Archive for November, 2010

Back in Action for Three More Weeks

November 30th, 2010

Back from break. Over 800 miles of driving, two hostels, two cities, twelve traffic jams. It was a wonderful break!

It started on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. I brought my plants to day care in a friends’ dorm room and I was ready to leave. I drove to Buffalo together with a freshman girl who lives there, so I wasn’t too lonely and I got some good gas money. From Buffalo to Geneva, NY I was alone, but that ride isn’t too long. In Geneva I met Henk, my friend from home who studies there this semester. We prepared the last things for our trip and I booked my tickets for winter break: from Cleveland to Seattle to New York City to Kingston, Jamaica. About eight days at each location. It took me about three hours to book, but it feels great to have those tickets.

Wednesday we started driving. Henk and I both believe that it is not just about the destination, it is about the journey too. We had put some very good music on my ipod, so while singing and driving/dancing (we alternated the two) we were on our way. The drive was beautiful and we had good conversation in between our enjoyment of the music.

Traffic around our first destination, Montreal, was horrible. However, we coached each other through and after missing an exit and exploring all the highways around Montreal, we found Centre Ville.

Montreal was expensive, cold, slippery, fun, and beautiful: beer for 8.25 + tip per glass, windy 23-degree weather, freezing rain on all roads and sidewalks, a very nice club, and some really good looking old buildings.

After two nights in this French-speaking city, we were off to Toronto. Here it took even longer to find the hostel. We drove past the city at first. We noticed that there were no more signs pointing to Toronto. We inferred that we had passed the city without taking an exit. We turned around, but again, no signs towards downtown. We took the first exit and started driving through the outskirts in the direction of the CN Tower. When we found the center of the city, it still took us a long, long time. Our hostel was hidden, but fortunately, it was a hidden gem. The hostel didn’t look like a hostel at all. It felt like we stayed at someone’s house. We had a nice living room with a big tv and a big couch. Of course, we didn’t spend much time here, but it was great to have a hostel like this.

In Toronto, we went on the CN tower, we went partying, we had good food, and we walked around.

Every night of this break, we had good food with some wine as well. It was a great time, but it went oh so fast.

Now I am back to working hard, but this first day back was amazing too.  It started with a very nice tour that I gave on a sunny campus. I just felt good throughout the day, as the Dutch say: “I sat good in my skin.”

Alright, back to work. Three more weeks and it is break time again, I can’t believe this roller coaster ride that is life.


About to Leave for Break

November 22nd, 2010

Wow, time keeps flying. I don’t even know why I still say it, it should be a given by now.

The past week was good though, very good. Some quick highlights:

  • The Golden Dragon Acrobats were on campus. Remember how I wrote about the Ringling Bros. Circus? How I said that i believed it was the best show on Earth? After the Golden Dragons, I have to reevaluate. Their show might have been even better. Over a 1000 people turned out to see the acrobats and the show was breathtaking, literally. Some people had a hard time to keep their heartbeat and breathing patterns under control. Watching these acrobats was stressful. The show was so impressive, that it looked like people were going to get hurt. However, everyone survived and the show was unforgettable.
  • Sunday, I watched my intramural soccer team play the finals of the season and win. Yes, I watched. This season, I did not show up for enough games to deserve a starter position. Moreover, with my skill level in soccer it was safer to leave the outcome of the playoffs in my teammates’ hands (or feet).
  • The weather has continued to be mind-boggling. Today was a record breaking day with 68 F or 20 degree Celsius weather. It is almost December, but the warm days are still not gone. The past weekend was beautiful as well. I took it easy and tried to enjoy the outdoors. It looks like snow is still months away, but I know it’s not.
  • This past weekend, the South Asia Committee organized the South Asia dinner. Amazing food in a nice atmosphere. No one dislikes that.
  • Last Thursday, I took my girlfriend Keri to Wokano. Wokano is a Japanese restaurant in Mansfield, Oh. About 40 minutes away from Wooster, you can get some legitimate Japanese food. As a true Dutchman, I did not pay the entire bill, but I tried to overcome the physical pains that spending give me a little bit. I am getting better, but I still have a long way to go.

I’ll try to report during the coming days on how my road trip is going.  I am first picking up Henk, my friend from home, in Geneva, NY. The next day we are driving to Montreal. We’ll stay there for two days and then we’ll go to Toronto for two nights. After that, break will be over already. However, it will then only be three more weeks until the end of the semester. Winter break will offer another great deal of excitement that I’ll share about later.


100 Highlights of my Wooster Life

November 15th, 2010

“No pressure” was the message from my family at home, “just remember that you are writing a very special post next.” Since February 21st 2009, I have documented my life at The College of Wooster on this blog. I think my dad was right. It is about time I share 100 highlights of my Wooster life with you. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. International Orientation before freshman year with 60+ people from all over the world.
  2. Filling the arch freshman year on I night that I should have worked on a speech.
  3. Going to Niagra Falls during fall break of freshman year.
  4. Living in the old Babcock, before it got renovated.
  5. Meeting my girlfriend Keri.
  6. My History of Life class with professor Wilson.
  7. Taking public speaking with professor Wick.
  8. Finding a wild baby bunny outside of my room.
  9. Cedar Point every year.
  10. Going skiing with people that had never skied before freshman year.
  11. Participating in the annual Nearly Naked Run.
  12. Watching a combined performance of two of the a cappella groups on campus.
  13. Participating in a college theater performance.
  14. Seeing K’naan and Wale in concert on campus.
  15. Going to Jungle Jim’s crazy grocery store.
  16. Finishing my junior IS.
  17. Going to Hawaii with Keri three times.
  18. Joining Reslife and becoming an RA.
  19. The Jamaican festival J’Ouvert, paint throwing and dancing.
  20. Winning the IM soccer championship freshman year.
  21. Having the experience of having a great roommate my sophomore year.
  22. Visiting a Wooster friend in her hometown Vienna.
  23. Taking Peace Studies with professor Kille.
  24. Becoming an ambassador for the Ambassadors Program
  25. Doing a chat roulette session with a group of guys on my hall last year.
  26. Learning how to slam dunk.
  27. Playing on an intramural volleyball team that lost in the finals.
  28. Playing my first game of corn hole.
  29. Watching the NBA playoffs with guys from France, Zimbabwe, Paraguay, and the US.
  30. Performing in the culture show freshman year.
  31. Organizing a successful ski trip.
  32. Going to Chicago for Model UN.
  33. Watching an amazing Wooster-Wittenberg basketball game freshman year.
  34. Getting hired to be a blogger.
  35. Giving a gift card to Broken Rocks Cafe and the movies to my custodian and his wife with the guys on my hall.
  36. Giving a speech about the Netherlands to 100 nurses at a nursing conference.
  37. Getting the RA of the year award.
  38. Being a crossing guard on campus.
  39. Getting hired to be a library reference assistant.
  40. Being the top rebounder on my c-league intramural basketball team.
  41. Taking African Religions with professor Kammer.
  42. Taking Calculus II with professor Pierce.
  43. Going to NYC for model UN.
  44. Bhangra Night freshman year.
  45. Getting inducted into Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Honor Society.
  46. Surviving my first real all-nighter last year.
  47. The ambassadors dinner this year.
  48. Learning how to shave with a straight razor.
  49. Snowball fight freshman year.
  50. Becoming part of campus council.
  51. Helping to organize the International Cooking Festival.
  52. Winning the public speaking competition last year.
  53. Participating in Mr. Wooster.
  54. Seeing a performance by Blackalicious during Spring Fest.
  55. Getting to know the baseball players through Reslife, who I otherwise probably would have never gotten to know.
  56. Becoming a tour guide for admissions.
  57. Taking beginning swimming and learning how to crawl.
  58. Coming back to Wooster after I had left for a semester.
  59. RA camp my first year as an RA.
  60. Giving an ambassadors presentation to third graders with unbelievable energy.
  61. Becoming a resident director.
  62. Watching my first professional baseball game and seeing a triple play.
  63. Going to a Cavs game.
  64. Being part of gospel choir freshman year.
  65. Welcoming the first-year students my first year as an RA.
  66. Watching the leaves changing color every year.
  67. Becoming close friends with people from all over the world.
  68. Watching a severe thunderstorm on the bleachers under an umbrella.
  69. Traveling through Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco with a friend from home.
  70. Having my sisters visit Wooster freshman year.
  71. Having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with an American family.
  72. Watching comedians on Monday nights at the Underground.
  73. Getting told to take my Dutch debit card down to Mexico by a Walmart worker.
  74. Having two prospective students stay overnight.
  75. Taking the lead on changing a policy on campus through campus council.
  76. Taking Principles of Rhetoric with professor Bostdorff.
  77. Going to Washington D.C. for a war protest.
  78. Having one of my best friends from home visit me at Wooster.
  79. My birthday dinner with all my Wooster friends this year.
  80. Taking Astronomy with professor Lindner this year.
  81. Becoming chair of campus council.
  82. Getting to know the restaurants of Wooster.
  83. Taking Multivariate Calculus over the summer while mostly playing soccer and watching basketball.
  84. Taking Ethics, Justice, and Society with professor Kreuzman.
  85. Writing articles for the Wooster Voice.
  86. Being the TA for public speaking.
  87. Giving a seminar on Public Speaking to the Wooster Emerging Scholars.
  88. Learning the US national anthem.
  89. Bulking up 20 pounds.
  90. Doing Novembeard aka no shave November.
  91. Volunteering for a swimming event for mentally handicapped.
  92. Confronting situations as an RA.
  93. Conversations about interesting topics over dinner.
  94. Seeing friends landing great jobs.
  95. Interviewing other students for positions on campus.
  96. Riding around campus on a scooter.
  97. Playing pick up soccer on nice days.
  98. Playing tennis on nice days.
  99. Having my younger sister at Wooster for a year.
  100. Writing my 100th blog entry.

The thing that makes me happiest is that it was not too hard to write this list.


Refocus on Independent Study Writing

November 10th, 2010

Dear readers from across the globe,

Let me give you an update on life here at The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

Saturday was a day full of relaxing. Together with my girlfriend Keri I went grocery shopping. We decided to make salmon in the oven. It was an amazing meal that included asparagus, fresh garlic, lemons, rice, and a traditional Japanese desert called Mochi. Everything turned out really well and I don’t know what I enjoyed more, cooking or eating.

Sunday, I played in the intramural volleyball playoffs. The semi-finals were a little too easy. We won the sets by 15+ point margins and moved on to the finals. However, the other semi-final took over half an hour longer than ours. We had to wait and see who would be our opponent. The opponent turned out to be very strong. We had lost against them during the regular season, so we were prepared for a hard match. But this time, we had all of our star players present. The first set we lost 30-24. We started the second set stronger and were up by 12-10. However, we kept making little mistakes. Eventually the other team beat us 30-26 in the second set and we lost the game. We were all feeling a little down, but on the other hand we were very happy that we had participated in intramural volleyball. In a couple of years, I’ll remember the great spikes we made and how much fun we had as a team. The scores of the games will be of lesser importance.

Yesterday, all the communication majors had to present their Independent Study project in a speech. People expect communication majors to be good speakers, so the requirements for the speech are quite specific. It is challenging to explain what you are doing in a 4-5 minute speech, but it was interesting to hear what my fellow communication majors are working on. Examples are: the portrayal of masculinity in the Harry Potter books, noise induced hearing loss from iPods, Al Gore’s environmental communication, BP’s Oil Spill Communication, and promoting a new start-up record label.

Right now, we are in the middle of an Indian Summer here in Wooster. It has been extremely sunny and the temperatures have been close to the 70s. I was wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a t-shirt today. The air feels very crisp and in the shade it is a little chilly, but when I am in the sun I count these among the most beautiful days of the year.

After my weekend of cooking, volleyball, and after my IS speech, it is now time to write some Independent Study again. I have almost 30 pages of literature review, but I have to make sure I have at least 40 scholarly sources in there. After I am done with Chapter II, I can finally move on to start designing my surveys and writing my third chapter, my methods chapter.


Fastest Week of my Life

November 6th, 2010

They say time moves faster as you get older. That must mean I have gotten a lot older this week. I remember Sunday, when my girlfriend Keri returned from the March to Restore Sanity in Washington D.C. and then suddenly it was Friday again. From my previous post, it was rather clear that this past week was just an average week with not too many notable events. Fortunately, weeks like those are rare. So, maybe it was not such a bad thing that this week flew by.

My grandfather inquired how students experienced the midterm elections over here. I know there was a large election party in our student center. I stopped by for a brief moment and saw that many people were there. However, since the majority of my friend here are international students and since I am not taking any political science classes, the elections were not really on my radar. I do read about the elections online, but I have not had many conversations about them.

The NBA season has started again. Since my arrival in the US, I have become a big fan. Initially, I only followed the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, through following the Cavs, I got to know the other teams in the NBA. Now, I am almost interested in all games. Of course, as a person living in Ohio, I am sinful enough to watch the Miami Heat. However, my interested keeps expanding. I also enjoy watching the Magic, the Suns, the Lakers, the Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards, LA Clippers, and the NY Knicks.
I need to watch myself because I have a tendency to get addicted to following things like the NBA. Other things that I have been addicted to are the Presidential Campaign of 2008, the Euro 2008, and the World Cup of 2010. When this addiction hits me, I need to read every article on the internet on the topic. That is not healthy and takes up way too much time.

This Sunday, I will be playing the playoffs of my intramural volleyball season. We have won enough games to qualify for the semi-finals. Sunday night, I will know if my team has become the IM volleyball champions.


Life is Life

November 3rd, 2010

No trips to roller coaster parks or friends that got hired at Wall Street this time. Since last Saturday, life has been life. There is nothing wrong with that, but it makes it a little harder to write a post that will blow your mind. You know that these posts usually blow your mind, so I’d like to live up to that expectation. Even though nothing mind blowing happened, I will try to give you a mind blowing insight into some of my activities. No pressure on me though.

Every Monday at 7:00 p.m., I meet with some of my fellow Reslifers. Reslife is the organization that makes sure people in our residence halls are safe, learn, and have fun. Our core values that have been drilled in during our training are: Celebrations, Inclusivity, Compassion, Meaningful Interactions, Accountability, and Respect. That sounds pretty amazing and it is. We live all these core values every moment of the day. In order to stay close to their teammates, Resident Assistants meet once a week. One week you meet with all the people in your building and the next week with all the people in your area. As a Resident Director, I oversee the meetings of my building. We usually talk about maintenance issues in the building, how the residents are doing, and how we are doing as RAs. Besides business, we always try to make the meeting fun. RAs support each other when difficult situations arise, so it is important to feel comfortable and safe around your fellow staff members. Meetings are a great way to maintain this connection.

My gym class is good. The official title of the course is Personal Conditioning. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go the gym from 1:00 to 1:50 p.m. Our instructor has given us a book with exercises and helps us with maintaining proper form. The great thing about this class is that I get credit for working out and that I am forced to go to the gym three times a week. No excuses, because not showing up means a lower grade and no one likes low grades. The not so great thing about this class is that last weekend, I could hardly walk. On Friday, we had done some lunges and those target your butt and your upper legs. Apparently, these muscle groups are not my strongest, because I felt like someone for whom every movement hurts. I almost said “like an old man”, but I can imagine that most old men feel much better when they sit down than I did. Fortunately, muscles recover and I am able to walk around happily again.