Thursday, December 18, 2014

Where is Love?

Dear friends,

This is not an article about romantic love. In fact, I have never felt in love, so you won't get much advice from me.

But what I can tell you is that besides the autumn leaves, my other favorite thing to see as I walk across the campus is the different couples on campus.

They sit here and there, hold each other's hands, and they would just talk for a very long time. As I walk to class, I see some kissing each other goodbye, or when I am in the library, I see them studying right next to each other. You can be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, transgender, and nobody would care. This is what I love about PLU- always being accepting no matter how different you are from your peers.

You will find people smiling at you as they walk passed by;

You will find employers who are just like your grandparents who would offer you ice cream and tea after a long shift;

and supervisors who would prepare care package for you as final's week approaches;

You will find professors who would help you move out of your old apartment because you don't have a car, and professors who expect you to be good, encourage your to be good, and also inspire you to be good;
Photo by Amanda Brasgalla

You will find sweet greetings from front desk workers in each residential hall as you walk in and out throughout the day;

You will find people who are just like Olaf and give the warmest hugs;

You will find baristas working in the market who would break the rule just to satisfy your midnight craving for milk shake;

You will find janitors vacuuming and dusting and cleaning while the world is still dark and asleep;

You will find the university baker and her helpers baking at six in the morning so that you can get some warm and fresh baking goods when you are awake;

You will find delicious scones and cookies being offered in the library during the most dreadful final's week;

You will find RAs spending their own money to provide quality hand soap for you and your neighbors who live in the same wing;

You will find on a special Facebook page some heartwarming compliments, which come from those who are too shy to tell you ;

You will find friends who would cry with you, listen to you,

laugh with/at you,

sing for you,

go on adventures with you,
spend days and weeks with you,

and love you for who you are.

There are SO many more nice things you will find at PLU, so many more kind spirits you will meet at PLU, and so much more love you will feel at PLU. I just can't list them all. It is cliché, but love...

really is everywhere.

I will love you always,


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Music To My Ears

As I might have mentioned in a previous blog post before, I have been involved in music at PLU for the last two and a half years. In fact, music has played an important role throughout most of my life. I started taking piano lessons when I was 4, and have continued to take some type of music lessons. 17 years later, I'm so happy that PLU has helped me keep music a big part of life even though I am not a music major or minor.

Let me tell you about my involvement in music at PLU. First of all, to fulfill my requirement of receiving a music scholarship, I am required to take lessons and play in an ensemble. Lessons really help me develop my skills as an individual, while playing in the PLU Concert Band really allows me to play in a big group. Meanwhile, I also play in a saxophone quartet, and this is mainly for fun! I love playing in this small group and it's a lot of fun playing different types of music and experimenting with those.

PLU saxophone studio (taken by Erik Steigner)
Students who take music lessons are also required to participate in a studio class. This year, we had a very large studio class of 17 saxophone players! Our saxophone studio class plays in two concerts during the year. The first one in the Fall semester is the woodwind recital, usually in the beginning of December. The second one is a joint concert with the University of Puget Sound (another university in Tacoma) saxophone players, which is always a lot of fun! We take turns hosting the concert, and this year it is at PLU so you should come if you are in the area! Concert Band also has one concert per semester, and musicians work hard to prepare for this.

Unfortunately, since I will be busy doing research and working on my senior Capstone project, I will not be participating as much in music next semester. I'm really thankful for the opportunity that PLU has given me to continue playing music even through college, and I encouraging you to support the musicians at PLU whenever you get the chance to do so, because I personally think we have great instructors and musicians at PLU!

Enjoy the holiday season, and I will be back again in January!

With love,


Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's talk about FOOD! Well, more like let's talk about The Commons @ the AUC.

Hello Lutes and everyone else!

How has your week been? Some of the words that many might relate to are words like hectic, sleep-deprived and stressed.

Finals week is just around the corner and I'm sure everyone's preparing hard for this final battle!

Let's forget about all that for a while and talk about something that usually motivates people and enlightens moods.

FFFFFOOOOOODDDDDD! Not any food, PLU FOOD! Specifically, Food @ The Commons.

I had the pleasure of interviewing The Commons Student Manager, John Pham. He was nice enough to offer about 20 minutes of his time on a busy day at the cafe.

We chatted about how things worked at The Commons, how menus are prepared, feedback and improvements.

What are some of your day-to-day tasks/duties as a student manager?

  • Making sure that people show up.
  • Scheduling shifts. 
  • Running the service area.
  • Ensuring that stocks, ingredients, supplies etc. are adequate. 
  • Delegating tasks during shifts.
  • Maintaining a supervisory role.

Then we talked about food and related issues/items. 

  • Head chefs would decide menus for the year.
  • Feedback from everyone is welcomed and in fact, encouraged.
  • They do listen to what we want!
  • Our happiness is their main priority :)
  • There are dining committee meetings (panels) that are open to all students.
  • So if you want to voice an opinion or talk about food quality, choices etc. be sure to catch these meetings!
  • Menus for the week are posted online on the Commons webpage! Go to the PLU webpage and search for The Commons, or, just click here.
Anddddd.... Something we could all do to help out at The Commons.

  • Always remember to clean up after ourselves!
  • Bring your own dishes back to the machine that moves like a conveyor belt.. Apparently it's called the accumulator. 
  • Currently low on custodial staff so please remember to help out a bit in cleaning!
  • Oh and also, if you're not sure about recyclables, just put it on the accumulator. 
So, that's about it. Thanks again John, for your time.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you've learnt a bit more about The Commons, our main food provider on campus. 

Have a great weekend and take care always!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

My last fall visit day was bittersweet

Dear friends,

Only three more weeks! Then we can start packing for home to spend the holidays with our loving family. I haven't decided where to go this year, but I won't be able to make it home to China for sure. A fleeting glance, I realized that I have spent two years at PLU. It was long enough for me to finish my degree. But it was not long enough for me to say goodbye.

Last Friday, I helped set up the very last Fall Visit Day I'll ever attend. I had a great time, as always. 

This year's Visit Day was not as big as the previous years in terms of the number of students who attended the event, but we were able to connect with a European club from Green River Community College and also two students from Pierce College.

This year we also tried a new activity to serve the purpose of the campus tour, which we called Photo Scavengerhunt. Students who came were divided into three groups to compete with each other. Each group was provided with a campus map and a list of signature buildings on campus with short descriptions.

Gum Tree
The students were to locate where the buildings were, find the locations, and take pictures in front of the locations. Accompanied by the typical autumn rain, each group tried to complete the task within an hour. The winner who found the most of the locations won and of course they got prizes at then end. It was a new thing we decided to experiment this year. So far I have not heard any major complaints. So perhaps this can be a keeper for next year's event as well. As long as we don't get pouring rain, it is always a fun adventure exploring the campus in the dark.

Giant Slug
Glass art in the music building. I kind of reminded them to look up... 
Morken stairs. We were being followed by another group LOL
During dinner, some mentioned that PLU had much better food options compared to their college. I won't say who, but that comment made me smile :)

Then it was Global Getdown. An annual talent show held by the students. Many were great performances. The last few dances were brought by some authentic Mexican dancers. There were in traditional clothes and danced happily. I think we all had a blast.

Anyway, that was the end. It didn't feel real to me. But as I watched everyone getting into the van that was sending them home, I waved my goodbye. See you later maybe. And I hope you all a bright future.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Making a Difference Through PLU Courses

This semester I have been enrolled in a School of Business course called "Principles of Marketing". Under the supervision of our Professor, Mark Mulder, we were given the task of creating a campaign for a real-life non-profit organization, Living Water International. Not only were we given the opportunity to gain first hand experience of creating and implementing a marketing campaign, we were able to make a difference. We were actually raising awareness of an important cause and raising funds to secure the installment of a well near Leon, Nicaragua by PLU students in March 2015.
One of our campaign photos. 
I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing marketing team, who since the beginning of the course have been extremely engaged and excited about our project. We created a video to raise awareness with facts about the water crisis, and to promote our main campaign event, a water walk.

The water walk held on November 21st, aimed to raise awareness and simulate the struggle that women and children go through every day to gather water that may not even be clean. Our goal was to have students carry a jerry can full of water a collective distance of 4 miles, the average distance woman and children walk every day, not including the extra 3 miles during the dry seasons. We also collected loose change from participants and non participants to help them realize that every penny counts just as every drop of water counts.

PLU students carrying the Jerry can.
The turnout for the event was great. Students walking by were happy to help us carry the jerry can and were taken aback by how heavy it was and how far children have to carry water every day. We were able to raise a lot of awareness and reached our goal of 4 miles in less time than anticipated. We would like to thank everyone who stopped by, participated and donated to this cause. It makes me very proud to go to a school who is so invested in bettering the lives of others and want to make a change in the world. If you want to make a difference, PLU is a great place to make it happen.

If you are interested in learning more about our partner organization or about the PLU Well project I have listed some great links below.

Living Water International's Website:

Read more about Lute experiences in Nicaragua:

Information about the study away course:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Experiencing Different Cultures with Around the World

Around the World is an event that happens every year during International Education Week. In this event, students have the opportunity to share their home culture or the culture of a place they have studied away in the past. This allows PLU students to be immersed in different cultures and experience new things such as food and music, and even learn new things about a country that they may not have known about before.

This year, we had students representing Denmark, Norway, France, Morocco, Sweden, China, and Thailand. The Danish table was teaching students how to make Julehjeter (Christmas hearts) and were jamming out to Danish music. The Swedish table introduced students to some facts about Sweden through a short quiz (this wasn't easy!). The Chinese table served some dumplings, which were very tasty! The Moroccan table served a mint tea that smelled and tasted really good. Each of the tables brought a unique aspect to the event. I'm really glad that I got to spectator to  Around the World this year again, and I'm excited to see what will be done for this event next year!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

International Education Week!

Hey everyone! I hope you're all feeling awesome today.

You might begin to realize that:

1) We are already past midway through the semester 
2) The leaves around us are all falling and changing colors beautifully.
3) Thanksgiving's just around the corner!

However, you might not realize that we have some cool things going on at PLU in the next few weeks. I want to HIGHLIGHT one particular event which is going to be amazing!

International Education Week!!!

Picture Source:
International Education Week is an opportunity for the PLU campus to celebrate the benefits of international education to our community. This event will be held from November 17th to the 21st and different offices and departments at PLU are hosting events throughout the week.

Monday, Nov. 17th

1) Taste of Tacoma 

Explore Japanese cuisine and embrace insightful conversations about foreign cuisine in Tacoma!
Bring  around $12-$20 for food. Transportation is also available upon reservation at
Hosted by the Diversity Center.

Tuesday, Nov. 18th

1) A film titled "Speaking in Tongues" 

Runs from 7:00 PM-8:15 PM at the PLU Language Center. 
Hosted by Language Resource Center.

Picture Source:

2) BUSA Abroad

These programs have been handpicked for you by the Wang Center for Global Education and are supported by the School of Business, so there is bound to be an option that caters to your academic needs. This is an informal event, and light refreshments will be provided.
BUSA Abroad will be held between 7:00 PM-8:00 PM in Morken 103.
Hosted by Wang Center for Global Education and School of Business. 

Picture Source:

Wednesday, Nov. 19th

1) Around the World

Travel the world without leaving the PLU campus! PLU international students and students who have studied away will host country-themed tables full of displays, hands-on activities and mini-lectures. Countries represented will include Norway, China, Mexico, Thailand and more! 
Hosted by International Student Services from 6:00 PM-8:00 PM at Hong International Hall.
Photo Source:
2) Study Away 101 

If you want to learn more about studying away, come speak to the Wang Center Sojourner Advocates about program options, funding and credits.
Event will be held on November 19, 2014, from 6:00 PM-7:00 PM at AUC 201.
Hosted by the Wang Center for Global Education.

Thursday, Nov. 20th

1) Student Mixer 

Come to meet and talk with other students at PLU. Join everyone on campus to share stories and experiences with students from all over the world while enjoying desserts and hot beverages.
Hosted by Hong International Hall

Photo Source:

Friday, Nov. 21st

1) Global Getdown

Photo Source:
Global Getdown will be held at the Cave from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM. Event is hosted by the Diversity Center.

2) Hong Discotea

Right after the Global Getdown event, we will have the Hong Discotea from 8:30 PM - 11:00PM at The CAVE!
This year's theme is Masquerade. Get ready to mingle with masked students from all over campus while enjoying foreign music and tasty refreshments. There will also be a photo booth to capture fun moments and prizes for best costumes.
Hosted by Hong International Hall.

On Campus Events

Tuesday, Nov. 18th - "Speaking in Tongues" & BUSA Abroad

Wednesday, Nov. 19th - Around the World & Study Away 101

Thursday, Nov. 20th - Student Mixer

Friday, Nov. 21st - Global Getdown & Hong Discotea

Off Campus Event

Monday, Nov. 17th - Taste of Tacoma

Credits to the Wang Center for all the beautiful pictures and information. I'm just sharing this with all of you so you're not left in the dark!

International Education Week will be full of fun so be sure to show up at the events listed above! If you want more details, visit

I hope to see some of you at these events. Have a great rest of the week and take care!

Yours truly,

Joel Goh.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Psychology of Horror: A Psi Chi Event

This year I am the Vice President for the Psychology Honors Association PSI CHI and was able to plan and create an event that would get students ready for Halloween and also discuss the Psychology around fear and horror.
Psi Chi, Psychology Staff and Fall 2014 Inductees
Growing up I have seen a lot of horror movies. I love watching them, but always end up regretting my decision right before bedtime when I cannot sleep or have horrible dreams. However, I take full responsibility for my viewing preferences. I wondered why even though people are terrified during horror movies, haunted houses or simulations they still choose experience this again. I decided to do some research on the topic and present it to fellow students as a fun informational event.

I had expected about 10-20 students to attend my event, but with the support of my Psi Chi officers, advisers, previous professors and friends the turnout was unbelievable. We even had to change rooms the day before as we started to realize that more than 40 people were interested in coming to hear me speak. I get nervous when talking in front of large groups and hearing the excitement about my event was wonderful but also daunting. This was a great learning experience and opportunity to develop my public speaking skills.
Attendees and their "scared" face! That's me in the front!

On the night of the event students were already waiting in the room a half hour ahead of time and kept coming in until we had filled every seat and a few extra chairs. We reached the maximum capacity and fire code of the room, 80 people, before introducing our Psi Chi chapter and an overview of my presentation. My presentation consisted of some lecture coupled with various video clips that went along with theories of appeal mentioned. During the showing of video clips, the lights were off to create the most ideal atmosphere. Attendees were extremely responsive to various video clips and the presentation itself, which added to the fun of the event. They were laughing, screaming and some even fell of their seats during scary parts of the video.

I brought in an international aspect to my presentation as we discussed differences in horror across cultures, to allow the audience to see how the psychology behind the fear is similar across the globe, but also acknowledging some differences and cultural factors that come into play. Examples came from China and Norway.

Students were very interested in asking questions after the event, about the video clips that I presented and certain movies I had seen. Others also connected the presentation to other course work and had suggestions for future films or texts to read about this topic.

As students were forced to sit randomly due to the room sitting arrangement and limitation of the chairs, the circumstance provided an opportunity for students to connect with others who may not be from the same discipline or standing. All class levels and 17 majors were represented. Friendships were formed on the common ground of eagerness to understand the psychology behind horror, despite various differences present among the 80 attendees. Friendships between first-years and current senior Psi Chi member were formed as well as they discussed the nature of Psi Chi as an organization and ways to navigate the department of psychology and college as a whole in their upcoming years.

I hope to plan more such events in the future with Psi Chi on different topics that may also be of interests to the whole student population in which we can promote the science of psychology to provide better understanding of the discipline and allowed students to see how widely impacting this discipline is in every aspect of their lives. The support and encouragement I received from my PLU community to fallow through with this event really helped me understand how happy I am to have chosen a smaller university where I truly can make things happen.


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)