Block Party

Two weeks ago, Resident Student Association, threw their annual Block Party event.

Block party is a carnival style event, with cotton candy, face painting, shaved ice, various types of games, food, and much more. During block party, each residential community sets up their own table and provides a game for everyone to participate in. This years theme was nautical, so everyone did some “sea” related. For example, Erickson Hall did organized a sand art table, where people came and decorated small bottles shaped like sand castles with different colored sand. Also, Walker Apartment did a boat sailing competition. Other halls did caramel apples, t-shirt/sock tie dye, and throwing darts at paint balls. Basically it was a afternoon/evening filled with a lot of fun.

Everyone, including, the RSA executive board, the Community Councils, and the advisers, put in a lot of hard work to make this event really big. However, the only problem was that there was a lack of advertising, therefore, not a lot of students were aware that Block Party was happening. Nonetheless, there were a lot of people that came and enjoyed themselves; the cotton candy and the caramel apples were a great hit!

Furthermore, there was a BBQ style dinner at True Grits. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, black bean burgers, potato salad, and dessert.

Block Party was an event to bring together all the communities and most of the residential students in order to allow an evening of socialization. Like all other RSA events, this event was designed to strength the connections between all the communities in order to better  Residential Life. It was really fun and exciting to help organize, decorate, and take part in this great event.

To all prospective, and incoming students, if you want to be more involved in residential life and throw events like this and help advocate for residential students, then don’t hesitate to join the RSA!!

MCS 390: The Reason I Abandoned My Life for Grey’s Anatomy

I know myself. I know that when I start a show, I become obsessed with that show and it, sadly, becomes a top priority. To make sure I do not fail out of school, I have a strict rule of not watching already aired television shows until break sessions. I watch Jane the Virgin, which is fine because it’s currently airing and there’s only one episode a week so I don’t have the opportunity to ruin my life with that show. Grey’s Anatomy, however, is a completely different story. Eleven seasons. Ridiculously addictive and addictively ridiculous story lines. Characters, who aren’t so relatable, but you love them all the same. Yes. In February 2015, I abandoned all responsibility and watch season 1-4. In March I watched seasons 4-8. Now in April I am trying to undo the damage of my past two months. So what made me break my rule of not watching TV in the middle of the semester?

I did it for an A.

So, I’m Global Studies, Media and Communications Studies double major and every so often there’s a class where I can get credit for completing in both majors. MCS 390, Transcultural Studies in Global Television, was that class. The premise of the class is learning about cultural proximity, how producers in another country will change certain aspects of a television show when adapting it to meet with the norms of that culture. So in order to be successful in this class you have to watch a lot of television. And that was fine, but then we had to watch Grey’s Anatomy and this innocent class took a terrible turn.

So there’s a Turkish Grey’s Anatomy, a Colombian Grey’s Anatomy, A Mexican Grey’s Anatomy and an American Grey’s Anatomy. To analyze the various versions you have to first start with the original and that’s the American version, but no one warned me how good it is.

So here is my warning.

Take MCS 390. It’s an awesome, interesting class. It fulfills an upperlevel and possibly a culture credit. Just beware Grey’s Anatomy and Jackson Avery’s eyes. They see through to your soul.

jackson avery

-Kiara

My Guide to Studying Abroad: Packing

Recently someone asked me for advice on the logistics of study abroad. I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain during the Fall 2014 semester. I studied history, worked on my Spanish and traveled to Belgium, Morocco and Portugal in addition. Because I am history major, it is my nature to do lots of research before nearly anything I do, study abroad was no different. I am happy to share what I did about phones and money and other logistics while abroad with you, in case you are preparing for study abroad either now or in the future. I will share my suggestions based on about 3 months of research preparation. Having been returned from my time abroad, I am happy to say that in all of these things I was successful and I never lost (or had stolen -) a single thing!

Note: all of these suggestions are made with the idea that you want to save the most amount of money. If money is not an issue for you, lucky you!

PACKING:

In all the travel blogs and any talk online about studying abroad, I am sure you will see how much people love to talk about packing. Everyone has their own thoughts on the best way to be cost, space and weight efficient. I suggest you look up all these various ways to be so and choose the one that you think will best suit you. I travel quite a bit, so have a routine for packing and what I know I NEED to take. However, I had never packed for such a long period of time before and I wish I had done things a little differently. If you have ever been to Europe you know that there is cobblestone EVERYWHERE. If you didn’t know that before and are going there, remember that important point. I want to use this as an example for context in traveling. If you will be traveling a bit you do not want to be carrying giant or 3 suitcases on cobblestone, up stairs or in mud. When I arrived in Europe, the first hotel I stayed at did not have an elevator or a handicap way to get into the hotel. I carried my giant suitcase up quite a few stairs and was sweating by the end. Perhaps where you are going has cobblestone that will tear your suitcase, perhaps they don’t have elevators, perhaps you will have to walk a while with your suitcase in order to get to your destination, perhaps you are going somewhere where you will get to drive up to front entrance and someone takes your suitcase to your room for you. Be prepared for anything. If you are going to a place you have never been before, do not expect conditions to be the same as they are in the USA. I saw girls who had brought 3 giant suitcases and were struggling whenever we had to go from one place to the next and carrying them up the stairs. I only had one giant suitcase but I still felt I had brought too much. Literally, you feel the weight of your decisions. Be sure you can carry your suitcases on your own and try not to take more than 1 suitcase. You can always purchase another to bring back with gifts for all your friends and family. Things to consider are storage of your suitcases while living there, weight, allowance and being able to move the suitcase yourself. I suggest packing a week before then rolling your case around to make sure you can handle it. If it’s too heavy TAKE THINGS OUT. Below is a vague outline of my thoughts on what to pack .

THINGS I DON’T REGRET PACKING:

  • Medication I needed, enough for the entire time I was gone. If you take any medications regularly, be sure to talk to your insurance provider and doctor well in advance to have enough medication for your time out of the country.
  • Contacts and travel toiletries (enough for 1 week, until I had time to buy toiletries there). Do research on where you are going – are toiletries something you can buy there? It won’t be your favorite brand, but immerse yourself in the culture. Maybe you will find something even better there, I did.
  • Really comfortable and cute shoes
  • Unique things from home, like my pillow. I love my pillow.

THINGS I REGRET PACKING:

  • Enough clothing for all the seasons I thought I would experience. Do not think you know the climate of a place you have never been. You can read about it, think you understand, but I really think it is something that has to be experienced. And once experienced, if you find you need a coat there will be a store that caters to that environment where you are. I took a winter coat because I knew I would be there for winter and I never wore it. I didn’t need it. Winter there, although similar temperatures just feels different. I wish I had just taken clothing for the current season and bought more clothing there.
  • Too many clothes in general.
  • Books (real ones). I didn’t have a tablet when I went on my trip, but I do now. I have been a long time supporter of hard copy books. I have a giant bookshelf in my bedroom and I love it. But books are heavy and take up space. I bought a tablet to save space and money on my next trip. I will now be e-reading.

THINGS I WISH I HAD PACKED:

  • I don’t believe in wearing sweatpants in public, but I love a lazy day in sweat pants. I didn’t pack them because I knew I wouldn’t be wearing them often, but it turns out I missed them quite a lot. It’s one of those little comforts that I missed from home and would definitely take them next time.
  • A nice camera. I don’t own a camera. I have always just used my iphone, it takes nice enough photos and is easy to use. But, after all the marvelous things I saw, I realized the importance to me of sharing those memories with friends and family. With a nice camera, I know now the sharing of my experiences would be much better.
  • Old Bay – no explanation needed.

UMBC’s New Student Day

UMBC New Student Day 2015 (April 11th) was a great success!!! So many admitted students showed up, the crowd was marvelous!

Admitted students got the chance to walk around campus, and get a feel for the UMBC environment and culture, before they make their decision to join UMBC. Also, admitted students got the chance to meet and communicate with students and professors from different majors, per-professional programs, and organizations all over campus. The day was filled with fun facts, and various reasons why UMBC is simply the BEST!

One of the organizations that I want to vouch for is the Resident Student Association. The RSA is a organization comprised of the residential student body, who advocates for on-campus students, and creates interesting events for everyone to socialize and enjoy. Furthermore, joining RSA gives you the gateway to from connections with people in Residential Life, who can boost your applications to become Residential Assistants, and Desk Staffers, and write recommendations for you.

Now…back to the New Student Day. This was a great opportunity for students to get used to a particular environment, and learn some of the important information, including information about majors/minors/certificate programs, class size, student teacher ratio, tuition, living on campus, resources such as career center, tutorial centers, writing center, etc., social vs. academic life, transportation, and etc. Moreover, out of state students got the chance to stay overnight on Friday (April 10th) in the residential buildings, which furthered their great vibes for UMBC. By obtaining all this information from different schools, allows you to make an informed decision, so that you don’t have to constantly transfer from one school to another.

Furthermore, for those who could not make it on Saturday, please visit the campus during the week day (even if you already went on a tour) to get a feel for campus.

And for everyone that has been admitted to UMBC, hope to see you here in the fall! Also, please call the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, at 410-455-2292, if you have any questions or comments!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Did you know that every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted? Or that 1 in every 5 college women experience a sexual assault?

It’s very clear that sexual assault is a major problem in the U.S. for many people. UMBC does not take this issue lightly. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and UMBC is filling the calendar with events for students!

Take Back the Night, an event that is common on college campuses, will start on 6:00pm on Thursday, April 16th on the Commons Main Street. I’ve been to a couple of these vigils in my days and they are always wonderful events. UMBC’s Take Back the Night will feature an information fair, as well as a survivor speak-out. This event allows survivors and supporters to convene together in hope, resilience, and cohesiveness.

Check out this link for a complete list of all the events and opportunities for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. There are tons of opportunities to learn how to prevent sexual assault, what to do to report, and how to support survivors.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UMBC is sponsored by the Women’s Center, University Health Services Health Education, and Voices Against Violence.

UMBC Theater Students Thrive

From March 26 to March 29, the UMBC Theater Department performed “These Shining Lives”, by Melanie Marnich. Now that the show has passed and I won’t be spoiling it for anyone who wants to see it by talking about it.

I’ve seen a number of UMBC Theater Department shows and this was one of my favorites. The show featured a small cast of seven with UMBC student Martha Robichaud as the lead.

“These Shining Lives” chronicles the life of Catherine Donahue in the early 1900’s as she starts work at the Radium Dial Clock Company is Ottawa, Illinois as a painter of clock faces using radium. Catherine builds a family of other women at the clock company, while her husband reluctantly supports her working.

Eventually, it becomes very clear that the women of Radium Dial have been poisoned by the radium. After years of grueling court cases, appeals, and social isolation, while suffering immensely from the debilitating sickness of radium poisoning, the women win a legal battle against Radium Dial. Fairly soon after winning, Catherine Donahue dies.

The story was beautifully written and the actors portrayed their characters extremely well. They even sported tasteful Chicago accents. It’s clear why UMBC’s Theater Department is often praised.

Check out “Leah’s Dybbuk” on April 30-May 3, 2015 to see the Theater Department in their next production!

What is important to you?

My boss gave a speech recently and he mentioned that after asking current students why they had selected a certain college and why, they shared that the reasons they had chosen a school then and today would be very different. They explained that what they thought was important in picking a university was actually not as a student at a university. I find this idea to be absolutely true for me. When graduating high school, it may be difficult to understand the importance of finding a school that will help you to get a job, but it is actually one of the most important things to consider in making a school decision. When deciding on a school, I really thought deciding which school culture would provide the best social experience for the next four years of my life. I wanted to be happy for the next four years of my life. My thinking in the beginning of the process was that I needed a school that had all the things that could make me happy during my four years of college.

I was wrong, and I am so glad. Now, as a graduating senior with a job after graduation, I look back at my years at UMBC and know it provided me with absolutely everything I needed to be successful for the rest of my life. UMBC was not my first choice. I chose UMBC for financial reasons, and am so happy that that is the way it turned out. In the beginning, I thought because UMBC may not be able to provide things like a rock wall or a football team that my four years at school might be less fun because those are the the kind of things I was told would make college fun. They are not. Anywhere you go, there will be a group of people like you, who enjoy doing the fun things you do. I know though now that UMBC has been the best choice in the way of providing me with excellent resources to achieve an paid internship each summer, and now a full time job offer for after graduation. Things like the career center, excellent professor mentorship, volunteer experience on campus, and rigorous coursework have prepared me for graduation, work life and beyond. I thought I just wanted to make sure college was the best 4 years of my life, but now I know with the resources and skills UMBC provided me my best years won’t be limited to my college years, but will last for the rest of my life.

Students Go Nuts for Service Over Break

This past spring break, nearly 50 students participated in UMBC Student Life’s Alternative Spring Break trips. Cumulatively these students completed over 150 volunteer hours at over ten organizations in Maryland and West Virginia.

Each student participated in one of four trips surrounding public health disparities, homelessness, adults with disabilities, or alternative medicine practices. The students lived together throughout the week as well. They slept in sleeping bags on the floor, made all their meals, traveled together, and participated in life-changing experiences.

All of the trips were coordinated, planned, and completely developed by UMBC student leaders. These seven trip leaders coordinated fundraising events, created a budget, planned out all service activities, developed a number of reflections, and established an environment of trust and learning within the participants.

As a Student Life staff member, I supported the trip leaders. While I was sitting in on some of the final reflection sessions, it was amazing how much one week impacted these students’ lives.

They learned about social issues in their own community. They impacted people from across Maryland and West Virginia. Students cried as they said good-bye to other students that they would see in two days when school started again.

These students worked extremely hard throughout their spring break in order to impact their community and each other. To learn more about the ASB Homelessness Trip visit http://my.umbc.edu/news/50932.

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A Great Leader Leaves UMBC

Nick Ramundo began working at UMBC as a Americorp VISTA at the Shriver Center after he graduated from Siena College in May 2014. He soon integrated himself into the Shriver community, while learning about other aspects of student involvement, culture, and life at UMBC. Unfortunately, Nick passed away on Friday, March 27, 2015.

Nick’s job description never included meeting with Student Life employees to find out how students interact with service in their scholars programs. His job description never included making long-term plans to change the culture of UMBC positively. His job description definitely never included his constant smile, bright attitude, and ability to instantly connect with others.

I’ve learned a number of things from Nick’s death this past week. The first is that I have an amazing network of friends and supporters at UMBC. Professors, mentors, peers, friends, and my bosses have all been extremely supportive.

The second thing that I learned is that even people I don’t know at UMBC have been unbelievably kind and empathetic in lieu of Nick’s passing. Nick planned an enormous March to College Day event with 250 Arbutus middle schoolers for April 1, that an amazing amount of people helped with.

The third thing I’ve learned is that I hope to make as big of an impact on others as Nick did in his short time at UMBC. As I grow at UMBC and in my life, I’ll remember his humble, energetic, and bright spirit.

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I Know Spanish: A Celebration Post

I have been taking Spanish since I was in 7th grade. I am now a sophomore in college. In the early stages of my Spanish career, I didn’t care.  I was only taking Spanish because if I didn’t I would have to take another year of reading, which didn’t excite me because I already knew how to read so I said okay spanish will do. And in Spanish 1a and Spanish 1b, I didn’t try because I didn’t care and I walked away from middle school with only three phrases under my belt: Me llamo Kiara y Me gusta pizza y Soy baja.

Spanish 2 went roughly the same, except I managed to care even less for the class with the other stressors of high school also as factors. The only thing was, I could have stopped after Spanish 2 but something compelled me to keep going because “I was already this far”.

Then Spanish 3.

Then Spanish 4.

Then suddenly it was senior year and I was in AP Spanish 5 and I found myself deeply attached to a language I didn’t know that I could’ve known if I hadn’t been so (me~~).

So now that I am in college, Spanish is a very important part of my life because it’s a requirement for my major, I feel like it’s a requirement for Maryland living and it just makes me really happy. So when on Wednesday I received back from my professor (shoutouts to Javier, el mejor) an essay and a midterm both with A’s on them, I was ecstatic and I told everybody (and their mamas) but no one seemed to get why these two A’s were so important to me. They said congrats but not with vigor. I like vigorous congratulations.

I’ve gotten A’s before, but I have never gotten back an A on a major assignment in Spanish. I feel like I’ve redeemed myself and these two assignment make up for all the foolery that I participated in all those middle school years.

Happy Easter y’all.

(Please give me vigorous congratulations next time you see me :)

-Kiara