In the Midst of Finals…

It’s that time of year again! I’m scheduling club meetings, group project meetings, coffee breaks and study sessions, all while carrying my laptop and checking every email and notification I receive while also editing one of many papers.

What’s all the chaos, you ask? It’s finals week!

While I can’t necessarily speak on behalf of other colleges and universities, I feel confident in saying that no matter where you are, finals week is difficult. It’s a combined feeling of excitement for the summer and stress over looming assignments. It’s knowing you’re that much closer to being at home or at your exciting internship while frantically memorizing definitions on your flashcards. It’s daydreaming about a nice home-cooked meal while waiting in line for your third coffee in one day. It’s stressful, but it has to happen.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about finals week as I finished my third semester’s worth of exams. Now, after another three semesters, I see junior year coming to a close, as final presentations and exams begin this week. In six semesters I’ve learned that the ironic thing about finals week is that while this is my sixth time going through them, for some reason I never feel fully prepared. I’ve gone to office hours. I’ve asked important questions. I’ve created study guides and rehearsed presentations. What else is there to do?

I can’t sit down and act like it isn’t overwhelming. I can’t pretend that these finals just don’t exist.

For me, it’s about taking the time to understand that I’m doing the best that I can, and I hope that other students, no matter how old they are or what school they attend, are doing the same thing.

Everyone’s way of experiencing finals week and coping with the various stresses of it are different. There’s no perfect formula for figuring out how to handle it. For me, at least, it’s about taking the time to know that I am doing all that I can.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what path this blog post would take me down, but then again, do we ever know? For me, it’s about taking a chunk of time out of this already hectic schedule and looking at something at positively as possible.

To those of you experiencing the highs and lows of finals week like I am, I wish you the best of luck. Work hard. Get some sleep and remember that it will all be over soon, and as my mom likes to remind me sometimes, “You know more than you think you do.”

For those of you who aren’t in the midst of finals, but still could use some positive reinforcement, know this. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do. It’s incredible cliché, and I regret writing it to be honest, but clichés are often based in truth. When we face stressful situations, no matter what category they fall under, the easiest reaction can be to give up or run away.

If anything, I hope that reading this, no matter what your individual circumstances are, you remember to look on the bright side, or as I like to say, “Keep your face toward the sunshine.” Finals aren’t easy! There are a lot of things in life that are difficult. I hope that whatever you’re dealing with at this time, you remember to take a second, breathe and realize you can do it. Make yourself proud before you make somebody else proud. Study hard, stay strong and know that something greater has yet to come.

A Conversation with President Fr. Peter Donohue

What makes a great leader? It’s a question I’m sure most people are asked at least once in their life, but it seems to be something that remains difficult to answer. Is it the charisma? The credentials? The ability to work well with others? The ability to represent a larger body of people? What does it take?

A few weeks ago, Jane and I had the privilege of sitting down with the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, the president of Villanova University. Serving since 2006 as the 32nd university president, Father Peter has become an iconic member of Villanova’s campus. Whether he is speaking at university events, sitting on the sidelines in Pittsburgh, Boston and San Antonio or recently traveling to Rome to meet Pope Francis, Fr. Peter leads Villanova with enthusiasm, intelligence and personality.

I’ll be honest, I was genuinely nervous for this conversation. Would he be receptive of our desire to introduce him to prospective families? Would he be willing to answer the questions we painstakingly prepared? How would he react to our ideas? From his love of theatre to his goals for our university’s future, our chat with Father Peter was insightful, exciting and certainly something to remember.

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Molly: Other University Presidents are not necessarily as approachable as you are… why do you think that is?

Fr. Peter: First of all, I don’t know if that’s true! When I was first asked to do this job, or when I was asked to put my name in to be considered I guess I should say, I was involved in the life of the students. I lived in a residence hall, I was the Chair of the Theatre Department, I was teaching three classes a semester, so I was very engaged. I went to Mass every week with campus ministry. I was very involved with the students, and I didn’t want to give that up. I felt that being the President you would have to give that up, and a very good friend of mine said “you can do whatever you want, you’re the President.” And, over the years, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. But I really try to make a concerted effort to be known, that people know who I am and what I do, and when I’m around and not around. And when I am around, I’m available to people. So, it’s genuinely me wanting to stay in touch with what’s happening with the student body. That’s my biggest desire.

Jane: What skills do you think it requires to be an efficient University president?

Fr. Peter: Efficient or effective? I guess I would say there’s a difference.

Molly: Effective.

Fr. Peter: Okay, well effective. I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you need to be a good listener. I think that’s true for any leader, for anyone who is given the responsibility of leading an organization or a group of people. You have to know what people are thinking, where they are, what their struggles are, what their joys are, what works for them and what doesn’t work for them – if you’re not willing to listen to them, and you’re only willing to talk to them all the time, telling them where to go and what to do, then you’re really not helping them grow as people, as individuals. In terms of being University President, being an effective listener helps me to be an effective leader, because then I can better understand what the needs of the University are.

Jane: I know a lot of times people say “Father Peter, well he’s the President of Villanova.” So, what do you think is something you’d want people to know about you outside of the fact that you’re the President here?

unnamed-1Fr. Peter: I think one of the big things that I’ve been engaged with for a long time, and what I miss the most, is my involvement with the Theatre Department. And I miss teaching a lot. It wouldn’t  be easy to be in this role and be a teacher, because I’d be missing class a lot. The students might not mind, but I’d always have to be away. Tomorrow, for example, I have to go to Pittsburgh –  I couldn’t do those types of things if I was teaching. That’s something I really miss. Something else… I love movies, I love watching movies. Big movie fanatic. I don’t go to the movie theatre anymore, but I watch them all online. All those miles I go on planes, I’m always watching a movie. That really helps me pass the time. Those are the big ones.

Molly: What did you teach?

Fr. Peter: I taught acting – it was called “The Theatrical Experience” – what goes into putting on a theatre production. It was really fun. I also taught Dramaturgy, which was a graduate course, and musical theatre.

Jane: What do you think makes Villanova different from other universities?

Fr. Peter: That’s always a hard one. I guess people say it’s different because the experience is different. I mean it always sounds like we’re a little full of ourselves. Like we’re different from everyone else; we’re a little better than everyone else… but what makes Villanova special to me, is the people that are here. I think we have an incredible group of students – we have students that really care about each other. There is a real sense of community that is found here. In my travels, I frequently interact with alumni that are married to non-Villanova alumni, and the non-Villanova spouse always says, “I don’t know what’s in the water there, but there’s something about the Villanova people because all of our friends are Villanova people, the godparents of our kids are Villanova people, my husband or wife has kept in touch with all these people over the years and I haven’t done that with the people I went to college with.” I don’t know what it is, I don’t think I can put my finger on it sometimes, but I think people really do care about one another here. I just had an email from the director of this project in North Carolina. A group of Villanova students from LEVEL went down for the week for Spring Break and did service down there. She wrote this extensive email about how wonderful the students were and how much the program and the students in the program taught her, and her staff, about how to be more caring people. And that was just through interacting with them. She said they were dramatically changed by that Villanova group just being here.

Molly: Villanova has been going through a lot of change. Whether it’s being recognized more academically, athletically, we have a lot of construction on campus – we’ve transitioned into a national university. What are goals you keep in mind when looking ahead for this national reputation?

Fr. Peter: Well, there’s very specific criteria from the organization that classifies you as a national university. The organization that does the classification comes in every five years or so and looks at certain criterion. They look at the size of classes, what’s the faculty/student ratio, how many classes do you have under 20 students, how many do you have over 20 – it makes a difference for the ranking. How many doctoral candidates do you have, and how many are graduating. They look at the expanse of your academic programs, how you are increasing faculty-student research, what kinds of things are going on both inside the classroom and outside the classroom in terms of that research and scholarship. Those are the types of measurements they use so it’s important for us to keep the quality of our academic programs high. It’s not how large you are or how many nice buildings do you have. It’s all about academics and research, so we need to keep those strong.

Jane: How do you think the new construction plays into the vision?

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Fr. Peter: When doing research for the Strategic Plan, one of the big issues we noted was the lack of student housing. When I came on to this job, I had a big request from the local community that the University provide more housing options to bring more students back on to campus, particularly seniors. Many seniors that said if they had the option, they would come back on campus. When we created the campus master plan, the only places that we could technically build on, that had that much space, was the parking lot. There’s no way we could say we’re going to guarantee four years of housing, but we can certainly promise that if you want to live on campus, there can be options. Something we need to eliminate completely is tripling in freshman dorms. We need to get rid of that, because the buildings on South Campus weren’t built for that. They were built for two people and we’re squeezing a third person in there. That’s putting wear and tear on the buildings themselves, and it’s also putting wear and tear on the people that have to live in those rooms. And when those buildings were designed, people didn’t bring half the stuff they do now. All computers and stuff, it’s just a different place. Therefore, we have to eliminate the tripling.

The Performing Arts Center, that is the one missing piece of Villanova. There are numerous students on campus that participate in the performing arts – sing, dance, play instruments, do theatre – and Villanova has never had adequate space for that. We have Vasey Theatre, which is an old lecture hall that was converted into a Black Box Theatre. The student undergraduate groups, the club groups, perform in old classrooms or St. Mary’s Auditorium (which isn’t really a theatre). Dance groups are practicing in classrooms or hallways, the band is in the basement of St. Mary’s, the singing groups are having their concerts in CEER lecture halls. We’ve never really had anything dedicate to the arts even though we have more students that participate daily in the arts than we do varsity athletes. This building will give us three different performance venues and classroom space. It’s not the biggest space, but it’s a beginning. It’s something we’ve been missing.

Molly: What do you think is the most important lesson, or lessons, that students gain from an Augustinian tradition on campus?

Fr. Peter: I think the most obvious one is Augustine’s connection to friendship. He was really very positive about friendship and one of the hallmarks of creating community and hospitality and welcoming people into your world and realizing the power and presence that people have in your lives. I think students certainly benefit from that. I think it’s one of the most overused words on campus – or the two – friendship and community. Villanova community. Sometimes people say to me, it’s a “Villanova Family” – but, we’re not family. Family is something different. Being a community is something unique. As a community you have people of different backgrounds, ideas, and from different parts of the country, that come together and utilize what their experiences are to create something new and different. Every year, when we get new students, there is new energy and life and contributions to the community. The community continues to change and expand. A family unit is different – like this is the role you play in your family and that’s it. A sister is a sister, a brother is a brother, a mother is a mother, and a father is a father. For the rest of your life, that’s how you’re going to react. That’s not what a community is. At times, as each member of the community develops and grows, they have something new to contribute to it. So, it is a very common word around here, but it really is the essence of an Augustinian education.

unnamed-2Jane: In your position, how do you counteract some of the negative labels Villanova gets in regard to diversity?

Fr. Peter: A long time ago, it’s been 12 years now, in my inauguration address I said, “If Villanova doesn’t stop calling itself Vanilla-nova, it will always be that.” We adopted that language. It’s the same way that Villa-no-fun works – if we’re going to continue to say it ourselves, then that’s going to be our reputation. I think we’ve made some real advances in diversity. When I look at diversity though, I look at it as a much bigger picture. There are all kinds of diversity. For me, diversity is a whole rainbow of things. We have a lot more diversity on campus than people give us credit for, and that we give ourselves credit for. But, it’s always an evolving thing. I think our biggest diversity issue is not necessarily with students but in faculty and staff. I think we need to diversify faculty and staff more. People will come to a place where they see people like themselves, and they know people like themselves. So that means bringing faculty from all different parts of the world, from different parts of the country, not just from the East Coast.. We can definitely work on our sense of inclusion on campus. I think there are people on campus that feel sometimes very left out, and don’t feel like they’re part of this place. That’s a problem that we need to address, and need to continue to address. For me, diversity is an issue that needs to be continuously reevaluated. We need to work to ensure Villanova is a microcosm of the world. We want to have  people from different economic backgrounds, different geographic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, different faith backgrounds, and different experiences. It’s an issue that we continue to deal with and are trying to improve.

Molly: In terms of larger controversial issues going on outside of our University, what is your philosophy on making sure you’re doing what’s best for our university while acknowledging what’s happening elsewhere?

Fr. Peter: I think as a President of a University you have a particular platform you can use not only for the university you’re leading but also in terms of the public forum in some ways. I think that sometimes people look to me to put out statements, and that can be good and bad. Because then everything that comes down the road, they’ll want a statement about it. And I can’t make a statement about everything. When something happens, not only do I think about how it has impacted Villanova locally but also Villanova nationally and internationally. How has this impacted us? With the recent Florida shooting, there was a lot of talk about gun control and understand the need for it. I don’t think an 18-year-old necessarily needs to go in and be able to buy a semi-automatic rifle. Yes, people should be able to enjoy hunting, but you don’t need an assault weapon to go hunting. So why are we selling those things to citizens? There are a lot of issues like that. I did contact the Villanova community in Florida, saying we’re thinking of them and were thinking of them at Sunday masses on campus, and we had masses dedicated to the victims and their families. I think that was reassuring to them, but I don’t think I had to go out in the New York Times and say it. Because then is that about the Villanova community, or is that trying to bring attention to me? I don’t need to write an op-ed about Villanova people in Florida, but I do need to reassure people that we care about them. When it comes to bigger national issues, like the incident that took place regarding the election, it was something we felt the effects of on campus, so something needed to be said. Those are times I feel that I need to speak up. But I don’t feel the need to send out a message for every incident that occurs… I need to draw a line.

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I can guarantee that years after graduation, one of my most memorable moments at Villanova will be the opportunity I was given to sit down and speak with Father Peter. Three years ago, when I was anxiously deciding what university to attend, I would have loved to meet a president like Father Peter. I would love to have picked his brain on why Villanova was the right choice. He’s someone who is excited and honest. He’s passionate and friendly, but maintains the stoic and formal manner that we need in a successful president.

During my time at Villanova, I have learned to appreciate so many of the university’s resources and opportunities. That being said, it was not until I was given the chance to sit down with our fearless leader that I began to appreciate it more. Without leadership like Father Peter, our university would not be able to function as well as it does. Through his collaboration with faculty and staff, his interest in student life and desire to make a difference, Villanova is able to transcend into the modern world while maintaining the Augustinian values we cherish.

What makes a great leader? The charisma? The credentials? The cooperation? While these questions remain unsolved, I know that at Villanova, it’s about forming a university that can positively impact its students in a way that can influence the people we encounter now and in the future. For Father Peter, it’s the passion, the personality and the desire to allow Villanova to make a difference in people’s lives the way it has done so in my own. That is the kind of leadership I trust and that I hope to bring with me after graduation.

Finding Your Way Thanks to an RA

As your first year of college begins, you’ve got dozens of questions.

Which buildings are my classes held in? Where can I find the best food on campus? What clubs can I join?

The ever-growing cloud of questions hovers over your head, and it can be difficult to ask other nervous first-year students these questions. When I started here at Villanova, I remember worrying that I would be the only person who looked lost or messed up. I wished I could talk to somebody older than me, who had already learned the ropes of Villanova. Fortunately, I quickly was able to find that person in my resident assistant, or RA.

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My RA decorated each room with teacups!

During my first year, my RA did a great job of welcoming us all to the university. She constantly had her door open, and as the year went on, I loved getting to talk to her more. During sorority recruitment, she was eager to hear how the experience was going. If I locked myself out of my room, she easily swiped me in, and I even remember that our common passion for “American Horror Story” led to me watching it on Wednesday nights in her room with a few other friends.

RAs are a staple in any college residence hall, but it wasn’t until I became a Villanova student that I realized an RA is more of a friend than an authority figure. Of course, there are rules that every RA must follow, but I loved knowing that there was always somebody there who was willing to listen.

I was able to talk with not only my own RA, Eric, but one of my good friends, Katherine, who have both worked as RAs for two years. I think the fact that they were even interested in sharing that experiences really proves how dedicated and enthusiastic RAs can be at Villanova. Like me, Katherine and Eric had great experiences getting to know their own RAs during their first years, and it inspired them to want to give back and provide a comforting experience to new students in the future.

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Eric Robinson ’19

“Coming to college, you won’t know anyone, and it might be awkward at first. RAs who work with first-year students are really good at making the floor feel like a family. I saw how my RA was able to bring us all together and make my first year so wonderful. I really just wanted to pay it forward, and make others feel welcome in the residence halls.” – Eric Robinson ’19

RAs at Villanova love what they do. Having known Katherine since our first year, it’s been great to see her grow since becoming an RA. I think it’s helped her learn more about her residents as well as herself.

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Katherine Precourt ’19

“I made it my goal to be available and open to my residents. If they needed a cheerleader or a shoulder to cry on, a friend or an advisor, a sister or a confidant, I tried my best to be the support system that each of them needed. Additionally, it allowed me to recognize my passion for counseling, a career that I am currently pursuing today! Being an RA has blessed me with an incredible support system and wonderful friends, and has allowed me to become a more empathetic and conscientious leader within my community.” – Katherine Precourt ’19

I’ve found my RAs here at Villanova to be nothing but helpful. They’re supportive, friendly and eager to make your experiences here better. Without them, dorm life can seem a lot of intimidating than it actually is. Even as a junior now, it’s nice to know that someone is always ready to help. My roommates and I can all agree, when in doubt, ask Eric. It sounds funny, but it’s important to remember: RAs at Villanova want to be there for you. My RA made my first year much easier for me, and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so for many students to come.

Love and Villanova

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, you run into individuals with very different opinions of the holiday. For some, it’s a day to celebrate with their significant others. For others, like myself, it’s a chance to go out to dinner with the girls and pick out a rom-com to watch. I think Valentine’s Day has become a chance to celebrate love in your life, no matter what form it takes. At Villanova, I’ve formed some of my greatest relationships with roommates, friends, sorority sisters and fellow tour guides. I’ve found that I’m surrounded by love every day, often evidenced by something as simple as a phone call with my parents or when one of my roommates gives me advice.

Villanova has gifted a lot of people with relationships that have lasted long after graduation. One of my family friends, Rachael Ponge, graduated in 2011 from Villanova. This past December, she married TJ O’Donnell, who she met through mutual friends during their first weeks at school. They have since relocated to New York City, but more than 70 Villanova alumni attended their wedding in Syracuse, New York. One of her bridesmaids, Kate Wroblewski, got married just two weeks before to Ryan Verfurth, who also graduated from Villanova in 2011.

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TJ and Rachael O’Donnell got married in Rachael’s hometown of Syracuse!

One of my favorite aspects of Villanova is how genuine the friendships I have made here are. I think Kate and Rachael’s stories are no exception to this idea. Since graduation, Rachael and Kate’s friend group has been able to keep in touch, and their memories have managed to extend from exciting times as college students to memorable moments as working professionals. I got to talk with both Rachael and Kate, and they shared a lot about the awesome adventures their friend group has experienced since graduation. Not only did they talk about how grateful they were for the friendships they’ve made, but the education and experiences Villanova gave them as a university.

I think Villanova is special for everyone in different ways. For me, It was a great group of lifelong friends, a husband and the base for a great nursing career.” – Rachael Ponge O’Donnell ’11

Rachael and Kate’s friend group has managed to get together as often as they can, despite being spread out between New York, New Jersey and even Chicago. From getting together to watch Villanova win the 2016 NCAA Championship to rotating apartments for “Friendsgiving,” they’ve traveled as far as Las Vegas and Puerto Rico together.

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Ryan and Kate got married here at Villanova University!

“Villanova will always have a piece of my heart, not only because I got married there, but because I got to meet the most wonderful people and received an incredible education. I will always be thankful for the experiences I had at Villanova that have helped shaped who I am today.” – Kate Wroblewski Verfurth ’11

I actually got to know Kate through her younger brother, James, who was one of my first friends here at Villanova. It’s funny how making friends with one person can open doors for that many more opportunities. It’s been inspiring to talk to Rachael and Kate, seeing how Villanova has given them not only the great education of a well-respected university, but friendships and even relationships that have been genuine, long-lasting and fulfilling.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day this year, I might not have the same experiences as Rachael and Kate, but their stories just make me appreciate the people I have gotten to know at Villanova thus far. I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but the people I have met and the experiences I have had at Villanova lead me to believe that it couldn’t look any brighter. As another Valentine’s Day passes, I’m excited to see what life will be like next year, but until then, I’m happy spending the night with some great friends wondering what incredible adventures we’ll have after our graduation day has passed.

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Inside and Outside the Classroom

One of my biggest fears going into Villanova was that I wouldn’t be able to stand out in the classroom. At a small high school, I got to know all of my teachers easily. Every student was able to participate often, and I felt like I was able to really develop my own voice. As I headed to my first class of my first year, I was nervous that I wouldn’t feel as confident as I did in classes back home. To my surprise, however, my time in classrooms at Villanova quickly became just as engaging and comfortable as my time outside them.

As a student at Villanova, of course I am challenged to succeed, but I also feel encouraged to use the knowledge I write down in my notebooks and apply it to everyday experiences. My professors have enjoyed getting to know me, as well as other students. I feel that the professors and advisors I have worked with genuinely want me to succeed, both during class discussions and also in the field I hope to work in someday. My time at Villanova has allowed me to explore classes I may not have originally wanted to take, and many professors have not only made those classes easier to understand, but quite interesting as well.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a great place to visit.

Outside of the classroom, my professors at Villanova have supported and even organized trips to different areas of Philadelphia to see our PowerPoint lectures and discussions come to life. In my Augustine and Culture Seminar, a foundational course for all first-year students, we saw the words of Jane Austen come to life during a class trip to a local performance of “Sense and Sensibility.” My art history class recently visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I was able to study the characteristics of Medieval and Islamic art and locate examples of both throughout the exhibits.

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I loved my ACS class during my first year at Villanova! 

I remember introducing myself my first day of my first year, and immediately wondering if I would want to participate in each of my classes. While no two professors teach exactly the same way, I have learned that the best way to learn is to speak up. If you don’t understand, ask a question. If you have something to say, raise your hand. My time in Villanova classrooms have been rewarding in the sense that I have not only learned more about subjects like astronomy, the Italian language or news writing styles, but I have overall developed a new-found sense of confidence.

While not every day is perfect, and of course, assignments can be challenging, I appreciate my time spent inside and outside of Villanova’s classrooms. I’ve learned to explore subjects I once thought to be far too outside my comfort zone. I’ve met some of my best friends and greatest inspirations through my time at Villanova. I respect that everyone’s academic goals are different, and each professor has the choice to teach in a way that he or she sees best. In doing so, I try to find the positive aspects of each course and run with them. As I progress through my third year here at Villanova, I remind myself that I am very lucky to attend this university, and when that seems like a lot to handle, it’s the small moments that make it the most worth it. It’s seeing your professors and saying hello while waiting in line for coffee. It’s raising your hand and nailing a question you remembered from your reading. 

I may not remember the details of every course I take here at Villanova, but I will remember the great relationships, the enthusiasm and the successes I have taken away. With the help of knowledgeable professors, eager students and a variety of programs, I know I am walking away with an education derived from both equations and experiences alike.

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.

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/

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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/

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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.