April 20, 2009 - 7:00 PM
I think next year I am going to have to join the International Student Association because it is just too cool. Earlier this year, I went with some friends to ISA's annual formal dance and had a good time. Last night, I went to ISA's annual International Night and it was incredible.
My friend, Caitlin, and I are both study abroad returnees who are now addicted to travel, want to see the entire world, and get restless from time to time with the everyday routine post studying abroad. Caitlin went to Australia and I to Greece. We decided to go to International Night in order to pretend for a moment in time that we were once again immersed in another country, far, far away, enjoying the excitement only available through international travel. Our plan worked better than expected.
The night started with food, our favorite. We followed a line of hungry attendees through tables of different kinds of food from around the world. My plate was soon piled high with foods I was dying to try from Japan, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Korea, China, and Hawaii. I devoured Thai curry, coconut rice, and Korean fried sweet potatoes. If not for anything else, I decided that it is imperative for me to continue my travels just so that I can eat my way through the world. Each food I sampled made me want to adventure through that land. I was in love and rightly so. As the International Night's menu cover stated through a quote from George Bernard Shaw, "There is no sincerer love than the love of food."
We leisurely finished our meal and then headed to the EMU Ballroom for the cultural performances. The entertainment went around the world with varying performances representing many different cultures. There was a bagpipe performance that made Caitlin and I want to go to Scotland. It was followed by an Irish folk band that increased my longing to be on the Emerald Isle. Samoan dancers slapped their bare chests as they danced aggressively. Traditional Japanese sword fighting was played out right there on the stage. Bollywood dance spread cheer throughout the audience as its brightly colored, intricate costumes put me in a trance toward India. Caitlin and I found ourselves endlessly inspired. The performances ended with a dance routine from the one and only UO Jam Squad. I thought it was a clever way of ISA to link our own region and culture into the global picture, even if it wasn't quite as romantic as watching traditional instruments from Southeast Asia fill the air.
After watching these amazing cultures grace the stage of the EMU Ballroom, it's final. I have to travel more. I'm thinking that I need a solid ten years of travel and unplanned wandering before I can settle down into a career. Although, I'm not too sure my parents would be entirely pleased with that. I mean, sure they would support the incredible experiences, but perhaps I should be paying off those student loans while I'm at it.
It was amazing being able to escape and travel the world for one night all within the confines of the UO campus. I've been talking with a friend I have that is a member of ISA and they've pretty much convinced me to join next year. I've been looking for something to get involved with on campus that I could really get into and be passionate about and I think I just might have found it.
April 18, 2009 - 7:00 PM
"I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I'd just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me."
-Under the Tuscan Sun
There is just something about a good hike. I happen to come from the land of good hikes, gorgeous Northern California, surrounded by ancient redwoods and stunning coastline. Back home, I know every perfect place to go. I know the long hikes. I know the hikes to the places no one knows about. I know the best hikes to bring a dog on. I know the hikes that leave you at the end with a sense of extreme peace, as if this one hike had brought you closer to finding the ultimate truth. I love a good hike.
The last couple of years in Eugene for me have been difficult on this nature front. I'm so used to being able to hop in my car at those precise moments of reflection and in a matter of no more than five minutes be gazing out into a melodic ocean where everything becomes right again. I'm used to knowing where to go to escape the buildings and the lights. I don't know these places in Eugene yet. However, I'm learning.
Today I went with two friends and hiked Spencer Butte for the first time. It was glorious, to say the least. I was amazed that by simply driving up Willamette Street for a while, I could all of a sudden be out of the stop lights and soulless concrete buildings and instead in an area of beauty and life at its purest.
I was so excited as we got out of my car that I pranced around like a little fawn, hurrying to find the trail. The sun was shinning and the air was fresh. Even better, I had the company of two extraordinary women. As we talked our way up the butte, I soaked up everything I could. We could see a lake in the distance through tall, evergreen trees. Birds chirped and I smiled widely.
As we made it to the top, we could see the Three Sisters of the Cascade Range in the distance because the sky was so clear. The last part of the hike was the steepest and most satisfying part of our adventure. We reached the rocky top of the butte and were surrounded by 360 degrees of beauty. Eugene was so different, seeing it from up high. It made it look so small. Three women looked down at their Eugene home, community.
We sat down next to some purple flowers that called our names and were soon friends with many ladybugs. All we had to do was stop for a moment and breath, in order to enjoy the true essence of life. It came to us through sunshine, views, flowers, and the ladybugs. The ladybugs that only crawl onto your finger when you stop trying and just sit and be.
Maybe Eugene, Oregon isn't like my hometown in the way of hikes, but it does hold its own treasures and I feel so lucky to have a place like Spencer Butte just up the street from where I live. It's a very lovely hike and everyone should do it sometime. I can't believe it took me until my junior year to go.
April 10, 2009 - 11:00 AM
Last night, I was hanging out with some of my friends and they brought to my attention a recent event that happened in Eugene that I had not heard about. It was a very sad story to hear and I didn't realize at first how much the story had affected me. Earlier this week, a 24-year-old man shot and killed himself in the middle of a movie at our local Eugene theatre. It is such an intense scene to imagine and once my friends had told me about it, my mind began to dwell on it. I was still thinking about it as I fell asleep last night and continued to contemplate it in a different light as the afternoon sun rose.
One thing I have noticed about myself is that I am an incredibly empathic person. Sometimes I feel like it's a good thing and other times it can feel overwhelming. I feel very intuitive and can physically feel others emotions at times. I found myself thinking a lot about the great sadness that this man must have been feeling and the loneliness that must have hurt him so much as to take his own life in a public place so that someone would find him. It is such a dark place to be in to no longer be able to hold onto the hope that will eventually drift you back toward the light.
This is my first year of being in my twenties and I can already attest to the fact that the twenties are a hard stage to go through. There is so much change going on and so many pressures to find out where you belong and what you're meant to do. Plus, in a world where the internet and cell phones have taken over the personal interaction, it is easier to find oneself alone, longing for friendship, but unsure on how to find it. This man was 24 years old. I know nothing about him, but I can feel his sorrow. It shocks me to think of someone my own age giving up.
I shed a tear today for this man and I hope that he finds a greater peace in the place where his soul rests now. It was his story that has reminded me to smile. It was his story that reminded me of the importance of acting as a community and coming together to help one another through the rough patches. It is more important than any of us could know to just smile and spread cheer to the other people we meet on our journey throughout the day. There are too many people just trying to get by, battling emotions that can sometimes feel bigger than them. I believe that a smile, a hug, a compliment, a helpful hand, can stop the quicksand of sadness.
I don't write this blog post to get my readers down or to make them sad, but instead to remind them how important it is to love one another. I encourage anyone reading this today to smile at people they pass on the street. Say thank you to those who provide you services throughout the day. Give a hug to a friend or a family member. Do anything that can spread even the smallest amount of joy. And if you see someone who looks like they might need help, make sure to stop and help them. Great sadness can affect any one of us at any time. You never know who might just need a bright smile to help them see a glimmer of hope. Be kind. Be joyous. Be happy. Be helpful. This too shall pass. May he rest in peace.
April 7, 2009 - 3:00 PM
Each term, the UO Recreation Center puts together a schedule of fitness classes offered at various times. Some of the choices include group cycling, fitness yoga, hip-hop, and basic step aerobics. You can buy a punch card for one, five, ten, twenty, or an unlimited amount of classes. Then, you just stop in whenever you want to one of the classes and get your fitness on! This is the first term that I have done this. I find it better than taking a PE class because it is cheaper, I don't have to worry about not showing up enough times to pass, I don't have to write some sort of paper to go along with it, and it offers a large variety of activities at more convenient times. When I looked at the Spring Term 2009 schedule of fitness classes, I knew exactly which one I wanted to go to the most - kickboxing.
I had taken kickboxing Fall Term 2007 and remembered loving it, but I wouldn't remember exactly how much I loved it until I walked into my first kickboxing class with my punch card this term. On Monday, I worked my butt off with a high-energy, amazing instructor named Heather. I was dripping sweat, feeling the burn in all of my muscles, and basking in the glory of endorphins.
I have taken other aerobics classes before, but there is nothing quite like kickboxing. Sure, they all give you a work out, but none of them make me feel quite as good. I just love the intensity of it and the aggression. For that fifty minutes that I am doing kickboxing, I do not have to think about anything else, in fact, I can't even if I try. I am focused and I love it. I can work out my feelings as my feet do a roundhouse kick and my arms strengthen into a side, hook, cross, uppercut punching combo.
There is just something about kickboxing that I love and I have to admit that my first kickboxing class was one of the happiest blocks of fifty minutes that I have had in the past week. I look forward to going on Wednesday as well and keeping it up throughout the term! It feels good to just move your body sometimes.
Monday reinvigorated my passion for kickboxing and I have officially decided that it is my calling in life. I might just give up everything and become a professional kickboxing queen. I mean, why not? You only live once, so why not follow your passion? I could totally see myself battling off evildoers with my incredible kickboxing skills in some action movie. Or maybe even see myself just high above on a mountaintop, practicing my kicks and breathing in the energy of the earth. Kickboxing is my calling, but I'll stick it out at the UO and get my degree first, I suppose...just in case the kickboxing job market turns out to not be so good.
April 4, 2009 - 7:00 PM
I've written before about how I love week one and I must say that, once again, I love week one. I am always so on top of it during the first week of the term. This term is particularly exciting for me, as I have decided to do the unthinkable. I am currently succeeding at the one thing I always struggle to actually do as a student. I am actually doing all of my reading for my classes!
I'm not going to sugar coat it. Like many undergraduate college students, perhaps even the majority if I am going to be completely honest, I have not kept up with my reading for my classes during the past terms. I usually try and skim it or read at least the super important stuff, but for the most part I just kind of forget about it and just wing it by listening more intently to the lectures. I just have this problem of falling asleep while reading textbooks. I also have the problem of not wanting to print off readings from Blackboard, which I would need to do in order to read them because I have this problem of not being able to do the reading off of my computer screen. To sum it up, I usually spend too much money on textbooks for my classes and then feel like at the end of the term when I'm selling them back for 10% of the price I bought them for, that is just wasn't really worth it since, of course, I didn't read them.
However, this term is different! I decided at the beginning of this term that I was going to actually do all of my reading. I was going to stay on top of it by doing a little each night. Even during times that I thought the reading was pointless and not going to help me very much at all, I was still going to charge onward and do it!
It is the end of week one and I have stayed true to this holy oath so far. And, I must say, that...it's amazing! It actually helps! When I go to my classes now, I have been so much more engaged and have participated in class discussions a ton more. The material I am learning in my classes seems a lot fuller now and I am getting so much more out of it. I think I might actually leave my classes this term feeling like I took away some truly amazing knowledge. It also comes in handy to have done the reading when you have to write a paper on it. Instead of stressfully rummaging through pages trying to find something you can quote, you actually know where passages are that you can use for any given topic.
It is incredible. I think I am finally starting to understand, during my junior year, why teachers assign the readings in the first place. It is only right for it to have happened this way. It is part of the learning process. I am no longer a naïve freshman, but a seasoned scholar. I can see why graduate school would be so cool now - because by then you have to be super passionate about school and learning and by then you know the skills you need to get the most out of it. Do the reading!! ...We'll see how long I can keep this up!