Student Abroad Reflection: The power to recreate

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Feb 212013
 

Author: Anna Palmer

Turning on my computer, I stare momentarily at my desktop background.  My eyes linger over the vibrantly blue water back-dropped by the dramatic snow-capped peaks, wondering to myself if it was all a dream.

Glancing to the north-facing wall in my room, my eyes scan the postcards and memorabilia: the New Zealand flag surrounded by postcards of places I’ve been, pictures I took and a five dollar bill with Sir Edmund Hilary stamped on the front.

My eyes stop at the certificate of the 43-meter leap of faith I took from the site of the world’s first bungy.  This concrete piece of evidence symbolizes the overarching lesson I’ve taken away from my experience: the possibility of overcoming fear in the face of it.

Deep down I like to think I’ve known that the only way to overcome your fear is to face it.  However, being in New Zealand, I was given the opportunity to put this life motto into action.

Contrary to popular belief perhaps, I did not come out of this experience a “changed” me.  Sure, I may have grown into an improved version of myself, but I am still “me”.  I now know that no change in my environment, no matter how awesome and utterly amazing it is, will ever do away with my internal struggles, which take more deliberate, conscious choosing.

Although these personal struggles persist, I do notice more subtle changes in myself.  I feel better equipped at confronting certain fears.  I am quicker to take action and confront these anxious or self-doubting feelings, instead of running away scared.

Instead of getting completely overwhelmed with the laundry list of things to do on a daily basis, I am better able to take it one thing at a time.  I find myself better able to live, moment to moment, recognizing when I am lost in the worries of my mind.

It has been almost two months since I returned from my adventures in the southern hemisphere.  Upon my return, I have noticed subtle changes in my environment as well.  Little things are different but still generally the same: different roommates, same house, different classes, same professors.  It has been a strange combination of getting my footing back somewhere I used to call home.

As ready as I felt to come home at the end of my time abroad, I can’t help but reminisce about the experience in its entirety and about the good friends I made.

Keeping in touch with the friends I made abroad has been as rewarding as it is challenging.  I look forward to our “google hang-out” dates, when all five of us girls can coordinate a time.  Being one of two in the group who lives in the western half of the country nonetheless, this has proved challenging.

All of us are back to our “real” lives, our little circle of friends from home and our school, no longer separated from each other by a mere five-minute walk.  Thousands of miles away, we have tried our best to stay in touch.

I notice myself going about my day-to-day activities as usual, before New Zealand, and something, some thought or memory will appear, drawing me into the past.  Looking back on my experience abroad, I really do feel as though it was almost a dream.

It feels as though I was transported into this sort of “alternate universe” for six months, and I truly was able to recreate myself into whoever I wanted to be.  I knew absolutely no one, and no one knew me.  I could be whoever I wanted to be and that notion in and of itself was drastically freeing.

After a few short weeks of classes back at CSU and readjusting back to the “routine”, I feel myself trying to close the gap between the “old” me and the “new”, subtly-improved version of me.  Like all change, resistance has come up.  Recently though, I feel this last bit of resistance dissipating.  This resistance came from my initial fear of returning back to my “old” life, back to the routine of school and homework, back to the town and people I had left behind.

More so, this fear has stemmed from the uncertainty of the future, my inevitable graduation, and the daunting task of searching for an internship and eventually a job.  But now that I am back in Fort Collins, after being abroad in the beautiful country of New Zealand, I feel myself in a strange sort of mindset.

Initially going back to the routine of school, homework, exams, actual work and the sometimes-mundane schedule did not appeal to me at all.  However, as the weeks have gone speedily by, I am beginning to accept the reality of the hard work that lies ahead of me this semester.

Though I do think back to my time in New Zealand, it is not exactly the nostalgia I had anticipated.  Of course, there are things I miss: the humility of the Kiwi people, the friends I made, the beautiful scenery, the adventuresome spirit I felt there, and the list goes on and on.

But as much as I miss these things and sometimes wish to go back, I know that this chapter in my life is just one of many.  Being abroad showed me that all I truly have is the given moment, a point of decision to make it what I choose.  I can smile and relish over my past experiences abroad, but to reach into the past with longing is to enter into dissatisfaction with the present.

The “take-home” message, if you will, that I took from my experience was to live moment to moment, enjoying all that each day, each opportunity, has to offer.  Once it is gone, there is no going back.  I know that as much as classes and the workload I have this semester can feel overwhelming and stressful, I will want it back when it is gone.

Once I graduate, I know I will long for the life as a student once more, so I might as well soak it up while I can, enjoying the “simple” life of studying, classes, and hanging out with the good friends I have missed while being abroad.

My eyes glance back to the wall in my room, this time, to the map of New Zealand.  My gaze stops at the point on the map marking the city of Dunedin that I called home for six months.  Flashes of memories appear: eating “hokey pokey” ice-cream, trekking to the New World supermarket, running in the botanical gardens, and going on “tramping” excursions each weekend, pushing my body and mind to their limits.

Pulling myself out of this reminiscent dream, I smile as I return to reality, knowing that this dream feeling is accessible at anytime.

I will never forget the beauty of “Aotearoa” (“the land of the long white cloud”), nor will I forget the empowerment it gave me to recreate my life, but I will move forward into this next chapter in my life, feeling more assured in my ability to face whatever comes my way.

Too School for Cool: Love comes in many languages

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Feb 082013
 

Author: Allison LeCain

Just as each person’s relationship is different, people express their love for one                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           another differently. The 5 Love Languages, a book

Cover of "The 5 Love Languages: The Secre...

The 5 Love Languages via Amazon

written by Gary Chapman, states that if you don’t understand your partner’s ‘love language’, then their love might go overlooked. By recognizing which love languages a person speaks, your appreciation and love for them can grow.

The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Most people use a few of these to express their love for someone. Personally, my love languages are quality time and physical touch.

If you’ve met someone who speaks the same love languages as you, you’re lucky. Hold on to that one. The reality is that it doesn’t come that easy for most couples, but if you can understand which love languages your partner expresses, then you’ll be able to recognize when they are trying to show their love for you.

I’ve taken this into account with recent relationships I’ve had. For example, my boyfriend is not a big fan of physical touch in public, whereas I am. However, I’ve become OK with that because I know that he speaks a different love language. He uses acts of service to show me he cares, and I’ve got to say, I think I can give up hand-holding forever if I he continues to cook dinner for me every night.

Without knowing what love language your lover speaks, you could discount their love for you. This is part of maintaining a healthy, strong relationship that will withstand the test of time.

 

 

Too School for Cool: Love comes in many languages

 Blogs, The Well, Too School for Cool  Comments Off on Too School for Cool: Love comes in many languages
Feb 082013
 

Author: Allison LeCain

Just as each person’s relationship is different, people express their love for one                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           another differently. The 5 Love Languages, a book

Cover of "The 5 Love Languages: The Secre...

The 5 Love Languages via Amazon

written by Gary Chapman, states that if you don’t understand your partner’s ‘love language’, then their love might go overlooked. By recognizing which love languages a person speaks, your appreciation and love for them can grow.

The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Most people use a few of these to express their love for someone. Personally, my love languages are quality time and physical touch.

If you’ve met someone who speaks the same love languages as you, you’re lucky. Hold on to that one. The reality is that it doesn’t come that easy for most couples, but if you can understand which love languages your partner expresses, then you’ll be able to recognize when they are trying to show their love for you.

I’ve taken this into account with recent relationships I’ve had. For example, my boyfriend is not a big fan of physical touch in public, whereas I am. However, I’ve become OK with that because I know that he speaks a different love language. He uses acts of service to show me he cares, and I’ve got to say, I think I can give up hand-holding forever if I he continues to cook dinner for me every night.

Without knowing what love language your lover speaks, you could discount their love for you. This is part of maintaining a healthy, strong relationship that will withstand the test of time.

 

 

Too School for Cool: A second chance for a connection

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Feb 052013
 

Author: Allison LeCain

In this day and age, people rarely meet organically anymore. It seems less common for people to just meet at a bar, begin a conversation and live happily ever after. Instead we pride ourselves in making sure our online profiles are perfect, hoping for the chance to meet a hottie with a body online and have a fairy tale ending.

Now it’s come to this – there is a site online for people who met face to face, but didn’t make a move. It’s known as Craigslist Missed Connections.

M4M Missed Connection at Craigslist

Missed Connection at Craigslist (Photo credit: Ben Gertzfield)

Missed Connections is a place where people can post things about someone they have met in hopes that person will read it and get in contact with them. For example, a guy saw a cute girl at the grocery store. She was trying to reach for a can of soup on the top shelf that was just out of reach, so he got it for her. She thanked him, flashed a smile and walked away. When he got home he wished that he had asked for her number, so what’s a guy to do? Post about her on missed connections for his second chance at romance.

Craigslist is used throughout America and there is a Missed Connections page personalized for almost every major city. Generally the posts involve someone retelling the story of their brief encounter with their possible soul mate followed by a description of what the person looks like and a way to get in contact.

While in a way it’s great that people can have this second chance at a connection, reading the posts can be quite comical. I guess some people just don’t have the courage to make that first impression count.

While laughable to many, there are some people who check the site religiously to see if anyone has posted about them, in hopes of finding true love. In reality, I believe, if you don’t take advantage of that first chance at meeting someone, it probably wasn’t meant to be.

The truth is that most people who post on Craigslist Missed Connections probably won’t end up with a life that seems straight out of a romantic comedy screenplay, but it has happened, which makes me wonder, could this be the new, hip way of dating?

Just to be safe, you may want to check out Missed Connections. You may have flattered a cute barista lately that is looking for you, awaiting your happily ever after.

Too School for Cool: A second chance for a connection

 Blogs, The Well, Too School for Cool  Comments Off on Too School for Cool: A second chance for a connection
Feb 052013
 

Author: Allison LeCain

In this day and age, people rarely meet organically anymore. It seems less common for people to just meet at a bar, begin a conversation and live happily ever after. Instead we pride ourselves in making sure our online profiles are perfect, hoping for the chance to meet a hottie with a body online and have a fairy tale ending.

Now it’s come to this – there is a site online for people who met face to face, but didn’t make a move. It’s known as Craigslist Missed Connections.

M4M Missed Connection at Craigslist

Missed Connection at Craigslist (Photo credit: Ben Gertzfield)

Missed Connections is a place where people can post things about someone they have met in hopes that person will read it and get in contact with them. For example, a guy saw a cute girl at the grocery store. She was trying to reach for a can of soup on the top shelf that was just out of reach, so he got it for her. She thanked him, flashed a smile and walked away. When he got home he wished that he had asked for her number, so what’s a guy to do? Post about her on missed connections for his second chance at romance.

Craigslist is used throughout America and there is a Missed Connections page personalized for almost every major city. Generally the posts involve someone retelling the story of their brief encounter with their possible soul mate followed by a description of what the person looks like and a way to get in contact.

While in a way it’s great that people can have this second chance at a connection, reading the posts can be quite comical. I guess some people just don’t have the courage to make that first impression count.

While laughable to many, there are some people who check the site religiously to see if anyone has posted about them, in hopes of finding true love. In reality, I believe, if you don’t take advantage of that first chance at meeting someone, it probably wasn’t meant to be.

The truth is that most people who post on Craigslist Missed Connections probably won’t end up with a life that seems straight out of a romantic comedy screenplay, but it has happened, which makes me wonder, could this be the new, hip way of dating?

Just to be safe, you may want to check out Missed Connections. You may have flattered a cute barista lately that is looking for you, awaiting your happily ever after.

Importance of Education Seen Through Cultural Differences

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Jan 202013
 

Alternative Break Trip Taught More Than Expected

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Jan 202013
 

Too School for Cool: Surviving winter break

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Dec 092012
 

Author: Allison LeCain

In the past few weeks there has been nothing I’ve wanted more than for winter break to come sooner. Now that it is merely a week away, I can be sure that it will be worth getting through the dreaded finals week to have a month of relaxation at my fingertips.

But what happens when relaxation turns to boredom? It’s inevitable that many students may find that they don’t know what to do with their free time, as we are not used to having any. Also, your hometown may be missing the hustle and bustle that you’ve grown accustom to in this college town.

As always, I am here to offer many a solution to you with this list of 50 things to do when you’re bored over break.

  • Have a backwards day, as in wake up and eat dessert, then dinner, see a movie, have lunch, take a shower, then eat breakfast
  • Go ‘window shopping’ at one of the most expensive stores in town. Dress up before hand to make it look like you belong there
  • Try to climb through your entire house without touching the floor, i.e. jumping from furniture to furniture
  • Stalk people on Google Earth
  • Build a fort , eat mac n’ cheese and watch an old Disney movie inside
  • Read a book in a language you barely speak
  • Make noodle art, but not in the traditional way – when noodles are cooked properly they will stick to the wall, so cook some noodles and throw them all on the wall in an artistic manner
  • Play humans vs. zombies, but don’t tell the neighbors why you just shot them with a Nerf gun
  • Have someone lock all the windows and doors and attempt to break-in to your own home
  • Learn how to moonwalk
  • Buy some moonboots (Yes, their back!!!)
  • Make up crazy stories to put as your Facebook status and wait for hilarious comments to appear
  • Try to make an object explode with mind power
  • Buy an unusual pet, like a hedgehog or a tiger
  • Check out Craigslist’s missed connections
  • Create your own TV series and post a video on YouTube each week
  • Time  how long you can hold a note
  • Time how long you can hold your breath
  • Try not to think about penguins – this gets tricky because in trying to not think about them you will inevitably be thinking about them
  • Be a pirate for a day
  • Perfect your Wookie noise
  • Make a smoothie out of everything in your fridge and try to sell it at your neighbor kid’s lemonade/hot cocoa stand
  • Try to run as fast as cars
  • Talk in a made-up accent all day and try to meet new people
  • Make a secret hide-out in your attic
  • Prepare for zombie invasion
  • Make prank calls
  • Burn crayons using a magnifying glass and the sun
  • Mix Mentos and Coke in your mouth
  • People watch in places people don’t think you’re watching
  • Buy a parrot and teach it to speak for you
  • Walk closely behind people while trying to perfect their walking style
  • Make an ‘I hate Bieber’ website
  • Play a really old game from your childhood, like Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Create your own language
  • Go to the dog park without a dog, but lots of treats
  • Make Jell-O shots
  • Make a post-battle snowman with fake blood and darts
  • Lose yourself on Pinterest
  • Have a fashion show
  • Start a new campaign for Ron Paul
  • Chase squirrels
  • Hand-out Mardi Gras beads in return for a flash
  • Throw a tomato into a fan
  • Go to a concert of a band you don’t know and act like a groupie
  • Sterilize everything in your house with Everclear
  • Find out who REALLY invented peanut butter

Souled Out: Can there be religion in snow?

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Dec 072012
 

Author: Cassandra Whelihan

 

 

The snow falls, blanketing everything in its path in a white clothe. Suddenly, even the oldest buildings or the dirtiest streets take on an enchanting quality about them.

What is it about snow that gives the places it touches a new air about them? What would the reflection of God be in the snow?

To look at it in the eyes of a higher power, I might first note the truth that each snowflake is unique; individual to itself and never to be replicated.

Secondly, when the snow begins to fall, it is as if all falls silent. An atmosphere of hush falls around us: tranquil and serene. The stillness is a factor that invites us to recollect all the higher things in life.

The purity symbolized by the white snow is also intriguing. Without the filth in the panorama, the transparency becomes eye-opening to wonders so easily disregarded on a daily basis.

Not only does the snow symbolize purity but also innocent beauty. Coating branches, parks, houses and lakes in its shimmering hope.

According to Christine Fitzgerald, when one remembers that God, Allah or whichever deity you believe in, is the author of all creation, and has filled our world with beautiful secrets then everything becomes an exciting quest.

We know with certainty that if we open our eyes to view creation with an open mind and allow it to open our hearts, what we find will be awe-inspiring. Simply the wonders of nature are enough to strike up thought within one’s mind.

ADDITIONAL LINK FOR FURTHER READING:

Native American stories about snow: A website with stories regarding snow and the importance of nature.

Souled Out: Park, powder, scissor, shoot

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Nov 302012
 

Author: Cassandra Whelihan

Since snowboarding became cool, so has the park. In fact, these days hitting features on the mountainside has become a large part of the sport. It has gained so much popularity that entire competitions revolve around who can land the sickest tricks.

Professional snowboarder Aimee Fuller is a pro in the park. She makes back flips look effortless and flows through the features with an ease that makes you think doing tricks is for everyone. Nonetheless, the park is not all-embracing.

On the other side of the snowball are professional snowboarders such as Jeremy Jones or Ted Ligety, who make their place in the industry by dropping in on some of the most outrageous backcountry that audiences around the world have ever seen.

So, which beast is bigger? The park rat or the powder whore?

I’m sure the love for snow and being mountainside triumphs over all of them. A love for snow is not so easily shaken; therefore, it comes down to preference.

I have respect for all the athletes in the industry: park, powder and racing. But, my heart lies in the powder; the deep, fluffy, glittering powder.

Call it old school, but the origins of this industry revolved around the desire to be in the wild and the snow. The point was to be one with nature; with nothing separating you from the earth but a piece of board.

The powder people understand this innate lust to be waist deep in epic lines. In my opinion, they have a better understanding of the connectedness with nature that is at the heart of the sport.

Therefore, powder trumps park, but expect to run into some rocks and hopefully no scissors.