5 Keys to Learning a Language Abroad

5 Keys to Learning a Language Abroad

Read more

It has been two months into my study abroad program and I have a confession, I am not bilingual. One misconception about achieving this is that “you will just pick up the language right away,” or that one day a switch will turn and you will know everything Spanish. The truth is that you need to work very hard to achieve this milestone, and with time you may be able to accomplish this goal. Hopefully with two more months to go, I will be able to say that I am at least almost bilingual. Here is a basis that every study abroad student should follow, and perhaps read before they go to a new country and learn a new language.
  1. Force yourself to hangout with locals or intercambios. I came across a Robert Louis Stevenson in which he says, “there are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” The matter of fact is you would be surprised how open people are to help you. You are in the same world and on the same planet, just in a place where people prefer to speak a different language. After making some friends, maybe you could teach them a bit of English too.
  2. Make a pact to speak Spanish amongst Americans. For me, it is a challenge to speak Spanish amongst other USAC students because it is way to easy to resort back to English. This won’t work for everyone, but if you find another friend who is very dedicated to learning the language and totally emerging themselves in a new culture, never speak a lick of English to them. Make it be your own little manifesto.
  3. Although it may feel like you are on vacation, study and do your homework. It is important to remember that you are still in school. You start achieving a higher level when you practice a lot in bookwork, then apply what you learned to the outside world. You really have to want to learn, and constantly be motivated by the possibility of being bilingual. This is hard, patience is a virtue.
  4. Converse with your host family or roommates. If you live with a host family don’t sit in your room all day. Hangout with your new family and converse, the best learning is having people help correct you on the spot. If you live in an apartment, try to live with Spanish kids, or go out in the town and to the market to practice buying things, bargaining, etc.
  5. Above all, positive attitude!

I hope this helps anyone who will be studying abroad, is thinking about studying abroad, or people who need to kick it in high gear before the semester ends. I may go find a new intercambio as we speak, this kind of opened up my own eyes a bit! Be motivated by the possibility of being bilingual, patience is a virtue…

FourSquared

FourSquared

Read more

Mayor of Mount Union

[Photo credit]

Foursquare, the mobile “game” where you can checkin to various venues around your city to get points, might just be coming to Mount Union in the coming year. While students have long been able to checkin to buildings on campus, an official launch of a Mount Union presence on Foursquare would bring a whole new dimension to this game.

Take the picture above for example. What would it be like if there were “rewards” for the mayor, the person who has the most checkins on a rolling 7-day average, scattered throughout the campus. Maybe the mayor of Mount Union’s University Store gets a 15% off voucher, or there might be a few reserved parking spots as well. The possibilities are endless.

There are some hiccups I foresee if Mount Union chooses to pursue the “rewards” aspect of Foursquare too quickly. For one, I don’t think it would be right to leave out the students who don’t have a smartphone from the fun and someone would have to keep a close eye on certain venues to make sure no one cheats. How would you check to see if someone who didn’t have their phone on them was the actual mayor?

However, these are all problems that arise only if Mount Union tries too hard to get into the Foursquare game. Although details are scarce, I think a good implementation of a Foursquare + Mount Union effort would be a corner of the website (mountunion.edu/foursquare?) or a place on the new media screens we have all around the Hoover-Price Campus Center. For visitors to the campus, they could unlock a “Purple Raider Badge” documenting their trip. Nothing too drastic, but a nice hat-tip to those playing.

Keep an eye out for news in the next year about Mount Union and Foursquare. I hope it shapes up to be another cool way to interact with current and incoming students outside of Facebook and Twitter. And while my dream of students being able to checkin to class for attendance seems very far off, this is a great first step to get people out and exploring our campus.

Hola. España.

Hola. España.

Read more

Excited, nervous, anxious, but also born ready. There were many, many mixed feelings as the days were winding down until January 10, the date I departed from Chicago to Madrid, with a pit stop in London. As I was packing, and doing a lot of unpacking, it was hard for me to completely grasp that I would be living along the Mediterranean coast for the next six months. I definitely was going to miss my family but also was looking forward to shaping new friendships and a family abroad, amongst my home-stay and other USAC students. With that being said, there is no doubt that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I was looking forward virtually keeping up with people at home. That presents one of the biggest challenges while trying to soak up this awesome experience with you…sharing it! But no worries, I’ll do my best to get to the point, be engaging and fun and hopefully you can try to vicariously live through my time in Alicante.

After meeting up with some other USAC students on the group flight, we finally arrived to Hotel Regina in Madrid where a five-day excursion was upon us. There were several places we visited first in the capital of Spain, all of which were very impressive. We visited the Prado Museum, which features the works of El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Goya, and the Reina Sofia Museum to view Picasso’s Guernica, a piece made after bombings during the Spanish Civil War. We also walked through the Plaza Mayor and to the Royal Palace of Madrid, where every room was jaw dropping. Another fun part in Madrid that was not part of the guided tours was the tapas restaurants and discotecas. It was very fun to get an early taste of what Spanish nightlife is all about!

Another place we visited was the city of Segovia, a place known for being home to the famous Roman aqueduct and the wonderful Alcazar of Segovia. Walking through the city was incredible and there were many buildings designed with brilliant architecture. My view from lunch was breathtaking as well, overlooking the whole city with the Guadarrama Mountains in the background. The last city in Spain we visited during our stay near Madrid was Toledo. Here, we toured a synagogue that still has working church services, which features amazing fresocs on all ceilings and more gold in one place that you will ever see! I was also able to get a shout out and quick feel good from the states on this tour. Since Toledo, Spain is sister cities with Toledo, Ohio, we were pointed to Calle de Toledo de Ohio, which easily made me smile. All in all, the tours in Madrid were tremendous and you can see some more photos at the links below! Hasta pronto. -Z(S)ak o Gustavo

The Road to Washington

The Road to Washington

Read more

As a man who was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, I have had the opportunity to experience (nearly) everything Northeast Ohio has to offer. I have swum in the hazardous waters of Lake Erie, attended the famed St. Patrick’s Day parade and enjoyed the theatrical and cosmetic brilliance of a production at Playhouse Square. I have felt the pride that manifests intrinsically within every Clevelander and felt that same pride get mangled and scarred as a certain basketball star (I have vowed to refrain from saying his name in 2012 as a New Year’s resolution) took his talents to South Beach. Through the good and the bad, I have been with this awesome community for my entire life.

As I approached my final semester in college, the prospect of a new chapter in my life led me to make a difficult decision. I have chosen to spend my last 4 months in the nations capital to intern in a program called The Washington Center. During this time, I will be working for a consulting firm and getting a good taste of the “real world.” It is an excellent opportunity to explore a career path that is known for it’s fast-paced and high-pressure environment.

When people ask me why I decided to go on this journey, the answer I give them is reaffirmed constantly by what we see in the media. The best example is the republican debate just a few days before the South Carolina primary elections. Witnessing grown men attacking the character and integrity of other grown men on national television illustrates that there is something very wrong with how we choose our nation’s leaders. It is my goal to DO GOOD in the world and to change the hostile atmosphere of politics, one person at a time.

I am writing this post on the road to Washington. All my belongings are sitting next to me, as I begin a new and exciting experience in my life. This blog will help chronicle some of my adventures in D.C., and I’ll probably throw some fun stuff in too. I hope you enjoy reading these entries as much as I will enjoy writing them!

I will certainly miss my friends, family, dear old Mount Union, my awesome girlfriend of almost three years and my beloved Cleveland sports, but I am confident that this is a risk worth taking. There is, as with many things, opportunity to fail, but that will only make success that much sweeter if obtained. Anyone who has taken Finance 101 will know that “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” It’s about time for me and every ambitious reader out there to prove that saying true.

Anticipation and The District

Anticipation and The District

Read more

Most students started the semester January 9, but I won’t be starting mine until January 23. That’s right, my break is two weeks longer. However, and unfortunately, this extension has not been as great as I had expected.

(Is the moon really that much bigger in DC?)

I’ll be traveling to our Nation’s Capitol to begin my semester as I’ll be participating in a program most of you may have heard about before, The Washington Center (TWC). Through TWC, I’ll be interning with my friend and colleague (and fellow classmate at Mount), Ben Hartwell. Our internship will be through a leading lobbying firm located on Capitol Hill called the Potomac Advocates. This firm deals with national defense and security, and works through some familiar branches such as Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, CIA and NASA. I’ll also be taking a class once a week called Road to the White House: Politics, Media, and the American Presidency. I’m particularly excited about this because it’s a partnership with C-SPAN, which I’m sure most of you watch on a daily basis. We’ll have exclusive access to interviews with candidates and some of the other big players on the campaign trail. I’ll also be on C-SPAN repping Mount Union and TWC … so stay tuned. Considering the political climate during election season in which I’ll be face-to-face with, I can’t imagine having a dull moment being so close and involved with the campaign as it develops and takes shape around me.

With all this impending excitement, I’m also getting very anxious. And since my break is extended, that only means that I’ll have two more weeks to sit around in quiet contemplation about my forthcoming experience, two more weeks to try and find things to do to fill my time (mostly unsuccessful) and two more weeks to procrastinate all the things I need to be doing in preparation. In other words, I’m a bit nervous about taking on the big city though. But at the same time, I’m very excited and couldn’t imagine not doing it. In fact, I’m very thankful that I am able to have this opportunity and even more thankful for those who have helped me along the way. Among those who have been instrumental in this process are those at the Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, Office of Career Development (this office is a must for any post-graduate career), my professors and of course, my family. This is definitely not a one-man-show and I couldn’t possibly do it without the help and encouragement of others.

By sharing my experiences through this blog I hope to accomplish primarily two things. The first is to highlight the usefulness of the resources available to us on campus and the many different paths to which it can lead. If anyone is at all interested in public service or civic engagement, then your first stop should be to the Regula Center. Even if your career goals involve the private sector, this office still remains useful. Hence, my internship meshes both the private and public sector together. Lastly, I hope that by sharing my experiences it will genuinely excite others to pursue their own career goals by taking a crucial step forward – even if this involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone … as the rewards will far outweigh costs.

Back to work

Back to work

Read more

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.

Food
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.

Classes
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.

Friends
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.

Routine
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.

Spring Semester is Underrated

Spring Semester is Underrated

Read more

Fall semester was easily the hardest semester I’ve been through. It was only my third semester of college, but it was easily the most difficult. OK. I did take a dance class, which made life easier, but all of the other classes were definitely not as easy.

This spring semester seems like a joke to me, compared to last semester at least. I shouldn’t have that mindset though. I should be going into this semester just as hard as I did in the fall so my grades will improve, but I like things to be easy so I am just going to take it lightly. Some of my classes are lower on the workload, but they still matter. After this semester, I will be half way done with college. Basically, I need to take this semester just as seriously as I did the last, or else my grades will be lower than they were last semester.

I am telling myself this so that if my grades are lower at the end of the semester, I deserve to be hit by someone who read this.

iPad in the Classroom

iPad in the Classroom

Read more

This past semester, Mount Union gave me an iPad … but only for the semester. The school gave everyone in my cognitive psychology class an iPad for the semester. We were one of three classes that were given iPads, as we were pilot groups to see if the University wanted to provide all incoming freshmen with iPads.

Every other week, we had to take a survey about how we use the iPad and how often we used it. I only used it in class when we were looking at Power Points or taking notes. Other than that, I used it maybe for one or two hours during the whole week. Our book was online, which was cheaper than buying the book. It was hard for me though to get motivated to read when the book is online and not physically in front of me.

I honestly used the iPad more for games and Netflix. I will admit that it is definitely convenient to use when I need to write an email or quickly check something else online. I also bought an app for learning muscles for athletic training but that was about it when it came to productivity of the iPad.

We took our exams on ANGEL while in class on our iPads. As for the essay questions, we had to type our answers on the iPad. I didn’t mind typing on the tablet, but I definitely type faster on a regular keyboard. Plus, I was less motivated to write more simply because it took longer. I shouldn’t be so lazy, but I still wrote enough to answer the question.

Having an iPad is convenient. I would still never buy one though. It didn’t affect my grades either; it was still up to me if I wanted to learn the material.  At first I thought it was going to be really cool having an iPad but at the end of the semester, I really didn’t mind giving it back

The Legacy #11in11

The Legacy #11in11

Read more

It has indeed been awhile since I last posted … I guess the Thanksgiving food coma, Black Friday hangover and the end of the semester blues have gotten to me, but I realize it’s time to make a comeback. This comeback is going to be about a comeback for the Mount Union football offense and NOT the Wesley College football team.

I’m currently sitting distributing care packages to students whose parents love to send them some cheer during this wonderful exam season. During the long spurts of waiting between people who actually come to pick these things up, I’ve been alternating between Facebook creeping, Pinterest pinning and d3football.com skimming. Let me just tell you, normally Pinterest would be winning all the way, but it’s d3football.com that is really getting me fired up.

Now, by no means do I think I’m a football expert. In fact, most games I go to I find it slightly difficult to keep track of the ball on the field because all the cute butts distract me, but I do know a thing or two.

  • I know that it takes 10 yards to make a 1st down. There are four quarters in a game. And, offense is when you have the ball and defense is when you don’t.
  • And when a flag is thrown on the field that means there is a penalty… and if that penalty is against us, then that’s a bad thing.
  • I know that a touchdown is worth six points and you can get an extra point if the kicker kicks the ball through the field goal.
  • It gets a little fuzzy with other ways to get points, but I think there’s something called a two-point conversion.
  • Last week at the game, I learned about something called a safety, which can be intentional. A safety has something to do with the other team getting a point by pushing you out of bounds past the end zone when you have the ball.

I think that about sums up what I know about the play of the game, but there’s a lot more to it. These articles I’ve been reading online about the game this Saturday have really got me thinking and you can blame it on the fact that I’m a girl and get emotional sometimes or the fact that my boyfriend plays and I feel really protective. But, I was honestly near tears thinking of the idea of losing this Saturday. To think that something our guys have been working all year for could not come to fruition nearly put me over the edge! I know that Wesley College football team probably has worked as hard as they could and hoped as hard as they could that they would make it to the Stagg Bowl this year. And, by the looks of the opinions online, they’ve done a pretty good job bettering them this year. I’ll give them that, but it is our time. It is our time to not only make it to the national championship, but to win it! Here’s what I know about Mount Union football, which is more important than any understanding of any playbook, touchdown, interception or anything else that happens on the field.

  • Larry Kehres is an unbelievable coach. He has led this team to all that they have become and our football program would not be where it’s at right now without him (even if he scares me when he gets really revved up at the games and I can hear him all the way from the stands). I love a coach that loves the game!
  • Our players have more heart than any other team. Ever. The look on their faces on game day is priceless. You can tell they are ready to put their all into it, they’re ready to leave everything on the field.
  • Even with one of the most winning records in Division III football with 10 national championship titles since 1993 and the all-division record for the most consecutive victories at 64 wins, the players don’t go into each game taking their winning for granted. They know that winning doesn’t always last forever.
  • They have respect for each other, themselves and the other teams. College football players may be some of the most competitive college athletes. Obviously, you see some animosity on the field after a particularly hard play or a cheap shot, but they admire the other team for all that they do well, pointing out that even the worst team has good players.

I hope that the rest of Mount Union’s campus, the rest of our community and the rest of our state see what I see in the players here at Mount. Football is a legacy at Mount Union. We knew that when we decided to attend college here, so let’s support that legacy and hope it lives on until our children attend Mount Union or until our grandchildren attend Mount Union. #11in11

A Simple Guide to Surviving Finals Week

A Simple Guide to Surviving Finals Week

Read more

Finals week. Yes, I am typing this post already having many side effects of dreaded exams including baggy eyes and searching for an abundance of sleep, but seem to only find more pots of coffee. It’s undeniable that final exam week could feature the highest stress levels per square foot of Mount Union property than any other week of the academic year. By reading this guide however, I am sure you will be able to push through the dreaded last week of the semester being in higher spirits, at least a little. Give these hints a try, as they might help you.

Remain Organized
Find the exam schedule and determine which days and times your final exams will be held. It may be helpful to prepare a written schedule of the date of your tests along with when you plan on studying for them. With having many tests crammed together, your mind may slip of when certain things are due. It is important to prioritize your workload and study for comprehensive exams more. Also write down study sessions, final reviews and times you will meet with groups to go over material. All of these will help you better understand the class material. In addition, calculating your grade in class and determining a goal for the final will help you stay focused.

Stay Healthy
Final exam week may force you to lose many hours of sleep, but don’t let it be a habit! Sleep is crucial for your body to rejuvenate and rest allowing you to be more focused and observatory, which are essentials for taking a test. Another important thing is to not skip meals. Food is energy to the body and it feeds your mind to help ideas flow and stay concentrated. Also, remember to take study breaks by going for a run, working out or just getting up to dance for 10 minutes on a study break. Remember to stay hydrated too! A dehydrated body is weak and lethargic, something you don’t want just in time for finals.

Be Confident
This is the most crucial part of surviving finals. Having studied material for lengthy periods of time, it is easy to say you probably know the material better than you think you do. Keep things in perspective. This is just another test that you are prepared for, so put it in your mind that you will do well. Remember too that confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong. As long as you do your best what else more could you ask for?

Good luck to everyone on final exams! Be great.