Two summers ago, I told myself, was going to be the best summer of my life – a whole summer in China. Being 20 years old at the time, the toughest thing about life is doing all the right things in order to ensure that after college you have some sort of job waiting for you. For most college sophomores and juniors summer is about trying to put something amazing on your resume. I was thinking of teaching English, interning or doing anything to make my resume pop. Before I hopped on that plane I was excited, because this summer was the summer that I wasn’t going to sit at home – I was actually going to do something that may land me a job someday. Little did I know at the time, I would be coming home a month early with little to nothing to put on my resume. However, traveling is not always going to be about another bullet point on your resume, but learning about yourself.
One of my greatest experiences in China was climbing Wu Dong Mountain. For everyone who hates the stairs or the steppers at the gym – ME- this is all out-of-shape people’s biggest fear – a 3 mile hike ALL UP STAIRS. 30 minutes into this hike when all of the track and field stars and gym fanatics wiz passed you – you feel the tenseness in those muscles from the hips down, and the burning in your abs. It’s one of those moments when you hate yourself for not taking the cable car. As you ascend, the steps get steeper and at some places you are pulling yourself up the mountain, the chains clicking with lovers’ locks. The sun has a chance to rise and peak through the trees, covering you in its unwanted heat. I made it to the top sticky, out of breath, and surprised by the shops around me selling tea eggs and starchy corn.
There is a mist covering the trees, making it feel like only the clouds and soaring birds were higher than I was. The view from a top takes the last remaining breath I have out of me. The view isn’t very clear at all. I found that no matter where you are in China- in the cities, on the mountain tops – you always have the feeling that China is hiding something from you.
Hidden here at Wu Dong Mountain for 20 years is a Daoist monk named Hermit Jia. He is a little old man with wrinkles and a huge smile that touches your heart. He lives in a cave overlooking the world in a place where it seems like time has stopped. There is no television, cellphones, jeans or T-shirts. If you’re a fan of Chinese movies you have seen his outfit, the black and white curled up shoes, loose pants and a traditional three button shirt.
He is befriended only by bees buzzing from inside of the cabinets with yellow honey comb shining through the cracks of the wood. A boy asked if he was ever stung by the bees – he smiled and everyone couldn’t resist to smile with him. No, he answered, I leave them alone and they leave me alone.
I traveled half way around the world, and I came upon this little piece of paradise and a smile that was so welcoming you didn’t need to speak the same language to understand the simple, simplistic but very powerful life you could have as long as you did what made you happy. Sheltered only by a dark cave this man on top of the mountain lived by one philosophy: being.
I wasn’t able to find a job or any “resume poppers” that summer; however, my discovery of a little old man on top of the world was the greatest treasure of my summer. In many ways this man reminded me of grandfather. Both men with heart melting smiles, and the courage to do what they loved most. For my pap it was gardening, for Hermit Jia is was simply being. In this big bustling world we live in we become human doings instead of just human beings.
Whenever I encounter students considering coming to Juniata, they always ask me the same few things.
“What is the social scene like?”
“How are the classes?”
“Do you like the size of the school?”
These questions are usually fine, but then I get the one question that is so hard to answer: “What is the best thing about Juniata?”. It’s a tough one. I mean, think about it. In answering that question, I’m trying to pick one thing that summarizes everything that Juniata is to me, and that’s near impossible. So, I’ve decided to make a list. A countdown list of what Juniata’s best is, at least in my opinion. I hope it helps.
- Trips – One of my favorite aspects, and one of my mom’s least favorite (sorry Mom!)
So far this year, I’ve gone on a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, and to a 4-day professional conference in North Carolina, and its only October. The reality of Juniata is, there are trips happening constantly, they go all over, and they’re incredible. I know people who’ve gone to NYC, Niagara Falls, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and so many other amazing places on Juniata or club sponsored trips. If you’re looking to travel, and travel with a great group of people, Juniata is a good place for it.
- Proximity to home – This one, my mom likes
Juniata really is in a great location. We’re 3 hours from D.C., 3 hours from Philadelphia, 3 hours from Pittsburgh, and fairly close to a lot of other places, such as NYC. Generally, if I don’t know where someone is from, I assume it’s 3 hours away, because we’re pretty much smack dab in the middle of everything.
- Huntingdon – A charming mix of old and brand new
Huntingdon is a fantastic little town. There is a plethora of coffee shops, thrift shops, little stores, and beautiful old buildings. Its small enough to always feel at home, and large enough that you always manage to see something new.
- Tenting – It’s awful and wonderful all wrapped into one freezing week
Tenting is an amazingly awful experience. It’s a hilarious week of talent competitions, 3am challenges, impossible tasks, and a lot of air horns being blown. It’s also a week of freezing your butt off, and realizing at 4 am that you have an exam in less than 12 hours that you forgot about. I would definitely recommend it.
- Everyone – You can’t beat the people
I’ve come to realize that out of everything, the people here are my absolute favorite part of Juniata. Professors, facilities, hall mates, classmates, dining hall workers… they’re some of the best people I’ve ever met. The thing is, everyone around here is willing and wanting to help you. Juniata is a community of wanting each other to be happy, and that fact is evident in everyday life.
I hope my little list was informative and helpful in your journey of selecting a school, but there’s only so much you can get from writing. If you get the chance, you should come check it out for yourself.
One of the most exciting aspect of my second year at Juniata has been my involvement with the global village (GV), particularly the Francophone Village as its programming coordinator. The global village is a learning and living community centered around language and intercultural learning. It is made up of Intercultural Floor, El Rincón Hispánico, Haus Wanderlust, Le Village Francophone and the Chinese Village. The language houses formerly used to be off campus with their own individual buildings. This year however, the GV has been relocated into the Tussey and Terrace (TnT) dorm, and the lounge has been renovated and turned into the global commons with a dining room added! Some language houses have changed their named, including the Francophone Village (previously known as le Village Français). The name change was initiated by the residents and me to make the village more inclusive as most of us were French speakers but not French.
As a programming coordinator, I am responsible for several things, including coordinating monthly dinners and activities. The best part of being a coordinator is making those dinner because, for me, FOOD=LIFE! I really enjoy cooking, and I believe that one way to have an effective cross-cultural communication is by sharing food. As a result, twice a week, my residents and I pull our efforts together to make delicious meals from the Francophone world. The most recent dinner, last Friday, featured the famous poutine dish– French fries topped with cheese and gravy–from Québec. Since I went on fall break trip to Quebec with the French club, it seemed only appropriate to do a dish from that region. In addition to the regular potatoes, we made some sweet potato poutine, inspired from the menu of Cinko, my favorite restaurant in Montréal! While we ate, a slideshow our adventures in Quebec was playing on the screen, and we had the great time.
At previous dinners, we made food from Côte d’Ivoire (Aloco-fried plantains-and fried rice), Tunisia (Tunisian coucous), France (Quiche) and Québec (Poutine). These dishes represented the countries and regions of the French speakers that Juniata had, which shows the affluence of the francophone cultures on campus. In order to promote the village, I organized an open house and invited President Troha and Provost Bowen. They were happy with our work and loved the food! In the near future, we will be making food from Niger Senegal and Guadeloupe and continue to invite various members of the Juniata community.
As a global citizen, I am proud to be involved in pioneering GV in the newly renovated Global Commons; My co-coordinators and I, with the support our advisors and generous contributors, do our best to set the stage for the future global residents. GV still has a long way to go—we still need a kitchen of our own, which requires donations and skillful marketing skills–, but I believe in the importance of language learning and global citizenship. And indeed, we are on the right track.
Photo Credit to: Haruka Kamegaya
I’ve never been one for the traditional route, especially when it comes to academics. It started way back in adolescence. I tried on the homeschooling program for size in sixth grade. That wasn’t exactly my cup of tea and so I transferred from homeschool into a public middle school. In high school, I had a unique “magnet” creative/performing arts experience. It was anything but typical. It didn’t end there. For college, I started off with community college and then transferred to Juniata.
Juniata College was supposed to be my traditional experience. As I approach the end of my academic career here, I continue to reflect on just how untraditional it has been.
I didn’t end up here by mistake. I ended up here because it’s was the next piece of my puzzle. I searched for a four year university when I was in community college because I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to go away for college. I wanted to get the dorming experience, the meal plan, the activities, and the clubs–all that stuff that community college just didn’t have. I wanted to create lasting relationships with professors, students, and faculty. I knew exactly what I was looking for. When I signed up for Juniata, I was signing up to finally get my traditional experience.
It didn’t take me long to realize that Juniata college is anything but your average everyday college. It wasn’t soon after enrolling that I was individualizing my POE and mixing choir with newspaper all while planning on going into speech pathology and taking a service trip to the Dominican because, why not? Psychology and education can go together because I want them to, not because the school told me they have to. It didn’t take me long to realize that untraditional experiences find me because I’m just an untraditional person, just another Juniatian keeping Juniata weird. Juniata College has taught me many things, but most of all to love myself for who I truly am because it will always shine through in our personalities, and especially in our decisions.
Fall break has once again come and gone. This is a much needed break that comes in the middle of our semester here at Juniata. It is a time of rest and relaxation… or it is supposed to be. You see, from the time we get here in August, to the time fall break begins, we as students have a lot of work. And work needs to be completed in a timely manner and, if possible, done well in advance of when it is due. If you don’t meet the deadline for an essay, or if you procrastinate believing that you will have more time later, your grades, sleep and social life will all suffer. Fall break is a moment, however brief, for us to take a breath and reflect upon the first seven weeks of the semester at what we have, and haven’t, accomplished, and look ahead to the things that we have yet to complete.
My fall break consisted of homework, studying for my biochemistry tests this coming week, sleeping and running. The first three I worked on for the first three days of break and they were for my sanity, so that in the coming weeks I might have slightly less work to do and could get slightly more sleep. The last took up about an hour and forty-seven minutes of my Sunday morning and definitely detracted a bit from my sanity. In August I decided to register for the Runners World Half Marathon held annually in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a mere three-hour drive from Juniata. You see I believed at the time of my registration that I would be able to fit in daily runs and workouts between classes, studying and work. But I sadly misjudged the amount of time I would actually have to devote to training, and a calf injury just made it that much harder to run.
While I was able to finish the race (earning a fancy finisher’s medal), it was not easy to do so. I felt every mile I had not run in the past few months every time my foot pounded against the concrete, a pain that continues even now as I write this. Walking is not an easy venture at the moment. I suffer because of my hubris, believing myself to be a better athlete than I am, and because of my procrastination. I kept putting off exercise each day believing that I would have more time to do it once my calf healed or as soon as I got through a stressful week. When you keep telling yourself things like that you soon realize that the time you thought you had has passed. Then you find yourself standing on the start line of a half-marathon in awe at the fact that there are so many running nerds around you, and in horror thinking about how many miles you have to run.
The point that I am trying to make is this: Balance in a college life is key. One of my friends recently related some advice that he was given before coming to college and that was to not let classes get in the way of your college education. Now, classes are important, make sure you get your work done before you go and play. But that statement is really saying don’t let your life become controlled by academics. Be able to step away and go have fun and explore. That is one of the nice things about Juniata. Yes, you need to work hard and be studious, but the school encourages the students to take part in other activities. We have over a hundred clubs on campus, and if joining one or several of them doesn’t get you out of your room there’s always something to do on campus.
So take charge and be studious so that you can excel in your classes, but also take the time to step back and breath and hey, maybe even run a half-marathon. The pain is totally worth the free banana at the end.
When I was twelve years old, I performed in Little Shop of Horrors at my summer camp. I knew nothing about acting, it was the “kids version” of the show, and I had a stereotypically bad New York accent. I’ve loved musical theatre my entire life. This show was one of the first shows I really connected with, and ultimately fell in love with. Fast forward eight years later, and here I am, starring in Little Shop of Horrors as a real, college production!
Since the Juniata Theatre Department typically puts on a musical every three years, I was so excited to get back into my “element” from high school. Although I love getting to experience and train with different types of theatre (i.e. Shakespeare, devised work, contemporary plays, etc.) musical theatre has always been my favorite type, and is ultimately my goal for after I graduate. For this show, we brought in Tara Giordano, an outside director from New York, Gabriel Gould (who is actually an English Professor here at Juniata) as our Musical Director, and Nate Dryden, a visiting artist who focuses on aerial and floor movement (I was able to work with him last year on trapeze!) as our Choreographer. As for our cast, this is one of the first shows where the cast is mostly non-theatre students. We have four freshman, two sophomores, two juniors, two seniors and a graduate student! It has been such an amazing experience to have so many different types of talented people working on a beautiful show.
Rehearsals have been really hands-on for us, as we have been taking our ideas for our characters and going into so much detail about them, how they move, how they speak, how they think, what they want, etc. It definitely takes a lot more than just reading words off a page to make a play really come to life. Since the show takes place in the 1960s, we have to play with different styles of dance and attire from that period (our costumes are awesome). When blocking scenes, even though our director ultimately decides how the scene should look, Tara was always willing to listen to our ideas and encouraging us to embrace our impulses. It’s been a really educational, beneficial, and rewarding experience working on this show and putting so much effort into the play we’ve created.
We have all been hard at work for the past two months memorizing, blocking, building, and singing our hearts out in rehearsal every day. While you’re in a production, it often seems like the actual performances of the show are ages away, until one day you wake up and realize you’re opening in a week! It’s been really crazy watching this show grow from a script in our hands to a real play on stage with a live band, a beautiful set, and soon an audience sitting in front of us! Little Shop of Horrors opens on October 21st at 8:00 PM, and will be performing on the 22-23rd, and 27-29th as well. Tickets are free for Juniata students and $20 for general admission! If you are in the area, and want to see a hilarious, bloody, romantic, and slightly terrifying musical, then I hope you come see the show!
Four years ago, when I was a senior in high school I browsed around different college websites hoping that something would catch my eye and nothing did for the longest time. It wasn’t until I found the traditions on the Juniata College youtube page that really peaked my interest. One of the main reasons why I decided to come to Juniata was not because of the academics; it was because of the traditions that occur throughout the year.
Each fall semester of every year holds a random day when students get the entire day off of classes to go to Raystown lake and play games with peers and professors. The catch is, that no one knows when this day is going to be. Not even the professors know when this day is. This past Thursday was this glorious day known as mountain day and everyone woke to the sound of wonderful air horns and pots and pans at 5am to hear the incredible news. (When you are a student here, you will understand the feeling of excitement when those beautiful air horns sound in the morning.) As I am a senior with a car I didn’t have to wake up in time to get the buses that leave for the lake in the morning, so I slept in and made it to the lake just in time for lunch. Each year there are a variety of different bouncy houses and activities for students to enjoy. This year, there was a zip line, inflatables ranging from the original racecourse to trying to knock people off a pedestal with a wrecking ball, a caricaturist, a create your own spin art frisbee section, an air brush tattoo artist, and a photo booth, along with the many types of games and general activities that go on at the lake. It was a beautiful day to spend with my friends and just relax. It is not just a day off from classes but a time to connect with both of your peers and professors to create a stronger bond. Also, it was nice not having to worry about the test that I was supposed to have that day.
This year was my last mountain day and I have to tell you, I think this is the tradition that I will miss the most. I love the secretiveness about it and the thrill it gives you when you hear an air horn outside of your window. When I graduate, dependent on what profession I go into, I may not be able to call off for a random day of the year. I will just have to sit back at work and hope everyone else enjoys his or her mountain day. I have always proposed that we should have a mountain week. Maybe one day I will make that happen. A random week off in the beginning of the year is what everyone needs when life gets stressful. Don’tcha think?
I was a very prepared freshman. Coming to Juniata, I knew that I wanted to be an International Studies POE, I wanted to travel the world, and I wanted to get paid for it. Looking back as a senior; however, I wish I came to Juniata knowing nothing of what I wanted to do in the future. I wish I would have taken a year to explore more classes that would have challenged me and think more about who I am and what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Juniata has a problem, the problem of the riches, and when you get locked into your POE, the F-I-S-H-N (Fine arts, international, social science, humanities, natural science) credit requirements helps you somewhat to take classes outside of your major and explore but it doesn’t do that to the extent I would have liked. It wasn’t until I was senior who has studied abroad in China, The Gambia, and Washington D.C. that I realized that those experiences of being in a completely new environment and outside of my comfort zone helped me grow as an individual. Looking back, I wish I would have made more of my freshman year and really explored, taking classes I never thought would have been a good fit for me, because if nothing else it would have helped me know myself and what I didn’t want to be doing the rest of my life a lot better.
Almost at the finish line, I regret not taking natural science classes such as sustainable agriculture and fermentation – which I learned only while I was abroad that I have an interest in. I also regret that as freshman I made the decision to only take Chinese language courses and not explore all the different languages before I picked one and decided that was going to my language for the next four years. I have nothing against Chinese, besides it is a hard and extremely difficult language that you have to be invested in 100%, but I would of like to have known if another languages would have fit my personality better.
Like learning a language, your POE has to be something that interests you 100%, it has to be something you are going to obsess over, that you wouldn’t mind doing 40 hours of research and writing a 50-page thesis on.
My advice to the incoming freshman class – come with only a general idea of where you want to be in four years when you leave this place, and take that first year to try a few classes you are not sure fits you but you have a slight interest in, explore all possibilities before settling on a POE – if you hate the class you can always drop it.
I really wish I could have explored a little more, because being a senior looking at all the amazing classes Juniata offers – with no room in my Spring semester I might add – it is a huge let down to know that as a freshman I could have taken one class that would have changed my entire major and my end goal for jobs in the future.
I am happy with my major, I do think as a freshman I made a good decision to be an international studies POE and along the way I did narrow in on International Political Economy as my finalized individualized POE; however, I would have made French my language of choice instead of Chinese because after four year of Chinese, I can honestly say my Chinese still sucks. Maybe I am just not good at learning languages.
Okay, yes that is an obvious fact, but it’s also an important one. If you do decide to come to Juniata (which I truly hope you do), you won’t have the same experiences as me. We’ll be on the same small campus, we’ll probably have mutual friends, and perhaps even a class or two together, but I can never tell you what your experience will be like. I know that. So, on that note, I’m not going to tell you about me. Instead, I’m going to tell you about some of the incredible people here who you might someday get a chance to meet. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be telling someone else a story about you.
To kick us off is a very good friend of mine. We didn’t meet in the usual way, but rather, he walked by my room when I was having a really rough night (I had just lost a bunch of shoes that didn’t belong to me after borrowing them for a scavenger hunt). When he looked in, he saw me huddled in the corner eating off-brand pop tarts, nearly crying, and instead of walking by, he walked in. We talked for hours about nothing, and yes, I later found the shoes.
I have another friend who is just incredible. Last summer, he worked in a hotel in Germany, and this summer he’s sailing around Tahiti and Australia for a couple of months. In the span of an hour, he encouraged me to work in New Zealand this summer at a horse trekking farm, simply because I can. I would never have had the courage to actually go for it without his inspiration and encouragement.
It isn’t just the peers that are amazing here. One of my professors, who happens to also be The Wildlife Society advisor here, hired me to work in the Field Station Office this year. Every time I go in for work, he starts off by asking me how I’m doing, and I can tell he truly cares. He knows I have a busy schedule this semester, and he wants to make sure I’m not overworked. Every week, it makes me feel a little better knowing that someone is looking out for me.
One more thing that happened recently really stands out to me. Walking to dinner, I saw a bunny in a storm drain. It was a baby, just huddled in the corner. When I saw that it was still there the next day, I went to President Troha’s office to tell him about it, because I knew he would help me. Even though he wasn’t in at the time, his secretary was on it. She was not about to leave that baby bunny in the storm drain either.
There are so many stories from so many different people on this campus, I couldn’t even make a dent in them if I tried to tell them all. From a girl who made it her mission to change the world because her life was personally affected by genocide, to a friend who works six jobs here on campus but still manages to do well in all of them, to a professor, whose parents told her that she only had a limited amount of options for her life because she was a woman – the stories are endless and incredible.
Although I’m surrounded by all of these incredible people, I don’t feel lost in the shuffle. I don’t feel like I’m competing, and I don’t feel put down, because we are all a piece of what makes Juniata so amazing. Without our myriad of backgrounds, and intense variety of stories, Juniata wouldn’t be what it is today. It’s a patchwork I’m proud to be a part of, and if it fits you, hopefully someday you’ll be a part of it too.