Monday, June 27, 2016

17 days in Beijing

The biggest event we’ve had so far is the overnight trip to the Great Wall last weekend.

It was a two-day short trip that included lots of hiking. We drove about two hours out of Beijing and started our first hike right away. We went to a part of the Wall where not too many tourists go to, so that we could enjoy it without being overcrowded.

It was about a 30-minute hike up the very steep stairs. I did not expect to be as difficult as it was, but everybody in our group made it up to the Wall. Seeing the mountains surround the Great Wall was one of the most beautiful scenic spots I have ever experienced. After we came down, we had taxis take us to a small village near the Great Wall for a homestay. We stayed with a very nice Chinese family that often hosts groups of tourists. Right at their backyard we could see the Great Wall and enjoy the sunset. That night our group stayed up pretty late and we just joked around all night.

The room that we slept in was just a one big bed. Boys and girls each got their own room. Next day at 4 a.m. we started our second big hike. The grandfather of the Chinese family lead our group because it was on a mountain beside the Great Wall. Once we got to the top of the mountain we sat down and watched the sunrise. I’ve never been much of an outdoor person, but after these hikes I want to start hiking more.

Another historical trip that we have had last week is a trip to Temple of Heaven. Temple of Heaven is located near the Tiananmen Square and is a popular place for school field trips and Chinese and foreign tourists. Our history professor told us that the Temple of Heaven was a very important spiritual place for the emperors of every dynasty and if the emperor did not perform the rituals at the Temple of Heaven he was looked down upon. Each dynasty had their own rituals, but the Emperors always prayed for a good harvest or for a victory in a war. If there was a famine, Chinese usually thought of it as if the gods were upset with the Emperor.

Yesterday we went to one of the famous hutongs a Beijing. Hutongs are streets surrounded by houses. They are popular for their markets and museums. Right now more and more authentic Chinese businesses are bought out by big franchises such as Starbucks and KFC.

Back in the day most of the officials lived in hutongs. Each profession and rank had their own type of entry gate and if an official was demoted, he would be required to change his gate. Since hutongs did not have a plumbing system, there would always be one or two saunas located in each hutong. These saunas were mostly used for gathering purposes where groups of men and women would play cards, gamble or drink. In the 60s and 70s hutong saunas were especially popular. As more and more businesses started to develop around hutongs, some of the saunas were not able to keep up paying high rents, so eventually they would run out of business. That usually affected the whole hutong because communities would lose a place to gather and their way of life would change.

In the first few weeks of my shopping experience in China, I have also learned that in most places you need to bargain for a good price. Last weekend my roommate She and I went to the Pearl Market. That market is famous for a variety of souvenirs and other goods. Especially for foreigners the starting prices are pretty expensive.

Usually I go 60 to 80 percent down the original price. At first the sellers try to convince you that they can’t lower the price, but a few minutes into it they give you the price that you are happy with. I think this is the only time when I feel confident talking to the sellers.

Usually when I go to a store I try my best to find everything myself so that I wouldn’t have to speak Chinese to people that I don’t know. Sometimes when I walk around Beijing I have no idea what I am reading on a billboard or what someone is saying to me and there are other times when I perfectly understand everything or at least 80 percent and it honestly makes my whole day. A few days ago I went to a train station to buy a ticket to go to Dalian to visit a friend. In U.S. or in Russia it wouldn’t be a big deal for me, but in China it was. It made me so happy that I had enough vocabulary to buy it for the right date and time and even get a ticket back to Beijing.

Yesterday me and another student decided to go running. The track and basketball courts are located within a two-minute walk from our dorm so we had no excuses not to go running. A wide variety of groups gather around track every day. There are many women that dance together to Chinese folk music, guys and girls my age who ride bikes and skateboards, children who play basketball or soccer, families spending time together playing badminton. In contrast to American campuses, we were a little surprised to see so many people that are not BFSU students involved on campus.

Next weekend I will be traveling to Dalian, which is north-east of Beijing by myself. If I survive this trip, you can read about my experience in Dalian in the next blog :)

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Working in a career I love so passionately

A lot has happened over the course of the past two weeks! Lycoming College had three June Orientation sessions (June 6, 13, and 17). Each orientation day was about a 12-hour work day and was very busy!

For years previous, Lyco’s Orientation was a two-day event with information and fun activities for students who all stayed overnight in the residence halls . This year was the first time for a one-day Orientation program. With that, of course there was a lot of preparation work!

Each day leading up to the first of the three sessions, there were multiple meetings with different campus offices, many edits made to paperwork, new handouts being made, and more, all to ensure that the new program was well coordinated and met student and family needs. My supervisor, his assistant, his student worker, and I worked constantly on multiple projects and triple checked our work for any errors.

After each Orientation session, we had a debriefing meeting with the 22 student orientation staff (SOS) members and the professional staff involved in Orientation to hear about what went well and what could be improved upon. There was a one week time period between the first orientation session and the second and I would say that week was the busiest, most hectic, and most stressful. There were a lot of changes to be done in a short amount of time, while also juggling a variety of other projects. But we all got through it!

My supervisor, Andrew Kilpatrick, has been phenomenal at giving me learning opportunities! During the third Orientation session, Andrew allowed me to come up on stage with him to co-present a parent session. The topic was how to coach their students to move from dependent individuals to interdependent college students.

He asked me questions on the spot that I got to answer and explain the resources Lycoming has to offer. When I first heard I was going to be thinking on my feet on stage to an audience of about 150 parents, I was a bit terrified, but it wasn’t bad at all! I actually surprised myself with how confidently I spoke and with such ease. I had many parents address me throughout the day with questions and many told me I was a huge help to them.

In addition to office preparation and Orientation days, I was also working alongside a Residence Life Coordinator. I assisted her with the SOS training, picked up food, and led the SOS in fun team-building activities/games. Getting to know the SOS members has been my favorite part of this internship!

They are truly great students with powerful leadership skills. They always had high energy and welcomed me with open arms. A few times they told me they see me as more than just an intern, but rather a great supervisor and close friend. Hearing those comments from SOS and parents warms my heart as I am just so happy that I am finally working in a career that I love so passionately.

Now that all three Orientation sessions are over, I am happy to finally be able to catch up on sleep! Ha! I will have the next two and a half weeks off until the second part of my internship starts, which is LycoPrep. I will be moving on campus July 6 and living there for three weeks as a supervisor to high school juniors who are engaging with the LycoPrep program.

I am looking forward to new experiences with Lycoming College. So far Lyco staff has been fantastic! I have purchased Lycoming College gear and wear it proudly.

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Monday, June 13, 2016

First impressions of China

It’s been a week since I’ve arrived to China. Life here is quite different, but I really like it.

I am staying at an international student dorm with a Chinese roommate. Ever since the first day, we have bonded and she helps me adjust to my classes and to life at Bei Wai (a short name for my university).

On the second day after arrival the summer IES students had to take a placement test. Surprisingly to me, I did better than I expected and was placed in a 300 level. Four days a week we have classes for three hours a day.

Compared to my Chinese classes at BU, classes here are really hard. My Chinese classes are only in Chinese, and we took a language pledge where we can only speak Chinese to other students and roommates.

Every day we have a listening quiz where we have to write all the new words we have learned in the previous day.

We learn 30 to 40 new words and we have to memorize how to write the characters for these words too.

My university has two big cafeterias. It costs me 50 cents to a dollar to eat there. Outside of the university there are little restaurants on every corner that are also really cheap. If we have to spend $5 or more on a meal, it is considered pricy here.

Every day after classes, the program has something planned for us. A few days ago we traveled to the Olympic village and looked at the Bird Nest and the Water Cube.

Just yesterday our history professor took us on a trip to the Tiannamen square and told us about the different stages of the palace during each dynasty’s rule. I cannot wait for many more trips that we will have with IES to other historic places.

— Anastasia Timofeeva, junior engineering and Chinese major #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Timofeeva is studying abroad at the Beijing Foreign Studies University this summer, courtesy of several scholarships earned this past year. She received a Professional Experience grant from Professional U, a grant designed for students seeking to get involved in their career path or learn more about the world. Timofeeva also received an International Faculty Association scholarship dedicated to students with interest in fostering globalism and internationalism. Moreover, she received College of Liberal Arts study abroad scholarship and a scholarship for good academic standing from the university.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

And so it begins with orientation

Hi there! As a young girl I always enjoyed writing in my diary so I am super excited to be blogging this summer for an inside view of my internship (field experience) at Lycoming College!

A little bit about Lycoming College (aka “Lycoming” or “Lyco”): Lycoming College is located in my hometown of Williamsport, PA (So I am excited I get to live at home this summer!) Lyco is a private, four-year, liberal arts college with an estimated 1,400 students. The mission “is to provide a distinguished baccalaureate education in the liberal arts and sciences within a coeducational, supportive, residential setting.”

Being a residential campus means that more than 90 percent of students live on campus in one of nine residence halls. You may find out that, at some institutions, it is difficult for students to receive financial aid. One factor that makes Lycoming so phenomenally different, especially as a private institution, is that 100 percent of their students receive scholarships or financial aid! What a great commitment to student attendance!

Lycoming College’s mascot is the Warriors and their school colors are Blue and Yellow. A large proportion of students are involved in athletics (one third of the men and a quarter of the women). As an NCAA Division III institution, these students are considered scholar-athletes. The football team, in particular, brings a lot of school spirit to the campus culture. Football games and other athletic competitions pull attention from the outside community to attend games and support student athletes.

What I will be doing at Lyco

Orientation — For this portion, I will be living at home and commuting to campus for work. There are three different orientation days scheduled during over a three week period.

I will be communicating heavily with residence life staff to schedule student orientation leaders’ duties throughout these days. I will also help plan the orientation breakout sessions where each OL works with a small group of incoming first-year students to provide guidance and support. I will be working six days a week for these three weeks and then have a few weeks off between my next portion of my field experience!

LycoPrep — This second portion will again be about a three-week “all hands on deck” internship. For this portion, I will be living on campus and serving as a resident assistant for the high school students who are participating in LycoPrep. This program invites high school students to live on campus, attend non-credit college-level courses, and engage in field trips to venues in Williamsport and the surrounding area.

I am most excited for my work with LycoPrep, because I get to talk about college life to high school students and promote Lycoming College. I am especially interested in supporting students from under-represented populations in their quest for further education. Plus, I get to participate in all the awesome things they will be doing, like going kayaking and riding rides at Knoebels Grove Amusement Park! I am really looking forward to building relationships with these students and help them adjust to being away from home for three weeks.

So that is pretty much what I will be doing this summer at Lycoming College! I am so pumped! There will be a lot of planning, a lot of high-energy, a lot of people and it’s right up my alley! Can’t wait to see what is in store! I am excited you are following along :)

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

A summer of new people, new skills

My experience with the college student affairs program has involved a lot of change!

I have been so fortunate to be able to work in a department where I love being able to help students learn, grow, and develop. I am Chelsea Titus, a second-year graduate student in the CSA program. I completed my undergraduate degree in exercise science at Salisbury University in Maryland.

What a change coming from the eastern shore of Maryland to the Pennsylvania mountains! I found my way to Bloomsburg through applying for and securing a graduate hall director position.

 Last year, I supervised the Montgomery Place Apartments; this fall I will be moving to “lower campus” (literally, lower in altitude) supervising Schuylkill Hall.

Throughout the summer I will be working within the housing operations side of Bloomsburg’s residence life program, managing summer camps, conferences, and events. My main responsibility is to assure that all events run as smoothly as possible.

This includes signing in and checking out groups who use the facilities, intercepting and resolving building or room problems, as well as being on call (in case of emergencies!) on a rotating basis with other residence life staff. I work with two graduate assistants and, together, we are the "go-to" people who solve problems or help the groups that utilize campus spaces.

For example, I recently helped with Berwick High School's prom which was organized in the Kehr Union Building. I successfully aided in fixing lighting issues in the ballroom, worked with information technology staff sound preparation, and built a professional working relationship with BHS' advisers. Not only was it fun to reminisce my old high school days, I was able to talk to several high school seniors who will attend BU in the fall!

I am looking forward to a summer of meeting new people, learning new skills, and of course staying in touch with all of my CSA friends!

— Chelsea Titus, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hey Dad ... I got a job!

When I decided to apply for graduate programs the last thing on my mind were the feelings I would have upon completion.

Five semesters, hundreds (literally) of days spent in the library, and a handful of emotional breakdowns later, there I was. I stood in front of a filled auditorium with only one person in mind, my dad. My father is a simple man and having never attended college, he does not understand student affairs work. Knowing my dad has absolutely no personal experience with university lingo, imagine him trying to wrap his head around my explanations and descriptions of my classes, assistantships, and overall program.

He did, however, become very adamant to ask me weekly—when and if I would get a real job. A real job, to my dad, means a steady income, job security, and fringe benefits.

He could not fully grasp my daily work so I told him stories about being a first-year graduate assistant with the Living and Learning Communities (LLCs) throughout my first year of the program. I tried to tell him about the planning and facilitating I did and students I worked with each day.  Just when he began to understand, I, of course, switched it up.

I moved onto to my second graduate assistant position working specifically and intensely with the Compass Living and Learning Community, which is dedicated to helping undeclared students navigate their transition from high school to college. As the Compass GA, I was blessed to supervise six upperclass student mentors and 20 first-year students, facilitate trainings and activities, and research and assess the impact of LLCs on first year participants.

Then, just when he started to understand what in the world I was talking about, CURVE BALL: “Dad, I’m moving to Pittsburgh for an unpaid internship!”

I spent the spring of 2016 working with the fraternity and sorority life at the University of Pittsburgh while being supervised by a Bloomsburg faculty member for course-related learning.

Not only did this allow me to work at a different institution size and type but immersing myself in the culture of the city of Pittsburgh was an irreplaceable experience. Even though I know the impact of those three and a half months on my life, it seemed that still, all my dad could ask about was if or when I would find a real job.

So, while in Pittsburgh I took up the hobby of applying for real jobs. I call it a hobby because it took up a LOT of time, and when I say jobs I mean EVERY job.

After five months of applications and phone, Skype, and on campus interviews, I found my match at a small public university in South Carolina with a position in student activities and fraternity and sorority life! I was offered the position three days before graduation and thought, what better way to tell my dad I finally got a real job than at graduation!

In the two years spent in the College Student Affairs program at Bloomsburg University, it was not until I was about to walk onto the auditorium stage that the full understanding of what was about to happen really enter my mind. I was not only a first generation college student and the first person in my home community earn a master’s degree, but I was also about to tell my friends and family, my dad included, life changing news!

The feelings of accomplishment and pride overcame me! So I walked out onto the stage with my head held very high, because in that moment I was finally able to show my dad exactly what he had wanted to know throughout my entire graduate school experience. Now dad, I now have a real job!

I am still pretty positive that he does not fully understand what college student affairs is, what I have done in the last two years, or even what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life, but he can rest assured knowing I am employed! I will be starting this adventure mid-June and cannot wait to share with you, and my dad, my experiences of being a new professional and how impactful the CSA program will be during the beginning my first real job.

— Jill Franklin, M.Ed., college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU