Honors student reflects on Italian culture

[Editor’s note: The author, Hannah Jones, is a recipient of a 2019 Honors study abroad scholarship. She studied in Sansepolcro, Italy, in May 2019. Below, Jones discusses her experiences, and how she hopes to implement her knowledge into her future classroom.]

Before I even stepped foot on Italian soil, my study abroad group spent a whole semester learning about the country’s culture, history, and customs. I was amazed to discover that so much of how I structure my day is dependent on where I was born geographically. Italians, unlike most Americans, have crafted and cultivated the art of appreciation, especially when it comes to time. Each morning we would drink a cappuccino and eat a pastry at Caffe Gerasmo. Then we were ready to take on a full day.

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Because we were primarily studying the educational practices of Italy, we typically headed to a different school each morning to observe and ask questions. Each school was so gracious in sharing with us just what they were learning and how proud they were of their students. In Italy, it is common practice to complete your school day by 1pm, then to head home for a family lunch and an afternoon of homework or other responsibilities. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, typically several courses long and not rushed. Instead, it is the centerpiece for a culture built on family and food, which I am thankful to have caught a glimpse of through our lunches in the Palazzo Alberti. [Editor’s note: at left, students eat lunch in the Palazzo.]

After experiencing Italian culture, I am certain that I want to cultivate a lifestyle and future classroom that value quality work and integrate an attitude of appreciation for each moment that I experience and each person that I encounter. 

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A group of Meredith students pose with their Onyx. Hannah Jones is pictured second from left.

 

5 Tips for Finishing the Spring Semester Strong

As Honors students begin to see the first flowers bloom and bright rays of sunshine that signal the start of warm weather, this time of year is also one that can be chaotic and hectic– exam season! Exams are just around the corner and will be upon us in the next few weeks. Whether you are feeling stressed or excited to take on this challenge, read on to find some tips to help you finish the semester strong!

1. Plan out your exam week schedule ahead of time– and stick to it. Sitting down and writing when all of your exams take place will help you stay in a much calmer mindset throughout, and ensure that you won’t forget any tests or assignments. Using a planner or calendar is also a huge help–this will help you make certain that you can give 100% of your time and effort to these deadlines.

2. Take breaks, and take care of yourself. This tip is a game changer. Studying and putting a lot of effort into finals is important; however, it is still crucial to find time to eat well, hydrate, sleep properly, and exercise. This combined with taking mental breaks will help you put your best foot forward during exam week.

3. Manage your time well, and don’t wait until the last minute to start studying. Set aside a period of time every day to study chunks of material rather than cramming the night before your finals start. Not only will this decrease stress and prevent your brain from being overloaded with information, but there are also countless studies that prove this is the most effective way to study for exams. This is definitely a win-win situation: there is a better chance that you receive a good grade and you are more likely to feel prepared for your exams, thereby setting you up for success.

4. Study with peers and classmates. Reviewing lessons and concepts with those who have been in your classes all semester may give you a new perspective on the material. In addition, teaching the material to others and studying in a group setting can help you retain more information.

5. Contact professors if you come across any questions regarding content and class materials. Asking these last minute questions will give you all the avenues necessary to tackle your exams head-on!

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Honors students, hang on these last few weeks of the spring semester! Good luck to all on your final exams, and the Honors Program hopes you will have a fun and restful summer break!

5 Ways to Practice Self-Care over Spring Break

College is a busy time, and a journey filled with ups and downs. Although we wouldn’t trade these experiences and memories for the world, let’s face it: it can be hard to find time to relax, rest, and take time to focus on ourselves. Extended breaks and holidays are perfect opportunities to practice self-care. Below are five simple ways to help Honors students relax over spring break.

  1. Sleep! This is definitely the most important on this list. Sleep is a necessity and often sacrificed in order for Honors students to fulfill other commitments and obligations. Take advantage of this time to regain energy, and your body and mind will thank you.
  2. Spend some time outside. Whether it be taking your dog for a walk or going for a jog in the park, find time to be active. This will clear your mind and will help you come back to Meredith feeling refreshed and motivated to finish the second half of the semester.
  3. Catch up with people you don’t see as much during the chaos of college. This may be your best friends from home, your parents, or your favorite teacher from high school. Hanging out with loved ones and others who support your endeavors will provide encouragement, which in turn will keep you in a positive mindset.
  4. Schedule time away from the screen. People are spending more time than ever on social media, and technology is becoming a crucial part of day-to-day life. Although technology is fabulous, too much time on these platforms can, sadly, bring us down. It is essential to put away electronic devices in order for us to recharge and remind ourselves of our potential.
  5. Explore the world around you! Projects, tests, and assignments can make it difficult for spontaneous travel to occur. Utilize spring break to travel near or far. Try out the new coffee shop in your hometown, spend a day at the beach, or drive across the country to adventure. Whatever the expedition may be, make the most of it by soaking in every second, and taking lots of pictures!

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Happy Spring Break, Honors Angels! Enjoy your time off with friends and family, and congratulate yourself on all of your achievements so far this year!

Students prepare for Scholars’ Weekend

The spring semester is in full swing here at Meredith. February is upon us, and with that comes a fun part of being an Honors student- participating in Scholars’ Weekend! Scholars’ Weekend will be held this coming weekend, Sunday, Feb. 17- Monday, Feb. 18. This is a time in which rising college students who are qualified and interested in the Meredith Honors Program, Teaching Fellows, and other scholarships interview and get a taste of what being a Meredith student is like. The co-chairs this year are freshman Barbara Barrier and sophomore Kim Schuh. Current Honors students are helping in a variety of ways, from hosting a student in their dorm overnight, to walking groups of students around to interviews and other events held throughout the weekend.

“Students can volunteer to be Group Leaders which lead groups of prospective students around according to their group’s schedule for the day.  Another option is an Interview Leader Escort, in which the student will take certain students to their interview room location. What is most important every year is the need for students to be Overnight Hosts!  Hosts will house one or two students overnight after the stressful yet exciting day of interviews for the prospective students is over.”

-Kim Schuh, Class of 2021

Many Honors students are excited about getting to welcome and meet some prospective new Honors sisters. Students remember when they interviewed at Scholars’ Weekend and may look back fondly on the experience.

“When I pulled through the front gate for Scholars’ weekend, I was the most excited, nervous, and anxious I’d even been. I had no idea what was waiting for me. Looking back, I remember it like it was yesterday. Everyone I met was so kind and spoke highly of Meredith. After being here for a year, I understand why they loved it so much. Being surrounded by so many smart and strong women for that weekend made me so excited to start my experience here.”

-Aly Henneberry, Class of 2022

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Aly Henneberry, pictured at right, poses for the photo booth during Scholars’ Weekend 2018.

Students may also remember the day that they received their acceptance to the Honors program.

“That weekend I got a taste of just how special the people of Meredith College really are! I met a few fellow Class of 2021 members, but most of all, I discovered that Meredith is where I wanted to be. I was elated to receive my admission into the Honors Program, and my parents and I celebrated the achievement with a trip to the Meredith bookstore!”

-Ashleigh Murr, Class of 2021

Current students are excited to see what this year’s Scholars’ Weekend will bring, and are grateful to the Honors program for all of the opportunities this program has provided for them thus far!

Honors Students Reflect on Holiday Break

As Honors students return to campus and adjust back to the hustle and bustle of college, many students are excited about what the new semester will bring, but also thankful for the time they were able to spend with friends, family, and loved ones. Below are excerpts from a few Honors students in which they discuss how they spent the holiday season.

“My holiday break was fun and relaxing! I went home to my family in Chapel Hill. We actually just moved, so it was the first time everyone was in the new house! Right before Christmas, we visited my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who all live in South Carolina. I enjoyed delicious food, fun games, and movies with hot cocoa. I even got to spend time with my friends and my cat, Moses!”

-Kristen Viera, Class of 2021

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Kristen Viera, middle, is pictured with two of her relatives.

“I was at home in Willow Springs, NC for most of the holiday break.  My mom’s family is local (they live in Buies Creek and Raleigh), so we spent time with them on Christmas and on my grandmother’s birthday.  We also visited my dad’s family in South Carolina for a few days. Probably my favorite part of break was staying with my best friend at her house in Charlotte and meeting her adorable puppy, Avery.  All in all, it was a fun and relaxing break.”

-Jane Kelley, Class of 2019

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Jane Kelley, standing second from right, poses for a photo with her family.

“Over the holiday break, I made sure to cherish every last moment of 2018 with my family and friends because soon I will be embarking on a 22 hour trip to study abroad for a semester in Sydney, Australia! Holiday break consisted of lots of laughter, cookies, and good times. Spending time with loved ones is truly what makes life magical!”

-Fareena Qamar, Class of 2020

Students: Keep Going Strong!! Happy New Year, and best of luck in all of your endeavors this semester!

 

Caroline in the City of Light

Note: Caroline G. ’19 is a dual-degree Honors junior. She is preparing a BSW and a BA in Psychology. This past spring, she received an Honors study abroad scholarship for a month of study in Paris, where she is today. Here is Caroline’s blog post from the French capital:
 
Thanks to the support of the Honors program, I have been fortunate to spend the 
last three weeks studying social work in Paris, France, with L’​École Pratique de Service Socia​l (EPSS). Each July, the EPSS offers a month-long course taught in English for international students, professors, and professionals in social work and related fields. Through the program, I have met people from Tajikistan, Czech Republic, Canada, Romania, Mexico, and the US. 
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Paris at dusk, July 2018

Since a brief visit to Paris at the end of high school, I have wanted to return to the City of Light. Summer school at EPSS combines lectures, group visits to social service agencies, and individual or paired placements for an immersive experience across many social work topics: homelessness, mental health, child protection, and more.
At the end of our first week, we traveled to France’s Loire Valley, visiting Blois, Cheverny, Amboise, Chambord, and Chenonceaux to discover the beautiful châteaux there.  Closer to Paris, we were introduced to more aspects of French social work through visits to Versailles, the ​Musée d’Orsay​, and the Louvre.
Attending an affiliate study abroad program alone exemplified to me the independence and courage that my experience at Meredith as an Honors student helped me to develop. I’m excited to close out this chapter in my life with a quick trip to Amsterdam. ​À​bientôt​, Meredith College! 

Honors news from Italy

Since 2015, twelve (12) Honors students have received a total of $35K in Honors study abroad scholarships for study in Denmark, England, France, Italy, and Mexico. Application materials for 2019 scholarships will be sent to Honors students in early December.

Today’s bloggers are Honors students Christa Soyars ’20 (Public Health / PSY) and Victoria Penna ’19 (BIO / PSY). Both are recipients of 2018 Honors study abroad scholarships and both are studying in Italy this very month! Read on . . .

After living in Sansepolcro for three weeks, I was reminded about how important it is to surround yourself with a community of supportive and encouraging people. From the moment I arrived, I felt so welcomed by everyone I met in this tight-knit community.

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The author visits the medieval hilltop town of Anghiari, near Sansepolcro

Each week, we were fortunate to spend time learning about the Italian language, food, and festivals from a group of locals. From figuring out how to properly taste olive oil to watching the traditional Sbandieratori flag show, it was evident that the people of Sansepolcro truly care about each other, their community, and their culture.

During our travel break, I ventured off to nearby Siena. Learning how to travel independently was a liberating experience I will never forget! I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to travel all around Italy and realize how fortunate I am to have found a supportive community at Meredith College.

–Christa Soyars


 

This summer I was granted the opportunity to be a part of the Exploring Cultures Through Service program in Italy.  I had such an amazing experience while abroad.  I visited new cities, served in the community, tasted almost every gelato flavor, made

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The author takes a break during her Exploring Cultures Through Service program

fantastic new friends, and so much more.

This was an experience I had been contemplating pursuing for a long time, and I am so thankful that I didn’t let my worries prevent me from missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Studying abroad gave me greater confidence as well as a global perspective that I would not have gained otherwise.

I am so thankful for the Honors Program, not only for awarding me with a scholarship to make this dream a reality, but also for molding me into a strong student able to take on the academic challenge of completing a three-week course while abroad.

–Victoria Penna


Coming later this year: a blog from Paris by Honors student Caroline Garrett and a couple more from London by Honors senior Mary Kolisnichenko.