Coming back to campus after Thanksgiving may not sound like any fun. However, there is nothing like Christmas music and festive decorations to make the last couple weeks of the semester that much better. Holland, Michigan, may be well known as a beach town, but there is something so enchanting about 8th Street covered in snow and strung with lights and stockings above the Bultman Student Center fireplace.
Every year Student Congress decorates the Bultman Student Center with everything from a 20-foot tree to poinsettias and lights. The dining halls are always festive and Phelps has one of the best Christmas playlists out there.
When President John Knapp and Mrs. Kelly Knapp were at Hope they planted a Christmas tree right next to the President’s House. Every year since, our campus has come together the week after Thanksgiving for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.
This year was the President’s Sixth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The campus gathered around the tree and we counted down for the tree to light up. With a beautifully lit tree, we sing Christmas carols led by the President.
When Betty Voskuil moved into the President’s House, she wanted to continue the longtime tradition of setting up luminaries along the sidewalk of her house on Christmas. She then thought it would be even more beautiful to place the luminaries along the sidewalk through the Pine Grove. After we lit the tree at the President’s House, all the students walked through the luminaries to the Bultman Student Center.
In recent years we have decorated Santa cookies in the Bultman Student Center while Christmas hits blast through the speakers. This year, we took it to the next level and combined the Tree Lighting with the weekly SAC Coffeehouse for a Christmas-themed Coffeehouse. There were three different performers but one of the most memorable was President Voskuil opening up the Christmas Karaoke with Jingle Bells.
The whole afternoon is such a fun study break for students to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but the Christmas Tree Lighting is just one of the many festivities around campus this time of year. Dykstra Hall, for years, has a decorating contest that completely transforms the residential hall. You will never see anything like it. I’ve seen everything from a full reenactment of the movie Elf to the entire cluster wrapped in wrapping paper.
I could go on and on about the Holland Parade of Lights or all of Durfee Hall singing Christmas Carols in the alleyway between Dykstra and Gilmore. All of these traditions make Hope that much more like home during the holidays.
Since Christmas is just around the corner, here are some examples of Christmas different traditions and stories from countries around the world.
Serbia – Two Sundays before December 25th, children tie up their mother. To get “free”, she has to give presents to the children. Exactly one Sunday after mother is tied up, this happens to the father of the family and again he has to give presents to his children to become “free.”
Netherlands – In Holland the Santa Claus is named Sinterklaas and surprisingly enough, Dutch Santa does not live in the North Pole, but in southern Spain. Also, Sinterklaas does not have elves as his helpers, but Sinterklaas has a helper named Black Peter.
India – In India Christmas fir trees are not the norm. People are decorating mango trees and also Mango leaves are used for home decoration.
Greenland – There are some strange traditions in this country. In Greenland people feast on mattak (meal of frozen whale skin and blubber), slices of raw whale skin. Also, they eat kaviak (decomposed bird), which was wrapped in sealskin and buried under a stone for several months.
Ukraine – People in Ukraine decorate Christmas tree with spiderwebs. It is because of a legend, which says that there is a magic spider who visits poor families and turns spider webs which are put on the Christmas tree into a Gold and Silver.
Greece – In Greece, people wrap basil around a cross and sprinkle holy water around the house to ward of mischief making goblins named Kallikantzaros. Also for a good luck, people burn old shoes.
Jamaica – Number one event during the Christmas in Jamaica is the John Canoe parade. This parade dates back to the slavery times and during the John Canoe parade people wear wacky masks and costumes. As a traditional meal, people eat curried goat for a Christmas dinner.
Brazil – People of a country who hosted latest World Cup believe that on Christmas night, animals are able to speak. The children in Brazil receive presents from Papa Noel, not Santa Claus, and Papa Noel does not give the presents in the stockings but in the shoes.
Iceland – Believe or not, but apparently there is 13 Santas in Iceland. Parents are giving out presents or rotten potatoes according to children’s behavior. Santas have names like Door Sniffer or Meat Hook.
Poland – In Poland, the main meal on Christmas Eve contains 12 courses. As a tradition, Poles put iron under the plate of each family member, to make sure that she or he has strong legs in the following year
My roommate, Kristin, and I love decorating our room. The decorations make it homey and they make it extra fun and festive around a holiday. And what holiday is more fun to decorate for than Christmas?
The limit does not exist for the amount of fun that can be had when decorating for Christmas and appreciating the final product.
The weekend after Nykerk (November 7th) I went to Meijer with Kristin and a few more friends from our floor to get items on our shopping lists. We made our way to the back of the store and temptation number one appeared: Christmas movies on sale. We bought three. (The Polar Express, Santa Clause 3, and Deck the Halls if you were wondering)
We were already feeling the jingle of Christmas spirit within us as we thought about impending Christmas movie nights and we made our way to the back of the store where we were faced with the real temptation: the Christmas Section. Trees with lights of all different colors and sizes stood on platforms before us. Aisles of lights and ornaments, mini trees and ribbons–we gave into temptation; it was time to decorate room 37 for Christmas.
Our haul: beautifully obnoxious wrapping paper for our door, a bright blue mini tree, snowflake ornaments, a star ornament, and candy cane lights.
Our justification: we have to decorate now because there would only be two weeks after Thanksgiving to appreciate the decorations before the end of the semester and that would not be nearly enough time.
That night after dinner, the fun began. I decorated the tree with the ornaments and some orange sequin ribbon (because if it’s a Hope-themed tree it’s appropriate for all seasons, right?) while Kristin went to work wrapping the door.
The following weekend Kristin came back from her home with ribbon to put a bow on our door and a garland for around our door frame. I made paper snowflakes in my free time like it was my job. (I felt like Buddy the Elf) Gradually the decorating came to a close and our room stood complete in all its Christmas spirit glory.
Now as the semester comes to a close we still don’t feel ready to give up our room’s Christmas spirit. Its joy and holiday cheer are getting me through this last stretch of studying and exams. Unfortunately taking down decorations is something that is mandatory before leaving for the end of the semester. With heavy hearts we will be un-decorating our room Tuesday during the 4:30-6:30 consideration hours. For the next five days we will be soaking in the shimmering wrapped door, Hope-y Christmas tree, and the abundant snowflakes so their spirit will live on in our hearts as we head home next week at the end of our first semester of college.
Hopefully some pictures of our decorations and Christmas themed links can add some Christmas spirit into your day!
It’s almost finals week! Where did this semester go? Like, really? I think everybody feels this way, especially since Thanksgiving was last week. These next few days are going to be extremely chaotic for everybody, so it’s important to get a little last-minute fun in before studying consumes every waking moment of your day. My housemates and I decided that, instead of having a Christmas party, we’d all pitch in and make a nice dinner. With the college budget we’re all on, pasta and salad was going to have to suffice.
Even before dinner started cooking, one of my housemates thought it would be fun to take pictures later and therefore, made some fun props for us! Everyone else helped make snowflakes as a nice backdrop for these said pictures we were going to take. It was fun just seeing everyone gathered in one place and doing a carefree activity and taking a step back from the stress of school.
Once dinner was made, we all sat down and basically inhaled the food since we were all extremely hungry. During this time as well, we went around the table explaining are highs and lows of the day. I discovered a nice little pattern with everybody’s response: a common low is the realization that finals are among us. It was also nice to hear about everybody’s days since we rarely get to actually sit down and hear details of each person’s day because we’re on such different schedules.
After we all stuffed our faces with dinner, we took advantage of the props that were made and had a nice little photoshoot. This was actually such a hilarious time because I think some of the most repulsive faces were made. It’s sad to think that two of my housemates will be moving out after next week, so realizing this is the last time we all will hang out was hard to swallow. Looking back, I wish we were able to have these dinners more frequently because it was such a needed and great time. I guess that cliché saying about not knowing what you have until it’s gone really applies here. At least these photos and laughs will always bring back memories with some great ladies!
Some hideous faces
The whole crew!
Best luck on finals and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.
As of today, there are 6 days until spring semester commences. Let’s make these last 6 days memorable, probably because this is going to be the only time we have time to relax before Winter Break! Here is a post on some ideas you can do in the last 6 days. I have done most of these, but to those that I haven’t done, I’d like to do ASAP. Are you up for it?
Read for Enjoyment! Ok, this might sounds weird, but I like to read FOR FUN when it’s not mundane textbooks. Right now, I’m reading Love Does by Bob Goff. SO GOOD. And the coolest thing is that he is coming to HOPE COLLEGE IN JANUARY! I’m so pumped. Maybe, I can even get him to sign my book! Regardless, you don’t have to read his book, but read something you enjoy before you’re forced to read a textbook!
Enjoy the Outdoors! Ok, this may sound even worse, but just appreciating winter weather CAN be relaxing, at least for me. There are so many activities to do outside during the winter, like XC skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, and etc. Also, I’ve ran a few times outside too. I sound crazy, but I really like running. There was a day last week where it was 50 degrees, so I definitely took advantage of that. The only bad news is that it’s only limited to people who ACTUALLY have snow. If you don’t have snow, and live in the sun, don’t complain. 🙂
Watch Movies! There are a plethora of movies (that are actually good) that are out in theaters. If you’re a fan of Will Ferrell, Anchorman 2 is for you. I saw it, and it was just so funny. When a movie can make me laugh out loud, it’s pretty good. Another awesome movie to watch is Saving Mr. Banks. Oh my goodness, this movie was the best movie I have seen in a while. It was well directed, produced, casted, and was super genuine. No wonder why it was such a success. Another thing you could do is stay in bed all day and watch Netflix. Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone. I would consider that a success because you need to catch up on your TV shows.
CLEAN! Again, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is Marvin so weird?” Well, I don’t know how to answer that, I just am. You can clean your house and your room. Yesterday, I cleaned my room, and I’ve accumulated so much stuff since high school that I never organized. I recycled so much paper, and now, my room is immaculate. I’m only suggesting this because before you know it, it will pile up.
HANG OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS! So, this is probably the hardest one for me. Since leaving college, my relationships with my high school friends have been lost or disconnected. But I have those select few individuals I still talk to while I’m at school, and just being in their presence is awesome. I’ll be honest, I have more friends at Hope than I do home, and I’m 100% okay with that. All that matters to me is that I’m hanging out with the people I care about. Now, if you have a great group of friends at home, go. Go and hang out. Catch up over food, watch a movie, or just sit down and talk. Remember, time with your friends doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of your friendship.
I’m sure there are more things to do, but I just posted some ideas. I honestly can’t wait to be back at school, although this break has gone by so fast. But I have another post for you all later!
Here’s another post for you all, so you can stay updated on my life! As of this Saturday, December 28th, I have been on break for 16 days. And as of today, there are 9 days left of break. Holy cow this break has been flying by. Anyways, since my Christmas Break (Part 1) blog post, I’ve added on more activities, simply so I don’t get bored while being home! I’ve continued to snow blow my driveway simply because Mother Nature demands it. Here, look at how much snow Up North Michigan has gotten. Crazy.
I’ve also continued running and working out – but the ginormous amounts of food I consume just negate it, but at least I’m staying neutral, right!? And one more thing I continue to do is cleaning up around the house. My parents have been satisfied, so I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for that!
One of my best friends, Bailey, just came back from Ireland after spending an entire semester there! We went to this burger joint in Traverse City, MI called Bubba’s. Their burgers are to die for, and are reasonably priced, which helps a poor college student! Anyways, it was so great to listen to her experiences and catch up with her. Following our lunch, we went to her house to play Just Dance 4 on the Wii. Let me tell you, Just Dance is so much fun. I recommend it to anyone who likes to have fun!
I also visited one of my best high school friends, Eva. We always have a tradition in which we decorate Christmas cookies, and go shopping for Christmas presents for friends and family. It’s always a blast spending time with her. Here is a picture of us and our decorated cookies. We’re experts.
One of my childhood best friends finally came home a week ago, so I’ve been hanging out with him for a good amount of time. Mitch and I went last minute Christmas shopping for friends and family, and it was a great time. My other childhood best friend, Brett, also came home from the USAFA (United States Air Force Academy). Hearing all about his experiences was just so interesting. It was good to have these two guys back home. My childhood best friends, along with their brothers, watched Anchorman II: The Legend Continues. If you have watched the first one, and haven’t seen this one, I strongly recommend it. Will Ferrell never ceases to disappoint! This is a Christmas Break Must-Do!
Then, Christmas came along. I really enjoyed being with family and having a white Christmas! Some of my friends did not have a white Christmas, so I am really thankful! I didn’t get much for Christmas because I have everything I need! I just asked my parents to help pay for my trip to Vienna this summer 🙂
The day after Christmas, I went up to Boyne Mountain with some family friends for an annual skiing adventure! It was just amazing to say the least. I enjoy being outside in the beautiful winter weather downhill skiing. We also went ice skating at Boyne, which was a blast. I needed a refresher on skiing because it’s been two years, but it really didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it again! Below is a slideshow of my favorite pictures from Boyne!
Lastly, I met up with my BFFLAE (best friend for life and eternity) just last night! Don’t worry, we established BFFLAE in our pubescent years, and it just stuck! I haven’t seen her since August so it was SO GREAT to see her! Maddie goes to Michigan Tech, which is in Houghton, Michigan (AKA The Upper Peninsula). Again, we had so much catching up. It’s just so much fun to listen to her experiences at school!
So, in this edition of my Christmas Break post, I was just a tee bit busier catching up with my best friends as they came home from college. I hope to hang out with them before I return to school, because I won’t see them for a while! Thanks for reading, friends! There will be more to come later!!
Even my Christmas tree agrees: Hope is the perfect spot for me! Even though I’m 7 hours from home, when you find the right place for you, it becomes a home away from home. You may have heard the term “Home Sweet Hope,” and it couldn’t be more true. From the first time I stepped on campus, I knew Hope was the perfect place for me! Here’s a few reasons why I love Hope College:
This is simply a small portion of reasons why I love it here. If I were to list them all, you’d be watching a slideshow of pictures for hours! If you want to hear more about being at Hope and what it’s like to be a student, keep up with me @hopesophie17 or check out my blog. If you have any questions, comments, or just want more information, please feel free to comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Tomorrow, December 18th, 2013, marks my first week of being on break. And let me tell you this, it’s already going by too fast. My brain is still recovering from the extensive studying from finals week; all I need right now is doing nothing, Regardless, it feels so good to be on break. Although I haven’t done much, I’ve been pretty productive around the house, and thats good enough for me. Since last Thursday, my parents have got me doing chores and running errands. Is it weird that I kind of enjoy doing them? It’s probably because it burns up just the right amount of time; I’m neither bored or overwhelmed with things to do. Our house is clean (thanks to me), the driveway is clear of snow (thanks to me), and my parents are happy. When my parents are happy, it’s always a good day!
SIDE NOTE: I just looked up my final grades on KnowHope Plus, and boy am I satisfied. I made it through my Junior fall semester, and in good academic standing! Give yourself a pat on the back, MARV!
Since being home, I had the opportunity to watch 2 of my little bro’s basketball games. He goes to Traverse City Central High School, and is on the freshman team. He is over 6 feet tall, and is baller to say the least. That dude can jump, block, shoot, you name it.
Here’s a picture of us! It’s hard for me to believe that he’s taller than me. At times, I feel like I’m taller because I’m older, or that could be my denial kicking in. Nonetheless, I hope that I can watch more of his basketball games while I’m home. The school district here has just two more days left until their Christmas break, so maybe just one more!
One thing that I have been doing, so far, during break is running and working out. I am so THANKFUL that we have a “mini” gym in our basement, so I can lift and such. We also have a treadmill, which is awesome. So far, the weather has been awful up here, so I’ve been running on my treadmill. It can get quite mundane, but it’s better than sitting around. Tomorrow, I’m planning to run outside; it would be my first winter run! I’m nervous, but I’ll take a picture for all of you!
That’s week 1 at a glance, friends! I will DEFINITELY post something again before this week ends. For you Hope students reading this, I hope your break is nice and relaxing; we deserve it! For those of you still in school, stick it out! There are only two more days left until break! By the way, here is a shout-out to all of the admitted students for the CLASS OF 2018! You all rock, and you made a GREAT decision by applying to Hope! If you haven’t already, follow me on twitter!
Before I leave, I just wanted to share one more tidbit. As Christmas approaches, we tend to get stuck in our “materialistic” ways, with buying presents, and shopping for ourselves. I am totally guilty of this. It is important for us to remember the reason for the season. Let’s put CHRIST back into CHRISTMAS, ok? Alright everyone, thanks for reading!
There are few things about traveling home that are “easy” being an out-of-state student. But is it worth it?
Up until about 7 PM on Tuesday, my family was planning to make the 7-hour trip to Michigan to come and pick me up to being Christmas break. Then, with all the crazy weather happening up here in the Holland area, my mom called me up and said they wouldn’t be able to make it due to the snow. In which case, she booked me a flight from Grand Rapids to travel home today!
I re-packed my belongings into airport-friendly bags (I had previously packed half of my stuff into a clothing hamper!) and adapted my schedule a little bit to ride with my friend Mallory to the airport, because she was headed toward Grand Rapids today as well! I’m so thankful to have such great friends here at Hope. They’re always there when I need them.
Here I am, hanging out in the GR airport for a couple hours before my flight. Here’s some advice for out-of-state students (or anyone, really!) when travel plans change and you have to adapt quickly:
1. Don’t Stress.
Spur-of-the-moment plan changes seem a little stressful (especially during finals week!), but have no fear. Number one, remember that God has you in His hands and He is watching over you. Number two, remember that things are never as bad as they seem. 🙂
2. Send boxes home.
I went to the Bookstore, and they were generous to give me a GIANT box (for free!) so that I could pack some of my clothing and extra stuff I couldn’t fit into my duffel bag. I mailed that home from the mail room in DeWitt (the funniest part was that the box was so wide, it hardly fit through the mail room window… that was pretty hilarious) so that I could send some of my puffy stuff — like my ski coat and favorite blanket — so that I would have it over Christmas break.
2. Roll your clothes.
If you fold your clothes and then roll them (beach towel style), it saves a TON of space in a suitcase! My friend mentioned that to me as I was packing and it was unbelievable how much more I could pack.
4. Stay in contact with your parents.
Especially when the weather is bad, be sure to send them a call/text as you hit each “checkpoint” — such as a gas station, airport, or other location — to ensure that you’re safe and sound. The last thing you want them to do is to worry!
Overall, just remember to be flexible and embrace anything that comes your way. It’s important to remember that your worries are nothing in comparison to the amazing plan God has for you!
Safe travels over the holiday season, and best wishes! Enjoy this time with your family — it is the most wonderful time of the year!
Keep up with me @hopesophie17 or send me an email at email@example.com.
I can’t believe that my semester ends tomorrow. Well, I actually can. As my friend put it, the days drag on, but the weeks just fly by! My fifth semester of college has been nothing but a learning experience and fun. I learned more about God, myself, my relationship with Him, my friends, and my relationships with them. Obviously, I learned more about nursing, but I also had a fun semester on top of academia! I kept busy by being involved, working, and just doing school. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst semester and 10 being the best semester, I would give this semester an 8! That’s pretty good! I just want to share my top moments with you this semester!
When I learned that I was accepted to be a student blogger, I was nothing but excited. I love sharing my experiences with others, and I enjoy the effect that it can have on people. I hope (no pun intended) that my blog has nothing but an inspiration to you all who read it! I can’t wait to continue to blog next semester, but don’t worry. I’ll blog during break so you can keep up!
This semester, I started my nursing practicums. Now that I have started them, I am in it for the long run! Being in the hospital setting was great affirmation for me because I know this is what I wanted to do, and I LOVE IT. I am happy God put me on the nursing track. Along with my practicums, I had many opportunities to be involved within the program itself. I became a nursing TA for one of my favorite classes. I cannot wait to continue on with that as well!
OUR NEW PRESIDENT
Our college inaugurated the our 12th president! It was so cool to be a part of this experience, and it was definitely a historic event. I mean, when is the next time we will get a new president? In like, 10-15 years? You never know! Just being a part of this transition was awesome. On top of his inauguration, his involvement within the student body has been nothing but wonderful. On several occasions, he opened his patio for students to eat cookies, nachos, salsa, and drink punch. I mean, how cool is that!? And we also had the opportunity to talk with him and Mrs. Knapp! This college is simply UNIQUE!
Although I am Odd Year, The Pull was a pretty historic event for the Even Year, and I congratulate them! The Pull is always intense and awesome. One of my fellow nursing majors and friend was the pull rep for the Odd Year, so it was cool to ask him all about it! On the other hand, Odd Year won Nykerk, which was awesome. Hope traditions are seriously the best because there is so much student involvement in them. Not all schools has this!
I also had the awesome opportunity to serve on SAC (Student Activies Committee). As a core member, I had the opportunity to plan events for campus, which was a bunch of fun! Some big events include the Chicago Trip, and I planned that! SAC has been such a great experience. I was challenged as in individual, but I also grew, made new relationships, and gained new skills! For next year, I am a SAC DIRECTOR! I learned about this news just yesterday! I am so stoked to serve as a director for our campus next year! Expect awesome things, everyone!
In October, I had the opportunity to visit Hannah’s hometown of Green Lake. Hannah is one of my best friends, so it was just even more fun! This was the first time I have ever been to Wisconsin, and my priority was eating fried cheese. Did it happen? OF COURSE! And while in Wisconsin, Hannah and I met Bucky The Badger. How cool!?
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN ADVENTURE
On October 19th, my best friend Joey and I trekked to Ann Arbor for the weekend to watch a Michigan football game. This was an opportunity of a lifetime, and it was definitely on my bucket list. I am SO glad it is now checked off. We watched The Indiana Hoosiers play The Wolverines, and it was a great game to go to because MICHIGAN WON! If you have the opportunity to go to a big school to watch a football game, I recommend it.
This is always a highlight of any fall semester. There is just so much fun during the Hoedown, especially if you are with all of your awesome friends. My favorite part was eating the fall inspired food, and line dancing. It’s always a blast! Here is a picture!
FIRST ANNUAL TREE LIGHTING
This was something to put down for the books. President Knapp, his family, and Hope College started a new tradition of lighting a Christmas tree. It was SO cold at this event, but how could you miss it!? It was the first one, EVER. And now, I can say that, “Oh! I was at the first tree lighting 50 years ago!” when I’m older. But here is a picture!
LAS VEGAS THANKSGIVING TRIP!
For Thanksgiving Break this year, I had the opportunity to go visit and sightsee Las Vegas. It was so awesome!!! We saw shows like The Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. We also went to all of the famous hotels, and toured around. We also went to The Hoover Dam and ate a lot of Filipino food. This is definitely a trip I will not forget!
Every year, Ballet Club puts on a ballet entitled, “The Nutcracker.” It is really famous, and is a classic ballet for the winter time. I performed the role of BOTH the Nutcracker and the Cavalier. Can you say exhausting, but fun!? My friends and family came and saw me perform. It truly was a blessing to have them in the audience. Here is a picture of my mom, brother, and me!
Really early in the semester, I applied for the Vienna May Term. Then as the semester was winding down, I decided I wanted to spend both May and June in Vienna. SO, I ended up applying for both. Just last week, I was informed I was accepted to both terms, received my first choice for classes, and RECEIVED A SCHOLARSHIP! So I am definitely going. This is just a picture of what I’ll be seeing so soon!
WOW! A lot happened this semester. Writing about it was some good reminiscing. Now, just one exam and one day separates me from Christmas Break! I am so ready to be home with family and friends! I hope you all had great semester (for those of you on the semester system) and I hope you all had a great 1st trimester/part of your 2nd trimester (for those of you in the trimester system)! Stay updated with my break posts by following me on Twitter! God Bless everyone!