How to Enjoy the Springtime Sun

I am here to announce that SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!



That’s right folks! Bring out your shorts and t-shirts, slather on your SPF, and grab yourself a pair of shades because the golden, springtime sun has finally come to Saint Martin’s!

I like to joke that the sun follows me everywhere, but, you see, it’s kind of true… We had an easy winter in Washington, it wasn’t too cold, we didn’t get too much snow, and the sun made an appearance for a few hours every day. Back on Maui however, locals are still facing winter weather and tropical storms! When I went home for winter break, the sun came out again, but the clouds reappeared the week after I left, and when I visited my brother in Montana for spring break, the temperature went all the way up to 60 degrees!

I love the sunshine, but I haven’t seen very much of it since I’ve been in Washington. That is… up until a few weeks ago.

sunny studying


The glorious sun has finally appeared and with it, temperatures have reached all the way up into the 80s! That’s right everyone—it’s time to break out the shorts and t-shirts and enjoy an iced beverage while sitting outside and enjoying the wonderful weather!

Here are some fun ideas on how to enjoy the sun on these, the last few weeks of spring, and the first few weeks of summer vacation…


Steal a snack like this little buddy!



Find some artsy inspiration right in Mother Nature’s back yard!



Give your plants some TLC with photosynthesis!



Take a break from studying and enjoy the sun with some friends!

Frisbee Gang


This Maui girl is enjoying her tan for now because the day I fly home, there’s a 100% chance of rain. But with smiling faces, family and friends, I’m bringing some sunshine home.


How To Choose a Meal Plan

Hey guys! Katie here with another “How To” of Saint Martin’s University…

One of the first questions we get from incoming students (and incoming parents) to the SMU family, is which meal plan to choose. There are a lot of options, but hopefully with some seasoned help (no pun intended), we’ll get you folks up and running with the right meal plan for you.

First, let’s look at what each meal plan has to offer…


Bon Appetit

Flex Cash, Saints Cash, and Meal Credits:

Each meal plan is broken up into two systems of credit: flex cash, and meal credits.

Flex cash uses real money values that are preloaded into you account to pay for your meals. Basically, if I want to buy a slice of pizza for lunch that costs $3.00, I pay $3.00 out of my flex cash. In addition, flex cash can be used on other spots around campus, such as the Monk’s Bean café, or the Parson’s C-Store to buy coffee, smoothies, and the all-important Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for a late-night snack. So, flex cash is sort of like a debit card. It’s actual amounts of money being paid for by your meal plan.

A meal credit is a credit only to be used for AYCE (all you can eat) meals. This includes dinner every night and brunch on weekends and holidays. You pay one meal credit for each meal you purchase during these times, and you can go back for seconds or thirds to the infinities at no extra charge. For example, at another time, a burger with add-ons of fries and grilled vegetables might cost about $5.00 (and note that I’m totally making these numbers up). If you were go back for a salad later, this would likely bring your total up to $8.00. With flex cash, you would pay the $8.00. With a meal credit, you would be paying one meal credit instead.

Saints cash is NOT paid for by your meal plan. Saints cash, unlike everything else on this list, is money that you load onto your SMU ID to be used in much the same way as flex cash, except it is NOT included in your meal plan. This is money to be used on the SMU campus that comes out of your pocket.


Meal Plans:

Before we get into plans and how to choose, I want to explain a few things…

  • Each meal plan is paid for per semester and is due at the same time as tuition.
  • Each meal plan is divided two ways: meal credits and flex cash. So, you pay by semester for the plan that you want, and with it, you have a set amount of both flex cash and meal credits to spend.
  • Your meal credits and flex cash will roll over from the fall semester to the spring semester. Say you only use 50 of your 100 meal credits for fall, well, that means that you’ll have 150 meal credits to use during the spring semester. However, the commuter plan does NOT roll over.
  • With each academic year, however, whatever you do not use of your meal plan expires. So out of those 150 meal credits, if you only spend 50 during spring, you have 100 left that you will not be allowed to use once the school year has ended.

Meal Plan 101


(Amounts based on 2017-2018 School Year) 

The gold meal plan is generally a go-to for incoming freshmen. You pay $2,880 for each semester, and this money is divided into 100 meal credits and $725 in flex cash.

This is the meal plan that I have, and I will admit that it is very hard to run out of 100 meal credits, even after eating most meals in the cafeteria. However, flex cash is used for the bulk of your purchasing, so for people who tend to do more shopping outside of AYCE meals, this may not be the plan for you…

The silver meal plan is a good balance to strike, costing $2,725 per semester. Students receive 75 meal credits and $925 in flex cash.

This plan is good for people who tend to use the coffee shops more often, as well as those who enjoy a good browse at the Parson’s Store. To use up all of the meal credits, one would have to attend most of the AYCE meals during the week, and in the event that you do run out of meal credits, you have more flex cash to pay for the remainder of your meals. The silver meal plan is my own recommendation for incoming freshmen. Since it allows you more flexibility to eat and shop to your own discretion, students may figure out their own needs without worrying about running out of either flex cash or meal credits.

The bronze meal plan, costing $2,575 per semester, is divided between 50 meal credits and $1,050 in flex cash.

This plan is wonderful if you do not intend to go to many AYCE meals and gives you a cushion of flex cash to be used for any meal, along with the Parson’s Store and the Monk’s Bean cafe. Students who live near campus, frequent off-campus dinning, or go home for the weekends and holidays, are very happy with this plan.

The commuter plan is divided between 30 meal credits and $325 in flex cash and costs $950 per semester.

If you are a campus apartment resident, or a commuting student, you are eligible for this plan. If you don’t eat much on campus, or if you cook a lot of your own food, then this may be the plan for you.


 A Few Things to Consider While Choosing:

  • What are your normal eating habits? For example, you don’t want to stop eating breakfast if you suddenly run out of flex cash, and you don’t want to waste meal credits if you don’t intend to use them.
  • Where do you live? Will you be going home frequently? If you spend the bulk of your weekends away from campus, you probably will not use up as many meal credits as this Maui girl.
  • Will you use your microwave? Guys, each room at SMU comes with a minifridge and a microwave combo. Are you going to stock up on microwave meals for most of your eating, or are you going to rely on leftovers while you study all night long like me?
  • What are your classes like? This may sound like a weird one, but trust me, if you have an 8 a.m. class, you’re going to want breakfast. If you have a lab from 5-8 p.m., you’ll miss dinner. Plan for this and chose a meal plan that you can make the most of.
  • What’s your social life like? If you plan on eating out for most of your meals, you won’t need the same meal plan as someone who stays in more often.


A Last Word of Advice:

Parents, guardians: I know sending your kiddos off to college is scary, and one of your main concerns is making sure that they always have options for eating. Let me assure you, I have never gone hungry at Saint Martin’s University. There’s always something open, and college students are scavengers by nature. Any one of these meal plans is a great choice, it all depends on how and when your child plans on using it.

Students: try it out! See what meal plan works best for you. It will take a while to get the hang of it, and each semester your eating habits will change, but you will be better at juggling your meal plan with your stomach’s insistent demands. When ordering from the cafeteria, always get something fresh, always take something back with you if you can, and if you ever get hungry, come find me! I always keep snacks!

And one last thing, if any of you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to put them in the comments! They are always reviewed, and if there’s anything I can do to help, I’ll do my very best!

How To Host a Lu’au at SMU

Okay, so maybe we should start with how to pronounce that… LOO—ow. Loo as in Louis, and Ow as in… well… Ow? Lu’au. And if we’re being technical, lū’au.

Hui O Hawaii is hosting its annual lu’au on April 7th, just a few days away, and it is sure to be an event full of laughter and the overflowing sense of community that is a patented part of Saint Martin’s.

Traditionally, a lu’au is a time for a family to come together and share their Aloha with one another. But “family” in Hawaii is about more than just those people who share your blood. We call all elders either “aunty” or “uncle”, and because we come from such large families, nearly everyone is a “cousin”. For us, as well as at Saint Martin’s, a community is a family, an ‘ohana united as one body, one spirit, one tradition of sharing everything we have with each other. To this end, a lu’au is more than just a party or an event, it is the coming together of people who share whatever they have with whomever they can. They pass on their food, stories, and traditions, and this sharing is what we call Aloha. More than a simple goodbye or hello, Aloha is about spreading your kindness, your loving spirit, to everyone you meet. Never is Aloha or ohana more present than at a lu’au.

Hui O Hawaii
Members of Hui O Hawaii, out and about in Down Town Seattle



Saint Martin’s annual lu’au can be traced back to the 1960’s, when it was hosted in the campus cafeteria. The club itself, however, dates back even further, although no record was kept of its earliest days. Among one of Hui O Hawaii’s most active members, both then and now, is Mr. Art Fillazar.

Hawaii Club w Fillazar
Art Fillazar sharing his Aloha with the Hawaii Club in March 2018

This is Mr. Fillazar, or Uncle Art, as we call him, as he shares his Aloha with us earlier this year. Some of his favorite times at Saint Martin’s involve preparation for the lu’au, and when serving over 600 people, it’s a given that times are busy for Hui O Hawaii



At a lu’au, as well as any local party back home, the food is spectacular. Laulau, kalua pig, lomi salmon, pohole salad, haupia, fresh pineapple and papaya and mango, and of course, poi. I realize that many of you reading this have no idea what I’m talking about, so take a look at this:

Hawaiian food
Traditional Local Food. From left to right (kind of…) POG (Passion-Orange-Guava) Juice, Coleslaw, Lomi Salmon, Mixed Fruit, Mac Salad, Rice, Chicken Long Rice, Poi, Teriyaki, Kalua Pig, Shoyu Chicken, Butter Mochi, Haupia (Picture Courtesy of Google)

Among this year’s selections are a plethora of dishes that remind we locals of home. Here are some of my favorites:

Guava fruit
This is an actual guava

Lomi Salmon, a sort of cold salad consisting of smoked salmon, onion, and tomato.

Shoyu Chicken, cooked with ginger root, soy sauce, and brown sugar.

Guava Cake, made from a fruit that grows wild throughout the Hawaiian landscapes.




A big part of the Hawaiian culture that is shared through a lu’au is tied to dance, namely, hula. This graceful style of dance found in Hawaii is about telling a story through your hands. Hula dancers follow the music, often sung in Hawaiian, with hand motions and gestures to represent the words. This means that even if one does not understand the Hawaiian language, one may understand the story. There’s even a song about “Lovely Hula Hands” often sung around the islands. Hula is such a big part of Hawaii that we have an entire festival dedicated to it every spring. And one that I am very sad this year to be missing…


Here at the Merrie Monarch Festival, dancers come from all over the islands, and all over the globe, to share their song and dance with the people of Hawaii. They honor their ancestors by their chants and honor the tradition of hula by their grace and beauty.

(Here’s a link to last year’s Merrie Monarch highlights. Enjoy!)


At Saint Martin’s, just as for the Merrie Monarch Festival, students and faculty members gather from all across campus to share their Aloha through their dance. New this year, I am excited to report, is a co-ed Haka, a Maori warrior chant traditionally performed by the men.




With food, family, and wonderful entertainment, this year’s lu’au promises to be an amazing time filled with love, laughter, and plenty of Aloha. There will be opportunities for some ono grinds for us locals, and a chance to try something new and exciting for many of our friends across the sea. There will be a keiki booth for youngsters, bringing fun to the whole family, and a chance to connect as one community, one ‘ohana, one Saint Martin’s University. I hope to see you all there!


How To Survive Midterms

It’s midterm weeks. Yup—that’s right. Plural. Because at Saint Martin’s University, midterms are set up by each professor. This means that some people will have weeks, and others, like me, will have days…

By now, hopefully, you all are sitting somewhere on a nice, warm beach for spring break. It’s got beautiful sand, clear blue water, coral reefs teeming with sea-life, and maybe…just maybe…it’s on Maui…

Enjoy it now, folks, because once you get back to SMU, the second round of midterms will begin. But it’s okay! You got this, Saints! And here are some tips to get you through.


Study, Study, Study

All right, so this one works differently for each person, but generally, it’s a pretty good rule.

Make some flashcards for when you’re waiting in traffic. Rewrite your notes a few times. Use a website that creates games out of your flashcards too! All these strategies work very well come test day.

And here’s some of my own advice: Make a plan.

First off, you need to understand when your tests are to know when you need to start studying, and second, you have to know what you’re studying for. For example, if you have an essay test for HIS142 and a multiple-choice test for PSY101 on the same day, you need to switch up your technique.

For essays especially, write an outline, come up with a thesis, and try talking it through in your head. Use Quizlet for almost any subject and make studying fun! Or—and this may be my personal favorite—find some friends in class and study as a group. It makes a difference when you’re not going through everything alone, and besides that, peer learning is one of the best ways to Git-R-Done.

Coffee at the Monk’s Bean… The best study buddy there is!


Try a Tutoring Session

Seriously, guys, we’ve got tutors for almost every subject that I’ve come across at SMU and they are all amazing. Visit your professors during office hours if you can or ask to schedule something if you can’t. Take a walk down to the lower level of the library and see if they have a tutor available who can help you. But do not wait until the day before! Many of these tutors are by appointment only, so plan ahead, and plan for success.


Take a Break

My friends, stressing about a test is not the way to succeed. I know it sounds impossible NOT to stress about a test, but believe me, the more you stress out, the more unprepared you will be. That’s not to say that some people don’t work well under stress, but for the most part, we all need a relaxer every now and then.

Last week, we had ice cream, pancakes, and pizza in the dorms for late-night study sessions—and all for free!!! We had Dr. Seuss Day in the cafeteria, and boy was that fun! There’s also the baseball and softball games, Karaoke Night, and Campus Ministry. But that was last week…

This coming week, we’ve got a magician! And Casino night! And St. Benedict’s day! Yup, a whole day in the middle of the week to sleep! And just as you get back from break, don’t forget about Coffee with the Monks on Tuesday!

Casino Night
Casino Night 3/24/2018


One Final Word…

Saints, you’re more prepared than you think. Set aside some time to study a little bit each day. Take a much-needed break whenever you get a chance and rest up! We’ve got a few more weeks left until summer, the sun in shining, and we are almost through with tests…at least for a while…

How To… Get Started

Hey y’all! Katie here with a little introduction…

Today… We begin!

That’s right folks! Today we begin a journey forged in laughter and the shared experience of Saint Martin’s University. I’ll be honest: I’m no expert, but I will give it my all!

Here come a series of “How To(s)” of SMU. How to cook from your microwave, how to get involved on campus, maybe even how to flirt with the girl/guy of your dreams! Through it all, I’ll be your guide, sharing my own experience along with the experiences of those lovely Saints that I come across on my travels through campus.

My one question for you: Are you ready for a little adventure?