Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break on the West Coast

Spring Break is almost over! This semester is going so fast! And my first blog post!
What do the international students do for spring break? As an international student you might be a bit worried about not having somewhere other to go than staying on campus during breaks. It would be quite expensive to get plane tickets home every time we have a break from school. You have no need to be worried! The west coast has so many fun activities and PLU also hosts different activities for people that choose to stay on campus!

You will get to know people on campus that can help you get off campus for the weekends or for shorter breaks during the school year. Staying with your friends and their families is a great way to experience authentic American cultures. A few weeks ago I went home with my roommate for the weekend at her house in Seattle. It was great meeting her family and her dog! We learned even more about each other!

Students at PLU come from many different places and it is easy to find a ride if you don’t have a car. PLU also offers Zip cars, which you can rent. There are many buses and a train that can get you pretty much anywhere you want. However I have found that riding with someone else is a bonding experience. You learn so much about each other along the way and keep each other company. Staying with friends or family can really help keep your vacation on a college student budget. Roadtrips to Canada, the coast, Seattle, Portland, California for example? 

Some of the Scandinavian students and I rented a Zip car last semester and took a day trip to Paulsbo where we found lots of scandinavian food we had been craving!
From Left: Me, Lina, Helene and Catherine! (Photo: Helene Sunde Johansen)
Many students are looking for warmer weather during spring break, as it can get pretty rainy in Tacoma during spring. I decided to take a road trip down the Oregon and Californian coast to San Francisco with my grandma for some bonding.

I love the beach if you can't tell already!
The northwest is abundant with wildlife! 
While driving down highway 101 through the thick, green northwest forests we saw a sign for dune buggy rentals and tours. Of course we had to stop and go for a ride. Yes, my grandma is a daredevil! The dunes were absolutely amazing! There were so many people out with their four wheelers, dirt bikes and other vehicles. Afterwards I felt like I had been sandblasted and kept finding sand everywhere for days! 

Stopped by the golf course on the way down! Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is one of the top ten golf resorts in the United States because of its difficulty and its terrain. It is a beautiful golf course situated right on top of a rugged cliff right above the ocean. Spending the first night in Bandon, our room was right on the beach and had a beautiful view of the jagged, rock-strewn coastline that is distinctive to this beautiful northwestern landscape.

Bandon is so beautiful! Our hotel room was right on the beach!
We crossed the boarder into California and took a tour through the famous Redwood Trees! Even managed to fit the car through a tree!

Golden Gate Bridge
Breakfast on the Balcony
View from Coit Tower

                                 Beautiful hills and valleys.                    Sea lions at Pier 39.

                              Had to ride the Cable Car!

Driving in San Francisco is pretty crazy! So many steep hills and double parking... uff. 
There were a lot of other PLU students in San Francisco and I was able to meet up with a few of them while I was there! I also bumped into a friend that I had not seen for almost 4 years! We had a great time together! 

On the way back we stopped at the Oregon Vortex - House of Mystery. It was a really strange place and very interesting. Being inside the house kind of messed with our minds and it was hard to tell which way was up at times. Bottles, Lip balm and golfballs rolling uphill?!?! Brooms standing up by themselves??! What?!!?! You have to see it for yourself! 

We also stopped at Mount Shasta for a night!
There are so many fun things to do on the west coast! I can't wait for next Spring Break already!
Here is to many great adventures to come! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An imaginary monologue draws out real emotions--- A week at PLU

Imaginary friend: Hi Shi-shi! Long time no see. How have you been?

Shi-shi: Hi dear! I have been busy with...

Imaginary friend: With school! Always :D Is life treating you all right? How do you enjoy PLU?

[...OK here Shi-shi goes...]

Shi-shi: Life has been giving me surprises. Everyday is different. And I am so thankful that I made a right choice by coming to PLU.

[Shi-shi's friends from her past always ask her similar questions whenever she go back to see them. Her response remains the same. She always tells them that she very much enjoys her life here at PLU. Well, she IS working for the admission office, but this is NOT the reason why she says nice things about the school. She chooses to work there without anyone forcing her to. Deep inside her heart, she truly likes being in PLU, a supportive community rather than competitive, especially after going through a very emotional week. Let's take a look at the journals she kept.

Day 1, March 11th 
As a student and a future employee, I must turn in assignments on time. Lesson learned. 
When I knew I couldn't finish my homework before the due time yesterday, I shot Professor Harney an email, kindly reminding her that I would be turning in my assignment a little past the due time. I also begged for a grace period, so it wouldn't hurt my grade. 

Next day morning, she came to me, sat down, and explained to me the importance of meeting deadlines in both academic and professional world."Failing to meet a deadline prevents others from moving forward," She said to me. "You will only get half credit." Though it might sound harsh, I appreciate that she had this sincere talk with me. I made a promise to myself after our conversation: Tardiness is not tolerated. I would never be late again. Today, I am feeling firm.

Day 2, March 12th
I am just not that into history. And if I have not mentioned, I am taking a history-heavy religion course this term, Medieval Christianity. 
I finally got a grasp of what the class was mainly about in class today, after 6 weeks. Do you see how much I struggle now? Well, I am getting better for sure.

Frankly, however, I enjoy being in this class. Oftentimes, I sit in the classroom with a big smile on my face. That being said, I am basically saying, "I have no clue what you are talking about right now, Dr. Ihssen. But I still love being here."  

I think she is very interesting lady in religion department. She has her own opinions about Christianity, but at the same time, she acknowledges and appreciates different viewpoints. I think students feel rather comfortable being taught by her because she values our thoughts and perceives our values. Lecturing by Dr. Ihssen also feels like watching a talk show, I never feel bored! She is filled with emotions, which are expressed thoroughly through facial expressions and body languages. Today, I am feeling happy.

Day 3, March 13th
What?! Can I be an intern in Disney?! I would be thrilled to work in that dream world!
When I found out that there are internship opportunities in Disney world,Florida. I told myself that I had to apply! But because I am already a junior, I need to make a careful graduation plan around this internship. I decided that I should talk to my adviser, Joanne Lisosky, before making any decisions.

Joanne, an amazing woman, the most intelligent and inspiring professor I have ever met. It is my honor to have her advising me in college. I asked her whether or not it was worth it to go for this intern. She said yes. But that was not the end of the conversation. Joanne continued by sharing with me her personal experiences when she was in school. She was a go getter and passionate about trying new things. "I didn't have the fear of failing," she looked directly into my eyes. "Because I knew that I was not perfect. Even if I failed, I knew that it would be a story...everything is about stories!" My tears rolled out of my eyes while she was telling me that. It was the optimism and enthusiasm she had for life that moved and inspired me... I learned not to let the fear of failing control me, with knowing that I am imperfect just like everyone else. 

I always, always leave Joanne's office with something she teaches me. Perhaps she has so much to give, but I believe I just have so much to learn. Today, I am feeling confident.

Day 4, March 14th
The Father Tryphon experience in my religion class. He visited our class, gave a speech, and answered questions we had about monasticism.

Photographed by Brenda Ihssen
Image Source: From Madeleine Brekke

As you can see in the picture, the white beared guy, standing in the very back of the classroom, is the abbot of the monastery, which is located on scenic Vashon Island (about 15 minutes ferry ride from Tacoma. We call him Father Tryphon, or Dumbledore in secret...

Who he is doesn't matter too much, but what he told us during his visit allowed me to reconsider what it means to be one of the many human beings alive. The things he addressed in his speech touched my heart. "Everyone is struggling, but it's easy to feel that you're the only one who is suffering," He spoke to us softly. "There are values in suffering." It helps us to be better equipped, He said. "Your weaknesses are going to be your strengths." I am sure what he believes are full of common sense, but it is nice to have someone to walk us through basic level in life again and remind us about those beliefs. Today, I am feeling peaceful.

This is the end of the journal. It's time for me to wrap it up and say bye-bye. Please feel free to leave comments. Shi-shi is willing to talk about anything that you would like to know about PLU. Now...are you all ready for a quote?

"Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect."

---JK Rowling


Friday, March 15, 2013

My OB Clinical

Hello all

This is Henry again and like I promised, I will tell you guys all about my OB Clinical experiences.

With this clinical rotation, I was assigned to be at the Labor and Delivery Unit, Antepartum, Mother/Baby Unit (which is postpartum), WIC (Women, Infants, Children), and a Lactation Clinic.

I haven't been to the Lactation Clinic yet, so I don't know how that's like. However, I will share with you guys about my learning moments in other units in this post.

I) Labor & Delivery and Antepartum Unit

To be honest, I was very excited yet nervous at the same time when I first got there.

For those of you who are not quite familiar with this, this is where mothers come to the hospital when their water broke or they start having contractions.

On the other hand, Antepartum unit is where mothers come into the hospital because something happened to them. It could be anything from abnormal pain, hypertension, accidents, water breaks sooner than expected, heart problems...Basically, anything that is abnormal and that we need to carefully monitor mothers and fetuses.

Anyways, back to my story, since I am a guy, it was a little harder for me to be on this unit.
Back when I had my Med/Surg clinical, I was assigned to a nurse and I would take care of whoever that nurse had for that day. However, since this clinical is totally different from Med/Surg, I don't have a specific nurse to follow. So on the day I have clinical, I have to ask around to see if any mother would take me in and allow me to take care of her.

There was one day when no one wanted a young male student nurse to be there with them, so I had to sit there waiting for another opportunity.

With that being said, I do not blame the mothers or the nurses, or anyone. And if you are reading this right now and you are mad for me, please don't. Think about it this way. Let's say you are in there about to have your baby, you are very vulnerable. You know that it's gonna be the best day of your life and you want everything to be perfect. You have a choice because it is your right and it is totally acceptable for you to determine who will be involved in this birthing process. And if you see a young male student nurse, you might question his knowledge or you just don't want him around too much when your private parts are showing.

I don't mean to sound so negative about this because I honestly do not hate this. I love this experience. Learning comes in so many different forms.

I learn that professionalism and confidence allowed me to form a closer bond with my patients. I learn that as long as I maintain boundaries and allow patients to have their autonomy to choose, they will trust me and value me just like they do with other health care providers.

Therefore, I did have families that let me take care of them during labor and  delivery. They welcomed me and allowed me to do things with them. On my very first day, I saw a planned Cesarean section and it was amazing. We usually go home at 3:30 but there was one time I stayed there until 6:30 because the mother I was taking care of had a hard time pushing the baby out. I decided to stay with her became I had come so far and I would not give up until this baby were delivered.

The view from my floor :)
II) Mother/Baby Unit

When I think of babies, I think that they are very fragile and I tend to put a mental label of "do not touch" on them. When my sister gave birth to my niece, I did not touch the baby till she was like 3 months old because I did not want to break her or drop her. I know it sounds horrible but please put yourself in my shoes, you would feel the same :) I assume.

However, this is clinical and I will not stop myself from learning opportunities.

In the Mother/Baby Unit, we now have 2 patients: the mother, and the baby. And that is very very very different from all of the clinical rotations I had before.

For the mothers, I have to do assessments, vital signs, medications, intakes & output, etc... Basically, all of the things that I usually do in Med/Surg. However, since these mothers just gave births, now I have to worry about postpartum hemorrhage, lactation, surgical sites (in C-section moms), lacerations and hemorrhoids (in vaginal births), etc...

Then I also have the baby, and baby are not like adults. They are not miniature adults. They are...something else... :) I usually do assessments, vital signs, swaddle, etc... I also have to do a bath on each baby but I still haven't had an opportunity to do so.

The first time I held a baby, I was scared to death. I have to constantly tell myself to calm down, to take a deep breath, and to be professional. I am not an expert in swaddling but I am able to swaddle babies now.

You know how in movies, people say that it doesn't matter how tired they are at work, when they come home and they see their babies and everything just goes away. Well, pre clinical, I would be screaming "Liars" at the TV. But it is sort of true.

I remembered this one day when both my mother (that's what we call our mothers that we take care) and my baby were critical and I had to run back and forth in order to keep up with everything. I was super busy that morning; I had to do vital signs every hour on the hour, I had to do medications, I had to do my assessment on my baby and chart it before the Pediatrician showed up, etc... By the time that I got a chance to sit down and chart, I could feel that my legs probably hated me for life. Then I heard the baby cried and I went into the room to see if I could help the family. Since the mom was on the bed and I did not want her to do all the works to get to the baby, I asked if I could help her calm the baby by holding the baby and she said ok. The moment I held that baby, I finally understood that feeling. I did not mind everything my nurse I had to do for that mother and baby. I held the baby and the baby fell back into sleep soundly and I will never forget that moment.

I had a great time in this clinical and I appreciated everything I've learned from it.
Since Emergency, Critical Care, and Oncology are kinda of my things, I don't think I will be an OB Nurse but anything could happen, I guess we'll see...Maybe one day, I will be come a male nurse midwife :) then do I call myself a nurse mid-husband?

Hope you guys enjoy this post and hope this post could help those of you know are interested in Nursing, especially OB Nursing.

Until next time, take care and enjoy Spring.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Sick away from home

Starting to look like Spring!
Hi again!! This is Loana :) I'm pretty satisfied right now; it's starting to finally look like Spring, and the sun is out. However a week ago, I was not a happy camper. I got strep throat for the first time. It's actually the first time that I got sick after I came to PLU, so I was pretty miserable; I had a sore throat, my nose was like a fountain, I had a constant headache, and I couldn't eat (doesn't that just sound lovely?). So what do you do when you're really sick while you're at college and not at home? Here are some advices that I came up with after my experience:

1. Go to the health center. This is the reason why PLU requires students to get insurance. The people in the health center are really helpful and nice, and it's definitely good to get the right medicine when you get sick.

2. Tell your roommate (or friend) that you're sick. If your roommate hasn't figured it out, they should know. If you're sick, you're really in no condition to walk around outside to get things. During the 3 days that I was really sick, my roommate and friends brought me saltine crackers and gatorade, and that really helped.

3. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. I know this is common sense, but it's really important. I especially recommend the mint tea found in the UC Commons. Gatorade is really good too, but make sure that you have plenty of water in your dorm room.

4. Communicate with your professors. Since I was really sick, I obviously wasn't able to go to my classes. But it's really important to communicate with your professors that you are sick. Most of the time they are really understanding, and would give you extensions on assignments or meet with you to catch up on work that you missed.

Go Sounders!! 
I got better by Friday, and was able to attend classes. Though I'm still scrambling around trying to catch up on missed work, I feel way better-it was definitely a learning experience! And as a reward for getting better, I was able to enjoy the Seattle Sounders game (Seattle's soccer team) on Saturday with my friends!