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Field Trip to Washington, DC

One of Juniata College’s goals as a liberal arts college is to give students an education that goes beyond their individual Programs of Emphasis and delves into other disciplines and areas. Two of these requirements are Interdisciplinary Colloquia (IC) and Cultural Analysis (CA). I am currently enrolled in the CA course Samurai Legends and Lives; this course seeks to examine the Japanese samurai in its historical and mythic contexts, but also to analyze how accurately these historical texts match up to the Hollywood and popular culture portrayals of this warrior class. On Monday, March 30 the class took a field trip to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms and to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian to view some examples of Japanese art.

Leaving campus at 8:30 Monday morning, we began our trip to the US capital. We arrived and ate lunch near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to work against us and most of the cherry blossom trees have not yet bloomed. After lunch, there was time for exploring. My friend and I first walked to the Jefferson Memorial and went inside, since neither of us had been there before. After the Jefferson Memorial, we walked to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial where I got a picture with a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. This statue was the first time that a first lady has been honored within a presidential memorial. After this, we walked back to the bus to travel to the Smithsonian museums.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In particular, we were visiting the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This subdivision focuses on Asian art and the class was looking to relate different artworks to the ideals and characteristics of the samurai. Some pieces related very directly, while others required more contemplation. Of course, after class business was complete, we were allowed to tour the remainder of the museum to see the art from other Asian nations. We later ended the trip with a meal at a Chinese and Japanese restaurant.

I had never visited Washington, DC before this field trip, but I had a lot of fun seeing some of the capital and visiting the galleries. Making connections between the art and what we have read in class helped to put our class discussions in context and added to our understanding of Japanese culture; it was a chance to do some cultural analysis outside the classroom setting. Now, I’ll be attending the course for the rest of the semester with an added appreciation for the culture that we’re studying.

Guess What, Everyone? I’m On The Radio!

“Hello again, everybody, you are listening to Power 92.3 WKVR!”

erika blog

That’s right folks, I host a radio show. Once a week, my voice goes live on the air to tell stories and cheesy jokes and occasionally break out into spontaneous song (sorry not sorry) for anyone to hear.

When my housemate first suggested we do a show together on the Juniata station, I laughed. Speaking live, while people I don’t know would be listening? The idea made me a bit nauseous. But let me tell you – it is SO fun. For an hour, we talk about random memories we have from the past four years, share long playlists full of music and artists we like, and even chat about current events that matter to us, or interesting things from our classes. It’s like having a normal conversation, just in front of a microphone (and snazzy soundboard). Our show is also primarily a request show, so we get to play songs that listeners request each week. We also do competitions, asking people to tell us their best jokes or stories to win a small prize! Some of our dedicated friends and family listen in from wherever they are, and we even get mail requests! We are FAMOUS. (Of course I’m not exaggerating.)

I have grown to love the college radio station so much because it is just one of the examples of an initiative that is completely run by students, for students, that empowers us to raise our voices in the Juniata community, 100% as we are. All you have to do to host a radio show is sign up with the WKVR club. That’s it! The students who run the station are fantastic, dedicated, helpful and patient with any difficulties that arise.

Hosting the weekly show on Juniata’s radio station with my housemate has given me the chance to share and discover some really good music with Juniata students and anyone else who chooses to listen to the station. Even my best friend who goes to school in Amsterdam can listen. If you have the time, sign up for a show and see how much fun it really is.

“Have a great weekend, everyone. Power 92.3 WKVR, signing out.”

This Week at Juniata Week 15

International Week – Horses of God

International Week Schedule

International Week Schedule

Even though Juniata College is a very small campus there always seems like there is something going on. This week was International week. One of the events was a movie called the Horse of God about Morocco. I was excited to go to this movie because over the summer I went to The Gambia. Before arriving in that country we had a twelve hour layover in Morocco where we were able to go out and explore Casablanca. I liked the movie a lot; at the beginning they showed the kids running across the highway that had a white wall behind it, and I remembered that highway. We passed it on our way into the city from the airport. There is something simple to the white washed walls of the compound the people live in and the metal doors, and the sand. It seems to be a symbol of poverty in this region that is very much like the poverty we see in The Gambia.

Wall in Casablanca

Wall in Casablanca

At the beginning of the movie it shows the kids and their struggle. You don’t see these kids going to school, you see them rummaging in the garbage hemp for things to sell. You see the formation of the criminal activity that ultimately takes over their lives. What else is there to do to pull yourself out of poverty?

It is quite noticeable from an early point on that honesty is not something that is valued in this society. There a crooked cops, and a crooked law system. The mother also states that she prefers the money, instead of the honest living Tarek was trying to make. In a society of criminal deeds are the only profitable means of providing a life for yourself, that thread of honesty is non-existent.

I like how the eldest brother looked for that honesty in his younger brother. Until the very end of the movie, he was trying to keep his brother honest. To keep him from the life that he had to lead to feed the family. I personally don’t think either brother thought that this religious sect, who gave them something to strive for, would turn into their undoing.

It is easy to brainwash a soul that has already been broken – a soul that has hit rock bottom. In this poverty, you see a lot of terrible things, but they are not terrible to you – they are the everyday. The Muslim Brotherhood got these boys to believe in a paradise, somewhere where they would be reworded for their good deeds, where their hopeless plight of poverty and life would be erased and they would be in a sense reborn. The Muslim Brotherhood made them dream, and they gave them something to live for. What did they have to live for in the slums? Where was their legacy? It was nowhere. The Brotherhood gave them a purpose, and the belief that there is something so much better than the lives they live. The Muslim Brotherhood made them dream, those dreams lead to the deaths of 54 people including 12 suicide bombers. It wasn’t about religion anymore, religion was just a catalyst of place where the poverty would end, where they would stop being nobodies. Where they would finally be someone worth looking up to – they wanted to be martyrs.

Street vendors in Casablanca

Street vendors in Casablanca

While in The Gambia, or even in that short time in Morocco, I didn’t see terrorism or the religious sec. However, there was always that underlying theme of poverty, and the struggle to do anything to stay alive. Being able to travel abroad to this part of the world allowed me to view this movie very differently than someone who did not have this study abroad experience, because while in The Gambia and in Morocco, I saw the struggle of people and how hard it was for them to make a living and survive in these countries. My study aboard experience made me see that this wasn’t just a movie, there are people on the other side of the world that are going through this struggle right now. Even though I did not see any terrorism I can better understand how this brainwashing and religious ideology could appeal to these people.

Underrated Holiday

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving seems like it is the most underrated holiday because it’s between Halloween and Christmas. In which most cases Christmas trumps any other holiday, but my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. The reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday is because it solely concentrates on spending time with those you care about. There aren’t any presents or costumes or anything to disrupt its purpose. It’s about giving thanks and recognizing all that you have in your life as well as appreciating the people you have in your life. For me it’s hard to always be away from my family at this time since our break is too short and expensive for me to go home to my family in Florida, but I have great friends with caring families that willingly take me in and treat me as a member of their own family.

There are many things to be grateful for, but I am grateful for the love that I receive from all the people I care about. The joy of knowing that someone will always be there and no matter how long it has been or the distance that separates you, nothing changes. A bond made from memories that grow with time to fortify a lasting friendship that can’t be broken. To have that type of love from more than just family is a great experience and when you grow so much with a close friend they become family. I am so grateful to have people in my life that may not be blood to me but are still family and I cherish them for all that they do for me.

Needless to say this has been the most interesting Thanksgiving that I have had away from home. I learned how to shoot a gun so I was able to conquer my fear and dislike of them. Being with a family with a lot of energy and generosity was heart-warming. It is also fun to hear the stories from different generations and how things have changed. We may not realize how much we take for granted the things we have and being able to spend time with great friends and their families makes me humble. It makes me sit back and soak it all in as to how much I have in my life compared to others. Material things can’t beat time with those you care about, nor can it bring the same joy because memories can be made and never replaced.

So to those reading this, enjoy the time you have and show or tell the people you care about just how much they matter to you. Cherish what you have because there are people out there that aren’t so blessed to have all of what you do. I make sure that I express the love and appreciation I have for my friends and family because they are too important to go without knowing just how much they mean to me.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Gooble Gobble!

First Semester Survival Guide

TZ campus webIt’s that time of the season where the weeks are winding down and winter break is approaching. However, this is usually the time when everyone begins to stress about their assignments and cram for exams. As a freshman here at Juniata College, I was nervous about the college workload and my problems with procrastination taking a toll on my academics. Yet this semester I have managed to remain calm and organized with my schoolwork, which was a very pleasant surprise. I’d like to share my tips for managing assignments and reducing stress, while still being able to enjoy the semester!

Make a to-do list

I love being organized (color coding is really helpful!) and sometimes things tend to slip my mind. I like to take large sticky notes or pieces of paper and write out every assignment that is due that week, along with the due date and how long I plan to spend on each assignment. This way, I can get everything out of my head and on paper, and I can see potentially how much time I need to spend to complete my work.

Take breaks

It’s completely unrealistic to stay in your dorm room for nine hours straight writing an essay. People definitely do that, but I would not recommend it. Your brain can only focus on academics for so long. I like to set a timer, and work for a limited amount of time before I close my computer and do something else. For a distraction, I will watch an episode of my favorite show on Netflix, go to the gym, or go for a drive with my roommate. After a half hour or hour break, I will then return to my assignment, or work on a different class. I also really enjoy yoga because it’s physical and relaxing at the same time.


I cannot function if I’m not listening to music. A lot of people I know can’t focus with music; so if that is the case for you, continue your work in silence. A website I enjoy using is 8tracks.com, which has thousands of personalized playlists you can listen to. You can choose moods or activities that customize a playlist for you. When working, I like to listen to indie calm study playlists, but with this website you can listen to anything you want! I just know that music really helps me focus when I’m stressed or trying to work on big assignments.


One of the most important things regarding work is the classes you take. One of my favorite things about Juniata is the large number of classes, varying in all departments that we are able to take. At some schools, you can only take classes relating to your major. At Juniata, professors and advisers want us to broaden our horizons and take different types of classes. Although Juniata does have requirements across all departments, there are so many options of courses to take! It’s really important to take classes that will interest you, so completing work for these classes isn’t impossible. Right now I am enrolled in courses that I am incredibly passionate about, so taking ten pages of notes isn’t difficult at all, since I am interest in the topic. Taking classes that you will enjoy will definitely make completing assignments easier.

I hope these tips helped pick courses and plan your time for the rest of the semester and for future terms! Keep on working!


This Week at Juniata Week 15

The Mid-Semester Slump

My reading list for the rest of the semester.

My reading list for the rest of the semester.

Pretty much everyone on campus is feeling it to some extent: that stress and bump in the road that happens around this point of the semester. It’s a conglomeration of everything that’s going on. We’re past Fall Break with Thanksgiving Break right around the corner, midterms are over and finals are too far away to worry about, clubs and activities are in full swing, some students are working on campus, study abroad applications will be due soon, it’s getting colder, and we have the added excitement of tenting in preparation for Madrigal.

It’s nice to have a lot happening. College is a time to build relationships with friends and faculty, to spend time participating in extra curricular activities, and to think about the future. However, perhaps the most obvious part of college life is taking classes. At Juniata College, academics are serious and challenging. The professors expect a lot from their students because they are deeply invested in our educations and want us to receive a strong liberal arts education.

I’m immensely grateful for my opportunity to receive a liberal arts education at Juniata, but this is one of the times in the semester where college can get a bit rough. Juniata students always seem to be busy with something. It could be work, volunteering, practice, labs, research, or anything else that other students get involved with. There’s so much going on with classes, clubs, activities, and work that, at times, it’s hard to sit down and get homework done. Not because of an excess of work, but rather because of an excess of opportunities outside the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll never catch me complaining about reading a book for one of my English classes. Doing concept maps for my biology class is a different story.

We’re eleven weeks into the semester with only five more to go. As it gets closer to Thanksgiving and finals, we’ll work our way out of the slump and finish strong both inside and outside the classroom. Then next semester, we’ll do it all over again.

Senior Day

Juniata College Field Hockey

Juniata College Field Hockey

It’s Senior Day for Juniata College Field Hockey. It is still weird to know that it is the last time for many things regarding my college career, including my athletic collegiate career. I have grown with this team for over 3 years and thinking to part with what my class has built within our time at Juniata makes me feel sad, but I can leave the team with confidence that the girls will continue to fight to be the best. These girls have become my second family, which provided me with the support system that I needed since my family is more than 16 hours away in Tampa, Florida. When I am down, I know that I have 25 other girls that will lift me up and that kind of support is one that helps you survive in your darkest times. Not many people can say that or experience that kind of love and friendship. So I regard myself as lucky to have this atmosphere every year.

Even though we all are all trying to find out who we are and shape our futures, there is one thing that will always connect us. Hockey.

Our team has struggled and fought to stay on top in the Landmark Conference every year, pushing each other to our limits to get better everyday. You may have friends that push you but for me there are 25 other girls pushing me to give it all that I have out on the field in practice and in games. The drive that any athlete has and the willingness to play with others to achieve a common goal is an inspiring story that is unique to each team. The joy and frustration from being on a team is complex, but it is something that will always stay with you after college. The relationships and memories that you make will be what you carry with you later in life. There is no end to JCFH because JCFH is family and family never goes away.
As much as I love my team, I am excited to have my mother here to support me on my special day. She will be cheering from the stands and probably yelling at the umpires for bad calls because she is still protective of her child. Thanks to her I started field hockey and was able to go to college. If it weren’t for her pushing me everyday, I would not be at Juniata playing field hockey with this energetic group of girls. I also wouldn’t have played with an amazing group of adults from different countries that would help me to develop into the player and person that I have come to be. Field hockey is not just a sport, it is more than that. It gives you a family and a fire to fight for what you want no matter what the odds. You learn to depend on others and to put your faith in them. It is not about the individual but what is best for the whole and overcoming hardships together. That is what field hockey is to me.

Am I Still Convinced That Juniata Was a Good Choice for Me?

I’ve found myself saying the phrase ‘Juniata is what you make of it’ a lot recently. It sounds like something I found on genericquotes.com : “Insert word here is what you make of it” (life, time, sweet potatoes, etc). So I questioned myself. Cliché phrases often don’t mean much once they’ve been dissected. But the more I think on it, the more certain I am that for me, my college experience has been what I’ve been able to make of it. And that is exactly why, when people ask me if going to Juniata has been worth it, my answer is a firm yes.

My reasons as to why are multi-faceted, but I will start with the fact that I will be graduating at the end of my 4-years with both an American and a French diploma. I understand that this is perhaps an accomplishment specific to my French POE, but I know for a fact that these kinds of extra achievements are not hard to come by at Juniata. If you are dedicated and passionate about what you study and your outside interests, you WILL find yourself involved in projects, trips and programs that you would not have encountered so directly at a bigger school.

Additionally, Central PA is beautiful.

Additionally, central Pennsylvania is beautiful.

I believe that an enormous catalyst for my experience has been the fact that my professors know me as Erika, an individual person, not just as a student. Juniata IS a small community in the grand scheme of things. If you participate in class (and most of the time, even if you don’t), it is inevitable that your professors will get to know you. They have worked hard with me to develop my skills as an independent thinker and intelligent human being. The connections that I have here with them will extend far beyond May of 2015 when I will graduate from Juniata.

Choosing to go to a private college or university is a scary, personal decision. It’s a financial undertaking and commitment to live the life of a student. Additionally, it requires confidence that your time will be fruitful and ultimately lead to better opportunities and connections. In my case, choosing to attend Juniata College was a choice that I will fervently stand behind and always be grateful for.


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