Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's the Best Way to End a Sunday?

A beautiful last Sunday in Nashville

I can't believe the weekend's already over, and I also can't believe this weekend was my final weekend at VSA. Time is such a silly thing. 
Prayer is essential in a church.

This morning, the Lived Religion class and I visited Edgehill United Methodist Church. Like many of the other religious site visits with this class, it was a different experience for me. To me, a Methodist church is like Catholicsm reformed, but I guess that's what it's supposed to be, because that's how Protestantism came about. In terms of the structure of the service, I thought it fell somewhere between the super structured and ritualistic Catholic Cathedral mass and the loosely structured Watson Grove Historically Black Missionary Baptist Church service. It was interesting to see only female ministers. In fact, my teacher, Ms. Carolyn Davis, is a minister for this congregation, which is partially why she took us here I'm guessing.

You can tell that Edgehill is a very, VERY accepting church. They emphasized everywhere inside and outside of their church that they're an accepting church and welcomes everyone. In fact, on the Edgehill sign, there is a small symbol of the gay flag to show that Edgehill accepts homosexuals. I don't think I've ever seen a church so open about accepting gays in their congregation. Don't get me wrong; I know many churches that accept people of any sexuality. However, I've never seen a church so brave to publically display just how accepting they are. I'm glad they are so accepting, and I hope they carry this mind-set forever.

Other than how accepting Edgehill is, I really didn't feel much of a connection with this church as I did with the other site visits I've had with my class. I honestly would rather go to a Catholic Church, if many of the communal prayers are derived from Catholic ones. Being in the middle of structured and non-structured just feels a little weird to me. No matter how I felt, it was still a great experience to not only go to church on Sunday, but also embrace another community and its culture in the South.
Outside Edgehill
 In the afternoon, most of us at VSA went to the Opry Mills Mall. The mall was enormous, and there was only one big floor. The mall was pretty much a gigantic circle, forcing you to pass by many different stores and places with food in order for you to go to that one store you want to shop at. The mall was brand-new--only just opening in the Spring. I still had a great time, even though I didn't buy anything.
Entering the mall

Walking through

Nice cafeteria, am I right?

Some of "the guys"
The highlight of my day, however, was when I went to the one of the films showing for the "VSA Film Festival" for free-time. This showing was called "Terrible Movie Night", and the title says it all. Well, the actual title of the movie we watched was Dragon Wars. It was definitely the worst movie I've ever watched, but it was also the most hilarious movie I've ever watched. It was so terrible that it was the best movie ever made. What made this movie so funny was how complicated the plot was, yet it didn't matter at all. There were perhaps three flashbacks within a flashback in this movie, which made it hilarious. It was also extremely funny when the film teacher--who was commentating "terrible things" as we watched the film--pointed out that even the characters in the movie kept questioning the plot a total of at least eleven times (which he counted every time it happend) in the movie. I thought Dark Knight Rises was the perfect movie to end an evening, but I was wrong. Dragon Wars was the perfect movie to end an evening.

The weather forecast says that this week will be hot and sunny. This should be a nice break from all the crazy thunderstorms we've been having here. Well, it's time to make this last week worthwhile!

The Last Day Of The Second Week

My time at Vanderbilt Summer Academy is slowly coming to an end. As I reflect on my experiences here and everything I learned, a smile finds its way to my lips. I have learned so much from my class and from my peers in these past two weeks. I feel slightly upset at the idea of going back home, but at the same time, the idea of returning to the comfort of my own home is quite intoxicating. 

Nothing too significant happened today except that all of VSA went to the mall. It was a one story mall, but it was still pretty big. I was with a large group of people, so I didn't spend too much time shopping 
( I didn't want to keep everyone in Forever 21, which I probably would not have left had we stayed longer). My group and I mostly just wandered around the mall and spent most of our money on snacks. 

Although we did not shop much, I have never had that much fun in my entire life. I never knew just walking around with a huge group of people could be more fun than trying on and buying clothes. We chatted and laughed and got to know one another better. 

After we returned from the mall, we had free time. My friends wanted to go to "bad movie night", but I was reluctant to oblige. I decided to go and leave if the movie wasn't good. Well, the movie wasn't good, but I didn't leave because it was so spectacularly awful that it was hilarious. What made it even more comical (besides the poor cinematography and impossible events) were the commentaries by the film teacher here at VSA. The entire room echoed with the laugh of about 50 teenagers tonight. 

The second week at VSA has ended. I have much to upon my return home, and I feel that now I can do those things with a clear mind. I know that my family will probably say that I have changed, because I honestly feel like I have in these past couple weeks. I will be returning home a young woman with a little more experience about the world. 

My friend, Amanda, with a friendly shark. 

Me with the friendly shark!

Last Sunday

Well, this was my last Sunday here at VSA and it is surprising how fast everything went by today.

This morning didn’t start off like all the others since I woke up extremely early to do my laundry. Waking up at 6 in the morning is always a drag but it sure beats waiting in a long line just to get a chance to wash my clothes. I was actually hoping to wash my clothes and then nap until lunchtime, but I couldn’t go back to sleep so I ended up watching Sherlock Holmes with a couple of my friends who also got up super early.

After lunch, we all go ready for our special outing to the Opry Mills Mall about 40 minutes away by bus. I was super excited because malls usually mean one thing to me: shopping. No, I am not a shopaholic but I do enjoy buying a little something special for me. I actually did find a thing or two which pretty much awesome for me since I am a little picky about what I get to wear; I really go for comfort. Anyway, the mall was huge. It was like a huge circle with tons of stores and restaurants to choose from; a lot different from the not-so-great mall we have in Hilltop.

Today was also the day I won in a game of pool – technically. I teamed up with my good friend Anna against these two other boys, Hunter and Ricardo. I already knew one of them, since he was in my pharmacology class. The other boy was actually from Brazil which was pretty cool. Anyway, during the beginning of the game, Anna and I struggled and accidentally put two of their balls down the pocket-thing. However, the tables were turned when Anna and I scored two apiece. I bet if we practiced enough, we could be master pool players.

Watching a pretty serious game of Foosball.

Back at the dorms, we all hung out together, sang songs, and watched a couple movies. I know it isn’t much, but for teenagers, hanging out takes up a lot of time. Now that Monday is just around the corner, I hope I can adjust from this slow, relaxing weekend to the fast-paced weekday ahead. This week we are supposed to work on our final project in our pharmacology class, which involves making our own research proposals – a serious challenge. Regardless, I think my group is doing very well and I hope we keep this streak of doing well.

Spiritually Fed

The praise band!

Last night, as I talked to my mom on the phone, she told me to attend the Baptist church, and be exposed to something new. I am really glad I listened to her, because I had an amazing experience at Green Hills Church. It wasn’t really Baptist, but more non-denominational. Unexpectedly, the church service was held in a restaurant. As you entered, you can see eating booths, but the rest of the place was turned into an area for worship. The service began with a live band singing praise songs. This was my favorite part because I was able to connect with God and deepen my faith through song. An amazing feeling ran through me; and this praise and worship was much needed for me. Being gone three weeks away from home, going to Green Hills Church was a place where I felt at home. I had the opportunity to just breathe, relax, and grow deeper in my faith. Throughout the service, I began to realize how important it would be to keep attending church when I attend college. This will be an important aspect of college life I must look for, as I apply next year. I will need to find a way to balance my religious beliefs and faith with all the surrounding college pressures. I really enjoyed the service, the atmosphere of young people, the message, and the overall experience. It was just the greatest feeling to be spiritually fed!
At the restaurant/church!

The mall!
I am so blessed to be here, and I have had a blast. For our afternoon activities, I chose to go to the mall. It was a humongous mall with so many stores! There wasn’t enough time to go and shop at all the cute stores, but I did have a chance to do a little shopping.  Their Forever 21 was super big, and after spending much time in the fitting room, I managed to decide on what to buy.

I really enjoy the company I share with the amazing people I have met here. From all the laughs we share to the bonds we have built, it would be crazy if we all went to the same school together. They’re all accepting even if we’re all from different backgrounds. The friendships we made with each other makes it seem like we have known each other forever. I have bonded so much with my roommate Alexa, that she now treats me as a little sister. Whenever we go out, she makes sure I’m always within her sight, because she feels the need to make sure I’m safe. She is a very sweet roommate, and I couldn’t ask for any other.