Sunday, October 25, 2015

Last Semester at PLU... For now :)

Hi everyone!

I'm super excited yet somewhat sad that I'd be leaving PLU after this semester. However, this is not the end of my time at PLU, as I hope to be back in spring 2017! Fall 2016 if possible. #fingerscrossed :) So, what's going on, exactly?

So recently, I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves under the enlistment program, MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest). MAVNI basically provides a pathway for certain legal non-citizens (non-green card as well) to obtain their citizenship through serving in the U.S. Army. The best thing about this program is that enlistees should expect to receive their citizenship during IET(Basic Combat Training + Advanced Individual Training), which would happen at least 6 months after enlistment.

As of right now, I have 3 more months to go before shipping to IET in early February. As a result, I have to quit my schooling for a while and complete my training, as well as obtain my citizenship before returning to PLU and Washington. My training would last a good 4 months so I would be out of Washington for that period.

If you're wondering, I joined under the critical language option for MAVNI. This meant that I am fluent in a language that the U.S. Army needs/wants and thus, am eligible to enlist. I took my language test in Indonesian. That was really fun. If you would like to learn more about this program, click here:

So, I really hope to be back by spring 2017 and I'm also moving my graduation date then!

Wish me luck/pray for everything to go smoothly for me as well!

Have a great rest of your day, thanks for reading this as always :) Hope you find this information useful/entertaining!

Some basic info and a recruiter's contact information.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back Home!

Hello! Grüße aus Tacoma! I am not currently studying abroad! I was born in Seattle, Washington and lived there my whole life, until I came to Pacific Lutheran University. I had my first study abroad experience this year - I spent January in Berlin with PLU’s J-term program, February and March on my own traveling around Europe, and April and May in Nepal and Tibet with an organization called Cascade Leadership Challenge. Although it was the majority of my travels was away from an academic setting, I received some of my richest education (so far) during the months February through May, as I met a large amount of people with very different perspectives and temporarily threw myself into other, concurrent realities. I’ve returned home with a much richer understanding of the world and even the people I know and continue to meet at home. Already, I’m looking at international travels for after I graduate so as to further my education outside of school, always with the goal of experiencing parts of the world that are new to me.
A normal train commute in Rome, Italy
Right now, my German host mother is living in Berlin with her children, her boyfriend, and her midwife practice. My friends in Europe are working, going to school, and traveling on their own. In Nepal, I have friends who are building new businesses in the mountains, building a home, continuing mountaineering enterprises, and recovering from a terrible natural disaster which occurred this past May. I say this to point out that my understanding of my own reality is no longer just defined by those people whom I see everyday or even solely those who live nearby - there is a myriad of narratives being built all over the world which, amazingly, have a connection to me as I go to school in Tacoma.
Breakfast with our friends in Namche Bazar, Nepal, a few hours before the second large earthquake on May 11
A lot of people I know don't know where Nepal is. It's squished between China and Nepal, but in its entire history it has never been successfully invaded. The politics are complex and not in anyway friendly, but we found as we went into the mountains, where people are increasingly politically independent, there was an obvious community of hospitality and resourcefulness. We were only in the Khumbu for a few days before a 7.8 earthquake struck and we stayed several more weeks with Nima and Lhakpa Sherpa, doing our best to help from our position. We stay in contact and continue to learn from our friends in Khumbu. Not to mention it's indisputably in one of the most beautiful regions of the areas - the Himalaya.
Florence, Italy; a Napoli woman I became friends with who I sorely miss
Currently, Europe is going through a transformation as immigrants from the Middle East are immigrating to European countries. I was able to experience Europe on the brink of this change, right before its tipping point, and heard many different opinions from people in different countries on the issue. Experiencing other countries’ politics and social atmospheres first hand is helping me to understand my current course work on a deeper level, especially in my Modern World History course where we are currently learning the history of the Middle East. It’s one thing to learn about disparities around the world - it’s another world of experience to meet people on their own turf who are products of those disparities.
Photos with me and my German host family. I felt at home as soon as we met :)
I felt hospitality in every city I went to and feel it a necessary value to continue emphasizing at home. It's a big world out there and we aren't doing much if we aren't jumping into it.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Life in America

USA, the greatest place in the world! That would be how most of my American friends would describe their home country if asked which country they like best. However, if I address this question to an international student the answer most likely will be very different. We live in a world of perception. The way I perceive my world, is not necessarily how you perceive yours, and vice-versa. We encounter differences in cultures, personalities, norms, values, etc. every day. It is our choice to ignore, inherit, understand, or even engage, nobody will force an individual to do so. Nevertheless, it is my perspective that keeping open-mindedness is essential to progress with your own self’s.
Let me start to explain this to you. The first time I have visited the States was when I was barely 17 years old. My parents, on short notice (3 months), decided to put me in a plane and send me off. Most likely their intent was to get rid of me for a while. I did consent, but to be honest I was just excited to take a year off school. I had to redo the year I spent in the US high school in Germany due to grade requirements. This was my first time leaving my parents for a longer period of time, into a new country I have only heard about in the media. I was more than excited. I was stoked! Before arriving at our host families we stopped by in NY, and I could not believe my eyes! I thought to myself, please do not leave me by myself, I will be lost and probably end up with the bums under some bridge for a couple nights! To verify, I managed to not get lost… This was my first impression of the United States. 

After NY, I went to my host family, visited Puyallup High School for a year, and went back home to finish my high school education. I came back to the US almost every summer to visit the host family I stayed with. I loved and I still love the US. This fact, ultimately, led me to save up money after my high school graduation in Germany to go to college in the States, where school is obviously expensive compared to free in Germany. Yeah, I know, do not even bother asking! It did work out. I went to Pierce Community College in Puyallup to fulfill my gen. Ed.’s and afterwards transferred to PLU.

One thing, that no school never was able to teach me, is to engage in diversity. Nevertheless, being a German in America is definitely considered in functioning as a minority compared to other cultures that resemble a much greater part of the American culture than Germany. “Hey German, you must love Bier right!”, “Yannik, where are your Lederhosen?!” (They are only worn in the south, I am from the north), or another classic “How are you today Sauerkraut!”. I think you can see where I am going with this. Stereotyping is typical for successfully demonstrating that you do not know much about the culture at all. However, we all still do it. I came to realize that we are all different, but also alike. It became a priority in my life to meet as much people as I possibly can to find out as much as I can about their cultures. I strive for understanding. Stereotypes do exist for a reason. However, finding this reason often means analyzing the problem to its core. I thought, that this is only possible by aligning me directly into the cultures as closely as possible.
There are certain character traits, which are vitally important to fulfill my commitment. I knew I had to be outgoing, which I am in nature. Moreover, I have to work on my mindset. I radically tried to get rid of all stereotypes that have been set for a long time and start over. It was not easy. More so, I would not claim that I was fully successful, because I can still find myself stereotyping one or the other time. Nevertheless, I aim to maximize my open mindedness as much as possible. I have learned that this way you can put your own judgments, based on mostly invalid information, aside and create a new sense for people and cultures. PLU offers you a great opportunity to meet people from all around the globe. Everybody is friendly, and, nobody will bite you! I encourage you all to put yourself out there and learn more about different cultures and people. You will not regret it. I hope I was able to give you a glance into my life. I wish you all the best, and feel free to contact me with any questions!