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.

The fun and games were too good to last…tests, presentations and papers…

So….Only this week and next week left of classes!  Well at least for me.  The classes start  back up next month until the 16th of January.  By then I will be back in Oswego playing hockey everyday!  That will be exciting.

The only bad thing about leaving is I have so many papers to write.  10-15 pages, 5-10 pages and 5-6 pages!  Plus 2 tests next week and an oral presentation!  AHHH…So much to do! 

Good news is there is only 13 days until I go to Germany for Christmas.  I am so excited!!!!!  I believe there is only 28 days until I come home now too!  Wow who would have believed that.  I can’t believe this is almost over.  It has been a great experience, but I miss my family so much.  I am getting very excited to go home and see everyone again!

There isn’t much else new here.  I got sick at the end of last week and I didn’t do anything but lay in bed all weekend.  I am starting to get over it now, but it was an aweful chest cold.  There is even aweful illnesses in Paris.  It’s definately not all fun and games!

Well since I haven’t been doing much besides being sick, there isn’t much else to say.  I will be doing some christmas activities this weekend so hopefully I will have more to say next time :)

NYS Equality and Beliefs – My article from The Oswegonian

This week has been written into history.

The New York State Senate met Wednesday morning to debate over two very important topics. First, the plan to close the gap in the budget deficit of $3.2 to $4 billion, which would reduce the gap by about $2.8 million. Second, the Domestic Relations Law, which would have allowed all couples, including same-sex couples, to marry and be legally recognized as a married couple in the state of New York. But only if the bill passed.

The Senate convened at 10 a.m. Wednesday and by 3:30 p.m. it had adjourned for the day. When they had finished, it was announced that they had failed the second bill by a 24 to 38 vote.

The N.Y.S. Senate has a 32 to 30 democratic majority. This may sound like a good thing, but unfortunately, as can be seen, not all of the 32 democrats were in favor of the bill. A vote of 24 in the affirmative is not something to be happy about. The bill passed in the state assembly, but wasn’t strong enough to withstand the disapproval by the senate.

Thomas Duane, senate sponsor of the bill, is the Legislature’s first openly gay member and he vowed not to give up.

“I’m like a dog with a bone,” Duane said in his closing remarks on the floor. “I wouldn’t let go of anyone … because I don’t give up. I don’t know how to!”

Duane gave a very riveting speech about his life and the obstacles he’s had to overcome through his years. He is very passionate about the topic, along with many other people.

I am an openly gay man. I have been for only about three years now, but I have grown and matured very quickly, and have seen many things that don’t make me happy. I support same-sex marriage. I believe that everyone should have the right to commit themselves to the one they love; not only in an emotional way, but also in a legal way.

There are over 1,800 rights given to married couples that unmarried couples are not entitled to. Most think of things such as inheritance or health benefits, but there are smaller, less thought of things, like the right to visitation when a loved one is in the hospital, making plans for funerals and more high-spirited rights such as adopting children, gaining custody of partner’s children and many other personal rights that people automatically think they are entitled to if they are in a committed relationship with someone.

Without the ability to marry, same-sex couples lose these rights, some of which mean more to them than heterosexual couples. I use the word heterosexual because that is how the majority of society sees it. There are, in fact, bisexual couples that marry, but that is fine because it is still a man and a woman who are marrying.

The attitude toward homosexual, or gay, people is very negative, more so to gay men than gay women. I have heard the derogatory words faggot, queer, homo, flamer and many others thrown around carelessly without any recognition of what is actually being said.

Honestly, what is the point of this? Why do people feel the need to say things like this, especially when they are only joking? The answer will never be explained without constant argument. Words such as those mentioned above come from lack of understanding, along with the fact that so many people are uncomfortable with homosexuality.

Now back to the point at hand: the bill that failed. Some controversy may arise because of the statements made during the debate and voting sessions on Wednesday. Senator Eric Adams asked his fellow senate members to put aside their religious beliefs and to remember that at one point in history, slavery was legal.

“When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out,” Adams said. One of his fellow senators, Ruben Diaz, rebutted with “that’s the wrong statement; you should carry your Bible all the time.”

If you’re not aware, the U.S. government has a separation of church and state. What Diaz and other senators feel is against the beliefs of our founding fathers and today’s government.

Just remember, most of us take the simple things for granted. However, there are some people out there who are not given the simple rights and advantages that the majority have because there is so much controversy regarding this topic that’s been around for a very long time. Think about how you feel, come up with an opinion and stick to it. But while you’re contemplating and conjuring up that opinion, please consider what individual rights others may lose if you decide to be against same-sex marriage.

The End

It’s so difficult for me to believe that the semester is so close to the end. I am not, by any means, complaining, because, trust me, I really need this upcoming break, as I’m sure that a lot of us do. If you recall, I was complaining a lot not too long ago about having so much homework and, primarily, about not doing very well in my Biology class. I still don’t think that I am going to pass Biology with flying colors, not by any means (I’d be excessively lucky if I get a C), but I am at least hopeful now that I will pass. Obviously, I really need to pass it, and I don’t want to have to take any more science than I already have to.

Again, however, the semester is so unbelievably close to the end, and I can’t believe it. This is the last full week of classes, then next week is finals, and then, we go home for winter break. This semester has gone by so quickly, and I know that it always feels that way, but this semester seems as if it went by extraordinarily quickly. I’m not sure why, but I can say that for the most part, apart from my dreadful Biology class, this semester has gone very well, and so, maybe that’s why it has gone by so quickly. Last semester (as in spring ’09) did not go very well, and that seems as if it went by a lot slower than this one.

This semester, I have taken English 304, English 271, Psychology 100, History 102 and Biology 203. Some of you may be wondering why it is that I would have chosen to take a 200 level Biology class when I am clearly not a good science student, but the reason is because when I looked at the course description, it looked as if it would have been an incredibly easy course. Not only that, but the 100 level course involves a lab, which is obviously something that didn’t interest me in the slightest. Anyway, apart from Biology, I would say that my classes have gone fairly well, and again, apart from Biology, I am certain that I am going to do very well this semester.

I am looking forward to an A or a B in my English 304 class. I am definitely going to get an A in my English 271 class, because my lowest grade thus far has been a 95, and there’s only one exam remaining. History is relatively easy. I have not seen any of my grades yet save the paper that I wrote (which I got an 89 on) to be honest, but again, I remain confident. Psychology is course that I might not get a B in. It would be nice, but I think that I am looking at a grade that is closer to a C or a C+. I fully understand the material, so don’t get me wrong, but the tests are very difficult. I think that I have been working very hard, however, and like I said, besides Biology (which I am hopeful that I will pass), this has been a fairly decent semester.

Agh! Ghana is so near :)

I am freaking out! In exactly two weeks I will be flying to NYC to get ready for leaving on my flight to Accra, Ghana, AFRICA! I’m literally having a hard time studying and paying attention in my classes because I’m so excited to go!

On Tuesday, the 8th, I will be getting the last of my medicine – typhoid fever shot and malaria pill prescription. Then, all I need to do is prepare for cultural immersion and brush up on some Ghanese culture. I still haven’t figured out what my name would be. I think Akua because I was born on a Wednesday. Maybe I’ll mix my name and be Akua Katherine!

I leave Dec. 18th at 4:10 p.m. from JFK, and I get into Accra at 7:35 a.m. Dec. 19th. It’s a 10 hr, 55 min. flight. I’m in row G on the flight (I think it’s by the window, if not I might go crazy sitting in the middle seat for that long).

I was told that on long flights like that you need to get up and walk around to prevent any blood clots. I think I will be doing laps around that plane to get my blood pumping, also to let loose some of this pent up excitement that I have. Holy cow, I’m going to be in GHANA!

The guy in my French class, Kwam, mentioned that Hohoe is an area susceptible to malaria, so I’m trying to be extra cautious about preparing. I’m having my boyfriend (who’s coming to visit from San Diego before I leave) bring me some light cotton clothing so that I can be prepared for the hot days and mosquito-infested areas.

I got an e-mail from a couple of the other volunteers who are going to Ghana the same time that I am, and they all seem really excited too! I cannot wait to meet everyone and to meet all of the people in Ghana. A lot of my family and friends are reminding me to buy them gifts once I get in Ghana. A necklace for my sister, coffee for my friend, and some musical instrument for my boyfriend. I hope I have enough money!

What I’m most excited for is to give my time to help others. I think that I might be working in one of the orphanages in Hohoe, and I can’t wait to make Christmas cards with the little children and to show them pictures of the U.S. and my life here.

AND, I will promise to take as many pictures as I can to remember my trip. You should ask permission before taking people’s photos, especially in foreign countries because some people see it as invasion to have their picture taken. Some people, on the other hand, aren’t camera shy at all. So, I’m sure that I will have plenty of pictures!

Here’s a picture from the Africa Travel Magazine showing some Ghanese royalty. 14 days!! The countdown begins!
ghana royalty

Finals….. I did it!

I’m in Mahar computer lab alone, doing my work and I’ve accomplished a lot since I’ve arrived here at 5 p.m., it’s now 8 p.m. I surprised myself. I wrote earlier about how busy I am with 21 credits a job and an internship and that I didn’t know how I was going to do it all. I’m reflecting back at the semester and realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve finished all my papers, my extra credits and now it’s just time to study. However, I am quite exhausted, I guarantee that after finals are over I will probably sleep for 12 hours a day, it will all catch up with me.

I don’t think I’m going to be overloading my last three semester here, I have since my first semester and I don’t want to get worn out by the time I’m a senior and not enjoy myself here. I’m just so happy, relieved, excited, nervous, just about every emotion thinking about how much I’ve done this semester and that I did it successfully. I’ve completed 7 classes, an internship, having a job where I work 15 hours a week off-campus, lived on my own in my own apartment, and became a part of Student Association as a director in a new position and started creating a lot of great things that I hope will continue on after I graduate from Oswego. It doesn’t sound like a lot but after being there and doing it all, it was exhausting but I’ve learned so much and know that my limits have yet to be reached. Yes I’m tired, but I’m still going strong. Not saying that I’m going to do another semester as full as this one, I think I’ve reached my peek of involvement so now it’s time to narrow it down to what I really, truly enjoy and devote my all into it.

I am working at the American Foundry in Oswego as an intern over winter break and next semester, I’m shadowing the owner and learning the ins and outs of managing a business and events. It’s the career path I’m interested in and I’m so excited. (check out their website!)

The people there are wonderful and great cooks to! I’ve already worked at a Wedding and I cried! I didn’t even know the family but it was so beautiful. That’s when I know that this type of work is what I like, when emotions show without being forced. That’s something I learned from a motivational speaker who came to campus last year. “Until you allow emotions to show without forcing or trying to hide them, only then will you be a success in that area.” I’m so excited to see what else the world has in store for me. I plan to go to Italy soon. I’m taking Italian 101 right now and I absolutely love it! Now, I’m not fluent but the culture is so intriguing and the professor is great!
You never know just what you’re worth until you’re put to the test. I always look at it like this, when you’re given a challenging task and you tackle it successfully, challenge yourself even more until you fail. Only then will you know and appreciate true success. Failure is what makes one strong and is the best teacher anyone could ever ask for. Once you look at failure in the face and get past it, you’ll feel on top of the world and are able to do anything. It’s such a great feeling, it’s hard to describe unless you’ve actually been there.

I suppose I’ve blurbed enough for now, off to do some studying for ancient philosophy and foundations of communication!


Relieving the Pressures of Finals Week

Studious for Finals Week

So with the semesters end, finals week is steadily approaching. Around this time, the campus becomes a ghost town; 24-hour quiet hours are in effect for almost every resident hall, and the library becomes a temporary home for those looking to make the final push for better grades. For those who aren’t prepared, finals week can seem more like hell week with the overbearing load of final projects, papers, and exams.

For me, preparing for finals begins with my study area. Being someone who enjoys watching a room and multitasking, I tend to stay away from studying in my room to get more out of my schoolwork. The best thing I’ve found that works for me is finding a quiet area you usually don’t go to, but feel comfortable in. This place could be anywhere you see fit such as the calmest spot of the library or campus center.

After you have your area claimed and you’re ready to begin the trek of thick textbooks and endless notes and doodles, there should be some organization. The more organized your work is, the less time that’s spent looking for lost handouts and crumbled up loose-leaf papers.

A friend who is double majoring in two totally different fields has a notebook where she lists every project, paper, presentation, and final exam date that has to get done before she goes home for Winter Break. From there she can estimate what day she wants to get that particular item done and leaves a day towards the end of the week open for all the things she couldn’t get done during the week. This leaves her weekends open to be enjoyed.

Last but not least, taking occasional breaks is important when studying for finals. Rushing or plowing through any work or studying may result in excessive cramming and though it may seem like it saves time, it really mashes everything you’ve learned together. So when you’re taking a chemistry exam and can’t help but think about whom the president was during the Cuban missile crisis, you’re in some trouble. Taking a break from time to time and resting your brain with something that entertains you helps relieve the stress placed upon yourself about having to retain all this information.

Here’s a list of good things to do when breaking from studying.

With all these techniques, the best thing to do is to keep focused. The worst distracter is you. So keep yourself committed to the work you’re reviewing. And keep in mind in what ways what your reviewing can show up on your final exam and if it’s worth highlighting for remembering later on.

Good luck and I’ll see you in the library!

America and Germany in France, a trip to the Netherlands and it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I have been so busy I haven’t even realized how fast the past two weeks have gone bye and now I realized it has been 2 weeeks since I have posted!  Where has the time gone!?!  There is only about 2 weeks of classes left until xmas break, and I can’t believe it.  Now there are only 35 days until I return to the states!  OMG…I can’t believe it.  I feel like I just got here. 

So these past two weeks have been the most busy since I have been in Paris I think.  I had one of my best friends from Germany come to visit 2 weeks ago. 
tiff and celine small
She was an exchange student at my high school in 2004-2005.  It was really great to be able to see here.  We were very busy when she was here.  We saw Twilight: New Moon the day it came out here, which by the way was ywo days earlier than the states.  I made sure to call my family after we got back to let them know how incredible it was, of course I didn’t give any spoilers, but it was fun to call because my family are all Twilight fans.  Later that weekend we did lots of sightseeing and we went all over Paris just enjoying our time together in PARIS!  We both couldn’t believe we were in Europe together, it was such a great experience!  I had such a great time with her here and it was really nice to have a familiar face around. 

The next week was filled with orale presentations and homework and lots of work.  I was so busy I didn’t have time to think.  When Thursday came along, it was hard to believe it was Thanksgiving because I had class and work.  I was so impatient all day because the family I babysit for had invited me for Thanksgiving dinner.  They prepared a turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and all the wonderfulness of food at a great American Thanksgiving.  I was so grateful and happy that I got to share that exerience with them.  I feel so thankful and lucky that I got a job babysitting for such wonderful people.  They really have made my experience in Paris complete.  One of the things I had really hoped to do when I was in Paris was to live with a family.  It was about double what I could afford to spend for rent, but they have taken me under their wings and made me feel like I am really accepted in their family.  They are really amazing. 

Then Friday, I got up early to take my train to The Netherlands.  I arrived in Rotterdam in the early afternoon and my friend Evy, who was also an exchange student at might high school in 2004-2005 picked me up.  We went to her mom’s house and we had lunch.  From what I hear it is was a very Dutch lunch, not necessarily in the food, but that it is something Dutch people eat a lot for lunch.  It was just bread and cheese and meat and cucumbers and tea.  It was simple but very good.  Later that day we walked around Breda, which is the city Evy grew up in. 
This is Breda at night:
It was such a nice quaint little city.  I really enjoyed it.  For dinner we went to a resturant called, Buxuelles where I tried a Belgium rosé beer.  It was very very good.  I had never had a beer that was pinkish before and it was quite sweet.  The bartender made fun of me, in dutch of course, that it was like drinking lemonade.  Haha, it may have been sweet but don’t diss the American for trying something new!

The next day was sooo busy.  We went to Den Haag, which is the political capital of The Netherlands. 
This is the Peace Palace in Den Haag(or The Hauge in English):
peace palace
It was great visiting such a political city.  I did learn that The Netherlands has a government quite similar to that of England.  There is a Queen and she has some small responsibilities but mainly she is a figure that represents The Netherlands.  They also have a Parliment which makes the rules and governs the country.  I saw were the Queen works, but her residence is outside of Den Haag so we didn’t go there.

After we had lunch, we got on the train and went to Amsterdam.  Immediately I felt a great atmosphere in the city of Amsterdam.  It was alive and beautiful and really fun.  It was a little windy but it was so cool to be there.
One of the many many canals in Amsterdam:

I am in Love with the Arcitecture in Amsterdam.  It is such a beautiful city. 
I am Amsterdam!
i am amsterdam

My FAVORITE thing I did while I was in Amsterdam was my visit to the Anne Frank House.  It is the actual house that she and her Family lived in when they were hiding from the Nazi’s.  It was such a great visit, they told you the whole history and the background and I learned so much about their lives.  It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my whole life.  Just to be there was one of the coolest things I have ever done.  You are not allowed to take pictures, so I didn’t get to document it, but the visitors guide includes pictures of the whole house.  If there is anything I recommend, besides visiting Paris of course, GO TO THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE IN AMSTERDAM!  It is INCREDIBLE. 

Of course you can’t go to Amsterdam without visiting the red light district at night.  Warning:  Do not go alone.  It was an eye opening experience.  It is hard to believe that it is really something that people look forward to doing in Amsterdam.  It was something I am glad to have visited, but it was just very bizarre for me.  Walking in the red light district, you go down narrow ally’s which can prob fit at most 3 people wide.  And there is window after window and all there is, are women in the glass windows in lingrie posing and dancing.  There is a bed and a sink and a door to each room and since obviously it is prositution they are just trying to get men to come in. You would be amazed at how many of these rooms had closest curtains!  I was so shocked, it was quite an experience to say the least.  I guess as an American, I just was not expecting it to be as real as it was.

Anyway, Amsterdam is not just a beautiful city during the day, it is at night as well:
amsterdam night

I loved visiting Amsterdam and it was one of the coolest things I have done in Europe so far!

On Sunday, Evy and I spent the day exploring the city she goes to school in.  She lives in Tilberg, it is about a 15 min train ride from Breda, where her Mom lives.  Tilberg is a very old city with lots of culture.  It was a veyr beautiful city as well.  We did some shopping and of course got some Saint Nicolas cookies. 

 This Saturday, November 5th is Saint Nicolas for The Netherlands.  Saint Nicolas, is a Dutch holiday like Christmas (although the Dutch celebrate Christmas as well).  Saint Nicolas is a man (who looks a lot like Santa Claus, but he has a red hat that looks like the Popes and it has a cross on it) he comes from Spain with his helpers, who are in all of the stories 2 black men.  I found this so strange, but it is such an old religious holiday that noone believes the old tradition should be changed.  I still cannot fathom how they are so accepting of something so obviously racist.  Anyway, Saint Nicolas and his helpers come by boat at the end of November and there is always a celebration in the cities welcoming him to the town.  The following week he spends visiting children and checking his naughty and nice book.  On Nov. 5th all the dutch children leave a shoe by the chimney with a drawing and a carrot.  The drawing is a present and thanks to Saint-Nicolas and the carrot is for his horse.  Then the helpers go down the chimney and put presents in the little kids shoes.  It is a lot like christmas with a few differences.  It was interesting to learn about a new culture. 

I returned from The Netherlands on Monday and I was busy as soon as I got back with a test and lots of homework to do.  There are officially only about 35 days until I come home.  I cannot believe that. 

Christmas is in full swing here.  There are decorations everywhere.  There is a Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees, which is incredible.  It is so big and it has candy and food and lots of other things that you can get that are mostly all holiday based.  It is a great experience.  There are trees and lights everywhere and the Christmas Spirit is full swing in Paris.  Before I know it I will be heading to Germany for Christmas. 

I hope everyone enjoys my long post of my past two very busy weeks.  Good Luck to everyone at Oswego on finals and such all coming up very soon at Oswego.  I heard their was snow there last night!  At least there will be a white Christmas somewhere because it is still 50 degrees here!

Busing System = Very Inconvenient

I really do not understand our school’s busing system. I don’t know if all busing systems are like this or if it is just ours, but it is incredibly inconvenient. Yesterday, I wanted to go into town to pick a couple of things up at Walmart, and so, I figured in my head that it costs ¢75 to get there and then ¢75 to get back, so I needed $1.50. Before getting on the bus, I had ¢50, so I asked a friend to let me borrow a dollar, which she generously did. Anyway, I wasn’t thinking correctly, because I completely forgot that the buses’ machine does not give you any money back, so after I put my ¢50 in, I ran into an issue. I needed ¢75, and since the only change/cash I had on me was the dollar bill that my friend had let me borrow, there was nothing I could do, because if I had put the dollar in, it wouldn’t have given me ¢75 back, and I wouldn’t have had a way back to campus.

I quite honestly think that this is ridiculous. I think that the machines should be programmed, just like a vending machine, to know how much it costs and to only accept that amount of money. If more than that designated amount of money is given, it should return to the customer however much money is owed. Like I said, I don’t know if all busing systems work this way or if it’s just ours, but either way, it’s ridiculous. Yesterday, I was lucky, because the driver was kind enough to let me on the bus and told me to put a dollar in on my way back. However, I may not have been so lucky, and I could have wasted¢50 and therefore not have been able to go to Walmart at all. I have considered the fact that this could very well be a somewhat more functional report to give in the Oswegonian, but then, to be a responsible journalist, my duty would really be to interview people and to take reports, and I quite honestly just don’t have the time, especially since it is so close to the end of the semester. Anyway, I suppose that I am done ranting about this now, but I’m sure that I am not the only one who has ever complained about this.