Monday, December 2, 2019

What aids me through these tough times are the friendships

First-year Honors College students at Knoebel’s Amusement Park

As midterms arise and fall weather settled in, students acclimated toward college life. For myself, attending only three classes a week (each being three hours long), was not as unusual as my cohort feared it to be originally.

Although one may think, “How can you possibly tolerate being in class for that long?!”

I assure you that we as a team have been transforming together to ease into this new way of life. Mainly, most of our classes are discussion based which allows time to flow by more quickly without including heavy lecture. On the other hand, each week we have multiple assignments due for each class; notably, where I am still struggling on how to figure out the perfect arrangement of time management between a 20-hour graduate assistantship position in the Honors College, class, homework, and social activities.

First-year College Student Affairs cohort at CSA orientation
Yet, what aids me through these tough times are the friendships that I have built within my graduate program. Many of my peers, including myself, lean on one another for support and guidance on how they personally handle their work and as a means to handle our own stress.

Consequently, in all of our classes we have group projects which allow us to work with our peers and gain new insights on topics that we way not have known anything about. However, finding time to meet with our groups is not always the easiest thing to do, since every person has their own GA, class, homework schedule, and some students have another job, a family, or commute to campus.

While there are some days that have been completely stressful, there are more that remind me of how much I love being at Bloomsburg and in the College Student Affairs program. For example, with my assistantship, we took 100 students to New York to visit Ellis Island, and the 9/11 Museum. We frequently take them to Hazelton to volunteer with the young students there for educational services we can provide. Working with my students and supervisors has brought me such joy in a short amount of time that I cannot wait to see what is to come.

Until next time,

— Jen Cole, #ProfessionalU #SAPro

Cole is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Miscommunication and roommates … a bad mix

Communication. It’s an easy concept, but not everyone does it right.

Communicating effectively with people is a difficult thing to do, yet we do it everyday. I learned this my sophomore year through the mistakes I made. As a senior now, I'm still learning more about it; which is to be honest and open about what I want to say. To build and maintain relationships, it’s important to know how to communicate with people.

Sophomore year, my two roommates and I moved into our first apartment together. We all were so excited. The idea of having our own place with no rules to follow seemed like a dream. We couldn't wait to get out of our shared dorms and finally have a whole apartment right across from campus to ourselves with our own rooms, big kitchen and living room, and most importantly, our very own bathroom.

Over the summer, we constantly talked about what cute decorations we were bringing all the way from painted canvases to stylish throw pillows. We shared dinner ideas we were planning on making like cajun chicken Alfredo pasta, movies we wanted to watch for movie nights, mainly comedy of course, and many other fun activities we wanted to do all year.

A few weeks into the semester is when things started to get weird. One of my roommates and I noticed our food was slowly disappearing, and both of us weren’t eating each other’s food or even our own.

We soon realized it was our other roommate. My roommate and I were annoyed, because we were sharing but she had no snacks or anything in the pantry, so we just assumed she wasn't sharing, but she was still eating our food. To avoid having the awkward conversation of asking her to stop eating our food, we decided to go food shopping and just have her pay her half if she wanted to continue to eat the groceries we got. Well, she didn’t want to pay her half, so it worked out for us that she wouldn't eat our food again since she didn't pay for it.

It was a simple fix just by communicating with her that if she didn't have food herself to share with us, it wouldn't be fair to eat ours. Instead, we had to figure out a whole plan so we would avoid that awkward conversation. I wish I would've known that communicating effectively of course can be awkward, but it can be important for getting the message across.

From this experience, I’ve grown as a person and learned to just be open and honest when communicating with others more importantly, with my friends. Living with other people besides your family is difficult, especially when it’s the first time. You never wanna be “that person” who complains about the dishes, or having to clean, or your food going missing. But when it comes down to it, the only way to solve those problems is to communicate effectively.

Sophomore year was a learning experience for me. I learned instead of being afraid of awkward conversations, to just let someone know if they’re doing something that’s not fair to me, because they might not even know they’re doing it in the first place. This creates an understanding of one another. Effective communication.

If you’re moving into an apartment next year with roommates, definitely have those awkward conversations about how you want to live together and how you’re expecting the year to go. Just so there’s a full understanding of what is expected of each other.

I wish my then roommates and I could've talked about this kind of stuff before dealing with it then and there, and ending up losing friendships because of it. Miscommunication is what ruins friendships, when it's so easy to just sit down and try to understand each other’s feelings. Looking back, I wish the situation was handled better. It set the tone for how the rest of the year was going to go since we didn’t feel comfortable or know how to communicate effectively.

Since then, I’ve been able to learn from this experience of miscommunication by being honest and understanding of other’s thoughts in an effort to prevent situations like this one in the future.

— Samantha Bergan, senior mass communications major and English minor

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Spectacular views and a few tears

We’re getting close to midterms here. And since my last blog, I’ve had the most fun and rich learning experiences in my life. It’s been over a month since my landing, and I can truly say I’m coming back to BU a little different. Three typhoons have passed by Korea — the rainy weather reminded me of Bloomsburg, so I haven't been homesick πŸ˜‚ … but the typhoons haven't stopped me from experiencing Korea.

I’m part of a travel club, and we traveled to Jeonju in late September. We stayed in a traditional Korean house, in a Hanok Village with houses dating back to 600 years ago. It was a humbling experience to sleep in such a historic house and town.

My club dressed in traditional Korean clothing called hanbok and walked around the town. I felt like a princess, and it was so fun — all of the guys dressed up as girls. After returning to the university the following week, I fully grasped how to read in Korean. I’m still a bit slow at it, but I’m proud of my progress. I think being in a setting where I don’t fully understand what people are saying has made me become a better listener.

Back in the states, I was told by my friends I spoke too much about myself and that was something I wanted to work at to become a better person. My experience here has given me just that. I have to listen more closely to other people to find a few words that I know in Korean. Also, because I want to get to know my fellow Korean classmates more, I ask them more about their life and minimize my talking about myself. This personal growth is going to allow me to be a better physician assistant for my patients.

The day before heading to Jeonju we took a trip to the Independence Hall and the Gakwonsa Temple. The Independence Hall ignited my love for history. I knew so little of the colonization of Japan and of the atrocities they committed to the Korean people, I felt ignorant, but I’m glad I became more informed. Following the museum, we headed to the Gakwonsa Temple where I vowed to the Buddha three times and felt an immense sense of peacefulness. My trip made me realize I love culture and history. I’ve always been interested in museums but did not think it was love but rather an interest. My experience is making me consider pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology after I establish my career as a physician assistant. The world has so much to offer for me to just stop learning after graduate school. And so my conquest on expanding my knowledge continues.

Just last week, I visited the majestic and beautiful Jeju Island along with my Korean roommate. I got the opportunity to eat dinner with a ν• λ¨Έλ‹ˆ, an elder Korean grandmother my roommate knew, and truly experience the seafood cuisine Jeju offered. The views were so spectacular, I shed a few tears.

Part of Jeju Island still is Udo — a smaller island only 10 minutes by boat from Jeju to reach. When there I went to a lighthouse, it took forever to get up there and the day was super windy too. Fighting through the wind and exhaustion, we made it. I saw the whole island of Udo from that standpoint. That is something I never in my life thought I would be able to see. The view from the lighthouse made me realize why I want to become a physician assistant. I wasn’t completely sure of my career path before this experience, but now I am. I want to become a physician assistant to give people health and the opportunity for them to see what I saw that day.

The natural beauty of nature and the peacefulness of the sea was soothing, made me forget I was even studying abroad. We’re always bombarded by social media and are in a rush to do things because of our busy schedules. But what I’ve realized is that it’s okay to disconnect from that world and go into another. Life is really short and it’s hard to do everything you want to do, but if you just value yourself a little more, you’ll know a little time.

PS: Update on my chopstick skills: An elderly Korean woman complimented me on my chopstick skills. Remember I was a beginner? A Korean told me I'm good — so I'm basically a pro now 😎

— Liz Hernandez, a health sciences and sociology dual major, is studying abroad this fall in South Korea at Korea University in Sejong, studying such topics as North Korean socio-culture and human rights, as well immersing herself in the Korean culture such as experiencing Chuseok and learning to cook japchae.

#HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU #BloomOnward #HuskyUnleashed #BloomUpward

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Well, hello there college ... nice to meet you!

Picture this: you’re in the backseat of your parent’s car on the way to move in to college.

Your heart is beating fast.

You have butterflies in your stomach.

You can’t help but be excited, yet nervous at the same time. You’re mere hours away from officially being a college student ... away from your parents ... and living on your own for the first time ever! You think you’re 100% prepared for this new life. You've read online all of the recommended freshman in college do’s and don’ts. But alas, this was a whole new world. An entirely new script. A new lifestyle ... my new chapter.

This was me three years ago. I was that typical nervous freshman not knowing what to expect my first year at Bloomsburg. I just knew I was excited for this next chapter to begin.

I'll never forget the empty feeling of hugging my parents’ goodbye with my voice cracking and eyes filled up with tears after finishing unpacking my dorm. I've never felt anything like it before. It was a mix of sadness and excitement all at once. I had no idea what I was going to do without them. I stood in the parking lot watching them drive away just wondering what I was supposed to do next. Besides my roommate, I was all alone on a campus of almost 10,000 students. I felt like an outsider.

Flash forward a few days and it’s my initial “first day of classes” in college. Unlike high school, I walk into a room full of strangers. It was nothing like my hometown. I pretty much knew, or have heard of, most of the people in my town. And everyone knew everyone’s business. Here I was, in a town full of people I had never met and without my parents, for the first time.

My shyness was definitely triggered. I knew I was there for my education and to pay attention to the professor, instead of being so nervous. I had no idea what to expect from college classes. The thought of not having my mom around to help me with any of my homework, like math, gave me a knot in the pit of my stomach. And just thinking about not being able to come home from a rough day and not having my dad there to make me laugh made it even worse!

My biggest fear was I was going to fail out, that I wouldn’t be able to handle and equally balance a social life and school work. I heard so many stories of people just not going to class and partying all day and night, not having a care in the world. I made sure I paid attention and went to every class and asked for help if I ever needed it. I was motivated to do well in college and to not let any hard classes get me down.

Going into college no one really ever tells you about the important little things you learn day to day. My time in college so far has taught me a lot of things. Things like communication, leadership, and time management. My first year of college taught me something that has helped me throughout these years which is how to be independent.

I had to live without my parents for the first time and learn to do things on my own. I took care of myself when I got sick, fed myself, forced myself to go to classes, and learned how to become my own person.

Those college do’s and don’ts definitely didn’t prepare me. In college, you don’t have your parents on your back telling you to get your homework done or reminding you of things going on. It's solely all on you to be in charge of your life and to make sure to get your work done.

I'm glad I was able to balance how to have fun and taking my education seriously. Surprisingly, first semester freshman year was one of the best semesters academically I've had. Learning how to be independent by being on my own for the first time and what steps I have to take to succeed is what kept me focus and still does to this day.

Looking back, I'm proud of myself on how I got throughout the “toughness” of the first year of college. Bloomsburg taught me independence my freshman year of college by allowing me to learn more about myself. I’d say that’s a pretty big achievement for a freshman.

— Samantha Bergan, senior mass communications major and English minor #BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Monday, September 16, 2019

Working to find my next 'good life'

Honors mentors and mentees at Knoebels having a scream off on the Pirate Ship (Galleon)

Packing, moving and saying goodbye are three recurring themes in a college student’s life. Yet, what the world does not tell you is that some things, like packing an overnight bag, start to become second nature when traveling to friends’ houses or to and from home.

Settling in to the PA climate with some new gear
Along with, your “home away from home” becoming the place where you build your greatest memories, life, and friends. Even after years of the “good life” when college graduation rolls around, how could you possibly be ready to move on and start somewhere fresh when one still has more of the “good life” left to live? After all, college does not typically become boring or repetitive.

In the end, one must acknowledge that every journey does have a stopping point as another has a beginning. And this is mine. Hello Bloomsburg, I am Jen, a recent graduate of Radford University in Virginia, a native of Maryland, and now a new graduate student in the College Student Affairs program, working to find my next “good life.” Join me every month as I discover what it is like to be a Husky and engage in adventures of learning how to be a graduate student and graduate assistant to the newly formed Honors College.

Orientation and Welcome week flew by and I developed a plethora of fresh memories, extra friends, and memorable moments! In Honors, we participated in team building activities (with pasta and marshmallows of course), tours of campus and downtown, took a trip to Knoebels, and created a Goose Chase for our mentees to remember building locations.

This packed-full week opened my eyes to the numerous bonds, growth, and spirit that the Honors College is going to bring to the students through the staff, mentors, and me. I simply cannot wait to continue being a part of everyone’s miraculous journey here at BU.

— Jen Cole, #ProfessionalU #SAPro

Cole is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.