Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wouldn’t trade this experience for the world

It's been a hectic last couple of weeks in DC and at Coalition for Juvenile Justice. Last week was our 2018 National Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Conference in Baltimore. I've been to a few different conferences in my college career, but I was never behind the scenes for them.

It's a ridiculous amount of planning and coordination. Making name tags, registering attendees, putting together packets, confirming with speakers is just the short list of things we did in preparation.

The conference lasted three days, and we had over 300 attendees from 45 different states and territories throughout the week. I had the unique honor of getting to run around the plenary session with a microphone during the "Question and Answer" time. This was probably my favorite part, because it was a very visible position.

The conference was exhausting but worth every second. I got to wine and dine with industry professionals, sit in a few breakout sessions and learn about juvenile justice successes across the country. I got to meet keynote speaker Cara Drinan, who wrote an incredible book about youth incarceration.

Now, for outside of work activities, the list goes on. I took a bus and train home for Thanksgiving to celebrate with my family, went to a Washington Post live chat about criminal justice reform, went axe throwing with my boss and coworkers (an amazing stress relief, I definitely recommend), went to a sports bar, walked around Georgetown twice, got brunch (more than once), ate incredible macaroons, went to happy hour, watched a beautiful sunset in NoMa, celebrated Dia de los Muertos at the National Portrait Gallery, met up with friends from Bloomsburg, went to global festival at TWC, and ate an embarrassing amount of gyros and teriyaki chicken from food trucks near my office.

All in all, this experience has changed my life. I found direction, and I found my passion working with youth justice reform and helping provide equitable outcomes for at-risk youth.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world and would extend my stay here indefinitely if I could. I have met so many wonderful people from all around the country and world, and I hope I will get to see them again in the near future. It's been an incredible few months down in our nation’s capital, but it’s time to come home and finish up my four years at Bloomsburg then graduate in May.

Thank you so much to The Washington Center, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and Bloomsburg University for bringing me to this point. Go Huskies!!

— Deanna Campion, a senior dual political science and communication studies major #ProfessionalU

Laughs, pasta and really sweet crepes

Thanksgiving went by smoother than I anticipated. I knew it would be tough to spend the first major holiday away from my family, but it helped that I was in a country that didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, as well as being surrounded by amazing people.

Although most of the students on my flat are not from the United States, they all shared in our tradition the next day, and we all went out for a nice deal in town for Friendsgiving. It was a night full of laughs, pasta and really sweet crepes. It’s hard to believe time has gone by so quickly, but I know that’s because I’m enjoying myself so much.

I’ve realized some new things about myself, but those were mostly trying out new things, etc. In the last few weeks, I’ve realized why being abroad on your own can bring such a fundamental change within people; it’s because you’re forced to be by yourself at times when you would usually have people.

To hear out the thoughts you had been putting off for months. You’re forced to do things on your own you never had to do by yourself. At one point during the summer I did not think I would be able to come to England, because I was battling health issues. I overcame those and was able to come, but I found myself feeling sick one late evening and was forced to go to the hospital by myself. I ended up going on a 40 pound ($50) taxi adventure, because I first went to a private hospital that I could not be seen at only to end up at a hospital I might’ve had to pay out of pocket for. All at 1 a.m. But I didn’t have a choice or someone to hold my hand, I had to do it. I was forced to experience that, and I hope I’ll grow from realizing how grateful I am to have people by my side during difficult times. That’s the beautiful thing about being abroad, life pushes you a little harder and you’re forced to grow.

— Elayne Che, a junior psychology major, is studying abroad this fall at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Education in England

The most intriguing and important part of studying abroad is, of course, the ‘studying’ part. Coming to a whole new country also means being introduced to a whole new education system. I have undoubtedly been challenged, confused, but also infused with excitement to retain all of this new information in a different format.

My main course of studies at the University of Essex, in Colchester, England, are Performance and Communications, so under this umbrella I took one theatre class, Models of Practice, a literature and drama class, Origins and Transformations of Literature and Drama, and a media class, Approaches to Film and Media. As a mental health advocate, I also wanted to venture into the mental health views in England, and I also purely wanted to learn more about it, so I took a psychology class, Emotion.

The structures England has for education, at least the part of England the University of Essex is in, is based on a very independent learning style. There is significantly less coursework, and no strategic attendance policy. The general term for the class as a whole is a “module.”

The module is set up into two different halves: one is a lecture, of which, every other lecture a different professor will be presenting their area of expertise, and the other half is called a “class,” which is very similar to our general teaching/learning style: one professor, and 30 or less students in a more laid-back, personalized session. A student generally has one lecture and one class every week, but as aforementioned, attendance is not as eminent as it is in most of the Uni’s here in the States.

Some professors can, however, count attendance as a percentage of the module, most likely if it's a class like Theatre, where participation is imperatively necessary. Further on, when attending the class, the student has to “tap in,” which means to wave their student ID card on a black sensor in the room to track their attendance.

Lastly, just to share some fun facts about the finals week here in England: We have almost no quizzes/tests throughout the semester, just one approximately 10 page research essay, and a two-hour exam during their finals week. Again, professors can add a test or coursework here and there, but it's only one to two times within the semester, for revision purposes … and that’s another positively intriguing thing: they don’t say “study” here, they say “revise” like “I have so much revision to do for exams” etc!

In totality, I have found this way of education to be so lovely and refreshing, but also very stressful. I felt as if I had so much more time on my hands, with how their scheduling was and the less coursework/attention to attendance, but I also felt very behind in my studying mostly because this independent way of education is very self-management heavy. I relentlessly learned how to stop procrastinating more (but not completely, of course, I’m still the average college student), and how to put more pride and enjoyment into what I am learning.

England has honestly been so encouraging to not merely remember material, but to actually retain it and believe in, or even challenge, what is being taught.

— Emel Rasim, a junior theatre arts major, is studying abroad this fall at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. #HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If I knew then what I know now

Dear High School Jenna,

Hey, it’s me! Well you, four years from now. I know you think college graduation is so far away, but let me tell you … it will be here in a blink of an eye. I know, because that’s exactly how I felt at this time four years ago. And here we are, Jenna. Days away from graduating college, and I never thought this day would come this soon. I still clearly remember being anxious to graduate high school. And yet, again with the butterflies of wondering what’s next in store. No worries. It’s going to be okay. I know, because I’ve made it this far.

Jenna, Bloomsburg University was a great choice

You’re going to have many college choices; but in the end, you’ll select Bloomsburg University. It will be a great decision. This town will truly become a second home. Do yourself a favor though and explore more your freshman year.

Do not wait until junior year to finally go to the Bloomsburg Diner to eat the amazing omelets you love so much and try out Fog and Flame, because they really know how to make those fancy Instagram worthy drinks you always wanted to try. Get more involved freshman year, please don’t wait. I know right now you’re busy with choir, cheerleading, numerous clubs and just want a little break, but you’ll realize real-fast you enjoy being involved and will wish you did more once you reach senior year. Trust me.

And, oh yea … learn all you can from your internship and work-study position with the university’s Office of Marketing and Communications from Tom McGuire and Jaime North, because this will help you discover that you want to work in higher education after graduation.

Jenna, don’t stop making friends

So you’ll realize fast you truly don’t know anyone in college, but you’ll meet so many amazing people as time goes by. Freshman year, leave your door open and meet the people on your floor! I wish more people would have done this sooner, because you’ll meet great people. Like the guys across the hall, who were always nice enough to let my roommate Kaitlyn and I borrow their vacuum, or the girls who lived down the hall, Dannah and Hannah, who will eventually become your roommates. Know that everyone you meet and become friends with will help you in some way and change you for the better.

In class, talk to the people around you and get to know them, you never know when you are going to need a study partner or you might even find one of your closest friends, like Sidney, who you actually end up going on a cruise with. Speaking of the cruise. Go on it! At first you will think it is too much money, but in the end you will be sitting on a beach in the Bahamas so thankful that you went.

Go to Haas Center of the Arts and audition for the Bloomsburg University Choir, because we know how much you like to sing and you will miss it dearly when you no longer do. Go to the activities fair and find an organization called Alpha Phi Omega. This is where you will find “your people.” Alpha Phi Omega is where I found some of my very best friends in college like my senior year roommates, Alicia and Aleigha, plus my big and little, Rachel and Carly, and how I really was able to get involved on campus.

Jenna, balance is key

Okay so you know how you told yourself you were going to go to the gym like every day in college and get in shape? Well freshman year you did, but then you got busy with school and barely had time to devote as much time to it as you used to. Make the time because you’ll be less stressed and honestly it will become the “me time” you need each day. Do not get into the habit of procrastinating. I know things come up that sound like better alternatives to studying, but when you see Summa Cum Laude written on your graduation packet you will feel really accomplished and it will all be worth it, trust me (you know you want the honors cords too).

Go to trivia night, why I waited till senior year is beyond me. It’s basically like Jeopardy, but you actually win a prize. Get a job. Working during the summer all the time is not fun, but you are going to need and want the money. College is expensive. I wish I would have worked during the semester earlier because senior year I did, at your favorite restaurant actually, Marley’s, hosting and serving. Not gonna lie, it was rough to balance everything, but having money makes it worth it.

Jenna, calm down. You made it!

You stress too much about the little things. Like your chemistry class the very first semester of college year where you got your first C, but guess what you studied hard and ended the class with an A-. Then there is economics, which will become your minor, these classes will challenge you but we know you like to be challenged. There is the fear you will not graduate on time, but girl you are graduating a semester early because of those AP classes you are in right now. Soon final exams will be over and I will graduate, then I’m off the real world. You made it Jenna! Take a deep breath and enjoy your next few years, because they’ll be some of the best years of your life. Trust me.

     Jenna Fuller, Bloomsburg University Class of 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Try something new with something old

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, it seems everywhere you go there are big red barns with giant signs saying “Antiques.” Sometimes antiques are sold at flea markets, or special antique events around the area, but have you ever actually stopped in one?

Of course, at some point in our lives we're all dragged into an antique shop by our parents or grandparents whether we’re 12 or 25 years old, and it seems like the longest day of our lives. However, I would argue if you walked into an antique store by yourself sometime, by your own free will, you’d be pleasantly surprised at the amount of things you find interesting.

It was on one of these “dreadful” outings with my Gram that I began a collection of 1973 Looney Tunes glasses. I always loved Looney Tunes as a kid, and searching for them kept me occupied while antiquing.

They aren’t particularly rare, but they're fun to track down, and it’s a relatively cheap hobby for me. Finding something to collect while you’re antiquing can make it much more interesting.

I know that as “broke college kids,” or soon-to-be “broke college graduates,” we need all the help we can get financially. When it comes to decorating a dorm room, apartment or a new house, sometimes antiques are the cheapest options.

You can ask anyone who watches HGTV, the rustic look is in. Just about anything you would find in an antique shop could be used to decorate a space. There are also plenty of different eras and styles of antiques. You could go for the old, rickety barn look, or maybe look for some more refined vintage pieces.

Many times, the decoration isn’t necessarily meant to be decorative, but it can no longer serve its actual purpose, such as old wheels, unstable rocking chairs, or chipping glassware. It’s fun to find an item you like and come up with a new way to repurpose it.

Some things you find are still completely usable, typically kitchenware. Cast-iron and enamel pots and pans are a dime a dozen at antique shops, and still have a lot of years of use left in them. Buying a cheap set of pots and pans from Walmart is fine, but if you want something with some history and character, go antiquing.

For example, every time I go to my grandparents’ house, my Grandpa makes buttermilk pancakes on a cast-iron skillet. I’ll have to invest in one soon so I can make them the same way, because they just don’t turn out the same in a nonstick pan.

The moral of the story is: go antiquing. Try something new with something old. You don’t have to do things the same way as your grandparents, but antiques are treasures that never lose their value, even when they’re broken. Make your space your own by repurposing old things.

P.S. Despite what Grandma says, the fine china isn’t only for decoration, you can use that too.

— Dallas Kriebel, senior mass communications major #AGreatPlaceToBeYou