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Kristen

It’s the last week of class . . . where has the time gone?   I know that everyone is excited that summer is nearly here.  Unfortunately, we still have that week of stress known as “finals” standing in our way.  Ugh!

Anyway, for many students, these last two weeks are the final days of school before moving into the “real”world.  Graduating seniors, besides studying for finals and finishing projects, have been preparing for graduate school or filling out job applications, completing forms for graduation, and purchasing caps and gowns.  Let me tell you, it takes a lot of work to graduate!  Preparing for the next step takes a lot of preparation.

The next step for me involves earning a graduate degree in speech-language pathology; my field requires a master’s degree before I can become a speech therapist.  I have enrolled in Fontbonne’s master’s communication disorders program, and will begin my studies this summer.  While I don’t have a lot of down time before the next leg of my academic journey begins, I will get to have some vacation time before I return to school.  Kind of.  But not really.

The day after graduation, I leave for a trip to Germany with the HST/PHL/REL 496 class on the Holocaust, and I return a few days before summer classes begin.  I am excited to be visiting a new country, but with moving to an apartment and trying to get ready for graduate school, I will be super busy for the next two months.  But since I’ll be continuing school for two more years, I don’t feel like I’m growing up quite yet.  I will be doing many of the same things I’ve been doing—attending classes, seeing friends, working.  I think that my next step in schooling is slowing my progression to adulthood.  Which can be both good and bad.

What is your next step in life?  Are you beginning a new job, a new school, or a new year at Fontbonne?

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My family members would not be considered “animal people.”  My oldest and youngest brothers like to play with dogs, and of course we all love puppies and kittens.  But, overall, we are not prone to loving animals.  That being said, we do have two small dogs as members of our family.  Rather, we did have two small dogs.

My elder dog, Jack, died on Monday afternoon.  He was 10 1/2 years old—an elderly dog, but not yet ancient.  Jack was a black terrier-poodle mix; he looked like a lanky Scottish terrier.  He was docile in the company of family members, but fierce when faced with danger.  Which generally came in the form of a mailman or neighbor’s cat.  Unfortunately for Jack, he was not quite as big as the neighbor’s cat, and had to be dragged from impending altercations occasionally.

My mom noticed a few weeks ago that his behavior was atypical of him.  Usually a quiet, loyal dog, he would follow her around the house, hating to be separated for long.  The past few weeks, he spent most of his time hiding under beds or behind chairs.  Jack was losing weight rapidly and ate very little.  While I was home for Easter weekend, we took him to the vet to find a solution to his odd behaviors.

The vet found a tumor.  Needless to say, my Easter break was spent with much tears and deliberation of what treatment path to follow. Finally, a surgery was scheduled for Monday to remove the tumor if possible.   At first, the surgery seemed to be going well.  The vet was able to remove Jack’s tumor, which had been leeching the protein and nutrients from his body.  The doctor began to sew him up again.

The vet found another tumor.  This one was four inches, huge for the tiny dog.  The tumor was near his spine and large intestines and there was nothing the vet could do to save him.

We were devastated.  By Monday, we had assumed the worst but were hoping for the best—we ended up with the worst.  My younger dog, Jill, wanders the house looking for her best friend.  My mother and youngest brother cried, and I cried talking to them on the phone.  I learned that mourning a pet is similar to mourning a human family member; you will still feel the emptiness, the hole they filled in your life.  Like humans, pets can cheer you when you are sad and give you their company when you are alone.  Plus, they never say a cruel word to you.

Jack was a kind dog, and he was with us for many years.  It will be strange adjusting to life without him.  Even though I visit home less frequently now that I am in college, I will still half-expect to see him when I walk through the front door of my house.  Jack was a dog, but he was family.  I suppose my point in writing today is to remind you all to cherish the time you have with your family, friends, and loved ones.  Even the smallest members.

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When I came to Fontbonne as a freshman, I decided that I had no need for a car on campus.  Because Fontbonne is so small, it only takes a few minutes to walk to each building on campus.  And without a job or student teaching, I had few reasons to go far from campus.  Why would I need to drive anywhere?

However, this semester I have a nannying job a few miles from school.  My new job and upcoming graduation convinced me it was time to get a car.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this:  having a car on campus is not necessary.  There are restaurants, a grocery store, and a Walgreens within walking distance.  Students in off-campus practicums, for education majors, often set up carpooling to help students who cannot drive themselves.  If you don’t have a car for college, it is possible to get by without one.  That being said, I feel very free now that I do have a car.  I can drive myself wherever I need or want to go.  Which usually means target and Whole Foods every weekend.  Even better than driving myself places—I can now give other people rides!  It’s nice to be able to pay others back for all the times they had to drive me places.  I have some wonderful friends who have taken me to the store countless times, to visit graduate schools, and to the hospital when I have needed it, but I am glad that I can now give them a ride when they need my help.

Even though I can technically go anywhere in St. Louis now that I can drive myself around, I haven’t been to many new places.  I attribute this to the busyness of the semester; hopefully this summer I can visit some different areas in St. Louis!  If you have any suggestions of great places you love, please let me know!

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Airplane Tips

by Kristen on April 7, 2014

in Uncategorized

As I am now a seasoned airplane veteran (having been on five airplanes, all in the same trip), I feel I have some quality advice about flying that I can share with you.

When you first get onto the plane, you will have to find your seat and store your luggage nearby.  For big bags, there is a compartment above the seats; but if you have a backpack or purse and can shove it under the seat in front of yours, it will be a lot easier to access later.  Once you’re seated, you have to put your seatbelt on and wait until the plane crew has checked and rechecked the entire plane.  At least five times.  Then you begin takeoff.

When the plane first starts to move towards the runway, you may think to yourself, “This isn’t so bad.  It’s just like riding on the ground.”  Well, that’s because you are still on the ground.  When the plane finally begins to go up, you will feel yourself tilt as the plane starts to rise.  If things start to get bumpy, don’t freak out!  Unless everyone else on the aircraft looks concerned, you probably aren’t crashing.  Probably.  As you get higher, you can look out the window (if you are near one) and see the airport and surrounding city get smaller.  Eventually it will resemble a patchwork quilt of little streets and hills.

Soon you will reach cloud level, where the window view is particularly interesting.  Clouds tend to look like this:

When you are above them, as you can see in the photo, the clouds resemble frothy white waves.  I like to imagine I’m on a beach somewhere looking at a white ocean, instead of miles above the ground.

If you are taking a short flight to another part of the country, you won’t have to entertain yourself for long.  However, if you are flying overseas, you have a long ride ahead of you.  Mine was between 8 ½ and 9 hours from the east coast to London; I hope you can occupy your time!  Longer flights have TVs at each seat, with a selection of new and old films.  They also serve scanty meals, just enough so you won’t starve.  On both my flights we were served two meals, which differed depending on the time of day I was flying.  The food isn’t terrible as long as you remember a few simple guidelines to ordering your meals.  First, when they ask if you want pasta or chicken, you always want pasta!  Even if you love to eat baked chicken; trust me, you need to order pasta.  They heat their meals on the plane, so any meat options have essentially been microwaved.  Or that’s how they taste, at least.  And as chicken tastes rubbery when cooked in the microwave, pasta is always a better option.  You should also know that they won’t wake you to ask if you want food, so make sure you are awake, especially at the beginning of the flight, when they serve the first meal.  If possible, I recommend asking those seated next to you to be vigilant and wake you when the food carts come down the aisle.

A word on airplane staff:  some are nice, some are cranky.  Stewardesses, I have heard, treat you with extra care when you’re an attractive male.  For the rest of us, we have to be especially nice to them and clearly make our needs known.  For example, if you look particularly young and the stewardess asks you what you would like to drink, she may try to give you apple juice when you ask for the complementary glass of wine.  You will have to speak more loudly and correct her if you want to get what you actually requested.  Or take the juice meekly and try again on your next flight.

If you plan to sleep on your flight, I recommend purchasing a travel pillow.  They are small and fit around your neck to give you some comfort while trying to sleep in your nearly upright seat.  Overseas flights, at least on US Airways, provide small pillows and thin blankets, but it’s difficult to find a position in which you can lean your head on the pillow without dropping it onto the person next to you.  I also recommend bringing your own headphones; while overseas flights do hand out earphones, they suck, so bring your own if you want to listen to music or watch a movie.

You know how it feels when you’re driving and have to make an abrupt stop?  That is how landing feels, except it lasts longer than a few seconds.  When the plane starts to land, you will definitely want to be back in your seat with your seatbelt securely fastened.  When it’s safe to move again, the seatbelt light will go off above you, and you can stand and stretch before picking up your bag or other belongings.  Then, after another five minutes or so of waiting for everyone else to get off the plane, you can exit and be on your way to a great vacation!

I’ll stick in a few more Europe photos for you before you go.  Have a good week!

More of the Irish countryside

Oxford University

Bridge in London

An Underground Railway Station

Double Decker Bus, London

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Return from the British Isles

by Kristen March 31, 2014

Hello again!  As we’re moving back into the swing of school, you’re probably wishing you were still in the vacation spot you spent spring break in.  Or at home, sitting on the couch and eating too many Girl Scout cookies.  Either way, I understand how you feel.  I think I need another whole week of […]

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Spring Break is Here!

by Kristen March 12, 2014

Hello, everyone!  Today I am writing as I scramble to complete homework and travel preparations.  I have much to do because, in a few days, I will be leaving to go on a spring break vacation in… (wait for it) …Europe!  I am taking a short-term study abroad trip with a group from Fontbonne to […]

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STL Restaurants, Part II

by Kristen March 3, 2014

Like I promised, this week is the sequel to my last post of suggested St. Louis restaurants.  Most of the places I suggested last week are typical types of food we could find at many places—many people have had pasta, burgers, and donuts before.  So today I would like to bring to your attention some […]

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STL Restaurants

by Kristen February 18, 2014

On Friday, I was treated to a Valentine’s Dinner at Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas on The Hill (if you are not familiar with “The Hill,” it is the name for the Italian neighborhood in St. Louis).  The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was upscale without being overly priced.  I thought I would blog and […]

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Valentine’s Day

by Kristen February 12, 2014

As you all probably know by now, Valentine’s Day is this Friday.  For many people, Valentine’s Day is a chance to show loved ones you are thinking about them.  For others, Valentine’s Day is a bitter reminder that they have no one to share the special day with.  For me, the end of Valentine’s Day […]

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Semester Goals

by Kristen February 5, 2014

Happy snow day, Fontbonne!  Campus is closed for the rest of the day because of the weather, which is turning the outdoors into a white smudge on the map of the Midwest.   Without classes, work, or the ability to drive safely tonight, I thought I’d use my free time to catch up on blogging.  Sadly, […]

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