Saturday, October 21, 2017

Shivani's Exciting Summer Travels!

Hello again! We're back this week with another edition of Guest Blog Posts! This time, we'll introduce a fellow Lute, Shivani, who just returned from her Summer break back home in India. Shivani recalls her experiences below:

Hi everyone, I am Shivani Muthyam. I am currently a senior at PLU. I am majoring in Business administration with a focus in finance and I am from India. I came to the United States in the year 2014 and I have been living in Washington State for the last three years now.

In the summer of 2017, I had to visit India for family reasons. It has been a very long time since I last visited home. Staying abroad for a considerable amount of time made me see my home in a very different perspective. I was perplexed, as I was subconsciously juxtaposing everyday norms, practices, and expressions of the two different cultures. When I reached India, I still remember how excited I was to meet my family at the airport. I stepped out the airport and gazed the city and realized that the city I grew up has been extremely changed. I saw what I didn't see before; Huge buildings, more automobiles, and people glued to smartphones, but it was reassuring to see the heart and spirit of the city remain the same.

Furthermore, I was able to relinquish the homemade Indian cuisines. I had a chance to travel Kerala. It is a state which located in southern part of the India and it is three hours away from my hometown. Kerala is also known as Devakulam, which means “God's own place”. It is the home of ancient Temples and scenic beauty. I had a chance to explore few of them. It is strange that I never actually traveled most of the India yet I traveled countries outside the Indian subcontinent. When I traveled to Munnar a city in Kerala I was flabbergasted by the effortless scenic beauty of the hill stations. The palm trees and the backwater boat rides added allure to the city’s grandiosity!

Moreover, the place is known for its historic splendor and traditions. It was amazing to see dancers perform an ancient dance form called "Kathakali" originating some 1500 years ago. It is also believed that the world's oldest martial art known as “kalaripayattu” is widely practiced in this place.
Finally, I had a chance to visit a coastal town called Kanya Kumari which is located on southern tip of peninsular India. In KanyaKumari, there is a place known as Triveni sangamam where the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet together. The transparent and clear water, surrounded by the ocean breeze was the ultimate moment of the trip.
I have to admit it, even now when I close my eyes, the nostalgic scent of the tepid raindrops and the sound of the water diverging front the shores of the Kanyakumari still haunts me.

In conclusion, although it was just a short trip it was an experience to cherish. Experiencing the vibrant culture and the misty hazy hilltop view of the hill station was best. The trip was a huge stress breaker, and a perfect trip to rejuvenate my mind.

Soon after, this wonderful trip I returned back to Washington for fall semester feeling better than ever.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Moon Festival in Kreidler Lounge

Hello everyone!  Long time no see since last Winter break if anyone cares.  I am back to the US in the summer and now on campus again after a life changing study away experience. 

This year I’m back to the Moon Festival again, yayyy~ So Kreidler Community had an event in Kreidler lounge on October 4th this year to celebrate Moon Festival. 珞 It’s actually an idea by one student staff in our office, Camille.  (She is also my roomie ) And so to complete a part of me being away from home and my tradition, I came to support her and had a great time making a lantern and eating moon cake~

Here is my lantern haha..

 It's not the best lantern but I tried guys.  We have it in the office too so swing by to see the prettier versions of my boss Heather and Camille. 

Me trying to have a cool picture with Cheong Wun and Yohei. 

 If you missed the event, Camille is holding again in Kreidler lounge on Oct 6 from 5.30PM to 7.30PM! 
Come, have fun, and celebrate a little late Moon Festival (but it's the celebration that counts!). 


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Joel's Summer Training + Back to School!

Hello again!

I had a bit to say last week, when I introduced my good friend and ex-staff member, Harald Overa's guest blog post. We actually also celebrated Harald's 22nd birthday on Saturday, so the past week was definitely an eventful week for him!

A happy bunch celebrating Harald's 22nd!
Anyways, let's rewind back to this Summer. This Summer was really eventful for me, I attended Cadet Summer Training 2017 (Advanced Camp), visited Los Angeles, CA, Vancouver, BC and also Tanzania on a Cadet Training Deployment.

Advanced Camp is a commissioning requirement for all MSIII Cadets. It is held annually at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and cadets have to endure the summer heat as well. In other words, it was a big deal. We had to endure a month of physical, tactical and mental challenges in order to graduate and pass camp. As a MSIV Cadet this year, I am also tasked with managing the PLU ROTC Battalion and Advanced Camp has allowed me to hone my skills and apply things I've learned here. I have less than 8 months before graduating from PLU and commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army so I can't wait for that!

Graduation March - Cadet Summer Training 2nd Regiment Graduation
After Advanced Camp, I got to return to WA for 11 days and relax. During that time, I visited Vancouver, BC and Los Angeles, CA with buddies! It was a great time to just recuperate and chill as my body was not only physically exhausted, but mentally tired as well.

11 days later, I returned back to Ft. Knox, Kentucky in order to prepare for my training deployment to Tanzania. I was in Tanzania for about 3 weeks, and it was an amazing experience. My team mainly taught English to students in a local school, but we did get to meet Tanzanian military personnel and also had the American Chargé d’Affaires, Inmi Patterson come visit.

Not only did we immerse ourselves in the culture, we also learned Ki-Swahili for an hour every workday. We spoke basic Ki-Swahili by the time we were done with our mission.
Soccer with the local teachers in Tanzania!
Tanzania Team 7!
After all my experiences and travels during the Summer, it was eventually time to return to PLU! I was involved in the New International Student Orientation and the New Cadet Orientation Program at PLU during orientation week, so that was a busy time. I am now about a month into school, and everything's going great. I'm busy with school work and ROTC, but every day's a great day!

Take care for now!

Joel Goh

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Harald's Taiwanese Summer Experience

Hello again! This week, we're doing something new and exciting. We're having a special edition of blog posts and we're bringing in a guest blogger! Our ex-ISS staff member, Harald Overa, has just returned to PLU after spending 7 months in Taiwan! Harald recalls his experiences and journey below:

Isla Formosa - The Beautiful Island

Where do I begin describing this amazing journey I had, together with my girlfriend Martine, in Taiwan from February until the end of August? Like this picture above, the adventure on the isla formosa was colorful, exotic, local and full of life.

Prior to departure in early February, neither me, nor Martine really knew what we had set out to do: live in another part of the world for 7 months without really knowing the language, the culture or anyone in the place we were visiting. If was frightening, but equally exciting.

Sitting at about 4000 feet is Jiufen, the city shown in the photo above. Jiufen is a picturesque city in the mountains north of Taipei. It is a very popular tourist destination as it is a unique representation of Chinese-style architecture combined with the extraordinary nature that gives Taiwan the nickname “The Beautiful Island”. 

One of the thing that surprised me was the big presence of buddhist religion and culture on the island. Seen by the photo below from Dharma Drum Mountain Monastery and National Park, there any many Buddha statues around Taiwan and the religion has a very big presence among the local inhabitants of the island.

It was very neat to be able to visit some temples around Taipei and the island. We really got a local sense of the culture and emerge ourselves with the local traditions and cultures. The photo taken below is from a famous temple on the west-side of the island in the town of Lukang (鹿港鎮). This is among the most famous temples in Taiwan and it has a very vivid historical aura about it when you visit. It really gave me a new perspective about what the buddhist culture and tradition was about.

The architecture of buildings around Taiwan was completely new to me, as I am used to wooden houses and a more maritime style from home in Norway. Below is the Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial hall, it is a landmark in Taipei and a must visit spot for tourist visiting the island.

Needless to say, cold Norway does not have palm trees. It was very fascinating to live in a place that was very tropical, as seen by the trees at our campus, National Chengchi University below. The school had 18000 students and is the 2nd best university in all of Taiwan. It is located in the southeastern part of Taipei that has 5 million people. To say that going from 500 people in a Norwegian village to Taipei is a contrast is a massive understatement.

The photo below shows downtown Taipei and the famous Taipei 101. To live in a city that was so vibrant, full of time and a constant huzzle and buzzle was for me a very neat experience. There was always 24hrs restaurants, endless shops to find things and a lot of stuff to do. Compared to Norway, Taiwan had very cheap prices on food and drinks, as well as activities and shopping, at least the local souvenirs. The international brands had similar prices to the states and Norway,

One of the definite highlights from the trip has to be the food. Taiwan is a melting pot of Chinese cultures and the food was mind boggling in its variety, flavors and tastes. Needless to say, most meals contained rice or noodles, together with some small dishes like pork, chicken, beef or fish together with mixed vegetables. Thought it took some time, I am an avid user of chopsticks and I was quite successful in using them by the end of the trip.

To be able to go out of your comfort zone and experience loving somewhere where everything is foreign was equally challenging as it was rewarding. Looking back, I feel very fortunate that I was able to have this journey and I find it more rewarding when I know I came here through PLU`s study away programs. I would strongly recommend everything to travel or live abroad, it is a great experience and it really puts things into perspective. You will end up looking at your own culture in a whole new light and have a very unique outside-looking-in perspective about your culture and your values you have learned to know.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Remembering Summer

Happy Second week of School!

Some of you might dive right into your academic courses just like I do the first week of school. I know, right? One thing that I always do the first few weeks of classes is to reminisce about the break I just have and to wish that I could go back to the summer break.

Well, we know it is not possible so I would like to share some of my summer FUN. In the meantime, as you are reading through my blog, I hope that you can also reflect on the fun that you had during summer. Personally, I find it helpful to alleviate some of my stress.

Here we go: 

IMG_0522.JPGAt the beginning of summer break, me and my roommate Van ( also one of the blogger for our International Student Blog :) )  took a 4-day trip to New York City. We have taken advantage of the convenient transportation to get around Manhattan. One of the highlight of the trip that I was able to experience diverse culture in New York.  There were variety of cuisines that we could select from, and I have tried my standard of authentic cantonese food in chinatown in New york city. Being away from home for so long, having a taste of an authentic wonton noodle soup is valuable to me.  Exploring central park is another aspect that I enjoyed during trip to New York City. It actually gave us opportunity to take some time off citywalk. The skyscrapers were great but for someone who grew up in a big city, I prefer trees and mountains. Having been to New York City, it makes me appreciate the nature resource that we have in PNW.

IMG_0786.JPGSince Van has been away for a whole semester to study away, we have driven down to Portland to visit our other roommate, Michelle. It was fun when Michelle took us out exploring Portland city, and we stopped by the Rose Garden. At that time, it was around 37 celsius ( approximately 99 Fahrenheit). Before we headed there, we were wondering if the roses were able to endure the heat. Apparently they did, and for us, we just needed to keep ourselves hydrated.

Self-care tip during study and stress: KEEP HYDRATED  

IMG_1664.JPGIMG_1563.JPGAnother highlight of my summer was when my mom and sister came and visited me at PLU. I have shown them the beauty PNW. We went to Olympic National Park, and drove up to Hurricane Ridge. When we were at the bottom of mountain, it was rainy and foggy. We were concerned that we might not be able to see anything on the top. However, when we almost reached the top, we got a glimpse of blue sky, and when we got to the top, it was sunny up on the mountain. ( Always stay positive :) )  I also took them down to Oregon to visit the Rose Garden.

It was hard to say goodbye to two of the most important people in my life: my mom and sister. I am more than grateful that I have them in my life supporting me, making laugh and relieving my stress during my nursing school.

To wrap up:   Stay positive
                     Stay hydrated
                     Be appreciative of the supports that you receive

- Camille