Spring Break

For spring break I travelled with a friend to visit our other friend in New Jersey who graduated last year. We spent a few days hanging out with her and just lounging around her house before spending three days in New York City. We caught the train in every day which was perfectly fine by me as it was much cheaper than trying to find accommodation in the city, and I actually really like train travel. Plus it made me feel a lot less touristy for some reason – as if I actually lived in New Jersey and did that everyday rather than being the first-time in NYC tourist that I actually was. 12921084_10208884541741701_644262487_n (1)

For my first time in NYC we went to Times Square, the MET, spent a day walking around in SoHo and a day in Central Park. It’s such a huge city that trying to fit absolutely everything into just three days was physically impossible and I wanted to just enjoy myself. I definitely plan to travel back there in the not-to-distant future so I’m not super worried that I didn’t get to see all of the city.

We came back from New Jersey on Thursday night and I went in and worked for a few hours on friday (trying to earn back some of the money that I spent throughout the week) and then I just had a really cruisy weekend. The weather was absolute beautiful and I spent quite a bit of time just sitting out in the sun on the balcony of NV1.

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Overall it was a really well-balanced Spring break. A little bit of travel, a little bit of homey time (with out friend, she acted like our mom the whole time we were there and it was amazing), and a little bit of just down time back on campus preparing for the final six weeks of campus.

The fact there’s only six weeks left of summer completely bamboozles me! I can honestly say this semester that I have absolutely no idea where the time went. One thing I know for sure is that I definitely want to go back to New York. I feel totally cliche saying this but that place is amazing and I want to be there!

Making connections

Something I love about Allegheny is the number of opportunities that this college offers you; in particular the number of people you get to meet and the incredible opportunities to form connections and sometimes even friendships.

One example of this was the “Welcome the Stranger” journalism conference that Allegheny hosted a few weeks back. Students from Ohio State, Edinboro, Point Park and the University of Mississippi all came to the college for the weekend, as well as a handful of professional and in some cases award winning journalists.

The weekend kicked off with an opening reception at Voodoo which was a really neat chance to get to meet all of the people attending the conference. It provided a casual environment to make first introductions and be able to informally talk to a lot of the different people here for the weekend. The conference itself went over two days – Friday and Saturday. I didn’t take part in the actual conference as I couldn’t afford to miss any class and I had an appointment with my doctor on that Saturday morning. I did however attend the reception and I offered to host two of the visiting students.

I really enjoyed this. I was sad that I couldn’t take part in the conference itself, but hosting two students meant that I was still able to stay connected to the overall experience. It also gave me the opportunity to form some great connections, some of which tuned into great friendships.

I hosted one woman from Ohio State and one from the University of Mississippi. There were four or so students from Mississippi in total and because I was hosting I was able to hang out with all of them socially. We actually became pretty good friends over the space of the weekend, and as they left the insisted that I absolutely have to come and visit them in Mississippi.

I think that’s pretty awesome. Now, because of this one weekend, I can say that I have friends in Mississippi and if I could get myself organized enough to actually do it, I would definitely feel comfortable enough to take them up on their offer and go and stay with them.

I just think this conference and weekend is such a great example of the amazing opportunities that Allegheny offers and is another reminder of exactly why I chose to came here.

International Wing Open House

This was a super cool event we hosted in the International building the weekend before Spring break. It was run by the Phi Sigma Iota the language honors society. Each house was allocated a certain budget and we had to provide some traditional food and an activity for people to do.

The food from all of the different language houses was set out in the lobby and each house opened it doors and provided activities for people to wander through and join in.

In the German house we spent all day making Currywurst sauce and cooking sausages and fries. For our activity we had set up a jar painting station where people could decorate their own “travel piggy banks”, as well as a “German Jukebox” Spotify playlist set up for people to pick traditional and popular German music to listen too.

Overall the event was a huge success. It started at 5, and people were lined up out the door of the lobby waiting to eat the food.

Here are some pictures of all the delicious foods everyone made.

Germany!
Germany!
France
France

 

Middle East/North Africa
Middle East/North Africa
Spain
Spain
The queue of people as food started being served...at one point the line went out the door and halfway down the steps up to the building
The queue of people as food started being served…at one point the line went out the door and halfway down the steps up to the building

 

I love events like this. It’s so neat when all of the different languages and cultures come together and you get to experience all kinds of different foods and traditions; and it was really awesome to see such a huge turnout from the broader college community!

Senior year housing

I’m beyond excited to say that I shall be returning to the Max Kade International Wing for housing next year. I’ve loved living in the German house this year and although I shall be living in a different house I’m glad that I’ll be back in the building.

Next year I shall be living in one of the International Interests house and I think it’s going to be a really neat experience. As I said, I’ve really enjoyed being in the German house this year and I’m thankful for the people I’ve met here and for the overall experience I’ve had. Although I finished with my German minor last semester, it has been nice being able to stay connected to the language and the culture this semester. Having said that, as much as I’ve loved learning about and spreading German culture, it’s made me realize that I would love to do the same thing with my own.

So I’m living in the International Interests house on the presumption that I shall work to spread and share the New Zealand culture with both the community of the International building but also with the broader college campus as well.

I’m excited.

I already have a few fun events and ideas in my head and when I go home for a bit over summer I definitely intend on buying a New Zealand flag to be able to hang up in the apartment. For my senior year, I think it’s going to be really great being able to embrace the country I love and miss, and at the same time be able to share a little bit of it with the college and people I have come to know and love as well.

I’m really glad that I’ll still be a part of the international building and living in close proximity to the German house as well. There’s something really great about this place (and it’s not just the fact that the apartments are some of the nicest on campus). I like how there is always something going on, there’s always different people coming in and out, and I love all the events that the different houses put on. It’s a fun place to live and I’m happy it’s where I’ll be for my senior year.

So to all incoming freshmen and returning students, watch out because I have big plans and you should definitely be a part of them.

Masterchef Meaghan – Smoothie Edition

Yup, that’s right, Masterchef Meaghan is back at it again and this time she’s taking on the smoothie. In an attempt to build so healthier eating habits and general better lifestyle habits I’ve been attempting to incorporate a fresh fruit smoothie into my breakfast routine. Well first I’m trying to establish a breakfast routine, and if I’m organized enough for it to include a fresh smoothie then I spend the rest of the day feeling like a very real, established and impressive person.

So far I’ve played around with a few flavor combinations but I aim to have 2/3 different fruits, yoghurt and/or ice cream and then apple juice or milk depending on my mood.

Here are some of my wonderful creations that I am exceedingly proud of:

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Kiwifruit, Banana and Strawberries! All fresh 🙂 This one I went for apple juice, a teeny bit of Greek yogurt and some vanilla ice cream!

 

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This one was plum, blackberry and banana. I put a touch of apple juice in, some milk and vanilla ice cream (of course).
The finished product. I bought two of these bottles from Walmart specifically for my smoothies. They're super cool because you can easily unscrew the top half which makes it really easy to pour the smoothie into, and easy to clean. My learning experience with this recipe however, was that I should have cut the skin off the plum first...I didn't mind the texture from the seeds/pips in the blackberries but I did not enjoy the mini bits of plum skin floating around!
The finished product. I bought two of these bottles from Walmart specifically for my smoothies. They’re super cool because you can easily unscrew the top half which makes it really easy to pour the smoothie into, and easy to clean. My learning experience with this recipe however, was that I should have cut the skin off the plum first…I didn’t mind the texture from the seeds/pips in the blackberries but I did not enjoy the mini bits of plum skin floating around!

I’m really enjoying the smoothies and experimenting with the different fruit combinations etc. I haven’t adjusted yet into the routine of waking up early and as a result I seem to be especially tired, but I’m hoping this whole healthy, early morning routine will kick in soon and I’ll start seeing some benefits!

 

 

 

Wilby Takeover

Watch out Fall 2016 because the Wilbys are taking over Allegheny College. Yup, my little brother has officially applied and been accepted to come join me here starting next year and I’m super excited about it.

My brother and I have a pretty good relationship, I mean we have our moments but I would say the majority of the time we get along pretty well – and I’m pretty sure he feels the same (I hope).

The last time I was home was in August 2014 and he spent all of 2015 in England. We saw each other for the first time in 16 months this past christmas when the whole family spent two weeks in Florida together. I’ll be home in June this year and it will be the first time we have both lived at home together in 2 years. I’m kind of excited, but after a month or so we might be regretting the fact we’re leaving to come to the same place together and not in separate directions again…we’ll see.

12935166_10208901725611287_1985542877_nAll kidding aside, I think it’s going to be good. I’ll be a senior and he’ll be a freshman so we’ll only have one year overlap which I think is perfect. Two years maybe I could do, but after that I think that would be too much. It’s nice because  we’ll get to spend some time here together and then I’ll move on and he’ll be able to really make this campus his.

I also really like it because it means it’ll give me an extra excuse to come back and visit, which possibly I wouldn’t do otherwise – depending on where in the world I end after graduation (still completely undecided on this yet).

He’ll be playing on the men’s basketball team and hopefully I’ll be back playing again next semester so that will be cool as well. Apart from that I think Allegheny is such a unique place that he’ll be able to find his own places and have his own experiences here without us overlapping too much. Still, it’ll be nice having a potential shooting partner and a familiar face around sometimes when I just need to get away from school life.

Our parents are pretty excited…still a bit disappointed that he didn’t end up in Florida or California – somewhere warm at least; but in reality they love Meadville.

So welcome to the gator family little bro. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Learning to ask for help

I like to say I’m a pretty independent person: when it comes to certain things I prefer to be able to do a lot of stuff on my own. One thing that was a huge learning curve for me throughout the first two months especially, was that I had to learn how to ask for help; because for a large majority of that time I was completely dependent on other people for a lot of day-to-day things.

Classes starting back was a big shock to the system, and it was hard. Just getting to class itself was a mission, let alone concentrating for 50 minutes or an hour 15 at a time – all with my knee in a huge brace. I was glad that I could unlock the brace and had enough motion to be able to bend my knee consistently to about 80degrees; but for the first few weeks of class (so weeks 3 and 4 post surgery) I couldn’t cross my legs and was very limited in how I could sit. Let me tell you, those college desks have never felt so small until you are trying to maneuver your way into one with a bionic leg.

My boyfriend left at the end of the second week of class which meant I was down a personal chauffeur and had to organize security to come and pick me up, or ask my roommate very kindly if she would drive me. There was still snow on the ground and I didn’t come off crutches until week 5 – the terrain at Allegheny (even without the snow) doesn’t lend itself kindly to the not so able-bodied and crutching to class was often never an option. The logistics and concentration required to get through a regular college day made the days long and difficult a lot of the time.

I’ll admit sometimes it was all just too hard to get up and go to class and I definitely made the most of my unexcused absences for a few of my classes – particularly my morning ones. It’s hard to motivate yourself to go to political philosophy and discuss Plato for 50 minutes when just getting out of bed is such a mission in itself, let alone trying to get down the stairs of the apartment.

On top of my regular course schedule I was attending (nearly) all of the team’s practices and travelling out to physical therapy three times a week for 2 hours or so. I was still unable to drive myself and had to rely on favours and the goodwill of others to take me there and bring me back. This was a real test of my organization skills and I did my best not to rely on just one person too much.

By week 5 I got sick. It was just a sore throat/cold but it was another spanner in the works and I ended up just taking a 4 day weekend  and not getting out of my bed. I decided I needed to just completely recharge and let my body recover.

After this I got back on track a bit. I fell into somewhat of a routine and that, along with my increased mobility made things a lot better. I’m extremely grateful to all the wonderful people who helped me out; whether it was driving me to class, taking me out to pt or even just the really nice people who always held the doors open for me wherever I went. Without everyone who helped me, there’s no way I would have been able to get through the first month or so of school.

An ode to brunch

Can we all just stop and take a minute to appreciate brunch.

Brunch is 100% my favourite meal: It combines the best part of breakfast with the freedom of the hours of lunch, which basically means you can eat all the best part of breakfast until 2pm and no-one can judge you for it. To be fair, I’m the kind of person who tends to eat what I want, when I want…but it’s always nice when it’s socially acceptable to do so.12834911_10208647319811301_1535296344_n

A few of my flatmates and I got together a while ago for brunch and it was probably the first time all semester we were all up and hanging out together before 1pm. It’s also one of the few times that we’ve cooked together. We had a pancake train going and shared duties between, preparing, cooking and cleaning up.

This brunch was one of the best. We had pancakes, bacon, banana, maple syrup, cream cheese, nutella, peanut butter, jam, milk, orange juice and tea/coffee. Basically the best of the best breakfast/lunch foods you could imagine.

I’ll put it out there, I’m a pretty lazy cook – I’m all about speed and efficiency. So the pancakes are Aunt Jemima’s pre-made mix, however I like to add some cinnamon and vanilla essence to make them a little more tasty. Bacon, however, is one of the few foods I will openly say I can cook pretty well.

My favourite things about brunch, aside from the delicious food is the way it brings people together. There’s nothing like bonding over pancakes with your friends on a Sunday morning and discussing the gossip and happenings from the previous Saturday night/weekend/week.

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Finals Basketball

Although my season on court ended over months ago, I’ve spent the last three and a bit months going to (nearly) every practice and game, and so although I haven’t been playing, I still have very much been part of Allegheny College’s Women’s basketball team.

And this last week reassured me, why I stuck around.

We ended our regular season with a spectacular senior day game against Denison University on Feb. 20. The game came down to the wire and we ended up losing by three. It was disappointing, but we knew we would get another crack at them if we made it to the semi-finals. Denison were top of the conference and nationally ranked, besides, it was one of the best games of basketball the team had played all year.

We finished fourth in the conference, which meant we qualified for a home play off game against fifth-seeded Oberlin College. This game was something special in itself. The whole school rallied behind us as we advertised for people to come down and support us, to give us the student section we wished we had at every game. Well we got what we asked for and it was awesome.

The Wise Center was packed with students, peers, professors, staff and members of the broader community. We won by eight points, and at the end of the game, the entire student section stormed the court. Although I didn’t join in the jumping and boisterous excitement of the mob on the court, it’s still a moment that I’m happy to say that I was a part of.

The play-off game set us up to travel to Denison University for a semi-final rematch. Not only had Denison swept us (won 2-0) during the regular season, but we have played them as our quarterfinal play off game for the past two years and lost both times. We had a win coming our way. We were still buzzing from our last victory and we wanted to win. Badly. This team is one of the closest group of girls I’ve had the opportunity to play with, and none of us were ready to let our season end just yet. We had the pleasure of being led by five amazing seniors and no-one wanted to see them leave.

We arrived late Thursday night before our 8pm game the next day. We left for the gym early to watch the semi-final before ours, the victor of which we were hoping to match up against in the championship game the next day. That semi-final was won on a three pointer, shot in the dying second of the game. It was heartbreaking to watch the girls from third-seeded Kenyon walk downtrodden to their bench. They came so close only to have the game pulled out from under them in the last second. None of us wanted to be in their shoes. None of us wanted to lose.

Our game was a well fought battle throughout. We finished the first quarter ahead and were up by 1 at the half. We clung to that one point by the end of the third quarter, only to find ourselves down by 2 going into the last 10 seconds of the game. One of the seniors hit a jump shot in the final two seconds to tie the game up and send us into overtime.

We were so close. We couldn’t lose now.

The five minutes of overtime were just as tight as the previous 40 minutes of the game. The lead went back and forth and once again it came down to the last minute, to the last thirty seconds. We were down by 2 with 13 seconds to go. Somehow we managed to get the ball into the hands of our three point shooter and she got a shot off within the last second of overtime. It quivered in the air before finally settling into the bottom of the net.

We had won. We couldn’t believe it. There was no time to question it. We had done it.

We stormed the court – all 14 of us on the bench, plus coaches and assisting staff – we jumped and screamed and yelled with delight. We were going to the final. Our season was still alive. We had played a close game, a great game of basketball and come out on top.

We made it to the Championship game for the first time in five years. If we had won it would have been the first NCAC championship for women’s basketball at Allegheny in 27 years. Unfortunately we fell short of earning those championship rings we wanted so badly and suddenly had a real shot at. Our final game didn’t go as we hoped and we went down to a well-drilled team.

The high from our semi-final carried us through the defeat and realization that the season was finally over. That semi-final was our shining moment of the season. That’s the game we’ll be telling our kids about.

People always tell me that it’s not the hours spent at practice or even on the court that I will remember, but moments in the locker room, in the hotel rooms, on the bus; moments spent with my teammates that will be my lasting memory of college basketball. Having spent the most part of this year off the court, I appreciate this more than ever. However, that semifinal game I know with absolute certainty will be something that every one of us will remember.

Learning to Bike

You walk before you run and apparently when you’re recovering from ACL surgery you bike before you can walk.

I first got on the bike on day 15 and it was a very exciting time. It wasn’t until my third session that I could (relatively) comfortably get a full circle and start actually ‘riding’ the bike: before then I just had to do half moons, where I would swing my legs forward and back in the pedals, pushing the motion and flexibility in my knee as far as I could go. When I could finally get all the way around I still wasn’t able to get around properly. I had to slide my foot so that it was almost off the pedal and lean my body weight to the left side of my body so I could get my knee all the way over. But like with the straight leg lifts, and the bending it became about finding the small achievements, like limiting the amount of time it took before I could get the knee going all the way over each time, or slowly decreasing how much weight I put on my opposite side of my body, and slowly but surely I started moving my foot back to a more ‘normal’ position.

Weeks three and four I also started increasing weights on exercises

One of the new exercises - another leg lift but working the interior instead of the side/straight-leg. You can also see the splendid bruising on my calf (and this wasn't even at its worst). Apparently this is totally normal and just comes from the blood/fluid draining down from my knee post surgery.
One of the new exercises – another leg lift but working the interior instead of the side/straight-leg. You can also see the splendid bruising on my calf (and this wasn’t even at its worst). Apparently this is totally normal and just comes from the blood/fluid draining down from my knee post surgery.

that I had been doing since the beginning. It was a very exciting day when I could successfully add a three  pound weight to my leg lifts – straight leg included. I also got to continue adding the odd exercise into my repertoire, and the ginormous bruise on my calf started to fade.

I also started working on my balance which was absolutely terrifying but another huge milestone. Again, I started with most of my weight placed on the parallel bars and slowly weaned myself off until I could balance for 10 seconds completely unassisted. Then I started upping the reps and duration.

What week three also marked was the return of classes. This was a huge change for my routine – not only were there now people on campus, in my building and in my apartment that I had to look out for, but I also had to maneuver myself to and from class everyday – which given Meadville’s weather and Allegheny’s terrain was not an easy task.

Thankfully my boyfriend was still here and his duties extended to personal chauffeur as well as chef, assistant and companion. I applied for a state-handicap parking pass and thankfully received it a week or so before classes began. This, along with the special temporary gold-lot parking pass meant I could go almost anywhere on Campus and get dropped off as close to a building as I needed. Although this made getting around significantly easier, there were still times where just getting up in the morning for a nine am class was a serious struggle. My leg was always extra stiff in the mornings, the weather was always extra cold and the paths/bricks always just that extra bit icy.

Once I managed to get myself into the building and into my classroom(s), sitting at the tiny college sized desks wasn’t a simple task either. Thankfully by this point I had a comfortable 80 or so degrees of movement and was able to unlock my brace so that I could sit relatively normally at a desk; but I couldn’t  cross my legs and my leg stiffened up right around the thirty minute point. Not the end of the world for the 50 minute classes, but not so ideal for the 1 hour 15 minute classes I had everyday.

Still I survived and learned tips and tricks to help me through. I also learned that there are a lot of people at Allegheny with exceptionally good manners, who are extremely willing to offer assistance of any kind when you’re on crutches:  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually had to open a door for myself. I really have been extremely impressed by the number of people who really want to help me; whether it’s students running back up stairs to hold a door open for me, or workers at Mckinleys offering to walk around with me and carry my food. It’s the something about Allegheny that I love and during these weeks, I’m extremely grateful for.