Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Junior Year Is Here


It's been quite awhile since my last post, so here is an update on my summer and the beginning of the school year.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was a camp counselor this summer at Four Winds Westward Ho. I spent 2 1/2 months in the San Juan Islands working with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This summer was both the best and hardest summers I have experienced. I was challenged every day, and I am so grateful for the lessons I learned this summer. I definitely had conversations that I never thought possible (children really don't like wearing pants and don't appreciate being told to put pants on), but I was also able to see the impact our work was making on the kids at Camp. I have so many stories about my summer I could fill a whole new blog, so I'll keep that to myself for now. I had the most incredible experience, and I absolutely cannot wait to experience another summer at Four Winds.

The view from Turtleback Mountain. I adore the San Juan Islands

I came home from Camp and promptly had my wisdom teeth removed. The surgery was much better than I expected, and now a week later I'm feeling fine. Although the experience wasn't terrible, I definitely wish I had a different end to the summer. I was only home for 6 days, and was unable to experience a lot of things because I was asleep on the couch. 

I arrived at PLU before move in because I am a member of the Residence Hall Council (RHC). We decorated the residence hall and prepared for new students, and move in took place on the 1st of September. After an eventful weekend full of activities (Sound Off, Wing Meetings, and various ice breakers) we find ourselves on the first day of classes. 

Junior year is coming whether or not I am ready. I am taking PE 100 (okay, so this won't be intense), Global Perspectives, Shakespeare, International Affairs, and Global Political Thought. After not being involved in anything remotely academic for the summer I am a little nervous about being back at school, but I am really excited to get started exploring new information. 

The most exciting news I have is: I got an internship at the State Department! I am a virtual intern for a committee that works on empowering women working in International Affairs at the State Department. I will be focused mostly research and editing newsletters, but I am absolutely thrilled to begin working in a field that I am interested in. 

This school year is going to be absolutely crazy, and I am so excited to jump right into learning. 4 months until Oxford!


Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm A Summer Camp Counselor!


I'm writing from Four Winds Westward Ho, the summer camp where I will be living and working until the end of August. I am so incredibly excited to be in this beautiful place again. I worked here last year as the Office Assistant and I am really looking forward to experiencing a different aspect of Camp this year. 

That all being said, I had a super difficult time getting to Camp. My flight was delayed by an hour, so I missed the original bus I was supposed to take to Anacortes. Luckily, I was able to catch a later bus and there were high winds which resulted in the ferry being behind schedule. I made it onto the ferry just as they announced last call for boarding. All of this was made much more stressful by the fact that I hadn't slept at all the night before. Instead, I watched The West Wing (which seemed like a great idea at the time). Looking back on it now, with a full night of sleep, I am feeling much better about the whole experience. After all, now I'm at Camp.

I'm living in a cabin for the first time ever at Camp, and I have to admit it is pretty nice. Although, it really is a different experience than living in a tent. There are only 5 returning female staff members (not counting Heads of Activity Areas) so I am the mentor in my mentor cabin, even though I have never been a counselor before. 

Last night was a fairly relaxed night, we didn't have any required activities but most people gathered in the lodge to hang out after dinner. We also got staff sweaters, arguably one of the most exciting events of Camp for staff. There is always a lot of conjecture on what style of sweater we will be receiving. 

This morning I began the day by taking the swim test at 7:45 am. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I did create quite a bit of drama. Turns out, I had a bloody nose and didn't realize it. It was quite an exciting turn of events. I'm recovered now, but it was a pretty fun few minutes. After a freezing cold shower I was ready for the day. 

So far we have been playing ice breakers and organizing activity areas, basically just getting ready for the campers to arrive. I'm excited to see how the rest of the summer goes!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Halfway Done with Undergrad (How Is That Possible?)


It's been quite awhile since my last post, so here are some highlights of my last few weeks at PLU.

As of Thursday May 25th at 1:00 pm I am officially halfway done with my undergrad! (I'm being that specific because I turned in an essay and it was time stamped) It's hard to believe that my time at PLU is halfway over, it honestly feels like just yesterday that I stepped on campus for the first time. This year was marked with some amazing opportunities and full of growth, both academic and personal. So, in the spirit of a life update here is a recap of my sophomore year at PLU. 

This year I lived in the same residence hall that I lived in my first year. I had a new roommate, and we moved up one floor (definitely a part of the big leagues). Part of my mission this year was to become more engaged with on campus opportunities and events. So, I applied to work as the Peer Mentor for the first year students taking writing classes in my residence hall. It was a really great experience helping first years learn about PLU, and I was able to create some really great programs and events for the residence hall. 

This is the group of all the Alaskan students who attended PLU this year

Here is the view from the back stairs of my residence hall

I balanced this job with a 17 credit course load, a mix of English courses and Global Studies courses. That's right, I added a new major in the fall! At the time, I thought the fall semester was the hardest academic experience this year (guess what? I was wrong!) Fall semester was absolutely incredible, and the whole time I was preparing to study abroad. 

As you all know I spent January in the absolutely amazing Manchester! That experience was the definition of life changing. I learned so much over the course of that month, and I feel like I really grew as a person. I lived with a new roommate (who quickly became one of my closest friends) and learned to navigate a completely foreign city. My time in Manchester really helped solidify a lot of changes I was trying to make in my life, and I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to go on this study away course!

This is Albert Square in Manchester

After an eventful, but amazing, January I returned to PLU ready to get back to a normal school schedule. However, I didn't think of how difficult reentry into campus life would be after studying away. I wasn't expecting to deeply miss a city that I had only been in for a single month, but the beginning of Spring Semester was really difficult for me. 

Another classic Emma and Madeline selfie (she dropped me off at the airport and we needed to capture the moment)

I got back into the swing of things after a few weeks and was quickly inundated with huge amounts of homework. I was once again taking 17 credits, and working a different job. It would be fair to say that I was overworked and overstressed. Luckily, my job only lasted 6 weeks and after Spring Break I was able to focus completely on school work. My classes the spring were incredibly interesting, and I think that I'm really starting to hone in on what I want to study as I get further into both of my programs. I also added an additional minor. I am now an English Literature and Global Studies double major with Women's and Gender Studies and French minors. (You did in fact read that right, I am working towards accomplishing a double major and double minor)

Right now, I think that I want to focus on refugee status, and the process that is associated with individuals gaining refugee status in the United States. It is a complicated process that I want to explore in much greater detail than I was able to this semester. On the English front: my newest area of study is Jane Austen. In particular, how Jane Austen's work interacts with ideas of feminism, even though feminism as a concept didn't exist when she was writing. I'm also interested in exploring how Austen herself is a constructed character (through her writings, personal correspondence, family influence, and opinions of "Janeites"). I'm incredibly excited about this, so if anybody wants to chat about Jane Austen let me know!

This is what my desk looks like when I'm in the middle of writing a 14 page paper (fun right?)

I am now sitting in the Seattle Airport waiting for a flight back to Alaska. I'll be home for about 18 days and then will be heading off to Orcas Island to work at a summer camp. Get ready for some interesting stories about camp culture! And don't forget, Oxford is happening in January!

Thanks for supporting me on my study away journeys this year, I've appreciated the company!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Freedom!!! (For a Week)


It's been quite a while since my last post so I'll catch you up quickly. We are halfway through Spring Semester at PLU and my goodness, how glad I am to say that. By all accounts (I polled my friends) Spring Semester has been difficult. I am taking 17 credits, the max allowed at PLU, and might be dying. I also worked a part time job for the first part of the semester, and started working on the Residence Hall Council in my dorm. Needless to say, I am crazy stressed and am so glad that we are on break. 

I spent the first four days of break in Arizona with my grandparents. I hadn't seen them in two years and was excited to be able to catch up with them! It also wasn't raining there which was an exciting change from Tacoma, where it just hasn't stopped. 

Here we are on my last day in Arizona, eating Sonoran Hotdogs (a local delicacy in Sahuarita). 

Arizona was absolutely amazing! It was sunny all 3 days I was there, and I have never been happier. I even made it a full day before I got sunburned, which has to be some kind of record. It isn't even that bad of sunburn, so I have no regrets about it. 

My grandparents and I had a lovely time together. We hiked, played games, and watched movies. It was the exact kind of relaxation that I needed. My first night there we watched Driving Miss Daisy, I had never seen it before, and I really enjoyed it. Our second day my grandmother and I got pedicures and then the three of us went on a hike. We went to Sabino Canyon, which is part of the Coronado National Forest. The hike we went on involved a tram up to the top of the path, and then we hiked down. It was really beautiful, I really enjoyed walking around (especially because we didn't see any snakes). After experiencing a different kind of Arizona then I had seen before, we had pizza and game night. My grandparents taught me to play Sequence, a strategy game, and the room was absolutely silent as we tried to beat each other. I unfortunately didn't win, but it was loads of fun!

Part of the Sabino Canyon Trail

This is called the Winking Face. If you look closely this rocky outcropping forms a face. It's kind of hard to see though.

My last full day in Arizona my grandmother and I went to the 4th Ave. Street Fair in downtown Tucson. I equate it with the Alaska State Fair, but on steroids (with no rides). We had funnel cake for breakfast and walked around looking at booths. After a lovely morning we drove to Madera Canyon and watched some wild turkeys while eating lunch. The time I spent in Arizona was amazing, but it was not my full Spring Break. 

I flew all day Monday and arrived back in Alaska at 11:30 pm, which means I didn't get home until 1:00 am. It snowed the first couple of days I was home, but the weather is just now starting to get more like spring. My sister was in school all week, and my dad worked, so my mom and spent the week together. We stayed pretty close to home, but did have a fantastic afternoon with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I really miss my extended family when I'm at school and I relish the opportunity to reconnect with them. 

Saturday was my sister's Junior prom, and although she did not go, she and her boyfriend dressed up and took pictures. They decided to take pictures at the bridge, a beautiful location, but incredibly windy. It was a great reminder of why I despise Alaska weather so much. She looked absolutely beautiful, and the scenery was lovely- I just hope at least one picture turned out. 

The fantastic Alaska view from the Knick River Bridge.

My Dad wanted to test out the photo location before my sister got there.

Right now I'm sitting in the Anchorage airport, waiting for my flight to board. My parents drove me into town to drop me off, and my aunt and cousin came to send me off. My cousin is 6 and we are  best friends. That being said, he always knows what to say to make me cry. When I come home he starts every conversation with "Madeline I misseded you when you were gone." (It's like a knife to the heart). This send-off he didn't disappoint asking me "Why do you have to leave?" If that isn't enough to make you want to quit college and stay home, I don't know what is. Luckily I was able to give him a satisfactory answer and he let me go through security, after I was given an extra hug. 

Here we are just before I left for college orientation. The family resemblance is a little freaky, right?

This break was filled with family and relaxation, and while I might not be completely rejuvenated, I am ready to tackle the last part of this semester. 


Friday, February 3, 2017

The End of an Era


We have just reached the end of an absolutely incredible month in Manchester. This last blog post is an homage to the lovely people I just spent a month with and our experiences of the city. Each member of the group has selected their favorite photo from the trip and has included a small blurb about their favorite experience. I hope you enjoy seeing the city of Manchester (and the surrounding areas) through eyes other than my own. 


St. Peter's Church (Liverpool)

I really loved the atmosphere of St. Peter's Church. The day was really overcast and somber, but you could tell that the people buried in the cemetery were well loved. As we were walking around the graveyard our tour guide played "Eleanor Rigby" (which happens to be my favorite Beatles song). It was really amazing to experience the places that I have heard about growing up. 


Cavern Club (Liverpool)

Visiting the Cavern Club in Liverpool has always been at the top of my bucket list. I grew up listening to the Beatles so I've almost felt a spiritual obligation to see where they began. The feeling of history stacked upon childhood nostalgia was indescribable. I stayed in Liverpool an extra day to further soak it all in and ended up seeing a Beatles tribute band perform at the Cavern. Long story short, tears were shed. 


Quarry Bank Mill (Manchester)

Quarry Bank Mill was a beautiful place. This is one of my favorite shots from that day. I don't really have a story behind it, but I would point out the stark contrast in scenery between this and what a city factory would be. 


Cavern Club (Liverpool)


Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)

To me, this picture represents this J Term the best. I have always wanted to go to Ireland and see the cliffs, PLU has allowed me to do that, and with people who I will share these experiences with forever. This month has provided me with so many opportunities to see the world through the scope of the classroom, but also as a tourist. I feel that this month has helped me grow so much as a student and as a traveler. 


Eleanor Rigby Statue (Liverpool)

I did not choose this picture for its quality or my love for "Eleanor Rigby" , but because of its sadly poetic nature. Here we see a homeless person (I cropped out their face for privacy) sleeping next to a statue dedicated to "all the lonely people." When faced with a subject such as living conditions during the Industrial Revolution, it is understandably easy to think "well that was then." But it is also now. True, we have come a long way, but we are far from perfect. This picture is a reminder that while society has progressed and developed great things like rock bands, it is essential that we look out for all members of our society as we continue to progress. 


Temple of Apollo (Greece)

Katie and I were so jealous of the Greece trip that we decided to stay an extra week and visit the tempe of Apollo in Delphi, Greece.



Erin and I booked one night in Amsterdam and we bought spur of the moment tickets to Drake. Needless to say it was one of the best nights of our lives, and Amsterdam ended up being our favorite place out of everywhere we traveled this month. 


Edinburgh, Scotland

I chose this picture because it represents how much I broke out of my comfort zone. I like everything to be scheduled and hardly like surprises. However, this trip to Edinburgh, Scotland was also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I will keep the 24 hours of memories that it gave me for a lifetime. 


Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank, 10/10, would recommend. 


Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany

Crazy adventures, stressful times, 100% worth it. 


The Louvre (Paris)

I chose a picture of the Louvre because I was able to see some of the original paintings and sculptures that I have studied in classrooms. I was nearly in tears of joy standing in front of my favorite paintings "St. George and the dragon" by Raphael, its one thing to see a picture of it but to actually see the original and see the 3D depths of the brush strokes was absolutely astonishing. I felt unbelievably blessed to be able to see the magnificent pieces of art that not everyone has the privilege to see!



I love this picture because (not only was it my birthday) but I love how close our group became and how cognizant we all were of each other. I also like this picture because the selfie game was very strong while studying in Manchester and now I am able to look back and not just experience what I did myself but see all these people who I got to experience Europe with. 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Last Two Days


We have now entered into the last two days in Manchester. I am heartbroken, but will soldier on. 

Sunday was spent in appreciation of the beauty that is this city. The weather was fantastic: clear and sunny, so it was the perfect opportunity to take pictures. 

As a result of it being our last weekend day, Emma and I decided to sleep in a little. We had a lazy morning and then decided to go to Fig & Sparrow for our final coffee shop experience. Kait is also in Manchester this weekend, so she came with us. Our goal of the morning was to fine tune our presentations and get some travel journaling done. 

My final cup of tea from Fig & Sparrow

Monday marks our last full day in Manchester. We had class in the morning, everyone presented on their research topics. All of the presentations were so interesting, and really reflected the range of the topics we have studied this month. There was everything from computer science, to the suffrage movement, to art history. It was so interesting seeing all of the things that interest the class. 

This week marks Chinese New Year, and the whole city is decorated with paper lanterns. We were walking past the town hall today, and the whole square was filled with them. I loved seeing them all, the bright red was such a contrast to the building itself. 

City Hall 

Tonight we are having our final dinner (the students are treating the professors). It is giving us the opportunity to thank them for all of their work this month, and a time to celebrate each other.

On our way back from dinner, we saw the end of a protest against the #muslimban. It was really moving to see people so separate from the US take such a strong stand for what they believe in. It really affirmed my beliefs about common human decency.

We are leaving for the airport in 45 minutes, so I will now sign off the in Manchester section of the blog. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip! It has been absolutely life changing, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Slums and War (A Look into the Darker Part of Manchester's Past)


This weekend most of the group is in Dublin (there are actually only three of us still in Manchester right now). Each weekend the professors offer an optional excursion, the past two weeks I wasn't able to attend so I really wanted to go on this last one. This week's excursion was a small walking tour of Angel Meadow, which was the largest slum in Industrial Manchester; and it wasn't until after World War II that urban renewal truly came to the area. 

It was a really heartbreaking tour. While most of the evidence that Angel Meadow was a slum has been removed, after all of the reading for this class it really isn't that hard to imagine the conditions faced by those that live there. One of the most poignant parts of the tour was our stop at the Angel Meadow cemetery. It is now a park, but before the urban renewal it was a burial ground. Bodies were not given individual grave sites, they were shoved into mass graves and then the grave sites were paved over. There are stories of children using skulls as soccer balls because there was nothing else for them to play with in the community. It is stories like this that really bring home how terrible the conditions were in Manchester.

In connection to our class reading, we were able to see the street that a character lived on in Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is just another example of the great literary history available in Manchester, everyday I am faced with something that challenges or heightens my understanding of our coursework. There is no better way to learn. 

On a much lighter note, we went to an Italian restaurant near the hotel for dinner and it was fabulous! There was live music while we were eating (with lots of Frank Sinatra, my favorite). After dinner we came back to the hotel and started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. I highly recommend it (much better than the movie version). 

On Saturday Emma and I decided to go back to Salford because we wanted to return to the Imperial War Museum. I'm really glad that we went back because there was so much more to the museum than we saw the first time. There are two exhibitions at the museum, and both are absolutely fantastic! The first traces the history of war from World War I to the present day. It is absolutely fascinating to see how the experience of war has shaped the UK. The museum also plays a short film about the experience of children in war that is absolutely heartbreaking. 

Imperial War Museum

The second exhibit is "Fashion on the Ration." It details how rationing during World War II changed the fashion industry. The exhibit was filled with examples of how fashion, and clothing production itself, were changed by the coupon ration system that was used during WWII. Being able to see the transition of women into wearing pants more regularly was amazing, especially considering how little we think of it now. 

Quote from the Fashion on the Ration Exhibit

After the museum Emma and I had lunch, and on the way back to the MetroLink station stumbled on a small farmer's market. It was a really great find! They had some absolutely amazing desserts, which I was a huge fan of. 

At 6:45 pm we decided that we should probably eat dinner. After a fruitless search (every place we went to was full), Pizza Express became our only hope. We got takeaway pizza and returned to the hotel to continue watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, it was the perfect end to the day.