Archive for February, 2010

Winning Week

February 28th, 2010

Since my last post, many things have happened again. I can imagine myself looking back over all my blog posts one day. I’ll  probably come to the conclusion that life was never slow during my college life. It never feels slow either, so that conclusion will probably be accurate. The first weeks of the semester have gone by faster than ever before. After this week, it is spring break for two weeks. Six more weeks after that and my junior year is over.

Let me share some highlights of the past week:

  • Wednesday, the Ambassador Selection Board came together to select next year’s Ambassadors. It is still top secret who will be representing their countries during the 2010-2011 academic year, but the decisions have been made. I am excited for listening to their stories next year.
  • Thursday, I participated in Wooster’s first annual public speaking competition. I rehearsed almost all day. I worked on cutting down much of the speech, because the time limit was 8 minutes. When I first practiced, it took me 13 minutes to complete the speech. Seven finalists spoke. I was the last one, so I was nervous during six speeches. All candidates had very interesting topics, ranging from the newly announced McItaly burger to human trafficking. I talked about overfishing. My speech went really well, but I didn’t think it stood out amongst the other speeches. The third prize and the second prize were announced. My name was still not called. One of my friends told me he looked at me at this point and that he saw the disappointment of the loss on my face. However, when the winner was announced, the host of the competition said my name. That meant I had won. I was quite shocked and very happy. I had  not just won the competition, but also 100 dollars in prize money. The first time in my life that I won an individual event of any kind!
  • Later that night, we had another intramural basketball game. We played my sister’s team, but because of the great number of players on her team, she played for our time. I really felt stronger on the court than ever before. One time, I even spun around my axis and made a layup. It was a moment during which I exceeded my level by much, but hopefully, more moments like those will come. We delivered a strong team performance. It really shows that we learn fast, because the first game of the competition was the first game of many people’s lives on our team.
  • Saturday, The College of Wooster played its arch rival Wittenberg in the finals of the NCAA basketball tournament. The last time we played them, we lost desperately. Fortunately, this game was different. We had the lead from the start and never looked back. We claimed the tournament’s trophy and we will go on to compete for the national championship.
  • Saturday night, the college had its annual winter gala. The theme was the roaring 20s. Everyone had dressed up very nicely and we had a great jazz band. The chocolate cake and the cheese cake were both of outstanding quality. The fun part of being on the Wooster Activities Crew is that I got to clean up until 2:30 a.m. However, it was worth it considering I had seen so many people having a great time during the event.
  • I just got back from ISA’s celebration of International Women’s Day. We had a speaker from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a speaker from India discuss the role of women in their countries. After their presentations, we had group discussions on our tables. I really liked the event and was nurtured by both some good food and some interesting insights.
  • My article for the Wooster Voice has not been published yet. A miscommunication made me believe that it would appear this week, it will probably appear next week. I will post a link as soon as it is online.

Bastiaan

Beautiful Day

February 24th, 2010

I enjoy most of my days here in Wooster. However, some days are better than others. Monday was an extraordinarily good day for me. I was so excited for this day on Sunday night, that I had a hard time falling asleep.

In the morning, I gave my first campus tour of my life. I was still being shadowed by an experienced guide, but I was the one giving the tour. I give the tour to a girl that was originally from Italy. She was on her first college visit together with her dad. She was very well prepared and had a list of questions that she asked me throughout the tour. The dad was very funny and he knew that it was my first tour. Somewhere in the middle of the tour, he started applauding for me and said “very nice speech, very nice” in his Italian accent. I had a great time giving this tour and although I was a little nervous, I believe it went well.

Monday was also the day that I had to turn in the first draft of chapter II of my junior independent study. I had to complete a minimum of 8 out of the 16 pages of this literature review. During the few free minutes that I found on Monday, I typed up my last sentences and corrected what I had written earlier. When I turned it in at 3:55 p.m. (it was due at 4:00 p.m.) I felt a great feeling of satisfaction.

Between giving my first tour and turning in this draft of my literature review, I did the thing I had been most excited and nervous about for the day. I had my Resident Director interview. The night before, I had ironed my clothes, polished my shoes, and tied my tie. I put on the nicest clothes I own for the interview in order to give my very best. The interview was rather informal and the two people that conducted the interview were people I knew well. Still, much was at stake, because I really want this position. I think my interview went very well, but there are many good candidates for this position. I will find out after spring break whether I have been selected.

After I turned in my literature review draft, I started writing an article for the Wooster Voice. The Voice is our student run campus newspaper. According to its editors, it is the oldest weekly publicized student run newspaper in the country. I wrote a piece for the international insight column. In my column, I talked about how I have started to love basketball since I came to the United States. If you are interested, you can read the article in the online edition of The Voice. You could find it under the features section, but it will not be published until Friday. I was very happy with my piece and felt another great feeling of satisfaction after finishing writing this.

After I finished this piece of writing, I got together with the executive board of the Wooster Activities Crew. We worked on proofreading the budget proposals for next year. Not much fun, but an important task. Well written proposals receive more money than poor ones.

In the evening, I had another intramural basketball game. Even though we lost by double digits, we still played well. I believe we are getting better and better. I notice my own improvement and I see how our team is improving as a whole. I mostly learned on Monday night how physical basketball is. I had never understood that “boxing out” means that you push as hard as you can to make room for yourself under the rim. I have played soccer before, so I know what it means to deliver a body check. However, the shoulder-to-shoulder contact in a basketball game is equally intense, if not more intense than in a soccer game. I am learning new things every day.

Bastiaan

Junior Independent Study Draft

February 20th, 2010

I am always writing about all these extracurricular activities I am involved in. Sometimes it seems like academics are not my first priority. However, that is not the case. I want to do well in my classes, I want to learn as much as I can. Unfortunately, I am not immune to the disease that is procrastination.  This weekend I have to write at least eight pages of my literature review for my junior independent study project. Days ago I already told myself that if I would write a page per day, it wouldn’t be hard. Today, I want to write four pages. Tomorrow, I will write the other four pages. I have come to the point were I am not going to be easy on myself. If I have not finished four pages by tonight, I will not allow myself to do any social activities. I have to be strong, otherwise I will have to pull an all-nighter which usually leads to sub-par work. Besides sub-par work, all-nighters also lead to bad tours, and bad resident director interviews (activities planned for Monday). That would be much too high of a price to pay for slacking off today. So far, I have been struggling though. I have read all about the Cleveland Cavaliers, learned how to get the perfect six pack, and now I am writing this post. The page count for my literature review is still on zero. Fortunately, the topic of my junior IS is not boring to me. I am writing about the use of PowerPoint in education. I found very interesting literature and I am excited to put it together in a nice piece of writing. However, when something NEEDS to be done, suddenly all other things seem more important. Procrastination is common and tough to fight. Fortunately, it is usually not too harmful. It just leads to frustration and short nights. When I write my next post, my draft of this literature review will be turned in. Hopefully, I will make it through this day without too much time wasting. I will face some challenges though. There is Olympic speed skating with some Dutch competitors this afternoon. There is also an Africa dinner which will probably last for a while. I think I will have to accept that I will be working on my Junior IS on a Saturday night.

Bastiaan

Breakdowns

February 17th, 2010

Remember how I announced in my last post all the things that would happen on Saturday night? Let me tell you how some of those things went.

Our all hall community building program almost failed completely. We wanted to have fire outside so we could make hot dogs and s’mores in the snow while we played games in the snow. We couldn’t get the fire pit outside, so we had to move the event inside. We tried to get a fire going in the fire place, but the wood that we had obtained turned out to not be completely dry. It was very hard to get a fire going, so people that came to the lounge mostly encountered a large cloud of smoke. The fire was not hot enough for s’mores and definitely not hot enough for hot dogs. Fortunately, some people still came down to the lounge. As an alternative to the snow, we had brought in some board games people could play. After 90 minutes, we finally had a fire going, but it was too late, since most people had left already. The event did not go anything like we had planned it to go, but as I said, it was not a complete failure.

I was very excited for the Wooster vs. Wittenberg basketball game on Saturday. I had gotten my ticket, arranged something so that I could be outside of my area for a while (I was on call), and I went to the game  early. When the game was about to start, all students rose to welcome the team. From that point on until ten minutes later, I was in a fight with girls behind me who claimed that they could not see over me. Their conclusion was that I am too tall. After some arguing, I decided to move. However, five minutes later, a girl behind me on my new spot decided that I was also too tall for her viewing pleasure too. This time, I was tired of it. I told her to put up with it. When the game got going, I was not in the best mood. I still had a light headache from all the smoke from the failed fire, and now the interactions with these girls had made it worse. My negative feelings would have been cured immediately was it not for the fact that Wooster was playing a horrible game. We were down by 22 points at one point in the game, and we committed 17 turnovers. It was embarrassing. Especially since we are the conference champions already and we had a 13 game winning streak. We lost the game of the year by 11 points and 3,000 fans went home after being disappointed.

I stopped by at Jessy Matador’s performance at Africa night for about 3 minutes (hope my supervisor does not read this, because I am supposed to be in my area the whole time). I just wanted to see Jesse Matador for at least one moment. It looked like an amazing event, but unfortunately I had to go back to my area.

This is the transition from past events to news.

  • I scored really well on my last two exams: 51/50 for quantitative methods and 97/100 for math modeling! These scores make me very happy, because I don’t score like that every day.
  • Wale and K’naan are coming to Wooster for Spring Fest. Wale is an upcoming rap star who has a song together with Lady Gaga and K’naan is the artist of the FIFA World Cup 2010 theme song. These artists together are way too big for a small college like Wooster, but we just got very lucky!
  • I am applying for an admissions intern position. If I get it, I will be interviewing prospective students next year.
  • My junior independent studying will really take off today. I have printed 80 pages of scholarly sources about PowerPoint presentations. By Monday I will need to have a draft of the literature review.
  • On Monday morning, I will give my first college tour in history.

Bastiaan

Snow Day

February 13th, 2010

Today, we are supposed to have our Kenarden residence hall snow day. The plan was to have a fire outside with hot dogs, s’mores, and grilled cheese. Unfortunately, the fire outside will not happen. The alternative will be a fire inside. If people will be willing to play outside if the fire and the food is inside remains to be seen. However, I hope it will be a fun and successful day for many.

Today it is the day of Africa night. Africa night is part of Africa week. This week is full of activities related to this great continent and is organized by the African students group on campus, UJAMMA. The night will start with a glow in the dark party. This party will last until 10:00 p.m. because by then the main act of the night will start performing. UJAMMA invited Jessy Matador to perform in Wooster. Jessy is an artist from Congo who currently resides in France. He comes all the way to Wooster to perform for us. He is supposed to be amazing, so that is what I expect. After his performance, there will be an African dance party.

Today is the day of the Wooster vs. Wittenberg basketball game. This is arguably the biggest sports event on campus. Usually, our Physical Eduation Center with a capacity of 3,000 people is packed. All the fans wear black shirts. The atmosphere is electric. I can’t wait to go. Wittenberg and Wooster are great rivals, so there is much at play.

Today is the Saturday of the NBA all-star weekend. There will be a 3-point shoot out, games of H.O.R.S.E, and the slam dunk contest. I would like to see all this, but there is plenty of other stuff to do.

Today is also one of the two Saturday nights this semester that I will be the resident assistant on call. That means that I will have to do rounds and that I have to stay in my area. Not ideal timing for such an exciting night, but I didn’t see it coming. I’ll talk to my supervisor to see if I can attend some of the events.

Bastiaan

Is life serious?

February 10th, 2010

One of my favorite quotes is: “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”  It is a quote by Elbert Hubbard, an American author who seemed to have been a wise man.

I often preach Hubbard’s wisdom to others, but sometimes I forget it myself. I think about all the responsibilities I have, how busy I am, and I forget to take things lightly.  I think that this quote encourages people to think about what is important in their lives, even though the quote tells you to not take life too seriously. Many people are concerned about getting good grades, building the perfect resume, building and protecting a reputation, etc. Sometimes, I am one of those people. However, those concerns, when taken too far, are what I consider taking life too seriously. At the end of the day, your grades, resume, or reputation will not make you the person you are.  On your funeral, you don’t want people to say that you had such a great GPA. Well, I think this post is getting too philosophical. In case you wonder how I started thinking about this today, I found the website litemind.com. If you are interested in personal development and putting your mind to best use, check it out.

Some news:

  • I didn’t quite make it on to the Model UN traveling team. I am the second alternate this semester. The competition was tough though. Only 11 spots were available and we had some very strong participants. If two people decide that they can’t make it to the conference, I’ll be on the team.
  • More snow. It is very white outside. For Saturday, the RAs of my residence hall have organized a snow day with fun snow activities.
  • Good grade for my first math exam! 🙂
  • I will apply for admissions intern. The job involves interviewing prospective students and answering phone calls.
  • Intramural basketball is fun! Yesterday, we lost by 8 points. Tonight, we’ll have another chance. I am getting better with each minute that I play.
  • I had a Quantitative Methods exam yesterday which went well.
  • ISA had it’s February edition of the monthly dinners. We talked about winter celebrations around the world.

Bastiaan

Snow everywhere

February 6th, 2010

I love days like these. The beauty is just unbelievable. Winter at its best. It has snowed all night and this morning there was a foot of snow on the ground. Now, there is no cloud to be seen and the sun is making the world look brighter than eyes without sunglasses can withstand.

Life is a roller coaster. It is such a cliché, but as with most clichés, it is true. Yesterday was an exhausting day. I woke up at 8:00 a.m. after 6.5 hours of sleep so that I could do the last bit of studying for my 300-level math exam. My first exam of this kind. I think it went alright, but after I finished I still had a long day to go until my weekend started. I was planning on going to the gym, but I had to take that item off of my to do list. From 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. I was working on a math lab. Everyone was getting ready for the night, but I was working on this lab. When I finally turned it in, I thought I could start enjoying the weekend. However, I discovered that I had lost my backpack. Not just a bag with some books. No. The backpack contained my passport, my social security card, my driver’s license, my student visa, and my debit card. Every important document I possess was in that bag. Of course, the first thing I did was play a mental film of my day. Where was the last time I saw this bag? The film I played was pretty detailed, so I visited every location on campus twice that I visited earlier that day. I even called security to open up the library for me. I ran back and forth across campus in a heavy blizzard, desperate to find my bag. Eventually, at 1:30 a.m. I received a phone call. One of my friends had the bag. It turned out that I had left it in the dining hall after I had finished my lab. Someone had found it and thought it belonged to someone other than me. Therefore, the bag had not been returned to lost and found. It was not a fun Friday night, but there was one advantage. After I had finally found the bag, I went straight to bed. No parties for me. I could rest after an exhausting week to get ready for the upcoming busy days.

Today is beautiful, but yesterday was rough. Idon’t know what tomorrow will bring, but whatever happens, I can only try to enjoy the ride.

Bastiaan

Easy week

February 3rd, 2010

Last week was an easy week. I don’t even know how I dared to call it busy. A reader could probably tell from the length of the post that it could not have been that busy. Otherwise, I would have written a shorter post.

This week, I have five hours of interviews. I am interviewing people for resident assistant and for a director position in the Wooster Activities Crew. I love doing interviews, but it takes a lot of time. In addition, I will have my first 300-level math exam of my life on Friday. The proofs are harder than I have ever written before. I have to get ready for that exam. I will only have 50 minutes to prove how well I can do proofs .

A little bit of a flash back to what happened since my last post:

1. I went to the RA conference at Oberlin college. I had to get up at 6:45 on a Saturday morning. Obviously, I was very tired the entire day. But, still I enjoyed the day greatly. We learned about some new ways of advertising for ResLife events. We also heard about a great community builder activity that we will implement later in the semester. We are going to turn the entire building of Kenarden into a put-put golf course. That will be fun.  I also really liked seeing a different college. The campus was much larger than ours, but it did not make me jealous at all. It confirmed that I am happy were I am. The level of personal attention that students at the College of Wooster get is only achievable because the school is small.

2. Monday, I taught a class on computational errors. I taught it together with two other students in the class. Although the topic was extremely boring, I think I managed to make it a little livelier than the book. I joked around and I drew scissors on the blackboard. I had fun doing it and hopefully that led to an attentive class.

Right now, I have to run for interviews. I will be listening to people for an hour and a half. The main concern I have is that I want to finish my application for resident director. That is really a position that I want, but many people are applying. If I really want to get it, I have to make sure I stand out. Monday, I led a staff meeting as part of the RD application process. It was fun to do, but not very hard since the staff I work with is great and engaging.

Gotta run now.

Bastiaan