Touring England’s Castles

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a castle or palace? Good, me too! Being in England I have made it a point to see as many palaces and castles as I can. I find them so interesting, because every single one has a different story and is enriched in elaborate history.

So far, I have been to Buckingham Palace, Blenheim Palace, Lamport Hall, Basildon Park, Windsor Castle, Boughton House and the Tower of London. It’s hard to decide which one is my favorite because they all are so unique. When I was younger (who am I kidding, even now) I think it would be really neat to live in a castle or palace with secret rooms and decorations.

DSC01165 DSC01172I’ll tell you a little about my most recent adventures touring through medieval castles and palaces. First stop: Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The royal family resides at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle at different points in the year. Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official royal home and has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchy since 1837. It was amazing to be able to step foot into the Queen’s home. The palace is only open to the public for four months out of the year while the Queen is at her summer home. I was able to tour the state rooms and see the collection of gifts that were given to the royal family from all over the world. When the Queen is not at Buckingham, she is at Windsor Castle, which is one of the largest royal castles in the world, built after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Since then it has withstood the Blitz, fire and devastation and still stands today. When I toured the castle I was able to see the changing of the guards, which was neat because they blocked off the whole street and sidewalk so that they could change the guards without any disturbance.

DSC01129Another beautiful palace is Blenheim Palace, which was named after the battle that took place in 1704 as a gift to John Churchill from the first Duke of Marlborough after the defeat of the French in the war of Spanish succession in the 18th century. Later in 1874, Winston Churchill was born at the palace, and he later proposed to his wife, Clementine, in the palace gardens. Churchill himself even said, “At Blenheim I took two very important decisions; to be born and to marry. I am content with the decision I took on both occasions.”

Check back next week for exciting stories about my weekend excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland!

–Mary Warfel ’18


Visitors from Home, Adventures in the Countryside

One thing that I value the most is family and friendship. Luckily my parents have arrived to visit me this week. Being away from my family has not been the easiest for me, so I am very thankful that my they are here for a short time to join me in my adventures.

I am also thankful for friends that have turned into family, like the Hunters. This week we have been visiting the Cotswolds in the good ‘ol countryside. Our first stop was Cheltenham-Burton-on-the-water, where the miniature village is located, which was opened in 1937. It consists of a miniature village of the actual village. It was really neat walking around the tiny village, because it sort of acted as a map for the real village. For example, we had afternoon tea at Smiths Restaurant, which was in the same place as it was in the miniature village.

IMG_5851 (1) IMG_5801 (2)Our next journey was walking the footpaths of Moreton-in-Marsh. It was absolutely stunning, with herds of sheep on the rolling hills. Next we checked into our hotel, The White Hart. This hotel dates back to the 1500s, and some parts of the building date back to the 1400s. The reception desk was located on the original cobblestone roads that were used as a carriage way. This hotel has had some notable guests including King Charles I first who stayed there once during the Civil War and never paid his bill. The unpaid bill still hangs on the wall of the hotel today as well as a copy his signed death warrant. I thought the rooms were magnificent: I had never stayed in a hotel with such rich history within its walls.IMG_5892

There was a market the following morning where there were numerous things to look at. After the market we headed to the Batsford Arboretum, where we were surrounded by nature and beautiful buildings. In the Arboretum we saw St Mary’s, a stunning church that was built in 1291. Our next stop was to Stratford, William Shakespeare’s birthplace. It was amazing to see where someone so influential in today’s literature was born and raised. There he met his wife, Anne Hathaway, who lived in a small cottage with her family until they married. Together they had three children, but only two of them survived. Later Shakespeare bought Anne and his daughters the largest house, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Stay tuned for next week to see how introducing my parents to the city of London went!


—Mary Warfel ’18 


10 Ways College is Different in the UK

After my first couple weeks of classes at the University of Roehampton, I’ve already learned that there are some major differences between classes here and my courses back at UC.

1. It is normal to meet for classes only once a week, but for three hours and sometimes four. I have classes Wednesdays and Thursdays, so either way I have a long weekend, which is nice, because I can explore and travel in my free time.

2. Classes are composed of lectures and seminars, which back home would mean the same thing. But here there is an hour lecture, sometimes with multiple instructors. Then you will have a seminar with one instructor for about two hours.

3. That’s another thing: They don’t like to be called professors—they are instructors or lecturers. Back home you call your teacher “professor”  to show respect. Here it’s normal to call your teachers by their first names. Also, if your instructor happens to have a PhD, which most of them do, don’t even think about calling them “doctor.”

4. Back home, students would know the required reading materials ahead of time before they even thought about starting school again. Here, there are no reading lists that are sent out prior to the start of classes. This instituted some anxiety for me, because most students here rely on the library to have the books they need for class. I am used to having my books a month before school starts, and I like to rent them from Amazon or Chegg, because that means you can write and highlight in them.

5. On the lines of reading materials, it could be expected for you to read an entire book by the next session, so in a week. In one of my classes I was to find this book by Charles Dickens and come prepared to discuss it in class. I couldn’t find it at the library, so I was worried I wouldn’t get the book on time, but the I just ordered it off Amazon.

Starbucks on Oxford Street

6. Class schedules for the semester are referred to as “timetables,” and it was kind of strange at first when everyone was saying, “Refer to your timetables.” Now that I am used to it, I bet when I get home I will refer to my class schedule for the spring semester as my “timetable.”

7. Instructors have a different relationship with students. Back home at UC, I’d have professors trying to help me in any way possible if I had a question or concern, but it’s a bit different here. For example, on Wednesday my name wasn’t on the attendance sheet for the class, and I knew I was in it because it was on my timetable. So I asked the instructor, and he walked away from me. Better luck next class, I guess?

8. Independent learning is proponent in all classes. Don’t get me wrong — back home I do my fair share of independent learning, but sometimes you don’t have to read every single word in every chapter prior to class, because professors sometimes just read out of the textbook anyway. Here it is expected that you are reading the materials, because the instructor won’t go in depth about what you were to read during lecture.

9. You may only have your grade riding on one exam or paper. Yes, thats right, ONE. This was a shock to me, because back home we would have tests, quizzes, participation, homework and attendance all compiled together to give an overall grade for a class. So far in my classes I have one project or essay that I will submit in November that counts for a majority of my grade.

10. Grades might not be out right away. In orientation they were saying grades could take a few months to be finalized. WHAT? Back home we don’t even have to wait a few weeks for our grades. I guess we’ll see about that.

Wish me luck!


Making Adjustments and Exploring My New Home

I have arrived! Roehampton is a very beautiful campus with incredible architecture. It is composed of four colleges: Southlands, Digby Stuart, Froebel and Whitelands College. I will be living and and attending classes in Southlands College. This week has been super chaotic. I’m getting adjusted to living in a dorm, being in a different place and learning new things about the culture, such as learning to rely on public transportation, which is new because I am used to being able to drive my car wherever I want to go. Now I have to actually think about where I want to go and what modes of transportation I can use. Despite the mini challenges , have had lots of time this week to explore the wonderful city of London.

University of Roehampton
University of Roehampton

I have had many orientations this week, as well. It is strange that they are referring to us as “freshers” because I am not a freshman at UC, but I need to remember that it is my first time here. Saturday we went on a photograph scavenger hunt of London, and it was exciting. We created our teams and were given a list of places we needed to go, but there were not answers, so I didn’t know how we would know if we were at the right places or even close to them. Maybe that was the whole point of the outing, because my group ended up making our own way and some of the best adventures are not planned.

The London Eye
The London Eye

First, we saw Big Ben and the London Eye getting off the train. Right now Big Ben is going through some restoration work so it is not ringing. We ventured to many places including Tower Bridge, The House of Parliament and Sherlock Holmes’ house. We saw the iconic red telephone booths and the double decker buses; they are everywhere in central London. Let’s just say that it is a beautiful city with so much to discover! It’s nice because my school is on the outskirts of central London, and it’s about a 20 minute train ride. Roehampton is a city within a city and London is conveniently located, so you can go into the hustle and bustle of the city whenever you want. When you want to be away from the fast-paced city, you can explore the local areas, like Putney and Hammersith.

Telephone Booth

This week I was also able to meet up with my friend Keishema, who was my sister’s college roommate. It was exciting and also nerve-wracking, because I had to take the train by myself for the first time. We met at Waterloo station and traveled to brunch together. We ate at The Breakfast Club, where they serve breakfast all day, which was amazing because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and the most important. Keishema said that each time we meet up she wants to take me to a place that I haven’t been, so we went to London Bridge, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and The Covert Garden. Each time I explore London it gets prettier and prettier!

Next week classes start, so stay tuned for more intel on what classes are like on the other side of the pond.

—Mary Warfel ’18




Student Blog: Welcome to Life Across the Pond

cf6143c7-0b56-47f9-b6e9-1d0d01095a74Hi, everyone! My name is Mary Warfel, and I have just embarked on an incredible journey of self-discovery and exploration.

I am a senior at Utica College, majoring in public relations. I live in Clinton, NY, which is not very far from Utica so I have been commuting to school for the past three years. That being said, I wanted to experience something different besides living at home, going to school and working. So I decided that studying abroad was probably the best option for me. I thought England be a cool place to explore, and it’s also a place where I have a support system already built in; my sister had two English roommates her senior year of college, and they became family to me. Now I have ventured across the pond to discover what life is like an ocean away.

I arrived last week on September 6 and stayed with the Hunter family in East Ilsley. They showed many beautiful places including, Lamport Hall, Oxford and Basildon Park. Lamport Hall is set in the countryside of Northamptonshire and has withstood many years of changes. When I was in Oxford, I went on a guided bus tour around the city. Fun fact: When Oxford University first allowed women to study, they were able to take classes and sit for exams and pass them, but were not allowed to obtain a degree or diploma until the 1920s.

Beautiful Gardens of Lamport Hall
Beautiful Gardens of Lamport Hall

My next stop for the week was Basildon Park, which was a house that was established in the 1950s. Since then, it has been the back drop to many television programs and movies. Part of the movie Pride and Prejudice was filmed there and the British TV drama Downton Abbey was filmed there, as well. Some major episodes were filmed there such as Lady Rose’s wedding and the Christmas specials. I loved Downton and was super excited when I found out that part of the filming was done there.

Basildon Park
Basildon Park

My next stop is the University of Roehampton where I will be studying for the semester. Stay tuned!




Advocating for Aid, Choice, and Opportunity

Marcel, right, with fellow student advocate George Archundia '17
Marcel, left, with fellow student advocate George Archundia ’17, outside the State Capitol in Albany 

Marcel Dupuis ’17 is an accounting major and soccer player at Utica College. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, he  visited the Capitol in Albany for Student Advocacy Day, where he and other UC representatives spoke with state legislators about college affordability, opportunity programs, and school choice. Here, Marcel shares his experience:

Why did you get involved with Student Advocacy Day? 

I wanted to attend Student Advocacy day because I thought it would be important to voice the opinion of the school. Some people don’t have such an outgoing personality and wouldn’t be able to talk to someone with such status as a Senator, so it was an honor to talk on behalf of Utica and other small college institutions. Issues of student aid affect a plethora of students statewide, and they need to be talked about and discussed in order to have the best outcome possible for all parties.
Why are student aid and opportunity programs so important? 
The aid we receive is vital to many students and their families. It’s important because not all families can afford to front the money for their kids to attend college, and in today’s society a college degree is required to apply for many jobs. Aid helps level the playing field in a sense, and makes earning a degree more affordable.
unnamed-14What did you learn from your experience in Albany? 
I obviously learned how much it means to many students to have the financial aid from the government and from other scholarships. However, I also learned how important it is for lawmakers. Most of the lawmakers we talked to seemed to have a similar view on the situation; with the way the Governor Cuomo has proposed the free tuition plan, there are flaws that need to be ironed out.
Overall, it was an honor to be invited and represent Utica College and other small institutions, and I would absolutely do it again.

‘Be the Change’: Hermina Garic ’19 on D.C. Women’s March

On Saturday, Jan. 21, sophomore Hermina Garic ’19 traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. Along with peers from UC and nearby Hamilton College, Garic joined nearly 500,000 people who participated in the historic demonstration. Here, she answers a few questions about her experience: 


When did you decide to take part in the Women’s March? Was there one distinct moment that inspired you to act? Is there a particular cause that is important to you? 

I decided to take part in the Women’s March as soon as I heard about it from my advisor during one of our K. Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center meetings. There was not really one distinct moment; it was more of a collective response in regards to my feelings towards the sexist rhetoric used during the election. Once I heard and saw on TV that Trump was normalizing sexual assault with certain phrases he was using, I knew I needed to take action. I am also a firm pro-choice supporter and it blew my mind that a female’s right to her own body was being attacked yet again.

Describe the trip to D.C.

I traveled to D.C. on one of the buses that was leaving Hamilton College. There was a variety of individuals both from the Utica College area and Hamilton College area that wanted to go. It was a one-day trip. We left Hamilton College around 1 am on Saturday and came back on Sunday at 4 am.

What was your first impression when arriving in D.C.? 

We first stopped at Shady Grove metro station, about an hour from the city itself, to catch the train into D.C. Just at this stop, the crowd was already huge. There was so many people, and we had to wait around an hour or so just to get onto the train just because the crowd was so big. Every stop along the way to Washington D.C. filled the train a little bit more. When we finally got to Washington D.C., it was a sea of people. It was incredible.

How would you describe your fellow marchers?

My fellow marchers were positive, peaceful, and empowering. Honestly, all of them were memorable. It was a weird experience for me because even though I did talk to a lot of the marchers, we all felt like one big unit. I think the interaction that will stick with me was when a marcher on the bus kept offering everyone cookies. It was a great thing to sit down to on the bus after a long day. Plus, his cookies were delicious!

20170121_11585920170121_141100Describe some of the signs and outfits you saw at the march. 

I saw suffragette outfits and the signs they held up said something along the lines of “I cannot believe we are still protesting this.” I saw was doctors wearing lab coats and nurses wearing scrubs advocating for universal healthcare. My favorite outfit was a nurse who wore green scrubs and held up the torch like the Statue of Liberty.

What’s your opinion of how the media has covered the march? Did they get it right? 

The only coverage that I saw was the aerial views of how massive the crowds were, and they definitely got that right!

Describe how it felt to be part of the march. What was the overall vibe and message you felt was being communicated? 

I felt safe and strong. It was so unifying, too. Everyone was together and it felt like nothing could break us apart.

What effect do you hope the march will have going forward?

I hope that the march makes people realize that as citizens we hold power in democracy, and if we wish to see change we should connect with each other, learn from each other, and like Ghandi said, “be the change that we wish to see in the world.”20170121_115417


Considering Grad School? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

photo-2Guest Post by Halina Lotyczewski, MSW
Director, Utica College Office of Career Services

Making the decision to attend graduate school is an important one, affecting students academically, professionally, financially, and emotionally.

I know, because I’ve been through it. After completing my sociology degree from SUNY Geneseo, I was accepted into Fordham University’s MSW program. I deferred enrollment for a year to work and save as much money as possible for my graduate school tuition. Fast forward 10 years later, and I’m now helping students decide if graduate school is right for them. I will be facilitating a program as part of Career Services’ Coffee, Cupcakes and Careers Series called Get Me into Graduate School. During this program, I will help students answer these 5 questions:

1. How will a graduate school education and degree affect my short and long term professional goals?

2. Can I make the commitment to attend graduate school, and do I understand how it will impact me financially? Even mentally and emotionally?

3. What criteria should I use in deciding which graduate school/program is right for me?

4. What are the elements of a graduate school application, and what is important to those reviewing my application?

5. What on campus and online resources are available to help me before and during the application process?

While these questions may seem daunting at first, a little introspection and planning goes a long way, and UC Career Services is here to assist. The Coffee, Cupcakes, and Career Series will be held in the DuRoss Dining Room from 2-3pm on Thursday, October 27.unnamed-6

Coffee and cupcakes will be served, and pre-registration is required through UC Career Connect. Please join us!


Proud to be a UC Student-Athlete

Being a student-athlete on campus takes the phrase proud to be a Pioneer and gives it a whole new meaning.

When you spend hours on end in the weight room and in the gym, and literally put your blood, sweat and tears into your sport, it makes putting on that navy and orange jersey for game day so rewarding. You aren’t just maggieteamgrinding for yourself, but rather your school and your community. Many students do truly love this school, but being an athlete makes your connection with this school personal. It allows us to give back to this school that has given us the opportunity to continue playing the sport that we love. It amplifies my emotional connection with this institution when I’m walking into the Café and someone stops to tell me I played awesome the night before. Or when I get an email from my advisor saying she heard my name on the news. It’s the little things that make me proud to be a Pioneer.

As an athlete we often get short changed on school breaks because we are expected to be back early for practice, or possibly not go home at all. It’s a choice we made when we committed to being a Pioneer, and a choice we have gracefully accepted. As athletes, we spend more time on this campus than your average student. Being able to walk through this campus when school is not in session and no one but your teammates are around makes you appreciate all this school has to offer. When you spend so much extra time on the UC campus, you can’t help but make this place your second home. Your teammates, coaches, and staff in the athletic department are your family. Having a family here at school thanks to athletics makes me proud to be a Pioneer.

20160422_maggie_tabone_013Seeing your peers come to games and cheer loudly for you just reiterates the fact that this place is home away from home. These are our people. I understand that we are not playing in front of 10,000 fans like some Division I athletes do, but being supported by our fellow students, professors and families is what makes UC sports so amazing. Balancing school work and practice is no easy task. Even when you’re not in season there is lifting and conditioning, but balancing it all and being able to perform on game day makes me proud to be a Pioneer.

The life of a student-athlete is no walk in the park. Some days I question how I even manage it, but being able to play for an amazing school like Utica College makes it all worth it. Seeing my peers, administrators and professors support me reassures me that I wouldn’t want to be spending my time anywhere else.

Thank you to everyone who is involved in some way, shape or form in the athletics world at UC. Adults, students, friends and family, YOUmake me proud to be a Pioneer.


My Favorite Places to Eat in Utica!

If you are not from the area, Utica is very well known for it’s restaurants and food! It is home to the tomato pie, half moon cookies, chicken piggies and Utica Greens! Some of my favorite places to eat are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Swifty’s: I love the laid-back atmosphere and wings here! A great hang out for my friends and I.
  2. Aqua Vino: Classy and by the water!
  3. O’scugnizzo Pizzeria: home of the tomato pie and one of the first pizzerias in Utica!
  4. Symeons: Tasty Greek restaurant!
  5. Delmonico Steak House: I am a carnivore and therefore this place is heavenly! It is the place to get a great steak!
  6. Dippin Donuts: Need a coffee to get you through class? There are so many flavors, it is amazing!
  7. Nicky Doodles: This is my favorite ice cream place in the world! The sundaes are to die for, my favorite is the Fluffernutter Sundae!
  8. Tom Cavallos’s: On Moday’s there are is an endless pasta deal where you can get endless pasta for $2!!! It is really good and on a college student’s budget!
  9. Georgio’s Village Cafe: I love the chicken piggies here, so delicious!
  10. Voss: I brought my parents here for the milkshakes and great BBQ! Check it out this summer!



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