Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Looking back: 7 Things I’ve Learned at PLU

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well, and keeping up with everything during these hectic times. If not; good -- then I’m not alone!  

April turning into May marks the beginning of my last month at PLU _ever_ (!!!), and I don’t even know how to begin processing my time here coming to an end. I should be a pro by now, considering that I technically graduated last May as well with my undergraduate degree. Because I knew I’d be doing grad school at the same university, though, graduating didn’t really bring any significant changes to my life. In a way, this past year has just felt like an (extremely time consuming) senior year. But now… I have to leave??? 
As I am approaching the end of my PLU ~journey~, I’ve been trying to piece together a few lessons I have learned about myself and college throughout the years. Because what’s the point of paying $40+K in tuition every year if you don’t collect some life wisdom on the side? So for my last blogpost ever, I want to share 7 tips/lessons/nuggets-of-advice I’ve learned during my time at PLU. 
To preface, I know the majority of these “tips” have been repeated countless times, and I don’t claim any of them to be groundbreaking. But they’re clichΓ©s for a reason! So without further ado… here are seven things I’ve learned in college: 
1.     Time management is key, but don’t hesitate to ask for help
College is notorious for introducing the challenge of navigating a work-life balance. Balancing academics, social life, self-care, athletics, laundry, etc. etc. etc. is entirely possible – but you need to be intentional about how you manage your time. For me, time management manifests through my planner. Some weeks I like to leave things as blank as possible to give myself a lot of flexibility with my free time, and other weeks I need to schedule my days hour-by-hour in order to get everything done. 
While planning has been a consistent tool to manage my time while at PLU, my planner can’t predict my energy levels or mental health. Sometimes, the idea of balancing an identity of “good student” and “mentally stable student” feels like a cruel joke… and unfortunately, that’s just college (and life, lol)! This brings me to the second half of this lesson; asking for help is not only advised, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Don’t hesitate to lean on the community around you for help, whether that be asking for an extension because you just can’t get something done, seeking guidance from friends you look up to, or using PLU’s counseling resources when things feel particularly challenging. 
2.     You don’t have to have it all figured out
This is a phrase I have heard _a lot_ over the past few years. It speaks for itself, but I think it’s a helpful and comforting reminder for when things feel chaotic; you don’t need to have all the answers! Whether you are unsure about your major, what you want to do after college, etc., try to remind yourself that it’s okay (and super normal!!!) to not have everything figured out!
3.     You’re a person first, student second
THIS. You guys – 
I spent a large portion of my undergraduate years being consistently burnt out, because my sense of priority and responsibility rotated entirely around my identity as a student. Don’t get me wrong; prioritizing school and being on top of things is great, but this is where that work-life balance comes in again… you have to make time for things that “fill your cup” personally too. Sometimes I like to pencil in specific activities in my planner, as a written reminder to make time for myself, although I recognize that this is a little much for the average person. Another approach I take is to set aside an hour or two of the day where I “have to” take the time off, and when that time comes around I just do whatever I feel like in that moment. In short, try to be intentional about taking care of yourself and your free time – and this looks different for everyone!
4.     Critical thinking is a skill -- and it requires practice
It’s not realistic that you will only take classes that you love and are passionate about. Frankly, I did not care about most of the classes I took at PLU (sorry profs!). That said, one thing I really cherish about GenEds and other classes you might not have an affinity towards, is that it taught me to think about a number of different issues from various perspectives. I do want to note that it is perfectly fine to not like a class and have that reflect in your motivation, I definitely allocated my time and effort into classes disproportionately, based on my level of interest. My point is that some classes you just have to endure, but you can also do more than just endure them; you can enjoy them! For me, this enjoyment came from exercising my ability to think about issues I otherwise had never reflected on. Because thinking is a skill, these classes allowed me to practice and broaden my critical thinking skills, which in turn improved my performance in classes I really did care about!
5.     Take a class just for fun!
On a similar note, I would highly recommend taking a few classes just for fun during your time at PLU. I realize that not everyone is able to take classes outside of their major due to constraints with time and/or credit requirements, but if you have an available spot; try taking a class just because it sounds fun! My sophomore year I took a class with a professor who made going to class the highlight of my week. I would wake up in the morning and look forward to grabbing a coffee and sitting in her classroom for two hours. I loved the class (and professor) so much that every time registration came around I searched for any classes taught by that professor, evaluating whether any of them would align with my other required courses. I ended up taking four classes with this professor, and all four are ranked as my favorite classes I took at PLU. They had little/nothing to do with my major, I just really enjoyed the topics and how this professor taught her class. Long story short: take a class just for fun!
6.     Things rarely go as planned
Once again, I’m sure we’ve all heard this one before – so no need to elaborate. As a self-proclaimed control freak, I found it difficult to deal with unforeseen changes in my life, whether that be a project for school, a friendship growing distant, a relationship ending, or what have you. Even though we all know that things don’t go as planned, I still think it’s an important reminder. This pandemic has resulted in a lot of sudden and startling changes for most people, so this lesson is still really fresh. That said, I find that “smaller” changes in plans can feel just as unsettling, making this lesson applicable to a lot of circumstances where things don’t go as you’d hoped or planned. 
7.     It’s okay to not always feel put together, but be mindful of how certain behaviors can fuel a negative loop
College is a time when many people are living “alone” for the first time, and it can be a tricky transition. If you’re used to having a lot of routine chores taken care of by your parents, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., the addition of these small, everyday tasks can feel disproportionately challenging. Pairing that with the general stress of being a college student, it’s easy to get off-track and neglect essential activities. For me, making regular meals for myself was the first thing to go whenever I got stressed. If I was feeling really overwhelmed, I would justify that I didn’t have time for cooking, and would wait to eat dinner until it was “convenient” (i.e., McDonalds at 11pm). Aside from eating, there are many other things that can make us feel like we’re not put together, like falling asleep with our clothes on from the day before, not getting ready for the day, etc. I want to emphasize that these behaviors are perfectly okay in moderation, because nobody feels put together all the time. The problem is when the lack of routine becomes self-perpetuating, fueling a negative loop of behaviors that only make you more stressed and tapped for energy.
And that’s it! I was originally aiming for a clean “10 tips I’ve learned at PLU”… but my list ran dry after seven – so there you go! All of these tips reflect challenges that I faced personally while going to PLU, and many are things that I still need to remind myself of. I’m hoping that my reflections can resonate with current/prospective students, or at least make you feel better about the whole adulting thing. With that said, this post marks the end of my blogging career! 
I’ll end with a quick thank you to PLU & Co. for the memories; it’s been (mostly) a blast!
-- Megan 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Take Advantage of the Students Discounts!

 Hi all, this is Silje!

I hope you're all well and healthy, and that mid-terms went by smoothly. This week I wanted to talk about the advantages students have when it comes to discounts - It's no secret that college students have a tighter budget, and there is a lot of businesses that have decided to help out in offering their products and services at a discounted price. I will share both online and local discount offers that are beneficial to us as students to help save some extra cash. 

1. Spotify Premium, Hulu and SHOWTIME bundle 

For me personally, music is essential to my everyday life - I play music when I study, while I make food when I go to the gym, and so on. According to my screen time, my Spotify app has about 9 hours of activity per day. And I also know that I am not the only college student out there who enjoys using streaming services to watch a movie or a tv-show. These services can get pretty pricey in the long run - Originally, a Spotify Premium account is priced at $9.99 per month, and the popular streaming service Hulu is priced at $5.99 with additional costs for add-on services that are usually very tempting to pay for. Thankfully, Spotify and Hulu partnered up to offer college students a bundle; Spotify Premium and a Hulu account with the "SHOWTIME" add-on for only $5.99 per month total. All these services combined, it saves you a whopping $21.98 per month, which is a deal that is hard to pass upon. 

This offer lets you listen to and download your songs and playlists offline, stream thousands of different movies and tv shows and you can try it for one month free of charge. If you're interested, sign up using this link!

2. Amazon Prime Student 

This one is by far one of my personal favorites that I take full advantage of. Amazon is super convenient and offers a lot of great deals. Amazon Prime offers free shipping, and depending on the product, it can be delivered as soon as the same day of placing the order. They also offer to deliver your grocery shopping within two hours! Prime also offers easy and free returns, and conveniently enough there are two Amazon lockers located on campus (in the UC next to OMM, and in Morken center) where you can place your returns to be picked up the following day.

Amazon Prime also offers the streaming platform Prime Video to watch movies and shows for free, Amazon Music Prime for music-streaming, and Prime gaming which offers a lot of cool computer games that you can play. They also offer a textbook rental for those expensive books you need for class at up to a 90% discount. 

Usually Amazon Prime would charge you $12.99 a month for their membership, however, as a student, you will receive 6 months of free prime membership. After the free period ends, you will be able to receive the membership half off ($6.49)! If you would like to sign up or just check it out, you can take a look here

3. Bank of America and Wells Fargo Student Banking

From an international student perspective, opening up a bank account here in the US required a lot of research on which bank I should choose and what came with the most benefits. I found two banks that will let students open up a bank account free of charge and that will not charge you monthly maintenance fees for keeping your account open (those fees can really add up in the long run!). 

Bank of America (conveniently located about a 12-minute walk from campus) offers Student Banking (students 24 years and younger) which allows you to open up a checking and a saving account without the monthly fees. All you had to do was to meet for an in-person meeting with the bank and show your documents - for international students specifically, bring your I-20, your passport, and your PLU ID card. They will help you get your account and your mobile bank app set up and will get your debit card sent out to you within about two weeks. 

Wells Fargo also has the same deal for students between the age of 17 and 24 - Their "everyday checking" account allows you to open a bank account free of charge without the monthly fees. The closest Wells Fargo is across the street from the Bank of America location (so about a 14-minute walk.). If you prefer to pull out cash regularly, PLU has a Wells Fargo ATM located on campus inside the University Center. 

4. Mint Mobile 

Finding a phone plan can be an extremely tedious process, and comparing the different carriers to their different prices and what those prices include can get really overwhelming. Usually, international students tend to register for a prepaid plan because opening up a traditional phone-line account usually costs more than it's worth. After browsing through all the different carriers, I wanted to give Mint Mobile some appreciation in this post. 

When I first came to the US it took me about two weeks to get my American number and phone plan, due to comparing rates, going to the carrier's store to set up an account and phone number (since most carriers won't let you do it online without an American phone number) and waiting for the SIM card to get shipped to my dorm. CampusSIMS partnered up with Mint Mobile to ship out a Sim Card to your international home address for free so that you can activate your plan and start using your new number the second you arrive in the US. If you're already in the US with a US Phone number and just looking for a cheaper carrier, then Mint Mobile has the cheapest prices on the market, for the same coverage and data usage. Worth checking out! 

The Outlet Collection Seattle - Auburn, WA

Located about 30 minutes off Campus is the Outlet Collection, which has a lot of different stores - there is something there for everyone. There are major sales going on all the time inside that mall, and a lot of the stores will apply an additional discount if you show them your Student ID at the register. Just for reference, I went to a designer purse-store inside the mall called Kate Spade, where they had sales from 50%-70% off. At the register, they applied an additional 15% off when I showed them my Lutecard. This mall is definitely worth the trip if you need to treat yourself with some shopping without spending a lot of money. A list of the stores in the mall can be found here

Student Beans & Honey

Lastly, to keep track of more student discounts I would recommend signing up for an account at Student Beans. They provide you with all of the student discounts that are available to you and lets you save them in your account to use in the future. You can take a look and make a free account here

Honey is not specifically directed to students directly, however, it is directed towards saving money - which every student wants to do. Honey is a free extension to your browser, that automatically scans the internet for coupon codes when you're online shopping. To see how exactly this works, I found one of
their youtube videos that explain it in less than a minute here. You can add it for free to your browser with this link and start saving money. I make sure to do all my online shopping on my computer where Honey is installed and it has saved me so much money! 

Those are my tips and tricks to saving some money on products and services that typically can get pretty pricey in the long run - I hope some of these will help you save some money as well! 

-- Silje 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Where are we after one-year got hit by CORONAVIRUS?

 Warm Greetings to Everyone, it's Chau!

Spring is here! I hope you all doing great and stay actively healthy.  It has been over a year that we got hit by the Coronavirus.  I couldn't believe it 😬!!! Let's take a look at how we did throughout the year to FIGHT...

Here is the graph showing the number of new cases in Pierce County from March 22rd, 2020 to March 31, 2021.  As we can see, we reached the peak of cases in November- December😣😣😣.
 I am sad when thinking about people who were sick, lost their loved ones, and also everyone who still fighting for their lives from this ugly virus.  And, I am truly thankful for our healthcare providers and people who work to make our lives back to normal. πŸ’“πŸ’“πŸ’“

 AND, now we are going to make it down πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘.  

We have been doing an excellent job to prevent the spread of the virus by practicing SOCIAL DISTANCING, LESS GATHERING, WEARING MASKS, WASHING HANDS,.... 

🌟🌟🌟 COVID VACCINES is on the way to everyone🌟🌟🌟

Let's take a look at the Covid-19 vaccination in Pierce county.  Many people in our county have got their vaccines partially and fully.  Soon, we will be fully vaccinated... πŸ‘πŸ‘
The vaccination is eligible to people in Phase 1B Tier 3 and Tier 4 from March 31.  

To learn more about your phase, here is the link to it. πŸ’ͺ

ALSO,  I would love to announce a great news with our community that INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS starting APRIL 15TH !!!!!!!!!!!!

πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯ Although getting Vaccinated would minimize the spread of Covid, we still need to keep doing our social distancing and MASK UP!!!! 
I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.  Enjoy our Spring and Summer is coming!!!! 

-Chau πŸ™‹.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Things about Owning a Car

Hi guys,

It's Bryan here. 

So yesterday, I was at St. Joes Hospital doing my 12 hours clinical preceptorship. I got off at around 8 pm,
tired and hungry. I got into my car and ordered dominos pizza to treat myself. As soon as I started driving, I heard some weird noise from my front right tire and the car was really slow. I had to stop the car and jump out to inspect what's wrong, and that's when I realized the tire was punctured and flat. 

I can drive a car, but I had 0 experience with fixing one. I panicked for a hot second, and then I managed to change my tire into a spare one with the help from YOUTUBE

As interesting as that experience was, I know many of my international friends needing information about owning a car in US, and here I will go over what I know about it. 

Getting your license 

If you are interested about owning a car, definitely start by obtaining your driver's license.
First, if you have a driver's license in either Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, or Taiwan, you can exchange your license into US license without having to take any tests. Please use this website to find the specific directions if that fits your case. 
If not, you will need to complete both the knowledge test and driving test before you can apply for a driving license. A quick lists of steps can be found on this website. Below are my experiences:  

1. Completing a knowledge test: You don't need any prior training or classes to take the knowledge test. You do need to know the rules and knowledge though. The test is not hard. I downloaded a DMV Permit Practice App on my phone, did the practice quiz for two days, and I passed the test. I also know people who read the Driver's manual for two times before taking the test. You get to choose your strategies. (BTW, if you decide to enroll in a driving class, you may get to skip this step based on your program.) Once you are ready, you can find a driver's training school and do the test. Link for finding a school here. I did it in the ACME Driving School LCC in Parkland that's right next to QFC. 

2. Learn how to drive: You will have two options. One, you can learn from a driving school. Two, you can apply for a instruction permit and learn from your friend that has a driver license for 5+ years. Instruction permit allows you to drive on the roads while having a 5+ year experienced driver right next to you. I used this method because I had some prior experience with driving a car. But if you are completely unfamiliar with driving, I recommend going to a training program. 

3. Take the driving test at the driving school (appointment needed). I personally took mine at 911 driving school Lakewood. I recommend using their car to do the driving test, as it is smaller than the usual car and easier to park. ACME Driving School near QFC also offer driving tests. A list of skills that will be tested can be found on this website. Also please check to see what documents they require for driving test. When I took the test, I had a learning permit already; for those that didn't apply for a permit, please check to make sure they don't need some sorts of license from you to do the testing. 

4. Visit a Driver Licensing Office to get your license! A temporary license will be given to you right away and be good for a month or so. An official license will be sent to your address. Location of Driver Licensing Office can be found here

Hold up before you rush to the licensing office! Obtaining a driver's license require an valid US  address, and a PLU dorm address may not be accepted. Please obtain a support document from ISS in this website to prove your residency at the US. If you live off-campus, it can't hurt to bring some extra supporting documents with you, so consider submitting the form.  

Buying a Car

Buying a car is a skill that demands a lot of experience, especially when buying used car. You will have a high chance of getting a bad deal, if you don't know what to check for and what to bargain about. So try to bring an experienced person with you. 
If you are buying a new car though, there is less worries and more safety with the new car. 
As I have little experience with buying a car too, my recommendation for buying a used car is following: 
1. Know your budget. If you walk into a store, this is typically what they ask about first. You can browse online to get a rough idea of what kind of car you can get with your budget. 

2. Know what your car will be used for. When I was buying my car, I knew I would be driving it to my clinical sites every week, so I went for a newer model with less mileage to ensure my safety. Maybe you like a sporty car that looks cool? Maybe higher chassis can provide better safety? Maybe you will be driving on the snow very often? Think about relevant questions. 

3. Get a certified pre-owned vehicle. A certified pre-owned vehicle means that the car is inspected and damages are repaired before you buy them. So you get extra safety when buying these cars (though they do mean a bit more expensive). Also try not to go to the small dealerships, even if they have cheaper cars. I would recommend going to the dealership of the brand that you want, like Ford, Nissan, Toyota, etc.. 

4. Check the car thoroughly before buying it. There are a number of things you should be checking for when getting a used car, such as any previous incidents, current damages, tire damages, electronic systems malfunctions, and more. I recommend you to look at websites like this to know points to check for. 

Cost of having a Car

Buying a car can be quite costly, but keeping a car also consumes quite some money. Below is a list of cost that you may be paying monthly for your car: 
1. Insurance: around $130 per month. Insurance is required before you take your car to the streets. New license, international student, not under an adult's plan, or no credits can all make your insurance more expensive. You may need to find an insurance before you take your car out, or some dealership can help you find a insurance. Some insurance companies have discount for students with good grades, be sure to check about that. I personally use State Farm for my car insurance. 

2. Gas. around $100 - $200 per month, based on how often you drive and your car's fuel efficiency. 

3. Tax/registration...: $40 - $100 per year. On the license plate, there is a sticker indicating that you have paid this year's vehicle tab fee. It is a yearly renewal thing, and try not to forget about it. 

4. Yearly check-up, maintenance, tier change fee: around $150 - $200 per year. You should bring your car to an auto-care shop for safety checks at least once a year or preferably every 6 month. And if any problem occurred, fixing the car can cost quite a bit of money. So drive safe!

Changing a tire

Knowing how to change your tire can be a valuable skill to know, so you won't panic when things happen. 

Unless you are experienced with fixing your car, the first thing you should consider is calling insurance company and asking if they have road side service to help you. If you are stubborn like me, you can try to change the tire by yourself, but it's really time consuming and tiring, and I don't recommend doing that. Road side services may cost you some money, but it's safer and probably faster. 

If you don't have road side service available, you will need to change the damaged tire into a spare one. There is usually one spare tire available in your truck along with the tools you will need to change the tire. I recommend reading your vehicle owner's Manuel and watch some videos from "YOUTUBUniversity" before you start. This is the video I used. The basic steps are: 

1. Park your car in a safe place and prevent it from sliding. 

2. Remove hubcap, and loosen the wheel nuts before lifting car off ground. (You may need to step on the wheel brace to turn it)

3. Place the jack at the correct spot based on the manual, and use your wheel brace to turn it. 

4. Remove the wheel nuts and change into the spare tire.

5. Put on the wheel nuts then lower the car 

6. Tightens the wheel nuts completely (Step on the wheel brace and make it as tight as possible!)

7. Drive to a tire shop slowly 

After you change into a spare tire, your car's balance will be pretty bad (it will drift to one side slowly), and spare tires are not designed to last for long distances. If possible, you should avoid going onto the highways and consider going to tire shop as early as you can. 

That's about the basics of owning a car! It's quite a investment for your wallet and there's a lot to think about when buying a car. However, when you have your car, you will realize there is so many fun stuffs waiting for you to explore around the area, and you just drive there. 

Wish you guys all healthy and happy!


Bryan Yuan





Thursday, March 25, 2021

In-person Events This Spring

 Hello, it’s Megan!

I hope you’re all doing well (all things considered), and staying healthy! It’s no secret that campus life has looked a lot different in the past year, and reimagining what “social” means has been a ~journey~ to say the least. Spring Semester is when we get to enjoy our campus in all its glory, and take advantage of all the outdoor spaces PLU has to offer. In the context of COVID, the outdoors offers greater real estate to gather safely, and there are multiple initiatives on campus taking advantage of this. Today, I want to share some of the opportunities for in-person connection that are available to our current students. The Student Life Centers have organized a variety of weekly events that allow students to socialize in person, with peers and other members of the PLU community. 

I feel like the threshold for meeting and engaging with new people is a lot higher now than before, and although you might not feel like it’s necessary either, I know for myself that I need to actively challenge myself to socialize. Whether you resonate with that, or you’ve been looking for ways to chat and interact with others, I recommend trying out one of the events below; they’re made for you!


1)    NatSci Strolls

The Department of Natural Sciences is hosting weekly walks for anyone interested. This twice-a-week walk gives people a chance to meet up in person for a casual stroll around campus. A Natural Sciences faculty member will lead the group on an easy 20-minute walk beginning at the Rieke Science Center on lower campus. Most walks feature a different guest to share their expertise with the group. We’ll stick to the same route, so you can join or leave the walk at any point along the way. Students, staff and faculty from any area of PLU are welcome to join – the more the merrier!


Tuesdays 9:30-10am
Thursdays 1:30-2pm 

Walk agenda:
5 min – assemble between Morken and Rieke
20 min – walk our loop around campus
5 min – say farewell and head back to our next class/meeting/etc.

Please note that they expect everyone to wear masks


2)    Study Hall in the Library

Looking for other people to study with? Join the Diversity Center for study hall in the first floor of the library! The Diversity Center is hosting a study hall every Thursday from 2:30pm-4:00pm, which gives you 1.5 hours to get some studying done -- in a social setting. Check in with the dAdvocates for a chance to win some prizes!

They will be observing the Library's COVID-19 precautions, including physical distancing, masks, and no eating. 

3)    Coffee Chats

The Student Life Center’s staff have organized a “coffee chats” initiative, and they want to have coffee with you! All students are invited to sign up (link above) to have coffee with a Center’s staff member, and they’ll pay! Social distancing will be observed, and gives you a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee outside – free of charge! All of the Student Life Center staff members have a short bio up on the website, and you can see whether there is anyone in particular you’d like to connect with. Again, you can schedule your coffee chat online, using the link embedded in the ‘Coffee Chats’ title!


4)    Walk and Talks

Lastly, Campus Ministry offers the chance to “see a face, bump an elbow” every Thursday for in-person walks with Campus Ministry staff. The link in the title takes you to a Google Doc, which shows a full calendar for the semester. These walks are happening every Thursday at 10am, as well as other rotating times/days – so be sure to check the calendar if you’re interested! They meet outside the AUC clock tower, and there is no sign-up needed.