As of Friday I am completely done with the fall semester of my sophomore year! The week of finals was pretty crazy and I sought out peace and quiet in the comfort of my home. I knew that I wouldn’t be as productive at school because I would be too tempted to talk to my friends. I also think that being at home and eating my mom’s homemade food beats studying in the library:).
Luckily all of my finals happened to fall on separate days. On Monday I had my Spanish 20 minute oral exam so all of the weekend before finals I studied and prepared for that. I had no finals on Tuesday so I was able to use that day to study for the written Spanish final on Wednesday. On Thursday I had my Organizational Behavior final and on Friday my final paper for Literature, Culture and Communities was due. I felt pretty good about all of my finals but will have to wait and see what the grades are to know for sure!
As much as I love Bethel and being on campus I was definitely ready to take a much needed break from all the classes and to be home with my family. It has been so nice to be at home with my family and do activities with them without stressing out about homework that I have to get done or having to get to bed early because of classes or tests the next day.
Although I am now relaxing at home, the anxiousness still isn’t quite over for me yet. I have been checking several times daily to see if my professors have entered my grades. Once all of them finally do I will be able to truly and completely relax and enjoy my Christmas break!
As school winds down for everyone and we approach the holidays, I hope everyone has a safe and merry holiday and a happy new year!
I know Thanksgiving was a week ago, but my fellow American students and I just had time to celebrate the holiday in the last couple of days. Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday that Greece celebrates (seeing as it’s an American holiday), they seem to understand the sentiment–being thankful for not only what has happened in the past but also the present, too. To celebrate, me and the 8 other students in the Greece study abroad program went over to our resident director’s apartment for dinner. To make us feel at home, our RD pulled out all the stops, cooking the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, gravy, and bread. She even managed to find cranberry sauce which is no small feat here! (It took us almost a month just to find super expensive maple syrup when we first got here. We only splurged once.) All of it was delicious and we were all reminded of our family Thanksgivings back home. For some of us, it was our first Thanksgiving away from home while for others being away from family wasn’t anything new. I’d been away from my family for Thanksgiving before, but being away from any kind of family, whether a friend’s or otherwise, still felt a little strange. Despite any homesickness that may have arose, we all made the best of the meal. There were happy dinner conversations, loud moments of laughter, and even a well-phrased, heartfelt prayer to start off the meal. After we were all stuffed, we just sat around talking and enjoying each others’ company. It almost felt like we were home. Although Greece doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (which I knew going in because that would be just silly if I thought otherwise) and we did get our fill of Thanksgiving cheer and tradition, I couldn’t help but notice a number of similarities between Greece and the U.S. at this time of year. Around this time of year in the states, Christmas decorations start appearing, lights go up, it gets chillier and people start to look cozier and cozier as they bundle up. Well the same thing happens here too! The weekend leading up to Thanksgiving, there was an explosion of Christmas in the shopping areas here. Stores were working on their window displays, icicle lights hang from all the shop entrances, strands of evergreen branches laced with holly line the windows. The Christmas season arrived without us even realizing it. (It really did happen over night almost. One day, nothing. The next, Christmas was everywhere.)I am absolutely loving my time here (though it’s a little more stressful now that I have a number of papers to write), but with only a little over two weeks left, it’s hard not to imagine going home. You get so used to what it’s like wherever you are, that when it’s time for it to change, you have to force yourself to remember how things were. I’m thankful that I am studying abroad this semester because I get to go home during Christmas. I get to connect how it’s celebrated in Greece with how it’s done back home. I get to transition home during one of the happiest times of the year, though summer is a pretty good rival time period. I’m also hoping Bethel will get some snow before interterm in January because the campus is enchanting when it’s blanketed in snow. What better way to come back to my second home in the U.S.?Having my Greek Thanksgiving has made me realize just how thankful I am for this experience and that even though I must say goodbye soon, there is so much my two beautiful countries share in common and that if I miss one and feel it fading away, I need only look for the similarities.
Career Night is an event that is put on by the Student Alumni Association and Alumni Director Dave Linscheid. Members of SAA contact various Bethel alum, who agree to come and meet with students for a night and share about their jobs and where their path took them after Bethel. This year I think there were approximately 50 alum who agreed to come back. The event is set up in Memorial Hall. There are tables all around and alums each have a designated spot. Students sign in and get a map of all of alumni that are present and what their careers are. Students may pick and choose to talk to as many alumni as they desire; however, most people choose to only talk to people that are in the same career field as the one they are studying. There are alumni present from many different career areas such as forensic nurses, doctors, marketing specialists, news casters, teachers, dentists, lawyers, engineers, and many more.
As an incentive for coming, each student who has three signatures from alumni that they talked with gets their name put into a drawing for prizes such as Bethel merchandise and any sort of freebies that the alumni bring from their jobs. Often there are many shirts, umbrellas, mugs, and this year I even won an insulated tote/cooler. Pretty cool! There is always pizza and pop afterward too!
I love this night! It’s a lot of fun connecting with alumni who are in the same field as me. Since I will be graduating soon with an education degree, it was fun to get tips for my first year of teaching and things like that. I found Career Night to be well worth my time.
Thanksgiving break was a much needed “energy boost” to get me through these next couple weeks. I got to spend time and celebrate with my family, eat delicious home-cooked food and play with my dog who was ecstatic to have our whole family, my sister, myself and my parents finally all home at the same time for a few days.
However, Thanksgiving break is now over, leaving these last two weeks before Christmas break to be full of projects, studying and lots of coffee. As of now I feel pretty good about being able to get everything done and done well in these next two weeks but only time will tell.
There are some fun things happening within these last two weeks though that will be good breaks from all the studying. The first happens tomorrow! Tomorrow my Women’s Chorus class has the opportunity to go Christmas caroling to different places around Newton. I love singing and I love Christmas carols so that will be a lot of fun for me. Also, after the caroling our professor has invited us to his house for dinner which I am sure will be as delicious as it was last year!
Another event that is happening that will be a whole lot of fun is this Friday. This Friday is the “Winter Gala.” For those of you who do not know what that is, it is basically the “prom” of Bethel College. Everyone who chooses to attend (which it is free for all students so why wouldn’t you?) get to dress up, a lot of people wear old prom dresses that are in the back of our closets because we don’t have any use for them anymore. Then we attend a fancy dinner put on by the cafeteria and the professors are the servers! After the dinner there are horse carraige rides if you want to do that and then there is a dance. There is also not the pressure of a prom for the gala because you aren’t expected to have a date! If you would like to have a date then you can go with one but otherwise you just go with friends!
Although these next two weeks before Christmas break will be busy and stressful, I am excited for the fun activites and am ready and motivated to get everything done and to go home!
Let me start this off by saying that I am a VERY sentimental person. Little things mean so much to me. As a senior, I keep finding things that are on my “List of Lasts.” For example, “This is the last time I will do _______.” With each last comes much excitement as well as sadness.
Well, on Sunday afternoon, I had a “last” that was and will be very difficult for me. I sang in my last formal concert with the Bethel College Concert Choir. While one half of me is saying, “Woohoo! That means it’s almost time for student teaching!,” the other half of me is torn. Two and a half years ago, when I started singing with the choir, I had no clue how great of an impact this group would be for me. They’ve become a family to me and when I see them each day, I know I can always laugh with friends or get hugs on the rough days. They are a group of people that holds each other accountable. They are a gracious group that is so fun to travel with. But most importantly, they are a group that makes beautiful music together. The sounds that have been produced by this group are remarkable; sounds that give me chills or put tears in my eyes. Each day from 12:00-12:45 PM, I get to gather with these people and make this amazing music. While, my last concert is over, I still have one more week of rehearsal left with this group. However, I have no doubt that I will end up shedding some tears next Thursday, the day of the last rehearsal for me (and my two other friends who are student teaching). I will cry because of the profound impact that this group has had on my life and my college experience.
My time at Bethel would not have been complete without the Concert Choir. I love my big, musical family.
Over the last three weeks, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to see two of my friends from Bethel who are also studying abroad this semester. At the beginning of the month, my friend Natalie, currently studying in Belgium, came to visit Athens (the above picture is us at the Parthenon) and just this past weekend I was able to travel to Barcelona, Spain and see my friend Nicole (who also writes for this blog). Although each visit was different, they came with a number of shared realizations. 1) Despite the fact that I’m having an amazing experience here, I do miss home and Bethel. Getting to see friends, regardless of how close to them you are or not, can be a welcome relief. Even just reminiscing about school for a half hour can do wonders for getting past any homesickness. 2) One of the things I wish I could change about my experience but cannot is the fact that I can’t share all of my adventures with the people I love firsthand. There are so many people I wish I could share my time abroad with and have them here with me and even getting to do that for just a little while with Natalie and Nicole was really nice. We can blog and post pictures and skype all we want, but there’s nothing quite like being around in first person. 3) As my return date to the U.S. looms ever nearer, the harder it is to imagine going back to daily life in the states, at home or at school. After being on my own in a different country, a concept that was overwhelming and foreign and hard to image when my journey first began, it’s even hard to image going back to my “normal”. But seeing my fellow Bethel friends who are studying abroad has reminded me, I’m not the only one who is having trouble picturing going home and that when I get back to school, I won’t be the only one trying to adjust back into a life that was so familiar and comfortable, but now sees a tad strange. 4) Places change you. When Natalie came to visit Athens, there were a number of strikes and demonstrations going on in the city because a new austerity deal was being reviewed in Parliament. (For those of you who don’t know what’s going on with Greece’s economy, this will give you a general overview of recent legislation and why it was needed: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/11/greek-austerity-budget-approved-by-parliament_n_2114890.html). While we were walking through the streets on our way to visit a popular neighborhood, we passed a number of buses that transport riot police and are often used to block streets during protests. She thought it was a little intense, while we barely noticed them. We’ve gotten so used to their presence everywhere that we barely process them anymore. Walking through a big protest doesn’t shake me anymore, it’s just a regular thing here, and I didn’t even realize that to some it’s scary and that I’d gotten so used to it. I realized places force you to adapt and even the strangest things can become common.5) What I found to be the most interesting, though, was how similar some of our experiences have been despite being in different countries. Nicole is currently studying in Barcelona, which is also in the midst of a financial crisis very similar to Greece’s. The people of Spain are very unhappy, just like the people of Greece, and austerity measures make citizens take to the street and strike more and more frequently. I’ve seen this so much in Greece that I wasn’t surprised to hear about it in Spain, nor did she see that surprised by Greece. It just sees like the typical thing to do nowadays. Actually, the fact that Americans rarely choose to exercise their right to protest seems odd to me now. Governmental discontent is a worldwide event and rarely are separate occurrences unrecognizable.I have loved getting to see some of my Bethel friends, but at the same time, it’s also helped me realize how much I’ve come to love the place I am and the people I’m with. There’s a bond I’ve formed with my Athens friends and the city itself that will exist for years to come, which I can’t say about many of my experiences before this semester.
During this Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to sing Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Once a year for the past three years, the Bethel Concert Choir has been asked to join with WSO for a concert. It’s always a huge privilege and something I really enjoy! Out of the three years that I’ve been in the Concert Choir and had the opportunity to do this, “Carmina Burana” is by far my favorite piece that we have done.
There are twenty five movements in the piece. Probably my favorite thing about it is that there is SO much variation. Some of the movements are slower and more lullaby-like while others are quicker and you feel like you barely have enough time to spit out the foreign language text. There is a full orchestra that sounds absolutely remarkable. I can’t help but smile huge when I watch all of the bows moving up and down and a rapid pace, all in unison or when I hear the large fortissimo sound right before the cutoff at the end of a movement. Like most symphonic pieces, there are professional soloists that are brought in, but the thing that makes “Carmina” special is the fact that it also includes a children’s choir.
The Concert Choir has spent the last couple of weeks rehearsing notes and text in a foreign language, and trying to get the movements up to full speed. We’ve finally achieved it and boy, does it sound amazing! On Tuesday, we rehearsed with just the Wichita Symphony Orchestra Chorus, no orchestra. Tonight, we traveled back to Wichita for the final dress rehearsal with full orchestra, soloists, and children’s choir. Oh. my. word. I was in heaven. The overall sound was absolutely incredible. The Bethel choir will be singing in the Sunday afternoon performance, which I’m really looking forward to.
Finally, the thing that makes singing with WSO so fun is the fact that their conductor, Daniel Hege, is a Bethel College alum. Recently, he was the Music Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchesta in New York, and in 2010, he began as the Music Director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. He passion for music is so evident and it’s really fun to work with him, as he is also passionate about Bethel College and the music that we make here.
If you get a chance, you should look up “Carmina Burana” on youtube or somewhere. It’s a real treat and you’ll be glad that you did!
So Halloween has come and gone, and it had its share of brilliant and not so brilliant costumes. I myself went as a damsel in distress while my roommate Carl Lehmann went as my knight in shinning armor. This my first drag experience, and I will say that it was an interesting one. A lot of our friends got a kick out of our costume, and Carl and I both couldn’t help but stop look and laugh at the ridiculousness that was our costume.
There were plenty of other amazing costumes at the Halloween Dance, though I am not sure I can remember most of them on account of my awful memory. But trust me, there were some real gems at that little costume party. A majority of my favorite costumes came Halloween night however, when the multitude of munchkins came to our door asking for delicious goodies. I was tempted to go buy lots of fruit, particularly raisins and prunes to hand out because I know that when I was a kid those were always the houses I liked the most. Alas, the multitudes of children received from us the simplest, yet oddly most satisfying of sugary treats; the infamous pixie sticks. Even some adults delighted in its raw and unadulterated sugary goodness, since you know, even adults like to be given candy every now and then too.
BIFL (bif-uhl) stands for Basic Issues of Faith and Life. BIFL is a 400 level Bible course that all seniors are required to take sometime during their final year at Bethel. In a sense, I guess you could say that it is the senior exit course. This class meets twice a week for 2 hours each day to discuss books and topics, and then figure out how we can apply them to our lives today. Professors take turns teaching the course each semester.
There are two main things that BIFL is known for…1) the BIFL Oral Exam and 2) The Credo Paper. Yesterday was my oral exam. I was really nervous going into it, primarily because of the fact that I didn’t know what to expect. All of the people who have graduated in past years that I talked to told me that it really wasn’t bad, but hearing that didn’t exactly ease my nerves.
Here’s a brief rundown of how BIFL Orals work: Each year, professors meet together and pick a book of the Bible to cover and one additional book that all seniors will read. (We read many other books as well, but those selections are up to the individual professors who are teaching the course that semester.) The Orals are designed to be like a conversation between two students and two faculty members. They ask us questions about the book of the Bible, which in this case was Hosea, and the book that we read, “Fidelity” by Wendell Berry. A lot of the questions that the faculty members ask are related to themes in the books or how we can apply these books to our lives today. The Oral exam is a pass/fail deal, and you must pass in order to graduate from Bethel College.
Yes, I know. This all sounds really intense. That’s exactly what I thought too. However, now that I look back on my experience yesterday, it wasn’t too bad. Sure, there were questions that were tough and that I didn’t exactly know how to answer, but that’s the goal. The faculty want us to be critical thinkers and learn how to communicate our thoughts effectively. That’s part of the Bethel goal.
We are now four weeks into school and it feels like it has been much longer! Classes are keeping me very busy, but I am enjoying them so much. One of my favorites right now is a class called Teaching the Expressive Arts. It involves learning about how to use art, music, drama, and PE in the classroom to enhance student learning. It is a class that meets from 1-4 p.m. once a week and we get to spend from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. working with elementary school students. They are always so excited when our class goes to their school. My most memorable day so far is probably the first day of class when the kindergardeners gave us tours of their school. Every week, I am spending at least four hours in a classroom somewhere in Newton and that continues to be the highlight of my year so far.
Outside of classes, everything has been going exceptionally well. The girls in our mod this year are all wonderful. I have a new roommate who is a transfer student from K-State. I am continually suprised with how well we get along. Getting to know some of my new modmates and continuing relationships with my modmates from last year has been a lot of fun and having that support system has been awesome. The 9 of us are all pretty busy. The majors among us are a wide range. Just to name a few we have math, nursing, psychology, social work, communication arts and education. We don’t get to see each other too much, but when we do, it is a blast.