Bucket List for the Summer

The life of a student revolves around semesters of deadlines, classes, credits and prepping for exams. Almost as fast as it began it ends and spring finally arrives! Temperatures begin to rise with flowers appearing. That’s right, summer is here! There is no better time for students to just take some time off to sit back and ponder: goals vs classes, dreams vs ground-realities and plans vs the deviation from plans.

The summer break is vastly underrated because many consider it to be yet another long undeserved vacation showered upon students. More often than not, people don’t realize that students tend to get dragged into a monotonous chain of events that tends to dry out their sense of creativity, instincts and spark! The summer recess is a pertinent opportunity for them to explore areas that are of their interest which may or may not align with their curricular requirements. These areas of interest can not only be tapped but also nurtured to realize and accomplish long-term personal and career objectives.

In order to make the most of the summer, here are some of the areas that students can work on to understand, learn and enhance their personalities.

1. Travel to unravel: take that much needed vacation that you’ve been wanting to go to since the start of the semester. From beaches and boats to mountains and bike trails, whatever it is that gives you the freedom to experience the sights and sounds of a new destination, go for it! There is no better way of not just learning about new cultures but also about yourself, than to travel. From going solo to joining a tour, the experiences of meeting new people and making new friends has a profound impact on perceiving the environment around you. This can guide you to take informed decisions and insightful evaluations about the courses you want take or even the profession you want to choose going forward.
2. Create or clean up your social media presence: the gamut of social media platforms around us makes it mandatory for one and all to create a sense of a ‘larger than life’ perception of who we are. This is great, but only to a certain extent! Many-a-time, we end up posting, tagging, liking, commenting, sharing and tweeting about issues that may have polarizing opinions. Such factors though seem minor, tend to snowball into major roadblocks in the larger scheme of things. From applying to colleges to applying to jobs, your social media presence is scanned and combed out by admissions officials and HR managers. Your personality is evaluated on the basis of your virtual footprints. So, use the summer as a golden opportunity to either create your LinkedIn profile and increase your professional network or clean up by clearing out those random posts on social media. Remember, if there is even a second guess or thought about it. Take it down!
3. Strum that guitar: nothing soothes the mind and body like music. There’s a little bit of a musician in all of us. So why not give yourself the opportunity to explore your musical side. By nurturing a hobby like music, students expand their skill set beyond the usual suspects of being proficient at software tools or sports. Music adds a multi-dimensional facet to the student’s personality. Also, music has a universal appeal, so you could be foreign to a place but your music won’t!
4. Work on back-end tasks: this is a rather vast and vague area of things. It’s basically clearing out everything that you’ve had on your to-do list for the longest of time. Items on this list were sent here because of your procrastination and your sheer commitment to other more important tasks. But, this your time to clean up everything that you’ve been sweeping off under the carpet. From cleaning your room to researching about that college you’ve been aspiring to go to. It could even be taking that gym class you’ve been postponing or helping your folks by contributing to home-related work. Your future self will thank you!
5. Get a job: intern, volunteer or even join the family business. There is no better way to spend the summer than by taking up a job. It may be a small part-time job or even a credit based 40 hours a week co-op at a big multi-national. The learning and experience that students gather in the industry environment is unequaled. This contributes significantly when you’re building your resume. When you have work experience to go along with your high school degree, you stand a greater chance of getting into that college or organization of your choice. This gives students an exposure of the industry environment and gives them an opportunity to connect classroom knowledge with real work experiences.

There’s so much that students can do in such a short yet significant span of time. Summer brings with it a break from the routine and gives students the independence to work on those things that will give them satisfaction, both academically and personally. So which of these are you planning on doing this summer? It’s not too late to start now!

A New Home – Never Lose Hope

“If I can do it what is stopping you”?

I felt an unexpected cold strike my entire body when it was time to depart from my beloved country of the Dominican Republic, an island so tiny, but immense in my heart and memories. Maybe it was my defensive mentality as a 14 year-old that made me believe the lie that I was going on a nice vacation looking forward to coming back home someday soon.

However, destiny made me realize that the meaning of home would change in a matter of seconds when that airplane reached its destination that many called “the land of freedom”. When we landed my mind was full of pessimist ideas that would not let me see the positive view of coming to this country. For starters, it made me feel like a traitor leaving my family behind after all these years that they have been taking care of me. Further, that everything that was said sounded simply too good to be true. Arriving into the promise land where all your dreams could become a reality without knowing the truth of how much suffering goes into accomplishing them. Furthermore, I still have tremendous weight on my shoulders. It started at a very young age because I was trying to make my family proud but also to fulfill my own internal drive. That drive and hunger to surpass any goal that people expected from me to make my family proud.

Now looking back at my progression in since arriving in this country I feel so proud to represent the positive impact immigrants can bring when they come to this country with good intentions. Many other people might bend but you cannot break. You have to fight for what you believe in to accomplish your dreams and to reach your full potential.

If a pretty regular guy like me made it, what’s holding you back? Go fight for your dreams don’t let anyone stop you from it. Have courage to reach for the moon so you end up among the stars. Put all your focus on achieving that goal, degree, or anything extraordinary in your life because if I could do it, you can do it too! Have courage and just believe in yourself.

Guest Blogger: Enmanuel Moya, Torch Scholar Student.

Conference Days and Cat Cafes: Three Days in Belgium

 

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As someone whose eyes used to glaze over every time she attempted to read an academic article, I never thought I’d co-op as a research assistant, let alone attend an academic conference and enjoy myself. To my surprise, that’s exactly what happened when I attended the Conference on Multilingualism in Ghent, Belgium last September.

I had the opportunity to travel to COM 2016 with my colleagues in the psycholinguistics lab I’m currently working at in Germany. Since I’m trying to figure out whether a career in research is a good fit for me, attending the conference was the perfect way to get a feel for the scope of work being done in my area of interest, while also providing the opportunity for me to network with professionals in the field. However, I didn’t realize how truly shaping the experience would be, on both personal and professional levels.

The sheer range of ideas presented at the conference was mind-boggling. While the conference was centered around multilingualism, the presentations given stemmed from educational, social, developmental, and medical roots, reflecting the wide variety of stances from which multilingualism can be explored. Additionally, even if some presenters discussed the same topic, there was often a large range of opinions that emerged. The conference actually opened with what was noted as being a “heated discussion” between scholars in the field who had contrasting opinions about executive functions and the role they may play in the bilingual brain. Four speakers with varying opinions on that subject presented their talks, and the discussion that followed the presentations was way more intense than anything I expected to hear at an academic conference. I find that I rarely question the contents of academic articles because I assume whoever wrote them knows better about the area in question than I do. However, interactions like this taught me that questioning the research of others can be instrumental to making new discoveries and creating relevant debates within a field.

Attending this conference also made me realize how such a forum provides the perfect opportunity for networking. If you are especially interested in what some researchers are studying, attending their presentations allows you to learn more about their work, and catching them during one of the countless coffee breaks provides a perfect casual opportunity to connect with them. Additionally, speaking to other attendees about the work they and their colleagues do can serve as a great way to create contacts for yourself. For instance, after speaking to a postdoc from the University of London about my interest in sign language, she gave me the name of someone in her lab researching sign so I could look up her work and potentially contact her, a connection I never would have made without attending the conference.

Perhaps the most important thing I got out of the conference was the heightened ability to connect with the authors behind the research being presented. Since I often have a hard time relating to academic articles on a personal level, having ideas that would fall flat to me on a page be explained by the authors themselves made complex studies feel a lot more accessible. As much of the research I’m currently doing on co-op involves second-language processing (a topic relevant to multilingualism), it was cool to flip through my abstract booklet and realize that I had already read the work of several of the presenters; hearing what I had previously read be discussed brought me to a new level of clarification, which I gratefully brought back to Germany with me.

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Aside from all the insight I gained from this conference, it also afforded me the amazing opportunity to go to Belgium. Ghent was an especially charming city, as evidenced by the classic buildings and cat cafe I found while walking the streets. Plus, unwinding from a long day of presentations by eating a waffle on the edge of the River Leie became a go-to post-conference ritual. Both waffles and conference considered, I couldn’t have asked for a better three days in Belgium.

 

This blog was written by Nicolette Pire, a junior Combined Linguistics and English major. She is currently pursuing her second co-op as a research assistant in the psycholinguistics group at the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany. An aspiring polyglot, she’s using her first international experience to immerse herself in as many cultures as possible while sharing her international faux pas along the way. Feel free to reach out to her at pire.n@husky.neu.edu.