ΦΣΠ and Other ESU Happenings

I was inducted into ESU’s chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity last Monday. I can finally say I am officially a brother!

Some members of my initiate class: (left to right) Saige, Rachel, Jenna, me, Morgan and Justin

I say “finally” because I could not go to the original induction with my initiate class since I was working on a show that night. Because of this, my make-up induction ceremony was quite small. But I am grateful for all the brothers that could show up to make my night memorable.

The show that I was working on during that original induction was ESU’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was a run crew member and my main job was to man the stage right curtain during scene shifts.

“Little Shop of Horrors” set
Although I was backstage for a lot of the show, from the scenes that I heard and the ones that I had breaks to watch, this musical is my favorite that ESU has done. And the cast and crew were my favorite to work with so far, out of the three shows I have worked on here.

My Phi Sigma Pi induction was the night after the musical’s closing and the fraternity’s formal was this past Friday. 

The brothers of ΦΣΠ at formal
ΦΣΠ Formal was way more fun than any other formal I have attended. I brought my friend Tyrell, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we made some fun memories.

Tyrell and me at formal
Me, Kate and Gabby at formal: former ESU contemporary dancers and current ΦΣΠ brothers

This week is final exam week. I have one actual exam, three performances and one portfolio due by the end of the week. Then, I leave university for the summer and plan to work as much as I can to make enough money to buy a car. Which I have my driver’s test mid-July, right before I leave for a 15 day course in Sweden. This summer will be stressful, but I hope it pays off in the end.
Anyone have fun plans for the summer?

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ESU Global Week 2017

ESU surpassed my expectations for this year’s Global Week celebration by bringing in baby goats and other exotic animals and hosting informative and entertaining events last week.

The baby goats were the first highlight, as part of the World Fair. We knew a camel and yak would be on campus from the flyers, but those baby goats were an adorable surprise for many. The brown one was especially hyper and seemed to love interacting with people, running towards human hands and jumping around to catch our attention.

Stickerbush II the porcupine and Houston the armadillo were nice surprises, too, because I had never seen either animal before besides in pictures.

Also at the World Fair, I tried snacks from around the world, learned about Native American culture through a tee-pee display of everyday objects and had my name drawn in Chinese characters.

I attended a Peace Corps volunteer panel the next day, where returned volunteers shared stories about their experiences with the Peace Corps. This panel gave me another opportunity to seriously consider for my future because it combines two activities I love: travel and service. And with the Peace Corps, like study abroad, you experience the culture by living somewhere for an extended time period, in this case two years.

Speaking of study abroad, ESU published an article about my study abroad experience on their homepage! Check it out!

The next major event during Global Week this year was Relay for Life. During Relay, campus clubs and organizations raise money for cancer research and stay up for 12 hours walking around the track. There are games and activities throughout the night to keep energy up, but I could not make it all the way from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But I stayed until 4 a.m., which is longer than I stayed last year!

I participated in Relay with Phi Sigma Pi, the Honors Fraternity that I will be an official brother of this Friday. I am excited to join this family and I am proud that after three years at ESU, I finally found the group of people that I click with.

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Me and my fellow Phi Sigma Pi initiates

Global Week ended with an international festival, which featured performances from ESU’s Step Team, arts and crafts, a fashion show and dinner from around the world.

This week is not only Easter weekend, but also tech for “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opens this Wednesday. I am on run crew for the show and I am ecstatic to be working on a show again since I last worked on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” freshman year.

London’s West End: A Show a Day

I spent my final days in England in disbelief thanks to live theatre on London’s West End. For the four days I spent in London, I saw a West End show each day.

I saw “Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Matilda” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Each show left me more in awe than the last, reminding me why I love theatre so much:

  • “Lion King”: I swear the opening number, “Circle of Life,” reached into my soul. I felt a connection with the world through the cast’s vocals and movement. When something reaches that deep, it is hard not to tear up. After the show, I met Young Simba and Young Nala at the stage door.20170115_171456_hdr
  • “Wicked”: I decided to see “Wicked” after I did not win the “Book of Mormon” lottery. I went to a last minute ticket sales booth and this show just so happened to be the cheapest. I was pretty bummed that I could not see “Book of Mormon,” but “Wicked” was worth it because:
    • I knew most of the music, so it was easy to follow along and enjoy the music.
    • It forever changes the way I look at “Wizard of Oz” by tying together origin stories of every major character. I could barely believe how seamlessly the origins were incorporated. They left me sad, but fulfilled20170116_184712_hdr2
  • “Matilda”: I bought a £5 ticket for “Matilda” by showing up to the theatre early. The box office holds 16 tickets for 16-25 year olds for each performance. And since I only saw the first half last time because I booked a Warner Brothers tour, I knew I had to redeem myself and see the rest of the show. I was once again in awe over the alphabet song and the trust the actors put in others to keep them from falling.20170117_182133_hdr
  • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: I love Harry Potter, so this play held a special place in my heart before the script was even released. When I read the script, I thought I loved Scorpius Malfoy. But when I watched the play on stage, I decided I absolutely adore Scorpius Malfoy. On his first line, my initial thought was “ugh, this kid is going to be annoying.” But as the show continued, my adoration for Scorpius grew so much that it is hard to describe to those who have not seen the play. In between parts one and two, I met the actors playing Ron and Draco, then after part two, I met a few more at stage door, including the actors playing Scorpius, Albus and Hagrid.

Do you have a favorite West End or Broadway show? Or a show that you have been dying to see? Share your thoughts!

Up next: my final days in England and what I learned while studying abroad.

Greece

I do not know what I expected when I decided to visit Greece, but I know I was not expecting the breathtaking views and monumental sites that I saw.

I arrived late at night, like I have for most of my trips, and did some late night exploring. Mostly I was on the hunt for food. I found a cheap gyro shop and discovered I am not a fan of eating lamb. I also discovered that either I had no clue how to eat the massive sandwhich or it was meant to be really messy.

Gyro
On my first full day in Athens, I visited the Acropolis and the surrounding areas. I was a little upset that there was construction on the famous side of the Parthenon, but I got over it considering how much there is to see. Besides the Parthenon, the Acropolis includes temples to Athena and Artemis, the Erechtheion, the theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Oh, and plenty of cats! The surrounding area includes the Agorra, which was a market place in ancient times, a modern market place selling souvenirs and a rock to climb for views of both the Acropolis and Athens.

Nice view above the Odeon
The Parthenon at the Acropolis
I took a day cruise to three of the Saronic islands, the islands closest to Athens, on the next day. The ones I visited are Hydra, Poros and Aegina. On the boat, I met a girl named Michelle who became my buddy while exploring the islands. 

Hydra was by far the prettiest of the three islands. We just explored the town and enjoyed the views of the Mediterranean Sea, but that was all we really needed to do to know how majestic the island is. We saw a lot more cats, too. One came up to me and started rubbing against my leg and then followed us for a little while. The cats are really friendly and well cared for. There are even cat stations around that have food and blankets for them. On the top of a hill, we came face to face with a donkey and some chickens. The donkey was asleep at first, but once we got closer to the chickens he woke up and looked really defensive.

Hydra

Poros was similar to Hydra, but smaller. We went to a clock tower and saw some nice views, then bought some baklava and ate it by the sea.

Poros
Aegina is the largest of the three islands we visited. We went to a monestary and bought some pistachios, which Aegina is known for. We visited the Temple of Apollo at sunset, which was a really nice sight. On the boat ride back, we enjoyed traditional Greek dancing and even learned a few dances ourselves.

Temple of Apollo
After watching the sunrise on the rock near the Acropolis, I took a day trip to Delphi, where the Oracle of Apollo was. The tour guide was the nicest and most knowledgeable I have had yet; she was really sweet. We visited a museum and the Sanctuary of Apollo, which includes the Oracle, a treasury and the Theatre of Apollo. 

Sunrise over Athens
Oracle of Delphi in the background

It was really snowy and icy the day that I went, so the tour guide said the theatre might be closed. But to my delight, it was open and I got to stand on the stage that actors performed on millennias ago; unlike the Odeon and Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis, which could only be looked at. On the way to the theatre, a cat with one pupil bigger than the other approached me and meowed at me while standing on his hind legs. I tried to move, but he moved to block my path again. I am still unsure why he took such interest in me.

Theatre of Apollo

We took a short stop in a little town nearby and had a four course lunch at a quaint restaurant. The lunch was delicious, but difficult to finish because most of us were full by the end of the second course.

I visited the Archeological Museum and Acropolis Museum on my last day in Athens, and watched the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square with Michelle. Both museums were filled with unbelievably well preserved ancient finds. The changing of the gaurds was interesting because of how the gaurds kicked their legs and flicked their ankles before each step like a dance.

Changing of the Gaurds
Up next: Germany and my final days in England.

Dublin, Ireland

I realized a few weeks ago that I had an extra weekend with nothing planned, so I searched some flights. I found a round-trip Ryan Air flight to Dublin for £20 and decided to book it. After that, I contacted my Irish high school teacher for some suggestions of what to do in Dublin. I can proudly say I checked off everything on her list during my stay in Dublin this past weekend.

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When I first arrived, I enjoyed a traditional Irish breakfast and learned the Irish word for bacon is “rashers.” That night, I attended my first panto show: Robin Hood. We do not have pantos in America, and I think America is missing out. A panto is a musical where the audience participates and the actors break the fourth wall. I had a fun experience at the hilarious show and the atmosphere was different, in a good way, than other forms of theatre.

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I visited the Guinness Storehouse the next day and found it more fascinating than I expected. I learned a lot about how beer is made, saw some cute advertisements from throughout the years and even poured my own glass of Guinness!

A local Irishman then invited me to a science gallery, where we saw an informative exhibition on violence’s role in culture. He then showed me around the local pubs and other spots not many tourists seem to visit.

I then took a day trip to Powerscourt Garden in Wicklow. There were not many blooming flowers or plants because of the wintertime, but there are plenty of nice statues, fountains and trees from around the world.

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My final day in Ireland, I took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

We stopped for breakfast beforehand at a place called the Barack Obama Plaza, named so because it is located in the town where Obama’s ancestors lived and where some of his family members currently reside. Who knew Obama is Irish!

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At the Cliffs, I enjoyed nice views from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, as opposed to the North American side I am used to seeing back in the States. I also saw the cave where Dumbledore and Harry Potter found the fake locket horcrux in the sixth film!

On the way back to Dublin, we stopped at the city of Galway. The city is cute and had a big Christmas Market while we were there.

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This time next week, I will be in Egypt! I still have not come to terms with the fact that I will soon visit the place I was obsessed with when I was younger, but I am super excited!

Amsterdam, London and Scotland

I took a three city journey the past two weeks through Amsterdam, London, and Edinburgh. There are not enough words in the English language to describe my experiences, but I will try my best.

My first stop was Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The city is well known for its bikes and canals, and although I did not ride a bike there, I did ride in a canal cruise. I spent most of my time walking around and taking in the sights of the quaint streets. And of course, a trip to Amsterdam would not have been complete without a visit to the Red Light District. I also visited the Van Gogh Museum on my last day there.

Then off to London I went. Right after I walked out of the Underground, I turned left and found myself staring at the Palace Theatre. I needed a moment to take in the home of the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play, which I will be seeing in January. I did some late night exploring, walking past Big Ben and the London Eye.

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Day two in London, I joined a Harry Potter walking tour and saw some of the filming locations. I then saw my first West End show: Matilda! The ticket was only £5 since I got to the theatre at the right time, and the musical was cute, funny and surprisingly intense. My next stop was the Harry Potter Warner’s Brothers Studio Tour, which was so amazing I teared up a few times. Seeing how the magical world I love was brought to life made me emotional to say the least.

Next stop was an all day tour of Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. I made a new friend on this tour who somehow ended up being my travel companion for the next week. While at Windsor Castle, the Royal flag was flying to signify that the Queen was in residence. I still cannot get over the fact that I was so close to the Queen and did not see her. Stonehenge was a lot more interesting than I thought a clump of rocks could be. I still believe it was aliens… The Roman Baths were nice, although we were not allowed to touch the water. They did let us taste the water at the end though, and I did not care for it too much.

Edinburgh, Scotland is definitely my favorite city so far. The atmosphere of the town made me feel welcome, and I love the architecture on the streets of Old Town. On my second day, I went on a tour of the Highlands. One of our stops, Loch Ness, is like stepping into another world. And I don’t think you can truly understand the feeling without going there. The next day, I went on a walking tour and visited most of the major tourist sites. Then, I climbed Arthur’s Seat with my London friend, Taylor. I honestly do not think I would have survived the climb without him; the mountain of rocks was definitely not what I was expecting. Also unexpected was how good the Scottish dish, haggis, tastes.

Now I am back in Northeast England, planning a “friendsgiving” with my flatmates and some other American and British friends. I took a trip to the picturesque Lake District earlier today, as well. Hopefully I can catch up on all my homework soon, while also preparing for my dance squad’s competition in York next Saturday. Then, off to more travelling adventures!

“Something Rotten”

I saw “Something Rotten” on Broadway yesterday and it is comedic genius! I laughed until I cried and Shakespeare (or at least the actor playing him) complimented my dress after the show.

On Sunday, I found out I won the lottery to see “Something Rotten.” I snatched up the chance and took the trip to New York City with two friends from my university.

But, before we headed to the city, I spent the day at ESU catching up with all my friends before I leave to study abroad in England. I chatted with my one friend who just came back from studying in Scotland, and grabbed lunch with the rest of my friends.

I enjoyed being away from my house for a day with friends, since my summer has mostly included only family and work. And my summer is extra long because I do not leave for study abroad for about two more weeks. But I would have started classes yesterday if I was at ESU this semester.

Anyway, when we arrived at the St. James Theatre for the show, I was expecting to watch a funny comedy. Instead, I watched a hilarious musical.

Watching the opening and closing numbers was like joining a huge party. The energy on stage reached all the way to my seat, and I could feel it throughout the entire theater.

My favorite musical numbers from the show are “A Musical,” “Something Rotten” and “Make an Omelette.”

I honestly was not expecting “Make an Omelette” to be so elaborate. The song is a musical on its own about omelettes. The amount of egg references it made and the spectacle it created had me almost falling out of my seat with laughter.

After the show, my friends and I got pictures with some of the cast and they signed our playbills at the Stage Door. The actors were all so kind, and my pride of the evening was when Shakespeare said he liked my dress.

“Something Rotten” definitely exceeded all my expectations about Broadway shows and comedies in general. It is a must see for any comedy, musical, or theater lovers.

If you have a favorite play or musical, I would love to hear about it! I can add any suggestions to my theatre bucket list.