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Juniata’s Center for International Education (CIE) is an office that maintains and administers international programs including Study Abroad, International Student Services, Intensive English, and exchange programs. I have been working in the office as a student worker since the summer of 2021. What I have done so far includes: making a podcast for incoming international students, managing international student orientation at the beginning of the semester, creating study abroad information by country, and organizing various on-campus events for international education. The workplace is very comfortable, and I love the people I work with.
Working in the CIE, I have made a lot of connections on campus. At international student orientation, the CIE welcomed about 70 new students from all over the world. During 3-day orientation, I talked with all of the students, and, thanks to this opportunity, I still hang out with them or have a talk whenever we see each other. Some of them knew about me before coming to the campus through the podcast that I made in summer, which was surprising and made me happy. As the CIE runs various international events on campus, I see a lot of the international students at those events. We have been trying to create a space for anyone to come and enjoy the international/intercultural community. At the International Music/Dance Festival, one of the events that one of my co-workers and I hosted during International Education Week, the participants were dancing, singing, and listening together to appreciate music as a tool to connect people. They enjoyed learning about other cultures.
The CIE supports multiple events throughout the year. Multicultural Story Fest is one of the biggest events, an annual cultural celebration of art, music, dance, poetry, and more. This event showcases students from around the world and all of their talents and passions. We also have a fashion show, where you can see beautiful, colorful, and traditional clothing. As an international student from Japan, I participated in this event last year. It was a great opportunity for anyone to appreciate the diversity and cultures all over the world.
Another big event that the CIE runs is Study Abroad Fair. Usually held in September, international students and study abroad returners promote the programs to the students who are interested in studying abroad at Juniata, sharing their own experiences. Even if you do not have any plans or interests, just stopping by the event and talking with other students is great inspiration to make a first step toward studying abroad.
In the future, the CIE is going to run more events for the campus community to learn and enjoy international/intercultural communication and cultural exchange, while providing students with various opportunities for study abroad. In working to create a more globalized campus community, we are always open to any voices and participation from the students, faculty, and staff.
I know my way around a Homeric epic or two. Having picked up ancient mythology as a kid with both hands and having yet to let go, I love not only reading these tales over and over again, but also interpreting, analyzing, and seeing how they apply to myself and all of us in ways we don’t really stop to consider most times. Looking back over last year, my first year as a college student here at Juniata, I realized how closely my own journey to where I am now corresponds with Odysseus’s in the Odyssey.
Graduating from high school in 2020, I don’t think I’m far off in comparing the period from March of 2020 to August as a parallel to Odysseus’s challenges before his long journey home. No war was fought, and while it was no ten-year enterprise, it certainly felt like it at some times. Not only was I beginning to find my way as an adult and preparing to truly take care of myself for the first time, but I was also learning how to t adapt to a quickly shifting world and a reality that was new to everyone.
Voyage to the Phaeacians
Moving from Pittsburgh to Huntingdon isn’t what I would call a journey, per se, but for places merely two and a half hours apart, they certainly feel like different worlds. Coming from a sizable suburban area to such a small town was jarring, yes, but also incredibly comforting. Like Odysseus, I was uprooted from what I knew for years and placed somewhere new, but the place in which I found myself was a place where I felt like I was valued, appreciated, heard. Here, I was introduced to a group of people that would grow to become my greatest friends and support system.
Odysseus Recounts His Adventures
Here, we move into the meat of the Odyssey, and likewise the bulk of my freshman year. Navigating classes, living by myself, building a routine, and establishing relationships and their dynamics occupied most of my time from August 2020 to May of 2021. Not all of it was fun, just as not all of Odysseus’s adventures turned out great—there was stress, a breakup, mental health to parse through, growing pains—but I’d say all of it was necessary.
Returning to Ithaca
Much like the Fates requiring the son of Laertes to return to his kingdom, the end of the second semester of freshman year meant it was time for me to move back out to Pittsburgh. Homecoming was bittersweet for me as well as Odysseus—I couldn’t wait to see my family, friends, and cats again, but I knew how desperately I would miss the new family I had built at Juniata. I would have to go downstairs for food, rather than just reaching under my bed for a bag of chips; I couldn’t walk across the hall and wander into my friends’ rooms on a Tuesday night.
Defeating the Suitors
While my homecoming wasn’t exactly like Odysseus’, there were still the metaphorical suitors to deal with: adjusting my newfound independence to being home again, old friends moving on, missing Huntingdon and my friends, creating a new at-home schedule. Those had to be slayed (symbolically) before I could find home again. Or, at least, the home I had left to make another.
The Odyssey, as I see it, is a long story about going home. I guess that’s where mine separates from the king of Ithaca’s—I came home in the end, yes, but I also found a home here at Juniata and with the people I love. One that I’m very glad to have returned to.
Exactly three years ago, my new friends and I made a promise to each other. My new friend Fiona was told by my new friend Bubba that he had been Shrek the ogre the previous year. At more than six feet tall and shoulders as wide as a doorframe, he fit the character well. “Shrek and Fiona! We gotta do it!” he decided within two minutes of learning Fiona’s name.
The group that was there to hear Bubba’s insistence never forgot it, and at the beginning of our senior year, my friend group decided we couldn’t let freshman-year Bubba down. Fiona got her costume ready, my five-foot self was told, not asked, to be Lord Farquaad, my other roommates got ears and a hat for Donkey and Puss in Boots, and their boyfriends were forced to be Gingey and Dragon.
We had our plan set to dress up as characters from Shrek on what Juniata dubs “Halloweekend”, the weekend before Halloween. First though, I had to be again reminded that I had somehow been at Juniata for more than three years.
October 30th was Senior Day for the Juniata Women’s Soccer team. Before our last game of the season, we had a small ceremony before the game. I walked with my parents through a tunnel of my teammates, received flowers and a framed plaque of my previous Juniata jersey, and heard my four-year stats and kind words from my teammates over the loudspeaker. I was met with fun decorations as I walked into our team locker room. Four tables filled with food met me after our game was done. Handmade scrapbook pages of funny memories and encouraging words were ribboned together in my locker. I felt a lot of love from my teammates and their families, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had grown three years older and wiser without my own permission. I cried a few tears but left our home field very full and very happy with arms full of gifts. I’ll be a mess after next semester’s lacrosse senior day, but I also imagine I will be happy looking back on my four year journey at Juniata, within athletics and outside of them.
My friends and I have come a long way from our freshman selves, but I am so glad we’ve been able to keep our freshman year promises. We are finishing seasons, completing high-level research, reflecting on internships or studies abroad in real-world job interviews, telling new students about that time we had that professor and got that grade, and all other sorts of things we had promised ourselves we would get through but didn’t quite know we would. Senior year forces us to think a lot about the future, but there’s nothing wrong with reflecting on how far you’ve come and how old you may have gotten.
Every year at Juniata, my friends and I like to search town for fun activities to do near campus. Even in my senior year, we’re still finding new places to fill up our weekends.
Some of our favorite locations include a classic trip to Raystown. Sometimes we go down to the Seven Points Marina, where we have Mountain Day every year. It’s fun to enjoy our own little mountain day, but once it gets colder and the leaves start changing, it’s still fun to go hiking and take in all the sights.
You can also go up to Hawn’s overlook, which not only overlooks the dam at Raystown, but provides beautiful views at any time of the year! It’s just a short, flat trip down a trail from the parking lot, and it not hard to get to. It’s a nice place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
Another place my friends and I love to go to is further down the lake, called Trough Creek State Park. This state park is beautiful, with a lot of trails and breathtaking views. My friends and I try to visit here as often as possible, and I think that’s because this place provides some of the best scenery that central Pennsylvania has to offer. There is a wide range of trails to choose from, as well as picnic tables to enjoy a nice lunch in the sun.
For people who really enjoy hiking, the Thousand Steps is another good place to visit for nature lovers. I remember being very shocked to find out that it is actually 1000 steps, but if you can make it to the top, you won’t regret it. The views are just too good.
If you’re looking to get into the Halloween season, there are other, more seasonal attractions, such as making the trip down to the Lincoln Caverns for their annual Ghosts and Goblins tour, which features a tour of the caves, which have been decorated to resemble a haunted house. It also features a ride through the surrounding woods on a wagon. It’s a great way to explore what the area has to offer while enjoying the spooky season!
Overall, there are a lot of fun outdoor activities to do in Huntingdon and the surrounding area. If you’re into hiking or nature, there are a lot of places to explore, not just the ones I named here. I haven’t even begun to name all of the outdoor attractions that are available, but I have named some of my favorites. My friends and I often find ourselves scrambling to try everything new that we’ve discovered while also making time to visit some of our favorite places.
No matter what you choose to explore, there is always an activity that allows you to enjoy the beautiful autumn days in central Pennsylvania. Make sure to take advantage of our perfect placement in the middle of the outdoors!
Let’s be honest: on Day 2 of the fall semester, you’ll wake up in your half-made bed and curse yourself for not having the forethought to bring a water bottle. As your parched throat cries out for water, you’ll suddenly realize that the only option in these COVID times is the shower. We’ve all been there! Last year, when I forgot to bring dish soap, I was in denial that the bathroom hand soap was NOT an adequate substitute for all of my cleaning needs. Not to worry, I have compiled a list of things that, over the past three years, I routinely forget to bring with me to college. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for this coming fall semester. Enjoy!
Frisbee (or other lawn gear)
Sometimes on a warm fall day, you’ll find yourself looking out at the expanses of lawn and wonder, “Wow, I wish I had something to do out there.” Every fall, the frisbee team likes to take over and in the spring there are always some freshman guys that play catch or Spike Ball on the North lawn. Do yourself a favor and find a way to enjoy these beautiful open areas: bring a book, bring a hammock, bring a chair – SOMETHING.(more…)