Until Next Time: Christmas Break

BY PEYTON WELCH

Alas, my friends, the semester has reached its end.

To say that these last few months have gone by fast would be an understatement. I still vividly remember sitting down in my room on this computer and writing about Move-In day. And now, here I am, at the start of my first ever college Christmas break. If I stay on course, the statistics say that I am 12.5% done with my college career. I was talking to a friend this morning about that number. “One-eighth,” he said. “One eighth of our time at Samford is over.”

In retrospect, these last couple weeks have been some of the most exciting of the year. My fellow freshman classmates and I had the opportunity to experience many Samford traditions for the first time. We all packed into Reid Chapel for “Hanging of the Green,” as garlands were raised to the sound of hundreds of caroling voices. We stood on Centennial Walk in front of our majestic library (where we would basically live during finals week) and shouted the countdown to ignite “The Lighting of the Way.” The dullness of the night became illuminated with classic decorations! Afterward, hundreds of students stayed to enjoy hot chocolate, fresh apple cider, cookies and time with friends.

Finals week was a testament of the University’s dedication to academics. Library hours were extended until 2:00 a.m., the Caf stayed open late with the drink machines on and an hourly visit by the heralded food cart, departments provided multiple opportunities for free food and study rooms, and even the workers in the food court would wish you good luck on your tests as you passed by. I experienced a campus-wide environment that fosters academic success and an optimism that caught me off guard. I had grown up being very intimidated by the concept of college-level finals. Now, I have no reason to worry. My friends want me to succeed. My professors want me to succeed. I would imagine even those fearless squirrels who so boldly stare me down and hit me in the head with an occasional acorn want me to succeed as well. Either way, academic success is the goal. And Samford University works very hard to help us students achieve that goal.

I was somewhat shocked at the number of people I’ve talked to recently who don’t want to go home.

 “Are you excited for Christmas break?”

“Yes and no," they would say. “How can I spend six weeks away from my best friends in the whole world?”

And that, reader, is why I love my school. It’s not that we don’t miss our families. I assure you that the first thing I will do when I get home is give everyone in my family the biggest hug they’ve ever had. It’s because we simply just love each other. We’ve grown closer than we ever thought possible. We will enjoy every second of our break, and at the same time, we will be counting down the days until we get to see each other again.

On behalf of the Freshman Blog Team, I’d like to thank all of you who have been following along with our journey this semester. We hope you have had a glimpse into what it’s like to be a student here at Samford University. And if you did, we hope you like what you have seen. I just finished my first semester as a college student, and I couldn’t imagine having spent this memorable 12.5% anywhere else.

We bid you a fair well until 2016!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thankful for Samford

BY SAMANTHA MCCRABB

This semester at Samford was full of memorable moments, busy schedules and somewhat stressful times. This semester has been the busiest time of my life and not having a car was very hectic at times, but the thankfulness I have for my friends is overwhelming. They drove me everywhere I needed to go! Even during one of the busiest days of the semester when everyone was occupied, one of my dear friends let me borrow her car when I needed to meet someone across town.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by people here who are selfless and care about others over themselves. These people are not just my friends. I see it all throughout campus with people I don't know. It is so refreshing to go to the library during exam week and see sticky notes with encouraging notes and Bible verses all over the place. People took the time to handwrite and spread them across all four floors of the library.

This holiday I am thankful for Samford and the faculty and students it has connected me with. Walking through a college campus and being able to have conversations about your faith with people who cherish similar things is priceless. I am so appreciative of where I go to school and the relationships that I have made at Samford.

The Beginning

BY PEYTON WELCH 

From letters and phone calls to campus visits, every university will devote a significant amount of their efforts to tell you why their school is different than the rest. At Samford, we show you why. 

My name is Peyton Welch, and I am a freshman here at Samford University. Along with many incoming freshmen, I had my fair share of worries and anxiety about my first days of college. But the moment I drove up to my dorm it nearly all went away. Why? On the front lawn of Mammie Smith Hall stood a large group of upperclassmen (in matching t-shirts, I should add) known as Connections Leaders who would spend the entire weekend making me feel welcome and at home. Samford athletes, ROTC members, nearby church representatives, leaders such as President Westmoreland and countless other volunteers also helped on Move-In Day. I never lifted a finger and all of my belongings were carried to my room for me. Move-In day is one of the many Samford traditions that make new students feel special, displaying the environment of service and community that permeates the student body.     

These 90 Connections Leaders spent hours and hours preparing for us to arrive. After we finished setting up our rooms, saying goodbye to our families, and getting to know our individual Connections groups, the leaders took all 800+ of us to the Birmingham Baron’s game which made our first experience of college fun and enjoyable. The following day we took a trip to President Westmoreland’s house to have fellowship, play games, and savor the coolness of Steel City Pops (a local popsicle shop.) I am convinced that Steel City Pops may be the reason some students choose to go to school in Birmingham. They are irresistibly scrumptious.

As much as we enjoyed Steel City Pops with the President, Saturday night would take the cake for the most exhilarating experience of the weekend. At nightfall, nearly one thousand people filled the Bashinsky gym for the annual Connections Weekend Neon Party! It is exactly what it sounds like, only better. Hundreds of glow sticks and tubes of neon paint created an atmosphere that can only be described simply as “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” My friends will affirm this description.

The following morning, we made the walk to Reid Chapel for Campus Worship. People from different hometowns and diverse walks of life lifted their voices and expressed their faith uniquely. Our campus minister, Matt Kerlin, delivered a sermon on wisdom and then we were dismissed back to our connections groups. We were enriched, enlightened, and encouraged. 

That afternoon my classmates and I had the opportunity to walk through “Life” together. We entered the intramural gym to find connections leaders dressed up and completely frozen, each representing a different aspect of student life. In a split second, a siren sounded and all the leaders began to swarm us and drag us to their respective stations. There was mass commotion as we tried to complete as many activities as possible. Fraternity corn hole, Zumba, post office-package-pick-up, road trips, running a lap, and getting a medical exam are just a few of the whimsical simulations. Our leaders played their parts enthusiastically and with no reserves. Fifteen minutes later the siren sounded again and they were frozen once more. We marveled and laughed as we exited the building. 

Finally, the climax of Connections is Samford’s Your School Your City concert. This is a Samford tradition like none other. Students gathered together on the quad to enjoy a warm, delicious meal and listen to a music line up that included Penny and Sparrow, Judah and the Lion, and Johnnyswim. Past performers include Grammy award-winning Christian Hip Hop artist Lecrae and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips. Overwhelmed by the excitement of the weekend, the freshman class of 2019 relaxed to the sound of uplifting music and pondered what we had gone through over the past 72 hours. School would start the following morning, but all we could think about were the friends we met and countless memories we made during the weekend. Indeed, we officially became Samford Bulldogs.

I tell these stories purposefully to give you a glimpse into the character of my school. Choosing where you will devote the next four years of your life is certainly something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, I am bold enough (and unashamedly biased) to say that Samford provides as wonderful of a college experience as any school in the nation. And it starts the very first weekend with a group of upperclassman carrying your stuff. That just doesn’t happen on every college campus. You will feel welcomed and wanted here at Samford.

I echo the words of Maya Angelou as she appeals to our longing for acceptance: “I long, as does every human, to be at home wherever I find myself.” Reader, somehow I find myself in Birmingham, Alabama on the campus of Samford University that is over three hundred miles away from all that is familiar to me. People tell me I must really like my school. But you see, Samford is not just my school. Samford is my home.

Maybe one day it will be your home too.