Tricks and Treats

As feelings of fall continue to descend on Villanova’s campus, the list of possible activities lengthens. You can carve pumpkins, pick apples, enjoy a Villanova football game and place the final touches on your Halloween costume. The weather cools, the sun sets earlier and you can’t help but want to go out and do something new. Near Villanova, there are plenty of new activities to partake in when the weather changes. So hop in your car or call an Uber and head over to four of the best places to visit near Villanova.

Linvilla Orchards, Media – Just 20 minutes from Villanova’s campus is Linvilla Orchards. This past weekend, members of my sorority and I had a great time catching up after a busy fall break with pumpkin picking, hayrides and a lot of apple cider donuts. It was a great way to take advantage of a warm Saturday and get off campus. I love getting to go to Linvilla every fall since my freshman year.In doing so, you can really see just how beautiful a Pennsylvania autumn can be.  https://www.linvilla.com/

22549769_1407186856046420_8715444847879851163_n.jpg
Had a great time visiting Linvilla this October!

Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour, Philadelphia – Ever wanted to learn more about our nation’s first capital? Explore the city of Philadelphia with a twist. Visit some of Philadelphia’s most historic and spookiest sites, including the Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery and the Second Bank of the United States. For Villanova students, it’s only a train ride away. I would love to look at the city of Philadelphia from a completely different perspective. Once again, my love of history might entice me enough to take the risk and get a good scare. http://www.spiritsof76.com/

Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia – I’m not a big fan of scary things, but if you are, Eastern State Penitentiary would be right up your alley. “Terror Behind the Walls” tours throughout the month of October take you through six haunted attractions designed within the Philadelphia prison. Even if haunted houses aren’t your favorite, the penitentiary has tours almost every day, featuring exhibits on the history of the prisons, and even an exclusive look at Al Capone’s cell during his one-year sentence. https://www.easternstate.org/halloween/

BT03-reduced.jpg
Al Capone’s cell in Eastern State Penitentiary 

Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, Glen Mills  – One of the top rated haunted attractions in America, the Haunted Hayride at Arasapha Farm has over 25 scenes ranging from ancient churches to creepy caves. A fan of the famous Bates Motel? Transport yourself into their world of haunted pictures, creaky floors and echoing screams – if you dare. http://thebatesmotel.com/

With fall comes change, and with change comes the inspiration to do new things. I love Villanova, but sometimes it’s nice to get in the car and explore someplace new. For me, it’s taking a chance and walking into a terrifying haunted house, but for you, it could be something completely different. We can hesitate when it comes to change, but I’m looking forward to all the great things that autumn has to offer. As the second half of the semester kicks into gear, it’s important to take a break, go on an adventure and ultimately see what tricks or treats lie ahead.

 

Studying (And Traveling) Abroad: Learning About Europe, And Myself

Cheap airline flights. Long train rides. Overnight bus rides. Random layovers. Inconvenient arrival times. Why is it that abroad students are so willing to bend over backwards to make such travel arrangements?

Well, namely to stretch the dollar – or, in my case, the Danish krone. The cheapest flights are also the ones that charge you for a carry-on and to drink water on board. They’re the ones your parents would never think of flying, but are the ones we rely on to get from city A to city B. Not many people would want to take an 11-hour bus ride overnight to Munich if there is an option to fly, but when you’re a college student, you do.

The other reason we do this is because we don’t know when else we will be able to. When students look past graduation, there are a lot of question marks. Where will I live? Where do I work? Am I surrounded by friends from college? How often will I see my family? All of this uncertainty makes us fairly certain about one fact: Being abroad is a time to travel. We will be in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia or Australia for a fixed number of days, and we will end up filling this time with memories of new cultures and new experiences.

Before I left America for Denmark, I blindly signed up for a trip to hike and rock climb in southern Sweden. I had never been to Sweden before, and I thought that if there was a time to go, it was now. And as the trip came closer and closer, I began to wonder why I spent so much money going to a random destination when I saw pictures of my friends going to places like London, Barcelona or Paris.

But, with the trip already paid for, I figured I shouldn’t be going into it with a negative attitude. And, being from California, I am open about the fact that I have high expectations when it comes to hiking. I miss the redwoods being next to the ocean, and I miss the fact that there were trails 10 minutes from my high school.

But when I got to Sweden, I could safely say these were some of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen on a hike.

22049891_10155618400596702_6026568562629572994_nAlongside three of my favorite Villanovans, I was able to explore a part of the world I never envisioned seeing. I saw beautiful pale pink cliffs against a dramatic blue coast. I saw pebble-lined beaches with the clearest water. I saw deep green hills studded with Swedish sheep.

If you asked me a year ago, I would never have known I would spend a weekend in Kullaberg National Park, Sweden. I would never have envisioned myself rappelling down the side of a cliff. And, no matter how much I miss Villanova or California, I know this is the time to explore more. To explore new cities and countrysides, yes, but also for exploration of my own growth and for the development of new friendships. Planning trips with new friends has given me an appreciation for exploration and excitement, one that I hadn’t necessarily had before embarking on this journey in Denmark.

22089216_10155618400206702_6254975837997917276_nAs I write this on a train from Hamburg, Germany, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, it is not lost on me how fortunate we “abroad kids” are. Many college students don’t have the resources to have such eye-opening experiences. That is why it is so important that we appreciate travel for what it teaches us, as opposed to looking at our travels as a list of accomplishments.

22519538_10155662789501702_5524107813148865955_n

The ability to travel is surely a blessing. It allows us, as students, to have a more developed sense of self and place in our communities. It allows us to see history, society and politics from different perspectives, contributing to our overarching human education.

22549922_10155662789191702_3276423758989853776_n

Do Something Nice Day – Everyday?

During the first week of my first year, I distinctly remember walking from the South Campus dining hall back to my residence hall, Good Counsel. This was probably one of the residence halls that had the shortest walks to the dining hall, and I don’t even want to do the math of how many times I did that walk. Hundreds upon hundreds. So what was different about this one walk?

 

Well, as I turned the corner to go to the main door, I saw someone was walking in ahead of me. This person stopped, turned around to see if anyone was coming in, and then waited. We made eye contact, and I thought, why is he waiting there? I looked down to see if he’d dropped something. He continued to prop the door open, and then I thought, is he waiting for me? I proceeded to physically turn around to see if one of his friends was behind me, but there wasn’t. Once I got to the door he smiled, and I thanked him, and he said, “No problem.” I definitely had a confused look on my face, because I have literally never had anyone hold the door for me that long.

unnamed

Obviously people have held doors for me, but in a more reasonable way – when I was getting out of a car or when I was right behind someone walking into a restaurant. It wasn’t a foreign concept to me, but rather the sheer amount of time that someone would wait to do something like that is what shocked me. That someone would take the time to wait, and to have the awareness to look around to.

 

I, however, learned that I should grow accustomed to this. I have literally never known so many young people to hold pretty much every door open for others. I don’t know what it is about Villanova, but I have had my door held for me more times than I can count in any given day. And, if you’re a student, I’m sure you can attest to this – people will hold your door if you’re in their eyesight. Sometimes I have legitimately felt so badly about having people wait for me that I walk faster just to relieve them of their duty, so that I can take up the post to hold the door for someone else.

 

When we’re on our commutes to work or class, it is easy to plug in and zone everything else out. I think it really says something about the students at Villanova that even if we have headphones in and are in our own world, we still are conscientious enough to look around and see if we can do something small for each other.

1494611334126

So, I hope Do Something Nice Day reminds us to be the best versions of ourselves. That we remember what it feels like when someone gives us a genuine “thank you” or a big smile. To feel that our kindness and genuine care for others has a real impact on our communities. I’ve learned that Do Something Nice Day at Villanova is not a holiday, but everyday. I’ve learned from others in the Villanova community to truly care about the people around us. These actions of kindness do not only help individuals on a day-to-day basis, but also help to foster a community of encouragement and support – a community that I am proud to be a part of.