Adopting an Attitude of Gratitude

This time last year, my semester in Spain was coming to an end. I was lucky enough to have been invited to spend the holidays in a suburb of Madrid. My friend’s father played guitar and led a chorus of 45 family members through song and prayer before a feast of traditional Spanish cuisine. I was truly overwhelmed, simultaneously feeling both extreme joy and sadness. Comparing my family to hers, and wishing that we were as strong a unit, diminished my ability to be fully present in the celebration.

A few days later on a plane back to Granada, I told the man sitting next to me about my recent holiday in Madrid and about my family in America. Since my parents’ divorce, the holidays have been a source of great sadness for me. My new conversation partner responded in a way that I didn’t anticipate. He said,

You have a choice. You can focus on what you don’t have or you can focus on all that you do.

I have thought about this statement every day since.

gratitude 2This interaction on the plane awakened me. Why could I only recall feeling grateful on good days, but on the days where I struggled, I hadn’t practiced any gratitude. When there are burdens, struggles, and drama, it’s hard to feel grateful. However, we are faced with a decision: do we wait until life gets better again or can we start where we are, in the midst of problems and challenges? Gratitude starts with each of us exactly where we are. Instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful, we have the ability to bring gratitude to each and every day.

Before I knew the power of gratitude, I was stuck. Yes, my family is a bit fragmented. But how much greater would it have felt to tell that man on the plane that both of my parents are my biggest fans, who support my dreams to live and study abroad? In the year since this interaction, I can attest that practicing gratitude has brought a sense of peace to my life that I didn’t know possible. Why? Because gratitude is a reciprocal process. When you show someone you’re grateful for them, it boosts your own self-esteem and happiness.


Let’s start now! As we head into the holiday break, make a mental list of the people in your life who you value. For first-year students: who has supported you through your transition to college? Who has worked to make you feel comfortable at Ohio State and who are you grateful to have met? Use your abilities to bring gratitude to each day. Start by letting those faculty members, advisors, Residence Life staff, peer leaders, family, and friends that you are thankful for their presence in your life. I challenge you to start with just one person. Gratitude catches on and spreads like wildfire. In no time, we will have cultivated a culture of gratitude in the Ohio State community.


Thank you for reading.



Your Week in First Year Success: September 15-19

Congratulations! You have made it through your first few days of classes!  Now that you are ready to explore what the First Year Success Series has to offer, here are some sessions to consider for the first week of sessions (which begin one week from today!):

Comfort Zone
September 16, 4-5 p.m.
Theme: Health and Wellness

Are you already feeling stressed about college? You’re not the only one! This interactive session will provide an overview of stress, how to prioritize things in your life, and manage your time wisely. Join your friends from the Student Wellness Center to identify ways to relax and overcome your stress.

Book Discussion: The Glass Castle
September 17, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Theme: Buckeye Book Community

You’ve read the book. Now let’s talk about it! Join fellow first-year students to discuss the themes of The Glass Castle.  A staff member from First Year Experience will help guide your discussion while exploring the themes of the book. Attend this session before you come to see Jeannette Walls on September 23!

A+ Research: How to Structure a Term Paper
September 18, 6-7 p.m.
Theme: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration

You’ve heard that college writing will challenge you to be a better writer, but what does that mean? Come to this session and hear from an experienced Ohio State senior student about what it takes to craft a great paper in college! You will leave with tools and resources to help you get your writing to “A+” status.

Study Abroad Expo
September 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Theme: Diversity and Global Awareness

Sure, you may be interested in studying abroad while at Ohio State. But have you thought about which of the over 100 countries you will travel to for your study abroad experience? Do you know what things you should be considering now to make your study abroad dreams become a reality? Stop by this expo facilitated by the Office of International Affairs to hear from experts about what options are available to you.

Extreme Couponing
September 19, 2-3 p.m.
Theme: Finances

College can be stressful enough without worrying about finances. Come hear from two-time star of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” and Ohio State student Cole Ledford about how you can start couponing and save your money. Save your money now to save yourself from headaches later!

Of course, these are just five of the dozens of sessions offered in any given week! See all of the options online by visiting and make sure to register for your favorite sessions before they fill up! Let us know which sessions have you most excited!

10 Reasons You Should Study Abroad Before You Graduate

Okay, so we all know Ohio State is the best school on Earth. Obvi. We have amazing school spirit, a beautiful campus and a huge, fun, talented student body (maybe I’m a little biased but whateves). Being in such a fantastic place, why in the world would anyone in their right mind want to leave?! Well, I’ll tell you why. TO STUDY ABROAD.  There are so many reasons you should study abroad, but here are ten of them:

1. Experience a place that’s not, well, Ohio  (It’s out there people, I promise.)

There’s a whole big world out there waiting for you, where maybe they eat weird, but delicious things, or have cool sayings that you can use to impress your friends back home. Who knows. Listen…Do you hear it? The world’s calling.

2. Push yourself (I can totally figure out the subway system and how to speak German at the same time. Piece of cake.)

Making your way in a new country can be scary and uncomfortable, but there’s no better feeling than finally figuring out what that phrase everyone has been saying means or getting on the right bus for the first time because you KNOW where it’s going. You’re capable of way more than you think.

3. When else in your life will you have time to do this?!(I mean, why not now?)

College is a time of exploration, experimentation and independence. We are just starting to figure out who we are, who we want to be and how we fit in the world. If there’s ever a time to observe other worldviews, opinions and ways of living, it’s now.

4. Meet new people  (Heck, odds are they probably won’t even be from Ohio.)

Not only can you meet friends from the U.S. who are participating with you, but you can also befriend the locals! How fun! You can literally casually throw into conversation when you get home, “Well, my friend from Paris said…”.

5. See how others view the world  (You mean to tell me football isn’t a way of life here?)

It may surprise you that not everyone in the world wears Uggs or has seen the latest episode of Scandal. But so many different ways of thinking, doing and feeling exist in the world. Go explore; ya never know: maybe you’ll adopt some new habits (meditation? eating beondegi? The possibilities are endless.)

6. Adventure  (Wait…you eat what?!)

Why not let your adventurous spirit run wild for a while? Taste new foods, meet new people, venture outside your comfort zone. See the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, or the Pyramids. There is no time like the present and at the very least you’ll make some great memories to take home with you.

7. Be Independent  (For real this time, since we all know how you go home solely so your Mom can do your laundry)

No matter where you go, studying abroad will force you to figure things out on your own and be independent.  You might even have to cook your own food, omg.

8. Gain valuable experience  (looks great on a resume!)

Studying abroad will help you gain problem-solving skills, appreciate other cultures and grow in confidence. These are great transferrable skills for any future job, or just to be better at life.

9. Learn about yourself  (Who knew I was capable of  miming what flavor of gelato I wanted to that waiter?)

You probably already have a fairly good idea of what you’re good at, but did you know how good you were at navigating that incredibly confusing city? Or how well you could pick up Spanish in three weeks? You may just surprise yourself.

10. Appreciate what you have (Depending on where you go, you will never again take for granted not having to pay to enter a public restroom.)

Studying abroad in a foreign country, no matter where it is, or the standard of living there, will make you appreciate what you have.  Whether that be your family, friends, hometown, or college campus, you will come home more grateful for the blessings you have.

So basically what I’m trying to say is, GO STUDY ABROAD. Take one semester, or summer away from your normal comfortable routine and explore the world. You never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll see, or most importantly, what you’ll learn about yourself along the way.