Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All On One Paper

I have one and a half years left at my school.  I met with my advisor in the Education department a couple of months ago so that I'd know what classes I needed to sign up for next semester.  She took the time to lay out what I'd need to do for the rest of my college career... it fit all on one paper.  I had to sit back in my seat.

I really love my school.  In the spring of 2012 I had an acceptance letter from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and an acceptance letter from St. Kate's.  For the longest time I told everyone that I was going to UMD and that was a pretty well-accepted fact... and then I chose St. Kate's.  To this day, I don't really know what swayed my decision.  It wasn't financial aid, because after scholarships, my tuition that I would owe would be roughly the same.  Both schools were in cities I loved and both had the programs I wanted to study.  But I still chose St. Kate's, and I don't regret that.

St. Kate's undergraduate program is for women (it opens up more if you're in a Master's program or are in weekend school or in a professional program).  I thought that being surrounded by women all the time would be an adjustment, but it really hasn't been.  I think that it's helped me learn about myself and what it means to be a woman in the context of the world.  More importantly, St. Kate's helps us think about the world and social justice no matter what we choose to study.  Again, something I thought would be annoying going into it, but has really taken the forefront of my mind in whatever I set out to do in or outside of school.

I think that if you're where you're supposed to be in life, you truly feel it.  Maybe I could have done my growing up at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but maybe not.  St. Kate's has been my safe-space where I've felt good about growing up a little bit surrounded by wonderful and talented women who I hope to call my friends for the rest of my life.  I feel that I've grown a lot as a person.  I'm happy that I have a year and a half left.  I can really do a lot in that time.  I can really make this next full year count.  When I start student teaching in Fall 2016, right before I graduate, I will make that really count too.

I'm excited for the rest of my life, post-college to start, but I'm happy for the time I have left here.

Thanks for Reading!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Summer Reading List

Summer is upon me and even though I have a busy summer ahead of me, I still want to get a lot of reading done between my work.  So I'm making a list of books to choose from this summer to read.  Some of these books I own and are reading from my shelf while others I'll need to borrow from the library or download to my eReader.

Feel free to click on the image to read the text.  The text is the story and rationale behind why I picked these particular books for my summer reading.  If you've read any of these books or even heard good (or bad) things about them, I'd love to know!

Thanks for Reading!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Why the 2014-2015 School Year Was By Far The Best Yet

The 2014-2015 school marks my third year of college and I'm extremely happy to say, it has been an absolute joy!  That's not to say that it didn't come without its challenges, because it did, but ultimately, I think that's what makes a school year worth being proud of.  Here are some things that I did that I'm extremely proud of:

1. I Studied Abroad!  I won't speak too much about this, because I spent all of fall writing about my adventures, but nevertheless, this is still something that I'm extremely proud of myself for doing.  It was scary, many tears were shed, and I ended up (metaphorically) leaving a piece of my heart in the Netherlands.  You can't do that in a classroom.

2. I Got Published!  My school has an art and literary journal where you can submit paintings, ceramics, photos, poems, short stories... pretty much anything you want.  I submitted a photo that I took during Ontzet in Leiden and it was published!  I keep looking at page 2 of the 109th edition of Ariston (that's what the journal is called) and just looking at my name.  It's so different seeing your name this way than if you see your name on a blog.  It's really cool because other people thought that something you did was good enough to be in this journal.  So that's really special.  I'm hoping to do this again next year.  Perhaps some pictures, but this time I'd like to shoot for writing.

3. I Presented My Research At The GSJ Symposium!  The capstone class for every student who passes through my school, St. Catherine University, is called Global Search for Justice.  In this class, we learn about different forms of oppression and what this looks like in the world and what people are doing to fight this oppression.  Not only that, but we have to do projects on a social justice issue of our choice and if you're asked to, you present it with other GSJ students.  I did my project on access to healthcare for transgender people and I was asked to present my research.  The presentation was different, in that students came to me and I wasn't talking to everyone as a whole group, but it went extremely well.  I think mine was the only project related to transgender issues.

4. I'm Taking On More Activities And Challenges!  Although these things don't really start until next school year, I'm very excited about them right now.  I was sworn in to Student Senate as a Commuter Senator and I also accepted a position to write for The Wheel, which is my school newspaper.  I don't really know what challenges either of these activities will bring, but I'm excited to get started!

5. I Interviewed For An Was Accepted Into A Really Great-Sounding Job!  I say great-sounding because I haven't officially started yet.  This summer, I will be teaching incoming seventh and eighth graders literature!  I'm going to be a teacher!  I'm sure you'll hear more about this over the summer because this is something that I care about so much.  I can't wait to get started!

I have had an amazing school year.  I can't wait to see what my last full year will bring!*

Thanks for Reading!


*I have a year and a half until I graduate, but that extra semester will consist of student teaching, so I won't be on campus very much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Host An Exchange Student

My family has hosted three students, two from France and recently one from Austria, since 2010.  In 2012, I was hosted by a French family.  Between these experiences, I've learned a thing or two about how to host a student from another country.  That's right, it's list time!

Marie, the first French girl we hosted, when she came to us early in 2010.
She's in the middle.
1. Understand What It Means To Host Someone.  Sometimes students will come with a group and they'll basically have a plan for the entire time that they're there, keeping them busy during the day.  Sometimes there will be very few plans leaving a lot of the work for the host families.  As a prospective host family, it's important to understand what's being asked of you before you commit.  With the French students, my family was largely responsible for showing them around our state a bit.  Very few activities were planned for our French students.  For our Austrian student however, she had activities to do with her group pretty much every day except for the weekend.  We provided a bed for her, made sure she made it to wherever she needed to go, and made her feel like part of the family after she returned from her activities.

It's also important to consider how long students are coming to visit.  Our French students each came for three weeks, while our Austrian student was only in our state for eight days.  Figure out what works for your family.

Clementine, the second French girl we hosted, summer 2010.
She's the second farthest away in the picture.
2. Choose Students That Seem Like A Good Match For Your Household.  Have pets?  Don't host someone who is allergic to pet hair.  Vegetarian?  Don't host a carnivore.  The goal is to keep living as you normally would but also to make your guest feel comfortable as well.  This doesn't mean that the student you're hosting needs to come from a family that looks like yours.  What's part of the experience is learning to live a little bit differently.  When I was hosted in France, my host sister had a brother, but she lived alone with her parents in an apartment.  I'd never lived in an apartment before with a sister who was a partier and with parents who smoked (they smoked outside, so I wasn't bothered).  It was part of the experience!

3. Communicate As Early As Possible.  This was a problem when we hosted our Austrian student (not her fault and not ours either), but when we were able to do this for our French students, it was wonderful.  It was a good way to let the students know who they were going to be living with and it was a good way to start getting to know each other.  It was a good way for the exchange student to know what to pack, ask questions about what they might want to do while they were visiting, give them something concrete to look forward to... that kind of thing.  Being an exchange student myself, however briefly, this was something I really appreciated as well.  I was able to Facebook creep and when the bus pulled up near the school my host sister attended, I knew a little bit about my host sister and I knew what she looked like.

My French host family: Evelyn, Mathilde, and Gilles.  They were so good to me :)
4. Actually Do Something With Your Exchange Student.  This sounds like a no-brainer, but believe me, there are host families who don't do a lot with their exchange students.  My family has done this for all of our exchange students and I was lucky enough to be put in a family in France who did the same for me.  Sometimes the kids are into the idea of hosting someone but the parents aren't, sometimes the parents are more into the idea, and sometimes no one is absolutely gung-ho about the idea but they don't want a student to be homeless for their stay and really, the hope is that every student has their own family and aren't doubled-up, since it's easier to learn the host language that way and it's easier to make a connection with your host family.  The things you do with your exchange student don't have to cost an arm, a leg, and a kidney to do.  My host family brought me to a citadel that you didn't have to pay to enter unless you were going into the museum part, which was closed at the time.  They took me to the beach where I saw starfish.  They drove me to some of the coastal cities and showed me around.  Simple things, but things that I still remember three years after the fact.

Eva, the third girl we hosted, but the first from Germany/Austria.
She's on the far left.
5. Prepare To Become Attached.  In the best situations, the student you're hosting feels like your brother or sister and you realize that they are some of the best people you will ever meet.  Both you and your exchange student are sharing your cultures and you're learning and teaching... it's a very rewarding experience and I will encourage everyone I meet for the rest of my life to host an exchange student.  You don't even have to know the exchange student's mother tongue, because oftentimes, they are coming to your country to learn your language.

These have been really important parts of my life, so I just wanted to share that with you and more importantly, encourage loving families to host students whenever they possibly can.

Thanks for Reading!