Thursday, June 27, 2019

When opportunity knocks, I answer!

Just one week after walking across the graduation stage, I found myself on a plane to Southern California with a group of 10 students and three professors from the Environmental, Geographical and Geological Sciences (EGGS) department.

My task was to follow them as a photographer and journalist for their 13-day field study through the coast, mountains and deserts of California. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Every college student seems to have this notion of wanting to travel the world — either to study abroad, for their career, or enjoyment after they retire. I believe it's become a part of our "fear of missing out." However, my career path of journalism has allowed me to truly be able to travel anywhere for my job and when opportunity knocks, I answer!

I learned quite a bit about geology while on the EGGS 330 trip, however I didn’t exactly have the background knowledge to put it into words until I spent some time with the professors and students. There were plenty of analogies made that had nothing to do with geology in order for me to understand the topics, but after a few days I started to pick up the geology jargon.
Other than the geology class part of the trip, camping was our largest challenge in EGGS 330. We stayed in a variety of campgrounds, and the weather was not exactly characteristic of Southern California. It rained the first five nights straight and it was cooler than usual, which turned out to be a challenge for all of us. After all, we packed for the desert.

Some people on the trip had never camped before, and most of us had never camped for more than a long weekend. Setting up tents and sleeping in sleeping bags with the bathrooms and showers more than a football field away at some campgrounds was very foreign to us. The amount of adaptation we had to undergo as a group was incredible.

We began on the coast at San Mateo campground, then made our way into the mountains at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park where we were supposed to stay for two nights. Then the storm hit. We only stayed for one night because of the plunging temperatures and horizontal rain (not kidding) and made our way into the Anza-Borrego desert, where it also rained.

However, most everyone on the trip can agree that Anza-Borrego was our favorite campground, and where we all got the best sleep. We also saw a rainbow in the desert, which isn’t something you see every day!

Joshua Tree National Park was next. With no cell reception or electricity, it made for great conversation and a beautiful view of the stars.

However, there were also no showers in Joshua Tree, or at Cottonwood Campground, which was our final campsite. For five days, none of us showered. Remember that adaptability I was talking about? This was one of those times. Baby wipes and spigot showers is all I have to say about that.

Overall, EGGS 330 is an incredible experience for anyone thinking of geology as a career path. Or in my case, photojournalism! It taught all 14 of us how to adapt to our situations and surroundings, it taught students how to work in the field and take good field notes, and it taught me how to document it all in a way that non-majors can understand what was going on.

I want to personally thank Dr. Cynthia Venn, Dr. Jennifer Whisner, and Dr. John Hintz for having me along on the trip, as well as all the students who put up with me taking their photos and asking them geology questions nonstop. It was an amazing trip, and I hope it will continue to be a class for years to come.

— Dallas Kriebel '19, mass communications graduate, shadowed ... #EGGS #HuskyUnleashed #HuskySummer

Time flies by when you're having fun

It certainly does! Working at Winthrop University as an intern through the National Orientation Directors Association has been an incredible experience so far. It's been an amazing time working in a different part of the country.

I would not have been able to explore South Carolina — and a very different type of university — if it wasn't for the NODA Internship Program. The undergraduate orientation leaders are different from students in the Northeast but remain inspirational and devoted to their work with students and families.

Working at such a different institution with a more diverse student population has demonstrated to me the true meaning of having an inclusive campus. My responsibility with New Student Orientation at Winthrop includes working with the families and guardians.

At first, I was nervous to take on this important role because, as my supervisor told me the first day, "This is your show!" This was a big responsibility and a little intimidating.

Having spoken to over 500 family members and guardians in a short period of time allowed me to learn about the different roles that families play in their students’ lives. I look forward to the next part of my internship which will be putting my assessment knowledge to use!

— Molly Payne, #ProfessionalU #SAPro

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

Monday, May 6, 2019

And just like that it’s over

Maybe for many college is just college. To them it’s simple. You attend classes, make friends, identify a career path and graduate. Then you move on to your adult life. That’s the plan, simple and sweet.

But to me, college ended up being so much more. Bloomsburg University was a gift.

I can honestly say this place has shaped me into a person I’m very proud of. I have direction. I have confidence. I have appreciation, and I now have perspective. I owe Bloomsburg a huge thank you for that. Thank you Bloomsburg for giving me my people. People who became friends. Friends who became my family.

I learned that when surrounding yourself with the right people you will only end up with positive, contagious energy. That’s how I know found the right group.

Not just any people, but the best people. No one can say they are leaving with a group of people like I am. Not only did you give me these people, but I’m lucky enough to be leaving with them. They’re my people.

Thank you Bloomsburg for helping me to grow and clearly see what matters. You revealed so much to me, shedding light on who the real people are in my life.

This four-year journey, a road traveled with many ups and downs has led me to this end where I see those who’ve kept pace. These are the people you want in your life. I’ve finally learned to let go, and thank you Bloomsburg for that lesson. It suits me well.

Here I am in my last days in Bloomsburg, and I can’t help but think if I didn’t go this school, without these people would I be the same person?

It’s easy to miss people, miss a place, but I am going to miss this time in my life. I never realized when people say this is the best four years of your life... but dang they were right.

It's the end of an era, and it feels like the worst break up in my life. I had so many firsts here. I vividly remember my first drive here, and now I must face my last drive home.

I don’t want to say the word home, because this is my home... or was my home. I'm so lucky I have a place in my life to be so difficult to leave.

And just like that it’s over. I wish I would've told myself freshman year, don’t blink.

— Annie Pitts, senior communication studies major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou #HuskyLife

Monday, April 29, 2019

I say the Bloom Us, because it's a different us

Well, here we are. I waited until the end to write my goodbye to you, because I knew it would be the hardest.

It wasn’t the dorms that brought us together, or a class, or a club; it was solely because we were meant to be best friends. I've never met someone so much like me, yet so different.

I love the way I can smirk at you, and you know exactly what I’m thinking. Sometimes our telepathy scares me. We basically have our own language, because no one understands us when we talk. I never am not laughing with you. Usually laugh at ourselves and the unfortunate events in our lives but at least I know I have someone to laugh with me.

Though we have spent every waking minute together, you would think we would get sick of each other, but we never have. Guess that’s when you know when you’ve become best friends.

I’m going to miss you the most. Not like missing you because I'll never see you or talk to you again, but I'm going to miss this. Here ... us, the Bloom Us.

I say the Bloom Us, because it's a different us. The Bloom Us is by each other's side everyday. We’re together so much. We know our schedules. After graduation we won’t be able to walk four houses down to each other. Clearly, leaving this place our relationship won’t change, but the Bloomsburg relationship is coming to an end. That’s what I'm sad to say goodbye to.

Closing this chapter has made me realize the special place this place has in my heart. I know this is the place where we had the most cherished memories together. It's where we grew together and became best friends.

We grew in so many ways. We matured. We shared hardships. I’m glad we did. Through it all we now can recognize what's real.

Though throughout these four years we had different paths, we still had the same intersection. I promise that wont change. Not only did we grow together, but we found our people together. Our crew. Thank you to my Bloomsburg Crew, for the best four years I could have asked for.

Haley, Jul, Amy, Taylor Brooke, and Rachel: People like you guys have changed my outlook on life when I found you all as my people. I never had such good vibes. Not many can say we had an entire group of people who stuck with each other for the whole four years.

These laughs will forever stay the same. Just now, there will be a little more distance in between them.

— Annie Pitts, senior communication studies major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou #HuskyLife

Monday, April 8, 2019

The boys across the hall

Let’s be honest, you weren’t my favorite people in the world. But look at us now, one of my hardest goodbyes.

I didn’t believe that being somewhere at the exact moment in time mattered for certain things to happen, but I was wrong. It does.

Without Bloomsburg University assigning me to Elwell Hall - ground floor - dorm G29. I would’ve never met not only my first Bloom friends but my best friends.

It’s weird to think the very first people I met on move-in day would be in my life for the next four years. You two were my brothers away from home. I had you for the laughs and for the venting, both essential things for me surviving freshmen year … actually these four years.

You can definitely say I was never bored with you guys. Always trying to get under our CA skin, and constantly trying to cause some kind of ruckus in the hallway. Even if I was laughing, after four years, you’re still not funny. Well, Jimmy I guess you’re a little funny.

Living one foot away from each other was not easy trust me. Besides hearing the constant sound of knocking on my door, every day, I would wake up to either music blasting through the hallway and fall asleep your obnoxiously loud voices fighting over FIFA.

Little disclosure, I used to try and sneak in my dorm without you guys knowing I was there so I could be alone for five minutes max. Soon, I’m going to wish for those knocks.

Every time I see you Jimmy, there’s that goofy smile. Instant good mood. I could always count on that, and soon I’ll be needing one with no Jimmy in sight.

And Jack, you’ve always been there … literally. I would’ve told you how much I appreciate you, but I didn’t want to give you too much confidence. Knowing you … I wouldn’t hear the last of it.

I can’t picture my life without you two. I consider myself the luckiest freshman being placed in that dorm. I'm even now the luckiest senior knowing that our friendship won’t just stop after college.

Thank you, Bloomsburg. Thank you for giving me Jimmy and Jack ... "The boys across the hall."

— Annie Pitts, senior communication studies major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou #HuskyLife

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

So not ready for this

These goodbyes are not going to be easy. I figured they wouldn’t, but it doesn’t help … and I haven’t even gotten to them yet. Dang ... Liz, I’m going to miss you.

You are the funniest, most caring and beautiful person I know. Your contagious good energy gave me a new aspect on life. I’ve learned how to not care and just let things go. Thank you. There aren’t enough people like you in this world, Liz.

My 1,000-picture photo album of you is one of my most prized possessions and making your Tri Sigma scrapbook will be one of the greatest, yet hardest tasks of my life. Capturing your best moments at Bloomsburg University these past three years has been awesome, mainly because I got to share them with you and knowing you’ll have these memories forever.

I’ve put a lot of pressure on this scrapbook, which circles from Bids Night to the Phillies game and around all of those random candids, because I want you to remember not only how much BU has loved you but how much I have too. I may have taken the Big role a little too serious, but you were my first little sister. I’m sorry … but worth it, right?

I remember Po and I instantly clicking with you, and knew you were a combination of each of us. Little did I know you would go on to have such an impact on my life.

Without joining Tri Sigma, I wouldn't have met you and gained this type of relationship. Without joining Tri Sigma, I would’ve never met all these amazing sisters who each have helped me grow into the person I am.

Thank you, Bloomsburg University. Thank you for giving me Tri Sigma and my Little … Liz.

It’s different saying goodbye to all my friends, because we’re all leaving this spring and have to figure out our next step together. Liz, you’re different.

You’re different because I’m leaving you behind. I have to watch you enjoy your last year over social media instead of living it alongside you. I have to hear about your life over the phone, instead of walking three feet down Lightstreet.

Planning to talk to you over the phone is just an early reminder how far apart we will be. I’ll miss being able to claim you as my little person, but I’m excited for you. Trust me, I am.

It’s one more year for you, so do everything you love most about this place. I have two months left, so I know how fast it goes. Being tired or stressed out doesn’t last, but the memories with your best friends do.

— Annie Pitts, senior communication studies major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou #HuskyLife

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

One last drive back

I’ve pictured my final days of college my whole life, and it’s finally here. I still can’t believe it.

It hit me on the drive back to Bloomsburg from my home in West Chester. I used to hate the thought of driving two hours in a car, but in the course of my four years it was something I grew to love. It's two hours alone of reflection for me to think and listen to my favorite country songs on the loudest volume.

However, this last drive back to Bloomsburg was not one I was looking forward to.

It was the last “back to school” car ride, and I was fully aware of that. I felt as if I was doing more thinking then belting out to my music. I knew what this drive meant. It meant my last drive to this town. It meant that everything I was about to be doing the minute I entered the town was my last. I admit, it’s a bit strange to now be saying, “My last ..." It seems like yesterday I was just saying, “My first ...”

My first semester, my first class, my first college friend, etc. Thankful for all “my firsts,” because I fell in love with this school in a way I never expected to, just wishing for the summer to end so I would be able to come back.

Without all these firsts, I would have never been the person who I am today. That first week of that first semester started a new beginning of a new me. Even after four years, you're never quite sure what a semester will bring you. It’s funny how each semester has a different feeling to it. The seasons are completely different and the mood of each changes.

The obvious difference of the days being shorter in the winter, a positive vibe emerges when the sign of snow is melting and warmth is coming. Having the constant reminder this being the “season finale,” seniors want to get in as much fun as possible.

Roughly two weeks into my last — ah, there it is — "my last ... semester" I can see my senioritis kicking in. I just want to be able to savor every moment I have before I no longer can. 

How can I focus on school when trying to get a job? How can I focus when I have limited time with these people ... my Bloom people?

You never realize how much you change over four years. It’s not a drastic type of change but it’s a type of growth that hits you on your senior year. A growth that allows you to look back on your three years and think “she was so young, so naïve.”

It’s a growth that allows you to see the people who are there for you and those who are not. It’s a growth that allows you to see the skills you have when taking on the real world, and the growth you have to look back and thank this place for giving me the memories I'll have forever.

— Annie Pitts, senior communication studies major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou #HuskyLife

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Chernobyl Tour

When we awakened after our first night in Kiev, it was dark. The tour begins at 8 o’clock, breakfast is served at 7, so naturally, we awakened at 6. After chowing down on some wonderful hotel-given food (and coffee… so much coffee), we boarded the bus headed toward the most damaging nuclear accident in history: Chernobyl.

Our extremely helpful tour guides, Tania and Anastasia, presented to us a brief safety talk, as well as some history of the site.

One of our first stops was to the abandoned kindergarten in the exclusion zone: Kopachi Kindergarten. The inside of the building is eerie. It was so clearly lived in, only to be totally abandoned. Dolls are left out of place, some half-buried in the dirt in the front garden; some pensively looking through the dirt-covered window. Posters teaching the Cyrillic alphabet falling off the wall; open books teaching basic grammar like a Soviet Jack and Jane.

After a wonderful lunch consisting of potato soup and roasted chicken, we delved further into the exclusion zone. It is important to note that the radiation endured through the tour was only marginally above the background radiation experienced just through everyday life. There are, however, hotspots scattered throughout that our guides pointed out and led us through unscathed. The highest amount of radiation we encountered was in Pripyat, the abandoned town close by, which will be discussed a little later. The tour led us 200 meters away from the reactor, well within what 30 years ago would be deadly to stand in for as long as we did, but the cleaning crews following the meltdown has reduced the radiation in the area back to safe levels.

Below is a picture of me standing that 200 meters away, the reactor itself is covered by an absolutely massive complex that is the largest moveable structure in the world. The reason for its mobility was for the safety of the crew who constructed it; the length of time it took to build would have dosed the workers with lethal doses of radiation relatively quickly, which doesn’t look good in reports. The Soviet Union or any following governmental institutions have avoided releasing any studies on the full casualties of the accident, but estimates place the victims at well over 10,000 people that later died of cancer and other complications due to high radiation intake.

After our visit to the reactor, we made our way to the abandoned city of Pripyat.

The Soviet leaders neglected to tell the inhabitants of this worker’s town for three days following the accident, and additionally led them to believe that the city would be inhabitable in the not too distant future. Alas, thirty years on and human life is still no fully sustainable in Pripyat, its abandoned buildings slowly falling apart from decades of neglect; an eerie reminder of the lives its inhabitants left behind.

The most famous attraction within Pripyat is the abandoned amusement park in the center of the city. Ironically, the park was never officially open, it was set to be unveiled five days after the accident. It’s rusted ferris wheel and carousel now lie rusted and totally unused, containing the most radioactive areas of the exclusion zone and the tour. The background radiation within the exclusion zone was approximately 0.3 µSv/hr. A piece of debris on the bottom of one of the carriages of the wheel measured in at over 500 µSv/hr.

As a physics major, I found the tour of Chernobyl quite enlightening. It shows that even the best of intentions and discoveries can be warped by power-hungry megalomaniacs. This accident has placed a stigma upon nuclear fission power plants as being unpredictable, but as long as the safety measures are all in place (the Soviet scientists had turned them off at the time of the accident), it is by far the cleanest form of energy we currently have. Unfortunately, the horrible result of this plant’s meltdown has permanently tainted the view of this form of power.

— Andrew Clickard, a freshman mathematics and physics dual major, is studying abroad this winter for four weeks in Eastern and Central Europe, taking trips to the Schindler's Factory, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Auschwitz Concentration Camp. #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Auschwitz Tour

I’m not exactly sure what I should say about Auschwitz. To read about the Holocaust is one thing; visiting a memorial is another. But standing in the place in which over a million people suffered and died… It’s difficult to put that feeling into words.

I suppose it is a sort of melancholy sonder. The realization that every single one of those 1.1 million was a life just as complex as my own, only to be snuffed out as if they were nothing. I don’t know. That is the best description I can think of right now.

I could not bring myself to take photos of the camp, it just felt wrong. And frankly, photos would not do it justice anyway. Being witness to a room filled with 40,000 pairs of shoes is incomparable to viewing an image of the same room. Seeing a literal ton of human hair, shaved off upon entry to the camp to be used in textiles, cannot be conveyed meaningfully in a photograph.

I think that this tour is the one that affected me the most of all. And that seems to be the consensus within the larger group as well. It was a very quiet bus-ride back home to Dom Profesorski, everyone felt the heaviness of the atmosphere at Auschwitz; the pain that racism from an authority figure can dole out; the result of bystanderdom and fear under oppression.

— Andrew Clickard, a freshman mathematics and physics dual major, is studying abroad this winter for four weeks in Eastern and Central Europe, taking trips to the Schindler's Factory, the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Auschwitz Concentration Camp. #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU