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.
So…. Better late than never is the saying…right? As far as things go I am not technically late, but just later than the others. Let me start out by introducing myself.I am Erin Bradley, a junior from Newton, majoring in Communication Arts. Currently I participate in track and newspaper. I am editor-in-chief of the newspaper, The Collegian, along with Justin Baldia. I throw for the track team, I enjoy it and have been participating since my freshman year of high school and wanted to continue so I came to Bethel. I am also a resident assistant in Haury Resident Hall. I am a minority mentor for the Multicultural Student Union. My long term goals are to be a journalist in a magazine. I love working with design, and writing peoples stories and sharing them with people. This is also partially the reason I blog, to get experience for the future.I am super excited today because the first issue of The Collegian went out today. We are
As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a couple of weeks at Bethel visiting with my friends who are remaining on campus this semester (which was all but 3 of them). However, I am now back home in the great city of San Antonio, Texas.
My adventure in Greece starts on Sunday (Sept. 16)and I find myself feeling similarly to the days leading up to the start of school in years past. I have a few definite details, like where I will be traveling and staying, but for the most part, the next semester is just a big pile of unknowns. As scary as this experience seems to me when I think about it, it’s really not too horribly different from when I started Bethel. I don’t really know anyone; I don’t really know the location; I don’t really know what’s coming. Remembering that very little of the circumstances surrounding my Greek adventure are different from my Bethel adventure that I set out on two years ago is comforting.
Hello good folks of the blogosphere.
I am Ben Kreider, a hometown boy from North Newton, Kansas, a sophomore and an excited blogger. I am majoring in Social Work and Bible & Religion – both areas that stimulate me intellectually and vocationally. I find myself captivated by many things here at Bethel College. I am a soccer player – from the center defender position I survey the field, careen into opposing players, and find great joy. I am a singer; In the Concert Choir, I focus my bass voice onto particular notes and rhythms and in conjunction with fifty or so other folks find transcendent harmonies. I am a member or at least onlooker in many groups, in clubs with fellow social work students or people wanting to make social change, in the chapel worshiping with the wider college community, at the lunch table feasting on food and conversation.
I am intrigued by the possibility of telling the stories of my experiences at Bethel, of letting you all into the little beautiful crannies of life, of sharing the ordinary and extraordinary with you.
Hi, my name is Madelyn Weaver, and this will be my first year blogging. I am a sophomore here at Bethel majoring in Social Work and minoring in Management, as well as playing tennis for the women’s tennis team. I am from Hesston, Kan. seven miles down the road which I love because it’s close enough that I can go home often to see family and do my laundry but far enough away that I feel like I am living in a completely different area.
So classes have been going for about one and a half weeks and this school year is a year full of changes for us. Of course new freshman and transfers, and many new faculty, but many new building changes as well. The newly completely renovated Schulz Student Center is now up and running and it’s amazing. It has lots of classrooms and offices but also includes computer labs and places where you can sit and socialize or study as well as a kitchen.
Hi, my name is Rebecca Trumble. I’m a junior from Newton, Kan. and am an Elementary Education major with a special education liscensure. I’m also involved in a lot of music things here at Bethel. I play trombone in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble I, and soon will be playing in the Jazz Combo II. The Student Alumni Association and the Student Ambassador program are a couple other things I’m also invovled in.
Since I’m an El. Ed. major I really enjoy working with kids and had the opportunity to spend a second summer working on staff at Swan Lake Christian Camp in South Dakota. Being at camp was so exhausting at times but it was worth every moment. One our longest but most memorable days of the summer was the morning we had to wake up at 4am to help with staffing at the Swan Lake Marathon. We had marathoners come to camp from all over the United States. It was pretty cool to get the chance to eat meals with them, worship with them, and hear their stories.