In my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects about Juniata is the presence of international students on campus. I can’t think of an experience that I have had with an international student that was negative. Overall, they are some of the friendliest students on campus. It’s also interesting to see what different perspectives they bring to the classroom. I’ve met students from England, Germany, Russia, Spain, Japan, and Myanmar, just to name a few. However, I also have a roommate who is from France.
I know almost no French. And I can’t even pronounce the few words that I do know, I can only spell them. Nonetheless, we are able to communicate through English. Although he is usually pretty good with vocabulary, there are times when a word escapes him. This leads to one of my favorite parts about rooming with someone whose native language isn’t English: the game of guessing what he is trying to say. It’s kind of like a real life version of Catch Phrase or Taboo. Of course, there are websites for translation online, but where’s the fun in that? There’s also the friendly accusations that arise when English has stolen a word directly from French or when French takes from English. This word guessing game keeps both of us on our toes with vocabulary, which I appreciate as an English POE.
I’m not well-traveled at all; I’ve never left the country and I can count the states that I’ve been to on my fingers. So, it’s really nice to be able to talk to someone from a different culture and to see where we are similar and where we are different. Apparently, our American trains are not as good as European trains. He takes a train to school every day in France, and I’ve never taken a train anywhere in my life. Also, since the education systems are different, the term “college” for him is “middle school” for me. It’s really interesting to be able to talk with someone from another country on a regular basis and to be able to learn from each other, and I’ve had a great roommate experience.
The week after Spring Break is usually the easiest or the hardest, but besides that, the sun is FINALLY coming out! This past winter felt as if it would never end, but the only wonderful benefit of a winter full of snow and ice is that it’s completely acceptable to burst out into the Frozen soundtrack and let it go.
As spring begins to come back to Juniata, so do the spring activities! One of the most stressful activities is room draw. Room draw can either be the easiest thing you will ever have to do, or, it can be the hardest. Luckily for me, it was pretty easy because my roommate and I know how to use our resources and the fact that we will both be studying abroad in the spring of next year. WOO!
Another spring activity to look forward to is Pig Roast. This is exactly what it sounds like. The entire campus spends a Saturday at Raystown Lake and has a blast while a giant pig is smoked for our stomachs. Since the Juniata Rugby Team hosts the event, which means it’s not technically a JC event, you never know what will happen or what you will see at Pig Roast! The only thing I would recommend, especially for the pale white ghosts, is to bring a blanket and tons of sunscreen.
One of the greatest spring events is Relay for Life! Every year, groups of friends get together to help raise money and awareness for cancer. The entire campus gathers around the quad to create the circle that teams will walk around. Each team does a different type of fundraising. Last year, my team sold bracelets. Some of my favorite teams are usually the ones that sell baked goods. The best part about walking laps is that you can get a cupcake along the way.
If I’m being honest, most of my Saturday nights this semester have been wonderfully lazy: playing games, watching movies, and going to get a milkshake at Standing Stone with my friends have become the weekend norm. So, it was a nice change to have a reason to put on a fancy dress and eat some good food. And that reason was Senior Dinner.
On March 1, the Class of 2014 was invited to spend a night remembering the wonderful last four years at Juniata College. This event was generously hosted by the Alumni Association and they succeeded in making it a night to remember. As we walked in, we were able to present something to the class time capsule that will be opened during our 25th Class Reunion in 2039! I recently got a new phone, so I placed a plastic bag into the capsule that held a letter to my 47 year old self and my old EnV 3 phone, which contained texts from friends saved from the night before I left for college my freshman year, pictures from all four years, and lists that I made during my time at Juniata, including my bucket list and a ten year plan. I can just imagine myself, 25 years into the future, looking at the ancient piece of technology and instantly remember all the amazing times I had during these four short years.
There were emotional speeches given by class officers and leaders that reminded us what makes Juniata so special – Madrigal tenting, amazing professors, and Mountain Day. Then, along with some sappy songs, a slideshow was presented with pictures from the past four years that people could submit through the Juniata Senior Facebook page. Memories as recent from my house’s Welcome Back BBQ and as old as freshman Madrigal zoomed by on the screen, and it hit me for probably about the thousandth time that my time here is almost over. That feeling cannot be described any other way than bittersweet. I know that JC has more than prepared me for the “real world” and that it will always be my alma mater; but that does not fully make up for the sad fact that my college experience is almost at an end.
One of the most challenging things of playing an outside spring sport in college is the lack of spring part. This winter has been brutal; between the ice storm to the two weeks where the weather didn’t get above 10 degrees, it gets incredibly difficult to get motivated to play the sport I love the most. However, Coach Sam Kszepka does an incredible job at keeping us motivated. She has many different techniques to keep us interested and motivated. Some of these techniques include a game called “tails”, which is a game like flag football where if the tail (aka a sock) is pulled out of your shorts, you are out and do sit ups until your team either wins or loses. She also makes these brutal 7 weeks interesting by adding a little bit of competition during practice, and my personal favorite technique, letting us listening to music as we practice. Another key concept of getting through these practices? The team that you are on. Luckily, there is never a dull moment with my team. One second someone will be running, the next second they are on the ground for no apparent reason other than they tripped over air. We are a team filled with sarcastic comments and ungraceful moments. I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for these types of teammates, these brutal seven weeks would have been way worse.
Championships is the most important event of the year for a Juniata College swimmer, and the reason we all brave the 6 A.M practices every day. Everything builds up to that one moment at Championships. Championships is the motivation to keep us going in those brutal practices that tear our muscles to pieces. Champs is the reason we lift and swim and push ourselves to the breaking point twice a day, every day for five months. We give up our winter break, our lunchtime cookie, our afternoon free time and most of all, our sleep, just to perform to our maximum potential at Champs. It is the goal of every swimmer at the conference to get up on the blocks and swim their fastest time. After all the pain and suffering, winning the race, and beating the swimmer in the next lane by a tenth of a second makes all the grueling training worth it in the end.
This year, Champs was held at Marywood University in Scranton. We left on Thursday afternoon, did a warm up swim to loosen ourselves up after the long journey, and settled into the hotel to ready ourselves for the next day’s adventures. Friday morning we were all ready. The first day turned out to be very successful for Juniata; at the end of the day we were placed first on the score board. We hoped this would be a sign of the continuous successes to come.
The following two days points were eaten up by the larger teams and Juniata’s ranking was not longer at the top. The score and the rankings, however, did not reflect the lasting mark that Juniata made on the meet. Two of our relays captured gold and set new personal, school, pool, meet and conference records. Everyone preformed equally as well in each one of their individual events. Several school records were broken and individual records were shattered all over the place and even a new conference record was set. How then is it possible to have so much success yet have it not show by our team’s ranking?
Swim meets determine winners by a point system. Each swimmer that performs for an event earns a certain amount of points for their school ,and the team that earns the most points (with the most points given to the first place and the least points given to the last place) wins the higher ranking. However, Juniata’s team is one of the smallest in the conference and it makes it hard for us eleven girls to gather up as many points as the other 20-30 person teams. So no matter how many successes we have, it can never reflect because the math just does not add up. On top of the sheer size difference is the equally frustrating principle that the meet is scored as a combination of swimming and diving; we do not have a diving program, and thus do not have eligibility to earn diving points. As the larger teams in the conference devour more points from diving, Juniata continues to be pushed to the bottom of the rankings.
Despite the seemingly unfair point system, Juniata comes out on top for the passionate relentless, die-hard spirit and team-support. No matter whether we win or lose, for every race, the women on the Juniata swim team support each another. The love and comfort that the team demonstrates is something that is better than points and better than winning. Any team, large or small can win, but not every team can be a family like us.
Congrats to the swim team and all of their accomplishments this season! Proud to be… JC!