Thursday, September 20, 2018

A local’s guide to the Bloomsburg Fair

We're fast approaching an annual milestone that molds our university culture with those in the rural realm around us. Each year, people come together for a week from far and wide in the only town in Pennsylvania to celebrate: the Bloomsburg Fair!

I’m from the small town of Benton, about 20 miles north of Bloomsburg. The fair is a huge attraction for us rural neighbors, mainly because you have to drive to Bloomsburg to do anything exciting in the first place. Also, because the surrounding high schools have the whole week off for the fair. If you have never been to "The Fair," I implore you to try it out! Especially if you’re a fan of greasy, fried comfort food on a stick.

Animal lovers have their place at the fair too. There are plenty of barns where you can check out horses, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and even dogs (if you’re willing to pay a small fee). If you have an interest in antiques, gardening, or art, you should check out the four large, brick exhibit buildings located parallel to the sky ride. The best shopping and knick-knacks are located under the grandstand.

Of course, those aren’t the only attractions at the Bloomsburg Fair. There’s also the area around the track that houses all the carnival games you loved to play as a kid.

Have $10 and some serious carnival skill?

You might just win your significant other the most ginormous teddy bear ever. Or if you’re lacking in the skill department, you could win a keychain … I guess that’s nice too.

If you want an adrenaline rush, try out the carnival rides! The adrenaline comes from the ride, but also from the knowledge that it could (jokingly) break at any second. They are also mostly located at the far end of the track. In all seriousness, the rides are extremely safe, because they have to be inspected so many times for only one week of operation.

The food ... I mean, the food!

The food at the Bloomsburg Fair is possibly its biggest attraction. The food may seem very uniform, but every stand has a specialty, and a group of customers it attracts. Sure, there are TONS of fried food, but there are other delicious options that aren’t batter dipped and fried in oil. There are an abundance of stands selling cheesesteaks, gyros, pizzas, calzones, seafood, and some things you’ve never even heard of.

A few years ago I bought a foot-long hotdog with macaroni and cheese as a topping. There’s a stand where you can purchase a turkey leg. You read that right, you can walk around looking like a Viking. There are also some places that have more of a restaurant atmosphere where you can sit down and eat. Places like these usually have some of the best desserts.

Did you say dessert?

Yes, there are so many choices. There are the typical ice cream stands, and the not-so-typical Penn State Berkey Creamery stand (AKA the most delicious, non-homemade ice cream ever). The fair is also during peak apple season, so apple dumplings are a necessity and are available all over the fair. Another one of my favorites are flavored honey sticks. They’re basically like pixie sticks, but with dozens of different flavors of honey. There are multiple stands with taffy and other candies as well.

As if food and desserts weren’t enough, there are also some great beverages available at the fair. Kohr’s orange juice stands are everywhere, and it’s unlike any orange juice you’ve ever had. There are also multiple local cider mill stands where you can get delicious apple cider. Big Ben’s sodas (blue birch beer in particular) are also very yummy.

Last but not least ... the entertainment

No, I don’t mean people watching, although that has its entertaining moments as well.

There's a free stage located near the main entrance, where plenty of bands, musicians, and performing artists play from mid-morning until the fair closes each night. Marching bands also perform at different times throughout the week.

This year there are eight musicians and performing artists at the grandstand — ahem, Cole Swindell and Brett Eldredge to name two — and there’s also the always competitive tractor and truck pull and the popular, entertaining demolition derby.

Grandstand entertainment requires a ticket, which can be bought on the fair’s website. Got my ticket for Tuesday night and already itching to get there early, so maybe you'll see me down there!

— Dallas Kriebel, senior mass communications major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Keeping up with a fast-paced city

It has been quite the eventful weekend here in our nation’s capital! After orientation events concluded on Friday, some of the other interns and I decided to tackle the metro to find our internship sites. One of the biggest rules in DC is how to use the escalators in the metro. If you are on the right side, you are standing. If you are on the left side, you are walking down as the escalator moves. This is important to remember, because D.C. is a very fast-paced city.

Our internship sites weren’t far from the Washington Monument and the White House, so we decided to do some sightseeing.

I was lucky enough to score two tickets for a tour of the Capitol building and the White House for next week so make sure you check back for pictures of the inside! By the end of this day, we had power walked (again, a very fast paced city) almost 10 miles!

Saturday was another busy day, as we did more sightseeing. We walked to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court Building, which is only a 15 minute walk from our apartment. It is hard to truly gauge the size of the Supreme Court Building because it is absolutely massive. Pictures do not do it justice (no pun intended), as it stands nearly 92 feet tall, 385 feet long, and 304 feet wide. There is a basketball court on the fifth floor that has been named the “Highest Court in the Land”.

I start my internship on Tuesday, so make sure to see next week’s post about my first week on the job!

— Deanna Campion, a senior dual political science and communication studies  major #ProfessionalU

Friday, August 31, 2018

Starting college all over again

Hey everyone! My name is Deanna, and I will be blogging my internship experience in Washington, D.C. for the fall semester. I'm currently a senior at Bloomsburg University with a double major in political science and communication studies.

I got my internship through The Washington Center program. TWC provides classes, professional development seminars, networking opportunities, and internship/career counseling for students all around the country and the world. TWC helped me to find my internship with a nonprofit organization known as The Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

We drove over three and a half hours (about four total with the traffic in Maryland) to get to Washington. In the days leading up to move in day, it really felt like I was starting college all over again.

I was moving almost four hours away where I knew nobody. I knew one other student from BU, who was doing the program too (and coincidentally met a third student from BU who was doing the program as well).

Some of the other interns I met on the first day.
I’m in the middle in the light blue shirt!
I was nervous, but I knew I was about to begin the experience of a lifetime.

The first two days so far have been filled with meeting plenty of other interns as well as orientation events and seminars. I went to a few sessions to teach me how to use the metro to get to my internship site and websites to find free/low cost things to do around the city.

So far I have met people from Texas, Wisconsin, New York, Maine, Iowa, Ohio, and international students from Vietnam and Mexico. The rest of welcome weekend will include some adventuring out into the city.

Stay tuned!

— Deanna Campion, a senior dual political science and communication studies  major #ProfessionalU

Monday, July 23, 2018

Witnessing a pivotal time in Ireland’s history

In addition to the stunning sights, one of my most cherished moments of the study abroad tour of Ireland was the fact that we were present during a pivotal time in the country’s history. Ireland voted to repeal the eighth amendment of their constitution, which prohibits abortion. At that time we were in Dublin, Ireland’s lively urban capital with a rich history of its own.

Throughout the entirety of the trip, the passionate campaign signs for both sides of the issue “Vote Yes” and “Vote No” were inescapable across the country. It was both eye-opening and humbling. Coming from the U.S. in 2018, you can’t help but think that no other country could possibly be as divided as our own.

Since Ireland is so heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, they may be considered “behind” other nations in terms of divisive political issues like this one. They only just recently voted to legalize same sex marriage in 2015. Nevertheless, the evidence of progression was glaringly obvious that day; and we got to experience it first-hand.

Just a few days before we departed, the results were announced in favor of the referendum. On the streets of Dublin, in the midst of hundreds of Irish voters cheering and embracing each other - I couldn’t help but feel as though I was a front row spectator to a compelling success in Ireland’s history. It was a powerful, chill-inducing and memorable moment.

— Miranda Carrasquillo#HuskyAbroad #SAPro

Miranda Carrasquillo is pursuing their Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program. She is among a group of CSA students studying abroad this summer for two weeks in Ireland, visiting several universities to develop an understanding of the structure and practice of college student affairs in Ireland and gain insight into international issues.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A perfect introduction to college life

When I received my acceptance letter to Bloomsburg University in the spring of 2014, I was completely ecstatic. This was my top choice of schools, and I couldn’t wait to start my college career.

When I read the rest of the letter and saw that I would have to attend summer session, I cried. All of my friends would be enjoying their summer together while I was in Bloomsburg taking classes.
That’s what I thought, anyway.

Little did I know that attending summer session would be one of the best experiences throughout my four years at Bloomsburg. In my time as a summer freshman, I was able to make friends with the people in my classes, as well as my dorm.

There were only a few hundred of us, so everyone knew everyone. I had the opportunity to learn where the academic buildings were without the awkwardness of having to stop someone and get directions.

I mastered the art of when and how to do my laundry without all of them being taken. I got to know the people on my floor and made friends I’m still close with as I finished my senior year.

If you’re nervous about starting summer session, don’t be. For me, it was the perfect introduction to college life without the added pressure of the 500-plus people who actually knew what they were doing.

Take this opportunity to

Do well in your classes so you go into the fall with a rocking GPA. Oh yea, and have fun!

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A rich five days in Belfast

Before arriving in the city at Stranmillis University College, where our accommodations were, we spent a fruitful day trekking along the northern coast to see The Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. These locations had stunning views of the North Atlantic Ocean, rolling countryside, and rural Irish culture. As jokingly referenced by the locals, our company seemed to have packed clear skies and sunshine in our suitcases, as beautiful weather followed us to each new site.

Our first exposure to Higher Education in the UK came when we visited Ulster University, which is the second largest university in Northern Ireland, consisting of four different campus locations. We had the opportunity to experience two of these campuses; their urban campus in downtown Belfast and their rural campus in the seaside town of Coleraine. At the Belfast campus we heard inspiring presentations from Admissions, International Studies, and Career Services professionals. Since the Belfast campus is academically focused on art, we had the opportunity to see a remarkable amount of student work around the institution. In addition to allowing students to showcase their creative endeavors, the institution proved itself to be forward thinking in how it widened participation to under-represented student populations in the UK. We continued to learn more about Widening Participation at the second Ulster University campus in Coleraine.

At the Coleraine campus we were hosted by Provost Karise Hutchinson and her spectacular team. Karise sat and shared the authentic story of her journey through Higher Education and Coleraine to reach her position, and the trials that she faced along the way. Her colleagues shared their outlooks in their functional areas and we spent the day not only learning about how they work, but also drawing on our learned experience in the CSA program to share our insights, ideas, and suggestions for improvement. That afternoon we spent learning and playing Gaelic Football with individuals in the athletic department. Their athletic department is working on becoming a more inclusive area for students and less focused on the highly competitive aspects we know in the States.

In the middle of the week we found ourselves at Queen’s University in Belfast, which is the largest university in Northern Ireland. This was the first institution we visited that had a Residence Life department akin to those we have in US. Like us, they have a hierarchy of professional and paraprofessional (e.g., Community Assistants) staff. Unlike the U.S., however, the CAs’ primary responsibilities at Queen’s are focused on building community, with minimal focus on policy enforcement or crisis response. Other functional areas at Queen’s also discussed the importance of student inclusion around campus, especially because they have a high population of international students. This was made evident when we met with Stephen, the Student Union president, when he articulated the plan for making the Student Union building more accessible to all students. Many of the institutions we have visited this far have this same goal to create inclusive and accessible environments for their students to thrive.

Throughout our time in Belfast, we witnessed firsthand the political pulse of the community and the people living within it. Our cab drivers (who number well over a dozen), frequently shared personal stories about their lived experience during the “Troubles,” which was a decades-long period of violence, stemming from Northern Ireland’s status as a province of the United Kingdom, rather than a part of the Republic of Ireland. While we were assured that the bloodshed had long-since subsided, reminders of this period echoed in the memorial plaques affixed to the sides of buildings that were bombed, the exhibitions that filled the gilded City Hall, and the gates (nightly locked) positioned at strategic points along the ironically named “Peace Wall,” that separated politically opposing groups. In spite of these things, we found the city of Belfast to be remarkably welcoming, with a cultural atmosphere that exceeded all of our expectations.

— Erica Smith and Jonathan Gowin#HuskyAbroad #SAPro

Smith and Gowin are pursuing their Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program. They are among a group of CSA students studying abroad this summer for two weeks in Ireland, visiting several universities to develop an understanding of the structure and practice of college student affairs in Ireland and gain insight into international issues.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Discovering an Irish perspective of higher education

We made it! The Bloomsburg University College Student Affairs students have reached Ireland!

After a few people having delayed, missed flights and an hour delay in Newark due to thunderstorms, we have safely made it to Ireland! The plan for this trip is to visit eight different universities and learn about the higher education system in Ireland. After learning about them, we will be comparing Ireland’s and America’s higher education system.

While taking in the in the Irish culture through visiting some of Ireland’s colleges and universities as well as exploring the different cities, we will better understand higher education in Ireland.

The first university on the trip is University of Limerick. We had a full day meeting with university officials, as well as students. Even though students were done for the semester, the campus still has post-grad students who where taking classes. We met with admissions — both undergrad and postgrad — and got a good grasp on how admissions works in Ireland. All colleges and universities in Ireland use one application process to apply to colleges similar to the Common App, but every higher education institution uses it.

We also got to speak with the Student Union, which is equivalent to our CGA. It was interesting because the students who are in positions in the Student Union take a year off to hold their positions while in the United States, students are in CGA as they're still taking classes.

The day ended with a tour of UL’s beautiful campus that included the Living Bridge, which is an area where students can use it as more than just a bridge — a bridge to do homework, play music, and hand out with friends.

Overall, we had a great time at University of Limerick. It gave us basic understanding of how higher education works in Ireland. Our next stop is Ulster University!

— Pooja Daya, #HuskyAbroad #SAPro

Daya is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program, as well as serving as a graduate hall director for the Jessica Kozloff Apartments. She is among a group of CSA students studying abroad this summer for two weeks in Ireland, visiting several universities to develop an understanding of the structure and practice of college student affairs in Ireland and gain insight into international issues.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Captain’s log, Day 3: Last day in Budapest

Dorm rooms at the University of Pécs. Way cool.

It’s our last breakfast at the hotel so we make it count: eggs on eggs on eggs, yogurt with mad granola, and a heaping slab of the coldest of cuts. A few of us headed to the market to buy hand-carved chess sets before the long drive to Pécs.

Time for the drive. We bustle in to spacious luxury shuttles equipped with Wi-Fi and fueled with love, and we start our trek to a new home. The drive is a sea of hills and fields, grassy knolls, and it looks like something out of Toy Story. “Picturesque, to say the least,” reports Dan. We stop at a gas station along the way to stock up on grapes, the loveliest fruit in the land. Nick buys a pastry that turns out to be an undercover steak, but he’ll live. (We hope)

Dr. Zsuzsanna Schnell showing us all the cool historical stuff in Pécs.
Entering Pécs. Sarah scours the streets for dogs, or “good boys,” as she’s taken to calling them. We’re surrounded by hills lush with greenery and beautiful architecture. We get to the dorm building, our home for the rest of the trip, and slog our luggage up the stairs like worker ants vigorously transporting bread to their anthill.

It feels like college move-in week all over again, but without any stress or responsibility. We make the discovery that our windows open up in a way that allows us to hang out on the roof and talk between rooms, all the while staring at the gorgeous city ahead of us. The Box has truly blessed us on this day. Amen.

We decide to get a taste of the city with a visit to a local cafeteria, where the food is unfamiliar and the language barrier is strong, but we press forward with valor and might. Next up is a tour of the city with Dr. Zsuzsanna Schnell, professor at the University of Pécs and celebrity superstar from our past semester’s “COIL” course (Jamie maybe insert link to your article here). We visit more places than we can remember, mosques made into churches, cathedrals, fountains, and a wall of locks.

See the umbrellas – an amazing ice cream joint called, Ciao Bella Cukrászda.
Most of the locks represent a couple pledging their love to one another, but we can already tell that we’ll be needing to leave one for the city of Pécs at the end of our journey. After the tour, we all felt the same: a strong desire for ice cream.

“Not just any ice cream, but soft, creamy… soul-saving goodness… that you can just suck in… I can’t talk about it anymore,” raves Dan, who has been steadily consuming cones ever since. While attempting to prevent Dan from getting another scoop, we have a long chat about the trip, our thoughts so far, and the truth about the moon landing. Before we pack up for the night, a Pécs student named Justin takes us to a local grocery store to stock up on food for the week ahead. Sarah continues scanning the premises for good boys. We return to the dorm, where Dan and Nick engage in a violent battle of mental warfare on their newly purchased chess sets.

Like the wise Mr. Miyagi before him, Nick teaches Stew how to play, and sets him on a path of destruction the likes of which has never before been witnessed. Dr. P, our father, reminds us to write this blog, so we decide to play cards instead. All goes well, and by the end of the game our throats are raw from screaming at each other like jackals in the night.

Finally, we sit down together to write the blog. Truth be told, we were dreading doing anything that resembled work, but after we started, we just couldn’t stop. All of our fun memories came back to us like scorned lovers, and if our laughter could be translated into written words (in Hungarian), we would outsell Shakespeare himself (though he might not be very popular here).

Days since Sarah has last pet a dog: 3.

Led by Christopher Podeschi, associate professor of sociology, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent 10 days in Hungary this summer studying first-hand the Hungarian culture, history and identity. The study abroad trip was part of Podeschi's spring collaborative online international learning course, Seminar on Identity and Locality, which included videoconferencing during the semester with a class from the University of Pecs. The abroad experience also featured visits to Budapest and a rural Hungarian community that provided social and cultural context explored during class discussion earlier in the spring.    #CollaborativeLearning #HuskySummer #HuskyAbroad

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Not too shabby Budapest

Us at dinner, still happy because the check had not yet arrived.

We had an early start to our day, because we had to meet a professor for a historical tour of different residential areas of Budapest. We all had breakfast at the hotel and were rather surprised to see a platter of sandwich meat available at the buffet. After breakfast we got on a really nice minibus with Dr. Marianna Nagy from the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary.

She took us to three different residential areas and connected each to the history of Hungary and Hungary today. It also provided us the opportunity to see daily Hungarian life up close and take note of things like socioeconomic class differences and how class-based segregation is not as pronounced in some Budapest neighborhoods as it is in the U.S.

Dr. Nagy schooling us about Hungary’s history and identity
under communism, while we visit a residential
neighborhood built during the communist era.
Dan and Nick jumped off the bus a couple times, the second time for good. Dan wasn’t feeling well so they went rogue in Budapest and saw a Holocaust museum and walked until Dan felt better.

After seeing the residential areas we went to the Zwack Museum to learn about a Zwack Unicum, a beverage that is key to Hungarian identity. After that the whole group reconvened at the Central Market Hall on the south end of downtown Budapest near the Danube. It’s a beautiful old indoor market place with many restaurants and vendors selling fruits, meats, vegetables and, traditional crafts.

Later we took the bus and trolley back up to the Parliament building for a tour, specially arranged by one of our gracious hosts, Virag Rab. The facade of the parliament was grand and ornate and the interior was equally so. The pictures tell the tale here. The couches were a century old and still comfortable! They felt like trampolines! There were also cigar holders near the windows in the hall outside of the main chamber of Parliament . . . they had to leave their cigars outside the main chamber in a numbered slot for only their cigar.

Central Market Hall near the Danube on the south end of downtown Budapest
Dr. Podeschi let us choose where to eat for dinner, and we chose to have dessert first. While eating our dessert, we avoided a really bad rainstorm. Then Dr. Podeschi left us to our own devices while he went looking for souvenirs for his family. After a tumultuous discussion of where to eat we decided on an American-style restaurant (don’t worry – we’ve been sampling authentic Hungarian fare!).

 The food was amazing and we all loved it. We were having a nice time at dinner, covering various topics (e.g., Sarah informed us that whales sleep vertically and that horrifies her). Then the check came. We should have touched The Box beforehand. It would perhaps have been easier for us to fly an airliner home than split this bill sensibly. We headed back toward the hotel in three groups, one hailing from the East, one rising from sea, and one departing from the Trolley. We all finally found dad (Dr. P) at the appointed bus stop and made it safely back to the hotel.

Thank The Box! Amen.

The view from the Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet híd in Hungarian) as we walked back to the hotel. Not too shabby Budapest.

Led by Christopher Podeschi, associate professor of sociology, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent 10 days in Hungary this summer studying first-hand the Hungarian culture, history and identity. The study abroad trip was part of Podeschi's spring collaborative online international learning course, Seminar on Identity and Locality, which included videoconferencing during the semester with a class from the University of Pecs. The abroad experience also featured visits to Budapest and a rural Hungarian community that provided social and cultural context explored during class discussion earlier in the spring.  
#CollaborativeLearning #HuskySummer #HuskyAbroad

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sociology trip to Hungary starts with a box, ends with a community

Standing around The Box at this point, waiting for one more traveler

We literally stood around a box as though it were a sacred artifact while we waited to get our tickets and go through security at Philadelphia International Airport. From that point on, The Box became pretty important. Everyone was safely at the airport, and we were all through security and waiting at the gate without any hitches or problems. This worried Dr. Podeschi. Things were going too smoothly. But then they didn’t. Our flight was delayed and we were relieved (right?). We felt like something bad needed to happen, and a small bad is a good bad. Or perhaps we angered The Box. Time will tell.

Waiting out flight delay in Philadelphia
During the delay, airline personnel continuously called for Schmidt, Lazerhead, and Jealousy over the intercom. We’re sure of only two of these names, but that doesn’t matter. The second will always be Lazerhead. Anyway, we assume these three are now dead (or missed their flight or decided to not go to Madrid).

Now the real traveling. Dan's attempt to join the first class passengers was rebuffed. Dan and Sarah attempted to befriend the flight attendance and were rejected. She was all business. And a stranger slept on Katie's shoulder. Jackie slept in an odd, no . . . worrying position. Sam did not (sleep, that is). Once off the plane, we reconvened around and touched The Box to show proper respect (as one does).

 Then, thanks to The Box we got our luggage quickly. Nick must not have really been feeling it when he touched the box because he mistakenly withdrew a lot of Hungarian money on accident (let’s just say that if it were 1989 he could have bought a small house in the Budapest suburbs - literally). Same with Katie and Andrea: they learned a tough lesson about currency exchange. Inexplicably, Megan felt her exchange was fair. Hmmm. Perhaps she had a special connection to The Box.

On to the Hotel Jagello, on the lovely and hilly Buda side of Budapest. One group was on a shuttle to the hotel in silence and fear. The driving was a little more aggressive in Hungary than what we're used to. Members of the other group thought that Dr. Podeschi planted an undercover sociologist as their driver, because the conversation was so cool and interesting.

Going to meet Bertalan for a tour of Budapest
Once we arrived at the hotel we paired up and entered our rooms. Stew ran into an issue when he couldn't figure out how to turn on any of the lights in his room. He managed to relieve himself in the dark without too much trouble (or mess). Then Dr. Podeschi texted everyone about how the key to the door was also the key to the electricity for the whole room. Details Podeschi, details.

After the long flight, the group diverged into three. One portion wanted to rest. Another decided to find food and got lost, but found ice cream and a nice man who taught them how to count Hungarian money.

The rest took a hike through a park to a statue and then got lunch. They also learned a bit about Hungarian restaurant norms (e.g., the wait staff are not in a hurry, they don’t come back to ask you if you want another of something).

The group then all met back up to take a tour around Budapest with Bertalan (call him Bart) the wonderful former University of Pecs student who just finished his master’s degree in International Relations from Corvinius University in Budapest.

Electric trolley ride in Budapest
Bart informed us about much of Hungarian history and current politics in Hungary, all while showing us some of the main sites in downtown Budapest.

And there was a bit of a thrill at the beginning of the tour: an undercover security agent abruptly interrupted us next to the parliament building, telling us to stop because the Prime Minister was coming. Then two black cars rushed by in front of us and stopped at the side of the building. We didn't see him but Bertalan confirmed that it was indeed Viktor Orban's black armored van! We were a bit shocked because there was so little security.

Later on the tour we also observed a dog park and discovered the well behaved, unleashed Hungarian dogs. All of the students were enamored by the dogs, particularly Sarah “Good Boy” Johnson.

Sadly, Dr. Podeschi was too absorbed in Bart's discourse on Hungarian politics to notice the majestic beasts. After leaving the majestic beasts we ventured off to a nice Hungarian restaurant. Then we were super tired and went back to the hotel to sleep.

So far so good. Days since Sarah has pet a dog: 1 day. 

Enjoying the great public transportation in Hungary 

Led by Christopher Podeschi, associate professor of sociology, a group of Bloomsburg University students spent 10 days in Hungary this summer studying first-hand the Hungarian culture, history and identity. The study abroad trip was part of Podeschi's spring collaborative online international learning course, Seminar on Identity and Locality, which included videoconferencing during the semester with a class from the University of Pecs. The abroad experience also featured visits to Budapest and a rural Hungarian community that provided social and cultural context explored during class discussion earlier in the spring.    #CollaborativeLearning #HuskySummer #HuskyAbroad

Friday, May 11, 2018

Suddenly, you’re walking across the stage

Seeing myself in my cap and gown for the first time, I can’t help but think about all of the little pieces of life that led me here. I will be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university, and there were honestly so many times when I didn’t think I would even make it here.

Freshman year I even considered transferring. The years I’ve spent at Bloomsburg have been fun, terrifying, soul crushing, magical and amazing. Not to say I wouldn’t do some things differently if I could, but as they say, hindsight is 20-20.

I would tell myself not to worry so much. Of course, every freshman worries. They worry about who they’ll eat lunch with, if they’ll get lost looking for their classes. They wonder if they’re supposed to ask to use the bathroom during class (I asked to go to the bathroom in my first college class EVER and everyone laughed so if you have to go, save yourself the shame and just slip out quietly). Things will work out. Let yourself enjoy the newness of college and be open to learning as you go.

I would tell myself to talk to EVERYONE. People you meet in the elevator, people you sit next to in class, people in line as you wait for food. That’s the one, surefire way to make friends. Just start chatting about the weather or the homework from the previous class, and suddenly you’ve got someone to eat lunch with tomorrow, or study at Starbucks with. Take comfort in knowing that 95 percent of the people around you feel the same way you do, and just want people to talk to and understand the struggles of college life.

I would tell myself to say yes more. Go to more football games, go to more drag shows, go to more bingo nights. Go to more parties, go to more dance showcases, get more pink wieners. I can assure you, you’ll regret the times you said no more than the times you said yes. If something seems even remotely interesting, do it. Join a club and only go to one meeting, sign up for an intramural sport only to realize you have no coordination. The only way to find your people is to try literally everything until you do.

I would tell myself to enjoy every, single moment. Not just the big things, but everything. Getting late night with your friends, ordering Chinese food to the dorms, signing the lease for your first apartment, the first time you ever got a $2 bill from $2 Bob, getting breakfast with your roommates telling stories of the previous night. Take in every moment, because one day you'll think you have all the time in the world to do the things you’ve always wanted to in college, and then suddenly you’re walking across the stage wondering where the time even went.

Being a college student has changed me in both the best and the worst ways, and I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. I have grown more in these four years than I have in my entire life, and I am so proud of the person I am today. I am a Stranger Things enthusiast, I am a lover of pretzellinis, I am a local sorority member, I am a public relations professional, and I am now a Bloomsburg University alumna!

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Monday, April 30, 2018

Be careful what you wish for

When I was a freshman, all I wanted was to be a senior. To be on my way to a big girl job, be 21 and have my life figured out. Going to the Student Services Center the other day to pick up my graduation tickets made me realize I’m now at that place … and all I want to do is go back.

Lucky for me, there are still things I can do one last time I loved doing my freshman year.

Going to the Scranton Commons with a big group of friends was something I did often, especially when everyone ran out of flex four weeks before the semester ended. There’s nothing like eating plates and plates of food and grabbing a warm cookie for the road with your friends.

Seeing movies on campus was a treat back in the day, especially since I didn’t have a car and could never get to the movie theater. Bloomsburg always has the best and most current movies, so I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Plus, who can say no to a free movie?

Even though I literally NEVER won anything, midnight bingo was always a fun way to get out of the dorms and meet new people. Plus, a little friendly competition against your roommate and friends doesn’t hurt.

Living with a roommate can be annoying and crowded, but most of the time it’s like being at a sleepover. I loved having someone there to talk to when I was bored or needed advice or to vent. The bond you have with your roommate is something you can’t replicate. Whether it’s freshman or senior year, roommates are something to be treasured.

While I have the ability to do some of these things before I graduate, it certainly won’t be the same. My advice, whatever year you are, is to enjoy where you’re at. I wish I had taken the time to really enjoy and make the most out of every year, rather than looking for the next best thing.

Senior year approaches more quickly than you think, so take your time and have fun.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A freshmen takeover of my Husky Life

In the four years I’ve been at BU I have discovered some of my favorite restaurants, coffee drinks and places to hang out. Sometimes having all these favorites make it hard for me to decide where I want to go. So, I decided to let the incoming Class of 2022 make the decisions for me!

Monday: Chick-fil-A vs. Qdoba

These two new dining choices were all students could think about as they returned to school this past fall. While neither of them take meal plans, they’re both delicious and you can use Flex, Husky Gold or a credit card to eat there. The Class of 2022 voted for me to have Chick-fil-A, which I was definitely not mad about. My go-to meal is classic nuggets with fries, and of course, Chick-fil-A sauce. However, Qdoba is also a great option if you’re in the mood for Chipotle or something Mexican. They have bowls, tacos, quesadillas, you name it! With fresh ingredients and delicious queso, it’s hard to say no.

Tuesday: Starbucks vs. Java City

It’s safe to say I’m a coffee addict, so having multiple options on campus is like music to my ears. The great thing is that while there are two Starbucks and one Java City, they’re spread out so wherever you are on campus, coffee’s not far away.

Starbucks won the poll, so I got my usual Iced Blonde Americano with vanilla (which is SO good, trust). While I get the same drink every time I go to Starbucks, I do like to switch it up and get Java City. They have amazing iced coffee and their bagels are delicious.

Wednesday: BUnow vs. The Voice

If you’re a news lover like me, Bloomsburg is a great campus to be on because there are so many ways to find out what’s happening on campus, in town and around the country.

The Voice is BU’s student newspaper that comes out every Thursday. BUnow is the online news source, also run by students. Both are full of great information, with entertaining articles and important current events.

Thursday: Cardio vs. Pilates

Our Rec Center is one of the best that I’ve seen on a college campus, with a cardio room, weight room, rock climbing wall and so much more. Every day there are classes offered like Pilates, yoga or cardio sculpt.

Friday: Filet 18 vs. West End Ale Haus

One great thing about Bloomsburg is that if you’re sick of eating campus food, there are so many great options just a five minute walk away! If you’re too tired from your Pilates class the night before, there are also busses that leave from campus and go downtown. The bus stop is located behind McCormick, and comes every 30 minutes. It has stops by the fountain, by Old School apartments and behind Papa John’s on Iron Street.

Filet and West End are just two of the great restaurants downtown, and personally, two of my favorites. West End won the poll option, so I got to have a delicious mac and cheese grilled cheese for dinner.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Friday, March 23, 2018

One invitation is all it took

It wasn't supposed to end up this way. I had my mind set on attending a different state school. My mom and I even bought matching sweatshirts. I really thought I had it all figured out after visiting different schools in both city and rural settings.

My best friend attended Bloomsburg University and invited me to come visit him one weekend during my senior year of high school. At the time, Bloomsburg was a school I had no interest in, but little did I know that invitation would change my life forever.

Here I am, a BU senior (#BUClass2018) with only seven weeks of college left. Looking back, I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t attended BU. I wouldn’t have the education I do now, the mentors who have prepared me for my future, or the unbreakable friendships that shaped me and supported me these past four years. Yes, I might have gotten all of these experiences if I did attend another school, but I honestly wouldn’t trade my time as a Bloomsburg student for a second.

When arriving to Bloomsburg to visit my friend, I made him give me a personal tour. After being there for less than an hour, I could just feel that this was going to be my home, a feeling I did not have with any other school I toured. I returned home and researched my major, and BU offered the perfect track for my career interests.

I applied right away and soon enough I was accepted into the program. I mentioned this to my parents, for they still thought I was planning to attend the other school. We planned an official tour and just like that, they saw it as my home as well.

On Husky Decision Day, it finally became real!

With only a handful of months left being a high school student, I had to prepare myself for a huge change. On Decision Day, I met up with my future roommate, who is now a lifelong friend. This was the last time I would be at BU before becoming an official student in the fall of 2014.

As I prepare to graduate, I reflect on what I’ve been taught many times now. We plan our futures around what we think is best for us, but life always finds a way of guiding us in the direction we are truly meant to go. Life guided me right into BU’s arms, and I couldn’t be more thankful. This experience has led me to trust the process and believe life always has a way of working out.

— Megan Hawbecker, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Saving money, investing in good habits

One thing I will admit to anyone who asks is that I’m not great with money. Sure, I have a little in my savings account right now, but that wasn’t always the case.

Take this past fall for example; in September alone I spent almost $600. Looking at that bank statement broke me to tears. How in the WORLD had I spent that much money? What could I possibly have spent it on? The answer: complete and utter nonsense.

Having a budget is a great way to keep yourself from wasting money and makes you feel a little guilty when you do. Through a lot of trial and error, I've created a simple way to chart my spending and even save some of the money I’m making.

Here’s how it works

Start by looking at your bank statement from the last month. Categorize your spending and write down how much money you spent in each category.

Create as many or as little categories as you want, don’t be afraid to be specific. Don’t forget to include any money you receive from your parents, working a job or taking out of your savings. I suggest making a chart that looks something like this:
  • Gas: $30 
  • Groceries: $50 
  • Going Out: $25 
  • Takeout: $15 
  • Coffee: $10 
  • Necessities (books, utilities etc.): $100 
  • Total money spent $230 
  • Total money received $250
Next, estimate how much money you will receive in a certain amount of time, whether it be monthly or bi-weekly. Add this amount to the bottom of your chart so you can keep track of the money you have leftover at the end of your set time period:
    Total money made: $250
Look at the list of categories from last month. Condense, remove and adjust these categories so they’re realistic to what you can afford. Do you really need to budget in a Marshalls trip every week? Probably not. Do you need groceries? Definitely.

Taking into account the money you’ve spent in these categories in the past, set a dollar limit that you’ll allow yourself to spend in each category. For example, if you spent $50 on groceries, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a little cushion, so set your limit to $70.

At the end of the time period, your chart should look something like this:
  • Gas: $15/$30 
  • Groceries: $70/$60 
  • Going Out: $10/$15 
  • Takeout: $5/$15 
  • Necessities: $100/$100 
  • Total money made $250 
  • Total money spent $200 
  • Total money leftover $75
With this budget in place, you should be able to save money and start good habits for when you graduate and have bills (and student loans) to pay. Get started early! If I could do one thing in my college career differently, it would be this.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Friday, January 26, 2018

Making the most of your last semester

All of my sorority sisters know that I am the friend that leaves a party as soon as I'm ready to leave. My roommate even calls me Houdini, because my classic move is being somewhere one moment and being in bed five minutes later.

Now that I'm in my last semester, I want to make the most of it. But with classes, an internship, a job and extracurricular obligations, I'm constantly struggling to live each moment to the fullest without spreading myself too thin.

Since the first week of senior year, I've been feeling the pressure to always say yes to things. "This is your last (fill in the blank), you HAVE to go", is something I hear almost daily. I've come up with a few tricks of the trade to cram in as much fun as possible without falling asleep in my classes the next day.

Do your work EARLY

One of the easiest things to do is get your work done ahead of time, yet since my first day as a Summer Freshman it has been one of the most difficult tasks. My advice is to take it one day at a time. No, you don't have to finish that project that's due in two weeks the day it's assigned. Focus on what's due tomorrow and get it done early in the day. That way you're not stress-eating late night wings thinking about all the work you should be doing, but aren't.

Use your planner

Buying a planner at the beginning of the year always makes you feel like you have your life together. The key to actually having your life together is to USE the darn thing. Grab a cubby in the library, get your syllabi out and put every significant task or paper into your planner. Then add all of your social events.

Look at it, change it, make notes. This way you know when things are coming up and you're not scrambling at the last minute. There's nothing worse than watching Snapchats of your friends having fun while you're stuck at home because you waited until the last minute to write a ten page paper.

You don't always have to say no

Being a responsible student doesn't mean saying no to everything. Go to half priced apps, go see a movie or go to trivia. Just give yourself a curfew, go to bed and wake up early to get your work done. Having fun doesn't have to mean staying out into the wee hours of the morning, and working hard doesn't mean locking yourself in your room all Friday night.

We're not perfect, some nights we'll skip doing homework to grab wings and sometimes we'll stay in because we just need some sleep. Enjoy every minute you can, because it really is the last time we'll get to live the #HuskyLife.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A thirst for future adventures

Crazy to imagine we’re six days out from flying home, but time went quickly when the third module came to an end. That doesn’t mean we haven’t made the most of what time we have left, though.

In November, I spent a weekend in Guanacaste Province, famous for its stunning, wide-open Pacific coastline. Sámara Beach was exactly that, a huge spread of white sand with an endless horizon before me. Guanacaste draws all kinds of adventurers and beach rats from around the world; in the span of two days I met travelers from Spain, France and Scotland, plus one guy selling ice cream who was originally from Holland.

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a ten-hour bus ride from Heredia to Granada, a lively colonial city deep in the heart of Nicaragua. La Calzada, Granada’s version of a main street, is jammed with restaurants that cater to tourists from every corner of the planet.

The City Market is only a few blocks away, a chaotic maze of wooden stalls and tables lined with pretty much every vendible thing imaginable. It was easy to get lost among the mounds of fruit, fish, spices, plastic toys and prescription drugs, but the Market is the cornerstone for all of Granada. The market is always the heart of the city, our directors told us, and the local culture beats strong in Nicaragua.

After a boat tour on Lake Nicaragua (nineteenth-largest lake in the world, by the way), we dragged our tired selves all the way back to Heredia. Soon it was time to get cookin’ on our Thanksgiving dinner dishes, since we’d be serving them to our host moms for a massive American-style meal at the end of the month. We all brought our culinary A-games and made it a Thanksgiving dinner to remember (I was mainly thankful I didn’t burn the two apple pies I whipped up five hours beforehand).

The last module has been all about Latin American Literature: poetry, essays, short stories and books that spearheaded literary movements and inspired generations of writers and artists. We’ll come home soon with sunburns, opened minds and a thirst for future adventures.

Joshua Lloyd is a junior Spanish and Interpersonal Communication major spending this fall studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. Through SOL, he is studying Latin American culture and civilization.