Author: Keyra Kristoffersen

Service on the rocks

A personal account of a few students who spent their fall break doing service   Creak. Crack. Snap. Groan. Chomp. Thwap. Ow.   These were the sounds emanating from Canyonlands National Park over Fall Break this past week. The occasional “ows” came from the 16 UVU students, myself included, and one recently appointed advisor who were lucky enough to be part of the service expedition to Moab, sponsored by the Volunteer & Service-Learning Center at UVU.   We happy few gathered all of our gear, some of it necessary and some of it less so, Wednesday afternoon and departed...

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Something wicked: the history of Halloween

“Tis now the very witching time of night/When churchyards yawn and Hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.”   Hamlet was speaking of the time between dark and light, the time when shadows are longest and the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. The time when “grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize.”   That was the purpose of the pagan holiday of All-Hallows-Even (“evening”) or All Souls Day linked to the Gaelic festival of Samhain (also known as Samuin, pronounced “sow-in” or “sow-an”). Samhain, beginning sometime around the 10th century meant “summer’s end” and celebrated at the end of the harvest with large bonfires and feasting over several days, marking the end of the “lighter” half of the year and the beginning of the “darker” half.   The Celts and others who celebrated this festival believed that the veil between the worlds thinned so much that the spirits of the dead returned to this plane of existence and shambled alongside the living. Turnips were carved into lanterns to remind everyone of the souls that were stuck in Purgatory. This tradition, extradited to North America, would be continued using pumpkins, larger and more readily available harvest symbols, nicknamed jack-o’-lanterns. They were carved with horrifying and gruesome faces in order to ward off evil spirits and malignant demons.   Costumes were first used as...

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Middle-earth 101

One class to rule them and in the darkness bind them. In the pantheon of English courses one might take at a university, there are standbys like Shakespeare, the grammar and rhetoric courses, the non-denominational Brit and American Lit classes, but where, oh where, do the writings of one of the best-known authors of the 20th century fit in this spectrum? English 276R, that’s where – otherwise known as Tolkien Literature. What madman or woman would dare teach something as unequivocally complicated and popular as the basis for all fantasy, a series that has inspired countless spinoffs, comics, films and games? Steve Fullmer, that’s who – the man who is also known for teaching a lit class on heavy metal. Within the sacred walls of English 276R, sci-fi and fantasy geeks may gather in a safe place to revel in their joy of communal geekness while delving into the universe of Middle-earth, learning about Tolkien’s work on the Oxford English Dictionary while writing The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Students will have the opportunity to create worlds and kingdoms with maps and descriptions of everyday life however they want it, even languages, as they read Tolkien’s various works and compare them to modern day fantasy works like Harry Potter and Twilight, as well as Tolkien’s contemporary, C.S. Lewis, and his The Chronicles of Narnia. “I took it...

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How to vacate your life in style

With the end of the semester fast approaching, brains have all but melted to sloshy, greasy, useless messes and the thought of trying to plan a fun-filled summer is the furthest thing from them, right? Wrong. Summer is a time of liberation. It may bring about jobs, internships, marriage and all of the things that go along with “real life,” but for now, students should plan on making the best of their time away from daily higher learning. Personally, I prefer high-energy travel. When I go somewhere, I want to make the most out of it, see everything and experience it all. I saw nearly the entire city of San Francisco in just a day and a half. I can lie around all day by the pool at home for free; why would I pay money to do it elsewhere when there’s so much to see? I also have the tendency to be an excessive planner, trying to pack in as much as possible into every single day because I’m also pretty frugal and I figure I spent the money to get there and who knows if I’ll ever be back. If this is your way as well, I urge you to keep your scheduling flexible. You might run into something you’re more interested in than what is on your calendar. Also beware of burnout. By the last day...

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Swimming with finals

As we head into the last month of the semester, many emoticons are used to describe feelings on campus. There’s the smiley face with tongue sticking out, the shocked face with wide eyes or even the frowny face with an X for eyes. We are dragging on, pining for that invisible ringing bell that will release us from our cares, our burdens and our warm clothes. At least until summer semester starts. We only have four weeks left, and these are the most important four weeks of the entire semester, when what you’ve done (or haven’t done) so far can be negated by finals, last papers and attendance. On the flip side, this is also the time when teachers can be talked into extra credit, makeup work and help. Here are some helpful tips to get through these last four weeks in one piece. 1 Don’t be fooled into complacency. Use these last few weeks to their full advantage. Con every teacher you can into extra credit or makeup work. They want you to pass, not just for your sake, but for theirs. Most of them will be teaching the same subject in the fall. 2 Schedule everything, but keep it loose. Sometimes just taking a night off can be more beneficial than cramming. Choose your lazy times wisely, though. Too many and you’re right back next semester doing...

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