From New Zealand to America, It’s Bittersweet

I am home from New Zealand, it was an awesome semester. I am back in Oswego now and living it up in Funnelle but I think the most important thing is all the photos and memories. I will miss my friends so much. I made friends in Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Sumatra, China, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Fiji, and a whole bunch of South Pacific and Polynesian Islands.

It was the experience of a lifetime, I had some the of best times and learned so much. FYI New Zealand knows how to throw a good party. They also know how to study hard and get those grades. The classes I took there were some of the toughest I had ever been in by a long shot. I don’t know how I managed. I think it was just the drive that if I didn’t get all my stuff done then I would miss out on a weekend trip to the hot springs or the caves or just everything

I am back in Oz though and ready to take on the world. I am tired and only been back in the country for 1 week today but it is all worth it because Oz is where my home is at.

Check out my photos from my South Island trip. If you go, go to the South Island. It is so beautiful and clean that you can even drink the water. Its 98.8% pure water that runs from glaciers and mountains into blue rivers, it is so gorgeous. If you get the chance, do it. Don’t ask questions, just go because my pictures will never do it justice.

The Southern AlpsSeal ColonyThe beautiful and dangerous Tasman Sea
The Frans Josef Glacier

Full Circle

I don’t know where the time has gone. In two weeks it will be a year since I first began blogging on here. It’s so funny how I wondered what things would be like in life after graduation. So here I am a year later. Senior year came and went. I enjoyed every minute of it. From time to time I check my pulse to ensure I’m a part of reality.

I have to admit I wish I was still there! But, a big part of growing up is leaving and moving forward to new horizons; inspiring horizons which is more like it. I face the world each day with a sense of fulfillment. I sense of freedom and hunger to explore the world. Life is great and I am very thankful for everything. This transition has been interesting. I am looking for my new love. My next big thing to wake up to every morning that puts a smile on my face. As I move forward to live the life of my dreams I look back to the years spent at Oswego and all that it has taught me. Oswego shall always be there and I’m always down for a visit or two.

My trip to Ghana!

So I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my upcoming trip to Hohoe, Ghana, Africa :), and I’ve decided to blog about it.

I will be going to Hohoe (ho-hway) for three weeks from Dec. 19th – Jan. 9th 2009/10. I cannot wait. I’m going through an organization called Cross Cultural Solutions. It’s separate from SUNY Oswego, so I will be going alone. Well, not technically alone because I’ll be rendezvousing with about 20 other volunteers from around the world.

Hohoe Picture from Wikipedia.org– Hohoe, Ghana
Hohoe is north of the check mark of Lake Volta (near the ocean).

Cross Cultural Solutions is an organization that takes volunteers all over the world to different areas of the globe to serve a need in specific communities. Different placements vary from teaching in elementary schools, teaching teachers English/Math, etc, providing daycare support for working families, working in elderly centers, or working in community developmental/community organizational situations. You don’t know your specific placement until a week or so before you go because they need to make sure they have a specific spot for you to fill as a volunteer.

You can go from a variety of different times – one week to one year – and basically go anywhere in the world. It’s not free, of course. This trip is running me around $5000-$6000 what with shots, visa, program fee, $2300 airplane tickets, and much more. But, it’s also a once in a lifetime experience. (Hopefully, it won’t be for me though!).

I’m gung ho, though, so I have been diligently raising money all summer via donations, candy sales, and sponsorship letters. I’m still around $700 short, which I need to have by the end of October. God willing, I’ll get that money! I’ve got faith in people though to help out.

The reason I’m going to Ghana is multi-faceted. I’m going to visit Africa, which I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I’m going to fill a need. I’m going to experience a new, completely unknown culture. I’m leaving my comfort zone to travel abroad relatively on my own. I’m also going to get a taste of the globe. I want to do international journalism or service that caters to an international, needy population, so I think that this is a good stepping off point. Oh, and I’ve always wanted to study abroad, but I won’t be able to because of finances and courses (try not to transfer colleges, it’s a PAIN!) So, this is the next best thing. I want to use my skills for a greater good while developing my own character at the same time.

This is going to be an incredible experience. I cannot wait. I’m not sure where I’m going to get placed. I’ve had experience with children (vacation Bible school, camp, retreats, dance choreographer). I’ve had experience with the elderly (working at a nursing home, going to church). I’ve also had a lot of experience with community group organization (too numerous to count- not bragging, just one of my passions). So, we’ll see where I get placed.

So, now that you’ve had a run down of my trip – I’ll give you some details about Ghana:

Official name= Republic of Ghana
Independence=March 6, 1957 (from Britain)
Capital City = Accra (A-car) – population ~ 2.5 million
Main Cities = Kumasi, Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tema
Geography = coastal plains, rain forest, savanna, and mountains
People = 22 million (99% Black African + 1% Lebanese)
Climate = Tropical, rainy summers, dry winters
Source: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture – Ghana—Ian Utley

That’s it for now. Oh, and I will be bringing school supplies and American novelties with me, so if anybody has extra notebooks, pencils, markers, colored pencils, etc., please let me know!

Ta-ta for now. :)

Celebrating Independence Day (March 6th)
Ghanian celebrating Independence Day Source: http://english.people.com.cn/200703/07/images/ghana4.jpg

Back to school, to prove to Dad I’m not a fool…

Oh, back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight. I hope I don’t get in a fight. — Billy Madison

So, I’m back here in Oswego, living in Funnelle – same room/same roommate- different set-up, working in Cooper – dishwashing, writing for Oswegonian, attending Students for Global Change, and doing 8 million different things as once.

My Room in Funnelle

I tend to enjoy keeping myself busy from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I’m a big planner and I try to maximize the definition of time management. A day planner is very helpful to do that. “From 4-6 p.m. I need to read, buy parking permit, eat, fold laundry, etc.” I also leave notes for myself on my desk to remember to call people or to do assignments. Organization is important to doing well in college. And acknowledgment of time constraints.

Enough of the boring stuff. Social life at college! It’s F U N ! It was great to come back to school and to see everyone you hadn’t seen in a couple of months. It’s nice in college to be able to go away for a while but then be able to pick up right where you left off.
My advice to people who are new to the school – keep an open door policy for the first couple of days (don’t let it be detrimental to your work, though). Also, maybe walk around your hall and introduce yourself to people you haven’t met yet. The easiest way to NOT make friends is to keep yourself holed up in your room. Get out of your comfort zone and walk around talking to people! You’ll be surprised at the people you meet who have trepidations about college life, just like you! You’ll make friends in no time.

School work (this is a piece meal blog this time). School work is a pain sometimes, yet it’s the reason why you’re in school in the first place. I personally am taking 18 credits plus three more hours added on to my web design class – plus two hours of choir and then my added on extracurriculars. SO, that being said, I have lots of school work and little time. But, like I said, I time manage to get it done. That also means sacrifice. So when my friends want to go out Friday and Saturday on every weekend, I have to weigh my options. Should I go out both nights and put my reading off til Sunday afternoon? Or should I go out one night and then go to bed early another night? Not the ideal situation to think about. In college, it’s supposed to be all parties all the weekend and no time for sleep or homework, right? That’s how I was freshman year, and I quickly learned that you can’t do it all by getting behind in my classes.
The most important thing to remember is your priorities. Is the party going to be so incredibly awesome that you can neglect to finish your paper on time? Maybe. Just remember to think before you go out! Not everybody parties hearty on the weekend (contrary to popular belief and the message we get from popular culture).

Mom spiel over. Go out and have fun, do your work, join organizations, and enjoy life! Don’t get too bogged down with life. Take a break and enjoy college!

‘Til next time…..

p.s. I got a free armchair from the side of the road, which I was super excited about… anyways.. It’s amazing, and it’s in my room. Named the “Reading Chair” or Agatha for all intents and purposes.
Agatha AGATHA!

Some useful sites!

http://collegetips.com

http://college-freshman.com

First day in Paris…

My name is Tiffany Duquette. I am a senior at SUNY Oswego. I have two majors and they are Adolescence Education and French. My goal is to become a French Teacher. So, I am studying abroad in Paris, France for fall of 2009. I just got to my housing in Paris. I am staying at temporary housing at La maison des etudiants canadiens. Anyway, it has been a very long night and I still have to get through today. It’s 6:43 am in NY, which is what time zone I am on, but it’s 11:43 maybe 12:43 in Paris. Although, I am so tired and mentally exhausted that I really don’t know the time exactly. I guess that is what happens when to travel for over 16 hours and skip ahead in time zones.

500 Days of Summer Review

A few months ago, I saw the trailer for the film 500 Days of Summer, and it instantly went on my mental list of movies that I had to see. Although I can’t recall the exact date, I remember that it was supposed to come out sometime in July, and when that date came, I realized that it was only playing in certain cities, and my city was not one of them, unfortunately, which I was pretty upset about, because I had been waiting and looking forward to it for so long. Thankfully, however, it just opened in my city this past weekend, so I finally got to see it.

As a whole, I really liked it. I thought that it was really cute and original. At first, I didn’t like the whole idea of time jumping around so randomly, but eventually, I became used to that, and now, I see it as one of the ways in which it was original. I really wish I could go into all of the ways in which I thought it was original, but if I do that, then I will be getting into heavy plot details, and I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone. I will do my best anyway; this is the type of the movie that is somewhat difficult to discuss and review without getting into plot details, so I will try to be as vague as possible.

I thought that the choice of acting was really good, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen and Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn. I really liked the way that Deschanel dealt with the character. Summer Finn is a firm feminist who doesn’t believe she has to give herself to any man, and her firm beliefs sometimes initiate stubbornness in her character, and I personally thought that Deschanel played this out so well. Gordon-Levitt played Tom’s role really well too, the casual, somewhat awkward Michael Cera-like dude that you would just naturally expect to be with a girl like Summer.

The plot follows the two of them who meet at a club and pursue a friendship. However, Tom likes Summer as more than just a friend, and even though the relationship starts to get a little bit more serious, such as the two of them becoming intimate, for example, Summer doesn’t want anything serious with him, and she doesn’t want to call what they have a relationship. Another reason why I found this movie to be original is that you see right at the beginning of the movie that she breaks up with him, but you don’t really know why or if they’ll end up back together or not.

However, my biggest problem with the movie was a personal one, which is why I say that overall, the movie was really good. I honestly couldn’t really connect with it or understand it, because I’m not in the same boat as the theme of the movie is. I am in a very serious, loving and trusting relationship, and I wasn’t really sure what this movie was trying to say. Perhaps, it was trying to say that love is only a fabrication, that it doesn’t actually exist, but I see that as being ridiculous. I offer that as a suggestion, because a line very similar to that is actually in the script. Another message that it could have been trying to convey is that events don’t happen because they are meant to be; everything is coincidence, but I don’t believe that either, so ultimately, I wasn’t really sure what to make of the movie, but like I said, it was really cute. The acting was really good, the soundtrack is exquisite, it’s cute, and the plot is original. Ultimately, it’s a decent “summer” movie.

New Year

Welcome back, or for any freshmen reading this, it’s a mere welcome! So, here we are are back at college, and for me, the summer seems as if it really flew by! It doesn’t seem like that long ago at all that I was packing my bags and heading home for the summer, and now, my sophomore year has begun, and I’m thinking, “Wow, one year of college is already behind me,” and the thought is rather daunting to say the least. Forget about the summer flying by; everything is flying by! It doesn’t even seem like that long ago that I was in high school let alone a college freshman!

This year, I am living at Waterbury, and I actually really love it! The only part of it that I don’t like is that there is no dining hall connected to it. Lakeside and Cooper are approximately the same distance, with Lakeside perhaps being a bit closer, and right now, I don’t mind in in the least, but when it starts getting really cold, and the snow starts to fall, which basically always guarantees for ice, then it becomes something that I mind. Other than that, however, I really feel as if Waterbury matches me; whereas last year, when I moved into Oneida at the start of my freshman year, there was quite a bit that I didn’t like.
There’s always the homework, which never seems to end. For any freshmen reading this, keep that in mind. I made the mistake last year of assuming that college was going to be high school with a dorm room, and it’s not by any means. College gives a lot more homework than high school, and you need to do your best to manage your time, because I myself ran into a lot of problems last year with that, literally being driven insane with the homework and feeling as if I didn’t have enough time to do it. Already, I have been given a great deal, but I have figured out what to do differently.

The work actually doesn’t take as much time as is usually taken to complete it. The problem is when your mind wanders and wants to check Facebook, or go on AIM, or talk on the phone, or text, or eat, etc., and I therefore learned that I needed to go somewhere where distractions such as these weren’t going to be an issue, and what better place is there than the library? That’s therefore where I have been doing my work, because I have come to find that the work gets done a lot faster there. I feel more concentrated and “in the zone,” and things like Facebook and AIM don’t distract me, which is surprising, because if it’s not reading out of a book or something to that effect that needs to be done, I am on a computer, which still gives me the opportunity to steal time and hop onto Facebook, but for some reason, I don’t feel the temptation like I do in my dorm room. I think that it might be because in my dorm room, I am in a tighter, more enclosed space.

Another thing that I vowed to change about this year as opposed to last year is a more appropriate bedtime, which, so far, I have been doing a very good job upholding. Last year, I often went to bed at like 4 or 5 a.m., and that simply didn’t work, because then I had class, and I was exhausted, therefore taking a nap in the afternoon, losing more time. The first night that I was here, I went to bed at around 1, and last night, I went in at around 10 (I am currently sick and therefore felt pretty tired early). It’s been awesome, because this morning, I woke up at around 9:30 feeling totally revived and awake and got right up and went to the gym to workout. I even had time to do a little bit of work.

I know that this year is going to be better, despite the fact that my current issue with books is looking like a bad omen. I tried to get a job over the summer, but my attempts were futile, because no one was hiring, and I therefore have no money for books. Yesterday, I got my refund, which totaled over $300, and I figured for sure that that was going to be enough, but it isn’t. I bought everything yesterday except for what I need for two classes, Psychology and History, and that came to $213. My Psychology book is going to cost $90 used, and the books that I need for History are going to cost $40 and $60. To break it all down for you, I still need almost $200 and only have a little over $100. I’m trying to figure something out. My Psychology professor brought up a really good point in my class last night. He said that in the book that we will be using for our class, there will be roughly thirty pages out of the 150 or so that are really going to count, and yet we pay $90 for that book, which breaks down to approximately $3.00 per page; it’s ridiculous. Books are so expensive. I’m not looking at this as a bad omen, though, because I just have a very strong feeling that this is going to be a great year.

Sweet Summertime

I’ve moved into my apartment in Oswego! It’s the cutest little apartment, just right for me, myself and I. I’ve spent the last week decorating (buying some things I probably didn’t really need) but I purchased all the necessities. I have an extra bedroom that I turned into ‘my office’. When I’m in there… I’m doing business as my mom would say. I’m not allowed to have pets which kind of makes me sad because I LOVE animals but the more I think about it, I won’t be home that much. It wouldn’t be fair to them to be alone most of the time. Some things have gone wrong, the refrigerator blew up at me when I was cleaning it last week, sparks flew, very scary! But my landlord is taking care of it. The light bulb blew, that was all. The shower is either scolding hot, or freezing cold. But if I play with the nozzle the temperature adjusts to just right. It wouldn’t be a new apartment if something didn’t go wrong, right?!
I still can’t believe that I’m living on my own, paying bills, cooking my own meals and everything else that comes along with living alone. I spent two years on campus. I met so many great people in the residence halls I lived in. Now that my class load is getting a little bit tougher and I’m taking two extra classes which puts me at an overload, I just need my own space. Sharing a room with someone I didn’t know was a great experience I learned a lot about myself but it does get tough sometimes.
Another reason I moved off campus is because I’m looking at grad schools out-of-state and I figured I need to learn how to cook and manage money and things of that nature by myself; where mom isn’t going to be there to cover my butt quite as easily.
It’s been a great experience so far. I never really saw the beauty of Oswego in the summer because I’ve been busy with orientation the past two years. It’s nice being able to go to the farmers market and just sit out at the lake and relax, go running, visit some little shops and other things. It’s been great.

Looking Forward

As the summer is very rapidly dying off (there is only a little more than a month until we return), I am beginning to seriously think about this coming year and what I am going to try to do in order to make it better than my freshman year. I didn’t really have the best year last year, and I know that that really is more or less the case for most if not all freshmen (since they’re in a new environment and are just beginning to learn the ropes), but for me, it was more of a personal thing. I made a really stupid decision, and it seemed like I was becoming something I didn’t want to become, and I blamed it on so many things, including myself. The point is, however, that I am actually looking forward to my sophomore year, because it seems as if so much is going to be different.

Yes, there are some of the usual things that bothered me during my freshman year, one of which was my roommate and I coming from very different environments and attempting to tolerate each others’ very different personalities and lifestyles, which, I admit, was not very easy for me to do, even as accepting of a person as I am, and this year, that’s going to be different. I am rooming with my friend Allain, and he’s a really cool kid, so I’m looking forward to that. I also know of a lot of friends who will be living in the same residence hall as me (Waterbury), on the same floor even, so that will be great as well!

There are some people who don’t think so because they see a totally different side of me, but I am a very social person. I don’t like being alone (I vehemently loathe it, in fact), and I don’t like feeling isolated, which I did almost all of the time during my freshman year, and that became a very serious problem for me. I like being with people, even if it’s just to watch a movie or even just to do homework together. Like I said, though, I will be with a lot of friends this year, so I think that things will be a bit different.

I definitely need to try to improve my sleeping pattern; that’s for sure! That’s because, for the most part, during my freshman year, I didn’t have a sleeping pattern! There were times that I would walk to class in the morning like a zombie, because I didn’t make it to bed until 4 or 5 in the morning, and obviously, that’s just not acceptable. I can’t and won’t do that this year! I am making it a mission to be in bed every night by 1 a.m. at the latest. The biggest issue last year was the unbelievable amount of homework I had (which will most likely, God forbid, only be worse this year), which I stayed up very late doing, but my hopes are to try to manage my time better, which, I know, is easier said than done, because as a college student, you kind of just want to have fun and be free of authority and responsibility, but my education is very important to me, and I don’t want to screw it up. I want to be responsible, and I want to do the very best that I can do, which I don’t feel as if I did my freshman year.

As far as my summer is concerned, it has been relatively uneventful so far. I have spent a lot of time with friends, sure, but it’s not like I’ve taken any vacations or anything like that. I have had a massive amount of dentist appointments (bleh) thanks to my inexplicably massive amount of cavities (I rarely ever drink soda, and I brush all the time), so that hasn’t been much fun, but taking it easy is nice; that’s for sure. It’s certainly a very different lifestyle than what it was like in college. I very much enjoy not reading ninety pages out of my Astronomy book or writing three papers all due in a week’s time. I have been tutoring a kid who is in transit between sixth and seventh grade, and of all things to be teaching, yes, I am teaching math! Let’s just say that it has been rather interesting. Well, I’m going to run for now, but I hope to write again soon!

Human Communication. What has it turned into?

As you may or may not know, I am an orientation leader. We do a skit called Life on Campus that describes issues that happen on college campuses, some scenes are specific to Oswego State.
It hit me the other day that at least four of the scenes deal with technology; specifically cell phones, how rude people are becoming because of it and the distractions it causes in everyday life. I guess I knew it subconsciously but never really thought about it, if you will.
I actually sat down at the mall last night, I was by myself, for about three hours just observing the people. There was not one person who did not have a cell phone on them. The sad part is, every single person I saw was with someone else while they were on their own phone. Is it so hard to communicate with the people we are with? Face to face communication? Is the company of the people are with not good enough that we have to resort to texting and calling other people? If this is the case, why doesn’t everyone just sit at home on their cell phone or instant messenger and have multiple conversations at once and not have to worry about being rude, if they even think about that. I just can’t believe how much this really happens.
I remember back in the day, in elementary and middle school where I would pass notes or talk in class and get in trouble for verbally speaking. Today, children starting as young as age 5 have cell phones and are texting their friends in class. It is absolutely ridiculous that we are so reliant on technology to speak to one another. What would happen to the world if the cell phone towers suddenly had a disconnection and cellphones stopped working? It would be a mad rush and people would probably start hyperventilating because they don’t have their phone and might miss an important text or a phone call. I may be a little biased on saying all this all. But I challenge you, for one day. Don’t use your cell phone. Don’t take it to work, don’t take it to class and see how you feel at the end of the day. I mean seriously, what did we all do before we had cell phones? We survived. We actually had to speak to people face to face and we got to see reactions on faces rather than a smiley face on a screen. So I challenge you all, feel free to let me know what you think or how it worked out for you if you’re brave enough to not use a cell phone for a day.