Rushing into Sophomore Year!

Hello fellow Crusaders, friends, family, and everyone in between!

Welcome (back) to my blog! For those who may not know me, my name is Alexandra Berardelli. I’m a sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, studying Classics with an Art History minor. If you’ve been following me on this blog for a while now, you already know about some of the cool things I’ve been keeping up with for the past year. Well, you’re in luck because my time at Holy Cross keeps getting better and better. 

My semester is already looking pretty incredible, and we’re less than a month in. If you’ve been reading, you know by now that I love to be involved on campus with my friends and classes, and I’ve been doing just that. I want to keep this first blog post short and sweet, but I hope that you will follow me along this exciting journey of my second year, knowing that I am constantly learning and open to new opportunities that come my way. Please reach out to me if there is anything, in particular, you would like to see on this blog. Anything is fair game for me! 

That’s all for now! I’ll write again later this week!

Peace out, Crusaders!

Alexandra

Annual First Day of Class Picture!

 

First-Year Down

We did it; I finally finished my first year at Holy Cross. And, honestly, it was incredible.

The year was great! Difficult, but great. I had the opportunity to learn about myself, my community, and my aspirations, all within this short time. While it was not easy to transition into the college lifestyle, the welcoming environment on Mount Saint James made it all worth it.

My biggest takeaway and piece of advice for incoming and prospective students would be to throw yourself into everything Holy Cross (or whatever college you choose) has to offer.

In my first blog post, I briefly touched on things I wanted to be a part of, and every bit of community I found exceeded my greatest expectations. Coming out of my first year, I found community in all of my classes, with my peers and my professors. I found community in the clubs, forming relationships with other students in my grade and upperclassmen. And, in general, in college life, I found so many amazing people that I now call my friends.

I’m very proud of myself. And, if you’re reading this having finished your first year, another year, graduating high school, or whatever your most recent achievement is: celebrate it! I believe the smallest victories make the most impact in our lives!

Let’s take some time to reflect on what we’re proud of, and I’ll tell you about what I’ve gotten involved in already in my first year (and plans for next). I made my high school dream a reality when I declared my Classics major. After coming here as one of the Bean scholars, being a Classics major was inevitable, but I would not want it any other way. I found a new interest in art history, and on a whim, I’m now an art history minor. (See, you never know what will pique your interest!)

I found a niche research community in the department’s Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club (MID), where we are currently working on indexing one of the oldest Iliad manuscripts we have. I met some amazing people and great friends in the Classics honor society, Eta Sigma Phi.

Not only have I found my academic community, but the friends I’ve met are incredible. Holy Cross truly attracts a certain person: a caring, independent, collaborative, hard-working eternal scholar of the world. And, I’m certainly grateful to have found my people that uphold similar values in this community and want to maintain a flourishing environment.

I’ve even interacted with many people at the college as one of the SodaStream partners, where I promoted the SodaStream Professional machines on campus. You probably saw me with tons of giveaways in Hogan. Maybe, we’ll see more of that next year!

Next year, I’m joining the Student Advisory Committee for the Classics department. I get to sit in and help the Classics faculty with decisions about curricula, requirements, and other events. I’m also pumped to be the Associate Editor for Parnassus, the Undergraduate Classical Journal, which was a blast to work on this year. And, in more exciting news, I’m off to Rome (tomorrow!) to begin the Maymester Program: Rome: History and Imagination. I’ll be posting a lot of pictures on my Instagram if you want to follow along there: @alexandraberardelli

Most importantly, if this year has shown me only one thing, it is that I am in the right place. I’ve never felt more at home, with the right people, doing the right things, until now. And I am eternally grateful for that miraculous call from God (and the gods) last spring.

Thank you — I appreciate all of you who read my blog. It was an honor writing for you to read, and I hope I’ll be able to do more of this soon. Some highlights of my year have to be: seeing Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with my Montserrat class, daily lunches with my friends at Lower Kimball, spending hours in Levis Browsing Room, and camping out on Fenwick 4 with friends.

Whenever you are and whoever is reading this, I wish you the best of luck. And, remember to throw yourself out there because you never know what opportunities can change your life for the better.

So far, I’m known as having the “yolo” type of mentality, and I leave you with one of my favorite Latin quotes I discovered this past semester.

dum vivimus vivamus
(While we live, let’s live — from Epicureanism)

Peace out, Crusaders!

Alexandra Berardelli
arbera25@g.holycross.edu

 

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!

 

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.)