Classics Day 2022

Salvete Omnes! This is Latin for “Hello, Everyone!” And, as a Classics Major and a lover of the Latin language, it’s something you’ll hear from me very often. As I’ve briefly mentioned in my earlier posts, I’m very involved in different co-curriculars on campus, especially within my major. Right now, within the Classics major, I’m one of the Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club editors, where we transcribe an eleventh-century manuscript of the Iliad in Greek. I’ve also been recently inducted into the Classics’ Honor Society, ΗΣΦ/Eta Sigma Phi (ESP). I’ll also be on the Classics department’s Student Advisory Committee next year, working with various things in the department. 

Zach and I at Final Certamen!

But, what I’m here to share with you today is a very exciting event Eta Sigma Phi and the many people within the department recently organized: Classics day! Classics day is when nearly 200 high school students from around the area come to Holy Cross to share their love for the Classical world. I helped volunteer along with many other of my classmates and friends all day to make this event special for the students. 

While the costume and art contests went on, I judged Certamen games a couple of floors above. Certamen is a Latin quiz bowl where two or more teams compete by answering questions about the Latin language, mythology, history, and literature. As a former Certamen player myself, it isn’t easy to recall all of this at once. And, it’s even better when you’re judging it! 

When we did all the preliminary rounds, one of my friends, Zach, and I were lucky enough to judge the final Certamen to find out who came out on top (very stressful for these students)!

Decked out with my purple and Venus socks for the Classics event!

This is just one of the many ways we connect at the college and others outside the Crusader community. I can’t wait until next year’s Classics day, and (I think) it should be the 50th anniversary since beginning this enriching tradition! 

 (Shoutout to Ned Saliba’22 for organizing this event!)

 

When the Art Textbook comes alive in Worcester

It is so hard to believe that the second semester of my first year at Holy Cross is nearly over. Well, we have a little less than half to go, but it has gone by so fast! This semester, I really took risks with my classes, and I wanted to try some new things. Since I’m still in my first year, I’m still enrolled in the same Montserrat Class. However, instead of reading the comics of beloved Superheroes, this time, we are watching movies and other visual media about the reception of these comics and the themes they deal with. It might sound like a great class, and don’t get me wrong, it is, but it’s no easy task to change the way you watch movies completely! I’m also taking the intro course for Anthropology for the social science requirement and Latin 399 on Petronius’ Satyrica (who is a wild author, to say the least!).

The last class I’m in is Introduction to Visual Arts, one of the introductory courses for the Art History department. So far, we’ve looked at art with a particular focus on the body from one of the earliest periods, the Paleolithic era, to now. It’s been fascinating learning about so much art. And I can already see my museum skills getting so much better! (A plus in my book!)

Medieval Art Wing

But, learning about art does not stay in O’Kane hall. We actually get to go out and see it for ourselves. We have to pick about a dozen pieces of any medium and period for our final project and find a common theme to connect them all. But, in more exciting news, we had to go to the Worcester Art Museum to find our central piece. Imagine Art History speed dating: forty minutes, one person, thousands of art pieces for one striking image.

I found mine: an Ancient Assyrian relief sculpture of a Winged Genie from the Palace of Assurnasirpal II. It’s a niche topic, but I’m really into divine sculptures of the Ancient world, so I’ll be looking for some similar pieces. I’ll create a virtual exhibit and possibly present it to a Worcester Public School class before the semester ends.

My Focal Piece: The Winged Genie from the Palace of Assurnasirpal II

I’m delighted I took a risk with this class: mainly because I refused to take any Art History classes in high school. Now, I just declared an Art History Minor! See, you never know what you’ll like, and Holy Cross is an excellent place to explore your interests, even if you don’t think you’ll like it!

 

One Semester Closer to my Degree: First Semester Reflections 

Well, here we are. One semester done. Half of the way done with Freshman year. So, this is the game time plays with us; you know the saying: Tempus fugit. Anyway, I’ve been home for a little more than a week already and having handed in all my finals, taken my exams, and received the grades I earned, I’ve had the chance to reflect on the first semester of my undergraduate career at Holy Cross.

First Day of Class Photo!

A New Academic Career

The part of college I and many others are most nervous about is our class. In my first semester, I took four classes (the standard for most Holy Cross students), one being the Montserrat seminar I wrote about a couple of blog posts ago. Aside from the mandatory seminar, I took three classes of interest and within my Classics major. 

The Fitz (Classics Library on Fenwick 4)

Before I actually started at Holy Cross, I knew I was going to study Classics, so taking Classics courses in the first semester of freshman year had already been a plan. 

Within my major classes, I took my first Latin class and a course on Classical Drama! No doubt, they were my favorite. We read Augustine’s Confessions in Latin, which was incredible and sparked meaningful reflection. And, in Classical Drama, we read many plays of ancient playwrights. It was very interesting and explored many themes of my own interests. 

Outside of my major, and even though I’ve been granted my STEM credits already, I decided to take Calculus 2, a math class primarily full of STEM majors. Don’t get me wrong, this was a challenging class and isn’t for everyone. But, it’s always been a goal of mine to take this course, and I’m so happy I did. (Even if it wasn’t for my major or common requirement credit.)

Taking classes outside of your major is the beauty of the liberal arts education at Holy Cross. All of my courses have already impacted my academic career significantly in their own ways. I can use the analytical skills from my math course to think critically about what a certain word means in the context of a Latin text I’m reading. I could use my visual analyses skills to better understand how we as an evolutionary society interact with each other. I mean, the possibilities with an interdisciplinary education are endless!

New Life, New Friends: A Little Bit of New in Everything

Managing the transition into college is different for everyone, but it’s not easy across the board. There is so much newness, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with classes and your social life. In my experience, try to find time, even in the slightest, to reflect on why you’re here and be sure to keep trying your best. Your best is enough. If you love what you’re doing, then you’re doing the best for yourself, and it’s a perk that others feel the energy glowing off of you.

Some Friends! (Shane, Liz, Libby, Kathryn, Julie, Alexandra, Audrey)

I’ve met some of my favorite people through clubs and classes. And, a lot of them are upperclassmen! As someone who was very intimidated by the upperclassmen at my high school, this really went away when I came here. The friends I’ve made in other grades have been mentors to me, taking me in as one of their own. And, honestly, this has made all the difference in transitioning into college socially and academically. 

Another critical group of people who have helped me transition into college easily has been my professors. Being in a close-knit community in my major has allowed me to meet most professors and establish relationships with them. So, go to office hours for class and yourself. They’re always ready to talk about anything. I always find myself in one of my favorite professor’s offices talking about our lives, and they’re not even teaching one of my courses! So, shut down that stigma where professors are super scary. Here, they’re certainly the opposite. 

Takeaways for Next Semester

This semester, amid so much struggle and change, made me very proud of myself. I’m proud of just getting to class, showing up, and putting my all into everything. (And, what I’ve earned in my courses is not a bad bonus!) In total, I’ve never felt more sure of myself deciding on what college to attend than being at Holy Cross. It’s easily the best decision of my life up until this point, and I feel grateful and lucky to have stumbled upon this gift.

So, for me and you reading this, here are some key takeaways that I’ll be bringing with me into the second semester and beyond. (And, if you’d like me to elaborate on anything, feel free to reach out!)

 

  • Go to class
  • Meet with your professors a bunch
  • Make friends in your classes 
  • Eat and drink good and energizing things 
  • Sleep 
  • Find music you like 
  • Enjoy your own company 
  • Establish your own rhythm 
  • Set goals (even small ones) for yourself

Thank you for reading along this semester! I’ll see you next semester!

 

First Christmas on the Hill 

With the end of the semester approaching, it could be hard to get in the Christmas spirit with all that stress. So, it’s difficult to pull yourself away from all your work, but Holy Cross Christmas is magically worth it. 

Friends at the Tree Lighting (Maddie, Jen, Alexandra, Shane, Kathryn, Julie, Liz)

The first Holy Cross Christmas tradition I experienced was the Christmas Tree Lighting. On a particular day, the entire campus came together on Linden Lane in front of O’Kane Hall for the lighting ceremony. Student volunteers brought delicious hot chocolate and cookies to get us in the mood as student performances began. All the acapella groups and bands performed Christmas hits, and it was beautiful. (I was so surprised by the number of groups we have!) Everyone was singing along and getting in the Christmas mood.

After the Tree Lighting!

 

After all of the performances, Father Hayes came up to the microphone and gave his annual Christmas Tree Lighting Blessing with a scripture reading and a prayer. And, it was time—the perfect moment. The trees and wreath in front of O’Kane were lit up, and Christmas at Holy Cross had officially begun!

 

 

 

 

This was an enjoyable experience for my friends and me to prepare for the Holidays. The next holiday tradition I experienced was the annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols in the Chapel (Click to watch this year’s event!). After eating a delicious Christmas dinner at Kimball Dining Hall, my friends and I headed to the chapel (very early) to get a seat for this event.

Waiting for Lessons and Carols to start! (Alexandra, Jen, Ava, Julie, Liz, Audrey)

 

We were welcomed by student volunteers and prepared for the special event. Throughout the night, members of the faculty and staff, including President Rougeau, read special Scripture readings for the holidays. And, between the readings, the Holy Cross Choir and Chamber Singers sang your favorite Holiday Classics. It was wonderful!

The Holy Cross Choir beautifully singing for the event!

 

You already know that I’ll participate in these events again next year. It was a great time to start getting in the Christmas spirit and making memories with my new friends! I would love to see some of you experiencing this with us next year!

Happy Holidays! 

A Scholarly Spider-Man: The First-Year Montserrat Program 

I’ve watched a bunch of the Marvel and DC movies and knew a bit about a couple of characters, but I wouldn’t call myself a superhero expert. So, when I found out that I was put into the seminar handling Superheroes the entire year, I was a bit unsure. I’ve made it halfway through the year-long course, and we’ve read all your favorite superheroes’ origin and famous stories in the comics: Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Black Panther, X-Men, the list goes on.

At first, I really didn’t know what I would get out of reading the comics and didn’t want to participate. But oh, was I wrong. After reading countless pages of comics per week, our Montserrat seminar would have a fascinating discussion about the comic. Our discussions include but are not limited to historical and political contexts, internal issues, and visual analyses. All of which made me feel so close to the character we were learning about.

One of my favorite parts of the first semester of the course was picking any Superhero and presenting their origin story to the class. I chose the Scarlet Witch, who has a super weird and exciting origin that required a lot of personal interpretation and analysis. After I read nearly a dozen of her comics, I began to analyze the most important aspects of her character and then presented them. It was a great experience presenting and hearing about other characters outside the syllabus.

Even though we were reading comics, we’ve gained so many valuable skills to use in other classes, like critical reading skills, creative academic writing techniques, impressive presentation abilities, and so much more. All of these are targeted by the first-year Montserrat program each student participates in. There are six clusters of seminars: contemporary challenges, core human questions, self, divine, natural world, and global society (mine!). 

One of the coolest parts about this program is that it is both a living and learning experience. That means that everyone in your cluster lives in closer proximity to each other. Personally, I’ve felt more security seeing people in my seminar and other people in the same cluster around and getting to know them. 

Each Montserrat seminar is different, but each first-year student needs to begin their Holy Cross experience with this class because of the significance of establishing academic foundations and an intimate community. So, even though I didn’t want my seminar in the beginning, now I wouldn’t have changed it in the end. 

My comic recommendation: Spider-Man Life Story (Issues #1-6) by Chip Zdarsky (Takes Spider-Man’s lives throughout six action-packed and emotional decades. It’s difficult to close. Bring tissues for Issue #6, it’s a sad one.)

 

A Local Girl from NYC’s First Football Game

Coming from a super small all-girls school in the center of New York City, I definitely never experienced any sports atmosphere, especially not football. So, when it came to the first football game of the season, I couldn’t wait. It was my first football game ever, shocking to some of my friends here, but it was worth waiting for.

Holy Cross students at a Football Game
Enjoying the Football Game! (Alexandra, Kathyrn, Liz, Libby, Shane)
First off, the Holy Cross Football Team gets hype (!) and does super well. My football knowledge is limited, and I did indeed learn the subtitles of scoring works after the game ended. Nonetheless, it’s a great time. Screaming “Go Crusaders!” on the top of our lungs and sitting on the edge of our seats with seconds left in the quarter.

Needless to say, they didn’t win the first game I went to, but it was a great experience for my friends and me. It also doubled as homecoming weekend. So many of the alumni, young and old, came back home, and we all were in a perfect moment together. This is another thing that really set in for me that I was in the right place. And, hopefully, in a few years from now, I too would be back cheering on and with the future of Holy Cross.

We also have an outstanding professional hype team! The Marching Band, Cheerleaders, Dance Team, and the incredible Baton Twirler! It’s certainly impressive, and that is a reason in itself to come to a game!
I’m certainly glad I didn’t experience that in high school (Unpopular opinion?) because I wouldn’t have imagined a better way to get acclimated to campus and get to know my new friends. But, for now, there aren’t any more home games. And, as I’m writing this, Holy Cross won their third consecutive Patriot League Championship! Go Crusaders!

My First Taste of Home Off of the Hill: Jesuit Edition

‘Twas the night before Holy Cross Freshman move-in day 2021…

After the ride up to Worcester, I began to relax, full of so many emotions: excitement and nerves. Suppose the thought of moving into college for the first time wasn’t scary enough. How about accidentally running into nearly all of the Jesuit community at dinner the day before move-in?

You read that correctly, I unintentionally met the Jesuits at Holy Cross, and it’s most definitely a highlight of my freshman year, even before stepping onto campus as a student. At dinner before the big day, my waitress mentioned that the large table in front of us were the Jesuits from Holy Cross. Definitely a coincidence! What are the odds?

Alexandra Berardelli, College of the Holy Cross, Move-In Day 2021
Move-In Day 2021

Anyway, I went up and introduced myself. I felt so much love, excitement, and already a warm welcome into the community. (Even from my future Latin professor, whose class I would soon find myself in!) They said this was their last celebration since “It was the calm before the storm,” or when all the fresh faces of students would revive the campus for the first time in a couple of months.

If this wasn’t a sign that I was going to the right place, I don’t know what was. I’ve always adored the Jesuits, their mission, and their commitment to the community. It is an integral part of what I wanted to get out of my college experience. This warm welcome I unexpectedly found helped me release any lingering fears and enjoy my move-in experience.

This was a blessing in disguise. Since this fantastic meeting, I’ve never felt more welcome. Of course, the Jesuit community and its values are one part of the broader picture of Holy Cross, but I’m a firm believer that it truly makes a difference in our home.

So, I’m glad I bumped into them; maybe I’ll be sitting at their (Jesu)lit table next time.

 

Welcome Friends!

Hello Crusaders and Friends!

My name is Alexandra Berardelli, and welcome to my First-Year Blog! I am so happy that you have found my page and excited to have you follow along on my journey as we go through the first-year experience together on the Hill. I’ve been a college student for just under a month, and I already love it here and beyond, thrilled to see what the next four years will bring and sharing them with you all!

I’d love to share a little more about myself and a few things I am thinking about sharing here! I am from Brooklyn, New York, so it’s been different and fun to explore a new city so far. I am studying Classics and hopefully studying abroad sometime soon.

Even though I haven’t been here too long, I’m already a part of a few co-curricular activities. I’ve joined the Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club (MID) and Dance Ensemble, and I’m interested in doing service with SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development).

I am a huge theatre person (Hamilton, anyone?) and foodie! So, you will definitely be hearing from me about those. Until next time, stay tuned for my next post, and I cannot wait to share my experiences with you all. If you have any questions about life at Holy Cross or something you would like to learn more about, please feel free to comment on my blog. I hope you’ll follow along on my journey!

Go Crusaders!

Alexandra