Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ciao from Milano

Apparently, I have been out of the country for almost a month. It feels like just yesterday when I was dropped off at the Atlanta airport to go to my new home in Italy. When I first got here, I traveled with friends from home. I saw Rome, Capri, Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos. I always knew the world was huge but I never expected this. What a wonderful continent Europe is. I have had struggles and barriers to cross, but so far none of them trump the fact I am living in Italy: land of wine, pasta, and people ready to run you over in vespas.
Most of my issues I have faced stem from my anxiety. I have been nervous about making knew friends, traveling alone, not being fluent in the language, traveling enough (and to the right places), and overall about regretting missing half of my senior year.
I promise, the bad is not outweighing the good.
There is so much good.
I am going to Oktoberfest this weekend, Venice the next, and after that Prague. I have met friends from all over America and the Globe. I am taking challenging and fascinating classes not offered at Maryville. Even though I cried to my mom on facetime my first day here, I am getting acclimated. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. Arrivederci for now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Lessons From Abroad...

As I begin my final year of college, I have found myself reflecting more and more on how my education has changed me. While the social and academic transformations I’ve experienced have shaped me a great deal, a huge part of the woman I see myself as now was shaped by my experiences abroad.
My first trip abroad with Maryville College was part of a class focused on global child welfare and exceptional children during the spring of 2015. Our group travelled to Switzerland where we were immersed in a culture very similar, yet very different, than the place we had come from. We spent time at the UN, WHO, UNICEF, and countless other organizations that strive to better the world we live in. We spent time at schools for exceptional children, even learned about gravitational particles from a 12 year old. If that’s not mind-boggling, I don’t know what is. We also examined other educational programs as we went through the country, all while learning about Swiss culture and making some incredible memories.
My trip to Costa Rica the following May was with the school’s Bonner Scholars program and the focus there was to immerse ourselves in a small community and serve however necessary. We were placed at a facility that housed boys 7-17 that had had some sort of run-in with the law and were working to better themselves and get out of the situations they were in. We spent our off-days exploring the country and getting to know our host families.
My most recent trip abroad was this spring, studying Tropical Ecology in Bonaire. On this trip, 5 senior studies were completed, countless SCUBA dives were logged, and we spent time at a research center that was focusing a great deal of work on the invasive lion fish problem. We explored national parks, ate some amazing food, and learned a great deal about conservation and diversity.
So now that you know where I’ve been and have a skimmed idea of what we did abroad, I’d like to hit on some amazing ways that studying abroad changed my life.

1.   I strive to get out of the box.
By studying abroad, I learned to adapt to things that were not my “normal” and learned to speak with respect, but also listen to differing perspectives and examine things from multiple angles. I experienced the Swiss educational system on a very surface level, but seeing the students’ focus and their joy when it came to learning was something I hadn’t experienced much of. Those students were not bound by numbers and expectations, but freed by the ability to learn from each other and express their talents in ways that don’t follow the “normal” path. In addition to that, the focus of the program I was with in Costa Rica was to break the normalcy of life and culture in that area. Treat others with respect, have the intentionality and initiative to go beyond what you’re required to do, and celebrate everything. In Bonaire, we learned a great deal about man’s effect on ecology and how small efforts can make big changes.

Standing on the Hilma Hooker, an iconic Bonaire dive site, about 60' under

2.   I think I know what I’m doing with my life… and if I don’t, that’s okay.
No, I didn’t have this epiphany moment of, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” Instead, I found the ability to take a passion for something and turn it into my own version of great. I was able to see the health disparities around me while abroad, and then find them in my community at home and plug in. Seeing organizations like UNICEF and WHO made me take a hard look at what I am passionate about and explore how to turn that passion into a career. I’m now headed for dental school, if all goes as planned! I have a great deal of interest in public health and education, also, so who knows? I learned about a world (literally) full of opportunities, none with a direct “Pass Go and Collect $200” option. It’s all relative. If I have interest in something, then nothing should stop me from looking into it.

On a hill overlooking Bern, Switzerland

3.   I am not afraid of making mistakes or things not working out as expected.
I love food. Whether it’s Croquettes (pronounced like the game, not like "crock-et"… the chef got a kick out of that one!) or gelato in Bonaire, Casado in Costa Rica, or Swiss chocolate. All is good and well until those menus are in French, German, Dutch, or Spanish… I might know a few words, but I am by no means multilingual functionally. You know what, though? Food is great everywhere, so order what looks cool, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep an open mind. Try new things! Disclaimer: I’m now spoiled to Swiss chocolate, Costa Rican fruit juice, and gelato from Bonaire… life will never be the same.

The Airport Olympians
I ran full-tilt-boogie through an airport trying to catch our flight to Switzerland, only to miss the plane by minutes. Our airport obstacle course included yells of “Vote Maryville College the Top Outdoor School!”, with people hurdling over suitcases, sliding around corners, and dodging small children- If the 2020 Olympics include Airport Obstacle Courses, you’ll know where it originated. Our group spent that night in a hotel stateside, eating massive pieces of pizza and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. 

The Culprit

I swam to a sand bar off the little beach we sat on in Costa Rica and got my lunch stolen by a monkey while I was swimming back. I literally watched him open my bag, look each direction, and scurry up a tree with my food. If I was afraid of the long swim, I might have had my lunch, but not a cool story about being teased by a monkey that ate an entire box of granola bars and dropped the wrappers down to me.   

The Coordinated Ones + Me

I agreed to go out with my host family one night in Costa Rice, despite my mounting exhaustion. Next thing I knew, I was in an indoor soccer complex, kicking balls around (trying to) with my host family and some professional Costa Rican soccer players. 

On a dive in Bonaire, waters were choppier than expected and we almost dreaded this legendary dive we had been so looking forward to. On that dive alone, I got pictures of 3 sea turtles. 

Life passes by and you never know the great things you could miss if you try to glue yourself to expectations or perfection. Study abroad taught me to accept the unexpected and have a great time with it. 
My study abroad experiences have affected me most through the way that I perceive myself and the situations I face. These adventures have been an incredible addition to my college experience and life and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Happy travels! ~Alyssa

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Reverse Culture Shock

This picture might say it all..... I spent more money on a shirt for my dog than on the shirts I got for me....kkkkkkk
I feel like it will take some readjusting to be back in the US. Recently I feel like my family is trying to suffocate me. Everytime they leave the room they tell me they love me and I feel like it's too much. But  I guess it's because I was around a culture that really said it and when they did say it, it felt like it had a stronger passion behind it. And the HUGGING!!! Why does everyone want to hug me every time they're next to me?!?!?!?! WHAT ON EARTH!!!!!
I have not been able to watch or listen to only English movies, tv, or music. I have been by myself watching Japanese dramas and listening to some of my favorite songs from Japanese artist.
Some enough I'll be fine living in the US again, but for now I'm having my own life issues. kkkkk

Final Days Abroad

My last final days in Japan were truly some of the greatest days I had all year. I went with my closest friends to Tokyo Disney Sea and it was SOOOOO magical!! We met many new people and made a game of jumping in other peoples selfies. I was glad I went with Sulecca and Haruka, because they're both as crazy as me. There was never a dull moment!
One of the last classes I went to was my sports class and after the class ended we had a PICTURE PARTY!!! Sulecca and I had the same class and all the girls loved us!!! We were planning a trip to the pool together! We went but it wasn't as much fun as the picture party! I'll miss all the girls in that class!!!
All the lunch and dinner parties were so fun, but that would take a LIFE TIME to type about. kkkkk I could probably post over 1000 pictures for the last few days, but I think my friends that took me to the airport are the greatest. Too bad I didn't get any pictures... I'm really sad about that. My friends Keita and Sulecca helped me take my bags to the airport. The night before I went to one last karaoke party and we (about 8 friends) sang really heart felt songs about how we will miss each other. All the other girls were crying in the karaoke room, but I never felt like crying at that time. I was sad but not sad enough to cry. I still can't explain why to me. My friend Keita said he wanted to see me cry with the other girls, but I didn't. However, once I was at the airport and checked my luggage, I stayed and talked with my friends while waiting for my flight. When I was finally ready to go Sulecca walked away from me so I said goodbye to Keita first. We hugged and said we would miss each other, but we will see each other again. I knew I had to approach Sulecca because she would not come to me... At that moment I could feel my heart break. And that's when I started to feel tears in my eyes. As soon as we looked at each other we were both crying and hugging. We hugged and cried for about 5 minutes. We've promised to meet up again!! We're soooo much like family, of course it will come true.
I really didn't want to leave Japan, I cried the whole flight back. WHY DID I LEAVE!!!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Work at Maryville College

As a college student, many students experience a tight budget and may want to earn a little extra money by getting a part time job. Getting a part-time job is a decision that you should really think through. Some questions you should ask yourself is:

·    Does my visa status allow me to work at Maryville College?
·    Will I have time for a part-time job with my current class schedule?
·    Do I want to trade off time with clubs and fun activities for a part-time job?
·    Will I gain something from this job? New skills or competencies?

If you feel that working at Maryville College is right for you after answering these questions, here are some things to consider.

Students on F-1 visas and some J-1 visas may work up to 20 hours a week on campus during the school year. On breaks, students may work up to 40 hours a week. Many on-campus positions have lower limits to accommodate your school schedule. If you are eligible to work, you can try to find jobs through one of these methods.

a.       MC Connect is where most campus jobs are advertised, including work study jobs.  They are usually posted late August. You must make sure that the work position is not a federal work study position, as you won’t qualify for any of those positions.
b.      You should check with Metz Culinary for student positions. Metz Culinary is the company that runs the dining services for Maryville College.
c.      Mountain Challenge sometimes hires students. Contact Bruce Guillaume and he can explain his hiring process. It involves shadowing events and pretty extensive training.
d.      It won’t help immediately but applying to become a Resident Assistant (RA) or doing other leadership opportunities that might give you spending money like becoming a Peer Mentor or MC Ambassador may be an option if you plan on spending more than one year at Maryville College.

What if you don’t want or can’t be employed, but want to gain skills and experience for the career world? You can still have valuable experiences without having a job. Join a club or organization and ask if you can help plan or organize events or initiatives. Some great organizations to develop leadership skills are the Student Government AssociationGCO or the International Education Week Planning Committee. Want to improve your writing and communication skills, check out the Highland Echo or one of the other great organizations. There are many clubs and organizations that you can join and strengthen skills and gain experience for the “real world.”

Monday, August 8, 2016

Maryville College Academics

As you know, Maryville College has very high academic standards, and you will be expected to keep good grades. Although you may have your system of education figured out and know how to thrive in that environment, Maryville College may be quite different, especially from schools in Europe. Some important benefits and other aspects of Maryville College classes include:

-       Small class sizes. On average, your classes will be with few other students, perhaps about 20. Maryville College has a student:faculty ratio of 13:1, meaning for every 13 students there is at least one faculty member;
computer lab in lamar library with students working
Lamar Library Computer Lab
-       Expectation of class participation. Often times, your grade is dependent on your class attendance and participation. So you will be expected to complete your reading and assignments before class, so that you can actively contribute to class conversations. It is also important that you develop your own opinions on course topics, rather than just repeating things from the readings and assignments;
-       High level of interaction between students and faculty. If you need extra help in understanding the class material or just have a question that you may not have had a chance to ask in class, professors encourage students to reach out during office hours and after class. Professors are here to help you learn as much as possible, and they take their role very seriously;
-       Intensive amounts of reading, writing and assignments over the course of the semester. You will be expected to have readings and assignments done by the specified due date. You will need to demonstrate your knowledge on the topics throughout the semester, rather than primarily on final exams.

This may seem overwhelming now, but if you plan your time appropriately and ask for help when you need it, you will all do fine. All students may run into road blocks in some courses and may need extra help. Maryville College has many resources to help you overcome those road blocks, but each student is responsible for seeking help out when they need it. If you need help researching a topic for an assignment, librarians at the Lamar Memorial Library are always willing to help. You can email or call them with your questions, or you can set up a face-to-face appointment. There is also an Academic Support Center on campus. This center sets up group study sessions and has writing and math help. We highly encourage students to take advantage of these resources.

Mountain Challenge Tower - You can do it too!
Learning at Maryville College also extends beyond the classroom. There is an emphasis on experiential education at the College. Experiential education is typically a guided activity of some form, typically in an unfamiliar location or new task. Performing these activities allows students to adjust their mental and emotional process to the task at hand and develop new tasks. Many times, students participate in Mountain Challenge programming for experiential education, which gives students the opportunity to explore themselves while outdoors. The Center for Community Engagement plays a role in experiential education. Students can reach out to them to help find volunteer opportunities in the surrounding community. Some examples are tutoring, adult literacy, work in social service agencies, environmental projects, and many other possibilities. These are just a couple of ways that Maryville College students get involved. To see more options, click here

Monday, August 1, 2016

Maryville College Sports and Athletics

the mascot of the college is a scot, with plaid of orange and garnet
Maryville College Mascot
Maryville College loves sports! There's an option for everyone from the devoted athlete to the curious stander by. Sports events are also a great way to make friends and understand the culture of the campus, whether you're playing or cheering the team on.

Maryville College's mascot is the Scot and the school colors are orange and garnet. On game days, and especially during Homecoming on October 22, you will see students, staff and faculty alike wearing the school colors to support our teams.

Maryville College is home to 14 competitive sports teams. There are seven sports teams for women and seven teams for men. Games and competitions are often held at Maryville College, and you can go to support your friends on the team and also to learn about unique sports that you may not have in your hometown. You may have seen many TV shows or movies that feature American Football teams and cheerleaders, but you can learn about the real thing here at the college. You can find the schedule for all sports here.

If you want to try out a sport during your time here, there are teams on campus that are for anyone. Nearly two-thirds of students at Maryville College participate in some sort of sport or intramural during their time here, so its a great way to spend time with existing friends and meet new ones. Maryville College has recreational teams for students on campus in several sports, which are open to any student. Intramural teams play various teams on campus to become the reigning champions of club sports, such as flag football, sand volleyball, softball, table tennis among other things. In past years, I-House has even formed some teams in various sports and competed.

a group of students on paddle boards and kayaks
A group of students enjoying a Mountain Challenge event. 
If your not sure if intramural teams are right for you, you can join Mountain Challenge on any of their adventures or activities. On many Saturdays, they organize a trip or outdoor activity that students can participate in. Find the schedule here and be sure to sign up for trips one week in advance. On Wednesdays, they've started the initiative Camp 4, which is a designated time for students, staff and faculty to have access to Mountain Challenge fitness equipment, classes and the bouldering cave. Each Wednesday, there is a Group Fitness Class from 4pm to 5pm, followed by a yoga class from 5:15pm to 6:15pm. These services are available free of charge to MC students. They also have many other opportunities, so stop by Crawford House when you get to campus to learn more!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Cultural Programming at CIE

There is no doubt that you will be kept busy while attending Maryville College. Through the cultural ambassador programming and possibly joining GCO, you will have a lot of exposure to activities. Sometimes you will want to be able to do fun activities with friends that you may not have to plan. And that’s where CIE comes in!
A group of MC international students at the Blue plate concert in Knoxville
A group of students at the Blue Plate Concert in Knoxville. 

Every month, CIE plans fun activities for all students – ESL students, international students and U.S. students.  We offer many events to learn about the USA.   In the past, we have celebrated U.S. American Cultural Holidays as a group at I-House. For example, last year we had a Christmas party for all students, but have done Halloween activities as well. One of our biggest events of the year is our annual Thanksgiving Dinner.  We celebrate with international students and our local social host families to learn about and celebrate this popular U.S. American holiday.  Students have set up international dance parties on campus and coordinated fashion shows. These events are fun and allow you to teach friends about your culture.

The stairs at international house decorated with Red Christmas Stockings
The stairwell decorated for
Other times, we offer the opportunity to learn about local Tennessee culture!  We explore the Great Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. I-House has adventured out to rivers for white water rafting or tubing and gone hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Some years there have also been weekend trips to Nashville, Atlanta or other cities. These events are organized by I-House and students can sign up for a reasonable fee.

If there are any activities that you and your friends are interested in, you can tell the staff at I-House. Whether the idea is for an on campus program or off campus excursion, we can work together to see if the activity is a good fit for I-House programming. If it is a good fit, we can work together to plan the event for students to enjoy.

A group of students white water rafting
White Water Rafting
To help students out with more practical trips, I-House offers weekly shopping trips to local supermarkets and stores. Each Wednesday, you will have the chance to sign up to go to one local store for a short shopping trip. This allows you to get school supplies, some groceries or anything else you may need. About once a month we go to Knoxville to the international markets, or Pigeon Forge outlets, or a bigger mall in Knoxville.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Global Citizenship Organization

By Kristen Rolston

5smiling individuals are posing and their clothes are covered in colorful powder.
Kristen (center) and friends after the Holi
Global Citizenship Organization, or GCO, personally has felt like a family to me. I've met students from all over and each of them has very different personalities, but every single one of them is accepting and friendly. When I first came to Maryville our previous president invited me to join the leadership and he became one of my good friends – I still talk to him even though he has returned to Cyprus. One of my funniest memories is when I came to help make signs for our "world directory" post that stands outside of I-House, and all of the students kept asking me if I was the girl coming from Ireland because of my red hair. From then on, I met more friends than I thought I would and now have connections all over the world. I also have a language buddy to practice my Chinese with!

students are standing on a the steps in front of bartlett, wearing traditional clothing from many countries
Students at the International Fashion Show.
GCO is a Maryville College organization intent on helping MC students connect with other students from all over the world through visual presentations (dances, PowerPoint, panels, etc.). Any student is welcome to join and sign up for emails regarding organization events. Typically every Friday at 3:30 in Bartlett Hall, students put together a presentation on their home country or some cultural aspect of a country. When there isn't a presentation there
are lots of parties, dances, and activities to be had!
a large group of students are standing in front of a presentation screen. one is holding the armenian flag
Students attending a country

Some of our most popular events are Holi, the Love, Sex and Marriage Panel, Fashion Show and our themed dance parties. ​

Currently there is a leadership position open for any international student interested in being directly involved in organizing events. Below I have attached some pictures from some of our events and a link to our page:​.

Please like us and share our page!​

a group of students are outside throwing colorful powder up into the air. they are celebrating holi

Monday, July 11, 2016

Maryville College Cultural Ambassadors

At Maryville College, we want to help all students become active leaders in their community. To help International and Exchange students achieve this goal, the Center for International Education has the Cultural
a group of students with a lot of colorful powder on their clothes at the holi celebration
Holi Celebration 
Ambassadors program. Cultural Ambassadors are meant to get involved and have fun while sharing their culture with students, faculty and staff. Cultural Ambassadors will in turn learn about U.S. culture through active participation in at least one organization on campus. Through these activities, we hope that campus will have a strong presence of international leaders.  Every international and exchange student at MC is a Cultural Ambassador and shares her culture throughout her time at the college.

Each term, Cultural Ambassadors strive to share their culture on and off campus and to actively participate in an organization!

A group of international students at homecoming
Group of students at Homecoming
Many students share their culture on campus through the Global Citizenship Organization’s (GCO) cultural presentation times, in your resident halls or during international education week. There is a lot of flexibility in sharing your culture on campus, so students can also plan their own event or way of sharing. For example, perhaps you love to cook traditional food from your culture and want to host a small event teaching others how to cook a dish. If you have traditional clothes or items from your country that you want to share, remember to bring them with you to Tennessee. Staff at CIE are always here to help you brainstorm ideas and help put plans into action.  We will ask you to present your culture AT LEAST ONCE formally on campus, so be prepared!

Sharing your culture off campus can be done in similar ways. CIE organizes at least one off campus visit or fair per semester and you can plan to join in on those events. In past years, we have set up events with the Boys and Girls Club, Rotary Association, Alcoa Elementary School, William Blount High School, Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy or local churches.  You’re always encouraged to reach out to other organizations though and set up other small events or activities.
students sharing traditional chinese new year activities at isaac's
Chinese New Year Celebration at Isaac's Cafe

The last requirement is a fun one that will help you find your place on campus. You can join any organization you want and participate fully to fulfill this requirement. Participating fully means that you will go to meetings and be involved with at least one event each semester in your chosen organization. Being a member of GCO or the International Education Week Planning Committee may be a good option, but you could also join the Student Government Association or one of the many groups on campus (we’ll talk more about these groups in a later post!).  One of the best things about a small college is that there are many leadership opportunities within organizations right from Day 1.  Attend the Opportunities of a Lifetime Fair the 2nd week of class to get to know all the clubs.

The CIE is looking forward to seeing how each of you embrace your ambassadorship this coming year!