New Year’s Resolutions 2023 (From an “Anti-Resolutions” type)

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and I tend to stray away from them. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel some personal power in being able to make changes any time during the year. But, since it’s the season for sharing our hopes and dreams for the new year, I thought it might be nice to share them for a change. 2023 has not yet begun for my time back at Holy Cross, but we’ll be going back to campus later this month. For the meantime, I had a lot of free time on my hands to reflect on my time at school and this past year. 

Last year was certainly challenging. It’s no surprise that Holy Cross students are such a force because of how positively demanding Holy Cross is. And, don’t get me wrong, this is the best thing for a student trying to find their way. While it’s hard to academically challenge yourself, I feel like I’m truly making progress in several areas at Holy Cross. I finally feel comfortable with my academic strengths and weaknesses and began to optimize and target them. I am so proud of my peers and myself. It’s a step in the right direction for all of us! 

While this sounds optimistic, I always seek to find new things to challenge myself. What’s the joy of having the privilege to go to school if not to embrace not knowing something. Last semester I began some professional editorial work as a research associate for the New England Classical Journal under a Holy Cross professor. The work we’ve been doing is something new to me. As someone who loves to learn, I’m having a great experience. I thoroughly enjoy getting some practical experience of the ways of editing a big and professional publication. I’m looking forward to continuing my work throughout next semester. I’ll keep you posted about it!

When we get back to campus, I’m cracking down on all of my courses and planning Classics Day! It’s an event for high school students to celebrate their knowledge of the Classics with a series of activities hosted on campus. You might remember that I wrote a blog post about helping out with this event, but now I get to lead it as Classics Day chair. I’m beyond excited (and nervous). The biggest risk I’m taking this year (so far as I know) is possibly studying abroad in the fall. I’ll let you know when I hear back, but you might be hearing from me across the globe next semester!

2023 is full of endless possibilities. I truly hope that my next year on and off the Hill will be positively challenging and rewarding by putting myself out there more. I hope to lead a fulfilling year by surrounding myself with people I love and doing things I love. I hope to be kinder and more intentional in my thoughts and prayers. I hope to live more gracefully with gratitude in an attempt to be a force for the world. I could start with the Hill and we’ll go from there.

I’ll be around a bit more in 2023. I hope you like these blogs as much as I love writing them! Bye for now!


Holy Cross Christmas: A Worcester Winter Wonderland

‘Tis the season for a Holy Cross Christmas! With the semester finally finished and the holiday season upon us, it’s always so delightful to see what Holy Cross is doing for the holidays. As a sophomore on the Hill, I’ve gotten more comfortable with everything that goes on during this season, and I already had an idea of what I wanted to come back to from last year. 

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

First on the list was the Annual Christmas Tree Lightning in front of O’Kane. During such a stressful time as a student, it’s always so special to come together as a campus to listen to our acapella and music groups perform our favorite holiday tunes and warm up with some hot chocolate and cookies while we wait for the beautiful lighting. After anticipation built up, we all came together in prayer with our hopes going into the end of the year and blessed the tree lighting. As always, it was beautifully done.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how fond I am of the new Prior Performing Arts Center. After spending a lot more time in the center, I can confidently say that it does not disappoint. It certainly is another lovely study spot and remarkable facility for the arts. Like many spots on campus, there were stunning Christmas trees in the “beehive.” During the last week of classes, my friends and I would come for the delicious pastries and hot chocolate they had out for students, faculty, and staff. This was so thoughtful to bring so many together during such a busy time. And, of course, it was absolutely scrumptious! 

The Beehive at Christmas
The Medieval Room with a Lovely Christmas Tree

While there are several other happenings for the holidays on campus, I’d love to highlight a glimpse of the Winter Wonderland in our very own city of Worcester. As you might understand, I love going to the Worcester Art Museum, and it would not be a Holy Cross semester without at least one visit. When I went to the WAM in December, it was completely decked out in holiday decor. Each christmas tree had different decorations, which was fitting for a museum with such a diverse collection of art. I personally loved it! 

It’s always such a magical time at Holy Cross, especially when you’re with people you love. From me to you, I hope you have a special holiday season filled with lots of love and happiness. I’m sure you’ll hear from me one more time before the new year, but if you don’t have a happy and healthy new year! Looking forward to what’s to come in 2023! As always, I’ll keep you updated on this blog! 

PS. If you’re into the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, here’s an opinion article I wrote for Holy Cross’ student newspaper, The Spire, on one of their newest movies: A Holiday Spectacular



Best Meal at Kimball

I’ve yet to talk about food on the Hill, so let’s start off strong. This might be a hot take for my Crusaders out there, but I argue that the best meal at Holy Cross’ dining hall, Kimball, is breakfast. I’m more of a brunch person myself, but breakfast at Kimball is just how it goes during the week. They basically have anything you could want for breakfast, and you must use the delicious food you’re given.

During my first year at Holy Cross, I heard about the infamous omelette station, but it’s been closed for several reasons. However…this semester it was reborn. I must’ve been out of the loop because I didn’t even know it was open until weeks into this marvelous rebirth, but glory to whoever told me about it.

Every Tuesday-Thursday before class, some friends and I meet up on the omelette line and fill up a cup with our desired components. I gently slide it over to the angel working the station at the time, and in minutes the oozy, gooey, cheezy, delicious (I’ll stop) omelette rests on my plate. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

What’s your go-to omelette order? And do you take it with cheese? I’m sure you’d find something quite enjoyable without leaving campus.

Any questions about food on campus? Reach out!

A New First for All: The Prior Performing Arts Center

Everyone needs a makeover every once in a while, even Holy Cross. Maybe you’ve seen all the hype, or maybe you’ve missed it in the black hole of social media, but there’s a new and refreshing addition to the Hill: the Prior Performing Arts Center.  

I would consider myself an art person, but certainly not an artist. Growing up, I danced, but I’ve always loved watching live performances of plays, musicals, and all types of music. And this new performing arts center is absolutely remarkable. I’ve only been inside once or twice (so far), and it is incredible. My apologies for the minimal pictures; that’s just an excuse for you to get over to Worcester and visit for yourselves! This captivating space is now home to the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, a concert hall, a theater, and many spaces for students to create in whatever art form they find fit, like design, dance, theater, and so much more! 

As an art history enthusiast, I will likely find myself in the upgraded Cantor Art Gallery, given how welcoming it feels. Not to say that it wasn’t loved before; the love just grew even deeper in this new space. Well deserved if you ask me! The first time I went to the Prior Performing Arts Center was to view the current exhibition at the art gallery: “Afterimage: Visual Arts Faculty 2022.” This is a wonderful showing of Holy Cross’ own visual arts faculty showing their hard work. For someone who has a special interest in ancient and medieval art, this was certainly out of my comfort zone because it was modern and abstract art. Regardless, it was still breathtaking, and the new space gives it the perfect opportunity to show off for the first time.

Inside the Prior Performing Arts Center. They call this the “Beehive.”

In exciting news, my art history class this semester, called “Kings & Caliphs: the Art of Luxury,” will be working with the following exhibit: “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.” My professor, Amanda Luyster, has been working extremely hard and long on this project. Trust me. You will not want to miss it. I repeat. You will NOT want to miss this! January 26, 2022, through April 6, 2023. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you there! I feel so lucky to be learning under such an incredibly talented art historian whose passion shines through my course and this entire project. There is art coming from all around the world, surrounded by the Chertsey Tiles, which are being loaned from the British Museum! I know. It’s going to be insanely amazing! For our semester-long research project, I will be working closely with the Seal of the Latin Emperor Henry Flanders. Although his seal is extremely small, it is still mighty! As I begin putting together my own research as part of this lovely project, I’m lucky to be a part of this magnificent exhibition in any way.

“Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and The Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.”

Coming up in November, there will also be performances of Iphigenia by Euripides, translated by Holy Cross Classics’ very own Professor Mary Ebbott. (And, my very own Greek professor! Can I get any luckier?) Again. You will not want to miss this! I just bought my ticket, and I hope you will too! 

So, I’m not entirely sure what type of vibe you’re catching, but if you have not got the hint that you should be heading to Holy Cross to check out the Prior Performing Arts Center and these glorious events, you better reread this from the start. This is the start of something great; you can be a part of it! See you there!

Fun Fact: the Prior Performing Arts Center is in the shape of a cross, which you can see through aerial view photography. And there are doors on each side so you can walk into the heart of the center from anywhere. Fitting, if you ask me!



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!)

 

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.)