Glasses Under the Sea

Mountain MaleI lost my glasses in the Mediterranean Sea.

Twice. I don’t miss them one bit. Why? Because I learned two important lessons when I studied in Spain last May.

First, don’t go kayaking without securing your glasses. Second, you have a rare opportunity to earn college credit while having a marvelous adventure by finding a new way of seeing things — in more ways than one, in my case.

At Hope, I’m used to a rather “structured” academic schedule as an engineering major. I went to Spain in May 2018 with Dr. Berta Carrasco to finish up my SpanishHouse of Ruins Spain minor and also fulfilled my Culture Heritage II credit without putting my engineering class schedule in crisis.

Before going to Spain, I had to figure out how to afford my trip. There’s obviously an upfront cost to studying abroad other than just the plane ticket, housing, and college credits. But really, it just depends how you look at that upfront expense when thinking about how you’ll afford it. For me, it was an investment in my education by taking a class I would have to take anyway, with the added benefit of spending that time abroad. Not only would I have a pretty awesome time, but I’d have a unique experience as a global learner that would set me apart from others.

GrenadaOf course, loving travel is also a huge part of it. Seeing the world is an experience that you just have to do, especially since we’re so young. For us as Hope students, we should take advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunity that we still have. Seeing the world not only allows us to learn more about the world, but allow us to get out of our comfort zones. In my case, it was being able to speak Spanish for an entire month while taking in the culture around me.

Once you study abroad, you also get a very rare opportunity for clarity. You get a chance to step away and embrace a different way of doing things, at least for a little bit, and experience what really matters in life from a different point of view. This new way of life may grant you a few things: More free time, more opportunities while you’re abroad, a different pace of life, or all the above.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore.

Norway Male Rock

The free time is amazing. For three whole days during my May Term in Spain, I did nothing but contemplate life while on a hilltop in Norway for a weekend.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore. You have a chance to make the most out of your experience and chase your next endeavor wherever you decide to go abroad.

Still curious? You can learn more by consulting with one of Hope’s global ambassadors at the Center for Global Engagement office inside the Martha Miller Center.

May Term Mems

Pine Ridge, South Dakota 

One of the unique academic experiences that Hope College offers students is to study over the summer months through May, June and July terms. For many Hope students, this is a chance to travel or spend some more time in lovely Holland and build a deeper community with the members of one class.

In May 2016, myself, a group of Hope women and an extraordinary Religion professor packed into a twelve-passenger van and drove off into the Badlands of South Dakota. Our goal was to engage and learn about the Oglala Lakota Tribe on Pine Ridge Reservation. As the professor mapped out the ride, we took turns sleeping and passing snacks as we anticipated the adventure ahead. What would the third poorest county in the country look like? What work would we be doing to help a culture with such a long history of oppression? What would the Natives think of such a strange group of Midwestern college students walking through their shops and communities?

Prior to the trip, the class met for three hours in the morning for a week in Holland to prep ourselves for the journey. My professor, Dr. Hoogerwerf, opened his doors to us and a couple of us stayed with him and his wife for the entire week. We had night chats over dinner and rode together to class in the mornings. Our side of the deal instead of rent was to babysit grandson Miles, which was never a problem. We learned about the history of the Oglala tribe and the tragedies committed to Native Americans by Colonial militias and American forces in United States History. The Lakota Tribe was forced on reservations like Pine Ridge and taken from their sacred Black Hills that now contain four faces of American presidents carved side by side. My favorite book we read was called Neither Wolf Nor Dog written by a white man who interviews Lakota Indians on the reservation and records their stories. There were many experiences on the trip that have some of the top memories of my Hope experience so far. To keep this story short, I’ll talk about my top three:

Volunteering with Remember

Our housing for the trip was offered by a nonprofit organization working with the Oglala Lakota tribe called Remember. The organization focuses on helping members of the community by building outhouses, skirting trailers, gardening and other hands-on immediate needs and relief. Meanwhile, as students, church groups, and other volunteers offer their time and skills Remember educates visitors about the tribe’s troubling past, but more importantly their rich culture. They also employ members of the tribal community to speak in the evenings and share their stories with guests. I loved meeting the speakers and hearing their experiences.

Cheesin’ after hiking the Badlands

Hiking with Ineila

Professor Dr. Hoogerwerf

One such speaker at Remember has had a relationship with our professor for years. He offers year after year to lead a hike through the Badlands and share with us the discoveries left behind by World War II machine guns and the critters that lived there before. The Badlands were formed by a salt-lake that dried up and left behind fossilized turtle shells and neat patterns of dirt and rocks. It’s a beautiful hike — but an even greater look into why the tribe treasures the land taken from them.

The group hiking through

 

 

We did it!
Ineila (our guide) and Rachel looking at turtle shell fossils

 

 

 

 

Sweat Lodge

My all-time favorite moment of our trip was also the moment I wished I could dive into a pool of ice cubes. Sweat Lodge is a traditional ceremony that “cleansed” the soul and when the men of the tribe would meet with Wakan Tanka (their deity). Another speaker at Remember, lead us through this ceremony and shared his sacred songs. The heat was intense and all twelve of us sat together under a dome made of animal skins and blankets surrounded by hot rocks that sizzled with the humidity of the air. We were also invited to share a meal with them and we sat in their trailer eating soups out of spare cups and bowls. The way they opened their arms to us was a unique and genuine gesture, and it reminded me of the way the church should also open its arms.

Example of what a lodge looks like

These memories have driven my studies back at Hope and will continue to shape my future goals. I love to fix myself in new cultures and learn from stories there. I would encourage students to volunteer and travel in their time at Hope. If not for a semester, then for a May, June, or July Term. If not for these then go on an immersion trip through Campus Ministries! There are many ways to travel, serve and learn from others and the opportunities are plentiful at Hope.

Learn Lakota: “Mitakuye Oyasin” – we are all related

 

 

Life in Holland as told from my #Instagram

THE BEACHES

Whether it’s Big Ol’ Red (aka Holland State Park), Tunnel Beach, Laketown Dunes, The Bowl, or some random beach front you found on a drive, everyone has their favorite beach and it’s a must no matter what time of year. Even in the depths of winter, my friends and I will bundle up in coats and blankets, trek out to some Lake Michigan beachfront, and watch the stars for probably longer than we should.

RILEY TRAILS

Riley Trails is cherished around these parts for class field trips, long walks with your ~campus crush~, a place to escape the rush of school, or (my personal fave) an impromptu photo shoot with a couple friends. On a warm, sunny day, there’s really nothing that can beat a good jog up, down, and all around Riley Trails.

THE ENDLESS COFFEE SHOPS

Some will say Lemonjellos. Other’s (ME) will say JPs. And still, others will say 205. No matter what your style, vibe, or latte of choice, Holland has got a spot for you. Yes, we may be a town known for churches on every corner. But, this popularity is closely rivaled by our coffee shops on every other corner. Also, pro tip, if you don’t know what to order, try my go-to: an almond milk latte with vanilla, it tastes like how a good book would taste… if you can imagine that.

OUR VERY OWN PINE GROVE

The Pine Grove is truly the most beloved place on campus. One, I mean come on just look at it, how could you not love this place? But two, this is the heart of campus. On a warm day, the Pine Grove is littered with hammocks, slacklines, picnic blankets, spike-ball courts, and of course, frisbees. The PG is perfect for actually doing homework, pretending to do homework, and just general merriment.

TULIP TIME

You might say, “but Ariana, what IS Tulip Time“. What is Tulip Time? WHAT IS TULIP TIME?! Only the best time of the year, of course! Right around final exams and graduation a carnival appears in our very own streets to supply Hope students with the proper caloric energy they need to end the year: elephant ears, corn dogs, frozen lemonade, and literally deep-fried-anything-you-can-imagine. Ahhh, the glow of food trucks, the click-clack of wooden clogs on concrete, the omnipresent smell of tulips, there’s nothing else like it.

HONESTLY… JUST WHEREVER MY PEOPLE ARE

Hang out around these parts enough and you’ll start to heart it a lot: “What makes Hope special is the community.” BUT IT’S SO TRUE! My favorite place in all of Holland is just wherever my friends happen to be at that moment. If it’s homework at the Bultman Student Center, hitting that free weight room in the Dow, or simply snuggled into our beds, being with my people is being home.

Featured Photographers: Addie Vanderzwaag, Riley Schmitz, Mackenzie Mitchell, Sydney Enloe, Eddie Ip

Featured Models: Riley Schmitz, Jubilee Jackson, Hailey Houck, Sydney Enloe, Anna Stafford,

My Spring Break

Happy Monday, Readers!

I hope you all enjoyed your Spring Break and feel relaxed and rejuvenated as we enter this last sprint before the school year ends. As a senior, it felt like this Spring Break was needed more than ever before. Here’s a little glimpse into what I did!

For my break, I headed down to sunny Florida with my family. It was so nice to be able to spend one final break with them before my sister and I graduate. We had been to Florida before, but this break was different. This break was needed, and it didn’t feel long enough. We didn’t want to come home!

When we boarded our plane Thursday afternoon heading to Florida, we were cold and ready for the sun. I can say with confidence that we didn’t leave the sun for 10 straight days. We spent every day on the beach reading books, taking much-needed naps, and dipping our toes in the warm Gulf Coast water. We had some different excursions during the evenings, like going to a play, exploring the surrounding Naples area, and going on a sunset boat ride, but other than that, we played many games of cards and read a lot of books. It was blissful! Leaving Florida’s 75 degree weather and coming back to Michigan’s 30 degree weather was a wake-up call, but I’m glad to be back with my friends for these final weeks until graduation.

A view of the sunset from the boat tour we went on!
It was so much fun being able to go on Spring Break with my best friend!

I hope you all had a great break and are ready to push through these next few weeks!

Until next time!

Porsche

We all know Porsche. One of the most luxurious and most technically developed cars one can buy in current market. People think Porsche is one of the symbols of brilliant German engineering, precision, and reliability. As of right now, it is truth, but most people do not know that Porsche is not German company. It is Czech company, which moved to Germany and became German. Actually, the founder Ferdinand Porsche, was born in Vratislavice neighborhood, which is part of Liberec, my hometown. He went to Technical University in Liberec and got a job in Vienna when he turned 18. On of the reasons, why he did not come back to the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia back then) is because he sympathized with Hitler and his ideas.

Also what people do not know is that Volkswagen Beetle is a reality only because of Adolf Hitler. The VW Beetle is a direct product of Adolf Hitler. He actually contracted Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 and asked him to design and construct it.

The fact that Porsche had a lot of sympathies for Hitler was a big controversy of reconstructing his house where he was born in Vratislavice, Liberec. Nevertheless, Škoda the Czech car manufacturer bought it and made a museum out of it.

Porsche´s house back then.
Porsche´s house back then.
Porsche´s house now.
Porsche´s house now.

Liberec

I talked about Prague a few blogs ago, but I have not mentioned my hometown and the city I was born. There is a lot of things to talk about, so I will probably write two or three more posts about it because my town in many ways is really a pearl in a sea.

Liberec or as many people know the city as Reichenberg in German, is a city located on the North of the Czech Republic, only 30 minutes from German and Polish border. It has population of 102,000 people and it was first mentioned, and therefore established in 1352. It is a pearl in the sea, because of its population and economic power and demand, it is very beautiful and historic.

Liberec has a lot of beautiful, historic and modern buildings that form the city, but those Jětěd and Liberecká Radnice are the symbols of the town.

On of the great things in Liberec is its location between mountains, so people can in 20-30 minutes drive outside Liberec and ski, mountain bike, walk, or cross country ski. On the top of the mountains is a telecommunication tower and hotel at the same time. It was designed by Karel Hubáček and built in 1973. In that time, people saw it as “futuristic” building.

Ještěd in during the winter.
Ještěd in during the winter.
Jěštěd.
Ještěd.

The second symbol of Liberec is Liberecká radnice, which would translate to English as Town Hall of Liberec. The architect of this was Franz Neumann, an Austrian architect. The building was finished in 1893 and it is a “smaller” copy or version of the Town Hall in Vienna.

Town Hall of Liberec.
Town Hall of Liberec.

Prague Christmas Market 2017

Even though it is the start of a Spring, Prague, the capital city of the my home country, the Czech Republic, has something spectacular. In every bigger city in the Czech Republic there is a Christmas market. There are always very Christmasy, relaxing, and romantic, but the Prague Christmas Market is in the league itself. It was ranked as the number 1 Christmas Market in the world by CNN.

The market happens on the Old Town Square in the heart of Prague. Its historic square dates to 11th century. The biggest attraction is an astronomical clock in the town hall called Orloj. There is a sad and amazing regarding the clock. The sad one is they blinded the builder of Orloj right after he made it, in order to prevent him of making it somewhere else. The positive news is that, Orloj has been working since it was constructed in October 9, 1410.

Prague´s Chirstmas Market
Prague´s Chirstmas Market
Prague´s Chirstmas Market from the air
Prague´s Chirstmas Market from the air
Astronomical Clock called Orloj from 1410
Astronomical Clock called Orloj from 1410

Break for Winter Break

Happy Monday, Readers! I hope you all have transitioned back into school and homework smoothly after coming back from Winter Break. We’re in the final stretch now until Spring Break – hooray!

I’ve decided to take a break from writing on a Senior Struggle this week to tell you about my Winter Break – it really was an amazing few days filled with friends and outdoor activities!

For Winter Break, my housemates and I decided to visit Minnesota, where one of our housemates is from. We decided to visit her house because we had all been to each other’s houses before except for hers and wanted to see where she was from before graduation rolled around and we were out of time and weekends. So we packed up the car and drove ten hours to Minnesota, passing through Indiana, Illinois, and (what felt like) the huge state of Wisconsin.

Once we arrived at her house, we headed straight for her families cabin even farther north of where she’s from. It was so good to get away and play endless board games, read, play with their dogs, and just relax. It was even better because there was limited cell phone service, so we were forced to unplug for a short time – it was amazing! One of the activities we did was snowshoeing across the lake her cabin is on. I had never been snowshoeing, so the experience was new and exciting.

After spending a few days there, we came back to her house to spend some time with her family. We explored the nearby city of Minneapolis and saw what the city had to offer. One of the highlights of her hometown tour was Minnehaha Falls – a usually frozen over waterfall just shooting off of Minnehaha Creek. Because of the warm weather, the waterfall wasn’t frozen over, but that made it even more beautiful!

After her hometown tour, it was time to head back to Holland. Ten hours and many snacks later, we arrived back at Hope ready to take on the coming weeks. It was a restful and relaxing break and I hope yours was just as adventurous as mine!

Until next time!

Happy Monday, Readers! I hope you all have transitioned back into school and homework nicely after coming back from Winter Break. We’re on the final stretch now until Spring Break – woohoo!

Senior Struggle #3: Saying Goodbye to my Email Signature

Happy Monday, readers! Miraculously, after writing last week’s blog, I feel a lot better about being busy this semester. I feel like writing that blog post put a lot of things in perspective for me and I’m at terms with my workload for the semester. My new goal is to get most of my homework done during the weekends so that my weeks are a little less hectic. All it took was some rehashing to figure out how to do that!

The new thought that has been on my mind since I last wrote is the fact that I am scared out of my mind to leave this safe little bubble of Hope I’ve called home for the past four years. Thinking back on it, Hope has been my safe haven. It has given me an education, put amazing people in my life, and most importantly fostered my faith for the past four years. Everything has been made easily accessible to me and has been extremely convenient. It’s been easy to get involved, see friends when I need to, and go to church without straying too far from campus. The way I tend to think about this convenient bubble is in terms of my email signature. It looks like this:


Hope College, Class of 2017

English Major and Management Minor
Career Development Office, Career Advisor
Student Blogger, Hope College Admissions
Hope College Student Ambassador
Hope College Student Congress Representative
Nykerk Cup Executive Board Member, Treasurer

Adaptability | Positivity | Empathy | Developer | Futuristic

How I feel about my email signature…

To me, my email signature shows that I’m accomplished here at Hope and how easy it was to make those accomplishments happen. Once I graduate though, that signature will disappear and that thought is extremely scary to me. All my accomplishments will be gone! I will have to start from scratch building up my email signature with involvements and activities. How will I even begin to do that if I’m not within the comfortable bubble of Hope? How will I find activities to be involved in and make a new normal for myself?

One way to alleviate some of this stress about graduating and creating a new normal is by preparing for life after graduation. For me, that means to start thinking about it. A way that I’m going to start this conversation is by attending the event series “Life After College” which is put on by the Career Development Center, Campus Ministries, and the Senior Seminar program. Every week the series will be covering a different topic that seniors will have to face after graduation. This week on Wednesday from 3 p.m.–5 p.m., or Thursday from 7 p.m.–9 p.m. in the first floor rotunda of Martha Miller the topic that will be covered is finding a church. As a faith-driven person, that topic is very important to me and something I want to invest in. Other topics range from faith in the workplace to friends and fiancé’s after college – whatever the topic I know I need to start thinking about it!

Hopefully you all have started thinking about what life holds for you after graduation, but if you’re like me and haven’t even started, just know that Hope has amazing resources like the Career Development Center to help you start that conversation.

Until next time!

Senior Struggle #1: Time for the Breakdown Chair

Happy Monday, friends! It’s a good day to stay inside and read a book, watch some Netflix or perhaps… write a blog!

In case you don’t know, the theme of my blogs for this semester is “Senior Fears/Struggles” and the more I’ve been dwelling on this theme, the more fears/struggles I can think of. The predominant one for this week? The concept of time.

My housemates and I have been struggling with this a lot this week; so much so that we have designated a chair in our living room as “the breakdown chair”. (If you couldn’t guess, it’s the chair where people go to cry if they’re having a life-crisis.) It’s actually really fun – we take a picture of every visitor to the chair and are going to make a collage at the end of the semester. So far we have had two visits to the breakdown chair and that’s only this week.

Need a good cry? Come over and take a sit in The Breakdown Chair.

The origin of both breakdowns has been due to busyness and lack thereof. One of my housemates, Britta Hageness, finds herself in the non-busy category and comments on her situation as follows.

I feel like all seniors are in one of two boats. They are either jam-packed busy – finishing up a full course load while also applying for jobs or grad school, working multiple part-time jobs, and taking on huge leadership roles on campus – or, there are seniors who only have one or two classes left and are left with an abnormal amount of time in their day-to-day lives.

I [Britta] am the second one, and I think I’ve been having a mini identity crisis about it. I think my past three years of college have been a balancing act of trying to be the “perfect” amount of busy. I’ve tried to not over commit myself to clubs and other activities because a) I want to be able to finish my homework and b) I like my sleep. But I also want my schedule to be full enough to feel like I have a specific purpose on this campus and to avoid boredom.

This semester, my “perfect balancing” system has gone out of whack because I have too much time. I’m only taking one class at Hope, along with one class online. Grad school applications have been sent out, so that’s also off the to-do list. Having too much time is a unique problem for a college student. I truly don’t think I’ve ever been bored for the last three and a half years, not even for an hour. Now I’m trying to avoid boredom on a daily basis. I’m trying to make the most of it by reading books for pleasure and by actually being prepared for class. Maybe I’ll take up a new hobby like sewing or figure skating… haha.

I guess it’s a nice transition into the real world where we won’t find our identity in our major/ classes/ studies. However, it doesn’t feel like the college life that I’m used to.

While many seniors are in Britta’s situation, there are also many seniors that are packing it all in. That would be me.

I’ve found that I’m barely treading water this year what with being enrolled in 16 credits that I need to graduate, working three jobs, and being in more clubs than I can count. On top of that I still need to come out of this busy season with a job so that I’m not completely lost after graduation. Most days I wonder how I’m going to come out of college in one piece.

While Britta and I are both struggling with managing our time, the idea to be taken away from both our situations is balance. After college there will be an adjustment period for sure, but as long as we know ourselves and how much we can handle (or not handle) the natural balance of work, friends, and life in general will fall into place.

So whether you’re feeling the busy burn or waiting for life to pick up, know that college is all about finding out who you are and discovering your balance. Take a deep breath, everything is going to be ok. (Said more for my own assurance than yours I’m sure.)

Stay tuned for more Senior Struggles next week!