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Third time’s the charm

It is now my senior year at Juniata, and for the third time, I traveled to Quebec during fall break (October 11th to the 14th). Unlike previous years, this trip was something that I especially looking forward to for several reasons:

Fall break this year came about 2 days after the Fulbright program’s deadline. The application process was very challenging, and by far, it has been the most difficult application that I have written. I applied for a linguistics research Fulbright in Cote d’Ivoire, a project that stemmed from my internship in Strasbourg, France in the Spring of 2018. I worked diligently with a cadre of faculty members who pushed me to craft a competitive and compelling research project. The process got overwhelming and intense at times, so after the Oct. 9th deadline, I was excited to travel to Quebec and celebrate, alongside another Fulbright applicant and a friend of mine, Annaleigh Baremore.

Annaleigh and I are French club officers and worked together to plan this trip, despite meeting many obstacles. First, the Quebec trip did not occur during the previous year when Annaleigh and I were abroad. Professor Henderson who is head of the French department and also the club’s advisor was away on sabbatical. As seniors, Annaleigh and I wanted to bring this trip back, and travel to Quebec one last time. Another issue that we encountered was the high cost of transport, which almost canceled the trip. However, at the very last minute, the Office of Student of Activities gave us a minivan and two vehicles to go to Canada!

Posing for a group photo!

Posing for a group photo!

This 3rd trip to Canada was in my opinion the best because we had a diverse cadre of students. The trips were previously dominated by French speakers, but this time we had students who spoke Spanish, Korean, German and Hindi. I was happy to see them participating and learning about francophone cultures. They all tried poutine, maple syrups, all specialty of Canada. In addition, because we all shared various backgrounds, we tried other cultural foods: we went to a Korean restaurant in Montreal called Kantapia and drank some bubble tea at Chai. Once in Quebec City, we had dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and tried a delicious tapioca desert!

Although the experience was tiring, given that we had a 12hours ride back to campus, I would do it once again if could. As it is my last year at Juniata, I will be looking at various memories such as this trip to smile back on.

Fall break spent chasing waterfalls

Last week was fall break. This year it happened to line up with my older sister’s fall break which has never happened before. My mother decided we should all meet up and do a girl’s trip for a few days. We decided that Asheville, NC was a good midpoint between Huntingdon, Annapolis and New Orleans.

We started out by going shopping in the adorably artsy town that is Asheville. My mother bought so much Tupelo honey that she actually had to check her bag on the flight home. We also tried on a million pairs of shoes, several were described by my mother as ‘feeling like a butter’. Yes, apparently shoes can feel like a single butter.

My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.

My sister and I at the Bad Fork Valley Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – unfortunately there is no such thing as the Good Spoon Valley… we looked.

Our next stop after shopping was the Asheville Pinball Museum. I’ve never been a museum person but this one was incredible. We spent hours playing old-timey pinball games and classic Pac Man and Donkey Kong arcade games.

We visited Biltmore Mansion, I saw lots of fancy tapestries and wood carvings and Mr. Biltmore’s mesmerizing library. On our way out of the Biltmore gardens, we saw a black bear about 30 seconds into a Chinese Fire Drill. I didn’t realize it until after we left, but that was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. The bear was so incredible to see that I momentarily forget my intense fear of bears.

The main reason my mother had wanted us to visit Asheville was to see the changing fall foliage. Unfortunately, the leaves were behind schedule and hadn’t started changing yet because the weather has been so crazy lately. We had to drive until at least 5000 feet above sea level to see even the slightest bit of color.

Even though we had an extreme lack of color in the foliage, we went on a driving adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find some waterfalls. My sister sang “Waterfalls” by TLC for the entire car ride but the view more than made up for it.

I never really appreciated the mountains until I came to Juniata. Growing up in Annapolis meant that I spent most of my days 39 feet above sea level, crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. My only real childhood memory of mountains is from the trip we took to the Grand Canyon when I was nine. The mountains in Asheville were incredible and lush and honestly one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.

View from Biltmore Mansion.

View from Biltmore Mansion.

The views from the Cliffs and the top of 1000 steps in Huntingdon are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the Smokey Mountains. The mountains of Huntingdon and the mountains of Asheville are vastly different and not at all what I am used to, but they are both immensely fun to explore.

I can’t wait to embrace my newfound love of mountains and spend more time exploring in Huntingdon. In conclusion, Fall Break was amazing, we did go chasing waterfalls and we did not stick to the rivers and lakes that we were used to.

Running toward your problems…

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.

Figure 1:The SteelStacks of Behtlehem.  At the height of WWII, these forges employed 32,000 people.  They now stand cold and decrepit, relics of a bygone era.

Figure 1:The SteelStacks of Bethlehem. At the height of WWII, these forges employed 32,000 people. They now stand cold and decrepit, relics of a bygone era.

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.

Figure 2: The free t-shirt, finisher's medal and the all-important banana.

Figure 2: The free t-shirt, finisher’s medal and the all-important banana.

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.

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