A Foreigner’s Guide: Surviving a Break on Campus

A Foreigner’s Guide: Surviving a Break on Campus

I am an international student. I am also a senior. That means that, at some point in my years here at Mount Union, I have spent some breaks on campus. Let me tell you this, it is quite an ordeal. There are also only a handful of things you can do at Mount Union during … Read more


I am an international student. I am also a senior. That means that, at some point in my years here at Mount Union, I have spent some breaks on campus. Let me tell you this, it is quite an ordeal.

There are also only a handful of things you can do at Mount Union during the break. The gym has limited operating hours; shorter than that of the normal school days. The library hours are even more limited than the gym; making it hard for students to even make full use of it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no rant. I am merely stating the living conditions for an international student during a break.

Just thinking about how to keep yourself well fed is another problem.

While the city of Alliance has an abundance of fast food restaurants, those surrounding the campus are only limited to Arby’s, Taco Bell, and Sheetz; three of which would not be the first choice for many students.

During breaks, long or short, the cafeteria closes. That would be acceptable if you really think about it. There will be very few students on campus and it would take more staff members to prepare the food than the number of people they are providing for. However, I strongly believe that the closure of the B&B Cafe during the break is very uncalled for.

Yes, this is the part where people try to tell me that there are many delivery services where I can get food delivered to my doorstep. That is true, but restaurants that deliver are basically pizza places and Chinese restaurants. Besides, wouldn’t you get bored eating fast food all week? Coming from a culture where most meals are home-made, seven days of fast food is equivalent to living on oatmeal.

While most students will be away, some remain; along with faculty members and staff. The B&B should be kept open to give students who choose to remain on campus an option. There are many places that students can go to get food in Alliance, but most international students do not have cars to take them there. I am one of the lucky few.

Here are some things an international student can do to survive the break (according to my experience before getting a car):

1. If you live in an apartment/townhouse, have a friend bring you grocery shopping.

- STOCK UP so that you can cook all break.

2. While you are essentially on break, operating hours for the gym and the library are limited.

- It is advisable to wake up before lunch so that you could get a nice workout or get some school work done in the library (if you need the books).

3. Start a project. Pick up some kind of activity to occupy your time.

- I made a dual-layer blanket. Other suggestions are knitting and a 10,000 piece puzzle.

4. Take a walk around campus with your camera.

- While not everyone will own a DSLR camera or have an interest in photography, realize that one day you will look back and realize that you did not take many pictures of our beautiful campus. Any camera, even your cell phone, will do. Create memories.

5. Find campus employment.

- There are several departments on campus that remain in operation throughout the break. If you are a communications student, the radio station in HPCC may have openings for you. Other places to look for employment are the library and the gym.

6. Find other students who are living on campus to hang out with.

- There may be other students on campus who did not go on a vacation during the break. Keep in touch with them and maybe plan something fun.

7. When all else fails, there is always studying class material to get ahead of the class.

It is becoming more common for international students these days to find a place to go to over the break. Some even have community friends or host families that take them away during the break. But if you find yourself stuck on campus during a break, go through numbers one to seven and see if anything works for you. They have worked for me and I am already a senior. That’s saying something!

Friday Five

Friday Five

August: School begins and you are filled with excitement and hope for the new school year. You haven’t seen many of your friends since last May and you can’t wait to catch up, set bi-weekly Panera dates and get back into your routine of DQ trips and re-runs of Friends every Thursday night. You have … Read more

  • August: School begins and you are filled with excitement and hope for the new school year. You haven’t seen many of your friends since last May and you can’t wait to catch up, set bi-weekly Panera dates and get back into your routine of DQ trips and re-runs of Friends every Thursday night. You have a new set of classes and are ready to kick some serious butt this semester. You’re pulling out all the stops. You won’t even be able to see the fridge after your parents hang up all of your A+ papers and exams.

Flash forward…

  • November: IT’S BEEN MONDAY FOR THREE WEEKS NOW! ..or so it seems. You can hear the second hand on the clock ticking in class and your notebook is full of doodles of stars and your name, written in every possible way (cursive, print, dotted, block… and the list goes on). You find that your bestie, the one you couldn’t wait to catch up with, is annoying you to no end… just because he/she dropped a few crumbs of his/her Special K bar near you on the desk. You’ve exchanged cramming for tests for cramming popcorn in your mouth while watching Modern Family. When will the semester end?!

This semester flew by; however, the week leading up to Thanksgiving break seems to be dragging on… and on… and on. Seeing Christmas commercials on TV is making everyone anxious for the end of the semester and extremely ready for the holidays. I know I am personally counting down the days until I can forget about exams and curl up on the couch to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my sister (a yearly tradition).

However, we all have to hang on just a little bit longer! So, here are some tips to survive the rest of the semester…

  1. Set aside at least one night a week for “me” night: no studying, no assignments, just you and your favorite show/book/friend (and possibly your favorite late night snack as well).
  2. Get organized: the end of the semester can be so overwhelming with final exams and projects approaching, so write all important dates down and tackle your assignments based on when they are due!
  3. Make plans: speak with family and friends about fun activities to do over the holidays (ice skating anyone?!). Having something exciting to look forward to can sometimes be all the motivation you need to tackle that final group presentation or class speech.

And, as always, here are five things that made this week just that much better…

[Menchie's date with my sister]

[Confirmation for ordering Red Tour concert tickets!]

[What I thought was my long lost ring was found in the Writing Center]

[A trip home for the evening to celebrate my brother's birthday!]

[My visa arrived this week, reminding me I have less than two months left in the US]

Happy Friday!

Back to work

Back to work

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A Tidy Desk


We’re back. I hope that you’ve all had excellent breaks, but it’s time to begin again. Instead of telling you all the things that I’ve enjoyed doing over the holiday, and believe me there were a lot of them, I’m going to tell you why I’m glad to be back on campus.

Despite the complaints, I actually enjoy the food here. Maybe it’s the fact that my house can’t keep up on volume when compared to the cafeteria, but there are other things I like too. I like the social aspect of eating in a common area. I love to people watch and around 2 p.m. on Wednesdays makes for a perfect opportunity. As with all mass produced food, there is going to be the occasional meal that isn’t delicious. However, being able to have a fresh salad each meal and plenty of variety is more than enough to be grateful for.

I love my classes. But I love the second semester classes even more. I think it’s because I feel warmed up, like an athlete who’s been able to stretch and jog a lap before a game. First semester can be hit or miss depending on how feverishly you attack your classes, but second semester won’t bring any surprises; you know the drill by now.

Part of this “college experience” is being able to see all your friends. This is the one part of our lives where our friends all live very close together. I like being able to send out a text to 10 people for pick-up soccer and have nine of them show up. When we graduate, it’s going to be much harder to throw together spontaneous get-together events like that; we’ll all just have too different schedules.

I love a good routine. I feel so much more in control of my schedule when I have a sketch of what I need to do and when. I should note that on the weekends, this routine affinity is gone as I thoroughly enjoy sleeping in. A good routine is the backbone to a productive and fun, lifestyle. At home, I find that unstructured time is wasted more often than not. It’s good to be back and have a routine.



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The first day of December for the year 2011 has finally arrived. Many people look forward to this day each year as it officially marks the first day of the holiday season, the holiday being Christmas of course! On the first day of December, or the first week of December at least, many Christmas trees are cut down and bought, decorations go up and lights are hung around the outside of many homes. Christmas music is finally played repeatedly on the radio and Christmas movies are played each night on many channels, especially ABC Family, which even has its own Christmas movie event called the 25 Days of Christmas. People begin to spend more time shopping and buying the gifts wanted by family members as well as baking festive cookies and desserts, all in preparation for upcoming holiday parties. The first day of December is the beginning of the Christmas festivities and the start of a wonderful month full of holiday cheer and giving!

The first day of December, however, for many college students across America is somewhat different. One the first day of December, 12/1/2011, college students begin counting down the days until the semester is over. It’s one day closer to the day in which they can return home for a long, extended Christmas break full of relaxation, fun and family time with, most importantly, no school work. On the first day of December, the common disease of “Christmas-itis” finally kicks in. Students no longer want to do school work, although these last few weeks is crunch time stuffed with presentations, due dates for important papers and final exams with these ending weeks being some of the most important weeks of the semester. At this point in the semester, college students have much desire to return home as some have only been home once this semester, which was most likely for Thanksgiving a little over a week ago. This very common disease of “Christmas-itis” can be trouble for students as it creates the temptation to procrastinate school work and do something else more exciting in its place.

So how do you tackle “Christmas-itis” and prevent it? Well first off, it’s inevitably unpreventable as almost all students love Christmas and the holiday season. So it happens to be one of those things you just take it as it comes and deal with it! But there are several steps, which can be used to help calm “Christmas-itis” and not allow it to overcome the last few important weeks of the semester. First off, staying organized and having a study game plan is very important. Be sure to be aware of all upcoming assignment due dates, exam schedules and any homework that needs to be done. Allot time to complete all of these assignments and to study. Make a list to help you and be sure to check it twice each day (just like Santa!!). Secondly, invite the Christmas holiday in. Decorate your dorm room, listen to Christmas music and watch a holiday movie. Ignoring the holiday feelings can only increase the effects of “Christmas-itis.” Thirdly, be sure to leave some room for fun or alone time each day to break up all the school work that is due. Have a snow ball fight, go ice skating or see a newly- released movie. Lastly stay focused, as home and Christmas are only a few weeks away!