Back to School Soon

Well, as promised, I am reporting on how my life in the past week has unfolded, and I am happy to say that it has unfolded in my favor. My mom has, more or less, decided to help me, and Wednesday was magical. Ray went to lunch with my mom and I, as planned, and afterward, we spent the day together at my house. My father was aware but displayed no problem with it, which means that hopefully, this is not an issue that I will run into again. Today, I saw him, as he spent the day with me and a group of friends. We attempted to see the Lovely Bones, but it wasn’t in showing in my hometown, and it was sold out at the next closest theater. We instead went shopping, and we had a great day.

My friend David, the one who will be living in Oswego this coming semester, received some good (not the best, but good) news yesterday. He will be living in Scales on the third floor with a student named Jacob. I can’t recall Jacob’s last name, but hopefully, he is a nice person with whom David will get along. We tried to room together this semester, but we tried unsuccessfully. Residence Life and Housing told him that because he is starting late, they have no room anywhere on campus that is completely empty. I don’t really care, because I really like my current roommate, but I just hope that David likes his, as well. Anyway, since he is in Scales and I am in Waterbury, we will be right next door to each other, which is good.

I can’t believe that I go back to school a week from tomorrow. That thought really is quite daunting. It seems as if the break went by so quickly. I hate that I might not be home for Valentine’s Day, but I am going to try to be. It falls on a Sunday this year, which means that I probably will not be spending the actual date with Ray, but we can always spend that Saturday together if I am able to come home that weekend. Anyway, if anything interesting comes up, I will try to write another blog entry before this coming weekend; otherwise, see everyone on campus next week!

Back from Ghana!!!!

So, Internet in Hohoe is not that reliable, so I had to wait until I got back here to update the blog.

I JUST HAD THE BEST TIME EVER! I sincerely think that I am a missing African child, and I need to go back to my homeland now. I loved Ghana so much! The people, the food, the landscape, the environment, and the overall culture! I will definitely go back there.

Getting to Ghana was pretty much a breeze because all of my connecting flights to JFK went through okay, and after being a little delayed due to people with huge suitcases who were trying to bring them on board, we finally left about 2 hours late. I thought that I would be going all the way to Africa without knowing anyone or anything, and that kind of made me nervous, but luckily on the plane I
got to sit right next to another volunteer, Maureen! By some random act of chance, Maureen and I were seated side by side the whole flight, and we were able to hit it off and talk all about the trip to come. AND, two other volunteers, Jenny and Subby (Sue – bee), were seated side by side just a few rows ahead of us, so they got to bond. It was great.

Once we got into Accra we headed up to Hohoe. It was definitely culture shock to see all of the women walking on the side of the road with the craziest things on their heads – sewing machines, baskets, wood, boxes – anything, you name it, and they were carrying it on their heads. And, there are no road rules in Ghana, as well very poor roads. It was pretty much a roller coaster ride driving around the potholes and over speed bumps every other second. The countryside is so beautiful, though, so you soon ignore the bumps.

The Volta Region is definitely gorgeous with the rainforests, lakes, hills, etc. It’s definitely breathtaking.

To reiterate, I went for three weeks with Cross Cultural Solutions. The other volunteers who were there were all amazing! They were really nice, and we all had similar interests. It was amazingly fun to hang out with the seven other volunteers.

I’ll recap quickly what all we did. We went to the Wli Waterfalls – upper and lower. We went to Mt. Afadjato and got to see the border to Togo. We went to a Monkey Sanctuary and a Snake Sanctuary. We got to see some voodoo in action and some elders and chiefs. We got to go to Cape Coast and Elmina to see the life on the seashore and the slave castles. We also went to the Kente Village where we got to see people weaving. All in all, the traveling that we did was amazing.

The best part of this trip was the volunteer experience, which is of course why I went there in the first place. Half of our time was spent at the volunteer placements and the rest was available for cultural learning. My placement was at the Hohoe District Hospital, but on our first day there the administrator told us more or less that we weren’t wanted, so I moved on to an NGO called Rural Action for the Poor (RAP). RAP does work to mobilize the savings of people in small communities who don’t have access to a bank. It was such an enlightening experience to be with this NGO and see what they do.

Basically, they go into different small communities and talk to the elders and chiefs and people of the community to set up these microfinance groups. Once the groups are organized, the field officer (FO) goes to the meetings and trains the people to start saving their money. The members of the groups do this by buying shares valued at 50 pesewas (like 50 cents) or 1 cedi (like one dollar). Each meeting they buy shares and in this way, they save money. Then, once they get enough money saved, they can start making microloans to each other with interest rates. All in all it’s a fantastic program that allows people to save and borrow and make money!

Well, now that I’ve updated you a little bit about Ghana, I’ll show some pictures, and save more good stuff for another post!

This is a picture of Lelabi, one of the microfinance groups who meet at like 6 a.m. once a week!

Wli Waterfalls!!!
Kids hanging out at the home base watching our traditional drumming and dancing!
The group minus two!

Conference Calls, Coffee and Courage

Say that title 3 times fast!

Today I am taking a conference call from my new internship with John Murphy at The Estate Planning Institue http://www.estateplanninginst.com/ .

The only issue is that I may or may have not stayed up till 4am cleaning my room and organizing things to go back to Oswego….whoops. Well I am the new intern, we will see how much information I get to have.

The internship was all so sudden, they called me and I got the job. I am a bit curious as to why, but I think it will become clear eventually All I know is that it only requires a few hours of training, verses a billion and a half. It is a good thing because I only have time for a few hours here and there. I always need an internship, and you do too, don’t fool yourself, however, I can’t be dead doing it.

Get yourself one: https://oswego-suny-csm.symplicity.com/students/index.php?signin_tab=2&js_disabled=0

and don’t delay, it is a make or break for the real world.

Alas, I am up way too early for common sense over winter break :) But, at least I did it, and I thought I did well too!

Time for a toast sandwich! Photos soon…

Be Ozzy

Exotic Animals and WiFi

My Grandma is an exotic animal wholesaler who lives in St. Augustine, FL. She can tell you everything about a jennet cat, red kangaroo or a cockatoo but heaven forbid it contains the word internet.

I finally managed to untangle everything and give her the internet. It has a been a great time.

I got a new camera though, check out the new things I saw :)

Trapped

I have to say that I had a great Christmas this year. It wasn’t perfect; for starters, I encountered a family issue the night of December 25th, but other than that, I had a great Christmas. Now, I’m just thinking about how quickly break is going by and how I feel about that. In a way, I am happy, because I miss all of my college friends, but at the same time, it is disappointing, because there are so many things that I would like to accomplish before returning to having very little time to myself, and it feels like I haven’t accomplished half of them. Luckily, however, the problem regarding the townhouses that I discussed earlier in my blog entries has been solved.

If you recall, the problem was that I was torn between whether or not I was going to live in the townhouses or live with my friend David, who is going to be a transfer student here. Well, here is what ended up happening. Unfortunately, not all of it is in my favor, but that’s all that you can expect out of life. You’re either going to get A or B, but it’s rare that you get both. Anyway, David successfully got into Oswego, so beginning this upcoming semester, he will be a student here. Therefore, when the time comes to request a roommate, he and I should be able to request each other for the Fall 2010 semester. At the same time, the Townhouses group has been dismembered. One of them has decided to live with a different group, and one of them has, more or less (to make a long story short), decided to stay in Waterbury.

Obviously, I gain something and lose something simultaneously. I will have David as a roommate, which is always a good thing, but the family that I have established will basically be dismembered, with everyone going their own separate ways. Things will not be the way that they are now, and that will be, at least at first, difficult to accept (I do not adapt to change well, especially when it is a change that involves me losing something). In time, I am sure that I will find a comfort zone, but it will indeed take time. In the meantime, I am trying to enjoy life as fully as is possible without allowing the future to meddle with me.

Right now, however, it’s not the future that’s meddling with me as much as it is the present. I am almost positive that I have mentioned it in an earlier blog entry, but if I haven’t, my father does not support my relationship. As a Christian, he does not support homosexuality in any way. He sees it as a serious sin and is therefore completely against gay marriage. It is something that is not easy for me to accept, because it is something that I not only feel very strongly about but also something that directly affects me. The issue therefore becomes a vicious circle; he can’t accept my relationship, I can’t accept his lack of acceptance, and he can’t accept my lack of acceptance of his lack of acceptance (sorry if that got confusing), and so forth.

Living in the same house with someone who believes that your lifestyle is the result of a devil having taken possession of you is not easy, to say the least. I have done the best that I can to talk to him in the past, telling him that homosexuality is something that you’re born with, not something that you choose, but his inability to see things liberally stands in his way and clouds his vision. He previously declared that Ray (my boyfriend, in case you didn’t know) can no longer come over, because, and I quote, “he is a bad influence on Cody and Eileene [my younger siblings].” I felt like saying to him that I guess I cannot be in the house, either, then, because, likewise, I am a bad influence on them, but I didn’t. I refrained from arguing with him, despite my natural instinct to do so, something that I fought relentlessly.

Right now, I feel trapped. I am going to be twenty years old in May, and I’ve gotten nowhere in life. The only feat that I have accomplished is that I am in college, and although that is a major feat, I admit, I don’t even have a car (I don’t even have my permit). The reason for that is because my parents either can’t or won’t help me financially. When I’m home, I don’t have a job, and when I’m in school, I can only earn a particular amount of money, since it is a work-study position. There’s no way that I could afford to pay for the course, pay for a car, pay for insurance and then pay for gas to fill the car; it is totally and completely unrealistic to even think about that; I’d need to be making thousands of dollars a year, which I don’t, not even close. So, whenever someone points out the illogicality of me being nineteen years old and not having a car, I help them realize that if it weren’t for their parents helping them out, they, likewise, would most likely be in the same boat.

I want to get an apartment with Ray and live on my own. I am tired of being dependent and am tired of having to work around my father’s strict rules to see him. This coming Wednesday (the 13th) will be nine months that we have been together, and it’s important to me that we spend it together. Normally, we can’t, because I’m in school, but now, I’m home, so it’s very important to me. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about arranging it. I have some ideas, but it feels like everything that I attempt blows up in my face and like I am therefore running low on options. I hate feeling caged, hate feeling trapped. It’s something that I want to escape, but there ultimately is no way to do so.

However, I don’t mean to be a downer and consistently write about negative aspects of my life. On a good note, I saw the new film Avatar tonight, and I am incredibly impressed. It reminds me of how movies can be magical and is so epically high on the scale of good movie-making that it is honestly the best movie that I have seen in a long time. It was very much a futuristic (the film takes place in the year 2154, I believe), sci-fi retelling of Pocahontas but epic, all the same. If you haven’t seen the film, then I highly recommend that you do. Trust me, it will blow your mind. Anyway, I guess that that is about it for now. I will do my best to check in again soon to let you all know how things turn out for me.

Relaxation and anticipation

I’m being pulled in two directions.  I’m glad it’s Winter break and I can relax and enjoy some time away from homework, but I also can’t wait for next semester to start.  It’s going to be a very busy, yet exciting, semester.  I start my internship in the Office of Judicial Affairs, and let me tell you, I can’t wait!

Admissions has been very busy with applications, phone calls, and visits.  (Anyone who has applied for the Fall semester: the first batch of decision letters go out on January 15th).  I love working there and enjoy hearing how excited everyone is.  Next semester will be very busy with planning for Open Houses and Admitted Student Days.  Check out SUNY Oswego’s visit page for dates and registration.

I’m taking some random, but necessary classes: Accounting 2, Marketing, English Lit in the Global Context, and Conflict Management.  My internship at Judicial Affairs is also credit bearing, which is great!  I know this is boring, but you all want to know my life don’t you?

Other things going on…I’m trying to plan a trip to Boston in March.  I am a member of ACPA, which is an organization for student affairs professionals.  As a student interested in the field I get to be part of the organization and attend a conference held in Boston this year.  I applied for the scholarship and am going to try to find other sources of funding. Cross your fingers for me!  Another is the search for a new apartment.  Unfortunately I have to move out of my amazing apartment at the end of this May.  I have been looking for a new place, but nothing compares to where I am.  I’m taking my time and looking at different places, but time is running out.  Hopefully by the time I post again I will have found a new place.

Again, good luck to all applicants.  Hello all alumni, current students, staff, and faculty. (Cheesy, I know :-p )

Wrapping up the year

I am so happy it is all over… This is my favorite time of the year! The semester is over, there is a long break so that you get enough time to relax, travel, and catch up with friends and family. There is also the anticipation of a brand new start! There is so much that I have left behind, I spent the past semester trying to find a balance; a balance between friends and family, school and work, and even between play and planning.  I think the anticipation of graduation, Grad- School, and the possibility of relocation really keeps me unbalance. I battle with so many feelings, feelings of hope, fear, joy, happiness, fulfillment, accomplishment, and so much more. Even though I am not at the finish line, the anticipation is really killing me. I can’t stop reflecting on how fast 4 years  went by; the best 4 years of my life.  I won’t reflect  on or think about what I will leave behind because the depth of my true engagements shall follow me wherever I shall go; I know that for sure the support, love, and encouragement will not stop from the lovely people I have met here… Next semester I will embrace it all like I have never embraced it before; the closer it gets the more I get anxious. I am awaiting many new starts for next year. There is so much to work on, so much to plan for, so much to enjoy, many more to meet, and many new engagements! I have no New Year’s resolution, except that I wish you the best and I hope that you get all that your heart desire, along with that I wish you peace and happiness… I am waiting and hoping; hoping for the best but preparing for the worst!

What makes a good blog? What makes a hard semester?

So you all have may or may not heard that the Oswego blogs got an accolades award. That is super cool! However, I am trying to find out…what makes it great? I am unsure…I find it puzzling in the least.

I have not written for a while and I apologize to Tim.

However, if you look at my last post. I have a picture of my aunt with her favorite chicken. A few days after I posted that, she passed away. It has been very hard to blog after posting that. This has definitely been a rough semester. It has been my absolute best and absolute worst time at Oswego. The real reason that I came back from New Zealand is that an acquaintance attacked me while I was over there. It got real sticky and I was told to leave because the sister University couldn’t do anything. I don’t blame anyone though. Both Universities did what they could. It was really rough because I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to pretend that those few months didn’t exist. I do want to talk about it now though. It is really important for everyone to know about how domestic violence can effect everyone.

It was devastating. I had to leave my study abroad, get back into Oswego 3 weeks late and still make it seem like I was fine. You should also note that there was no alcohol or drugs involved. Just some people can’t handle life and they take it out on others. Always remember that it isn’t your fault. No one deserves to be treated in any other way than fair and just. Its the American way…side note: cool video on American Values http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn4IH3yng4k You know in toilet talk about how you always have that one issue about domestic violence. Its real, don’t ignore it guys. http://www.ndvh.org/ I am so happy to be home and back to Oswego. I know we all complain about student accounts being slow or the registrar being grumpy but they did everything in their power to get me back in and safe. I give major props to them. I also got really close with some great people, so many reached out and became the best support network. You just really have to be thankful for what you have. Especially around this time of the year. I love all my friends, we are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas and Chinese New Year and might all meet in the city for news years.

However, while most of my blogs are friendly and spunky, this one is serious. Everyone needs someone and it is OK to reach out. Never let anyone take anything from you and always give back to the people you love.

Its a real message and its one that I hope can help someone. I am doing the best I can though and I think I am doing OK. I got the top eight internship in the country with Northwestern Mutual. I started a company and am in the process of planning it. I only took four classes this semester but I handled them well and I came back to the people I love. I win, I know it and I know you can too.

Be Ozzy

http://www.ndvh.org/

A Hidden Parisien Treasure

So I only have a few weeks left of Paris…but I have been wandering around the city trying to see all that I can before I leave.  Well the other day I stumbled across this really cute canal.  I hadn’t ever really heard of it.  But it was really cute and I found out after talking to one of my French friends that it is in fact a very popular place for Parisiens.  It is beautiful now, but from what I hear in the spring and summer it is beautiful and serene. 

It is an old-fashioned canal that was dug around the time of the Restoration to link another Canal in Paris to the Seine River.  There are nine locks in the canal and it is in the République neighborhood.

It is not a very famous location, but it is a place where you can go that is not very touristy.  It is truely a Parisien hidden treasure.   I even got to see a boat go through the locks, it has been a long time since I have seen a lock in action!
st martin canal

st mt canal

In other news, I am so busy with school right now that I don’t even  have time to think!  I have 3 papers and 2 tests and an oral presentaion all coming up!  And the semester doesn’t even end here until Mid-January!

I only have about a week until I leave to go to Germany for Christmas.  I am really excited about that.  As for Paris, trees and lights are popping up all over the city.  It is really becoming Christmas time.  I really love it.  I love Christmas time.  It is one of my favorite times of the year.

  The family I am babysitting for is Jewish and so this year I get to celebrate my first Hanukkah and we are going to have a little Christmas get together before I leave for Germany.  Meeting them and getting a job babysitting their daughter has really been one on the best things that has happened to me since I have been in Paris.  I have a lifelong connection to the city.  They are wonderful people and I was so lucky to meet them!  They have made my experience here complete.

Anyway I should get going on some homework and go to bed so I can get up and start another long day tomorrow.  I will be posting again before I leave for Germany, hopefully!  And of course when I get back!  With pictures of course. 

Good Luck to everyone at Oswego with final exams and MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!

Winter Wonderland

Something that I find really funny is how different this year has been from last year, how different my perspective is. The main reason I bring this is up is because, obviously, winter weather is here, something that I dreaded for quite some time. I typically hate snow and everything else about winter. I like for there to be snow around Christmastime, but then I am done with it and am ready for it to be gone, which obviously doesn’t happen. It sticks around for another three months or so, and as time goes on, it becomes dirtier and dirtier and heavier and heavier until it becomes incredibly overbearing. By late February, there is barely any white left. Instead, the snow is dirty, and as I said, it’s piled just about everywhere.

However, that really isn’t even the point, because last year, I was tired of the snow even prior to Christmas. Usually, I am, because I simply don’t like the snow and don’t understand why so many people seem to like it so much. It’s cold and wet, and here, it blows in your face and just about freezes the skin from it. It’s not anything that I would call fun. As I said, though, this year, my perspective has been different. The other night, I was walking from Waterbury to Lakeside with a group of friends for dinner, and it was snowing. I think that it may have been the first real snowfall of the season, and it just felt so oddly peaceful.

It’s one of those rare moments in life that you can’t explain. It arouses a feeling that cannot possibly be put into words, mainly because even though you know you liked the feeling, you can’t identify it. I was just happy to be here, so unbelievably happy to be with my friends. We were having a great time joking and laughing about something, and for some reason that, as I said, I can’t really explain, the light snow really seemed to enhance the experience. It was a really nice experience, one that I have in one way or another captured, since, as I said, they don’t happen all that often.

I am, however, going to make one small complaint. Although I cannot recall which day it was (I think that it may have been Tuesday), there was one day this week that I went to Culkin for something, and outside of the building was completely packed with ice. Something that I completely hate about the winter is the ice. I am scared to death of it, because I am afraid that I am going to fall. That’s probably rational, yet I see so many people walk across it seemingly not afraid, and they don’t fall either. I remember when I was in elementary school, and the bus would be waiting for me outside of my house in the morning, and I would walk so slow down my driveway, which was embarrassing, but it was because I was so scared that I was going to fall.

I really do think that things like that should be noticed and that when they are, something should be done about them. I don’t think that that area had been salted at all, and at least that probably would have helped. I really don’t mean to complain about things that seem petty, but that really could be potentially dangerous. You couldn’t really see the ice. The only reason I knew that it was there is because I was being especially cautious and was therefore looking for it, but most people don’t, and actually, now that I think of it, there was one man who was just walking out of Culkin, and when he noticed that I was walking so slow on the ice, he said that he had witnessed four people falling on it that day.

Anyway, on another subject, I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day of classes. This semester has really flown by, and trust me, that is something for which I am grateful. For the most part, I would say that I have had a really good semester, but there have been bumps in the road, as there are in just about everything, and I am ready for this break, as I am sure a lot of us are. I can’t wait for finals to be over and for this semester to be officially over. I am going to be writing blogs over break, as well, so for those of you who read, be sure to check every now and then.