Friday, May 13, 2016

How fate landed me the perfect roommate

When I look back at the summer going into my freshman year, the first thing I think about was waiting to find out who my roommate was going to be.

Like most of you, I have never had to share a room or living space before, let alone share it with a complete stranger. I am actually the youngest of three, and the only girl, so the idea of having to share my space with another girl was completely foreign to me.

You have two options when it comes to roommates:
I went with the second option.

I know that some freshmen are hesitant because of the rumors they hear, or horror stories online of psycho roommates. To be honest, those stories are few and far between. I have to tell you though, deciding to have a random roommate was one of the best decisions I could have made.

Here is the story of my freshman year.

It's kind of ironic, actually

My roommate friended me on Facebook (remember this was three years ago!) and we started talking over FB messenger, and then eventually started texting.

The process is a little like the first stage of dating — you get to know each other by asking basic questions, trying to get a feel for their personality, hobbies, interests, where they're from. You move on to the important stuff, the roommate stuff — do they like the room hot or cold, do they go to bed early or stay up late, do they like going to the gym, are they into the party scene.

My roommate was a summer freshman, which was cool because she was already familiar with campus, knew the shortcuts or different ways to go to class, had her own group of friends, and knew what to bring for the room.

The reason I say that my story is ironic, because I think part of the reason I chose to have a random roommate was to branch out and new people, which is exactly what had ended up happening.

Flashback to accepted students day

I met a girl who was the same major as me and we immediately connected and started talking. Little did I know that when she would message me on Facebook months later, the day we moved into the dorms, our rooms were a few doors down from each other. On that same day we went around the hall, meeting our neighbors and the people who would soon become our best friends.

There was a group of about 10 of us that were really close. My favorite part about being so close to them was the atmosphere in the hall. We all kept our doors open and bounced around from one room to another when the boys got rowdy or we just wanted to go somewhere else.

Each of us had our rooms set up so differently that we kind of used them for different purposes. The boys next to me had the perfect set up for a movie room — there were tons of bean bags and fold up chairs. The girls down the hall had a really open room so that was a fun hang out room.

What you will find is your own way, and your own wings to connect with others. Each person has their preference of random roommates versus chosen roommates.

Fast forward to this fall

I will move into my first ever apartment with six of my friends, and guess who my neighbors are? Some of my neighbors and best friends from freshman year. Talk about ironic.

— Kate Armstrong, junior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Monday, April 4, 2016

It's spring. It's time. Your future awaits!

Oh, the spring semester is probably the most interesting and dynamic point in an academic year:
  • freshman don't feel like the new kids anymore
  • sophomores are halfway done with college
  • juniors begin to feel the pressure of senior year
  • seniors are savoring their last few moments of an era unlike anything they'll experience again

Coming to college, I had a good grasp of what my interests were, but had no direction when it came to the type of career I wanted to pursue. I wanted all of my classes, not just my major classes, to be useful tools to me both in college as well as in the future.

Whether that time is in another class, during a job interview, or when I am already in a job. I wanted to know what other options I had in addition to my major, which is when my advisor introduced me to the world of minors and concentrations.

A major "concentrated" effort 

After going through this process and speaking to my friends who are in the same boat, the most valued piece of advice I can share with you is to network. Network network network. I think one resource that gets overlooked is your professors.

Picking up a concentration meant taking classes tailored toward areas of study that would help me in my future endeavors — exactly what I was talking about above! But, I still needed to take general education classes.

My concentration helped me fill my time with classes that I genuinely wanted to take, classes that would still be relevant to me after school.

I was immediately drawn to the human resources concentration because of the wide range of topics and classes offered. Just like communication studies, there are so many aspects of HR that I never even knew existed. A new found love of law and the legal system resulted from the classes associated with this track, which has actually opened several doors in terms of jobs and internships.

Welcome to Internship Season

Speaking of jobs, the spring semester also means that summer is around the corner, and for juniors and seniors, that is code for internship season.

I have been applying to summer internships since January, and let me tell you that the last three months have consisted of pure stress, persistence, and a lot of self motivation. Anyone who is internship hunting right now knows exactly what I’m talking about. Between the cover letters, emails, networking, and countless hours of researching, this process is a LOT of work.

Our generation is in a unique place right now. We are really the first generation of young professionals going through the job and internship process with the presence of the web and media at the intensity that it is today. As society and technology evolves, so does the working world, which impacts the people who are trying to break into it, namely, you and me.

Network, Network ... Network!

Get to know them!

They are professionals in the industries of your dream job. They have connections and access to people that you probably don't, and, they are going to be the ones who write your letters of recommendation!

In my first blog post, I wrote about the power of connections — the number one way to get your foot in the door. My second piece of advice is to build your resume. Start now. Seriously.

Earlier when I said that we only have four years here, that means we only have four years to join clubs, take leadership positions, do research, and volunteer. You can't apply anywhere without one, and it is a work in progress that will stay with you for your entire professional career.

Four years seems like a long time until your freshman year is over, then you're half way done with college ... and then you're scheduling for your senior year, or you're graduating in one month.

— Kate Armstrong, junior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Monday, February 29, 2016

Why do you look so stressed?

When I was in town a few weeks ago, someone I'd estimate to be in their late 40's asked me why I looked so stressed.
Who me?

A college student in their 20's, stressed?
Maybe a few of these stressors sound familiar to you: Uncertainty of what the heck you're going to be doing for the rest of your life, exams, group projects (that turn into you doing the group project), exercising, friends and family, eating, clubs, volunteer work, social media, roommates. Oh, and you either have a job or internship, or you're desperately searching for one.

We are all playing a game that teaches you how to find your balance. The good news is? As each semester becomes more challenging and involved, you learn to adapt. This is my sixth semester at Bloomsburg, and I have found that with each new semester and each passing year, the balancing game gets easier.

One advantage we have is our schedule. We have a pretty consistent outline of classes and clubs, which makes filling in the gaps a little easier. I have established a routine of basic activities I personally need to do to get me through my day as a sane human being. The first thing I do when I wake up is hit the gym. I love hearing my friends' reactions when they ask if I want to go to the gym with them at 6 p.m., and I tell them I was there 12 hours ago.

Waking up early allows me to have the morning to myself, which as we all know is hard to come by in college. Working out is one of those things that a lot of college students cut out because of time, but it really is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

If you find it hard to get to the gym or work out, find a way to reward yourself after going, or drag your friends or roommate along with you to make it more enjoyable. I'll be dragging my roommate from sophomore year, Jess, because we have been promising to go to these classes since the fall of 2014. The Rec Center offers classes like Yoga and Pilates, which are focused on building your strength and clearing your mind.

The middle of my days are always the most chaotic- I find myself constantly worrying about where I have to be next or what else I have to get done, and I end up losing out on the moment that I'm in. This is something that I'm trying to get better at, which is why I have taken up mediation and deep breathing.
If you asked me to do this at any point before this semester, I literally would have laughed at you and told you that I have no time for deep breathing, because I barely have enough time in my day to breathe at a normal pace. Well, let me tell you, this has changed my life in so many ways — not in a crazy divine ways or even visible changes for that matter, but in smaller important ways.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this has made me slow down and feel more at peace with myself and my surroundings. Although I do still jump ahead to the next thing on my schedule, I am more conscious of doing this, and it's still a work in progress.
However, I am more productive, more energetic, and overall more attentive to my every day activities. I appreciate the little things more than I used to, something that is so easily taken for granted.

— Kate Armstrong, junior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Monday, February 8, 2016

Don't underestimate the power of connections

President of the National Communication Association Student Club (NCASC), community assistant, communication studies major, and intern are just a few titles that define my life at Bloomsburg.

I have to attribute all of my leadership opportunities and involvement to my major — I am constantly networking, socializing, and working with various groups, organizations, and people on campus.

As a junior in college, I often think about life "In the Real World." I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't nervous about graduating or what happens after we leave. College is a weird place.

You leave home after high school, start over in a new place, and spend four years creating a new home and knowing that you have a finite time there. You grow up, make lifetime friends, hopefully find a career interest, and while you are busy with other stuff, you're trying to figure life out. During this process, I have been trying to be more spontaneous and take more risks, which is something that is not really in my nature.

Here is where my story begins

I was a freshman in my second semester of college, sitting at an NCASC meeting that was devoted to elections for the executive board. In that moment I decided to run for the position of vice president.

I can picture myself standing up in a room full of upperclassman, giving a speech as to why I, an 18-year-old who has never directed anyone or anything, would make the best candidate for this role.

What is in my nature is confidence, people skills, and public speaking. And, as it would turn out, I won the election for VP and was the newest member of the executive board.

Plot twist.

I didn't know the president would be graduating in the fall, which meant I would take over as the president in the spring. This was a challenge that I was excited about, and I couldn't have been happier with my choice to run for the executive board.

My second year at Bloomsburg led me to residence life, where I became a CA. This experience has been something I will value forever. Even though I always tell my residents that I'm not their mother, I always think of them as 45 (ish) of my kids, and watching them grow from their first semester to their second is so cool.

Because most of them are freshman, they come to me for advice about pretty much everything, which I love. I feel a responsibility toward them, to help them grow, get involved, and have the best college experience possible. Now I'm in my third year, so I will follow the pattern and talk about the third leadership role I've taken since I have been here.

I talked earlier about how networking and socializing is second nature for me. Don't ever underestimate the power of connections. I landed my marketing and communications internship befriending a member of the NCASC Executive Board, and I can't thank her enough for helping me.

Each year I have added something new to my life, taken a risk that has opened up a new path and new opportunities. I was fortunate enough to find my niche at Bloomsburg very early in the time I have spent here, and I am forever grateful for the people I have met, the opportunities I have had, and the impact I am making here!

Ready to find your niche?

  • Spring Activities Fair — representatives from many of the more than 250 clubs and organizations will be on-hand Friday, Feb. 12, during an Activities Fair from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in the KUB Multipurpose 345 A&B.
  • Husky Student Leadership Summit — connect on Saturday, Feb. 27, with alumni who once held leadership positions on campus, along with discussions on how to capitalize on skills learned as student leaders in life.

— Kate Armstrong, junior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A life-changing experience, courtesy of Poland

We landed in Krakow, Poland, at about 8:30 p.m. after almost a full day of traveling. The six-hour time change wasn’t as difficult as I thought considering I was so warn out from the long flight and four-hour layover. At this point we were all running on adrenaline from finally making it to our destination — so we took a stroll through the Main Market Square after dropping off our bags.

Public transportation is key to walking around the city. At first I was hesitant, because I didn’t know a single word in Polish and translating isn’t as easy as one might think, but grabbing the tram was simple. It was about a 10-minute ride and the square was accessible from there. It was lit up with lights from Christmas and lined with restaurants, shops, and bars. It truly was beautiful.

In the main open square they were in the process of setting up a stage for the New Year’s celebration — expectancy over 800,000 people from all over Europe. When we weren’t in class we took tours all over the city and in took all its beauty. We were able to walk on the oldest road in Krakow, more than 900 years and spent the afternoon in the Wawel Castle where King’s once inhabited its corridors. The castle overlooked the river, which held a certain aspect of beauty during sunset.

We took a look at the Bishops corridor where Pope John Paul II once was during his lifetime, which was really interesting. Catholicism is a big part of the Polish culture so there was a Church located every few blocks but each had a personal touch to each one. I couldn’t grasp the concept of how old each individual building was throughout the city, the architecture was truly captivating.

The next day as class we took a field trip about 40 minutes outside the city to the Wieliczka salt mine. We took stairs down about 400 meters and walked through tunnels that once inhabited many mine workers. Salt was quite a luxury back in the day. Since everything in this mine was made of salt we were able to lick the walls and taste it because the salt would end up killing the germs or bacteria so it was completely sanitary. This was an experience to say the least.

One of the most eye-opening trips we took was to Auschwitz during out second week. I’ve had a European history class before, but I never truly could grasp the concept that millions of people were mass murdered during this five-year period. We took a walk through where all of these horrid things had happened. We all stayed rather quiet and respectful, because no one had the words to explain what we were looking at. It was a day I’ll never forget.

Our last weekend in Poland we took an eight-hour bus ride to the Czech Repulic, Prague. It was so beautiful there and the culture was similar to Poland, but they had traditions of their own. We got a tour through the town and walked across the St. Charles Bridge, which was breathtaking. Overall the trip was life changing, but I couldn’t wait to step foot on familiar grounds again.

Discovering Study Abroad

I originally heard about this program around the beginning of November last fall. I received an email from the professor who was in charge of the trip, Dr. Polyhua. When I was a freshman four years ago, I knew my one goal before graduating college was to study abroad. I had heard so much positive feedback from people who I have knew had the opportunity to travel abroad, that I wanted it for myself.

The main concern I had was money, because it would be on my own dollar that I could achieve this opportunity. I’m a huge history nerd as well and the idea of going to Poland really excited me. I read through the email and the price was within my range, so of course I signed up right away! Within two weeks I was set to go and accepted into the program. More than 60 students applied for 30 spots. I was thrilled!

Going on this trip truly changed me for the better, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have this opportunity.

3 Things Study Abroad Taught Me

  • Independence — Coming to college is an adjustment from high school, but going to a foreign country with 29 basically strangers and two professors you’ve only spoken to briefly is a wake- up call. You really have to learn how to hold your own. I had experience with airports so I found it almost calming since I had been through security many times before, but knowing I was going miles away from home and across an ocean was slightly terrifying. My mom and dad were no longer a two hour drive away in case of emergency. I adjusted rather quickly to Krakow and found a sense of ease after getting settled. Even though I was the outsider who didn’t understand the language I embraced it for what it was. Most people spoke a broken version of English so it was simple to figure things out. Studying abroad truly helped me figure out who I am and how to go through life on my own.
  • Teamwork — I’m a social person so I lucked out in the sense that I got along with everyone on the trip. I can honestly say that I consider a few close friends of mine. We have managed to keep in touch since the program ended and have gotten together to hang out. When you spend three weeks straight together its almost impossible not to become close with people. I say teamwork because other than planned trips and class, we were mostly on our own. We had the ability to wander freely as we pleased, but we were also in an area we weren’t aware of. There were times we would get lost or be unsure of what road we were taking and since we couldn’t read the language let alone speak it – we really had to work together to figure it out. It’s really easy to see people’s strengths and weaknesses, but together we would always manage to get ourselves out of any sticky situation. It was good for both my leadership and social skills.
  • To Be Fearless — As a society we tend to fear the unknown, it can be difficult not too. I’ll be honest I was very nervous and cautious about attending this trip. I went into it almost blindly with not a lot of information except the basics, but I learned quickly that things will all work out. Once we landed my fear had seemed to disappear and excitement began to form in the pit of my stomach. I understood that when something went wrong not to panic, but take it one step a time and it would eventually resolve itself. I honestly ran into barely any issues while I was there and the trip was truly enjoyable. The fear I had originated with had turned into pure bliss.

— Dana Shirley, senior mass communications major #HuskyAbroad #WinterBreak

Monday, January 25, 2016

Countless memories in Poland

A group of 30 students traveled to Poland during this winter break to study abroad for three weeks.

They were accompanied by two Bloomsburg professors, Mykola Polyuha, assistant professor of languages and cultures, and Michael Martin, assistant professor of English. While there, students completed two classes at the Jagiellonian University, the second oldest university in Central Europe and located in Krakow.

The first class was titled Jews of Europe. This course was about European Jewish history and their culture. This class examined Jewish life from 1450 to the mid-20th century and helped students understand the plight of the Jewish people that ultimately ended in the Holocaust. The second course students participated in was an Eastern European film class.

In this class, the students watched sixteen different movies that illustrated Central Europe in its multicultural background as well as its interconnectivity in terms of ethnicity. These courses had world-renown professors, a cultural/social anthropologist, Dr. Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, and Dr. Maciej Stroinski, cultural theater and film critic.

Not only did students spend time in the classroom, but they also were able to explore the beauty of Krakow, spending time on the Main Square, that was complete with the Christmas Market. The Main Square was filled with food, restaurants, pubs, and little shops offering numerous options to learn about the culture and bring back gifts for those who support them back home. The most exciting part for many students was spending New Year’s in the Main Square with as many as 90,000 people from all over the world.

Two days of travel to Prague, Czech Republic, was another highlight of the trip. Exploring the city of Prague and the city’s Jewish section was an incredible experience. This experience of walking through the cemeteries and synagogues that were built as early as the 13th century provide a sense of history that cannot be found in America. Visiting the Jewish Ghetto, Schindler’s Factory, and the Jewish Quarter in Krakow provided a first-hand look at history that was such a significant part of the 20th century.

Leaving Poland is bittersweet for most of these students, because of the countless memories they made. Much of what was learned will be understood in the weeks, months and years ahead, but now, in spite of some continued jet-lag, it feels great to be back home in America!

— Arden Shiller, sophomore early childhood and deaf education major #HuskyAbroad #WinterBreak

Monday, January 11, 2016

One Last Time: 7 things for seniors to do this spring semester

It’s hard for me to believe the spring semester is almost here. It already has a different mood than any semester I’ve been through before.

This spring will be full of so many “last times,” and offers so many “first evers”, too. I plan to make this the most memorable semester with my friends before starting, what my mom calls, my “big girl job.” I also would like to get myself organized for when I move out of college and start this new chapter. I’m sure I’m not the only one in saying that I definitely need to figure out how to make student loan payments, how to buy a new vehicle, and other adult-like things.

But until we get those figured out, here’s to the last time being an undergrad college student and the seven things you most positively should do before leaving.
  • Take a picture with Roongo: It’s unknown for most if you’ll be on campus again, so you might as well get a picture with our mascot while you have the chance. BONUS: take a picture with your friends at the Roongo statue on the corner near the Tri-Level.
  • Play on the Quad: Pick a sunny day and have some fun with friends on the quad. Whether its cartwheels, catch, or one of those giant bouncy houses, get your friends together and go make some memories! Frolic to your hearts content.
  • Eat at the Commons: At least once before you graduate, have an all you can eat buffet at the Commons with your squad. Roll in like you’re a freshman who’s never heard of the freshman 15 and make sure you leave with either a cookie or an ice cream cone. You could even eat dessert first, why not?!
  • Do something out of the ordinary: Everyone has their limits, but do yourself the favor and come out of your comfort zone a little bit. That’s why we come to college anyways, to experience new things. It could be something as small as studying in a different spot or something as wild as taking a spring break trip out of the country. Take advantage of any and all opportunities while you have the time.
  • Take part in a tradition on campus: Be a part of The Big Event, Relay for Life, Spring Fest, or anything else that pops up. Not only is it a meaningful experience, but you might end up in the yearbook that way. Plus, it’s a great way to show your Husky Pride!
  • Go for a walk on campus: Not just any walk, take a self-guided tour of campus while taking in the flowers in bloom. See what I did there, hahaha, but seriously, our campus has so many beautiful sights to be seen and some hidden treasures to be found. Pick any random Sunday afternoon and reflect while walking. Think about the reasons you chose BU, the people you’ve met here, the things you’ve learned, and how far you’ve come in the last four years.
  • Thank those who’ve helped you: Maybe write a thank you letter to your parents or grandparents and hand it to them at graduation. You could have them read it while they are waiting for your name to be called. Don’t forget to thank those professors who you really learned a lot from and those who went out of their way to help you succeed.
Even if you aren’t a senior yet, you should still do these things. Also understand that your time is coming soon and it’s never too early to start planning for your senior year- it comes faster than you think. Make sure you have all your classes organized and your GEP goals met; you’ll thank yourself when you are trying to graduate on time. Be proactive in your career search and look for grad schools and internships before your senior year.

Most importantly, enjoy being on campus with your friends and make the most out of the time you are here. From one Husky to another, let’s make this semester the best one yet!

— Jessica Shiptoski, senior accounting major, professional writing minor, fraud examination concentration #HuskyLife #WinterBreak