A Weekend in Scotland

As I said last week, I spent this past weekend exploring Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s pronounced “Ed-en-Brah,” so not how it looks at all. I went with my program group, CIS Abroad. Although we were there for a short time, we fit a lot of amazing experiences into three days.

On Friday we took the train from London to Edinburgh and arrived in the evening, with just enough time for exploring the High Street and getting dinner. Saturday we had a full day, packed with discovering different castles in the Highlands. The coolest castle that we saw was Doune Castle, which actually translates to “Castle Castle.” As the tour guide said, “It’s a castle so nice they named it twice.” The super neat part about this castle is that it has been used for many different films, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlander and Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones it was used as the town of Winterfell, which I thought was awesome, considering I love the TV series.

Doune Castle
Doune Castle
Deanston Distillery
Our tour bus in front of Deanston Distillery, where Scottish whiskey is made.
Edinburgh beautiful view
A beautiful view of Edinburgh

After the Doune Castle we went to Deanston Distillery, which was established in 1966. We went on a tour of the facilities and saw how they made single malt Scottish whiskey. It was neat to see all of the effort that goes into it. After they make the concentration of barley, malt and sugar, it has to age in the cask for at least 12 years. They showed us the storage room where they keep all of the casks, and there had to be thousands in that cellar. One of the barrels was from 40 years ago; the tour guide said that this barrel would sell for about 4,000 pounds a bottle, which would be about 5,300 American dollars! I thought that was insane, but I guess that over the years of the concentration being in the cask, they will loose a lot of it due to evaporation.

The last day we had some free time to explore the town and shop for souvenirs. We also saw the most beautiful view of Edinburgh. It seemed like we climbed a million stairs up this hill to see the view, but let me tell you it was totally worth every step. Scotland now has a special place in my heart and I will definitely be back to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

—Mary Warfel ’18


‘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


Bored this weekend? Airband 2016.

Let’s face it: It’s the weekend before the last week of classes and, more than likely, you’re going to be bored from being studious and such… right?! Well, there’s plenty of fun to be had Saturday night in the Athletic Center.


Airband 2016


Chi Beta Sigma is hosting their annual event – Airband. It’s one of the longest-standing events on this campus, and it’s tons of fun every year! I mean, who doesn’t enjoy comedic singing, dancing and acting by students? It’s hilarious!

Airband is a lip-syncing competition featuring a number of acts, including Chi Beta Sigma. Each group lip-syncs to a chosen song in attempt to steal the show and “wow” the audience! Whoever does it best, according to the judges, wins! The top 3 acts will win prizes, provided by the sorority.

Don’t forget, if you attend, to bring a few bucks with you! Chi Beta will be hosting their annual “Hundred Dollar Minute” during intermission. This small event at intermission is meant to collect money from the audience that will then be donated to a local charity.

So, if you’re bored this weekend, DON’T BE! Get to the Clark Athletic Center at 7pm on Saturday for a hilarious show that NOBODY on this campus wants to miss!


Utica’s Good Eats: Piggy Pat’s BBQ

A few weeks ago a few friends and I got together and went out to dinner. We wanted to try something in the area that we have never tried before. After a few minutes of debating and violently searching through Yelp, we landed on a review of Piggy Pat’s BBQ. A few people had mentioned that it was some of the best barbeque food around and that it was a “must eat.” So, we were up for the challenge.

Less than 10 minutes from campus and right off the highway lies Piggy Pat’s. When we first walked in there was an obvious a cabin-in-the-woods type feel to the restaurant. We were seated in the dining room that was draped with handmade quilts and some other old, country-like artifacts.

The menu was full of fun named and creative entrees. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, a fan favorite. While waiting for our food we discovered a few home made barbeque sauces on our table, and they were delicious!piggy pats pic #1piggy pats pic #2

Then, finally, our food came out. Piggy Pats has hands down some of the best BBQ I have ever had. This is definitely one of Utica’s good eats and a must try! Needless to say, we will be back for more – especially after learning about some of their weekly events!

Wednesday Nights – Trivia Night

Friday Nights – Live music starting at 6 p.m.

Saturdays Nights – Live music starting at 8 p.m.


A New Adventure

It’s no secret, I am not a gym-going kind of girl. I personally envy those who truly enjoy going to the gym and working out. Me, I dread it more than the most pain-filled trip to the dentist. That being said, I’m always looking for different things to do to stay active.

This past weekend we had a few hours of beautiful weather, there was still a bit of snow of the ground but the temperature and the sun drew almost everyone out of their rooms. I had been wanting to take up hiking for a while but always seemed to find an excuse to push it off. But no more!

A few friends and I decided to go on a hike a trail in Wilderness Park in Deerfield, NY. It took us just about a 15-minute car ride from campus. When we got on the park grounds there was a large pavilion with ten or so picnic tables and a large set of swings. The perimeter of this area was lined with great big evergreen trees – it was a perfect day to explore.new adventure pic #4

new adventure pic #2We followed the signs to the trail and followed the yellow reflector squares through the woods. The trail was guided by paths and huge makeshift stairs made from large logs. The trail was the perfect mix of flat surface and inclined areas. It was beautiful! We came across a flowing stream that was half frozen along the side of a hill.new adventure pic #3 new adventure pic #1

This adventure wasn’t only a great way to get some enjoyable cardio in, it was a beautiful winter sight. I look forward to revisiting this trail and hopefully discovering some other trails in the area.



See ya spring break ’16!

Last week was such a tease for what summer ’16 is about to be! Sunshine, warm weather, friends, no homework – I mean, it honestly can’t get much better, right?! Spending a week in Florida, on the beach, with friends, with temperatures at 80* or above – it was honestly heaven! I was in no way ready to come back here and get back into a routine of classes and homework. Let’s be thankful for those of us who are not graduating that we get to have at least one more spring break! 🙂


With five weeks left of classes and a week of final exams, many of us are not sure how we will ever reach the end after a full week of leisure! For many of us, there are still numerous homework assignments, a few exams, and probably a few pop-quizzes left to complete before we can be on our way to summer break – so let’s hope for the best and hope that we will get through it!


Here are some thoughts that many college students have when spring break is coming to a close:

  • The weekend before school starts back up – “is this really happening?!”
  • While traveling back to school – “I’d much rather stay home with my pets and never move for the rest of my life”
  • First opening your planner/schedule – “so about that assignment that I was supposed to do over break…”
  • The first Monday morning class – “I can go back to sleep in roughly 3 hours and 27 minutes.”


Getting back into the swing of things can be hard and definitely emotionally taxing. However, we’re only a few short weeks from summer and you can consider that an extended, fun-filled, and awesome spring break!


Saranac Brewery Tour

Last weekend my friends and I found ourselves looking for another adventure and wanting to experience something Utica has to offer! I then remembered a tour of the Saranac Brewery was something I’ve been wanting to do since freshman year but never got around to doing it. We looked up the Matt Brewing Co. online and decided to do it!

When we got there, we walked into the gift shop and checked in for the next tour. The tour only cost $5 a person and included two free beverages in the tavern at the end of the tour! While we were waiting for our tour to get called we walked around the gift shop. Decorated with some vintage Saranac gear, the whole place had a long-standing feel.


Saranac Pic 1Before we knew it our tour was about to begin. We were walked through the entire brewery and the tour took a little under an hour. The hallways leading up to the production room was beautifully decorated with authentic Victorian décor with many original aspects from when the brewery opened in the 1800s by FX Matt. We were able to get up close and personal with every aspect of the brewing process from the hops and grains used to brewing, bottling, and packaging.

Saranac Pic 4 Saranac Pic 3 Saranac Pic 2The tour was very informational and interesting. It was cool to learn that Utica Club, a beer made at the Matt Brewery, was the first beer sold in the United States after prohibition.

We then made our way to the tavern to try our two full-sized free drinks. They had their seasonal and craft beers on tap along with their assortment of sodas and hard sodas. I tired their famous root beer and it was – AMAZING! We ended up sitting in the tavern for two hours drinking and talking. This is something I recommend for everyone to do – in fact, I can’t wait to go back and do it again! A fun day for only $5, it’s a win-win!

Saranac Pic 5



The Best Way to get BAKED!

When I got home from work today, my roommates and I were talking about how it’s national chocolate cake day. We had been talking about it for nearly 20 minutes when we decided that we really did want to make a chocolate cake, but on the next level. What’s better than simply chocolate cake? Chocolate-covered chocolate cake pops!

Though chocolate cake is great and all, chocolate cake pops are much better. They are like bite- sized pieces of an entire chocolate cake! So, that’s exactly what we decided to make.Untitled

How to make chocolate cake pops:

  1. Beginning with a traditional chocolate cake: We made the cake according to the box and then let it cool for an hour.
  2. We then broke the cake up into a bowl and mixed it with one package of cream cheese. We then rolled this new “dough” into small circles and poked lollipop sticks into them before placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a half hour.
  3. We then melted chocolate to dip the cake pops in.
  4. After dipping the cake pops in chocolate, we placed them back on the cookie sheet and let them cool for about twenty minutes. And then…… VOILA! Chocolate covered, chocolate cake pops!

It’s like chocolate cake, but better on national chocolate cake day! And what makes that even better? My roommates and I made them together and even shared with our friends!


Killer Wings at the Killabrew

Here is another one of Utica’s good eats!

Last night a few of my friends wanted to go out for some wings. Now, I am not a wing person but I decided to tag along because I have heard that the wings at Killabrew are world famous. Not to mention, it has been on my “college bucket list” to go there, and as my senior year is coming to an end, I figured it was time!

We were seated at a wooden booth and given our menus. When I looked down there were carvings all over the table. It was really cool to look at all the messages others had left behind. Things like “M+D Forever” and other small notes gave this place a homie and familiar atmosphere along with the overall décor of the place.
killabrew pic 2Killabrew pic 1
My friends and I ordered a bunch of the “everything” wings. These are said to be the wings that keep people coming back for more every week. After about 20 minutes or so, the waitress brought us our order. A large plate of orange-red steaming wings accompanied with a dozen napkins and wet-naps sat in front of us, and we were ready.

killabrew pic 3

Like I said before, I am not a wing person. However, the Killabrew’s everything wings have brought me over to the other side! They were delicious and like something I have never tasted before! Tangy with a light kick – I would definitely go back for more! Lets just say this is one of Utica’s good eats and a must go to!



The Story of an Overly-Cautious Girl Who Chopped Her Hair Off

When I was little I used to cry when my Mom rearranged the furniture in my house (also nearly had a mental breakdown when my parents painted the living room). Long story short, I have basically hated change my entire life and ALWAYS been extremely cautious and thoughtful when making decisions. I’m sure there’s some kind of fancy scientific word for what’s wrong with me…let me Google it…
….apparently I have Metathesiophobia. Anyways, as I have gotten older I have become a little more comfortable with change. Change is good. It can be weird sometimes, but good.

Around May of last year, my cousin, who is my hairdresser, suggested that I chop all my hair off:

“You would look so cute with a long bob haircut!”
“Your hair would have so much more volume!”
“You need it! Your hair is dead anyway.”

And of course my sister agrees…and my mom…and my grandma. This is just what happens when family is involved. But honestly, did they REALLY think I was just going to be like “Oh absolutely just chop it, do whatever you want with it, shave my head bald for all I care.” Absolutely not. My hair has been styled long, exactly the same way, for about a decade. WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH A LOT TOGETHER.
I needed to think. So, I started putting my hair behind my shoulders and making it look like it was short so I could get the opinions of just about everyone I knew.

At one point I had this terrible flashback of my awkward stage, when my hair was short and horrendous, that completely nixed the idea for a couple months.

In August, I convinced myself I would look like Lord Farquad from Shrek if I cut it.

Finally after 6 months of back and forth, I just did it. I have no idea what came over me, but I just did it. Don’t know how or why but one day I was just ready.

IMG_0206 (1)

IMG_0217 (1)

If anyone is looking for a fresh, new look, be sure to check out Posh Salon in the Fitness Mill’s plaza. The day I got my hair cut was the first time I had ever been there. It’s ADORABLE and right down the street from campus! My cousin, Bianca, is awesome. She’s a recent cosmo grad and knows everything there is to know about all the new hair trends and techniques like balayage! She is absolutely meticulous and can completely replicate any picture you show her of the look you want! I’m so happy that I did it. In general, I’m beginning to think sometimes we all need a little change.