It is a gorgeous 70 degree day – almost too good to be true for Halloween to already be here! Every year on Halloween night Bethel participates in something called Trick or Treat Off the Street which lets families trick-or-treat here on Bethel’s campus. Every dorm room or mod can sign up and we get signs to post on our doors if we will participate in handing out candy to the kids who come to trick-or-treat. The past two years I have been a part of it and our mod is doing it again this year. I am quite sad though because I will not be around all evening due to a night class. Hopefully the rest of my modmates will get to enjoy all of the great kids and their costumes who come by though.
Over the weekend Bethel celebrated Halloween early with a Halloween Rave hosted in Mojos by SAC. After an hour of dancing and music and food there were contests for the best group, individual, couple, scariest, and crowd’s favorite costumes. There were some very creative ones – old men, board games (including Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Hungry Hungry Hippos), the couple from the movie UP, and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. My boyfriend and got an idea from one of the librarians to do Jack and the Beanstalk. We spent the afternoon scouring the Etcetera Shop downtown to make a beanstalk costume for him and Jack for me. We ended up getting 2nd place in the Best Couples Costume contest! We were happy with that.
I recently began thinking about times when I feel there is nothing to do at Bethel. However, I soon realized that this should be a rare occurrence considering all the activities and events that seem to be happening throughout the week. Honestly, if you were to look at the calendar on our website, there is usually an athletic event, concert, or student activity going on!
If your problem is that you don’t want to go alone, drag along a friend, or just be brave and go by yourself. You will be surprised at the friends you can make by attending. Not only will your friend base grow, but your knowledge about new sports, plays, or concerts will too. Maybe you simply never know when something is going on. The solution to this is really simple: pay attention to emails, ask around, check the online calendar, and some groups even post on Facebook and Twitter, so watch for those.
On September 3rd I arrived at the city of Barcelona with the program of Brethren Colleges Abroad and twenty one students from small Liberal Arts colleges from across the United States. Then, most of us felt unprepared for our study abroad experience, and some, including myself, were nervous about the idea of studying in Catalonia’s most prestigious university. As October comes to an end, I am now finally able to say that I feel like a real student at the University of Barcelona. I am comfortable attending classes, talking to my professors, commuting from one department to another and even spending time outside of the classroom with other university students. Yet attending a university in a foreign country can be challenging and requires fast adjusting to the oddities and complexities of university life outside of the US. In this blog post I would like to share with you what I have learned about Spanish higher education and offer you an inside view into the intricacies of attending the University of Barcelona.
This past Wednesday was “Service day” for Bethel’s campus. There were lots of opportunities and ways to get involved including cleaning up Sand Creek Trail, landscaping, painting and deep cleaning the Agape House. Some people also went to Et Cetera shop to help price and put out clothing, others went to an Elementary school and cleaned and helped teachers with odd jobs and some even got to interact with the children as well. The tennis team also had a “service” going on where those that were available could help clean out the tennis shed and tie down the tennis windscreens.
Unfortunately I was not able to participate in service day this year but Maria Day my Spanish professor reminded our Spanish class of something very important. One of her philosophical thoughts. That was that not only should we do service one day for service day, but that we should serve every day whether it be in a big or small way. She said that even something as simple as a smile or a hello can brighten someone’s day and can be a form of service.
I think that is a good reminder for me and for us all of the kind of mind set that we should have about service and about one of the goals for our lives, not only giving back to our community on “Service day” or through volunteer work if you participate in that as well, but giving back to the people who are in your life, to those who are in your life permanently or those who just pass through, to those who are important to you and those who you might not know as well, even a simple smile or caring about how they are doing can be just what someone needs to get through the day.
It’s hard to believe that I have been living here in Greece for almost six weeks and that I’m almost done with my third week of classes. Time moves strangely here, fast and slow at the same time. I have a feeling it’ll be time to say goodbye before I even know it.
One thing that is easy to countdown here are my classes. Unlike the U.S., my classes only meet once a week for three hours (with the exception of my Greek language class which meets twice a week for 90 minutes). Additionally, the university I’m attending is on a quarter system which means our term is only 10 weeks long, instead of the typical 15. Ten class periods. That’s all you get before the quarter is done and the last class session is when you take your final. Time flies in the Greek higher education system.
It’s definitely taking some time to get used to, but it has its advantages. Because we’re not restrained to one hour, we can do a significant amount of lecturing and discussion in the same class period. My school also has an online intranet user, so that we can have discussions on discussion boards online outside of class. Even though we don’t see each other multiple times a week, which I’ve found can definitely affect the relationship I have with my fellow students and professor, there seems to be a certain sense of focus in class that I find can be lacking in classes back home sometimes.
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