Study Abroad Student Panel

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The Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council hosted a Study Abroad Student Panel last Tuesday, December, 4th. The goal of the event was to provide prospective study abroad candidates with practical advice from experienced students, such as what to pack and how to purchase a cell phone. The Career Enrichment Network staff also participated in the event, helping with questions regarding requesting enrichment funds and navigating the study abroad page of their website. Finally, Dr. Heather McCoy, a Study Abroad Adviser in the French Department, discussed the academic side to studying abroad: what classes to choose, how best to take advantage of them, and the transition process upon returning to Penn State.

 

For anyone currently preparing for a study abroad program next semester, or students just beginning to look into the process, here are some of the best tips from the night:

 

·      Pack practically! Really try not to over-do it, and bring suitcases that you can handle yourself.

·      Make sure to bring a carry-on sized bag for travelling while you are abroad.

·      Pay-As-You-Go cell phones work well abroad. Your program will most likely help you purchase a phone upon arrival.

·      Check out Smart Phone apps that allow for texting over wireless networks.

·      Explore your bank's international fees before leaving.

·      Research credit cards that don't charge for fees overseas--like Capital One.

·      Work with both your advisor and an education abroad advisor throughout the process. This ensures you will get the most out of the classes you take, while still sticking to your academic plan.

 

In addition to all the helpful tips, a major theme of the Panel was the unforgettable experience studying abroad provides. Consider studying abroad!

My LSAT Experience

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This past weekend I had the wonderful experience of taking the Law School Admission Test. Well, I guess that adjective is up for debate. Nonetheless, it was an experience. I had been studying for the exam for quite some time beforehand and knew what to expect going into the testing center. I brought with me my clear plastic bag filled with LSAC-approved items and took my seat in Swarthmore College's science auditorium at 8:30 am. The room was hardly full, which turned out to be beneficial for me because there was little noise during the exam.

            The proctors walked us through the instructions and we filled in bubbles for what seemed like an eternity before we finally reached the time to begin the test. The countdown had started and we were told to begin; I took a deep breath, looked around the room, started the watch on my wrist, and dove into the exam.

            Several hours later I left with the same feeling I had after most of the practice tests I had taken during my preparation period: uncertainty. For some reason, I have great difficulty pinpointing my performance on the exams I take. Sometimes I feel extremely confident, and it turns out I performed poorly. Other times I feel as though I was off, and scored very well. After the test on Saturday, I felt as though I did a decent job. But who knows, I could be completely wrong. At this point, it is just a waiting game until the scores are released at the end of October.

            For those of you who are thinking about going to law school, the LSAT can seem like a burden that must be overcome in order to move on through the admissions process. I would like to stress that the exam should not be ignored; take control of your preparation and make sure that you do well. Whether it be a prep course, personal tutor, or independent study, you must make sure that you give yourself adequate time to prepare and make sure that you are comfortable with the format and content of the exam.  I found that personal study was the best option for me. Not only are prep courses expensive, they are also largely catered to classes with diverse needs among the students. I was able to prepare most effectively by purchasing LSAT books and practicing on improving my weaknesses. Whatever you decide to do to prepare, make sure it is the best approach for you.

            I feel the need to say that I actually found the LSAT to be fun at times. Yes, I said it. I found the logic games to be an enjoyable portion of the exam and did not completely dread preparing for the test. Make the experience a positive one! Now, I am just waiting and hoping that I scored well. Next up on the to-do list: law school applications. Fun times!

 

Envoys Engaging in the Liberal Arts Community

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The Liberal Arts Envoys program's second full year of existence is proving to be a busy one so far - and we couldn't be happier!  The Envoys are a group of dedicated students who serve as the liaisons between the Liberal Arts administration, prospective students, alumni, and current undergraduates.  Our inaugural year was spent developing strong connections with the administration, establishing leadership roles within the program, and solidifying our place within the college.  This strong foundation, created thanks to Geoff Halberstadt, Lauren Perrotti, and Kasey O'Keefe, has been an excellent jumping off point for this year.  During this week alone the Envoys will be involved in three different events for the college!

The first event of the week, Scholar's Day, will be occurring this Monday, September 24 at the HUB. This event is intended for Schreyer Honors College prospective students. Envoys will be answering questions from the prospective students during a panel discussion, then they will host an information table.  The second event is School Counselor's Day which is this Friday, September 28. Envoys will serve as tour guides for the visiting counselors during this event. Last but not least, this coming Sunday, September 30, Envoys will be manning tables and interacting with Liberal Arts students and their families during Parents' Weekend.

The Envoys would like to extend their thanks to the wonderful Liberal Arts staff and administration who have been integral to our continued involvement with the college.  Thank you very much!  

UPUA Election Day

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It is that fateful time of year again when the undergraduate student government here at University Park begins its transition and the students trusted with representing undergraduates are elected.  The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) is having its annual election today from 7:00am to 10:00pm at election.psu.edu.  I will spare you any long drawn out jeremiad about the importance that voting has both as a part of our social contract or our sense of civic duty, and instead focus on the real and lasting effects that the UPUA Elections can have.

Having been the Representative of the College of the Liberal Arts since my freshman year (I am now a junior) I have witnessed firsthand the importance that the right people can have on the ability of UPUA, and by default the entire University Park undergraduate body, to enact lasting changes for the betterment of academics and student life.  This is not to say that no other student group is important, quite the contrary in fact, but UPUA is the student government and has the most authority to accomplish things like changing the Board of Trustees committee structure to include students or to change academic policies to make all undergraduates' lives easier.  UPUA, for all its flaws, is still important and demands your attention.

UPUA's importance, and the consequential importance of having the right people in the right positions, is part of the reason why I am posting this here.  In order for UPUA to be an effective organization next year, I need you to vote for both myself as the Liberal Arts Representative for my third term as well as Courtney Lennartz & Katelyn Mullen as President & Vice President.  Simply go to the election website above, login, click on "Penn State Student Government Elections - Spring 2012" and select the candidates that will do the best job of serving the interests of Liberal Arts students and the entire University.  Both myself and the Lennartz/Mullen have been endorsed by your Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council, who unanimously decided that we were the best candidates for the job.

Please take the 2 minutes that it takes to vote and vote Lennartz/Mullen and Zang to make sure the UPUA is able to realize its full potential in the coming year.

Sincerely, your Liberal Arts Representative to UPUA and Liberal Arts Student Senator to the University Faculty Senate

John Zang

LAUC THON 2012

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           In the midst of a turbulent year for all of us, working with my fellow THON Chair, Sarina Katz, and the rest of the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council to raise money For the Kids has served as a reminder to what Penn State is truly all about.

Last year, LAUC made huge strides in terms of THON involvement and fundraising. Thanks largely to Lauren and the rest of the council's enthusiasm, we secured two dancers for THON 2012. Due to their hard work and dedication, we recently announced that Rob Turchick and John Zang will be representing us this year! We know they will do a fabulous job and couldn't be more excited for them!

As THON chairs for this year, Sarina and I were determined to increase our fundraising total and overall THON involvement and enthusiasm. It has been great seeing the continued support of our members, in addition to the new faces excited to get involved!

We had a successful canning weekend #1 at the beginning of October. We sent four people to Pittsburgh for the day and made over $1000. We were not able to organize a trip for the first canning weekend last year, so this was a great start! We are looking forward to canning outside of Philadelphia next weekend for the last canning trip before THON. In other fundraising efforts, we sold snacks and asked for THON donations at a previously scheduled screening of the movie Defiance. Additionally, courageous members sacrificed shaving for the month of November in order to support our fundraising efforts.  Needless to say, we saw some pretty impressive beards! Finally, we are holding a late night bake sale tonight in front of the State Theatre, starting at 9:00. There are sure to be many delicious treats, so be sure to stop by!

In addition, all of our members really stepped up and addressed THONvelopes to send to their family and friends. This brought in a lot of money to add to our THON total. LAUC has always prided itself on being a close knit organization, even among the recent alumni. Our past three presidents, Sam Loewner, Richard Shermanski, and Geoff Halberstadt very generously donated $100 each to THON and promised to continue to support our efforts for years to come. On behalf of the entire council, we are overwhelmed by their generosity and thank them for their support.

It has also been great to see the involvement of LAUC in other THON activities such as the THON 5K and THON Dodgeball.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support! FTK!!

Career Enrichment Network Assistant

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I was lucky enough to be selected for a position within the expanding Career Enrichment Network. As an intern, my duties vary across a variety of fields. I have been tasked with resume reviewing, advertisement, and organization of events. My first day I reviewed various materials in regards to career guidance and have learned much myself. Another great part of the Network I was introduced to was the Simplicity website. Designed to allow students to upload resumes, have them reviewed, and then even apply to internships and jobs, this website seems perfect for students of the Liberal Arts. It will allow those who are crunched for time to upload their documents online, and receive critiques through email. In addition, students can know that job postings are from reliable sources and not from a mysterious website online. I look forward to my time here and hope that this Network continues to grow.

MTA Service Cuts

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has recently released plans to create large service cuts, raise fares, and eliminate student and disabled persons discounts.  The Mass Transit Authority serves the New York City area in New York and southeastern Connecticut. On an average weekday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a ridership of over 11 million people. The MTA is composed of commuter rail lines, subway, and bus lines. With recent financial problems, the MTA has planned to reduce service for all of their commuter rails, subways, and buses. Previous cuts have placed the cost of a Metro Card at $104 a month.  This puts the cost of riding the subway at over $1,200 a year. Additionally, the MTA has proposed rate increases, and eliminating discounts for students and people with disabilities. This has caused an outrage for the millions of people who depend on the MTA daily to get to and from work each day. The New York City transportation network is one of the most complicated and frequently used systems in the world. The system is what has helped NYC grow to its current status as the leading financial center of the world. The MTA has the power to control millions of people, and affect the lifeblood transportation system for the largest city in the country. I feel the MTA should take into consideration how influential their proposed changes are for the people and economy of the New York City region. In order to have the city maintain its status as a world power, there must be an efficient and reliable transportation system; this is a catalyst of growth. It should be the MTA 's top priority to keep fare rates low, and maintain current services for the people of the region and the overall economic health of the city.

LEGOs

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Almost every kid loves Legos, well maybe only guys, but I had a legitimate obsession.  I think the first crime I ever committed and the first time I ever sinned was over Legos. My Mom's office partner had a big box of Legos, and she had some sweet pieces that enhanced my collection back home, so in the mind of a five year old if they made my collection better, I had the right to them. 

What is so awesome about Legos is the freedom and creativity associated with Legos.  I could be a deep-sea diver, a pirate, a space cadet, or a knight in shining armor.  These sweet occupations in the world of Legos carried over to my vision for my real life.  My dream job was to build real life Legos. For a huge majority of my childhood I wanted to be an engineer and design planes for Boeing, or guns for Remington, or build giant bridges and design cities in the sky.

 My parents were so proud of their "little engineer" who was always building and modeling and creating. Legos give kids the power to create and develop, and so I was compelled to create and develop in the real world. And this elates parents!  I remember one year for Christmas Santa gave me book about building bridges.  I guess Santa was proud of the "little engineer" as well?  My plan to be an engineer, work for Boeing, or design the world's coolest bridge was foolproof!  Except there was one minor detail: math. 

 Legos need a warning label.  I would suggest something like this: WARNING: Playing with "real life Legos" requires math. Enjoy it while you can.  

Am I bitter that playing with Legos in real life requires math? Yes.  Why am I blogging about this?  Because even if I had the opportunity to become a math genius, I would never trade the Liberal Arts for real life Legos. I find passion in the Liberal Arts.  Not just in fellow students, and myself but in the actual course of study, and the professors who teach it.  And this passion makes building "real live Legos" seem unexciting. 

Throughout my time at Penn State, my involvement with the college of Liberal Arts has shaped my college career. Whether it be reading about Rhetorical Theory, being one of the few people who know what the sub-basement of Sparks is, sharing my first experience of THON with fellow LAUC-ers, or cherishing the friends I have made here and the moments I share with them, The College of Liberal Arts has given me more enjoyment and fulfillment than Legos ever could.  

Roller coaster semester

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As the Fall 2011 semester comes to an end, we're all ready for 2 weeks of projects, presentations, quizzes, and exams followed by finals week. Maybe there will be internship, graduate school, or job applications to fill out as well.

 

During this roller coaster semester, there have been some very bright moments (mine personally include Homecoming 2011 and of course LAUC). There have also been some hiccups, difficult classes, and unsettling news across the university and the community.

 

While I learned many things in my classes this semester, I also learned some important things that I may not have focused on during an average semester. I was able to see a crisis unfold and therefore, learned what works and what doesn't. Destructive behavior (riots, tipping over news vans...) only works to push us farther apart and create a fiasco in the eye of the media. Cooperation is what helps us understand, grow, and move forward.

 

While that sounds instinctive now, many people did not realize this and jumped immediately into judgmental accusation mode and naturally, were very angry, frustrated and upset. I think that we all learned a great deal of patience.

 

Despite feelings on who was right, who was wrong, and to what degree, almost all of us can agree that the immediate reaction of the university to the unsettling news surrounding the Sandusky case was not up to the high standards we hold for Penn State. It was hard to see Penn State keep us in the dark while the media wouldn't let us escape the limelight.

 

However, once some decisions were made, the University began to move forward and connect with students and the community. With emails, blogs, and conversations, Dean Long has reached out to the students in the College of the Liberal Arts. President Erickson has compiled a list of 5 promises to the Penn State community, created videos, and sent emails. Student leaders across campus are doing their best to keep up the wonderful Penn State community that we love.

 

While this semester may not have been the easiest I've had in the past 3 1/2 years at Penn State, I did gain knowledge and perspective that I would not have otherwise gained. Perhaps the thing that resonates most with me is something that Dean Long, the philosopher, said in more eloquent words than I can.

 

We need to understand that we do not know everything right now, and that is OK. We need to be thinking critically and asking the right questions, even if we do not have all the answers at this very moment.

 

Best of luck finishing up this semester. Penn State has grown quite a bit this November and I'm sure it will continue to do so. We Are.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

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   Unfortunately, this past weekend I had to leave State College to participate in an LSAT prep class back home. I was so disappointed to miss the candlelight vigil held for the victims of the sexual abuse cases, but was blown away by the aerial photographs of the event that were posted on twitter, online, etc. It's amazing how strong the Penn State community is, and how quickly we're able to mobilize for a great cause. I think it's safe to say that Penn State has a big heart, and I can also say that I will always be proud to be a part of it.

   That said, this weekend was not a total disappointment for me. Friday night, I went to see Noel Gallagher, former lead guitar for Oasis, play with his new band at the Academy of Music in Center City, Philadelphia. It still shocks me to hear how many people, my age and younger, don't have any idea who Noel is or what Oasis was. They are the most commercially successful rock band of the past 30 years, and their album "(What's the Story) Morning Glory" was chosen as the best album of the past 20. Their debut album, "Definitely Maybe," also placed third in that category, and Noel Gallagher wrote all songs on both LP's.  

   To see him play live with his new band, the High Flying Birds, was a great way to relax before more LSAT prep, and successfully took my mind off of everything that's been going on at school for the past week, if only for a few hours. The band played their entire album, which has received little press in the US compared to Europe, and Noel also played some Oasis classics: "Wonderwall", "Supersonic", "Little by Little", "The Importance of Being Idle", and "Don't Look Back in Anger." I've heard "Wonderwall" covered by everyone and their mom, so to hear the man who wrote the song play it was something I'll never forget.

 

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