We've all heard Dorothy's famous line from The Wizard of Oz, "there's no place like home." For me, that single line could easily be identified as the single biggest reason I was so nervous about going to college - I was afraid that I be incredibly homesick because, no matter how much I thought I liked the school I picked, it would never feel the same as home. Now, four years later, I realize that I was wrong.
My favorite thing about William Woods is the family feel of the school, hands down. Thanks to the smaller size of the school, the faculty, staff, and students all have a chance to get to know each other on a much closer basis than we would have at a large school. Here, the teachers know if you miss class... and they will ask the students who do make it if they know why you're not there! True, part of the reason they ask is so they can know whether or not the absense should be excused, but they also genuinely want to be sure that the absent student is okay.
Everyone always comments on how close they are to their teachers here at William Woods, but I think the rest of the faculty and staff deserve special mention, too. Literally everyone who works on this campus recognizes you. There are two ladies that work in Tucker dining hall who always come see the plays on campus, so every time I come into Tucker they ask me for an update on rehearsals. I'm on a friendly, first-name basis with many of the people who work in the Office of Student Life, too. I actually went to lunch this last week with Debbie Schick, the lady in charge of coordinating and overseeing the LEAD program. There are professors I have not had a class with since my freshman year, but who still remember my name and stop to say hi when we pass each other on the sidewalk. I don't think I could ever fully express how much I love the environment here at The Woods!
While it is true that no university will ever feel the same as the home you grew up in, I strongly believe that the college you choose can feel like home, too. My teachers, my classmates, my bosses on campus, the theatre department, and my sorority sisters, and all my other friends on campus have all banded together to create a home away from home that I know I will miss terribly after I graduate. Dorothy may have been right, but she forgot to include another important element. There is no place like home (away from home)!
This semester is going by really fast! Here at the Woods we have less than twenty days of class, and Thanksgiving break will be here in two weeks. The weather just started getting colder, the trees are dropping the last of their leaves, and Walmart has put out their Christmas stuff. Everyone is experiencing the end of semester rush to finish up those semester long projects and take the last sets of tests before finals.
My classes are still going well. I'm towards the end of my last set of tests before finals which is crazy! I can't believe that it is already the middle of November and I'm going to be finished with this set of courses in just a few weeks. I enjoy my classes right now and I'm almost sad that they will be changing, but I'm hoping that my courses next semester are just as fun.
Psychology has gotten really interesting over the past few weeks. Right now we're talking about psychological disorders and the previous chapter was all about stress. While the disorders are not really "fun", it is interesting to learn about how many different kinds there are and what each one entails.
In Microbiology I'm learning all about viruses. They are very strange little things and they come in all shapes and do all sorts of different things in their hosts. We just took a test in Genetics on Monday and are between units at the moment. Last week in lab we isolated plasmid DNA, which is extra genetic material that gives bacteria cool little powers that aren't essential for living like antibiotic resistance or warfare chemicals. We finished up the plant research project a few weeks ago. I had normal plants (boring) but there were a few people who got mutants that will help Dr. Hesse with her research!
Organic Chemistry is quite the challenge, but surprisingly it is still interesting. We have done some cool separations and other techniques in lab. Earlier in the semester we actually identified what a particular compound was based on the temperature at which it melts! It is kind of cool that you can figure out what you have just based on one property. We also spent a few weeks isolating clove oil from whole cloves. We did a test to figure out how pure our extraction was using thin layer chromatography and UV light.
I am starting to get excited for Thanksgiving break. Some of the girls from my sorority are taking road trips to see their families as well, and a few of the people who live far away will tag a long and adopt a family for Thanksgiving if they don't want to travel all the way home. Because my grandparents live in St. Louis, my family is flying here from Colorado so we can all be together! My older sister will drive down from her school in Iowa to be with us as well. Over the break my younger sister will turn 16, and when she gets home she'll be able to get her driver's liscence (scary thought).
This weekend I'm going to the St. Louis Science Center with the Biology Club. I think I've gone before as a kid with my grandparents, but I don't really remember it. I'm excited to go see what's there now and hopefully do some exploring in the city!
Just in case you didn’t really get how much I love being a part of the Greek life here at William Woods, I want to take this week’s blog to talk about another great thing that the sororities here offer: Greek families!
If you have older siblings, chances are that you have a “big sister” back home that you might feel sad about leaving. Well, when you join a sorority at WWU, you get another one! Every new girl in the house sorority gets paired up with an older member (sophomore or above) who becomes your “big sis” or simply your “big”. Your big sis is someone you really hit it off with during your first few weeks of school. She is your go-to person in the house, she plays a special role in your initiation ceremony, and she generally ends up being someone you maintain a special connection with for the rest of your college career (and potentially the rest of your life!). When you come back to campus to begin your second year at WWU, you have the chance to experience the relationship from the other side by taking one of the new freshmen as your “little.”
Some people become so close to their bigs/littles that they adopt another term for it: “mom” and “dot” (short for “daughter”). Using these terms helps illustrate the family trees that grow within the sorority—your big’s big sis becomes your “grandbig,” just like your little’s little sis becomes your “grand-little” or “granddot”! Sometimes, a family tree will grow to include aunts, siblings, and great-grandbigs! The fraternities develop similar family trees; every new freshman (or transfer student) gets a “pledge dad”, as an older member you have a chance to get a “pledge son”, and so on.
I know it sounds really complicated at first, but once you join a Greek organization and actually become a part of a family, I promise it starts to make sense! If you’re utterly confused at this point, though, just know that joining a sorority or a fraternity gives you the opportunity to become a part of another family at WWU!
I absolutely love this aspect of Greek life. It gives you an automatic connection with certain members of your organization, and it is always so much fun to watch your family grow every year when new the new freshmen/transfer students arrive!
When I was applying for college, I never even considered Greek Life. I didn't see myself as your typical "sorority girl", the ones who show up in television shows and movies. Then I went to Freshman Advantage and I met many mentors who participated in Greek Life here at The Woods, and my opinion about Greek Life changed a little bit. Upon moving in, I still didn't expect to join a house, but at the end of recruitment I had fallen in love with Greek Life and Alpha Phi.
Greek Life on campus is a great way to get involved! As a Sophomore, I am an officer in my house and I've made great friends. We have a lot of fun events across the Greek Community and in Alpha Phi.
Every year we have a Father's Weekend in the fall where we invite our dads to come visit. We just had ours two weeks ago, and my dad came and we had a great time!
The highlights of the weekend were a skeet/trap shooting trip, and a BBQ at our sorority house! The first time my dad and I shot skeet was last year during Father's Weekend. We both hit 3 targets out of about 35. This year neither of us hit a single target (we like to blame it on the rain, though that probably had nothing to do with it), but we had a blast anyway! Some of the other dads had lots of shooting experience, and they tried to help us but we didn't get all that far. I'll be able to give my dad a hard time about his aim for a very long time!
When I first decided to join a house, my parents did not really understand what it meant. They, like me, only knew the stereotypes portrayed by the media. After coming to Father's Weekend two years in a row, my dad understands exactly why I went Greek. I have made so many great relationships, memories, and I have learned leadership skills and made connections that will help me later in life.
This coming weekend is Fall Family Weekend for William Woods. My mom is coming to visit and I am so excited to see her! It is nice that my parents can come to Fulton to spend time with me during the school year. They like to "adopt" other girls in my sorority who live too far away for their parents to come. We all go shopping in Columbia, out to dinner, or even just hang out and watch movies. It's really fun! Having so many sorority sisters has given me a home here at William Woods and my "family" has gotten so much bigger!
I hope you are enjoying fall! Remember to spend some time with your family