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March 31, 2010

From the Blue Eyes of Bryden Spevak

One thing that I wish I had before coming to Case was knowing someone here that would be able to give me a glimpse of college from their own perspective: what they liked and what they disliked. I wish I had that "in." Now that I'm a proud student of Case, I am able to give what I, as a high school senior, didn't have. I plan on accomplishing that by featuring different people with different majors and their stories. My hope is for one of you out there to read this and have an easier time making your college decisions.

As promised, I interviewed one my friends who just so happened to be eating an early dinner with me on a Friday afternoon. Her name is Bryden, and the following is her story:

Name: Bryden Spevak
Year: Freshmen
Major: English & Political Science, Pre-Law
Hometown: Berea, OH
College Acceptances: Ohio State University, Ohio University, Kent State, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Akron

Dreams & Aspirations
I want to be in the Peace Corps, travel, and write. I chose to come to Case because they have a career center that has a large number of connections to the Peace Corps, which I hope will help me get in. Being at Case will hopefully help me prepare me for my dreams. Corny? I know, but I feel that college is a time for students to pursue their dreams.

First Resident Hall Experience
My first friend that I met at Case lived on the same floor as I did, and when she first saw me, she came up to me and said "you have big blue eyes… are you Bryden?" I said yes, and ever since then, we've been friends. I would not have gotten to know her if it weren't for resident life.

What part of Case attracted you?
I liked that it was part of a big city, and how people were dedicated to their studies while being really down to earth. The campus was really pretty, especially the library.

While doing my overnight, I was going through a lot of problems with my ex. My friend's sister (who hosted me) and all her friends were really nice to me about it and they talked me through it, even though they didn't know me at all. That really showed me that, although they're still really into their school work and everything, they had no problem taking time to care about those around them. I think that the people here played a large part into why I chose to come to Case.

As far as academics go… I knew someone who was in the liberal arts department here, and they thought it was really good (which goes against the perception that Case is purely an engineering school). Case also has a really good study abroad program. I plan on going to Germany and England sometime in my college career.

Free Time Activities
I work at my job where I make coffee and enjoy conversations with a lot of students and faculty members.

What would you say to a prospective student?
Give Case a chance. At first, I didn't like it, but now, I'm completely in love with it. As an English major, it takes a while to fit in with the rest of the students, but once you find your niche, it really makes you feel at home. Joining Phi Mu (sorority) really helped me adapt too.

Stay tuned next week for Jesse and Ray aka Mr. Panda and Panda Jr.

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Peace, Love, and Greek Week

Rarely is it good form to start a sentence with punctuation (at least, not in English), but that’s more or less my mood right now. It’s 65 degrees, sunny, and absolutely beautiful…and we just finished off Greek Week!

Greek Week was simultaneously the most stressful week of the semester and the most fun. Sororities and fraternities on campus spent a week competing for first place in athletic, academic, and just plain awesome events like Trivia, Beach Ball Relay, Banner, and Rope Pull. Throughout the week, lots of people put aside homework for a while (but don’t tell our professors that) so that they could attend what seemed like twenty practices a night and contribute countless hours to painting their banner or choreographing their Variety Show.

Generally speaking, I had a blast this past week. Variety Show was awesome, combining dancing, acting, and comedy in skits that were designed to demonstrate this year’s theme: Peace, Love, and Greek Week. Consequently, there were a lot of dream sequences and “head injuries” that resulted in characters travelling back in time to the 60s for a ton of trippy dance numbers. Also, a lot of guys in skirts.

Obstacle Course and Pyramid were both awesome, as they were some of the weekend events that drew a lot of support from members and alumni. But by far my favorite event, and the one I’m really looking forward to in the future, is Rope Pull.

Rope Pull to most people conjures up images of old school tug of war, with two sides pulling on a rope until one side falls over. The reality, however, is way more intense. Two teams of ten position themselves in trenches, with a moat of water in the middle. You can win by as little as a quarter of an inch in a 10-minute pull, but the truly satisfying victory results in your opponents getting a taste of that moat.

Rope Pull practices were intense; usually they’d start with some jogging and cardio and strength exercises, before we practiced actually pulling the rope. I was sore for days after my first practice, considering the last time I’d done any conditioning was back when I ran track. The actual pulling was even more intense. Occasionally we’d split the team and pull against each other, sometimes we’d even pull against a giant tree near the trenches (we named him George), but more often than not we would pull against the guys in Sigma Chi fraternity. This was both awesome and awful, because while we got good practice for hard pulls, we also had to really fight for every inch.

Game day was cold and rainy. Mostly rainy. It was maybe 45 degrees, but the worst was the rain which was absolutely relentless. It coated the rope and made it slippery, turned the entire area into a giant mud slick, and reduced us to shivering lumps between pulls. But the atmosphere was awesome. When we got into those trenches, all we could hear was friends and other spectators cheering for us, and that was a pretty cool feeling.

Sadly, we got eliminated and didn’t make it all the way to the final pull as we’d hoped. It was another team’s turn for victory that day. But what was probably the best part about Rope Pull, and about Greek Week in general, was the time that I got to spend with my sisters making that event awesome. Now that it’s all over, I really miss seeing the girls on the line every day, even though I don’t necessarily miss sitting in a muddy trench for two hours every night. What was hands down the most amazing part was getting to bond with my sisters at every practice and every event. Now, I just can’t wait until next year.

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March 26, 2010

Interview Addiction

It's almost spring time. How can you tell? When people have the guts to wear shirts, shorts, and flip-flops to class. Why do I say guts? Well the weather can turn on you pretty quickly: On Monday it was 50 or so degrees. Next thing you know, you look outside and it's precipitating. No not rain, but snow. Yes snow. With snow come cold temperatures and so on and so forth. Anywho… spring time.

Spring time is all about wonderful scenery, seasonal allergies, and of course… college admissions. Fear not, if you're reading this blog, that means you've considered coming to Case at one point or another (that or your parents forced you to browse every single inch of the website like mine did). Therefore, I can say the following: come and visit. I am pleased to say that others are taking my advice. Everyday, I see a tour group wandering the quad, or Thwing, or the library, or the dorms, and I'm DYING for someone to ask me how I like Case. Why? Because I want to shower them with every single reason why I decided to move from the land of perpetual sunshine to the land of unpredictable weather (I must say that when it's sunny here, you not only produce ten-times the amount of vitamin D, but you feel happy, and everyone else feels happy. I promise I'm not lying).

I feel like you guys know about my life to a certain extent, so telling you what I would say to the prospective students (prospies as we call them) would probably be redundant. THEREFORE, I have decided to tap into my bountiful reserves of friends (another thing you develop at Case) and interview a different person every week so 1) they get the fame they've been craving as I've been told my blog is extremely popular to read and make fun of… and 2) so you, the reader, can get to know the story of people you see walking around on campus; why they decided to come to Case, and the university through their eyes.


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March 25, 2010

Woohoo, Spring Overnight Season!

Spring is clearly in the air. Singing birds. Sunshine. Construction. People wearing shorts and t-shirts even though it’s only 48 degrees. Yep. Spring.

Another clear sign is the dozens of families milling around campus, all well-equipped with folders and that “I’m-kind-of-lost-please-help” smile. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the slew of spring open houses and overnights.

There really is an open house for everyone in the spring. Admitted students, pre-professional students, juniors who are still very much on the market for colleges. And at every open house, you can be sure to learn something worthwhile, even if it’s just where to go at 2 AM on a Sunday to get a killer milkshake.

About a year ago (woah, that’s really weird) I was in the shoes of many of those students. I had been accepted in December and was making the rounds of schools I had applied to in order to get a feel for which campus and which group of students was the best fit.

It was a pretty overwhelming feeling being on campus, but I managed to get over any initial discomfort by telling myself that I was in the midst of a bunch of students who were probably equally as unsure of what exactly they were doing (it actually did help).

The general tours were pretty cool; those usually involve your standard introduction to campus, where things are that are important to freshman, sprinkled in with some cool tidbits about the campus. I even liked the residence hall portion; being a total dork, I love to actually imagine myself in a place and seeing a dorm allowed me to have a really clear picture of what I could expect when it came to living at Case.

My favorite, though, was the department tours. At this point in the
program, imagine a whoooole lot of engineering majors shuffling off in some distant direction, and then little old me searching for the College of Arts and Sciences tour. Honestly, it was the best part of my day.

On this tour, I got not only a good appreciation for the variety of
classrooms that Case has to offer to students (in any field, really, but I feel especially for Arts and Sciences students), but also a good appreciation for just how varied your schedule can be and how varied the campus population is. On my tour, I not only got to talk to a Political Science major (at the time, this was one of my majors; now it’s a minor), but also to meet people interested in chemistry, art education, history, Spanish, and a whole litany of other subjects.

Then comes, in my humble opinion, the best part by far. When I was an admitted student, I tried to sign up for an overnight, but to no avail. When I got to Case, though, I heard that they were looking for freshmen who were interested in hosting prospective students at different times throughout the year. I am so glad that I decided to participate, because it’s been really fun.

From the visitor’s perspective, I feel like an overnight can be really valuable. When I host, I try my best to give an accurate view of what an average night could be like for me. If students want to do something special, like see a play or stop by a Greek event, then we might, but otherwise I try to show students things that I typically do. That usually involves things like going to the Silver Spartan, seeing a movie at Strosacker, or even taking them to Greek Week practice for Rope Pull (the greatest event ever, but this is another story for another day). In general, I want the students to have fun, but to actually meet people and get a feel for the way they would fit into the bigger picture at Case.

I’d love to hear from you guys about this. Have any of you been to an overnight or an open house yet? What did you like about it? And if you’re still waiting to go to one, what questions do you have?

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March 19, 2010

When Were Interviews Fun?

I know the other bloggers are all talking about Greek life, but there's no way I can not mention how awesome it is. As I mentioned sometime before in one of my posts, I pledged for Phi Kappa Psi this semester. I had to interview all the brothers (59 to be exact) in the fraternity as a requirement to initiate… which just so happens to be tomorrow. At first, this requirement seemed like an assignment more than anything else, and so that’s how I approached it… by procrastinating. Before I knew it, Spring break came and went, and I was left with 27 more brothers left to interview with only a week before initiation. I basically neglected my homework, lived in the fraternity house, and got to know those that I soon may have the privilege to call my brothers.

Through these interviews, I met so many amazing people. I was able to interview the former CFO of Cedar point, the owner of a private airline company, an artist, a computer programmer, and people from pretty much all the majors Case has to offer. My point is, through pledging for a fraternity, I was able to discover all these amazing things from ordinary people that, a few months ago, I would’ve passed by without giving them a second thought.

That’s the beauty of meeting new people, and precisely why I love doing it so much. To be able to sit down and listen to people’s stories (why they decided to come to Case, why they chose their major, what made them they way they are) and grow from their experiences. So if anything, (I’m talking to you other Freshmen and incoming freshmen next year… by the way congrats) I encourage you to throw yourself out there and get to know those that walk to class with you every day, those that eat next to you in Leutner and Fribley, and start by joining clubs and organizations such as Fraternities and Sororities (and in my case AAA) because you’ll love it. From what I hear, friends that you make in college last forever.


Proud to be a Phi Psi. Spring Pledge Class '10

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Practice Makes Perfect

Ah Greek Week. To me it seems like practice, practice, and some more practice. Everyday there is a flurry of emails about the night practices…let’s see, we have pyramid, pull, variety show, sing and swim just to name a few. I, as a freshman, have never experienced Greek Week. Yet from stories and just the excitement of the older guys, I know it’s the real deal. They say it’s the most exciting week of your life (which is quite the statement). But I believe them; why else would they be trying so hard? Just watching the practices for rope pull and pyramid get me excited. If you’re bored I would definitely recommend going on YouTube and searching “Case Western Greek Week pyramid.” What’s better than watching 10 guys or girls throw themselves in the mud, crawl 10 yards and build a human pyramid? How creative and how exciting! Pyramid has been SigEps event for 10 years, so our guys take it very seriously. Unfortunately for me I was never much of a crawler, so I will stick to being a spectator. Rope pull is a 10-minute competition where two 10-person teams face off against each other, essentially an endurance test that comes down to inches. It comes down to team work. I’ve gotten the chance to practice and try out for the team, but for this year I’m an alternate, learning technique and strategy for years to come. I’m okay with that, I’ve yet to experience the real feeling of Greek Week, and I haven’t felt the same passion that all the older guys feel yet. But it’s something I look forward to; I mean it is supposed to be the most exciting week of my life.

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March 06, 2010

Have a Break, Have a KitKat®

Breaks are a lot different in college than in high school. In high school breaks aren't usually breaks… they're more of an extended period of time consisting of sleeping-in and studying for one or more standardized tests. In college, however, breaks are a period of rest for your body and mind for another two months of academic punishment, which usually equates to a decrease in your physical health. Seriously… after experiencing the first few semesters of college, you'll realize that, come mid-term week, everyone will suddenly develop this mysterious cough. What does that mean? College sucks the life-force out of you (I wouldn't have it any other way… staying up till 4AM with your friends studying is definitely a fun experience), and break is one of the few ways to recover from it.

One thing that you get from break that you don't get in high school is the feeling of absolute relief that you're DONE, with absolutely NOTHING to worry about for a full week. Trust me, it's like paradise… especially if you go somewhere like Las Vegas, which is where I am right now. The game plan today? Finish watching Mythbusters, head over downstairs to the Blue Man Group (I'm staying at the Venetian right now), and head to bed! Tomorrow? Wake up bright and early, haul the family down to a nice Vegas dinner, maybe get in some shopping, and then drive that 5 hours back to Los Angeles. Awesome way to start spring break? I think so.

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March 05, 2010

Road Trip to Pittsburgh? I think so!

cla awards dinner.jpg

So at this point you’re probably wondering why a road trip to Pittsburgh could possibly have anything to do with Case Western Reserve University. I don’t blame you, but that’s what I’m here for! To sum things up for you, my fraternity, SigEp or Sigma Phi Epsilon (whatever is more convenient), has the opportunity to send a portion of our chapter to the regional Carlson Leadership Academy. Why would I want to spend my weekend in a conference setting; attending lectures, meetings and discussions instead of relaxing in my dorm room? That’s a very good question… But look at it this way, turning down a campus-subsidized trip where I could learn things from other SigEps, hailing from New York all the way down to Virginia, would be crazy. The goal of the conference is to recognize the specific chapters that are doing well (See Picture), while gathering the leaders of every group to compare what works well and what doesn’t work so well.

I started the night off right by choosing the “Importance of Volunteers” breakout session. I thought this would be a perfect choice for me considering I’m the service/philanthropy chair for my chapter. Of course me being the smart person I am, I didn’t read the description and the session was about the importance of volunteering alumni. Of course I didn’t know a single thing about the how alumni play a role in my chapter, I’m only a freshman. However I took a lot from this session, I learned a lot about how things work and I met a few alumni SigEps interested in being more involved with my chapter.

Saturday consisted of a tightly packed schedule starting with a well- equipped breakfast at 8AM, and ending at 930PM with the conclusion of dinner and the awards ceremony. Our chapter was awarded with the Excelsior Award for greatest improvement with recruitment. With the combination of the fall and spring classes, we had 24 new members sign SigEp. When they announced as winners, we were surprised and caught off guard…our group didn’t even realize in time enough to stand up and be recognized. The picture included with this entry is of the entire group from CWRU, with our president holding our award in the middle.

I think the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting guys just like me from chapters all across the northeastern United States. I took several useful ideas and programs I plan on incorporating into my work as service chair and hopefully an executive position in the future. As much as I would have wanted to go, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to go if the travel costs and registration fee had not been subsidized down by CWRU. I could’ve gone even if I had not held any position in my chapter. As many of the older guys and alums say, the skills and processes learn at SigEp translate to their everyday life in the working world.

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March 03, 2010

Why I Love Weekends

I’ve discovered a trend. A trend in this blog, a trend in my life. The weekdays just sort of drift by, they consist of class and random occurrences, but it’s generally the weekend that I live for. The weekend is where most of my awesome memories come from. The weekend is what I’m thinking about if I’m up to my neck in reading for a paper or if I’m cleaning out the inside of a particularly greasy refrigerator at work. And this last weekend was no exception.

Friday night was Heaven and Hell, a party that Sigma Psi and Phi Psi throw together every year. The theme is pretty obvious, and people tend to get into it with costumes and all sorts of shenanigans. I went with a couple of friends and had a lot of fun. The “Heaven” area had a bunch of dancing, which varied from rap to Kelly Clarkson to whatever the DJ felt like at the moment. The “Hell” area had mocktails (mixed drinks without the alcohol) and was more of a place to get away from the crazy-loud, really warm dance floor. In general, I had a great time; I haven’t had much of an excuse to dance since the prom of my senior year, but I love dancing.

The only complaint I had of that night was that my friends and I got creeped on by a number of random guys at the party. Seriously, it got pretty awkward once or twice. My recommendation for parties, especially ones where you’ll only know some of the people in attendance, is go in a group. This will hopefully help diffuse the creeps.

Saturday I visited home in the morning for some delicious pancakes and time with family and friends. Most of the day was just chilling in my hometown, doing what little there is to do there. For lunch I had possibly the greatest pizza ever. Danny Boy’s. If you’re ever in Rocky River, OH, that is the one thing you actually have to do. For that matter, if you’re ever in River, you might as well find me because I’m sure I’ll see you somehow. The town is kind of small that way.

Back at Case later in the evening was Sigma Nu formal. Several things made that night really amazingly fun:
1) It was at the zoo! I love the Cleveland Metroparks zoo, and their primate/fish/big cat house was the location for Sigma Nu’s formal. It was incredible mostly because we got to eat dinner right in front of the gorilla exhibit. The gorillas were seriously right. There. Just chillin’.
It was also convenient because whenever you got bored of dancing, you could wander around and look at the exhibits. The monkeys and the armadillos were definitely the best; the monkeys were adorable and the armadillos spent most of their time running around frantically.
2) Sigma Nu is awesome. I cannot reiterate enough how much I enjoy hanging out with those guys, and this was no exception. I won’t say that I didn’t fear the night would be somewhat awkward, because I didn’t really know how all of us (including their dates, whom I really hadn’t met before) would interact. Instead dinner was as entertaining as the dancing.
3) Dancing. I cannot explain why I love jumping around and flailing as much as I do, but I seriously loved it. This was a great mix for dancing, too, because a lot of it was faster beats and not so much slower songs.
4) Did I mention it was at THE ZOO?!
After all this, I still had Sunday and chapter and seeing all the Sigs to look forward to. And then I went home and drowned in homework. But, in all, I love the weekend.

This weekend in particular should be awesome because not only is it my birthday (19! The totally useless birthday!), but it’s also SPRING BREAK. I’m not really going anywhere impressive, but I am soooooo looking forward to a week of chillaxin’. Right now I'm in the midst of a countdown until school is over. Also, I need to finish mounds and mounds of work. So, until next time, folks.

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