Day 298

It has been around 10 months since I’ve been on campus. There’s a possibility I will be back in 22 days. It is because of this upcoming arrival that I have found myself reflecting on my time during the pandemic and what role Holy Cross has played in it. There is no doubt that there have been challenges and difficulties of all kinds and varying intensities for people from all walks of life. No one was able to escape the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopefully my fall semester recap and this reflection provides helpful insight on student life within the Holy Cross community during remote learning and what I’ve taken away from my experiences.

I was in Dinand Library studying for a midterm when Father Boroughs sent out the email explaining to students and faculty that we were to leave campus by Saturday and take a week or more break before classes were reconfigured into an online format. Watching the reactions of other students also studying will always be a surreal moment to me due to the spectrum of emotions I witnessed and how unprecedented that situation was. A few days later, I packed my dorm room up and said goodbye to my friends, unaware of how long it would be again until I stepped foot on campus and just what shape my education was going to take.

When online learning truly began, I was amazed at just how much work my professors had put into adjusting their course plan to accommodate these drastic changes that had occurred. Personally, I have had very fair and understanding experiences in my coursework and interaction with my professors throughout remote learning. They have shown sympathy for the difficulties that come with the online format and worked hard to still maintain an interesting and challenging semester. I do not wish to speak to all students’ experiences, but this is what I personally found.

Before the fall semester started I had luckily been able to extract some helpful strategies from my experiences with remote learning in the spring. I kept myself on a strict routine and tried to treat each as normal as I could. Now I couldn’t replicate waking up for an 8am class and walking across campus in the middle of winter, but I certainly could get up at the same time and find something to do that filled up what would usually be a 30 minute routine. I found that my participation in class had actually increased due to the fact that it was some of my more major socialization within quarantine. That may sound crazy but I found it to be true and it honestly was a positive. And above all, still going to office hours with my professors on Zoom. Occasionally I even turned to YouTube and other sources if I really was struggling to understand concepts or get a better grip on a reading. That is what I took away academically from this online experience.

Socially, the remote format is not optimal obviously. As I mentioned, class becomes somewhat of a focal point of socialization in my experience. However, study groups did form overtime and “break out rooms” on Zoom during class were opportunities to meet other students. I stayed in touch with friends through FaceTime, Xbox Live, and Discord primarily; I’ve heard a million different ways people have stay connected. Feeling connected to Holy Cross was, and has been, difficult throughout the pandemic. With sports cancelled and most other activities also temporarily on hold, the distance was hard to ignore. However, it was always exciting to discuss the possibility of going back with friends, every email sparking debate.

One beacon of hope I found was Dr. Anthony Fauci. A former alumni of Holy Cross, his daily appearances on the COVID-19 press conferences and numerous interviews were a consistent reminder of the HC community. His work through tremendous adversity was inspiring. I saw other sources of inspiration throughout our community as well. Many current students, alumni, and faculty found ways to show support and further the Black Lives Matter movement courageously in very tumultuous times. I even remember a student being interviewed by a Boston news station for creating a charity car wash in response to the Beirut Explosion this year, giving away all proceeds to help in relief to all those affected. While these have been trying times, I found strength and motivation from my fellow student and Holy across community members and all that they have done to help those who need it. It is by following the mission statement of Holy Cross to be “men and women for and with others”, our community has stayed connected. Remote learning has provided a plethora of challenges at varying levels for each individual, but ultimately it has been the community values instilled in us that continue to form a sense of camaraderie.

Start of the Second Semester

Finally back on campus after a long break! Feels good to be back with the Hanselfam (Hanselman Dorm on Instagram) and see my friends again. It’s been refreshing to have brand new classes and a new routine so far. One of the most fun things I’ve done since I’ve been back is the open skate downtown in the Worcester Common Oval. Holy Cross provides transportation on the weekends to this event and it’s a great way to get out and mingle with the community. I’ve also been to the Cantor Gallery showing of “Warm Room”, which was an unique opportunity to view high quality art. It’s been an eventful first couple weeks and I’m sure there’s much more to come!

My First Semester at Holy Cross

I cannot believe how fast time has flown. It seems like just yesterday I was unpacking everything in my dorm room. Now it’s winter break and I’ve been able to catch my breath after a very intense round of finals. Reflecting on these past four months I cant believe all that happened. Beyond my new found caffeine addiction, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the positives that came out of my first semester in college. So let’s go through a quick semester review!

First, my impression of the academic transition from high school to College of the Holy Cross. I came from a rural high school in northern Michigan, so some of my friends who went to larger or more specialized school were a little ahead of me due to more abundant opportunities at their schools. But in no way did I feel out of my league at Holy Cross. The only difference was I had to put extra effort into my studies occasionally. This is absolutely possible to achieve and through the help of PALs, the Writing Workshop, or other resources for academic assistance on campus that are here purely for the purpose of helping students succeed. Not to mention attending office hours regularly, I personally tried to visit every one of my English professor’s hours because whenever I went in my understanding of the material progressed dramatically. Consistent routines and study habits turned out to be critical along the way as when it comes to midterms or finals there is no ability to fake it. That being said, some of my best study or writing sessions happened after working out or having fun with my friends for an hour or two; sometimes it’s good to switch it up. As long as a true effort is made, generally you will get the results you want.

End of the First Semester

Hello all! I just finished my first semester at Holy Cross! With finals out of the way and a long break ahead, I’m hoping to get a fair amount of blogging in. Stay tuned for upcoming posts!

Midterm Madness

I’m back!

And I’m glad to announce that I’ve officially survived my first midterms at College of the Holy Cross. A culmination of tests, quizzes, and papers all made for a very exciting and tiresome couple of weeks. It feels good to be done with them but it was certainly a daunting task, so here are a few tips for those of you out there with finals or midterms of your own coming up.

Personally, I found that understanding the balance between studying efficiently and just studying to ease stress is critical. There were times where I found myself studying for long periods of time only to realize I wasn’t absorbing as much information as I expected. This is a great time to just take a step back and go for a walk around the library, or Cool Beans for an iced chai latte (highly recommend).

Also making sure you have a good routine set in place is important. Whether its taking a nap midday, going for a run, or just hanging out with friends at a certain time, find time to decompress and put things in perspective. Winging it is generally a bad idea and can be unhealthy. Plenty of sleep and healthy habits are key to optimal studying.

I felt as though all my professors prepared me thoroughly for their midterm tests or papers. What is expected of you to know and understand is clearly outlined in lecture, and can especially be clarified by attending office hours. These tests and papers are not easy, but successful results are easily achieved by using all the resources available. Study sessions in the natural sciences called PALs, help with papers at The Writers Workshop, and of course the simple action of just asking questions in class or at office hours.

Anyways, I’m off to enjoy the first snow day of the year here on campus. Those Nor’easters are wicked!

Classes in “Fall” Swing

As mentioned in my last post, move-in went very smoothly and so did the orientation program. Orientation consisted of many presentations about the campus, what to expect, do’s and don’ts, etc. It also included plenty of walking up and down Mt. St. James, which definitely helps you acclimate to the steep campus.  Beyond the presentations and walking, there were a bunch of fun events planned each day such as food trucks and a campus wide party called “The Edge”. Overall it was a great five days and I met many of my friends during orientation.

The first week of classes came with a lot of excitement, but at the same time it could be daunting at points. When one of your professors hands out the syllabus which shows you’ll be having a test over “Atomic Spectroscopy”, it isn’t always the most comforting feeling. But as I found out through the first week or to, if you go to office hours and any other helpful resources then you’ll be just fine. Every single one of my professors has been incredibly welcoming and truly passionate about what they are teaching.

Beyond classes, the first couple weeks are very odd because everyone is still trying to make friends and figure out a routine. This is completely normal and everyone goes through it. Personally, I started with an entirely different friend group than I have now, but I still keep in touch with them too. Holy Cross is a very tight knit community so as you get to know more people you’ll essentially start seeing your friends everywhere. It one of my favorite aspects of the campus community because sometimes a smile from a familiar face can really impact your day for the better.

That’s essentially the run down for the first couple of weeks. It’s currently midterms and that can get a little crazy, which I’ll talk about soon also, but I hope to be posting more frequently in the near future. Check back soon for a routine day in the life of a Holy Cross student, midterms, and some fun experiences I’ve had since getting on campus!

Move-In

After a relaxing summer, all that stood between me and started my first year at Holy Cross was 891.2 miles of roads. The 14 hour road trip was advantageous as I was able to brush up on our required summer reading, “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells, along with spending some quality time with my family before college.

The trip went smoothly and we arrived in Worcester the night before move-in. Waking up the next morning was a little bit of a blur. I had so much excitement for finally arriving on campus and getting settled in that I was unable to sleep for much of the night. Nonetheless, I couldn’t wait for the day ahead.

Pulling through Linden Lane Gate we were greeted by alumni and students who were cheering us on to the dorms. Finally we found Hanselman Hall, my dorm, and we were greeted again by enthusiastic students who grabbed my luggage from the car and took it to my room.

After getting lost and taking a few wrong turns in the dorm, I finally made to my room. I spent an hour or two setting up my room, along with meeting my roommate, and then went to my first lunch at Kimball Dining Hall. All that was left was to start orientation.

Greetings from the 508

Welcome Everyone!

          Hello, I’m Hunter Gutt. I am a first year student here at Holy Cross. Being part of the blogging program is a tremendous honor and opportunity to hopefully create a unique source of insight to everyday life here on Mt. St. James. Over the course of this academic year I will be sharing with you my various experiences both in and out of the classroom, with the intentions of painting a comprehensive view of campus culture and all the extraordinary opportunities available.

          So, how did a kid from rural Northern Michigan end up at Holy Cross? Well, it began with a simple tradition. I would travel to New England to visit family and friends every summer, and during those trips we would always stop at a few college campuses along the way. This routine started around eighth grade, and ended the summer before my senior year. As you can imagine, we covered a lot of ground, visiting somewhere around 21 or more colleges.

          These visits allowed me to see what I liked and didn’t like in campuses. From Cornell to the University of Michigan, each one brought a unique prospective and refined what I was looking for in a school. Eventually, I concluded that my three main concerns with a college or university was its student-to-teacher ratio, alumni network, and focus on developing a well-rounded student.

         I found the school that fit all three my sophomore year. I instantly felt at home at Holy Cross, while I walked by towering buildings covered in ivy. Everyone was polite and insightful. There was not a single negative experience was to be found. After an unofficial visit, I went to an Advisory Days session, which gave me greater insight to the admissions process and a more formal tour of the campus. Then, I decided to partake in an admissions interview the summer after my junior year. It was at this point I had decided that Holy Cross was the right fit for me.

         My positive experiences, research, and overall gut feeling led me to an Early Decision application. Two days before Thanksgiving I received a phone call from a 508 number while I was at dinner with friends. I stepped outside away from all the noise into the early winter blizzard to find out I had been accepted. Needless to say, the fact that I was personally called by Holy Cross to be informed of their decision and the moment I went back inside to be congratulated by my friends made an unforgettable memory.

          There were so many aspects that helped me reach a decision and this eventual moment of euphoria. One of the most influential components was the student blogs on the Holy Cross website. I would constantly read through them and see what insight I could gain about campus culture, academic rigor, and more. These students truly helped me make one of the largest decisions in my life so far. And that is exactly the reason why I have joined the Holy Cross blogging program.

           It is my utmost wish to be able to provide the same solace and certainty those past blogs gave me in my application process. I will do my best to share as much information about daily campus life as possible and hopefully I can encourage a prospective student to take a leap of faith and choose the College of the Holy Cross. I can’t wait to share my experiences on Mt. St. James with you throughout the year!

Go Crusaders!