Monday, August 26, 2013

Day One

My first day of graduate school is complete! I only had two classes but still, it's over! As I just finished my second class, my brain is rambling on and on with thoughts of everything I took in today and I feel the best way to get it all sorted out is to write it here and let you read it. I know this may not be that exciting, but it might give you a little more insight on what I'll be studying throughout my time with MIIS.

Class 1: Marketing and Recruiting in International Education

Going into this class, I was a little unsure about how it would be. I had heard from some of last year's class that it was an challenging course but one that they really enjoyed. When I see the words marketing and recruiting, I honestly can't say much about them [or before 8 a.m. this morning I couldn't.] They were foreign words to me because I felt that I never really had any experience with them. Class started and the instructors (the class is dual taught) introduced themselves and their background in the marketing/recruiting/international education fields, and after we discussed the syllabus and what will be expected of us, we were asked to give our own background on marketing and recruitment - what experience did we have with those two jobs and job skills. I sat there, stumped. "Well, shoot, I don't know anything about either of those!'' But then the more I thought about it, I realized that I did in fact have plenty of experience and when it came time for me to talk, it just all came out and as I sat down, I said to myself, "Wow, I know more about these fields than I thought!" 

Following my study abroad semester in college, I spent my entire senior year volunteering and working with both my study abroad company, AustraLearn, and my international education office at Elmhurst. With AustraLearn, I did various things to help promote the company including helping and running their booths at the Elmhurst study abroad fairs. I talked about my experience in New Zealand, encouraged students to sign up for information, and [bragged] about how amazing it is to study abroad because you learn so much about yourself in such a short time. Through my study abroad office at Elmhurst, I did everything from talking to classrooms of freshmen students to developing a giant video project where I interviewed study abroad alumni students about their experiences, what they learned, advice they would give, etc. These videos were made to promote the study abroad office as well as encourage prospective and current students to study internationally. Well would ya look at that  - I marketed and recruited in the IE field and I didn't even realize it! 

I think I am really going to enjoy this class because I don't really know that much about marketing or recruiting and it is a very huge part of international education and education in general. It will be intense, but I am up for the challenge!

Class 2: Comparative International Education

When I was a senior in college, I had to take several classes related to education and the theory and practices around it. At that time, I had no background in teaching, I had no desire to teach, and I sat through that class with a frown and bad attitude because it had nothing to do with what I was studying at Elmhurst (but I had to take it.) There were several other students who were in the same position as me, yet our instructor refused to take in the fact that not all of the students in the class weren't studying education. For those of us that had never taken education classes, each class was brutal and we stumbled through it. I honestly cannot remember one thing that I was taught in the class. All I remember is that I had to write papers about topics that made no sense to me, and even after asking the teacher for help, still were confusing. I did pass the class though, so I guess that's all that matters.

Today, I sat down in my second class a little questionable about what was headed my way. The teacher started talking and my heart sunk a little because it almost felt that it would be a repeat of the class from college, but then, a light shined down as we went around the classroom and spoke about our own "comparative education moments." I can't really give you a good definition of comparative education yet because it's only day one, but what I can tell you is that each and every one of the students in my class enlightened and taught me about something related to education in all different aspects. We all come from different backgrounds, different places, and different countries. Everyone's view on education is different, and I like that because it just means that I have more to learn.

But what I really learned and took note of is that after being an educator for the past 2.5 years, I know something about education! I was a teacher. I was the one standing in front of the classroom thinking, "What the hell do I do now?" I was the one who got frustrated, the one who had to deal with students who just didn't care, and the one who realized that maybe teaching isn't for me...but...I was also the one who loved seeing a student progress throughout the year, the one who woke up everyday excited and ready to go to school [I must say that this was how I felt in American Samoa only], and the one who figured out what an adverb is, only to forget it again. I mean really, what is an adverb?! I am extremely passionate about education and being a teacher really brought that out of me. Up until about an hour ago, I really didn't think about how much I actually learned from being a teacher. Now everything is starting to click, and I'm really excited. 

This class is going to be really great. For once in my life, I'm excited to participate and discuss and raise my hand [all things I HATED to do in high school and undergraduate.]

Y'all - I think I'm in the right place and doing the right thing. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Orientation/last weekend of freedom!

When I think back to being 18 years old and stepping foot on the Elmhurst College campus, I can remember how excited, overwhelmed, and happy I was. High school was "okay," and something deep down was telling me that college would be a million times better [it was.] Because I ran cross country, I was lucky enough to be on campus about a week before the other freshmen came along, and I tell you what, that was such an awesome boost to my first year. By the time everybody got to school, I knew the best time to go to the cafeteria, I knew how to get from dorm to dorm or classroom to classroom. I was a pro at getting downtown or to the bike path. I was no tourist. I was no out of towner. I was an Elmhurst College freshman professional! Those poor other freshmen, all confused and frustrated and lost - not me!

I am happy to say that this has once again happened to me. I was lucky enough to spend my whole summer on the MIIS campus, therefore, allowing me to figure everything out before all the other new students arrived. I must say, it does feel pretty nifty when someone says, "How do you get to so and so?" and I can answer, "Oh, you take this street...blah blah blah." Boom. Local. [Not really. I am terrible with the street names.]

This past week was my orientation for graduate school. I am going to be honest because well, I don't want to lie. My orientation was no bueno. In my opinion, it was disorganized, boring, pretty much unnecessary, and irritating. But, besides all that junk stuff, there were props, which included: a welcome reception with delicious snacks and endless glasses of free wine [which I am sure I am paying for in some way...hehe], a welcome/introduction to my degree program where all 40-50 of us piled into a room, introduced ourselves, learned about our classes, and met our faculty [I will be up on the MIIS website soon and will give you the link to my "bio"! neat.], an information fair where local businesses came and gave out free samples, coupons, etc. [I have never had so many awesome food samples in my entire life...smoothies, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, candy, and the list goes on - and you betcha I ate it all. Poor graduate student!]

Once orientation was over, I tried my best to enjoy my last weekend without homework and stress! I went on an epic bike ride with some friends from my program, went to lunch on Cannery Row, went to a bonfire on the beach [those really do exist in California!], drove to a bike swap in Salinas, hung out with my BFF's Libby and Jack!, and did as much relaxing in the sun as possible. The weather this week has been in-cre-di-BLE! I'm talking beautiful, roasty toasty, nose warming sun. I even wore shorts and a tshirt today! Where am I?!

School starts tomorrow! I have two classes and I'm excited! Wish me luck!

I found a legit garbage can on my campus - how crazy/weird is that?!

I took some creeper shots at the info fair.
Watch the video below to see how this DELISH smoothie was made. California.

I know. I know. Awesome.

The world's cutest plum. It didn't taste that great. Still cute though!
My favorite place on campus.

Beautiful day - bustling wharf!

Who wants a super awesome Christmas present?!

Sampling all the clam chowders. You can pretty much eat lunch through sampling. Yum.

There is a small airport in Monterey. The planes fly right over the beach.

I really love bonfires. Kinda difficult to stay super warm though when everyone is fighting for the close spots!
The very blue Monterey Bay

Once you drive past Monterey and Seaside, a lot of the land turns into farms. This was near Salinas.

Different terrain, different temperature, different lifestyle even.

The coolest bike at the bike swap today. I would have loved this when I was little.

I love that Libby and Jack live close to me - visits from them make me so happy.
I would also like to take this time to brag about my AWESOME mom. She went skydiving today! As did one of her closest friends, my brother, and a few of his friends. Is this not the coolest picture ever!? [photo taken by Sandy Landcaster]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to Reality

When I last wrote, I was cramming for my Spanish placement test. Now over a week later, I am happy to say that I survived [although I have yet to get my score and without the score I can't register for my fall Spanish class - hurry it on up, MIIS!]. I sat down to take it shortly after 9:00 a.m., and after getting it set up, I was told I would need a microphone. For some reason, my computer has a webcam but not a microphone [if someone can tell me the purpose of one without the other, i'd love to hear it.], so I had to pack up all my things and find someone who had a microphone I could borrow. By the time I found one, I had to download Moxilla Firefox. I then had to download a "secure" browser through Firefox that wouldn't allow me to open any other tabs while I was taking the test. I then had to put a Spanish keyboard on my computer and OH MY SALSA was I getting frustrated. I didn't start taking the test until after 10:30, and it was ridiculous. I won't get into details because it's not really that exciting, but whatever, it's done! But now can I please have my score?

And then I went to Texas. I can't sleep on planes. I can take mini naps but they are restless and uncomfortable. I get so jealous of people who can fall asleep the second they sit down and wake up as the plane lands. Lucky them! I took a red eye flight to Austin and I was all full of butterflies the whole time so I definitely didn't get any rest. By the time the plane landed, I was itching to run through that airport to see Jerrod. My heart was unbelievably happy to reunite with him and we couldn't wipe the huge grins off our faces the entire six days we spent together.

For those of you who have never been to Austin, I highly recommend it. While it is a big city, it's also a fun, vibrant, colorful place full of art, cafes, restaurants, and adventure. One minute you could be sitting in a coffee shop drinking delicious cold brew [which you got for free because the waiter was from Iowa!] and the next you could be hiking in a forest or paddle boarding on a lake. Swoon. Love it. Miss it.

It was nice to spend more than a day in the city too - Jerrod took me to places I hadn't seen yet but we also returned to places we had visited two months ago aka our favorite food/coffee spots: The Buzz Mill and Austin Java. We are obsessed with cold brew coffee. OBSESSED.

Because we love food and trying new places, we also visited Pinthouse Pizza and fell head over heels in love. The pizza was amazing and made with fresh ingredients. We tried a pale ale that had been brewed with organic Texas peaches. So delicious. The atmosphere of the restaurant was also fun - big picnic tables, good tunes, awesome wall decorations, and nice servers. Other spots included Halcyon [blackberry mojitos. that is all.], Strange Brew [melt in your mouth cinnamon rolls and sipworthy drip coffee], and Kerbey Lane [breakfast at midnight? yes please.] Jerrod and I really enjoy food. [Can someone hire us to eat at restaurants for a job? I will write reviews and he can take pictures.]

When we weren't stuffing our faces, I hung out poolside and read while Jerrod taught swim lessons, we hiked up cliffs, we waded through a creek, we watched movies, we went for drives, we went on a spontaneous trip to Enchanted Rock [and oh my nachos was it amazing. AMAZING. I was in awe. Still am. Always will be. Whew.], we went to farmer's markets, we took his niece to A&W to try root beer floats for the first time, we walked through stores...and it goes on and on. We stayed busy for those six days!

Eventually it was time for me to make the trek back to CA. Bummer. Back to reality and back to school! Now that I am back in Monterey, I have been readjusting to the weather [I can't believe I am admitting this, but I have the heat on. Gotta love it...], and also readjusting to the fact that MIIS isn't so quiet anymore. New student orientation is this week and there is a big group of us trying to figure things out. I'm thankful that I had the summer to get my bearings around here! I register for classes on Thursday and the semester will start next Monday. If all goes well, I will be taking 16 credits this fall. To put that plain and simple, I'll be taking 7 classes! 7! What the margarita! That's a lot of classes. The most I ever took in my undergrad was 5. This is going to be a busy year, but I am excited to learn more about my field!

I better get some sleep while I can - thanks for tuning in! Adios!

The city on one side, the sunset on the other.

At the top of Enchanted Rock. Hands down one of the most amazing places I have ever been. I just can't get over how random, beautiful, and crazy this place is. The sunset was stunning.
Wading in Barton Creek!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer Spanish = FINISHED! [almost]

Hola mis amigos.

Lo siento por no escribo en muchos días! [I am sorry for not writing in many days!...or something close to that...haha.]

Wow! Yesterday I was going to class for the first time and now it's the Sunday after class. Huh?! For the first month of SILP, time crept by. My hour and fifteen minute lunch felt like three hours. The second half of class felt like it was in slow motion. For the last month of SILP, time flew by. My lunch felt like 30 minutes. The second half of class felt like a very fast race.

And now I'm here.

I do apologize for not touching base for a while. My last two weeks of class were stressful, exhausting, and challenging. Spanish went from fun and somewhat easy to difficult and somewhat terrible [but still fun] all in a matter of days. I swear I have had more headaches in the past few weeks than I have in my entire life. That's learning a language in an intensive setting I guess!

After many restless nights of thinking I was never going to make it, the final exam finally arrived. I did excellent on my oral exam and that's not just me saying that - those words came straight out of my professor's mouth! We had to pretend we were travel agents for a Spanish speaking country and then use the subjunctive tense to convince our classmates to visit this place. I chose Ecuador [I wanted Chile but someone beat me to it!] and I spent a night memorizing 12 sentences that I wrote. 12 sentences may not seem like a lot - trust me, it is/was/forever will be.  I kept a calm voice throughout the whole presentation and I felt happy with it as I sat back down in my chair! My written final exam also went well. It took me two hours and forty five minutes...but I passed! Wahoo! SILP is finished!

The last straw in all this Spanish business is to take my placement test tomorrow morning. I have to be at the 200 level in order to stay on track with my degree. Last week I was stressed, upset, depressed, frustrated, and convinced that I would never pass. Fast forward to now and I am feeling confident, prepared, and "CAN I JUST GET IT OVER WITH?"

After the test I had originally planned on bumming around for a week, reading, drinking coffee, going for walks, etc., etc. as orientation starts the 19th. But...why would I do that when I could go to TEXAS and do all that at the same time?!

Tomorrow night I am flyin' on outta here to spend six days in Austin with Jerrod. YAY. I am stoked to see him as two months apart has been no bueno. I am also stoked for weather that is above 70 degrees [it will be over 105 the whole time I'm there, probably]. It is going to be so much fun and it is a trip I am very excited to take.

For those of you going back to school within the next week or so, enjoy the rest of your summer break! For those of you that have not had a break, umm, at least you haven't spent the last two months trying to figure out all the ways you can conjugate five million different verbs in Spanish?