A Thanksgiving Abroad

I maintain that Thanksgiving is one of the most underrated holidays. You either like the food, or you don’t. (Hopefully you do!) There are no gifts. That’s a big one for a lot of people. You almost always see extended family and receive some overly personal questions about school or work or social life. It starts at “What’s your major?” and evolves into “So why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

(Because I haven’t found the right guy, okay?)

Yet being in Europe for this Thanksgiving, I realize just how much I’m missing out on. For starters, I’m missing out on Thanksgiving as a holiday. It’s a harsh fact of life that Europeans don’t get a day off to spend time with their families and eat delicious classics like turkey and pie. Their founders didn’t sit down with Native Americans for dinner.

Thus, there was no delay in full-fledged Christmas mode here in Copenhagen. After Halloween, the city set up Christmas lights over the main pedestrian streets. Christmas stalls were set up to sell everything from hot chocolate to gifts. Stores redecorated to incorporate wreaths and signs that read “God Jul,” which means “Merry Christmas” in Danish. All of this would be severely upsetting to my mother, because she has very strong feelings about not putting up Christmas lights before Thanksgiving.

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What I really miss about Thanksgiving at home are the things I didn’t know I’d be missing. I miss football. Football! I’m not a huge football fan, but there is something about watching NFL games in my family room over Thanksgiving break that makes it really feel like Thanksgiving.

I miss the low-level stress my family has around our Thanksgiving meal. I miss debating over our division of labor, who has mashed potatoes and who has Brussels sprouts. I miss making the pecan pie from what I thought was grandma’s recipe. (I was recently informed that that recipe is actually from a random person my dad met at a Thanksgiving meal he had with his friends in Washington, DC right after he graduated college.)

Although that doesn’t tell the beautiful grandmother-granddaughter story that I believed for 20 years, I think it still has good wisdom in it. There is someone out there that had dinner with my dad 30-plus years ago, when a group of recent college graduates from out of town decided to make Thanksgiving together. I don’t know who you are (on the off chance you read this), but thanks for giving me the best pecan pie recipe in the world. I make it every year. I hope your family makes it, too.

I even (very minimally) miss having to clean up with my siblings. Although it can be a very high-stress environment, there is always music and a lot of laughs. Hopefully my mom doesn’t see this, though. I might be on dish duty more frequently.

What I miss the most about Thanksgiving is the comfort. It’s the ease with which I can talk to my family and really, truly feel at home. When they say there’s no place like home, that’s no joke. It’s true, and it’s never been truer around the holidays. I’m blessed to be able to have such a wonderful meal every year. I’m blessed to have a family I love, and a family that can see each other on these holidays.

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You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. So, if you’re dreading going home for Thanksgiving because you’re going to see that random aunt from forever ago, I challenge you to embrace it. Embrace the moments you have where your house is warm and full of love, because those are the most important ones. Embrace the awkward conversations, because it’ll make for good inside jokes with your sister next year. Embrace helping out in the kitchen, because it might lead you to having a really funny and really genuine conversation with your dad.

Embrace your comfort.

If I had an Extra Hour…

If I were given an extra hour in the day, what would I do? As a college student, my initial reaction would be to jokingly say I’d get that extra hour of sleep or look over my vocabulary terms again.

On the other hand, I could really take the time to think: What’s the most important to me? When the schedule of a college student appears overwhelming, it’s easy to focus on the negative. I would love an extra hour to practice my biology presentation again. I would love to have an extension on an assignment or meeting with a professor.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I’d try cooking a new recipe with all three of my roommates. We’d all sit down and eat together, something we don’t always get to do. I love getting to take the time to spend time with all three of my best friends together. It makes living in an apartment that much more exciting.   

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I’ve known Kaitlyn since our freshman year of high school.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would FaceTime with one of my best friends from home. I’d take the time to catch up on everything we’ve missed since she moved to Massachusetts. I’d remember to stay close to the people at home who have always been there for me.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would leave my phone in my backpack during a coffee break with friends. I’d tell myself to answer those emails later. I’d give my friends my full attention.

In between my afternoon classes, I would venture off campus for a new place to find lunch. I’d bring my friends along. I’d even invite those who I haven’t gotten to see as often this semester.

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Sabrina’s has become one of my favorite restaurants near campus. 

I would choose a book to read that’s outside of my assigned coursework. I’d pick my favorite book from high school and read it again. I’d take my friend’s recommendations and select something new.

What’s funny is that I can’t give myself a 25th hour of every day, but I can take these ideas and make them more of a priority. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where I thought this writing would go. College students crave that extra hour of sleep, that extra hour to review, or that extra hour to spend with somebody important to them.

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Thankful for the friends I’ve made at Villanova like Charlotte.

My time at Villanova has certainly had its ups and downs, but if I look on the bright side, I see that I still have so much time. I’m sure everyone would appreciate more time to do what they love and accomplish their goals, but I find that having less of it makes it that much more valuable.  

It’s important to take advantage of the time I’m given at Villanova, but it’s also essential to take a break every once in awhile.  In the three years I’ve been at Villanova, I’ve learned more about myself that I ever imagined. I’m learning how to be a more independent person. I’m learning how to paint my own definition of success, and I’m learning how to manage my busy schedule. All in all, I hope the remainder of this semester runs as smoothly as it possibly can in order to make the hours count and the memories within them even greater.

Taking Action For Job Action

Jobs. Internships. Professional development. Networking.

These are all things we worry about, even before we reach our first years of college. Even when I was in high school, I had to check boxes on college applications regarding what I wanted my major to be, a decision that at the time seemed to be momentous. What was I good at? What did I want to do?

In my case, I knew I didn’t want to do anything involving math or science. I wasn’t particularly bad at these subjects, but man, I did not enjoy them. I knew I liked my English and history courses, but I couldn’t see myself pursuing anything seriously in one of those fields. So, like many 17 year olds, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

And, in high school, a lot of people told me that it was, in fact, fine that I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. Many adults I knew joked about how they still weren’t even close to knowing what they wanted to do – or, that they thought they did and very quickly realized it was the wrong path.

But, more and more, I found that not knowing what you want to do seemed less and less acceptable. It was fine in high school, and maybe fine in my first year, but by sophomore year it seemed like I should know. And I wanted to! But I didn’t know where to start. I knew that I liked people and writing, but not much beyond that. I felt that my friends were inching closer to what they saw as a realistic future for themselves, and I was still stuck in that in between feeling of knowing I had potential, but not knowing where to direct it.

In my sophomore year, I finally declared to be a Communication major – something, I thought, that could be applied to a wide variety of professions. And, after all, I knew I loved communicating. Verbal or written, I think it is fascinating how we as humans experience communication. I find it interesting to look at communication in a non-linear way, as a study and profession that constantly evolves and expands. The more classes I took with the passionate professors in the Communication Department, the more I found my own passion for this field of study.

Finally, at the end of sophomore year, my wonderful friend Sydney invited me to be a part of the Odyssey at Villanova. This online platform gives students across the country an outlet to share thoughts about anything from pop culture to the political climate. Not thinking anything of it, I joined to help out my friend. I wrote a few articles and realized I actually enjoyed writing about my own observations or experiences. I thought of it as a hobby or an outlet, not necessarily a life move.

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Sydney, the wonderful woman who inspired me to write!

 

Much to my surprise (and pleasure), I was then approached to write for this wonderful Villanova Admissions blog over the summer. Justin Ledesma, who coordinates this awesome blog, said that he saw some of my articles on the Odyssey and thought I would be a good fit for the student blogger position. I remember reading this email from Justin, almost shocked it was intended for me. I always just enjoyed writing, I didn’t actually think I was good at it.

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But, here I am now, writing for the Villanova Admissions blog. Was this a strategic move for my professional development? Not necessarily. I just told a friend I’d help her out. Fortunately, someone saw some talent in my writing, and it led me to this wonderful opportunity. Perhaps job action is just about taking action – action over our lives, our goals and our talents. This furthering of our careers is intertwined with furthering ourselves as people.

Sometimes, especially as students, we think of professional development in such rigid terms. We think of networking events, business cards and suits. And yes, that is a crucial part of it. But another major factor is figuring out what you actually want to do in the bigger scheme. Part of our professional development is our human development – taking leadership roles, writing in our free time, volunteering more – not because it will help our resumes, but because it will help us.

So, take a step in the right direction and take a chance. You might not know it will bring you closer to your calling, but it’s worth a shot.

 

Early Application Submitted? What to Do While You Wait.

Hello Early Applicants!

It’s November 5, a few days after our November 1 deadline, and you may be wondering “What I should be doing next or did everything I send arrive properly at Villanova?” A great way to check is to access the application checklist via your Applicant Status Page.

Here is an example of what you might see:

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As seen in this screenshot, you can see what items have been entered into our system and which ones we may still be waiting for. Documents sent through Naviance will update within 24 hours.  Items sent through mail or email will be registered within one week. Also, when it comes to Teacher Letters of Recommendation (only one is required), the checklist will not specify the sender of the letter.

If you are still missing the Villanova Essay or your Report Card/Senior Progress Report you may add current grades (first quarter/first marking period/grades in progress/etc.) directly to your application by selecting the Upload option (please see below) . Please do this by December 1.

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Hope this helps! Now that your application is in, please take the time to focus on and enjoy your senior year!

Justin Ledesma
Senior Assistant Director