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