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Four Years at the Mount - Junior Year

The Wonder and Awe of 2010

Julia Mulqueen

(Jan, 2011) This morning I jumped out of bed, rushed down the stairs, and began my one and only task for the day—setting up the Christmas village. It is a delicate matter and requires the utmost attention to detail. It often seems that the fate of the world depends upon the placement of the little porcelain post office. As I unwrapped the rest of the houses and the tiny painted figurines, I found myself wishing that I could have the same control over my own life that I have over the miniature village. Wouldn’t it be dandy if I could choose the perfect spot for everything in my life? Wouldn’t it be swell if all my fears about growing up and entering the real world could be molded into something as beautiful as a hand painted ceramic chapel? I had to shake myself of this desire, however, and realize that life will always be rather unpredictable. Perhaps the best way to be prepared for my future then is to evaluate my past.

This past year was certainly a whirlwind of learning and new challenges. It brought so many wonderful blessings to me. The year began with a bang when it ushered in a huge snowstorm, shutting down Mount Saint Mary’s for days. I was pleased to discover that the hills on Echo field are perfect for sledding. Also, the school’s hot chocolate does indeed warm both body and soul. The next major event of my year was the return of my brother Alex from the Middle East. He is a Blackhawk pilot, and was deployed for roughly a year. When his unit came back, my family gathered with the families of the other soldiers in his unit to welcome all of them back to the United States. There was a small kick; it was 2 am. Love broke through the inconvenience of the time, however. No soldier was without a mother, father, spouse, or child to welcome him back. I have never seen so many people cry. It was an absolutely beautiful experience, and I was privileged to witness it.

The next big event of 2010 was spring semester finals week at the Mount. The library filled with diligent students and the cafeteria was armed with container upon container of piping hot coffee. Finals week is perhaps the most important week of a college student’s life. It can mean the difference between life and death. Well, actually that is an overstatement. Finals week can mean the difference between an A and an A-, which is an important distinction for a young student looking for every opportunity to stand out to an employer. Hence finals week brings more coffee and stress than all of the other weeks of the semester combined.

Luckily, I had a present waiting for me at the end of it. The present was studying abroad in Austria, which was another incredible experience. My eyes were opened to a piece of the world that I had never before seen so clearly. I lived in Europe for four years as a young teenager, but I had never explored a European city on my own. Talking to the various people I met throughout the trip was amazingly enlightening, and I will never forget the things I learned there. It was also a special time because my parents and my brother Alex came to Austria to visit me, and my oldest brother Andrew then drove down from Germany to visit all of us. Andrew had just returned from Afghanistan, and it was the first time the five of us had been together as a family in over two years. It was quite a happy reunion, and returning to the States without Andrew was certainly bittersweet.

Then, as quickly as it had started, summer was finished and my junior year was upon me. It started immediately with cadet camp for the incoming freshmen and a physical fitness test for the juniors. We juniors were also reminded that the summer of 2011 will play a huge part in determining our future career as officers. Classes started off similarly with my professors emphasizing the fact that much is expected of juniors.

The fall semester absolutely flew by; I cannot believe all of my exams are over. Christmas is almost upon us, as is the new year. With the ushering in of the new year, I will only have three semesters left at Mount Saint Mary’s. I find that fact so difficult to believe. How can it be that graduation is just around the corner? I still feel like a tiny, nervous freshman, and yet, I have grown so much as a person over the years. This past year especially has helped me to develop more into an adult than any previous year. The distinct experiences and challenges that came with 2010 have taught me so much about life and my role in the world.

Musing about the past year has infused my soul with great excitement for what the future will bring. Who will I be one year from now? What will have changed in my life? How will the world have morphed when 2012 is upon us? The anticipation that I have for 2011 makes me realize that although I cannot control every aspect of my life like I can control the setup of our tiny Christmas village, I can know that the joy of life lies in the unexpected. It is the unpredictable things that fill us with wonder and awe, and it is for those things we can be heartily thankful. 

Read other articles by Julia Mulqueen