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Tag: Sem

Acadia: not only about book learning

Seminary House.

Seminary House residence on the Acadia University campus – where I lived for three years.

Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia is celebrating 175 years of education and innovation. It asked for alumnus to share stories from their Acadia days to mark the anniversary. Here is my contribution that was recently published in the Acadia Bulletin (on page 48:

I don’t remember many of my classroom lessons at Acadia. Of course, the knowledge my professors imparted during my four years shaped my mind and gave me intellectual instruction for the future. However, most of my education at Acadia was the life experience kind of learning: the stuff that takes place outside the lecture hall.

My first week at Acadia is a memory that has stayed with me over the past 20 years. Moving my things into Seminary House alongside my high school friend and about-to-be roommate, I was taking a big step. Leaving my parents’ home for a co-ed dorm where I could start being independent – along with about 90 others. As a Sem frosh I was put right into the mix of silly activities and a getting-to-know-you game where I met a lifelong friend. (I was in his wedding party this September.) From that beginning I felt like I was part of something bigger than just going to school.

Classes are small at Acadia, which makes it easy to spot those sharing your schedule. After a couple of days of lectures, one woman introduced herself to me. She said we had three classes in common, intro to political science, English and one more that I can’t remember now. Ah si, it was Spanish.

We became instant friends and joined with four more girls to become the Posse (yes, we named ourselves). We talked, danced, laughed and cried over lots of boys. As frosh we felt so grown-up. But as each year passed we realized we had been so young.

Beveridge Arts Centre.

The Beveridge Arts Centre (BAC), the largest academic building on the Acadia campus.

At the end of our fourth year we knew the lay of the land – the campus from the Beveridge Arts Centre (BAC) to Eaton House. We knew 8:30 a.m. classes were hard to attend but so were 1:30 p.m. classes on Fridays. We knew which meals at McConnell Hall were the tastiest and which were not. We knew if your crush wasn’t at the Anvil, he’d be at the Axe. We knew university was hard work but reality was going to be harder. We knew that from that first day we had built a strong base of support through friendships and knowledge. Acadia taught us that we could do anything.

Secret angels before Christmas

Seminary House at Acadia University.

Seminary House in December.

November reminds me of bubble baths and angels, secrets angels that is. During three years at Acadia University I took part in the secret angel tradition that my residence organized. Right before exams the treat-filled week was a nice reminder that Christmas was coming even if we had to struggle through exams first.

Everybody in Seminary House, my dorm of three years in the nineties, was a secret angel. We were a co-ed residence so the names of both girls and boys went into the hat to be drawn one by one. Shhh, don’t tell me who you picked.

Every day for a week you did something or bought something special for your person. One year my secret angel wrote me beautiful poems for seven days, along with sending me lots of other goodies. These mini escapes were especially appreciated because many students were hitting the books, getting ready for end of the term tests. I tried to do nice things for my person too and came up with interesting study breaks.

Once I was a secret angel to a woman who liked to take baths in the old-fashioned claw foot tubs that Seminary House still had on girls fifth. (Girls fifth was on the fifth floor of Sem and reserved only for girls who didn’t want to share bathrooms with stinky Sem boys.) I poured a whole (small) bottle of heavenly bubble bath into warm water and attempted to create a Sem-blance of a spa experience. I think I purchased a new towel for her to use as well. Then I left and had someone knock on her door to tell her a bath had been drawn. Much to her delight (I hope).

Another time I sent my person on a scavenger hunt that went all over the campus and ended back up in Sem with her prize being a stuffed animal.

My third and last year in Sem I broke with custom and asked to have the name of one of my best friends, Digger. She lived off campus but was considered part of the residence. I made a spot for her on the landing by the stairs so she could collect messages from her “Smangel” – super magnificent angel.

One day her Smangel told her to knock on doors asking, “Are you the one?”

When she got to Steve’s room he said, “Yes!” Then kneeled, handed her a rose, stood up, turned on his disc player and danced her out into the hallway. She loved it.

All week long she tried to deduce the identity of Smangel.

“It’s either Matt or Neil,” she would say. Certain of her answer.

I just listened.

Digger never knew I was Smangel until the reveal at the big Sem house Christmas party. This was the wrap up to the secret angel where we received a gift from our person. When I stood up to get her gift her face was brighter than the Christmas tree.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she scolded.




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