I decided to do something a little different this weekend. I wrote this narrative for a class, and the topic was about a time I felt free. Since it will be a year since I was in Paris, I thought I'd share the moment I fell in love with it. Enjoy!
It was like any other day, really. I had gone to school and sat through six and half hours of statistics, government, European history...but you see, it wasn’t like any other day. It was February 13th, and right after school I would be boarding a plane to Paris, France. I didn’t know what to expect on this trip. The thought of being halfway across the globe in a city that famous for its artists and food both frightened and excited me. Might I mention, this trip was for a week, and it was with some of my classmates, including my best friend. My mom accompanied us, along with a few other “chaperone moms”, two science teachers from my middle school, my French teacher, and her sister.
We landed on February 14th, at Charles de Gaulle airport, sleep deprived, hungry and grimy. I was incredibly delirious, especially when going through customs. Although, something felt off.
I still felt like I was in New York. The official “Paris feeling” didn’t hit me quite yet. Granted, it was only the first day, and I hadn’t had much to eat. Immediately leaving the airport, all 28 of us (approximately), were put on a coach bus and taken to our hotel. Through the window, drizzled with patterns of water from the rainfall we received, I saw buildings, cars, people...it was just like New York. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Even walking down Champs-Elysees and seeing the Arc de Triomphe didn’t do it for me. It was like I would wake up any minute and it was all a dream, because there was no way this was real.
About three days into the trip, on February 17th, my large group of twenty-something kids and adults took a trip to Montmartre. We saw Sacre-Coeur inside and out, then we were allowed free time, where my friends and I decided to walk around the little town. When I think of Montmartre now, I think of a burnt orange. That was the color of the sweet shop where I bought caramels and macaron. The other shops were just as small and bright. The atmosphere was incredible all on its own. I had never felt so in love.
For dinner, we went to this tiny restaurant, where an accordionist was playing traditional French songs. Our selections for dinner were French onion soup, and escargot. Because what else would you eat in France? I ordered the soup, and a few of my friends were brave and ordered the escargot. We all decided to try everything. The soup was incredible, sometimes I can still taste it.
Then, I had a plate of fried snails in front of me. Trying my best to extract the “meat” from the shell, with an accordion playing in the background, as I wore a black beret, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “can this be any more French?” I popped the snail in my mouth, and then it hit me.
“I’m eating a snail,” I laughed, “I’m eating a snail!”
I was in France. Holy, crap I was in France! It took me three days to feel like I was actually there, and now, with a fried snail in my mouth (which I spit out shortly after), I felt...free. I felt like anything was possible. I still had a few more days to explore this beautiful country, and that was when I couldn’t wait to go. The accordionist and our tour guide, Jean, stood up on the stage in our dining room and sang the traditional French song, “Champs-Elysees”. Once all us Americans got the jist of the chorus, we sang along too. I didn’t care about anything else in that moment.
I was sad to leave the little district of Montmartre, but I made a promise to myself to come back. It was also known as the “Artist District”, because of all the famous painters and poets, and I decided that I wanted to sit at a cafe, drink coffee and write poetry. What I felt there was something I always want to feel; a sense of freedom and belonging.
To be in love, is to be free.
Nowadays, you see more signs that say "free wifi" than "free flowers". I mean, nothing's really free, and I may be a bit old fashioned but when did the romance die? Most of the time on my Facebook feed, Instagram and Twitter, I see happy couples posting about their significant other, and it doesn't disgust me that much. Sure, a part of me is like "no one cares" but I find it kind of sweet when I see stuff like that. It almost makes you want it.
Which is a problem all its own. Most accounts on Facebook and Twitter have pictures that resemble "Relationship Goals", and let's face it, at one point we've all wanted flowers, a giant teddy bear, bras from Victoria's Secret...you know stuff like that. But I personally believe that it puts a mentality into young people's minds about someone who would actually do all of that. I'm not denying the existence of a perfect relationship, or someone giving you all of those things, but it's not something anyone should expect. That's the problem. There are too many high expectations about it. And it sucks, I know. However, the less expectations someone has, the happier they will be. I'm not expecting a guy to drop $100 on me everyday, I'd be lucky if I have a cup of coffee with him! There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting those things. Nothing! But the way it is perceived makes it seem like that's what being in a relationship is all about. The love, the passion, the fun...and even the friendship they have...that's Relationship Goals.
On to the technology aspect. Does it significantly affect relationships? I would personally like to conduct actual research on this, and write about it in a later post, but for now I'm going to share my observations. Cell phones, computers, tablets and all that jazz are simply amazing. The amount of storage we have on these things is incredible. But in recent years, I've walked into restaurants, cafès, general public places, and noticed that most of the tables had one person or more on their phone (or a computer, but if you're doing actual work and you're by yourself okay). Couples don't make eye contact, and soon the intimacy is lost. What is going on? Children, even toddlers, know how to work an iPad better than I do. Parents see their kid is bored, and they give them the phone or tablet, and boom! Kid is playing Candy Crush. Granted, they can absolutely be used for education purposes, but the more they interact with a computer, will they have trouble forming relationships with actual people? It's insane. It's hard to have a conversation with someone if all they do is look at a computer screen the whole time you're with them. Honestly, how do people stay on Facebook, Instagram, etc. for hours? Hours! I get bored after five minutes. Personal opinion. We cannot become robots. Close the computer, and look at your significant other. Look them in the eyes for the first time in a long time. That's what they want, I'm sure. Look up from the phone or tablet, see the world around you. It's quite beautiful.
(Image courtesy of Google)
Upset with how you did last semester? It's never too late to turn things around!
1. Block out some time for studying/working
If you were disappointed with your grades and study habits, making some improvements in that department doesn't hurt.
2. Set some goals for yourself
Nothing is more satisfying than completing something you've worked hard on. Set some realistic goals for yourself, like going to the gym, or keeping your room clean, even shoot for that A+! Writing them down and keeping them in a place where you can see them everyday is a great way to remind yourself of them.
3. Don't feel you need to do everything
Of course you can join that club or take a super challenging class, but remember, everyone has limits. Don't overdo yourself. You'll have plenty of more opportunities.
4. Make an awesome playlist of your favorite songs
Music is your best motivator. Put together a bunch of songs that get you pumped for the day ahead, or relax you after a long day.
5. Do what makes YOU happy
That pretty much speaks for itself.
If you're a college freshman, you know how exciting it can be...and how stressful. Take everything one day at a time. If this is your second semester, make it a goal not to repeat mistakes you may or may not have made last semester. Think of that as the test run...now, it's the real deal.
I wish all my fellow college kids a great semester, and thanks for keeping up with this blog! I'm glad I get to reach people through my writing.
Speaking of, I have a new book out called Chasing Sam which you can buy here: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/alexmunroe
I hope you enjoy!
Looking back, I believe I had a really good year. Of course not every day was perfect, but it was a year I realized who I was, who I want to be, and who I am. I found something to stand for, and made many adventures and friends along the way.
The New Year is coming soon, just hours away actually, I am welcoming this new year with open arms, because change is a natural thing. I know that there are many changes coming in 2016, and it will take some adjustment.
Speaking of, college was a huge adjustment for a lot of people, including me. But luckily, I found a bunch of new friends, learned how to use my meal plan properly, and keep a budget (sort of). I even found out that Cinema Studies wasn't for me, although I did learn how to sit in a room for four and a half hours, and watch The Passion of Joan of Arc in COMPLETE silence. And remember, your GPA is just a number. So what, it was low the first semester? You're still getting accustomed to everything. Try harder, and even your best, the next time around. It does not reflect who you are as a person. For those of you who did do well, great job! (that's not sarcasm). Everyone learns differently and everyone works differently. You'll get somewhere in the long run.
In short, I hope everyone has a very happy and healthy new year, and I hope your holidays, whatever you celebrated, were fantastic too! Make yourself happy this year, and do it because you want to, not because it appeals to anyone else.
Before the ball drops, I'm going to drop some good news:
I'm excited to announce I'll be releasing a novel at the end of February, part of the new projects and goals I've set for myself to do (which I will be working on for the majority of winter break), along with a book of poetry I hope to release in late April. So there's something to look forward to.
When I was younger, being on the stage was my dream. From sitting on the risers in the Junior versions of The Lion King, Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast, to having a very small role in My Fair Lady my senior year, the stage has been a second home for me. I always loved the costumes, and watching the characters come to life in the show, whether it was Hello, Dolly! or Into the Woods. I was thankful enough to be in a school district that respected the arts as much as I did.
Or so I thought...
Budget cuts: The Arts' worst enemy. I have been told that in a few of the elementary schools in my town have cut their music program which really got my blood boiling. The highlight of fourth grade was getting to pick our instrument and be in either the band or orchestra. (I played the viola up until sophomore year). It was fun. We made friends in these groups. And we were being challenged early in the morning. I looked forward to it.
I believe that a music education at a young age is beneficial to children. That sense of accomplishment when you play the piece right, sing the high note in a difficult song, and learning everything that goes into music. An arts education in general is a good thing, too. Without music in elementary, kids will never be exposed to it at this young a crucial age. Don't let them become robots.
I came from a town that was very sports oriented, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Come to think of it, we had a few "jocks" in our chorus over the years. It wasn't that hierarchy that everyone has in mind. And it proves that you don't have to do just one thing in high school. You don't have to just be the Quarterback, you can sing baritone in choir. I have friends who love math, and they are incredibly talented at artwork. You can be well-rounded.
My best friend goes to choir college. I went to her family weekend concert and I sat there listening to these students and felt something. Seeing passionate people come together to make something beautiful is the best thing ever. And you could tell they were all into it. I loved that.
The world needs arts educators. With the right amount of drive, you can do anything. Pursue your passions, and explore new ones! The possibilities are endless.
Do you know why they say "Starving Artist?" It doesn't mean that you're not going to eat ever again. It means that you have a hunger for more than your everyday life. You have an appetite to express and perform. Don't let anyone stop you from doing what you love (that includes yourself).
The sky looked like this...IN NOVEMBER!
With the past week being an absolute mess, between various terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad, along with earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, I found myself distraught and back home on Long Island.
Before I went home, I called my mom and cried to her about what had happened. Nine months ago exactly, we had been in Paris. From being there, I feel like I have gained a spiritual connection with the city, so this felt like a personal attack. It bothered me a lot. Before I could make arrangements to come home, my mom told me to go outside and hug a tree.
Yes, you read that right. I laughed at her. She told me to "find a tree that speaks to me and get back in touch with the energy of Mother Nature." I thought she was nuts, but nevertheless, I listened to her. Now, don't laugh, but I actually felt significantly better.
In relation, the last few days up here at Purchase have been beautiful. It really sucked that I had class on these days because all I wanted to do was bask in the sun on one of the lawns outside the library. It all comes back to that "energy from Mother Nature" concept. I feel much more open and relaxed outside, than I do in Starbucks or the library itself.
Also, can we talk about how it has been 60 degrees in NOVEMBER? (Climate change is real). I've been able to be warm in just a sweater and jeans. Thank you Mother Nature!
Going outside is a great de-stressor. If you're feeling low, sit on the grass, or a bench or somewhere outside and let your creativity flow. Especially if it is nice out. Stay positive and attract the positive. Good things are coming your way!
Is your hamper overflowing with clothes from the last two weeks? Have a crap-ton of schoolwork to do? Haven't showered in days? Same, honestly. Welcome to college life.
(Don't worry, I'm all clean now.)
I'm going to share some tips on time management, so you can do all the above mentioned AND have time to breathe (whoa!).
The laundry room at Purchase is Hell. It's hot, underground, and no one has respect for you down there. Some people are plain rude, just like in an everyday setting, however there's an abundance of "rude" in the laundry room. Some people take your laundry out of the dryer, when there's at least 20 minutes left, and place it on top of the dryer (if you're lucky), and proceed to use it. I've seen it happen, and it happened to me before. Don't put off your laundry, because it'll only accumulate and be more of a hassle.
Who has time to do schoolwork when there's so much to do on campus? Especially at Purchase, there's always something going on. But keep that in mind! THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING AND IT WILL COME BACK! There will always be a show to see or a game to go to, but remember why you're there in the first place. Remember what you're working towards.
And what about that showering thing? I used to shower every night before going to bed. Now, I shower at four in the afternoon because it's the only time I can. I'm serious! If I showered in the morning it means I would have to wake up earlier, and who wants to do that? I'm already losing sleep as it is. Plus, at four no one is on my floor anyway, so I can daydream and sing all I want in the shower without having to rush.
College is hard, and I thought I could handle balancing everything, but it's tough. Tougher than I thought. (It's been two months now??) Not the work itself, the AMOUNT I get. On top of that, showering, eating, laundry, and relaxing.
Sometimes, you need a day. Pamper yourself. Stay in and just dance around your dorm. Go for a walk. Write a novel. Find an activity that takes your mind off of everything for a while, but make sure you're ready to get out there again!
If you have a calendar, mark the day you want to do some housekeeping. Then make like Shia LaBeouf and "JUST DO IT!"
So, It's been almost two months since I've been at SUNY Purchase, and I've realized a few things:
1. There's a lack of air conditioning here.
Come on New York, we know you have the money to cool off the freshman dormitories. None of them have air conditioning by the way, and it gets incredibly hot in my room, which may get me through the winter. But seriously, I'd like to know why I'm still SWEATING in OCTOBER. Sometimes it's too hot for pants, and too cold for shorts. Thanks, global warming.
2. I'm still getting the hang of my meal plan
It's official. I've spent all my flex points on useless crap. For those of you who are confused, flex points are these magical dollars that help you out if you go over on a meal. (You may have something similar at your college too) Let's look at it like this: A meal equivelency, which means a meal that's purchased outside of the dining hall, is six dollars. We have a food court that we call "The Hub" and a really nice vegetarian café called Terra Ve (where you can usually find me), and we have a Starbucks (eeep!). If I were to go to the Hub and get a chicken sandwich, fries, a bottle of water, and an apple, that would count as one meal. But let's say I want chips too, or a Kit Kat bar or something extra. The flex points help me out. After a while, I got the hang of it...you know, until I ran out.
3. I've met some really cool people
I have a group of friends here that I met within the first week. I was late to the party in a way, because a good 50% of the group met each other at Orientation over the summer. But I was quickly accepted into what we deemed the "Pajamafia". My roommates were really cool too. There were three of us in a dorm that's meant for two people. We call these wonderful things "converted triples". Sadly, one of my roommates left and went to the nicer res hall on the farside of the campus (conveniently named "Farside"). So now it's just me and one other girl. She's super cool though. All the upperclassmen are so welcoming too. It's not like high school where the seniors shove the freshman in lockers and stuff. They realize, "hey, we're all adults here, and we've been in your shoes. Let me help you with all the useless junk in your car you're probably going to take back anyway." Yes, some of them were nice enough to help me and my mom carry crap up to the second floor of my res hall on move-in day. Fun Fact: none of the freshman res halls have elevators. None.
4. I'm homesick...
Yep. I miss my bed. I miss my mom. I miss actual food. I miss my friends from home too, and I miss not having to lock my bedroom door if I wanted to take a shower or use the bathroom. I also miss baking, A LOT. I make pretty awesome oatmeal raisin cookies...not to brag or anything. At least, if I wanted to go home for a weekend, I'm only an hour away. But, even with feeling all of this...
5. I've never felt so at home
Purchase is a great school, and I knew it was for me when I stepped on campus in July 2014, then once I came back in February for an interview where they told me the best news ever: "You've been accepted to SUNY Purchase!" I couldn't wait to start. Everyone is extremely welcoming and accepting here, which is great. I think their motto, "Think Wide Open" is my favorite thing, and they really live up to it.
Now that I've been here for over a month, I'm super pumped to see what the rest of the year has in store. We've got some great events, including Fall Fest in November, and Culture Shock come springtime. And there's a show almost every weekend at the Performing Arts Center (where I work which is really really cool!). The clubs are rather interesting too, and incredibly unique. We have Nerf Club, Improv Club, Stand-Up Club, and, my personal favorite, Cheese Club. Yes, we have a Cheese Club. Purchase is rather awesome, to say the least, and I'm so happy here. I'm always talking about my school, because I'm so proud of it and what it stands for. Nothing can match what I feel when I'm here. It's a sense of...belonging.