Ball’s in Your Court: Tips from a Busy Student-Athlete

Student athlete. There is a lot of responsibility within those two simple words, and it can be hard to balance it all.

All student athletes have a full class load, spending a good portion of their day in the classroom. Then there is practice, games, or team workouts followed by homework and studying. That is a full day all by itself, and that does not include going to the dining hall or spending time with friends.

Incorporating all of these activities into each week can be hard, yet rewarding when you look back on your college years.

You may be thinking, how do you accomplish all of this?

Time management is the most important skill that any student can possess, but, for student athletes, it is the key to success.

Establish what you have going on during the week. Putting each activity on a calendar or in a planer is the best way to keep yourself organized.

Start with activities that are at a specific time such as classes, practices, games, or team workouts, etc. These are times that you are already committed to doing something; therefore, anything added after has to work around these events.

After your time-specific activities, add in homework due dates and any quizzes or tests for the week. By doing this, you will have a visual of what you have to accomplish throughout the week. From there, you can easily find the times that are available for either doing homework or studying.

Once you have an idea of when you can get all your work done, it will be clear as to when you have free time to go and support other student athletes, participate in campus activities, or hang out with friends.

We have all heard someone say that as a student athlete you are a student before you are an athlete. This is true since you have to maintain certain grades in order to participate in sports at the colligate level. If this is something that you find yourself struggling with, there are several ways to get yourself on track.

Talk to your teammates. Chances are, one of your teammates has taken the class you need help in and would be more than willing to assist you. For some students, they feel more comfortable talking to a teammate that they know well as opposed to a tutor. If they are a good teammate, they will find a way to help you succeed.

The Academic Support Center is also a great place to get help or to study. Just about every course has a tutor who can be found through the Academic Support Center. The tutors are eager to help students. Going in with a positive attitude will increase your chances of gaining knowledge from the session, so make the most of it!

Get together with a group of classmates. Together, you will help clarify any missing information or get different explanations, which may increase your understanding of the material.

Meet with your teacher or coach. They can help you come up with a plan to improve your academic success.

Learn from your experiences. If you do poorly on a test, use that to gauge what you have not grasped fully and find a way to learn the material. The points made above will help you with this. Maybe you need to start studying sooner or find a new way of studying.

Balancing all of the activities that you have going on can be difficult, but there are ways to ensure that you accomplish it all. When you look back on your college experience, you will feel proud of your performance in the classroom and on the field. Just remember to keep yourself organized and use the resources available to you.

 -Makenna Thorne is a sophomore majoring in Business Marketing at Castleton University. An outfielder for Castleton’s Women’s Softball, she also finds time to work in the Academic Support Center’s Writing Clinic.

 

Future Selves: A New Approach to Time Management

When you hear the words “time management,” what leaps to mind? The most productive person you know? Everything you have to accomplish in a given day or week? Your weekly planner?

You already know time management is necessary for academic and professional success; you may even use a planner or planning app to keep track of your commitments and deadlines. But for a few minutes, I want you to stop thinking of what you want to do, what you have to do, and how you can fit all of them into a 168-hour week. Yes, you should download – and complete – a weekly schedule. However, instead of reviewing your current responsibilities, take some time to ponder the future. So take a deep breath, relax, and let your imagination wander.

First, ask yourself who you’d like to be a week from now. I know: it’s not very far in the future. But maybe you’d like to be a more confident, active, or upbeat version of yourself. Imagine that person going about his or her life. Then consider what that student’s schedule might look like.

Second, imagine yourself five years from now. Where are you living? Are you in your first post-college job? In graduate school? What do you do in your free time? Flesh out this character you’ve created: give yourself the social life, relationships, and hobbies you long to have. Don’t edit your dreams; let them evolve without judgement.

Next, envision the person you want to be in ten years. Where are you? What are you doing for a living? What do you like to do in your spare time, and with whom do you spend it?

Finally, make a list of things that are important to you: your highest ambitions, the most crucial relationships, your most deeply held beliefs. Don’t judge or rank them – just jot them down.

Now, come back to the present.

Think about the future selves you’ve imagined. Then consider your current schedule. Is your current time management plan likely to help you become that person? What might you do now to make that dream become reality? In some cases, this means actively doing something. For example, if you are interested in public relations, you should be applying for internships in that field. In others, you may need to reevaluate the time you spend in certain activities. There’s nothing wrong, for instance, with playing videos games to unwind or have fun with friends. But if you’re spending whole days enthrall to a game instead of immersing yourself in classes, clubs, or internships, you might have a harder time landing that position in management.

While you’re at it, look at your list of priorities. Then assess whether your current schedule reflects those values. If you’re like most people, you’ll say family is important to you. But how often do you take the time to get in touch with your grandma? Maybe you want to make a difference in your community, country, or world. What are you doing about that desire?

When you do this exercise, you may find a gap between your future selves and your current schedule, between your ideals and your daily grind. That’s normal for people of all ages. Don’t be discouraged. Instead, make small changes to ensure you’re spending your time on the aspirations, people, and principles that mean the most to you. Effective time management isn’t just doing a lot with your time; it’s making sure you’re living your most fulfilling life.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

5 Tips to Beat the Winter Blues & Make the Spring Semester a Little Easier.

Winter in Vermont is so beautiful. The mountains are covered in snow, and the trees bend beautifully with its heavy weight. It’s a season we look forward to. We break out the cozy sweaters, sip hot chocolate, and listen to Christmas music. But once the holidays are over, we feel winter will never end.

In most states, winter will last an average of three months. Then spring arrives, and everything is fresh and new again. However, here in Vermont, we tend to skip spring altogether and get bombarded with six months of winter. During these long and dark months, we tend to fall into a rut. Our grades being to slip, we put minimal effort into our appearance, all we want to do is sleep, and we fear we won’t make it to spring. As someone who has lived in Vermont for over ten years, I fully understand winter’s gloomy affects. So I have compiled a few tips and tricks that have helped me beat the winter blues and stay on top of my homework during the spring semester.

Exercise

Your health is your wealth, so take care of your body by moving a little every day. Whether that’s going for a walk, hiking, doing a mini workout in your dorm, or having a full-on sweat session at the gym, make sure to move your body for at least thirty minutes each day. If you can, do some of your workouts outside. I know it’s cold, but try going for a run. Anything involving fresh air and movement will help tremendously, and getting the blood flowing will help you de-stress, focus, and sleep better.

Sleep!

This is probably one of the most important tips out there, but making sure you get enough sleep every night will do wonders for your overall well-being. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before, but getting enough sleep is so important for your physical and mental health. A study done by experts at Stanford University suggests that college students need at least 8 of sleep every night. I understand that this can be difficult when trying to balance school, sports, homework, work and a social life, but at least try to squeeze in an hour nap here and there. Your body, mind, and grades will thank you.

Take Your Vitamins

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is important to add to your daily routine. Vitamin D is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; however, during these winter months, we don’t typically see much sun so adding in the vitamin D will definitely increase your mood. It is also known to help reduce the risk of the flu, which has been running rampant as of late. So to avoid getting sick and stressing your body, definitely throw this into your daily routine, and you will be ready to get that assignment done that has been staring at you for three weeks.

 Try Not to Procrastinate

I’m laughing as I type this because I am the Princess of Procrastination. I will put things off until the very last minute and then stress, get mad at myself, and then put it off some more. Moral of the story, don’t be like me. School can wear you out. I get wanting to come home, sit on the couch for 6 hours, and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, but putting off your schoolwork is going to cut into that precious snooze time we all need. Set up a schedule for yourself, laying out everything you need to get done and the dates your assignments are due. This will help you stay on top of your work and also allow you time to sit around and watch Netflix in your PJs all day.

Do Something for Yourself and Make Time for Friends

Despite our busy schedules, it is so important to take the time to do something with your friends or even just by yourself. After a long week, I know all I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing, which is totally okay! But make sure you make time for friends, too, because they will encourage you to have a little fun and forget about the stresses from the week before. Also, plan something fun for the week, whether it’s promising a lunch date to yourself, a trip to Target (because everyone loves Target), or a coffee with a friend. This will give you something to look forward to and will keep you going until that special day arrives.

The winter can be a drag, and unfortunately we can’t completely escape the winter blues. But adding any of these tips to your daily life should help. Let’s face it: there won’t be that “one thing” that solves all of our winter problems, but adding in some of these tips regularly should help make those cold, dark days a little better.

Jessica Penwarden graduated from Castleton University with a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies in 2019. 

 

The Post-Transfer Blues: Adjusting, Settling, and Thriving

Starting new things can be scary.

Even students who are excited to start college will likely report that some things scared them—and that’s when they start as a freshman in the Fall with everyone else.

Switching schools can offer a whole new set of frightening experiences. Starting new in the Spring means everything is new to you even when it isn’t to your classmates.

As someone who has made this transition, I know how overwhelming this can seem. But don’t fret! There’s no reason your transition has to go poorly.

Don’t Hide. If you’re anything like me, your first response to finding yourself in a strange new circumstance is to do as little as you can. It can be very tempting to move only from your lectures to the dining hall, and back to the inviting cave of your blankets, stuffed animals and laptop. This is a bad idea – and I speak from experience. Hiding in your room won’t help you feel more comfortable in your new school.

Try talking to people. Maybe sit in the library, or a public lounge, or the common room in your suite instead of your bed. Try leaving your door open. It’s okay if you don’t feel like going to supper every time your suitemates invite you, but you shouldn’t turn them down every time either. Chances are they’re really nice and want to help you settle in. Let them help you.

Get Involved. Okay, I get it, your Intro to Psych class may not be the best place to meet people with shared interests. But there are other ways to make friends. Castleton has many clubs; check out the list and see if any of them might be fun. If you’ve already found a couple of people who’d like to have a Quidditch team, but you want to find a whole bunch more, you can see about starting your own club. (If anyone wants to start a Quidditch team, let me know).

Getting active through community service can also be a great way to meet people and accomplish something good!

Go Home, But Also Don’t Go Home. If being closer to home was one of the reasons why you chose to come to Castleton, then you should take advantage of it! If it’s 2pm on a Friday, you’re done with class, and home is within a couple hours, go for it. Leaving school, especially in your own car, can make a world of difference in reminding you that you’re not actually trapped.
The flip side is that going home too much won’t help you. It’ll make school seem even more foreign, cut down on your chances to make friends, and probably only make you feel more homesick. If you find some way to cheat and go home three nights in one week, you’ll only find it more depressing the next week when you can’t swing it.

Don’t Sweat it. At first it may feel like you’ve come to an alien planet where no one is interested in anything that you like, and no one likes you. When you start to feel this way, do something to remind yourself that your entire life isn’t based on this place. Decide to stop worrying about it. Relax.

Once you stop worrying, you will find that suddenly you don’t feel like such an outsider. You probably won’t notice it happening, but before you know it you’ll have places you like to sit, an inspiring professor, and a great group of friends to study, commiserate, and hang out with.

-Amber Clark

Amber Clark is a former transfer student and a recent graduate of Castleton University.

Finals Week: Survive, Thrive, and Celebrate!

It hardly seems possible, but in just eleven days, the semester will be over. Chances are, you’re excited about break – and can’t wait until finals are behind you. After all, Exam Week means study sessions during which you cram for finals and churn out one capstone essay after another.

Being nervous about the semester’s end is normal. But staying up all night to review notes and finish assignments isn’t healthy or effective. When you’re sleep-deprived, your brain doesn’t work as well, so you don’t absorb as much information as you would if you were rested. You also make careless errors. (All of us at Academic Support teach, and we recognize the work you finish at 4 am. Trust us.)

But if you’re not staying up all night to get through Finals Week, how will you finish your work? Fortunately, you can sail through the end of the semester without losing your sleep or sanity. Here are some tips to keep you focused during exams:

1.) Start Early; Break It Up. Many people begin shopping for the holidays long before December 1st. You should start studying for exams well in advance of Finals Week. Review your notes and previous tests, if applicable, for 10-20 minutes each day. This way, the information will be fresh and firm in your mind. Also, divide writing assignments into manageable chunks. You might create an outline one day, write a rough draft the next day, and revise your essay the day after that.

2.) Prioritize. Yes, being a college student means juggling a lot of commitments: classes, activities, part-time work, a social life, and family. And the end of the semester, combined with the holidays, can amplify these obligations. That’s why now, more than ever, you need to remind yourself of why you’re here. Promise yourself you’ll enjoy an outing with friends – after you finish your sociology take-home exam.

3.) Take Care. Telling yourself you’ll be able to relax after Finals can propel you through a tough week. However, don’t save all of your treats for the holidays. Schedule short breaks during Exam Week to exercise, connect with friends or family, or simply curl up with a book or movie. Making room for fun keeps you healthy and motivated; it’s also a valuable time management skill.

4.) Be Grateful. Let’s face it: if you’re in a position to fret about finals, you’re a pretty lucky person. Lots of people, in the US and overseas, cannot access higher education. When the assignments multiply and stress piles up, take a deep breath. Remind yourself of how privileged you are to be able to study something you love and pursue the life you want.

Finals Week doesn’t have to mean sleepless nights, too much caffeine, and harried students. As the year draws to a close, use this time to reflect on how much you’ve learned and celebrate how far you’ve come.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

Maintaining Your Grades (and Your Sanity)

Image of a stressed college student with their head down on a large pile of textbooks.

Many of us thought college was about having fun while getting our degree. What we didn’t consider was just how stressful balancing homework, a job, friends, and sleep could be. Below are 6 tips to help you increase academic efficiency and decrease stress.

Keep an Agenda: An agenda book is the perfect place to keep track of everything you have to do. Whenever a teacher mentions an assignment, write it, and the date it’s due, in your agenda. Also, remember to check Canvas; some teachers may not discuss an assignment in class because it’s available in detail online! Doing this will give you a single place to look to when you finally sit down to start your homework, only to realize you forgot what pages you were supposed to read for your 8am. Never have that thought of “I feel like I’m forgetting to do something” again!

Make a To-Do List: Having all your assignments written in your agenda is helpful, but can be overwhelming to look at. Make a list of everything you have to get done in a day or week, checking off each one once it is completed. Doing this helps ensure you won’t accidentally skip over an assignment. It may be especially helpful to write your list in order of priority or due date. That way, if you just can’t bring yourself to finish the last assignment on your list, you know it will be okay if you push it to tomorrow. 

Take Time Off: Even with a busy day, week, or semester, it is important to give yourself a break. Leaving a dedicated amount of time each day or week to play video games, read a book, watch Netflix, hang out with friends, or do whatever it is you do to relax will give you time to destress and focus on something other than homework. It may be best to make this time at night so that after a long day you can go to bed relaxed, not worrying about your classes and homework.

Don’t Neglect Your Body: School is important, but you’re still going to be walking around in your body long after you get your degree, so don’t forget to get enough food, sleep, and exercise. Receiving the proper nutrition, ensuring you get an adequate amount of sleep every night (7- hours), and staying active will prepare your body and mind for another long day and keep you from feeling groggy and fatigued.

Bonus tip: We all know it can be hard to find a nutritious and appetizing meal at Huden, so start taking daily vitamins to help make up for some nutrients you may be lacking.

Be Kind To Yourself: We all occasionally do poorly on a test or paper, but it’s important not to dwell on it. One less-than-perfect grade will not ruin your GPA, so don’t let it ruin your day. Accept when you didn’t do as well as you wanted to, try to find what you know you can do well on, and adjust your habits accordingly to improve your future grades.

Use Your Resources: Castleton has provided countless resources to ensure our success, but they can only help if you use them. The Academic Support Center, Wellness Center, professors’ office hours, your friends, and the various clubs and events you find around campus are only a few of the resources available to help you through academic and psychological struggles, so take advantage of them!

Alyssa Ezell is a junior at Castleton University majoring in Psychology. She is a member of the Random Acts of Kindness Club and enjoys helping others whenever possible. Alyssa was born and raised in southeastern Massachusetts, but loves studying here in Vermont. 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Stressed About the Future? It’s Okay!

Image result for therapy dogs college students photos

The future is inevitable. No matter how much we stress about it, it’s going to happen anyway. So what can we do to make the stress more manageable? There are many options to help ease anxiety, and it’s all about finding out what works best for you!

One of my favorite actors, Sebastian Stan, shared some wise words when it comes to anxiety. He said, “If you’re going to be anxious, just be anxious full on for five minutes. Set a timer if you have to.” People often try to dismiss their anxiety and stress, but ignoring it does not make it go away. Accept that something is making you anxious and allow yourself to experience it. Just don’t let it control you. Give yourself time to be honest with your emotions, but then move on to how you can help yourself move past them.

Whether you are a senior set to graduate in a few months or a freshman just starting your college journey, anxiety is something that we all experience. Luckily, there are some things we can do to lessen that stress.

  • Stay Organized. Invest in a planner. Make a schedule for each day or week and stick to that schedule. Keep your room tidy. Organization can seem like a difficult task for some people, but putting a bit of effort into it can really make a positive impact in your life. Creating a to-do list or a schedule can help keep your assignments in order and give you some structure. Don’t forget to schedule yourself some free time as well!
  • Take a Break. While professors won’t give you a break from assignments and coaches won’t give you a break from games, there are still ways to find time for yourself in your busy days. Get your assignments done early so nothing is left to the last minute. If you play sports, know when practices and games are so you can find time in between. It doesn’t have to be a long time: maybe grabbing a smoothie at the Coffee Cottage or catching up with a friend for a bit. Make sure you have a moment to breathe.
  • Ask for Help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help, and there are many different resources for you on campus. The counselors at the Wellness Center are there to offer a judgement free space for you to express your feelings. Your professors and advisors can offer guidance on the steps you need to take next. The Academic Support Center offers different services to help you excel in your courses and prepare for your future. And a personal favorite, there are therapy dogs in the library every Thursday from 12:45 to 1:45 to help you relax and take your mind off things for a while.

Time may seem like it is flying by, but that just means it is more important than ever to take a step back and focus. Life is stressful, but that stress doesn’t have to be debilitating. Accept your stress and use it as motivation to overcome whatever you are facing in your life. Reach out for help because it is there for you and it can make dealing with stress so much easier. And if all else fails, go pet some puppies!

-Heather McManus

Heather McManus is a senior English major set to graduate in December of 2019. Organization and taking time for herself are important parts of balancing school, work, and everything else adulthood throws at her.

How to Be a Study Smartypants

You just got done with your 9am, don’t have class again for another hour, and all that is on your mind is food. Huden here you come for breakfast. By the time you’re done eating, you only have another 20 minutes until class, which is all the way in Leavenworth, so you think, eh, I will just hang here until class.

Well, now it is 11:50, and your next class is at 2pm.  You need a nap, your bed, and maybe some Netflix. They all sound real good right now.  So, of course, that is what you do for the next few hours.

After your 2:00-3:50 class, you’ll go straight to the library.

It is now 4, and you have 100 texts from your roommate asking you to go to Rutland with her real quick. In your head, you’re like OMG yes, then wait, library. Then you decide okay, I will to go to the library right when I get back.

After Rutland, you need some dinner, so meal exchange at Fireside sounds good for the night. But it is now 7pm.

Your night ends with you going back to your room because it is so late, and getting just a little work done in bed. Then, of course, Netflix and social media will take over once again.

Sound all too familiar? Here are some tips to get things done.

1.) Make a Schedule: At the beginning of each day, make a schedule of your whole day, hour by hour. This will give you a plan to follow so you won’t need to make a last-minute decision you’ll regret later.

2.) Bring Everything: Bringing everything you need to work on or study allows you to be productive during those 20 extra minutes you hang out in Huden. Tell yourself what you are realistically going to get done in the time you have, even if it is something small.

 3.) Eat and Study: Go grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Fireside or the Coffee Cottage and bring it to the library. Work and eat at the same time. After your 9am, you’ll have almost an hour to get work done or study.

 4.) Say NO: It is okay to say no to your roommate and Rutland. You had a plan and you ignored it. And definitely regretted it.

Once you make your plan, follow it. You always have the right intentions; just make sure your actions reflect them.

-Alyson Tully

Alyson Tully graduated from Castleton University in May 2018 with a degree in multidisciplinary studies. 

T.I.M.E: Some Tips for Starting Your College Career

 

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You will learn by the end of your college career that your time spent at school is more than just your classes and homework. The skills you learn in college, inside and outside of the classroom, will carry over into your professional and personal lives after graduation. An acronym all college students should know is T.I.M.E.

1.) Time management can be very difficult for many students. There are 168 hours in week, 2688 of them in a sixteen-week semester of college. About a week, maybe two, of breaks. 12 to 18 hours per week will be spent in the classroom, then two to three times that should be spent studying for those classes, then, if you’re lucky, 56 hours for sleep, a few hours for eating… you get the idea. You’re left with only a few hours during the week to do what you please. One of my high school teachers gave me advice I still cherish. As we waited for the bell of our final high school class, she said, “When you go to college, you can do three things: you can study, you can party, and you can sleep, but you can only do two of the three things.”

2.) Involvement. Do it. Get involved. Turn off Netflix and Facebook, go outside, and throw a Frisbee. Go outside and lay in the grass or by the pool. Talk with students who live in other dorms. Close friendships that are made in dorms are important and worth holding onto, but remember life exists outside of your hallway or your suite. Join your student government, or your major’s club, or a volunteer club, or do all three. If you commute, stay for a weekend here and there. Make friends other than your parents and siblings, as well as whatever dogs, chickens, goats, or hedgehogs you might have— all of which I had when I commuted to community college.

Volunteer, tutor, join a team, join a club, join another club. Fill your week, but remember to save time for yourself and time to socialize. If you have a hard time making friends, go to your school’s cafeteria, sit down with some people you haven’t met before, and ask them five questions: What’s your major? What year are you in school? Where are you from? Do you have any pets? Do you have a job? Do you play any sports?

3.) Movement. Simply, move. Playing sports takes care of this one. Some of us don’t participate in sports, so go to the gym. It’s not as scary as it sounds. If you’re nervous like most other people, go with a friend, or ask someone to be a “brofessor” and show you what it’s all about. Still not convinced? Go outside like you did to cure your Netflix addiction. Most colleges have somewhere you can walk where you can feel safe and unjudged. You don’t have to walk for miles, but once you feel the enlightenment of the outdoors, you’ll never want to go inside again. Learn to ski or snowboard, ride a bike, swim, do something other than sitting down.

4.) Education is the reason you are going to college, so study skills are important. If you missed out on study techniques in high school, go to the Academic Support Center and ask for some help—immediately. Unless you are one of those students who doesn’t study for anything, yet somehow gets good grades, you need to know how to study. (And even if this worked for you in high school, it won’t serve you well in college.)

Part of navigating – and enjoying – college is learning to communicate with faculty. TALK with your teachers. Talk with them face-to-face, by e-mail, phone, letter, even carrier pigeon. Although you may believe otherwise, they are people; they do not turn off like a robot as soon as class is dismissed. Get to know a few. Attend a social gathering where teachers are invited without some sort of grade stipulation.

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this: you only have so much time while you’re in college. Remember to spend it wisely.

– D. Austin Martineau

D. Austin Martineau is a recent graduate of Castleton University with a degree in English and Secondary Education.

Finals, Summer, Then What?

In a few days, Spring 2019 will be over. You’ll finish your finals, turn in any last papers, and go home. We hope you’ve had a good semester and wish you a relaxing summer. You deserve it!

We also hope you reflect a bit on the semester and think about the one ahead. Just as the New Year allows you to make a fresh start, a new academic year gives you a clean slate. No matter what happened this spring – a bad grade, poor decisions, a failed class, a list of failures – you can overcome it. Really!

First, consider this semester’s successes. Maybe you found that you were better at math or writing than you thought you were. Perhaps you discovered a love for film studies, Spanish, or botany. In any case, you learned something about your strengths and interests.

Second, identify what you did wrong. No, you don’t need to beat yourself up. Just acknowledge your mistakes calmly as though you were talking about someone else’s life. For example, say, “I left my papers to the last minute, so they weren’t as strong as they should have been” or “I let my social life distract me from my studies.”

Next, think about what you gained from the experience. Maybe you learned something about time management or study skills. You may have discovered something about yourself and your interests: perhaps teaching is not the career for you. Use this insight to move forward even if you’re not quite sure of your path.

Finally, realize you’re not alone. Many of your peers and professors have had low periods – and recovered from them. All of us have struggled – academically, personally, or professionally. Successful people aren’t the ones who’ve never stumbled; they’re the ones who’ve continued on anyway.

Have a wonderful summer! We’re already looking forward to seeing you in the autumn.  

-Dorothy A. Dahm