To learn or not to learn?

“The beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”

– Plato

 

IMG_3129This quote is one of my favorite quotes, because it really describes the uniqueness of every individual person. It describes how sincerely different an interpretation can be from one human being to another and how something nice can be perceived as something completely different.

The other day, when a friend drove me home in her car after dance class, she asked me how I ended up in New Paltz, “one of the smallest and most boring towns in New York State”. I explained to her that I had first made up my mind and wanted to go to Paris, but when this opportunity with IIB came up, I had to go to the US. I just HAD to study in New Paltz and then do an internship in New York City, the city of my dreams. She was so surprised, how could I appreciate New Paltz and New York over Paris? The capital of fashion with amazing art and history? For me, the choice
was easy it was the opportunity of my life, for her it was not even understandable.

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Photographer: Johanna Bjornback

We are now starting our fifth week in New Paltz (gosh these weeks have passed fast) and I have learned so much more than I thought I would have, and now I’m not talking about what I’ve learned in school even though that is a lot. Living with 18 persons from 4 different countries is so different from what I thought it would be. Our cultures are so different. We have different values, we show appreciation in different ways and we appreciate different things. What I might see as extraordinary might someone else see as something casual, what I find tastes good might in other peoples measures be the most amazing dish they have ever tasted. But the most important thing is: There are so many things to learn and there are so much to experience!

My roommate, the very best Federica, has taught me “Italian sign language” and it’s really impressive! “What is this?” you might ask, well Italians have all kind of different signs they use as a compliment to verbal communication. They have a sign for “get it over with”, for “I told you so” and for “I don’t care” just to mention a few. I have also come to understand the importance of body contact and hugs for the Mexicans, something that is not that common in Sweden. And from the Germans I have learned how similar our two countries and mostly how similar our two languages are!! I was surprised when I learned this. For example craftsman is “hantverkare” in Swedish and “heimwerkerin” in German. The ascension is “kristi himmelfahrt” in German and “kristihimmelfärd” in Swedish.IMG_3119 But most of all, I have learned the value of how to appreciate each other and their cultures and how different, and dull most certainly, my experiences would be without them.
If I would be given a second chance to answer my friends question in the car, I would say: “Because of all the amazing people I get to meet here, they are truly the ones that makes this trip, New Paltz and then the future in New York City an amazing experience.”

The first true English conversation…

IMG_0456This is THE day. Today is the day when me and my Swedish friends had an English conversation without thinking of it being English. After five weeks of speaking almost only English (yes of course also some Swedish, but just a little) with my international IIB-friends I finally found my self actually having an English conversation with my fellow country friends from Sweden. I felt really excited! Can you believe it? I spoke English with my SWEDISH friends and we didn’t even think about it. I will remember this day for a long time to come!  You may ask yourself at this point why I’m so happy about this phenomena? Well, the reason for me being so happy is that I’m finally feel comfortable with speaking English. Hallelujah!

Have you ever been in a foreign country? Probalby most of you have. Then you know the feeling of not finding your words when speaking to someone in another language. These situations are starting to get more uncommon for us. Its more common that I just spit the word out and sometimes a little bit to fast, hehe.

I’m not speaking perfectly in any way, but I’m just not nervous about speaking anymore.

At least not in everyday life conversations. I never expected it to go so fast, but I believe that the progress is probably a result of us really trying to learn the English language. Another contributor is the fact that we’re practicing it every day. And I have my IIB classmates to thank for this. I’m so grateful! We’ve all improved our English skills and it’s so fun to see how we all get more comfortable speaking it every day.

The first English presentation..

Before coming here, the thought of me standing in front of a crowd and doing a presentation in English was nerve crackling, but now its just one more experience for me. Today we had our first one-by-one English presentation. Oboy you can imagine me being kind of nervous before entering the stage. But as soon as I got started, I actually enjoyed it. It was a great feeling to master a presentation in another language.

As in any situation in life, I like to challenge my self and overcome obstacles. It’s the same with the English language. I want to learn to speak and write fluently. So, with this said, I would like to encourage you all to go out there and learn another language. Its soon much fun!!

Whats next?..

I wonder what comes next, dreaming in English or forgetting the Swedish language? Stayed tuned and you might found out 😉

The birthday girl!

Hello folks!

It seems like yesterday that I landed in New York, full of hopes and excited to start this new and breathtaking experience…. But time goes by and it goes so fast.

The first month in New Paltz is over and just another one left to go… Then we’ll move to the “City”, where every dream can come true, no matter how big it is!

Many things have happened these past 30 days and among the craziness of a brand new life I had the chance to meet fascinating and surprising people and spend some valuable time with them.

Less than a week ago, it was my 25th Birthday and I decided to celebrate it in class, simply by eating a piece of cake with my international mates and asking everybody to wear some beautiful “Happy Birthday” crowns as a reminder of this busy but still important day! That seemed enough for me, though.

So, after a long day spent attending my courses at the University, I headed back home by walking. After a few steps, I started feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances… I was so tired, had no chance to hear from my parents and friends in Italy the all day, and missed home so badly.

I was deep in my thoughts when I arrived at the motel and approached to enter my room… It was closed from the inside… :-/

I imagined that my roomie was in there, maybe sleeping and didn’t want to be bothered…. But then, someone came to open the door and…

SURPRISE!!!!

My crazy, fabulous, sweet like sugar and affectionate Italian girls had prepared an amazing intimate party in my honor.
My room was dark and lighted just by tens of candles strewn all over the place…. Chocolate cupcakes on my desk… Random pictures of my life posted above my bed on the wall… and beautiful, stunning roses sent from Italy by my boyfriend!

I was the birthday girl.

And I felt home again.

Thank you all for making my birthday so memorable!

Hugs and Kisses.
Gaia.

A new experience is always a fun experience!

Frida and AgnesThis Friday 8:30 am, Frida and I were walking to school for our management class as we always do on Fridays. But this Friday and this management class were not like every other Friday and management class, something unusually was going to happen – we were going to have our first exam ever in our American college history.“Isn’t it amazing that we’re having our first exam ever in our American college history and that we’re going to do an exam that’s completely different from those we’ve at home, at Lund University?” I asked Frida, and she agreed.

For the first time in our lives, we were going to have a multiple-choice exam. A multiple-choice exam is an exam with questions and appurtenant alternatives. In order to pass the exam, you’ve to choose the correct alternative for each question. You don’t have to pass every question, but of course, the more questions you pass, the better chance you’ve to pass the exam. Although the description of a multiple-choice exam makes it sound very easy, it’s a little bit tricky. You’ve to pay attention to every word within the question and within the alternatives because if you miss one word it can change the whole meaning of the sentence and you may choose the wrong answer among the alternatives. My advice for everyone who’s going to do a multiple-choice exam is to read the questions and the alternatives carefully and several times before you decide which alternative you’re going to choose!

However, back to the why the multiple-choice exam was going to be a new experience for me and Frida. In Sweden, at our University, we never have these kinds of exams. Instead, we’re having exams that contain 7-8 analytic questions where we’re supposed to discuss different theories and concepts. The exams last for almost 4-5 hours and are usually based on several books instead of several chapters in one book. As you can understand, it’s a big difference for us to do an exam that contains 60 multiple-choice questions based on three chapters and that lasts for only 75 minutes. Even though we both were nervous before the exam and didn’t really know what to expect, we felt happy after the exam – happy to actually be a part of the American college for real!

For me, everything that’s a new experience is a fun experience. It doesn’t mater if I’m going to write a type of exam I’ve never written before or if I’m going to try a new sport activity – a new experience is always a fun experience! Keep that in mind when you’re going to try something for the first time and I promise you it will be more fun!

Health and wellness center

We have a lot of things to do here in New Paltz – and a lot to think about. You’re gonna keep up with five different classes, try to find a internship, get to know the people in your class and keep contact with your friends and family at home. You’re also supposed to adjust to the new environment, learn the new cultural rules and find some time to explore New Paltz, with surroundings.

Sometimes, it get a little bit too much. You maybe get the feeling that your head is going to explode? Or you just wan’t to hide for everyone just for an hour or two. But that’s totally alright, it’s the same for all of us.

For me, the best way to clear my head is exercising. And for that, you have a lot of possibilities here in New Paltz.

The school has it own athletic and wellness center, it’s free and available for all students. Isn’t it great? There is a gym, a swimming pool, an inside running track and a lot more that I haven’t discovered yet. There is also a lot of different classes every weak you can sign up for. I can highly recommend the hip hop cardio class. I was high of endorphins after, it was so much fun.

It’s just to bring your gym clothes to school for a work out before or after class, or even in between if you have a long break.

For me that’s perfect. It makes it easier to find the time for a work out. I need the safe and familiar routine of exercise when everything else is so new. It clears my head, gives me new energy to deal with everything and with some good music in my ears it also gives me time for myself. Above all, I sleep much better and eat so much better when I have a good exercise routine.

All over, I feel better and perform better.

And the most important part – I get the energy to enjoy all the fun parts of being here.

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The american ways!

Hi everybody! Well, we are here for one month now and I actually start to feel always more at ease. However, there are still certain issues -I have called them “the american ways”- that I still have to understand and tried to solve somehow:

HOW YOU DOIN’? It happens everyday, every time, everywhere. Whether you are in campus or in the supermarket, there will be always someone asking you “Hi, how you do?”. DO HAVE I TO ANSWER?? The first time I heard it I was in Stop&Shop. I was alone in the cereals aisle, staring at them since there are thousands of options here. At the certain moment a guy working there came towards me. He was almost running but he managed to ask me “How you doin’?”. Without even wondering if it was “a tricky” question I started talking… “ I’m fine thank you, I’m just trying to take a decisions because you offer so many different cereals! Which one do you suggest me?”…Maybe I was too focus on pronunciation, grammar and meaning of what I was saying and I didn’t realize that the guy disappeared even before I had finished to speak. People in the corridor may have thought that I was crazy since I was speaking alone. I came back home, and thought about what I should have done in a similar situation.

  • Option A: don’t answer and make a smile;
  • Option B: answer with “fine thank you” and than smile;
  • Option C: answer saying how I actually feel but really quickly and effectively;
  • Option D: don’t reply and keep walking.

The opportunity to test one of my theories, came the next day in the campus with a mate of mine. But this time, thinking about the previous experience, I haven’t answered at all and just replied with a smile.Option A. I still don’t know if it has been something clever, because he has never asked me “how you doin’ ?” again. I hope I will solve soon the mystery because I don’t want to look rude or crazy!

12007314_10207648839168957_1947459608_nAIR CONDITIONING. You, Americans, are crazy about it. Aren’t you afraid to get a cold? Whether it is really hot or cold outside, the air conditioning is always on here! The enemy number one to me is the bus. I call it “the freezer” because the condition machinery is almost bigger than the entire shuttle itself! Actually this may be seen as an advantage since I prefer walking instead of freezing! However, the question remains: HOW HAVE I TO DRESS UP? I have planned a strategy called “the onion”. My tactic consists in dressing with layers of different t-shirt and sweater in order to be ready at any climate.

BIG PORTIONS: This is actually a benefit when you are starving after classes. But if you are trying to stay in a diet that can be definitely the end of every purpose! DO HAVE I TO EAT EVERYTHING? My strategy? When I don’t want to eat that much I order “the small” of everything!

I’m sure that one day I will face these issues in the american way!

One school, hundreds of opportunities

Raise your hand if you have ever seen an American college movie?

Okay, great, thank you!

Now, raise your hand if you have ever wanted to be a part of a college movie?

Pheuw, for a second there I thought I would be the only one reading this blog who have watched American movies and who would like to be in one, but fortunately I’m not.

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Photographer: Agnes Nilsson

For me, this very autumn, my dream came true! Well at least almost, I’m not a part of a college movie but I’m a part of an American college and I can’t stop being impressed by all the opportunities American colleges provides.

New Paltz Universitys campus looks exactly like I hoped it would look like, a typical “college-movie-campus”. All buildings are gathered in one area, the dining hall is huge and there are several cafeterias where you can imagine people dancing on tables, as they do in High School Musical. There are big lecture halls, a library that offers more than you can imagine and a Wellness Center that provides the students opportunities to practice more than 10 different sports. I keep asking my self, are all campuses like this? Do regular campuses give their students all these opportunities? After doing some research, I have found my answer: YES. Of course there will always be exceptions, but if you end up at a college in America, you will most likely end up at one similar to New Paltz University.

“Okay” you might think “She have now claimed that there are a lot of opportunities and that all universities are the same. What will she say next?” Well, I thought I would guide you a little bit around college, so you (as a soon-to-be IIB student) would know how to make the most out of your experience.

Get to know someone

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If you come by your self to this new country, it might feel a little hard to start talking to someone you don’t know, but don’t you worry. New Paltz University has thousands of students and everyone I’ve talked to are frie
ndly. The majority is very interested in other people too, as long as you also show interest in them.

I arrived here with some Swedish friends and we ended up in the same marketing class. One day, we decided to split up during class just to get to know others, and immediately someone started talking to me and I have now made a friend who loves sneakers even more than I do. I have a saying that I used to tell a shy friend of mine that I thought I would share with you “No one knows if you are not outgoing or shy, as long as you decide not to show them” so put your social shoes on and get ready to mingle! (and remember, if something goes terribly wrong, you don’t have to see them if you don’t want to.)

 

Be a part of an association

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Campus does not only provide you with thousands of interesting people, it does also give you an opportunity to spend time with people who have the same interest as you. New Paltz University have 169 (!!!!!) different associations touching subjects regarding everything from Quiditch to Handball, form Soccer to Human Vs. Zombies. They regard all the interest you might ever had and MORE.
Hobbys are a big thing in America and almost everyone I’ve talked to are either a part of an association or a part of a sorority or fraternity. So if you would like to get to know people in an environment where you know you feel comfortable and get to know people who admire the same things as you do, join an association! Why not email them before you come here and tell them a little bit about you? I promise they will appreciate it. I emailed on of the schools dance teams and now I get to dance with amazingly talented girls four times a week! Click Here if you would like to learn more about the associations.

 

Use the Wellness centre

The wellness centre at New Paltz University is, like everything else on campus, huge. They have 16 tennis courts, one swimming pool, two running tracks (one indoor and one outdoor), two gyms, one room for dancing and one for yoga and a big hall for basketball, handball, soccer etc. They do also have a field where the students can play lacross, baseball and rugby. If you don’t feel like joining a team since you will only be here for two months, use the opportunities provided anyway. Go to the swimming pool, do some exercise at the gym or join the different classes they provide such as Boot Camp, Hip Hop, Zumba and Yoga. You will have great fun and meet other students or get a possibility to get to know your IIB fellow students even more!

New Paltz University also provide the students with outdoor activities such as tubing, zip lining and canoeing which you have to pay and register for in advance. NOTE though, you have to be quick when the open for registration, the tubing and zip lining got sold out in less than 30 minutes! So discuss with your IIB-fellows which ones you would like to attend and then stay glued to your computer during the registration hours.

 Join the school spirit

One last thing that I have noticed about campus that we don’t have in the same utsträckning in Sweden but is a fun thing to be a part of is the school spirit. Every day I see at least 50 people walking around in clothes bought form school; New Paltz University t-shirts, Sweat-shirts or track pants. People with water bottles (me!), notebooks, pens and folders with the University name on it. Everyone feel so strong about this university and by doing so myself, I feel like a greater part of this fellowship. If you don’t want to wait until your first one-on-one with Jeff or Martha (where they give you a water bottle with the New Paltz logo) you can got to the shop and buy your New Paltz items straight away!

Internship interview?! Don't panic, there is the "Mock"!

Friday 11th September at 9:30. This was my appointment at “Career Resource Center” in the Humanities building for my first mock interview.
Try to image you feeling when, for the first time, you enter in a huge building in NYC and you are waiting your interview. How many things could cross your mind?! Agitation? Nervousness? Mind completely empty? It would be normal, but … keep calm and take it easy! There are people ready to help you to prevent this terrible situation of uncontrolled stress.

During the IIB program, you can take advantage of all the opportunities that the SUNY University offers to its American students; one of that is the “Mock Interview”. This is a simulation of what will happen during the job interviews in New York City that you’ll face before your internship period. In this occasion you can learn to control your feelings and give your best to make a good first impression … without panic. You will seat in front of a girl, she will turn-on the camera and everything begins!

You need to prepare yourself: bring your resume and informed about the company you choose for your internship. There isn’t a specific dress code for this situation (remember that it is only a simulation), but the employees can help you in the choice of the best outfit for the job interview.

The mock interview is divide in two different moments: the first one is a facsimile of the real interview and the second one is an analysis about your replays. In the initial part Sarah (I did my mock with her) will ask you some questions about yourself, your previous experiences and about the choice of the company. Not embarrassing for the camera and be yourself! No one will judge you! Answer the questions explaining all your experiences with many examples and always analyze what are the lessons you learned or what were the results obtained. Remember: don’t forget to smile! While smiling you send a very clear message about your state of mind, not smiling creates an opening for many interpretations. At the end, around 30 minutes, the girl will turn-off the camera and you can review yourself: here start the second part. During the remaining time, Sarah and you will comment all your replays and she will give you some advices about your feeling during the speaking, your body language and more other aids about the best way to emphasize your experiences.

I really appreciate this time! Sarah taught me more things about the American job world (that is completely different from the Italian one) and many ways to enchant the people in front of me. She also, explained me the importance to analyze every time the results of my experiences, although they weren’t exactly what I expected, because also from the mistakes we learned something.

Therefore, in conclusion, never forget your resume and go prepared; this is a rare opportunity for you. You can test yourself in a different situation and prepare for what may happen in the following weeks.  Above all, remember: smile at people! “What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not smile? Everything.”

Sweetness's, Workplaces, Offerings and Things do to

”You’ve to understand the current business to be able to create a successful marketing campaign”. That’s what our professor told us during our first marketing class. To understand the current business, you’ve to do research about it. There’re several ways to do it, but the most common method is the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for internal Strengths and Weaknesses as well as external Opportunities and Threats and it’s used to do research about the environment of a company. My mission isn’t though to teach you how to use the SWOT analysis or to use it for analyzing a company’s environment. My mission is to describe both the internal and external environment of Campus. But I’m not going to use the ordinary SWOT analysis method. Instead, I’m going to change the meaning of the letters within the SWOT method in order to make the description more fun, playful and relaxed. Therefore, I’ve created my own SWOT analysis that aims to give you general advices about the internal and external environment of Campus. My SWOT analysis stands for:

Internal environment

S: Sweetness’s

W: Workplaces

External Environment

O: Offerings

T: Things to do

12023228_10156054958265554_775268853_n Lets start with describing the internal environment of Campus. On Campus, you can have a lot of sweetness’s. If you’re hungry or just would like to have something sweet, there’re several options on Campus to choose among. For lunch or dinner, you can visit the glass pyramid building that offers Indian food, Sushi, Pasta, Pizza, Salad, Sandwiches and Burgers. You can also visit the dining hall where you can combine different dishes as well as desserts. The best thing with eating in the dining hall is that you can make your own waffle with your choose of topping. I can highly recommend it. It’s amazing!

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On Campus, there’re many workplaces, in other words, different places where you can study. Campus consists of several buildings; Humanity, Business Building, Lecture Center and Science Building and all of them offers you places where you can study. Humanity and Lecture Center are my favourite places to study at. It’s quiet but not that quiet so you’re not allowed to speak with each other. But you can also study in the glass pyramid. On the second floor there’re both smaller conference rooms where you can sit and comfortable chairs, but if you’re going to study there, you’ve to bring sweater – it’s cold because of the air condition.

11998340_10156054958350554_2034157740_nAfter describing the internal environment, lets continue with describing the external environment of Campus – New Paltz. When you look around in New Paltz, you notice that New Paltz has a lot of different offerings, beyond Main Street. If you walk Main Street all the way down to the river, you will pass a cozy area called Water Street Market. It’s a small beautiful area with fountains, flowers, shops and restaurants. After you’ve visited Water Street Market my advice is to walk Main Street up to Church Street. On Church Street youll find an original bookstore where you can find all kinds of books. There’s also a chocolate store where you can buy homemade truffles, and I can guarantee you, the truffles is to die for! My favorite truffle is the one with caramel and sea salt, you’ve to try it!

11997337_10156054958215554_572683163_nOf Campus, there are several things to do as well. Since we’re students, we’re allowed to take part in different outdoor activities like tubing, kayaking and ziplinging. Today, we were supposed to go tubing but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the high water level in the river. But next weekend we’re going ziplinging – it’s going to be so much fun! Except outdoor activities that are arranged by the University you can for example go hiking on your own. New Paltz is very beautiful, especially up in the mountains and by the lake of Mohonk. If you live in New Paltz for one semester, you’ve to go hiking to explore the nature. Furthermore, you can also visit the public pool if you would like to relax and enjoy the weather! There’s a lot of things that you’ve to do while you’re living in New Paltz.

Now, when I’ve done my version of a SWOT analysis of the internal and the external environment of Campus, I’ve understood the current business of Campus and I would now be able to design a successful marketing campaign with the goal to inspire students to make the most of their stay at Campus and in New Paltz.

A FUNNY MOVIE NIGHT AT SUNY NEW PALTZ UNIVERSITY

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We almost come to the end of the fourth week of our “adventure” here in the US, and we haven’t lived yet the real life of a Suny New Paltz student. So we decided to take part at one of the various activities organized by the Center for Student Development: the movie night.
For me it was a totally new and exciting experience, especially because Italian universities usually don’t organize events like this. Indeed, we don’t have a real campus where students live and do activities together also during the evening.
And it’s a pity because, through campus entertainment events and activities, students can get involved in campus life, and this is a further opportunity to meet new people and mingle, getting the most during college education.
So, me and other girls decided to spend our Saturday night like a real American student, first having dinner at the Dining Hall and then watching a movie in one of the classrooms at the Lecture Center. Was our chance to meet other incoming Fall 2015 students and networking with them, after all it’s never too early to start making connections.

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During this totally free event, we were offered popcorn and drinks, with the chance to participate to the raffle drawing at the end of the weekly movie, Jurassic World.

The organizers were able to recreate the atmosphere of the cinema, putting at their ease those students who decided to participate.

During the show, it seemed to be in our bedroom surrounded by our friends, each of them was rejoicing and clapping with us during the most exciting scenes.
Little by little we surrendered to that familiar and funny atmosphere, finding ourselves commenting out loud along with everyone else.

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Although it wasn’t one of my favorite, the level of involvement created in the room made this movie one of the most pleasant and beautiful I’ve ever seen.

 

The plot in a nutshell: Isla Nublar opens the gates: the dream of John Hammond to create a theme park with regenerated and cloned dinosaurs is now reality. The reptiles, now devoid of mystery and anxiety, are downgraded to almost circus animals in the service of multinationals and genetic experiments, the result of which is the most ferocious dinosaur ever: the “Indominus Rex”. Soon, however, the managers of “Jurassic World” will have to deal with their terrible creature.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening that I can not wait to repeat.

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 The next movie event will be on Saturday, October 3 at the Lecture Center.

To keep up with the many activities offered by Suny New Paltz University, click like on this Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/SUNYNewPaltzClassof2019?fref=ts