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January 29, 2008

The New Semester Begins!

Well the first full week of the semester has gone by and I think I changed my class schedule about six times before I settled on my current schedule. As a senior I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule because the only requirement I have is that I need to take at least eleven credits to graduate.

I decided to take a history course on the crusades, a political science course on media in politics as well as a computer science web programming course and a studio art course in printmaking. The cool thing about my studio art course is that it is only for non-majors so I won’t be overwhelmed by people with a lot more talent than myself. I decided to take my web programming course because I wanted to have some training in web design before going out into the job market and I am pretty sure that that kind of training will not be offered by law school I will be in over the next couple of years. I am really excited that this is my last semester at UMM. I will be sad to leave UMM but I am looking ahead to the future and seeing bright things.

January 28, 2008

Day trip to Segovia

I took a day trip this past weekend to Segovia, not too far out of Madrid. On a non-stop train it would have taken about 45 minutes, but ended up being two hours! It was worth it though. Segovia has an amazing Roman aqueduct, a cool cathedral and also a fairy tale castle. I enjoyed everything in Segovia, except the meal. I ordered cochino frito, fried pork. It sounded safe enough, and when I asked which was better of two dishes, this was suggested. Turns out, it is fried pork, but there was a foot on the plate as well! I stepped up to the plate, and ate a toe. I couldn’t eat the whole thing. I like to think I would have made Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods and recent visitor to the prarie, proud.


Notice the foot near the middle of the plate...Quite interesting!

Student teaching has picked up and I am in charge of more classes. This makes the time go by quicker, and I can’t believe it is already the fourth week here! I have settled in really well and am having a good time. For those education junkies, I’ll focus my next post on the differences between American schools and British International Schools. Until then!


A Shot of the Alcázar castle in Segovia.


Me and the Aqueduct.

Classes are underway!

We are now into the second week of classes. The dust is settling, as most everybody is starting to figure out their schedules and make progress in their readings and labs.

I'm teaching an African Cinema course right now, which is a lot of fun. We began with a brief history of Africa and are now looking at how Europeans portrayed Africans in early movies like "Voyage dans la lune" (Trip to the Moon) by Georges Melies (1902) and the old Tarzan films. Next we'll look at the origins of African movies in the 1960s and how the early filmmakers reacted against the European images and began to create films that represented African people and cultures in a more complex manner.

This is my first semester back after a year-long sabbatical, so I'm working hard to get myself organized again (the continual struggle!!). It's good to be back!


January 24, 2008

UMM Goes Green...again!

I have been planning to write about the Environmental Studies major that will be new this fall at UMM for quite a while but haven’t accomplished much until now. I am sure many of you will be excited to hear that this cool major is coming to Morris. After thorough discussion and analysis of possible options for UMM’s Environmental Studies major the Campus Assembly gave the go ahead for the major to in start fall 2008.

environmental studies.JPG

The major draws from departments and disciplines from across campus by incorporating science, social science, humanities/fine arts, and education courses. The really special “green�? initiatives here such as the Center for Small Towns, the vibrant local foods movement, the wind turbine and new biomass facility provide students with the opportunity to gain hands on cutting edge “green�? technologies and program experiences. The newly created Sustainability Coordinator position also allows students to work with an expert in the field.

This program will definitely have Environmental Studies students as well as their future employers feeling satisfied with their well-rounded Liberal Arts education that focuses in Environmental Studies. I know if I were here for another four years I would consider a double major in environmental studies and Political Science because I know I could put both to use in my future career as a lawyer.

Hooray for UMM and future Environmental Studies graduates!

January 7, 2008

¨2 hours till we get to sleep!¨

Hey there! I made it to Spain and have managed to survive two nights. The quote from the title is from last night, at 6pm. Being jetlagged is a science I think, because a person has to really change to the country´s time even if they don´t want to. While I could have fallen asleep at about 6pm here, I had to wait till at least 8pm, hence the excitement in only having to wait two more hours to sleep. My roommate Amanda is really fun, and these first few days we have spent time walking the streets, seeing some sites, and enjoying Madrid.

The food here is great, although we ordered the menu del dia yesterday and had paella first which was good, but the second course turned out to be a lot of ham, with olive oil and paprika. I speak spanish, but the accent here is quite different than what I am used to, so hearing jamon sounded like a good bet for food but then when its drenched in olive oil it is not the best. Eitherway, Amanda and I have really been having dining ¨experiences¨, which today included getting a foam heart in my café con leche...Those sneaky spaniards!

Tomorrow I officially start my student teaching experience...Wish me luck!

January 3, 2008

Skiing down Mt. Washington

Well the students are not yet back from winter break but I just got back to Minnesota yesterday. I spent two weeks visiting family in New England. One of the highlights of my vacation was skiing down Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. Mt. Washington has an elevation of 6,288 feet and is the world record holder for surface wind speed at 231 miles per hour on April 12th, 1934. On the day of my journey to the summit, wind speed was only a mild 60mph. Current conditions can be found here.


While people do hike Mt. Washington in the winter, I am not that crazy. A great point of pride of many New Englanders is the famous “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington? bumper sticker drivers are awarded after successfully navigating the 7.6 mile auto road all of the way to the summit. In a bit of irony, the massive Hummer H2 SUVs you see navigating the world’s worst terrains in their commercials are not allowed to travel on the road.


Such weather conditions warrant an extreme method of transportation. Thus, the SnowCoach. The SnowCoach is a large van that has been modified for all-wheel drive and outfitted with tank like caterpillars. The SnowCoach takes you four miles up the auto road to the 4,000 foot mark. Once at the top there are stellar views as you overlook the rest of the Presidential Range. However, the wind chill causes one to want to limit their time at this elevation. As I write this, the current wind chill at Mt. Washington is -40 degrees. Most people choose to ride the SnowCoach back down, but my family and I chose alternative methods of transportation. My parents snow shoed down, while my sister and I used cross-country skis. Snowboards and downhill skis are forbidden on the road, though some members of the staff manning the weather observatory at the summit are known to sometimes use plastic sleds.


I have no clue how old my skis are but a good indicator of their ancientness is that they come from the time when cross-country skis were made from wood. However, they served me well on the four-mile descent down the mountain.