Sunday, September 7, 2014

Year 25: Back to School Edition-Dear Megan.

This is a little something I wanted to share with one of my former students who will be attending Messiah College (the college I attended) this fall! Here are a few things I think she should know about Messiah.

1. Climenhaga is haunted. Seriously. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Mostly this would only affect (effect? Both, I guess...) you if you're in Miller Theatre. I've never encountered either of the ghosts, but I have friends who have. They are friendly ghosts, but they're still ghosts. Nothing to be afraid of...just be aware!

2. Shoes are optional. You'll be making the trek to the High Center everyday for the next 4 years. Proper footwear is a must. If you have to wear heels to performance class or anything that involves going down the Climenhaga Hill, carry them. That thing is a beast! (I lost the back to my cell phone there one year. Never found it.) I have walked that hill many times in bare feet to make the journey a little easier. Remember, this is college, not high school. No one will judge you for not wearing shoes outside.

3. Lottie. Here are just a few things...You can have ice cream WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can make a root beer float WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can eat a bagel WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can have cereal WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can eat a salad WHENEVER YOU WANT. AND THERE'S A FRUIT BAR. (I had to include something healthy because I assume your mom will read this....) Take friends and check it out. Seriously so many options. Also check out the Union (the chicken fingers are amazing, and the veggie burgers are legit), and also the Falcon (the white pizza at the Falcon is seriously so so so good!)

4. Baker's Diner. Bakers is just up the road in Dillsburg. Your task is to find someone with a car (Maybe suggest going as a peer group or floor activity!), and go get some delicious diner food. Their hot chocolate comes with whipped cream and sprinkles. I can't find the picture right now, but when I do I'll make sure to tag you so you can see it. It's a good place for off-campus studying too. Take some theory friends and get away from the busyness of the Bubble. It'll be good for your soul.

5. Participate in your floor activities. I am still in touch with a few girls from my freshman floor. We would go to dinner together, see movies in Parmer (SEE THE MOVIES IN PARMER. THEY ARE AWESOME.), have movie nights in our dorm, etc... These girls are your essential your sisters for the year. And it's ok to not get along with everyone or be BFFs with everybody. But finding a few close friends besides your roommate is always good.

6. Go to a soccer game. If there's one thing that is an un-missable Messiah Experience it's the men's soccer games. Even if you're not big into sports, it's such a privilege to be at the school who holds a rare title for having Championship trophies in both men's and women's sports in the same year. Get to a game. From someone who has wept and laughed during those games, I can guarantee that it's something that you have to HAVE TO attend. Take friends!! Everything is better with more people.

7. Be outside while you still can. If you were to take a poll of the most beautiful seasons in Central Pennsylvania, I'm betting the majority of people would say Fall would come first. So enjoy it. There are few things more beautiful than Messiah in the fall. The leaves turn colors, the morning air is crisp, and on the weekends, you can go apple picking! Paulus Orchards is 9 minutes away from campus, and is a fun little place. One of my friends just told me she still has syrup in her fridge from there! Apples, pumpkins, and I think it might have a mini corn maze too! Again, take some friends. My RA organized an outing Sophomore year and it was great fun! Sitting by the Yellow Breeches is also a completely legitimate way to spend time outside too! There are benches and even a secret spot that I'd be more than happy to tell you about! Carve out some downtime to read a book, go find a place, pack some snacks and go read. Yes, academics are important, but there comes a time where you just have to veg and be outside.

8. Make friends with the theatre people. For some obscure reason, there's a myth/legend/partial-truth that theatre kids and music kids don't get along. But since you're a pianist, your talents will be called upon by lots of singers. Ask about being in the JTerm musical pit. That's a good way to get your foot in the door, and Dr. Dixon (if he's still there...I think he took a sabbatical last year...?), is super fun and really nice.

9. It's ok to pick and choose your friends. This is something I wish someone would have told me in high school. It's ok to not be friends with people you don't like. In college you will come across lots of people who might not share your viewpoints or beliefs. And that's ok! Use your discernment to figure out who will be an edifying friend, and who you can support as a friend. Looking back, I realize all the fights I had in college were ridiculous and not worth my time. And you know what, that's ok. You will make friends and you might even lose friends. But the important thing is to invest in the friendships and the communities that are God-honoring and positive!

10. Speaking of "community," pick your Created and Called for Community (CCC) professor wisely. CCC is the spring equivalent of FYS. Sometimes your peer group decides to stick together and schedule the same section of CCC. Sometimes you go your own ways. But whatever you do, make sure you know the positives of the professors. I LOVED my CCC professor. (Shout out to Rob Pepper!) He made everything clear, created a safe space for ideas, and was very very nice. I had some friends who DETESTED their CCC professor. So do your research. Ask your upperclassmen friends, or check out It's super helpful for everything actually! (Along the same academic lines, ask for help when you need it. I was so terrified of going to tutoring or office hours because I thought people would think I was stupid. But really that extra time would have saved me so much heartache my freshman year!)

11. Get involved in the Worship Community. The people you see up front leading worship during chapel? They are a few of the Messiah College Worship Community. Doug Curry is the guy to talk to about that, along with a few people in the music department. You could be one of the piano players, or a reader, or any other volunteer job they have. Check it out!

12. Go sledding down Cemetery Hill.  This is something that is on my "regrets" list. As in, I didn't do it and what the heck was I thinking?! Seriously. The first weekend of good snow (Usually during JTerm), go sledding. And then go get hot chocolate at the Union.

13. Service Trips. Into The Streets isn't your only option! The Agape Center has lots of options to get involved! I organized two Service Day trips to Theatre Harrisburg in the spring of my Junior and Senior year and they were lots of fun. You can get your friends together and decide where you're going to serve!

14. Coffeehouse. Such a great way to see all the talent your school has to offer! Also, go to B-Sides! Wednesday nights at the Union. The Student Activities Board (SAB) brings in fun bands before they get popular. It's basically the ultimate hipster experience.

15. Get to Orchard Hill and befriend President Phipps. I remember the day I saw Pres. Phipps in the Falcon and she said "Hi Star!" and it made. my. day. I had only a few interactions with her and remembered me. Go to Pizza with the Prez. It's a fun little night where she brings pizza to your dorm and hangs out and chats! Orchard Hill is her house and it's beautiful! She will sometimes host dinners, and you might even get the chance to sing for her with concert choir! She is nice and listens to the students' requests, needs, etc...!

16. HAVE. FUN. This is seriously so important. Find things that make you happy. Breathe in the breezes, soak up the sunshine. Everyone always says that college that are the best 4 years of your life, and that it flies by so fast. And I can't agree more. But there are things you can do that will make those 4 years not only the best, but the most fun! Find your niche, but also don't be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. That's where [most of] the growth happens. Be safe, be smart, be silly, and be YOU.