Tuesday, November 15, 2016

College Leadership and the 3Ws; When, Where and Why?

When starting at college, leadership seems like a far distant universe that is solely reserved for upperclassmen with extensive knowledge and experience. "I cannot be a leader because" is a phrase I often encounter when speaking to fellow students. The narrative that college leadership is reserved for a specific group of people is not only wrong, but it leads to a belief that you cannot by your presence influence people and your surroundings.
I want to write this to state that no matter who you engage with during your studies, you are a leader. You are a leader to your fellow students, to siblings, family and others. You are a leader to youth wanting to take a college education, to people who look at your example and want to follow. Leadership is not a hierarchical being that is only obtained if you have a certain amount of knowledge or experience, it is the act of wanting others to succeed and providing people with the resources to do so. You are a leader right here on your campus, from helping your friends with homework to have them join a club meeting.
How do you get out of this narrative that leadership is something reserved for others? You start by seeing the small things you do for others and recognize these acts when others are doing them as well. By acknowledging the good acts of others, you are working towards an environment of togetherness where you can express opinions and help others succeed. By your efforts, you are creating a better college environment and can continue making others` college experiences memorable. No matter your class standing, your grades or your background, you can make a difference. Why is leadership during your college years useful? If you develop as a leader and practically contribute the growth in others, you will also experience self-growth in terms of leadership, academics, personality and ability to cooperate with others.
These are the skills that employers are looking for, ability to work in teams, be successful academically and help others succeed in terms of organizational goals. You can be a leader wherever you put your thoughts and efforts to be. When others see your genuine want for them to succeed, they will do the same for you and you will experience opportunities of growth all around you. By doing these steps, you can see that leadership is within everyone, it is for everyone and by engaging with fellow students, you are simultaneously enhancing your own self-growth and development during college.

Monday, November 7, 2016

How to do this Holiday thing Washington Style

Hello to all and to all a good semester!

We are now officially in November and many of you might be asking yourselves "why are they playing Christmas music when we haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving?"  Yeah, I have no answer for you on that one.

But for those of you who are ready for the holiday shenanigans here is a short list of fun activities and events in and around Tacoma.

 Winter Things to do in Tacoma/Seattle

Winterfest at Seattle Center

     -This fun event provides many fun and inexpensive attractions like ice skating, ice sculptures, a visit with Santa Clause and lots of music and food.
*More info here Winterfest Seattle Center 



Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo

I have personally been to this even and it is beyond beautiful.  The sprawling landscape of the zoo is transformed into a land of sparkle, color and shine.  The even runs from the 25th of November to the 1st of January and the Tickets are cheap.  Please don't miss out on this one!
*More info here Zoolights


Festival of Trees

Located on the 5th floor of the Tacoma Convention Center this event features over 65 decorated Christmas trees.  Enjoy a leisurely stroll through this festive tour and support the work done at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center.
*More info here Festival of Trees

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Joel's Back!

Hey everyone!

Some of you reading this might remember me, I worked as an International Admission Intern from Oct 2014 until about January 2015! Prior to that, I enlisted in the US Army in June 2015 and then shipped off to basic training in February 2016 so that's when I stopped working here. However, I'm back now with ISS (YAY!) and you can read more about what's going on in my life ever since I left WA for half a year: http://pluinternationalstudents.blogspot.com/p/about-joel.html

Today's blog post will concern my time with the Army ROTC at PLU. ROTC is the Reserve Officer Training Corps and in a nutshell, participants in the PLU Army ROTC are called cadets and cadets will commission in their graduation year as 2nd Lieutenants in the US Army. Before I joined ROTC, I was a PFC (Private First Class) with the Army and my job title was a Unit Supply Specialist. Now, I'm a cadet and when I attend my monthly drills/training with my Reserve unit, I shadow other officers and essentially act as a platoon leader.

I personally think that ROTC is a great program. I took the GRFD scholarship, which meant that my tuition and fees were paid for by the Army. PLU also offers free room and board to scholarship cadets so that's another benefit. I was also promoted from PFC (E-3) to Cadet (E-5) and being able to commission in 2018 is the icing on the cake. 

So, what do we do in ROTC? Well, since the goal is to commission as a 2LT (usually a platoon leader position) in the Army, we're training and learning necessary skills and tools that will help us succeed as future 2LTs. We've done Land Navigation, Operation Order briefs and write-ups, Basic Rifle Marksmanship, Field Exercises and almost daily physical training. 

Here are some pictures of things I've done at ROTC so far for the past 2 months. I'm enjoying myself back working with ISS, and also with ROTC and I hope you're doing great yourself! 

A glimpse into our PT(physical training) sessions! I'm the one directly in front in the black uniform and shoes.

My MSIII Class Photo for Halloween 2016! I was dressed up as The Scream.

We were fortunate enough to visit an Aviation National Guard unit on Fort Lewis and took this picture in front of a Chinook.

Obstacle Course Challenge at Fort Lewis on Oct 15th for Operation Lute Forge!

Marking our Shot Groups after firing 5 rounds from our M4s during a rifle qualification session!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Guest of Mine: Camille LaRocca - Down To The Pumpkin Patch

Hello everyone 珞 Happy Fall season! 

This week, one of my lovely friend went to the Pumpkin Patch, and she took a lot of beautiful pictures.  And so, say hi to Camille LaRocca. The blog post this week is written by her, so take a look!

Down To The Pumpkin Patch

The air had the type of chill that made you feel like you were cold down to the bone. All of the leaves were in the midst of changing colors, an array of greens and oranges and yellows. We drove a van down to the pumpkin patch, wrapped in our fall clothing. My neck was wrapped in a soft pink scarf and I had my camera swinging around my body as well. Once we arrived, the first thing I saw was pile after pile of different types of pumpkins toppling over one another on each side of the building. Inside was a small food stand that was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. I smiled; this is fall.
We headed out in search of the perfect pumpkin. There were orange ones, white ones, green ones, pink ones, and even ones with patterns and bumps in intricate designs. With my camera I snapped pictures of my friends in excitement. The sky was gray, but the lighting was perfectly bright for photographs. Smells of apple cider and fresh fruit from inside the building wafted towards us in our respective spots. The van sat back in the parking lot, unlocked,
Cutie Marie

and trusting. After getting a good amount of photos, I picked my pumpkin, a white shiny one that is relatively small, but big enough to carve. We made our way inside to look at all of the grocery items and I ended up buying some concord grapes along with my pumpkin. Being in college it is easy to be deprived of fresh food in general, but especially fruit.
Kaylee Queen 
After we were happy with our purchases, we jumped back into the van. I sat in the middle seat, happy with my grapes, taking them in one at a time and savoring the flavor. Outside, the hills rolled past, out of sight. This, to me, is autumn. Surrounding myself with loving people, keeping warm, and taking care of yourself. This was my day going down to the pumpkin patch.
Squad came here! 
Here is our amazing writer and
photographer, Camille

I hope everyone enjoy reading and viewing the pictures as much as I do! Thank you Camille for writing this week's blog post along with pretty pictures. I wish I was there with the group too.  Anyone hasn't gone to the pumpkin patch should hop in the car and be there on this midterm-break. Have a great break everyone! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fighting off the Home Sickiness Blues

It is hard to believe that we are already over a month into the school year!  It seems like just yesterday you guys were milling around PLU for the first time semi-lost, confused and anxious to get adjusted.  Now all of you are balancing classes and navigating the American college life like pros!

First off please take a moment to pat yourself on the back and look at all of the progress you have made in the past month.  This being said you may have noticed that the glimmer and shine of PLU and America in general has lost it's sparkle.  You may find yourself longing for the comforts of home like you favorite foods, and being able to communicate in your own language.  At the same time you have probably become increasingly annoyed with some American customs (Seriously, why do we ask you how you are doing, but don't actually wanna know?). 

If this is your first time away from home this long please know that these feelings are completely normal, and it will get easier as time goes on.  Statistically speaking it is after the first month that home sickness really starts to set in for students studying abroad.  The newness of the country has worn off and is no longer something exciting and different.

I know that this affected me greatly while I was studying abroad in Spain.  So, from one foreign exchange student to another; here are some tips to help manage your homesickness!

Change up your Routine!
     -So let's start simple.  Changing up the way you do things can help relieve some of the staleness that has come into your routine.  This can be as easy as finding a new place/ time to study, getting into a new show or book, or joining a club on campus.  Not only will it help vary your schedule, but you are more likely to meet new people this way.  You would be surprised how a small change can make a big difference.

     -I am sure many of you know that exercise releases feel good endorphins, but it also helps regulate your sleep schedule and encourages proper hydration!  Treating your body right can really help improve your mood, or at the very least makes it easier to enjoy life.

Explore the Tacoma Area!
     -Did you know that on the third Thursday of the month you can get into any of the 7 museums in Tacoma for free?!?!?!  This is just one of the many options you have for exploring Tacoma.  Being able to discover and do new things can help distract you from missing home while exposing you to new and exciting possibilities! For more fun (and most importantly) inexpensive ideas please visit traveltacoma.com by following the link below.

Explore Washington State!

     -There are many things that can be offered by both sides of the state (as they are pretty different).  On the west-side there is of course Seattle and other bigger cities that have plenty of entertainment and beautiful sights to offer.  This being said there are also a plethora of small towns along the coast that have a unique tourist atmosphere that is quintessential to the Washington and Oregon coast.  On the East-side there is of course bigger cities like Spokane that can offer beautiful views and fun activities, but it is also a lot of fun to explore smaller towns like Walla Walla, and look at the beautiful landscape that differs radically from the west-side.  Not only will little trips like this brighten your mood, but they will also give you a better understanding of the state you are living in! For other options follow the link below.
Travel the Country!
     -There are so many different states to explore (50 to be exact :P) and because the U.S is so big each one has many things to offer.  Plus having an exciting trip in mind can help stave off the homesick blues.  That being said make sure you start planning now so you can keep cost down!

This list cannot fix everything (I am unfortunately not a miracle worker) but it can help you through this tough adjustment period while adding some fun and peace of mind to your routine.  I hope that the rest of the semester treats you well and that you have fun exploring all of what America has to offer you!