On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.

By Mariah Wahl
Mariah Wahl '16
Editor & English Major

My favorite Trinity University tradition, hands down, is Christmas on Oakmont. Every year, Oakmont street is lit with luminarias and the faculty who live there open their homes and provide holiday treats. Students line the sidewalks after our Vespers service to go into each home. Trinity's choirs, including our handbell choir, serenade students while they wait. In short, Christmas on Oakmont has everything a student could ask for: entertainment, free food, and holiday cheer. 

Winter in Texas isn't especially cold, but it's still chilly to wait outside. It feels a little bit warmer, though, just to see houses decorated and luminarias lining the sidewalk. For those not in the know, a luminaria is a small paper lantern, traditionally lit on Christmas Eve in southwestern parts of the United States. When they're all lit, they cast a warm glow all up and down the street. I think even if there were no free food, I'd show up just for that view. It doesn't truly feel like Christmas until I see those luminarias lining Oakmont. 

One of my favorite Trinity scenes. 
Every year, I try to be the very first student in line for Oakmont. If you show up late, all the horchata and churros will be gone before you get there! There is an unspoken competition every year to see which house will offer up the best holiday fare. Most people love the tamales, another favorite San Antonio holiday tradition. Once I've gotten the food, I like to wander through the house, looking at their decorations and maybe being serenaded by a Trinity choir. Then, it's on to the next house and more eating!

Our talented Trinity handbell choir. 
Usually, there is a wait between houses, but nobody minds too much. It's an opportunity to visit with friends and whoever else you might run into. More than anything, it's an opportunity to be serenadedby Trinity's handbell choir. Their rendition of various Christmas carols is haunting and beautiful. Also, the largest of those bells looks fairly heavy. It seems to take a surprising amount of concentration (and physical strength!) to coordinate those separate bell tones into the notes and melodies of familiar Christmas tunes. 

Last but not least, no Christmas on Oakmont is complete without silly photobooth pictures. Trinity provides an ecelectic collection of props, and some years you can even have your photo taken with Santa. I didn't realize it at the time, but looking back on these photos is like a snapshot of that year of college. I remember who my friends were, what final was particularly stressful that semester, and what I learned in the year ahead. Christmas on Oakmont is my favorite Trinity tradition because it encompasses so much of the Trinity experience. 

About Mariah 
Mariah Wahl is a senior at Trinity University, studying English and women's and gender studies. She is the editor of the Trinity Perspective as well as the Trinity Experiential Learning Blog. In her free time, Mariah enjoys running and being outdoors. Earlier this month she completed her second half-marathon and she will attempt a full marathon in June unless she can get out of it. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau sorority
Fran Wahl
Trinity Parent & Part-Time Teacher
By Fran Wahl

David Tuttle, Dean of Students at Trinity University would probably be shocked to learn that I keep him in my back pocket at all times. And that's not the only place I keep him secreted away. Sometimes he's in my handbag or in the cup holder of my car. Yes, you guessed it, he is accessible to me anywhere I keep my smart phone. Anytime, day or night. I can access his blog online (optimistically entitled "The Dean's List") as well as a myriad of other electronic communications that keep me in tuned with what is going down on Trinity's campus.

Trinity University casts a broad electronic net to corral a wide and varied parent population. Dean Tuttle's blog is most easily found by subscribing to the TrinitE parent Newsletter. There you will read the latest email alerts sent to your students, career counseling information, and one of my favorites, Student Health 101. Access this web based magazine for tips on diet and exercise, study skills, anything that affects your student's physical and mental well being. Try this conversation starter: "Did you see that last article on myths about condom usage in the Health 101 web magazine? Fascinating read!" Maybe that's pushing it, but you get the idea.

Dean Tuttle is an excellent parent resource, both in person and online. 
On the serious side, this is the same place you will find the latest safety information, should there be an on-campus incident of any kind. It's nice the know that an email will show up quickly and frequently to keep parents in tuned with all the campus goings on.

Have a question about getting your student a ride to or from campus? Like the Facebook page TU Parents and find yourself tied into the most honest, caring and informative group of folks on the planet! Car repairs, doctor referrals, you name it. This is virtually the Angie's List of student friendly products and services. As an added bonus, you could make a friend to meet up with at the next Parent's Weekend. Angie's List can't touch that. 

Horrify your child by already knowing the other parents when you arrive for Parent's Weekend.
Though they are not parent specific, Instagram and Twitter provide the most instant gratification, allowing quick snapshots of campus life, highlighting sports, the arts and community events that affect TU students. When searching these two social media platforms, Trinity related titles are literally endless.

Whatever your communication style, Trinity has something for you. You can be as informed or as distant as you would like! Dean Tuttle can take comfort in knowing that his most aggressive stalker (now not so anonymous) lives a good thousand miles away from campus. I take comfort in the fact that I am never more than a click or two away. 

Stay in the know with Trinity's 24/7 online resources. 

About Fran
Having turned the term "domestic engineer" into a full time profession, Fran Wahl has experienced sending two of three children off to Universities. She frequently lobbies to have one of them choose real engineering as a major. In her spare time she volunteers in the local schools, and works as a substitute teacher. She also enjoys surfing the internet. 
By Mariah Wahl
Mariah Wahl '16
Editor & English major

December is a difficult time for students. If you're like me, the first thing on your mind is finishing finals and making it home to crash for three weeks of holiday break. But before you do, take the time to appreciate the different San Antonio traditions near Trinity University's campus! You have to take a study break at some point-- why not spend some time celebrating the holiday season? Here are three San Antonio highlights:

1. Menorah Lighting at the Pearl

Starting Sunday, December 6th, and ending Monday December 14th, the Pearl will host a Menorah lighting every evening in celebration of Hannukah. On December 6th, join Young & Jewish in San Antonio from 6 p.m. to 9:30. Green Vegetarian Cuisine will provide kosher dishes and local music acts Tera Ferna and Brent Michael Wood will perform.

If you can't make it to official event, stop by the Pearl to see the nine foot tall menorah lit up every evening for the holiday.  

The Pearl is beautiful all year round, but it's especially worth a visit during the holidays.

2. Fiesta de las Luminarias on the Riverwalk

The Riverwalk is a highlight of San Antonio, but it's really at it's peak during Christmas. If you can, take a river boat tour down the river to see all of the buildings lit up. If your student budget is too tight for that, just wander around the river and take in the view. 

This is a San Antonio tradition you have to see before your time at Trinity is over!

A visit to the Riverwalk is worthwhile in any season. 

3. Weihnachtsfeier (German Christmas Service) at Trinity University

At Trinity's own Parker Chapel, we host an ecumenical service entirely in German on December 13th at 5:30 pm. The candlelit service tells the Christmas story through Scripture, prayers, German Christmas poetry, congregational and choral singing and instrumental music.

San Antonio has a long history of German traditions. Come to Die Deutsche Weihnachtsfeier to learn more about this culture and celebrate the holiday! Admission is free and open to the public.

This beautiful holiday celebration happens right on Trinity's campus!
About Mariah 
Mariah Wahl is a senior at Trinity University, studying English and women's and gender studies. She is the editor of the Trinity Perspective as well as the Trinity Experiential Learning Blog. In her free time, Mariah enjoys running and being outdoors and just completed her second half-marathon. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau sorority.  
By Jeff Sullivan
Jeffrey Sullivan '17
Political Science and English

Congratulations on finishing up another semester. I bet those two weeks of anxious anticipation over final tests and papers was rough. But it’s all over now! You’ve got a break for a little while and you should be enjoying it. Anyway, what I really want to ask is, what exactly is it you’re doing again?

For two consecutive winter holidays that’s been a staple conversation. Regardless of whether the questioner was an extended family member, a friend of my parents or even a friend of mine home for the holiday, I disliked answering it. I was one of those “what’s he majoring in now” kind of students, which made the talk a point of particular dread. It wasn’t because of the person asking, normally it was because the feelings of uncertainty that followed made me feel anxious during times that were ostensibly set aside for relief and recovery.

Winter break comes with holiday excitement-- and questioning relatives. 
“Have you figured out what you’re studying?” That’s the first form of the general question “what are you going to do with you life?” As an undeclared undergrad, I typically disliked being asked the question because of the connotations it carried. It always sounded as if it were coming from a place of judgment. A question that helped reassure the questioner how secure they ought to feel compared to my state of uncertainty.

I have a major now, but that only answers the first question. The second, after a brief pat on the back for having a major, is “so what’re you going to do with that out of school?” This is the one I’ll be asked most this year. It won’t be my first time fielding the question, so I’ll have some answers prepared.

But it’s still an unpleasant conversation to have. It still feels as if the questions come from places of judgment. If not for personal reassurance then as a way to sum me up. A way to create assumptions about how happy, successful or worthwhile I may be. 

Questions around the holidays make students consider school at a time when they'd rather forget it. 
I’ve heard that this is just a part of my American culture. I’d agree because I’ve asked the same sorts of questions. They feel like the right sort of questions to ask someone I rarely see or am meeting for the first time. Maybe my beliefs about the questions’ judgmental nature come from my own experiences asking them, and not just answering them.

Whether you’re near graduation, in the middle of your education, or nearing the beginning, you’re going to be asked these sorts of questions. Maybe you’ll be like me and they’ll make you feel anxious, or maybe they won’t. If not, good for you. You’ve learned that the answers to this question aren’t the end all be all.

Whatever you study or do for work is only one part of yourself, perhaps the smallest. It’s all good if it’s the biggest too! I’ve learned that for myself, and for others, it’s just a portion. There’s no need to feel anxious or incomplete if you either don’t have the answers to the questions or are unsure about the answers you give. I have a feeling everyone is in a similar looking boat.

The holiday questionnaire is a well-meaning family tradition. Don't worry if you don't have the answers yet. 
This holiday season, I think you should do two things. The first is to be prepared for the questions, and answer them confidently. If they can’t be answered with absolute assurance then try answering them with the belief that they’re all part of the explorative process of your life. The second is to be attentive. Be attentive for those people who are genuinely curious about the windings of your path. They may end up adding one or two of their own.

Searching for the answer to those holiday questions? Check out our student success resources. Explore options for your course of study with our academic resources

About Jeff
 Jeff Sullivan is a rising junior undergraduate student at Trinity University.  He hails from Dallas, TX and has spent the majority of his life in the state. His academic interests are primarily focused in Political Science and English. In his free time he listens to music, searches the internet for anything of value, and reads.
By Mariah Wahl
Mariah Wahl '16
Editor & English Major

Finals are tough part of every semester. Whether this is your first finals season or your eighth, it's easy to fall into the trap of anxiety and stress that pervades the end of the term. Roommate relationships are often a casualty of this time of year, as living in close quarters with another person can be grinding when you're stuck inside studying. If it's your first year living together, or you've been living together for years, it's sometimes difficult to get along during finals. Here are some tips to encourage healthy roommate relationships as the semester ends:

1. Organize your space now, for your sanity and your roommate's
When finals week rolls around, you won't have time to organize your desk, clean your room, or do your laundry. Not only is a messy room frustrating for your roommate, it's distracting and stressful for you during an already stressful time. Nobody wants to lose their one and only bluebook in a sea of disorganized papers one hour before the exam! Do yourself and your roommate a favor, and get organized before the extra anxiety sets in.

A clean room is a happy room-- with happy roommates. 

2. Exchange finals schedules
Let your roommate now when your big exams and essays are and keep track of their assignments as well. This lets you know when to be especially mindful of their time. Especially if either of you likes to study in the room, knowing when a roommate might be extra-stressed can help you be supportive. You might even leave a note or send them a message to wish them luck before a big exam.

3. Be extra conscientious and respectful of each other
Sometimes, the pressure of finals makes it easier to snap at the people closest to you. The extra stress can also make it easier to ignore important roommate boundaries ("I'm late to my exam, so I'll just take my roommate's last banana for breakfast" -- me in an inconsiderate roommate moment). Understand that your roommate has a tough finals schedule too. Be forgiving with them as well as hyper-conscious of their stuff and their space.

Be especially kind to one another during finals! 
4. Especially each other's sleep!
This is the most important part of a happy roommate relationship during finals. If you're up late studying and your roommate is resting before or after a big assignment, it's best to hit up the library or another study spot on campus. If you finish your finals before they do, don't celebrate loudly or late at night in the room. Trying to sleep before a big test while the people around you party the night away is frustrating and exhausting. If you and your roommate are respectful of one another's sleep, I guarantee there will be less disagreement and anxiety for you both.

5. Find ways to enjoy each other's company
Study breaks are important. Not only do they help you absorb material in small chunks, they keep you refreshed and ready to learn. Consider taking these breaks with your roommate to make some positive memories during finals. Pay attention to different finals week opportunities on campus-- visiting with animals, eating nachos, or just grabbing lunch together. Taking the time to remember that you like your roommate (or can at least tolerate them) will help you survive finals.

Reducing stress is good for you and good for the roommate relationship.
About Mariah 
Mariah Wahl is a senior at Trinity University, studying English and women's and gender studies. She is the editor of the Trinity Perspective as well as the Trinity Experiential Learning Blog. In her free time, Mariah enjoys running and being outdoors. Currently, she is training for her second half-marathon. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau sorority.