Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Life After Midterm: What's Next?

Dear all,

If this is your first time studying in the U.S, and also first semester ever, the chances are you might be overwhelmed by loads! of reading assignments, exams, presentations, group projects, papers, and etc. I can totally whine about how much I have had in the past two weeks and how much I have left till the end of the this semester. But I am not about to complain. We've all learned to deal with different events in life. So whether it is to swallow a spoon full of wasabi or a jar of honey, we know what college life is like and what we are getting ourselves into.There is no surprises.

As November approaches, it began to drizzle. The autumn colors kicked in a little late this year, but to me, seeing the leaves change color from freshly green to yellow, burnt orange, or ruby red is the most precious moment in fall. And when we are about to get to the end of November, there will be a short break for Thanksgiving. What have you planned on doing? I only have a little to share.

Option #1
Each year international students are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by President Krise at the Gonyea house. Students who went always returned with warm feelings. It is a nice tradition for those of us who are temporarily "homeless" in America. Keep you eyes open for the invitation and RSVP if needed.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Gonyea House. Photo credit: David Chen

Option #2
Make friends with the Americans NOW and follow them home! Just kidding. I am sure you have already made many friends whose families are in the U.S. It is not a bad idea to celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends' families. Most of them would really appreciate your presence and that they can share dinner with you. "The more the merrier," as my American mom would always say.

Photo from our Thanksgiving from last year
Option #3
If you really don't want to get your stomach filled up with Turkey or like me, you are a Vegan, going on a road trip with some good friends is what you want. Take a short break from Parkland and drive to somewhere far away. Taking a train to Oregon-- I heard it has a beautiful view along the way. Or you may want to go to Canada, cross the boarder, and do some amazing things. Don't forget to bring your I-20, passport, and traveling signature if you are going. Pick a place and be on your way!
PLU Golf Course, Sept 24

Sunrise Point, Mt. Rainier National Park, Aug 24

Or simply, relax and stay local to re-balance your life and to re-charge.

Option #4
Don't make any plans so there is no need to worry about anything at all. Pay less attention to Facebook, and so you leave some room for yourself. Read a book in a coffee shop; cook some delicious soup in a rainy day; listen to some old CDs and get lost in your favorite songs; pick a day to sleep in and wake up with a cup of warm milk or hot steaming tea; flee away from the campus and wander in downtown Tacoma by the waterfront; or maybe you'd rather stay cozy in bed and spend hours pondering the meaning of life. Who cares?

Tacoma waterfront, May 18
Have fun you all. And be safe.

Warm hugs,


Monday, October 20, 2014

A Halloween Story: ISS Trip to the Haunted Woods

     The weather is getting colder and the leaves are changing color on-campus. This means one's Halloween season! To get into the spirit, ISS (International Student Services) organized a trip to the Maris Farm Haunted Woods, organized by our dedicated International Peer Advisor, Vu Dao. Ten students signed up for the trip, and we had a very fun, loud and enthusiastic group!

The enthusiastic group before going to the Haunted Woods! (Photo: Shunying Wang)
 We got there around 7pm, right when it was dark and spooky. A man on stilts dressed up as a ghost greeted us at the entrance. The lines were long and it was extremely packed, so we had a lot of time to talked to each other and catch up while we were in line. After being in line for an hour, it was finally time to go through the woods/maze. It was very well-done with so many different aspects: people in full costume jumping out, different props were used to scare people, and each part of the maze was based on different themes (there was a section based on clowns!). I was very creeped out when one of the people dressed as a ghost blocked me from walking past him and breathed in my face! Overall, it was a very fun experience, and I am very excited to see the events that ISS will be hosting this year!

The creepy man on stilts that greeted us at the entrance.
Group picture after the Haunted Woods! (Photo: Othmane Marhaben)

Monday, October 13, 2014

PLU Homecoming 2014

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumni of a school. It is a tradition in many universities, colleges and highschools in the United States. Here at PLU homecoming usually includes a concert, a pep-rally, a football game and a dance spread over one weekend in the Fall. There are many activities for current student and alumni that come back to visit.

PLU Lutes took on the Linfield Wildcats at Sparks Stadium with a huge crowd of former Lutes, current Lutes and future Lutes in black and gold cheering them on. The atmosphere at home games is something I encourage all international students to experience. The Alumni Office provided hot mulled cider and football cookies. The Homecoming Concert featured Seattle artist Kris Orlowski before Lutes got ready for the dance later that evening.

Four Norwegian fans! (Photo: Hilde Marie Kjorsvik)
This year I decided to participate in my first ever and last Homecoming Dance. It is an event that is set up by ASPLU, the student government at PLU. The dance was hosted at the Point Defiance Aquarium. There was a DJ playing great music, people were dancing like no one was watching and great catering. 

My roommates and I! (Photo: Stine Smeby)
My favorite part of this dance was the location. The dancefloor and food was wrapped around a huge open aquarium and I spent a lot of time looking down into the water at the many different fish. There were huge flounders, sharks and fish in all sizes and colors. For those that were 21+ there was a cash bar on the lower level under the aquarium with great views of the fish from below the surface.

Although many people do come with a date to homecoming it is very acceptable to go with your friends or roommates (like I did). We had a great girls night together, getting dressed up, dancing our heels off and singing at the top of our lungs. I would say that my first homecoming dance was a great success. It was an awesome night that I will not soon forget!

A big thank you to the Alumni Office and to ASPLU for arranging this weekend. 


Friday, October 3, 2014

5 Things You Don't Know about PLU

1. W.M. Keck Observatory

Located on lower campus by the soccer field, there is a humble building sitting on the pavement. This small building with a cupola is the W.M. Keck Observatory, mainly used by PLU students in the Introductory Astronomy course and sometimes for public viewing. I didn't discover this place until this summer following the Jazz Under the Stars summer concerts. It was a beautiful night, and I got to peek through a telescope the first time at the Keck Observatory.

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2. Bike Co-op

Sitting in the basement of Harstad Hall, you will find the PLU Bike group. Serveries they provide include tune-ups, repairs, tools and an air compressor for use as well as tubes and other basic parts for sale. Apparently you can also rent a bike, which costs $50 per semester.

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3. Cup Credits at OMM

Just in case you haven't heard, PLU is working hard to be sustainable. So I think you all need to join the gang to protect our one and only planet. If you identify yourself as a coffee addict, why not investing in a coffee cup? Because every time you bring in your own cup to buy coffee, you get 25 cents off of your total charge. It is not like you will soon become a millionaire by saving these money, but do you know that one paper cup per day will produce 23 lbs of waste into a landfill a year. On this note, please bring your own cup next time to save some $$$ and show your love to mother earth.

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4. Movie collections in the library

If you are new, you might not know that you may borrow movies from the movie racks located on the first floor of the library, by the circulation desk. The good news is they are not just some  old  films that don't spark your interests. My personal favorite? I'd say Inception. Look it up today and see what you can find!

Photo Credit: Shunying Wang

5. KPLU Station owned by PLU

Again, if you are new to PLU, you might want to know that PLU owns KPLU-FM (88.5 MHz), a popular radio station that provides National Public Radio programmings, local news and jazz. Nothing more I can expand on this simple fact, but it is something that you, as Lutes, can be proud of.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Experiencing Psychology Outside PLU

On September 26th, I got the opportunity to present my psychology research poster with my research group at the Race and Pedagogy National Conference held at University of Puget Sound. This conference was held from September 25th-27th, and famous speakers such as Angela Davis (civil rights activist), Winona LaDuke (indigenous and environmental rights activist),  Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (director of W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research), and Dr. Eduardo  Bonilla-Silva (sociologist) were there at the conference as keynote speakers. It was a great opportunity for both my research partner and I since we had been working on our study since last April, and had turned in our research proposal last May hoping to present our poster. We studied the effects of family closeness and responsibility and how it effected different aspects of immigrant children's lives: with academics, depressions, and adjusting to American culture.

Many people stopped by our poster and listened to us explain our study, the results, and its possible implications or effects this could have on education. We also answered questions that educators, program directors, and students had about our study. We even got to interact with a few PLU professors as well! Overall, I enjoyed the experience a lot. I am really looking forward to more opportunities where I'd get to do more poster presentations!

Monday, September 22, 2014

PLU Outdoor Recreation: Experiencing Nature in the Pacific Northwest

Summer has treated the Pacific North West extremely well this year and seems to still be clinging on before slipping into fall. The first few weeks of school have been absolutely gorgeous giving us plenty of opportunities to get outdoors. That is why I jumped at the chance to sign up for some of this year's Outdoor Recreation trips. 
Photo: Madeleine Brekke
Outdoor recreation strives to serve students and the rest of the PLU community through providing weekend trips, educational opportunities, integrated course curriculum and on-campus programming. Trips are available to ALL students, staff and faculty and are designed to incorporate low-budget needs. Trips are guided by trained student volunteers and you can see them around campus after a great trip! Trips may include biking, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, camping, fishing, river floating, bonfires and backpacking!
Unfortunately the kayaking trip to the Puget Sound was full, but I was able to sign up for a hiking trip to one of the alpine lakes in the area with one of my roommates. It was a really beautiful day and felt so good to get off campus and into nature. The landscape in Washington reminds me a lot of the landscape at home in Norway. It looked and felt as if we were teleported back to Norway at times on the trail.

The hike was around about 7 miles round trip, 3,5 being straight up the side of the mountain, to a beautiful, clear lake. Were we had OR food and soaked up some rays. It was a nice break from homework (which happened later that night) and was a great way to end the weekend! I am looking forward to many more trips with OR before I graduate. It is a great way to see the PNW and get outside! I highly encourage all international students to participate as it creates great opportunities to meet domestic students an bond with new friends!
Mason Lake
The water was so clear!

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." 
- Eleanor Roosevelt
PLU student, Rose, pondering by the lake.
To find more info about Outdoor Recreation and the trip schedule check out their website here:

Check out their Facebook page here:

The hiking group! Photo: Rose
I want to specifically thank my OR guides Reza and Francis for being awesome and keeping us all safe!

Monday, September 15, 2014

PLU Foreign Kids Exploring America!

Dear friends,

It's been a while since I wrote you a letter. How have you been?Any amazing stories you'd like to share?

Early in June this summer, I flew to Namibia, Africa with a film-making group from PLU. One of the things that I miss the most was jogging on random afternoons outside of the hotel in which we stayed. The best part of my run was seeing the purple-ish sky as the sun was setting. It reminded me of the dream I haven't lost -- to see as much of this world as I could before I die.

On a hiking trip we went on in Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve, we found a tiny tree on the ground.
So there I was, planting my dream like gardeners popping seeds into the soil. Knowing that I'd only go further on my journey to see more of this world once I started, I realized how lucky I was.

After returning to the U.S., I became busy with making a trailer, preparing to get a driver's license, and the list goes on. Then, it was the New Student Orientation for Fall 2014 - the most exciting time of the semester for everyone at PLU.

Photo Credit: John Froschauer
International Student Services office has been adjusting to some new changes this year, while we said our goodbyes to Akane Yamaguchi, we welcomed Hai Doan, the new assistant director of social media, to our team. As usual, the orientation was still full of excitement.

Photo Credit: Hai Doan

The only thing different, and better, is that our new student body is a lot more diverse from the semesters before. We were excited to see faces from Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, Germany, China, Malaysia, China, etc.
Photo Credit: Hai Doan

Venturing to downtown Tacoma in the midday sun with the new international crowd easily became an odd scene in the eyes of strangers. "A bunch of foreign kids were looking for hello, cupcake," said a woman randomly passing by. She looked confused... I must add.
*One of the activities we do with new students. Each group is given a map of downtown Tacoma. The winning team must find all the locations marked in the map and take group pictures in front of each location.
Here you have it. The story has not ended yet. I am sure that this fun group will have more stories to share as the semester goes on. If I know of any, I will tell you more.

Let's have a wonderful school year!

Love always,

Shunying Wang