Have you ever wanted to travel the world? College is the perfect time! You are old enough to really get the most out of your travels and aren’t weighed down yet by the demands of a career (or at least I hope you’re not). One of the best things about the Montana State University Honors College is its special spring seminars (don’t you love alliteration?) known as Great Expeditions. Each spring, Honors picks new places to go and develops new curriculums to support them. The main idea is that you take a class in the spring semester and learn some specifics about the country you will travel to. Some years the course is an overview, including history, language, art, etc, and sometimes it’s specialized, for example a focus on economics or architecture. Then, at the end of spring semester after finals are over, you, your classmates and your professor jet off on the best start to summer vacation ever conceived by man!
The trip is both an extension of what you learned over the semester as well as a time to explore a new place with your peers. The class is usually about 13-16 people and you get to know everyone so well that by the end of semester you are pretty much jetting around with umpteen of your closest pals!
Do I sound enough like a brochure for you yet?
But in all honesty Great Expeditions is one of the best presents you can give yourself. Last year I was lucky enough to go to Chiang Mai, Thailand with Professor Wade Hill of the MSU College of Nursing. We were hosted by the Faculty of Nursing at Chiang Mai University and given a lecture series and study visits to different clinics and hospitals around the city and surrounding countryside. But it wasn’t all academics! We had tons of time to trek through the jungle, visit temples, eat the local cuisine, shop at the night markets, explore the city, and sample the nightlife.
This year there are 3 trips being offered, Brazil, South Africa, and Ireland. I am crossing my fingers that I will be going to South Africa this year. Dr. Ilse-Mari Lee, the director of the Honors College and a native South African will be leading the class. Hang out with awesome students and distinguished faculty in coastal paradise? Hmmmmm, yea sign me up.
Well, it’s that time of the semester again: Round 1 of midterms. In my experience, having between 1 and 2 tests is the norm, and so I complained incessantly to anyone who would listen (mostly my roommates) that I had 3 tests to study for. Imagine my surprise when a kid in my Infectious Diseases class told me he had 4 tests in 3 days. Needless to say, that shut me up pretty fast, although it didn’t do my roommates much good, as I learned this on Friday, when my tests were all over. J
I knew this week was coming, and yet I still seem to be forever scrambling at the 11th hour. Why is this? Do I really have awful time management skills? No. Am I the Queen of Procrastination? No. Then what? The beautiful Montana weather is to blame. The last few weeks have been filled with temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s. Just prime. I have been so busy cramming outdoor fun into these first weeks of school that I ultimately end up cramming Microbiology and Excel functions into my head as a result.
Highlights of outdoor cramming: Weekend road trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park with the roomies, hiking and swimming ensued. Open air thrift shopping in downtown Bozeman. Hiking in Hyalite Canyon. Hiking to Lava Lake. Floating the Madison River and hitchhiking back to the parking lot. Backyard barbeques and Frisbee.
Highlights of indoor cramming: Living in sweats. Not being able to see my carpet because of all the text books and papers on my floor. Chai tea. Mechanical pencils. T accounts. Prokaryotes. Owner’s Equity. Alexander Fleming. Finding the best study corners in the library. Watching Arrested Development as a reward for an hour of studying.
The best thing about midterms is when they are over and it’s time to relax and do something for you! Every student deserves that break, always remember to treat yourself. Personally, finding that outlet was pre-planned for me this year. Today is my birthday! I refuse to spend it all taking tests! Tonight, some friends and I will go out to dinner at Sweet Chili, Bozeman’s best Thai restaurant, and then retire to my basement apartment for red velvet cake and Bananagrams.
The Moral of the story is: Accept that studying for the first round of tests is going to be hard, but remember that studying and temperature are inversely related. The colder it gets, the easier it is to study!
This last Tuesday night marked the highly anticipated rescheduling of Maya Angelou’s MSU debut! Dr. Angelou, author, playwright, and civil rights activist, was originally scheduled to speak last spring, but health reasons kept her from making the long trip out West. I was especially excited to hear her after having read her novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings last spring as part of my Texts and Critics seminar. If you haven’t ever had the opportunity to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, or any of Dr. Angelou’s works for that matter, I highly recommend it! And if you’re a busy bee like I am, you will be happy to know that Dr. Angelou is also a very accomplished poet, if shorter literary entertainment is more your style.
Dr. Angelou’s oration was preceded by a musical performance by local singer, Jeni Fleming. Check her out on Facebook!
Fleming and her jazzy band kicked off what seemed to be the theme of the lecture…drum roll please…rainbows! Yes rainbows! Dr. Angelou credited “the rainbows in her clouds” (people who encouraged her and loved her during her rough patches) as the best thing a person can have. They are her “heroes and ‘sheroes’ ,” a phrase I found super witty and one I will definitely be quoting this year.
Dr. Angelou ended with three poems, which she, in no uncertain terms, told MSU better end up on their website! Check them out here. It’s funny, even though the lecture was only two nights ago, I have already seen 2 or 3 bumper stickers with Dr. Angelou’s words on them. It’s like when someone tells you the actual definition of a word that you’ve heard forever but never knew the meaning of. And then you start seeing it everywhere! Thank you Maya Angelou! You are one of the best lectures I’ve seen brought to campus.
Are there any speakers you would love to see at MSU?