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Kristen

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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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 break to get caught up on all the things I didn’t do during vacation.  Oh well; only six more weeks to go!

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my adventures with you today.  But then I began editing pictures and thinking of what to say, and three hours later I am STILL editing pictures and no closer to accomplishing my to-do-list for the weekend!  Note to self:  don’t edit so many pictures in one sitting.  I have decided to give you an overview of my trip, with some photos and travel tips, and leave it at that for this week.  I will likely be posting a lot about Europe; I have so many stories and so much history to tell!

To begin…I took the trip with a group of teachers and students from Fontbonne.  The trip was put together by a travel company called EF (Education First) College Study Tours.  For the price I paid, the trip included transportation everywhere (by plane, charter bus, ferry, and London’s underground trains), hotels (nice ones, not hostels or cheap places), two meals a day, entrance fees to museums, castles, cathedrals and other historical sights, two city tour guides, and a tour guide who stayed with us the entire trip.  The trip seemed expensive, but I think it was very well priced for everything that was included.  Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and explained to us a great amount of history concerning the locations we visited.  I would definitely recommend taking a trip like this, especially as a first excursion out of the country.  It was well planned with much guidance, but also gave us some free time to see places we wanted to visit.  And our tour guides only lost us a few times, so they proved to be very capable.

A few travel tips you should be aware of:

In Ireland and the UK, nearly everyone speaks English.  However, since we speak American, you should be aware that some phrases/words/gestures do not mean the same there as they do at home.  For example, displaying the number two with your fingers is an expletive that Europeans would consider to be offensive.  If you’re going to be traveling to a different country, I suggest you research a little about their sayings before you go.

In Europe, everything is expensive.  EVERYTHING.  Our dollar only equals about .70 cents in euros and .50 cents in pounds sterling (used in the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, and Wales).  But a meal that costs ten of our dollars still costs ten dollars there, which could be 15-20 dollars in European dollars.  So bring lots of money.  Also, if you take one of the EF tours, you might be offered extra experiences that are not included in the sum you paid for the trip, so you will need funds for those if you want to participate.  We were offered rides in a jaunty (a horse-drawn buggy in Ireland), a show put on by a man’s sheepherding dogs, and tickets to see the play Spamalot in London.  And you will probably want to buy souvenirs for every single person you’ve ever met before.  So, like I said, lots of money.

Make sure you have a converter AND adaptor with you that works for the countries you will be visiting.  One of the girls in my group only bought an adaptor, which makes our plugs fit into the European sockets in the wall, and had to borrow our converters.  The electricity in other countries uses different wattages, from what I understand, than we do, so you must have a converter to change the energy into a suitable kind for your own appliances.

This post is getting long, so I’ll throw in a few quick pictures and let you go for today.

The Irish countryside. I promise these are real places!

A beach in Ireland. Very rocky, not sandy.

Same beach, but so pretty it needs an extra picture!

A street corner in Wales. Yes, it is as beautiful as it looks.

A view of Llangollen, the Welsh town we stayed in for a night.

The iconic red telephone booths in England!

I hear the next spring break trip is to Spain and Portugal, with an optional excursion to Morocco.  It sounds absolutely wonderful, so you should all sign up!

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Spring Break is Here!

by Kristen on March 12, 2014

in College Life

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 England, Ireland, and Wales.  As an inexperienced traveler, I am super excited to be visiting another country!  I have never left the United States, nor have I ever been on an airplane.  This spring break will be a week of new experiences, for sure.  I promise to post many pictures of my trip when I return.  You’ll probably get sick of Europe posts after a while.  Or be jealous of my adventures.

Either way, that’s all I have to say for now.  I hope you all have fantastic vacations full of rest!  And probably homework.  Because, let’s be realistic, we are students.

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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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Back to School

by Kristen January 29, 2014

Hello again!  It’s been a long break from blogging for me.  Of course, winter break was long in general.  I think I could’ve gone crazy from staying inside so much, with all the snow and cold weather we had at the beginning of the month.  So it’s nice to be back at school where I [...]

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Traditions

by Kristen December 10, 2013

This week, I was going to talk about finals and give you guys some of my best tips on how to master them.  I was going to say that it’s better to study a little every day instead of cramming, to organize your notes into main ideas, to highlight main concepts, to give your brain [...]

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