As the semester comes to an end, finals have come and gone and friends are beginning to pack up their things for the semester. Despite all the people leaving and the semester ending, there is one thing that is just beginning: Advent! It is a special time here at Franciscan. I believe that not many people celebrate Christmas as well as Franciscan students. They are a great example of finding the perfect balance between the secular Christmas decorations and activities and entering wholeheartedly into the Advent season. There is a visible change on campus during this time of year, and I am not only referring to Christmas light and trees and the ever-present Christmas music. There is an actual change in the hearts of the students. I have had multiple conversations with students who have committed themselves to doing something new in preparation for the Christ-child. It is truly a time of transformation and anticipation. It is a chance for spiritual renewal and an opportunity to reorient our hearts to God after a busy semester.
One thing that has added significantly to the Christmas feeling is the snowfall. After a whole semester of seemingly mild weather, the snow has finally begun to fall, and for a Miami native who is inexperienced with the concept of snow, this has plenty of pros and cons. Being the first semester having a car in Steubenville, I had to learn how to scrape snow off of my car at 6:30 in the morning, which is probably the greatest drawback of snow. There is also the constant fear of driving on icy roads, not to mention the constant fear of being pelted with snowballs at any given moment. But aside from the cold, experiencing a white Christmas for the last time, in what might be a long time, is well worth it. Nothing says Christmas like pure-white, snow-covered, sidewalks, or the smell of Christmas tea on a snow-covered back porch. Snowman-building and sledding are things that I have spent time catching up on, having never done these before in my home in Miami. And despite all the fun Christmas activities, I am so thankful to have friends to walk alongside during this Advent season who called me on to give something up or to do something extra special. As the idea of coming home approaches, I am saddened to leave the snowy town of Steubenville and my beloved friends, but I know that I will see them soon. In the meantime I looking forward to spending Christmas in Miami, with my family. I am looking forward to the Christmas feasts and meditating anew on the mystery of Christ Jesus’ Incarnation. I must say that I will miss my friends, and yes… I will miss the snow.
I’m Brian Robau, and I had a great time during my semester abroad in Austria. There’s something incredibly stimulating about traveling, trying new things, and going out of the everyday comfort zone. Maybe it’s the excitement of being in a new place, or anticipating the unknown. If there is anything that I’ve learned through attending Franciscan these past two years though, it is that everything starts and finishes in Christ.