College Life: Interview with Grace Rappazzo

March 5, 2018

This year, the shield staff decided to begin a SoundCloud podcast. In December, I talked to 2017 graduate Grace Rappazzo about her experience as a freshman year college student. Here is a transcript of my interview with her. Feel free to read along while you listen at

JS: Hi everyone, my name is Julia Shovan, I’m a senior, and today is the first episode of our new podcast, The Helm, which will be featured on our Mercy Shield website. Here with me I have Grace.

GR: Hi, my name is Grace Rappazzo. I graduated in 2017, which is this year as of right now, and I currently go to Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmetsburg, Maryland. I am double-majoring in computer science and english.

JS: Alright, so let’s get started with some questions.

GR: Alright.

JS: What are some tips for surviving senior year?

GR: I think what’s very important is that you get sleep. Obviously homework is very very, but sleep and time management, yeah, that goes along perfectly because you need to do your homework but you also need to sleep, because if you don’t sleep you become a monster, and then you become like me. You don’t want that, because I’m terrifying when I’ve not had sleep. And plus sleep also helps you concentrate on everything during the day. I feel like I’m starting to sound like a health PSA, my apologies. This is a Public Service Announcement. I guess sleep, do your homework, obviously always do your homework cause it’s not going to get any better in college, in fact you’re going to get more homework, but the plus side is you get more free time.

JS: So actually, that’ll tie me in, I just came up with another question for you. How has that been different in college, do you have more time and more ability to get sleep or is it even worse?

GR: They give more homework I think, but you have a lot more time. You know in high school, well on our schedule when I was there, I had to get up at 7 a.m. and actually get in a car and go to school. And then I’m there until 3:00 most days and then just go home and then I start doing my homework and then I feel like I don’t have much free time after school. But in college it’s kind of different because the way my schedule is set up right now, I have like an hour between my classes right now, so usually I have some time to finesse some homework in between. Yeah, I feel like there’s more free time cause I’m usually done around 1:45 or 1:50 and then I have the rest of my day to myself, or at least to just do homework and stuff.
I feel like homework also depends on your major too. Right now most of the homework that makes me do a lot of time on it is Comp. Sci., but that’s mainly because my professor specifically, he gives you something that he wants you to make or do and I have to figure out how to do it myself. So it’s not work load, it’s more of you need to give yourself enough time to figure something out for that. I feel like college gives you more free time, most of the time, than high school would.

JS: Yeah. Do you have any advice to seniors who are very stressed about applications right now because we have two days until we turn in our first applications.

GR: Honestly, this is probably not going to be very helpful at all, but my mentality about it was to just do it and get through it, don’t really think about it. I mean, you should think about it obviously, it’s college, you need to think about where you’re going, but in the process of actually doing applications I think I did 90% of my applications during my free periods because I just didn’t want to have to worry about them when I got home, and plus I already had my info with me.

JS: So maybe use your time during seminar wisely and make sure you’re getting everything done.

GR: Anything that you learn in seminar – remember it. Use it well. Cause it’ll help you.

JS: Looking back, what was your fondest memory of Mercy?

GR: Honestly just being there probably, I love that school a lot, it was really great.

JS: So now that has me thinking, how was the adjustment to co-ed school for you?

GR: Honestly, it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. I mean obviously I went to a high school full of just girls for four years, but coming to a co-ed school now, you get used to it very fast. After two days I stopped caring, cause it was just like, ‘Wow we’re all people, this is cool.’ I mean boys are stupid, as my roommate just told me. I’m used to it. I’m surprised at how fast I adjusted, but I literally just don’t care.

JS: Next one: What are five things you need to pack for college?

GR: First, you need to make a nice selection for your bedding. The mattresses that we have here are okay, but I have a mattress topper, a whole comforter set – have at least two sets of sheets and stuff so if you want you can have one going for a bit and then switch it out. And then you’ll be good to go. Bedding is important because that helps you sleep, and sleep is amazing and necessary for survival if you’re going to be in college.
The second thing. I guess make sure you know what type of clothes you’re bringing. If you’re going to a college that’s not too far away from home, like mine an hour away, when I go to fall break or Thanksgiving if I’m missing something I can bring it back, but if that’s not going to be an option for someone, just dress for every type of possible weather situation that could ever happen to a human being in the United States, or in Europe, or wherever you’re going. You need to have good options for clothing, otherwise you’re going to be miserable.
Third thing: snacks. Snacks are important, they’re godly.

JS: Do you have a personal favorite?

GR: I don’t have a personal favorite because I just eat anything that I want or see. I literally just destroy it. Snacks are important. Chips are very good, I love chips. Chocolate is amazing, it’s wonderful. At my school they give you a mini fridge and a microwave, they rent it to you, you don’t really pay for it, it’s just there in the room. If you have that option, you can maybe do microwave dinners or something, I don’t know. I have one friend – she keeps hot chocolate. It’s really good.

JS: Yeah, that’s smart.

GR: You can bring cutlery with you. Some cutlery, some cups or mugs or something. Something you can wash easily.
I guess bath stuff, like bathroom things. Like make sure you have everything you need. Bathroom stuff I think is really important because you don’t want to be here and realize you’re missing what you usually use at home. I guess just basically try and bring home with you. Bits of it. I literally just googled ‘what do I need for college’ and just used that when I went shopping with my mom.

JS: Have you found that you need a laptop or any particular device?

GR: Oh, laptop. You need a laptop. Oh my god if you don’t have a laptop, what are you doing? You cannot survive. Okay I have a funny story about this. In my Comp. Sci. class, first day of class, it still stuck with me. There was a kid – oh my god I’m still laughing about it – there was this one kid. Usually the first day of classes they go over syllabus and stuff. And this one kid raised his hand, in my Intro to Computer Science class let me remind you, he raised his hand and says, “What do you do if you do not have a laptop?” In a Computer Science class, no less. The look on my professor’s face was borderline hilarious, and just looked like oncoming depression. He was like, “Uh well, that’s going to be a problem for you.”
Bring games. Bring card games, board games, whatever. That’s literally how I made friends here, no joke, it’s kinda sad. I was like, “You wanna play card games?” and that’s how I made friends.

JS: Are there any particular favorites?

GR: Okay, let’s see. There’s Cards Against Humanity, obviously. There’s Dutch Blitz, that’s a really fun game. Regular playing cards is fun too. I mean there’s so many games you can do with those. Spoons – that’s a hit. People literally may have died during those games. I’m not going to mention how or why but I’ve seen some casualties. Let’s see. I also have Risk with me, and Oregon Trail. Honestly any game that’s multi-player, which should be all of them.

JS: My last question: What are your favorite and least favorite moments so far?

GR: In college?

JS: I’m sure you have many coming to mind.

GR: Yes I have. One very fond moment is that my roommate and I decided to buy a llama head from target. Okay, I’ve got to lay down the story for you. So, it was like a week before I moved in and I was in target with my mom, shopping. And I was in the kids section. In the kids bedding section for target now, they have this little camping section where there’s camping themed stuff going on, it’s very cute. But for some reason whoever designed this ensemble, first off props to you, it was great, cause there’s this section that’s just full of stuffed animal heads that look like they’re meant to be mounted, you can hang them up on a hook. And one of them was a llama. A very colorful llama.

JS: So are they like more cartoonish looking? Like taxedermied heads of animals?

GR: They’re just cartoon heads of animals, yes. And there was one of a llama. And I think I texted my roommate at the time, cause we had never met before but I got her number through the email. And I was like, “Hey, haha, this would be really funny if we got this.” And she was like, “Haha, oh my god that’s ridiculous,” and I decided not to get it at that time cause I was like ‘wait.. I’m crazy but I shouldn’t really whip that out upon first meeting her, she might think I’m psycho.’ I can’t just say, “Hey I want to buy this head, let’s hang it in our room to show our dominance,” like that’s not going to work out on the first day. So I was like, “Okay, whatever,” and just forgot about it. Then literally like a month or a few weeks into school we were talking and I mentioned it to her and she was like, “Oh my god, I loved that.” And I was like, “Really?” and she was like, “Yes, I loved it.” So I was like, “Okay, then it’s settled. I’m going to go get the llama.” So I went online, ordered it, and it came in the next day. And she came with me to the package claim to pick up the package. And we both walked to our dorm with this head in a box, to our room. And then we actually captured this whole moment on Snapchat. We tore the box open-

JS: I witnessed this, yeah.

GR: -I felt like it was a birth. Or maybe a c-section, I’m not really sure. There was incision involved. Then, there was Kuzco. We named him Kuzco. And now he’s hanging above my desk with one of my scarves wrapped around him because I have no other space for it and I figured he looks like he might get cold. That’s one of my fond memories. I have a big friend group and some nights we all like to go to my one friend’s room because he has a TV in there. We all watch movies and stuff. He takes a philosophy through film class, and when he has to watch movies for homework, he’ll invite us over to come down and watch with him. So it’s like a cool little get-together thing. And then the other one was the least liked? I guess just not being home. Honestly I’m not very homesick, but there are some moments where I just miss being home, in my own bed, in my own room, not having to talk to people constantly, 24/7. I miss being able to talk to my parents. I call them every week, but still it’s not the same as living with them, you know? But luckily my school is not too far, so if I wanted to go home, I could. Other than that, I love college. College is a lot different than high school. First of all, there’s boys compared to high school in my experience, so that’s new, but you get over that very fast. Like I said earlier, workload is pretty different. I don’t know if I want to say it’s larger than high school, I’m sure it is, but at the same time since I have a lot more free time than I realize-

JS: So it’s larger but it’s more spread out?

GR: Yeah, you have a lot more room to maneuver when you’re going to do homework and stuff. I guess also, professors will talk to you like an adult, not like you’re a child. And often if your grades aren’t going well they will not contact you. Some classes they might give you a report or something, but most of the time if you’re not doing so hot you have to go to them yourself and ask for help. Cause they’re expecting you to realize that you can’t really rely on them to let you know when you’re not doing very well. Also, another thing, syllabus is key to survival in any class. Most syllabuses have a schedule of all the upcoming classes that whole semester, including assignments and when they’re due. Now sometimes they’ll change the syllabus and give you the revised version, but all my classes they gave me the paper form of it, and it’s online of course. It’s really helpful and it includes their rules for the classroom, their expectations and stuff, and their contact information, their office location – that’s huge, if you don’t know where their office is, check the syllabus. 9 times out of 10 they put it on there because you’re not going to know how to find it otherwise. Syllabuses are very important, treat that like your Bible for that class, because that’s very helpful to success.
Laundry, that’s an interesting thing too. At my school, they don’t charge you for laundry, so that’s really awesome. Figuring out when to do laundry is also a problem because weekends they’re usually packed, because that’s when everyone thinks of doing laundry. I usually try to do it Monday afternoons or Wednesdays because no one really thinks to do it during the week, I feel like. Or if they do, it’s not that much people crowding it, so it’s easier to handle. Clubs aren’t really that big of a deal in college. I mean, I’m in a smaller school so I’m not sure how it would be at a bigger school. Clubs aren’t as integral to the experience of college like high school is.
The whole roommate thing too, the dorming situation. Dorming is a lot of it because either you room with someone you really really like, like me and my roommate, I think we’re buds. (asking roommate) Veronica do you think we’re buds? Best buds? Not best buds, but like we’re tight. Yeah, we’re good. I’m in a triple room so I have two roommates, and I’m pretty good with both of them. We all get along very well. We’re all very low-key, levelheaded people. We get along very well, we keep the room nice, that’s good. There will be situations where people do not like their roommate whatsoever. How it goes at my school is that right before the end of the first day they have all of the dorm halls meet up and you and your roommates have to make up a room contract, which is all the things you agree are the rules of the room, and then you all sign it. And that’s going to be very helpful because whenever there’s problems that come up and you bring them to your RA, they can say well you’re saying this but you violated something that you agreed to in the contract so really you guys need to figure this out on your own. It helps letting them know if it’s a serious situation or not, when it comes to moving them. Sometimes it’s just a scuffle. I know a lot of people had to move already because of personal things. I guess the best thing to do is keep a level head and just negotiate pretty much everything. And once you realize everyone is on the same page, you can be a lot more relaxed.

JS: Thank you Grace for joining us on our first episode of the Helm, I really enjoyed it and I hope that everyone who listened all the way through has enjoyed it as well. And we will be back again sometime soon with another episode for you!

JS and GR: Bye!



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