Friday, July 15, 2016

Traveling in China

Two weeks ago I traveled to Dalian to visit a friend. Felicia was a visiting scholar at Bloomsburg University last fall semester and when she found out I am in China she invited me to visit her. To get there I took a 6-hour high speed train. The train was very comfortable but a little too cold for me. During the summer in most of the places in China we pray for an air conditioner, but on that train I was freezing the whole time.

Once I arrived in Dalian Felicia and her husband were waiting for me at the exit. When we got to their apartment Felicia gave me a little care package with towels, pajamas, sleepers and even a toothbrush. The next day we drove all over Dalian to Felicia’s favorite places and took lots of pictures. She introduced me to her friend’s daughter, Shellmy.

During that weekend Shellmy and I became good friends and planned to travel to Qufu, hometown of Confucius, the last weekend of July. In Dalian we visited a place called Little Venice. There are multiple canals around the downtown of Dalian where anybody can go on a boat ride. Felicia also took me to meet her sister that lives right by the beach.

When we went to the beach, even though it was really hot, I didn’t see too many people tanning. Most of the women in China don’t like to tan. There is even a saying for women “bai fu mei” which means white, reach and beautiful and for men it’s “gao fu shuai”, tall, reach and handsome.

Dalian cuisine specializes in seafood. Just in two short days I tried a variety of fish dishes such as boiled muscles in a sea shell and pumpkin fried crabs. If I ever come to China again I will definitely visit Dalian.

Just last weekend our whole program traveled to Xian for four days. One of my favorite parts about the trip was a 13-hour overnight train ride. Since we came as a big group, it was really fun to just play card games and talk. After we arrived and settled at a hotel, our tour guide took us on a City Wall tour. The City Wall used to be used for protection against enemies, but now it’s an important historical monument of Xian. Then instead of walking the 9-mile City Wall we rented out bikes and rode around the whole City Wall.

It was really fun and mesmerizing but it was really exhausting to ride the bikes in near 100-degree heat. When we had free time, we went to a market street. There they sold all types of souvenirs and foods. Xian is famous for “rou jia mo” which is meat sandwich and for their noodles. There were people stretching super long noodles right outside of the restaurants to attract more customers.

The next day we went to see the terracotta warriors. The site is divided into 3 pits with over 10,000 warriors. The 1st pit has 6,500 warrior statues and is the biggest one out of the 3.

Each one of the warrior statue is different from the others because it was sculpted by a real terracotta warrior. Our next stop was the Giant Goose pagoda. Right next to it there are multiple Buddhist shrines which are open to the public. In the evening many people gather on the square in front of the Giant Goose pagoda for group activities.

Every park in China has activities mainly for retired people, such as dancing, card games, martial arts, etc. When we went to the square at night we were welcomed to dance the traditional Jiao Yi Wu dance with the locals. So far everywhere where I have traveled, the foreigners are always welcomed.

Right now I am a little sad because I only have two weeks left in China, but at least every single remaining day is planned so I will not waste a minute of my time here. This Saturday we will be taking the HSK 4 test, which is a standardized Chinese language knowledge test. I really hope that I can pass so that I can apply for internships in China. My last weekend in China I will spend traveling to Qufu with my friend Shellmy and my roommate. Ethan, one of the Chinese students in Bloomsburg, is also there for the summer and he will be able to show us around Qufu.

— 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.

Getting the experience!

For was long as I can remember, I have had trouble getting jobs due to lack of experience.

I cannot explain the level of upsetedness I feel when I see “3-5 years of experience” as a position requirement. I’ll find the perfect position at an amazing location. Then after I spend a good amount of time reading the description and envisioning my future life, there it is…3 years of experience required.

And my immediate response is “how do you expect me to GET experience if no one will hire me without having experience?!”

So when I was accepted into Bloomsburg’s College Student Affairs program I knew I needed to secure a graduate assistantship to gain an ample amount of experience in two brief years. I applied to every available opportunity, and was lucky enough to be offered a position with the Living and Learning Communities. Wanting a position in fraternity and sorority life (FSL) upon completion of my M.Ed., I was worried that I would have insufficient direct Greek Life experience (post undergrad) to get hired in the FSL area.

I carried this thinking around for a really long time. I started to volunteer with my national sorority by assisting chapters across the U.S. and, wherever possible, built my course assignments around Greek Life topics. However, I still did not feel like this was enough to remain relevant or marketable to prospective employers.

It wasn’t until my second year in the CSA program, while working with the Compass LLC, that I shared my worry with my supervisor, Jennifer Hunsinger. She advised me to research open FSL positions and find specific experiences that were desired. I made a list of responsibilities that I had not had experience in and areas that I thought I still needed to improve on. From that list, Jennifer and I CREATED the experiences that I needed to get my desired job!

Soon, I was on the university’s formal hearing board, facilitating classroom workshops, building programs, creating outcome assessments, writing reports, and so much more! Having my volunteer work with my national organization and getting really involved with student affairs at BU, I still felt like I needed that direct FSL experience. So I picked up the phone and called Matthew Richardson, Coordinator of FSL at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, he was able to meet with me three days later and offered me an internship! In January of 2016, I moved to Pittsburgh and spent over 350 hours (100 hours over the requirement for the field experience course) working with the FSL community.

I am sharing this to remind your to concentrate on the things you can control when you’re stressing out about finding your first professional job and to be proactive about them. The amount of worrying I was doing about not having experience was not helping me get experience. I sought out and created the experiences needed to be marketable for a job after my time at Bloomsburg came to an end. The entire job search was still overwhelming.

However, with the support of the student affairs professional staff, I was confident that I did everything over the two years of the College Student Affairs program to gain the experiences needed. Creating my experiences certainly paid off: I just hit my one-month mark of my first professional position within fraternity and sorority life!

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Things, New Place, New Home

I am one week into my first full-time College Student Affairs position and I am starting to realize that this is AWESOME! However, I absolutely did not feel awesome every step of the way.

Day one was filled with nervous smiles and confusion. Parents, students, and professionals asked me questions I did not know the answers to, which really hurt my confidence. Even though everyone was extremely polite when I told them it was my first day, I felt like I was in way over my head and couldn’t swim to the surface. As quiet and reserved as I acted, I did my best to observe my environment, attempting to learn the culture of my new home. This is not the first time I have put myself in the situation of learning a new place, but that does not make it any easier to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of being a newcomer.

Luckily, I had a three-day weekend and great pep talks from my peers to get ready for the next week. Yet, I still had mixed feelings about returning to work on Monday. After a long and non-eventful weekend, I was extremely scared that the week would be just like my first day, filled with confusion, awkward moments, and a lot of silence.

 Certainly, it was. I watched people and listened to conversations feeling as if they were speaking a different language (so many acronyms!). Then, on day four I finally made it to the surface! I met a students I will be working closely with for the rest of the year.

Finally, a conversation with someone speaking my same language, Greek! I was so relieved that I could show someone that I can do this, I know what I am taking about, and I am capable of contributing! Looking at that moment, I realized that the only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.

I have had many conversations about the importance of learning institutional culture through my educational leadership classes. On day five, after I decorated my office and unpacked the books from those classes, I was reminded to reflect on those conversations and readings about culture and institutional fit. I remembered that I have been complimented on my ability to adjust to new environments, to observe new cultures without over-stepping boundaries, and to ask questions when I am not understanding.

That moment of reflection was enough to boost my confidence because right now I’m supposed to be learning and observing. I think I have the highest expectations for myself, so when I started off quiet and reserved it made me more nervous to think that I would not overcome the initial transition. The truth is that if I want to shatter those expectations, then, first, I need to have a firm understanding of the culture I have immersed myself in.

— Jill Franklin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU