Parades and Shamrocks and Sushi, Oh My!
Hi again! I apologize that it’s been such a hiatus since my last update; it has been a very busy last few weeks with midterms and traveling back to my hometown of Cincinnati for Spring Break. So here we go - I have quite a bit to tell you!
As you may know, St. Louis is home of one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations, second only to New Orleans. Last year I had a service site at the same time, but I’m so glad I got to see the parade with my dance family for the first time this year!
It was a high-energy sea of purple green and gold, and thanks to a teammate holding me up, I was able to catch 19 strands of beads - which I don’t think is too shabby for someone with next to zero hand-eye coordination!
Butterflies are some of my favorite animals, so I was particularly excited to see this part of the parade. I wonder where she found those wings, because I’m sensing a Halloween costume idea already!
After the Mardi Gras parade that Saturday morning, it was time to buckle down and prepare for midterms week. Luckily for me, I only had one on Thursday and two on Friday, so I had plenty of time to study as much as I needed. And the hard work was worth it, because it earned me some fun-filled time back in Cincinnati during Spring Break!
About 45 minutes north of Cincinnati there’s a “flea market” called Traders World, which I would often visit with my family as a child. We hadn’t been there in years, so my dad and I decided to spend the afternoon there. I had nearly forgotten how huge the place is - there are over 10 full-size repurposed barns full of merchant’s booths, and some choose to set up outside too! They had also definitely remodeled since I had been there last, and I borderline fell in love with the life-sized animal statues at the entrance.
While I loved revisiting my childhood over break, I was also excited to try some new things too! My little brother has been trying to convince me to eat sushi for the last year, but I’ve never been much of a seafood fan and I honestly fear eating raw fish (a trait I may have gotten from my mother). I discovered over break, however, that sushi also comes in the deep fried variety. It turns out I might have a new favorite food, and I’ve also made my little brother proud!
Zinzinnati Cincinnati is well-known for its Oktoberfest celebration, there’s a pretty awesome St. Patrick’s Day celebration here too! I went to Fountain Square downtown with Sean and his family to celebrate his mom’s birthday. There we were, surrounded by various shades of green - including neon green wigs. The celebration included a face painting booth, bagpipe players, Irish dancing lessons, a meat pie booth, and of course, green beer. Only the adults partook in the last one :)
After a 5-hour car ride back to SLU, I settled back in to my apartment before getting Starbucks with my dad the next morning and eagerly accepting his offer to drive me to my first class. I love my hometown of Cincinnati, but I know that I have found another home in St. Louis.
It was good to be home, but it’s good to be back. And I think it’s pretty awesome that I get to leave one home to go to another.
Be at home. Be a Billiken.
Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!
I hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day weekend - I know I did! It also happened to be Sean’s birthday weekend, so he came to visit and my roommates and I showed him around some of our favorite parts of St. Louis.
We started our Saturday afternoon by taking the shuttle to the St. Louis Galleria. The shuttle is free, and also drops students off at places like Wal-Mart, Schnuck’s, and Target so that we can get our grocery shopping done even if we don’t have a car on campus. Trust me, this comes in seriously handy.
After exploring some of the over 100 stores at the Galleria, we decided it was time to go to the Delmar Loop - a street filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
We treated him to a classic St. Louis eatery, Fitz’s, where you can watch their soda being bottled in the restaurant while you wait for your table.
(My apologies for the poor phone photography of the neon sign)
We all loved the fried pickle chips we had as an appetizer, and I borderline devoured the “Sunny BLT” I had. The sandwich was made of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, cheese, and a fried egg, and it was so good.
I think my favorite part, though, had to be Sean’s birthday sundae. A mug of Fitz’s root beer, 4 scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and coffee flavors), whipped cream, and a cherry on top - YUM!
As you can probably guess, Sean needed all of our help with finishing that, and we were happy to oblige.
After Fitz’s, we somehow managed to still have enough room in our bellies to head down the Loop to St. Louis Bubble Tea, which is one of my favorites! Not only are their drinks and food delicious, but there’s this awesome mural on the wall. I could probably stare at it all day.
Part of what I love about being at SLU is being so close to everything St. Louis has to offer - and my weekend was only a fraction of it!
Be a St. Louisan. Be a Billiken.
So what exactly does it mean to “Be a Billiken”?
Hi there! My name’s Natalie, but you can call me Nat. Seeing as I’m one of the new Billiken Bloggers, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce myself a bit.
As a SLUdent, I have the opportunity to be a lot of different things. Of course the fact that I’m a student is the reason why I’m here, but we all know that there’s more to all of us than just our GPAs and majors. At SLU, I also have the opportunity to be a brother, a dancer, a creator, and a friend.
You may be asking yourself “how can you be a brother if you’re a girl?” - and rightfully so. I’m an active member of Alpha Phi Omega (APO for short), a co-ed service fraternity whose Delta Delta chapter is the largest student group on campus (I believe there’s around 5 or 600 of us). APO is an amazing way to get involved on campus, serve those in need all over the St. Louis community, and meet amazing friends you get to call brothers - no matter their gender.
With nearly my entire lifetime spent dancing (I started at age 3), I’m also extremely happy that there are so many opportunities to continue that passion here at SLU. I’m a member of XQuizit, the only hip-hop team on campus. We have over 20 members this year, and the group can only be described as one big happy dance family. If you see the hashtag #XQLove in the future, that’s what I’m referring to. :)
XQ isn’t the only dance opportunity on campus though. SLU also has Elevations, an Irish dance team, Shakti, a Bollywood dance team, Phases of Motion, a recreational dance group, and if you’re more into cheerleading, you can try out for the Saintsations too! I may be a little biased towards my “XQties”, but all of our dance groups are filled with amazing talent and passion for dance.
Outside of my extracirriculars, I have enjoyed putting my creativity to use in classes like graphic design and drawing. Who knew I’d end up loving working with charcoal! I’ve had opportunities to get creative in both APO and XQ too, which is probably part of why I love these student groups so much. As APO’s Associate VP of Public Relations, I had the opportunity to help design chapter t-shirts, and every member of XQ gets to choreograph their own routine and teach it to the team (mine was to Another One Bites the Dust by Queen - one of my favorite bands).
What I think has made the most lasting impression on me, though, is how Billikens treat one another. It is through SLU that I have met the most amazing human beings, the people who I know will be my friends long after we all graduate. The student body here is amazingly dedicated, open, and friendly. I remember the multiple smiles I got when I went on my first campus tour here, and the various shouts of “Come to SLU!” and “Be a Billiken!”. Needless to say, I have felt extremely welcomed here since the first time I stepped on campus.
So when you wonder what exactly it means to “Be a Billiken”, know that it can mean a lot of different things. It could mean being a brother, or an athlete, or an artist, or a combination of these things. But for me, being a Billiken means being everything I want to be, and being surrounded by people who are doing the same.
I look forward to sharing with you my experiences of life at SLU, although I promise they won’t be quite as wordy as this post :) And please feel free to ask me any questions you have about life as a Billiken!
Be YOU. Be a Billiken.