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

 

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! 

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.