I'm Glad I Chose To Live In A Learning Living Community

I'm Glad I Chose To Live In A Learning Living Community

Life. Changing.
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A Learning Living Community (LLC) is a program offered at most colleges that allow a group of students to live together in a dorm who share similar interests. People in LLC’s also often take some classes together and have special events specifically to their program. While most LLC’s are for first year students only, the one that I’m in has upperclassmen as well as freshmen. Entering college, I didn’t know anybody who was also dorming, so this was an attractive offer. I signed up for the Austin Scholars LLC at Merrimack, and I didn’t know how the decision would change my life.

I was honestly nervous at first, as I didn’t know anybody and living away from home for the first time was already a massive change in my life. But everybody was kind, and most people in my LLC were like me at the beginning of the year: not knowing anybody, but eager to make friends. In the Austin Scholars program, we have an emphasis on the Augustinian value of community service and the values of the Catholic Social Teachings, and as a result, we all sign up for service hours in nearby cities and go to relative events when they happen (a few times a month, it’s very flexible).

While Austin Scholars has a religious aspect, it has never made me uncomfortable. I have learned a lot about religion, and as a result my spirituality has grown significantly. I have made friends through the program that I most likely would have not known otherwise. The people that I don’t know as well in the program are kind, and everyone is supportive of each other as a whole.

If your school has an LLC, I would highly recommend applying to join it. Especially if you’re like me and you had no high school friends entering your first year in college with you, then an LLC is a perfect way to meet new people. Seeing familiar faces around campus all the time and always having someone to hang out with is really the best thing. While it's not perfect, I'm glad that I was able to meet such a diverse group of people my first year in college.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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The Last Day Of Winter Break Feels Nothing Like The Last Day Of Summer Break

The last day of winter break is as heartbreaking as the last day of summer break, but they bring about two different types of sadness that are difficult to decipher but easy to feel.

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Compared to summer break, winter break was extremely productive.

This is still a relative comparison, meaning I was also unproductive during winter break. Just... not as unproductive. Whatever sleep I had completely lost during the last few weeks of first semester I was able to make up over break. In fact, I couldn't recall the last time I had slept so much until I realized that summer break existed.

And as the days have gone by and winter break has come to a close, I've realized that the sadness that comes with the end of winter break is much different than the blues that come with the end of summer.

Within literature, we are often taught that summer represents rebirth while winter represents death, and while I understand the interpretation to a great extent, both summer and winter can represent both birth and death. In a less philosophical statement, for me, what sets the two apart from one another are the memories that make up each, whether these are clear-cut, classic examples or reasons why each season stands out.

The last day of summer means jumping headfirst into a pool full of books and deadlines. It means giving up combating humid weather for staying inside, reading and writing as the weather transitions from warmth to freezing cold. The weight of sadness on that last morning before school begins can almost be considered dull. Yes, it tugs with that everlasting reminder that nothing lasts forever, but it's not sobering.

SEE ALSO: What The Last Day Of Summer Break Feels Like

You're stuck in a haze of brushing your teeth, double-checking your backpack to make sure you still have everything you need, and then going back to watch TV. It hits you that school is starting, but it doesn't wake you up from the cycle you've instilled in your brain in the past two months. Which is why the next morning, when you wake up at 7 a.m. (and the sky is still dark outside), you're confused at how you got there. How your last two months sped by in a flash.

And when you think back to that last day of summer break a few months later, you remember absolutely nothing. It's as if the day is meant to be forgotten.

Could this state of being forgotten parallel with the fear of being forgotten after death? Maybe summer is widely considered a time of rebirth, but do you not feel more in despair at the end of summer than excited at the thought of having had time to rebuild yourself?

Fast forward from August (or September) to December, and semester one is finally over. Midterms are thrown in the back of one's mind as every single study session is out of memory, no longer necessary to remember now that break has begun.

Winter break for me (and even the midterms season right before it) is my favorite time of the year. It's cold outside, coffee shops become hot spots for study groups and everyone seems happier. Plus, the holiday season is well underway, so the holiday spirit is still hanging in the air.

Which is what seems to make that one week of studying, stressing and test-taking so memorable. I spend entire nights cramming for midterms but walk in the next morning seeing everyone holding bags with presents in them or holiday cards to give to their friends. There's this feeling of contentment hanging around that makes the late nights worth it. It's a wonderland disguised as a week of pain, which is one of the most fascinating things to me.

So once midterms are finished, all that's left for the year is break. The first time in four to five months that school is truly out. The memories of winter break are always so fresh in my mind because by this time, everyone's minds are racing with activity — ideas and plans for meeting up with friends and packing for vacations, among other things.

But once New Year's Day is over, the happiness vanishes. It's sobering.

You're slapped with the realization that whatever dream you've been in for the past two weeks is over, and it's time to prepare for second semester. The morning you wake up and realize it's the last day of winter break, your heart sinks. You can't watch anything on TV that day because you're thinking about the next day and the entire semester that comes with it.

You can't really think about much besides school starting again because you're not ready to jump back into the pool of books and deadlines. With the new year, you've told yourself you'll be a new and better person, but now that you're confronted with an opportunity to improve yourself, you're not willing to change.

The rebirth that you're forced to undergo as part of the end of winter break is the one thing that prepares you for the new semester. The sinking of your heart in your chest is only a side reminder that it's time to get back to work.

And as you compare the end of your summer break to the end of your winter break, you realize there's not much to take from the end of summer besides the cartoons playing on TV those final mornings. But the end of winter break? You remember everything that has somehow prepared you to dive back into the deep end of the now-frozen pool.

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