy a few things that we both had our eyes on—maybe spent more than we needed to, but it was SO worth it. I’m pretty sure we got back to the apartment and took a nap before we headed back downtown to a cute pizza place and enjoyed one last meal all together.

Saturday and Sunday

Sadly, I had to fly back to Michigan on Saturday after such a warm and fun week in Florida. My flight landed in Grand Rapids that afternoon and I was fortunate enough to stay at my friend Connor’s house for the remaining of the weekend and get acclimated to the cold weather. Since it’s March Madness, we watched countless hours of basketball, played some ping pong and just relaxed before having to back to school on Sunday.

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Well there you have it! That was my awesome Spring Break in Florida, filled with so many good times and long talks with my close friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better break to end out my senior year!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Memorable Spring Break (Part I)

I’m beyond relieved that spring is finally among us! I was getting pretty tired of this winter and the ever-present snow that accumulated on every sidewalk. Since I traveled down to Florida for Spring Break this past week, it was nice coming back to Holland with hardly any snow on the ground. I thought I would dedicate this blog post to my adventures I had in Florida with my friend Audrey and her parents!

Friday

Audrey and I woke up at 3:30 AM or so and hit the road by 4:30 AM with her parents and all of our luggage. It was quite a sight having blankets, pillows, snacks and luggage all piled into one car! The first leg of the trip consisted of a lot of sleeping as well as a few pit stops at gas stations, Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, and Subway. It’s an understatement to say that my butt was sore after sitting in the car for 14 hours until we called it a day when we reached Atlanta. A horizontal surface never felt so good when I collapsed on the hotel room’s queen-sized bed after being hunched in the most awkward positions in the car. After we settled in, we quickly got some food at Applebee’s and watched some HGTV before falling asleep before the next day of car riding.

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Saturday

This car ride felt much shorter since we were almost in warm, sunny Florida. After riding for another handful of hours, we finally arrived in St. Augustine, FL, where we immediately dropped our stuff off and went to the grocery store for some necessities and staple food items. The rest of the day consisted of exploring the area, going down to the beach and simply relaxing!

Sunday

This particular Sunday was very special because it was the 125th anniversary of the St. Augustine Memorial Presbyterian Church in downtown St. Augustine. The inside of the church was absolutely beautiful and you’d never guess who Audrey and I ran into there! We happened to meet a lady that graduated from Hope in 1950!!! After the service, we toured around Flagler College and the surrounding area, which was a ton of fun. Once we got back to our condo, Audrey and I thought we would take advantage of the warmth and lay out near the pool and soak up some sun… little did we realize, the sun was a lot stronger than we thought, so we got some pretty terrible burns. That night was very interesting in regards to putting soothing lotion all over our bodies and struggling to get comfortable in our beds while trying to avoid the burnt areas on ourselves.

Monday

Day one of shopping at the outlet malls! The whole day was dedicated to shopping and getting great deals at stores such as The Loft, Kate Spade, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gap, Nike and others that I cannot recall right now! After a busy day of trying things on, we went out to dinner at a place called Salt Water Cowboys, where the “restaurant” is literally a shack in a swamp! This is Audrey’s all-time favorite restaurant, so we obviously had to go. I was surprised by how many people knew about this place because once we finished our meal, the line was out the door and down the dock, all waiting to be seated at the next available table.

Tuesday

After still recovering from our nasty sunburns from Sunday, Audrey and I thought we should try to stay out of the sun another day. We ended up meeting up with Audrey’s mom and aunt and headed to downtown St. Augustine to look at the Lightner Museum. What was really cool was the koi pond, but also an building that use to house an indoor swimming pool but was converted to a restaurant. We ate some lunch there and it was really fun to say we were eating in “the deep end.” Afterwards, we wandered down St. George street going in and out of various shops and eventually getting some ice cream at Kilwins.

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This sums up the first part of my trip. Stay tuned for the second part to my Florida excursion.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

My 22nd Birthday!!

Woohooo, it’s finally March! Besides the fact that it means that spring is almost here, it’s also my birthday month. It’s actually today, so I thought I would dedicate this blog to the awesome friends that have made today absolutely amazing!

Let me first begin with last night! My apartment as well as a few other friends and I went out to dinner at Crazy Horse here in Holland, and that was one of the greatest meals I have ever had. It has become a tradition to go there for my birthday because I celebrated my 21st there last year and thought the atmosphere and food were to die for. After regretting eating so much, I was able to Skype with my parents for a while, which was a nice treat because that doesn’t happen a whole lot. A lot of stories and catching up took place, which was much needed! At this point it was close to midnight and so I decided to hit the hay. However, a few friends thought it was necessary to keep me up because I got texts at midnight as well as a phone call. Regardless of how tired I was, it was such a great way to start off my birthday!

This morning was filled with a ton of excitement. First of all, my roommate and I went to the Dow and ran for a bit before going to chapel and classes. I’ve never had so many people come up to me to wish me a happy birthday in such a short window of time! I guess that just reflects on Hope College because everybody is so close to one another that everybody is aware of when birthdays are and reach out to people, even if you don’t know them very well. After going to class and having people sing to me during class, I was able to have some down-time with my friend and just laugh for a good amount of time before finally working on some homework.

The celebration doesn’t end there though! Tonight I have Foundations for Fitness (check out my other blog if you don’t know what this is), which should be super fun and then I’m planning on hanging out with some close friends and grabbing dessert before my birthday comes to a close. I feel like this birthday has been superior to others in the sense that I really saw how much people reached out to me for simply living another year. It’s also fun just blasting Taylor Swift’s song “22” an annoying amount of times, just because it’s my only opportunity to do so.

Well, that pretty much sums up my birthday! Thank you to all of those who wished me a great day and those of you who are prospective students, know that Hope is such a welcoming place where nearly everyone makes you feel special, especially on your birthday! Have a great rest of your week!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Dance 41!!!

Can you believe February is nearly over? I know I can’t believe it. Another thing I can’t believe is that graduation is only 65 days away! I picked up my cap and gown for the big day yesterday and that certainly felt like a surreal thing. I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be graduating from college and leave Hope. It really makes me appreciate the last couple of months here and try to live them to their fullest because nothing will be this fun and easy-going again.

My goal is to attend as many activities as possible and just remember these times before they come to an end. For instance, I’m going to Dance 41 tomorrow evening and am interested to see the hard work everybody put into the production. For those of you who are not aware of what Dance 41 is, it is a dance performance put on by Hope’s Dance department. Dances range from ballet, jazz, tap and modern, so there is a wide variety of expressive dance being performed. Students audition in the fall for a position in the choreographed pieces and if chosen, can dance in two pieces. I’ve attended this event a couple of years ago and it was really cool to see the many types of dance they covered as well as the style and emotion put into every move. I am really looking forward to attending tomorrow and seeing what the faculty and students have been working on over the past few months. I’m currently in a class called Dance for Sport and am planning on going with some friends and classmates and watching together. I greatly encourage everyone to head on over one of these weekends and check it out for yourself and make it into a group event with friends!

Sophomore year at Dance 39!
Sophomore year at Dance 39!

If you are interested in checking this event out, it runs from February 27 & 28 as well as March 5-7 in the Knickerbocker on 8th Street. Tickets are $5 for students, $7 for seniors and $10 for adults.  I hope to see you all there and that you enjoy the show and appreciate the dedication and skill each of the dancers have. Enjoy your last few days of February!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Things I’d Rather Do

Happy Thursday! This week seemed to have flown by, at least for me. However, today was a complete drag, mostly because it was so cold outside, that I was dreading leaving my cozy apartment. I woke up this morning, convinced that Hope would cancel class because it was so ridiculously chilly, but unfortunately that email was never sent. While looking out my window at all of the snow, it got me thinking—there are so many other things I would rather do than walk in these negative temperature conditions! Here’s a list of some practical and also unpractical things that would please me more than having a frozen face walking around campus:

  • Watch Netflix—literally any show because I wouldn’t care what I was watching as long as it distracted me from the freezing weather.
  • Organize the refrigerator—I don’t think anybody ever wants to do this, so it’s saying a lot that I’d rather do this than walk through a bunch of snow.
  • Eat/drink a bottle of ketchup—I personally have never done this, but I imagine it’s better than slipping on ice outside.
  • Stub my toe—this and paper cuts are probably the worst injuries that seem so small, but I would gladly deal with a stubbed toe than have to thaw my whole body after walking to classes.
  • Hiccup for an hour straight—even hiccuping for ten minutes gets super annoying and depending on the severity of the hiccup itself, it can be painful. I would rather suffer through this feeling and sound over not having visibility while walking outside.
  • Do laundry—I think everybody dreads doing this, along with going grocery shopping.
  • Organize and clean up my desktop on my computer—this is something I always put off and sometimes never do, so getting around to this would be a difficult feat.
  • Watch a documentary on ancient architecture—I cannot imagine something more boring and dull, so sitting through this would be more enjoyable than having icicles forming on my face.

I don’t know if you would rather do these things as well to avoid going outside, especially with the wind chill here in Holland, but staying inside is very appealing for days like today! All I can hope for is that it will warm up a tad this weekend in time for the dodgeball tournament tomorrow men’s basketball game on Saturday. Stay warm everybody!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Mid-Winter Break Excursions

This week sure flew by! I’ve spent more time in Chicago this week than Michigan, mainly because it was our mid-winter break. Instead of sitting around Holland while all of my friends went home, I decided to make my own plans with friends and family. This was probably one of the most jam-packed weekends I’ve had in a while, so I have quite a bit to relay on to you.

Friday: I was able to get a ride into Chicago from my friends David and John, which was really nice because the only other way I was to get there was by taking the train a day later. Once I made it to Chicago, I met up with my friend Shannon (who I grew up in California with) and we got together with a bunch of her roommates and friends and went out to dinner. It was probably one of the most relaxed places I have ever been and the owner was hilarious, so that was a definite bonus. After we ate, Shannon and I were pretty tired since we got a really late dinner, so we headed back to her apartment and had girl talk until we both fell asleep.

Saturday: When Shannon and I woke up, she had to go volunteer for a couple of hours but upon her return we went out to brunch at a super cute restaurant called Jam n’ Honey. I’ve never been so excited for an omlet before in my life! Since Shannon had to study the rest of the day for a midterm, I headed over to my brother’s apartment for the remainder of the weekend. I hadn’t seen him since Christmas, so it was fun catching up and having deep conversations about most areas of our lives. It was especially nice because it was his birthday this past weekend and I loved getting to spend it with him! After talking up a storm, we went to Target and got some groceries and decided to make a dinner that my mom makes back at home. As the dinner was cooking we thought it would be fun to watch some throwback shows such as “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Man, I miss that show!

After eating, we watched a movie and then headed to a comedy show that night. I had never been to a comedy show before so this was quite the experience. It was a non-profit one that was created by people in their 20s and it all took place in what felt like a joined apartment. The really cool thing that happened was that each person with a ticket rolled a dice and whichever number it landed on was the amount of money you got back from your ticket. The show ended up being an hour long and it covered a bunch of different types of comedy but I was starting to fade because I was so exhausted (I nearly fell asleep on the CTA… yikes!). Once we got back, Brian and I were too tired to even function, so we went to bed. His couch had never been so welcoming and comfortable!

Sunday: When we both woke up we decided to make waffles/pancakes and continue watching some old television shows. This time we opted for “Even Stevens” and “Lizzy McGuire” and I’m glad we did because they brought back some great memories. Brian and I thought it would be beneficial if we got some homework done so the rest of the morning and early afternoon was dedicated to just that. After getting our fill on academic stuff, we took the Metra up to Kenilworth and had a birthday dinner with my aunt, uncle, three cousins and their significant others. The last time I was there was freshman year, so it was really nice to visit and see everybody! We had veal, fettuccine, salad and angel food cake. I’ve never had veal before, but I wouldn’t be opposed to eating that again. When the evening was wrapping up, Brian and I went back to his apartment and Skyped with my parents because we hadn’t talked to them in a while. It’s always nice to have a chat with them and have a family conversation, even when we’re thousands of miles apart.

Monday: Brian had to work so I was on my own making plans. Luckily, my friend Kristi was in Chicago as well so I made my way over to her place. We caught up for a bit and got some food at Whole Foods (which was amazing by the way). Since it was a relatively nice day we walked around the city, going in and out of shops and just had a relaxing afternoon. It was much overdue! Fortunately Kristi has a car, so she was able to drop me off at Union Station where I took the train back to Holland to wrap up my long weekend.

A bunch happened, right? Even though I may not have gotten a ton of sleep this weekend, it was definitely worth it and I loved getting to see people that I rarely see during the year. It was a total treat and I hope it happens again soon! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week and try to stay warm (I hear it’s going to be in the low-teens this weekend!)

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.