Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Second Home

One of the greatest perks of college is being able to explore! At JMU, there are so many studyabroad programs that students can apply to, whether it's for the Fall semester, Spring semester, or just for the summer. It's a great way to help students to step out of their own culture and discover another one.

This past summer, I studied abroad to Urbino, Italy to study Multimedia Journalism, and it was the best experience of my life!

As a Media Arts andDesign major, the program helped me in my field of study because of the things that I learned there. I was trained to take effective photography and videography, to write and maintain for the web, and to write feature articles.

Then for the final project, all of the students were assigned to find some aspect of Italian culture, write a feature story on it, and then create a photo slideshow or short video relating to the story. If you want to read my article, check it out!

Although studying abroad at Italy was a great academic experience, it was even more rewarding outside of the classroom. But in the beginning of the program, I didn’t know it would turn out like that. Studying abroad was the first time that I had left the U.S. by myself, and being alone brought a lot of mixed feelings. I didn't have my family with me, I didn't know anyone in the program, and I didn't know what to expect out of being in a new environment. I was very excited, but I was also very scared.

Overtime though, I was thankful that I had taken the risk to go abroad. I met a lot of great people and made many friends (who I still keep in touch with today!). I wrote my story on an aging ceramic painter named Silvio Biagini, and he was the most passionate man I had ever met! He not only told me about his life as a painter, but he also taught me a lot about Renaissance art and why preserving tradition is important for the future of art.

I also became great friends with the student translators that I worked with. One of them, named Luca Ambrogiani, took some of the students from our program to a lot of famous Italian restaurants and to places with great sceneries!

Italy had many other perks to it as well, such as the Nutella-filled desserts, the coffee, the cats on the streets, the graffiti on the walls, kisses on cheeks from local Italians as warm greetings, and the structure of the buildings.

In just one month, I had made friends and memories that eased the feeling of missing home. The study abroad program gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone to explore more of the world! I didn't have to be afraid to go to another country and make it my second home. In fact, I had the best time of my life while abroad, and in the end I realized that I had nothing to be scared of in the beginning.

So whether you're an International student coming to JMU, or a JMU student from the U.S. leaving the country to study abroad, do not be scared. No matter how lonely or uncertain the journey may feel at first, it always ends with a new experience and great memories. You will love it on campus and feel at home in no time!

Written by: Michelle Lee

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Spring Semester

Spring semester of my junior year was the busiest semester I have had so far. Aside from studying, this semester was full of activities and events I attended and organized. I learned so much from them. 

The weekend of March 23rd of 2013 is when the International Student LeadershipConference (ISLC) took place. ISLC was an awesome event that allowed me to learn from all of the participants and share experiences with many individuals from so many different countries as well as made lots of friends. During ISLC, I met a lot of students who were enthusiastic about the conference. I was grateful to see that people who similar experiences as mine and the way they dealt with all of it. It impressed me a lot. It was always wonderful to see the diversity taking place in my life. 

The next day the International Student Association organized the Oasis international student culture show during which they showcase the performances of many individuals and student organization's from a wide spectrum of cultures and countries. A month or so later ISA held an event called Holi. Holi is an Indian tradition that is celebrated mostly in the north part of India. The event involved many different powder colors such as BLUE, red, green, pink, yellow, and orange. I really enjoyed the event and learn from other students about the meaning of the event. I loved the way people interacted with each other, even though they did not know each other before. This shows the JMU spirit, which the ability to stay grateful of surroundings and trying to make a difference by promoting diversity. 

Finals took place a month or so ago and every student were busy with their finals projects and assignments. JMU's main (Carrier and Rose) libraries, were open 24/7 starting. I personally like both libraries because both have great studying environment. Watching some students studying all day long and some studying all night motivates me the most. 

During the week before finals, students are found nearly everywhere, however, I was able to find a wonderful spot where you can see the Shenandoah Mountains, spectacular scenes, during my 3-minute breaks. It relaxes me and helps focus more and drive my efficiency. 

Written by: Ahmed Alotaibi