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February 29, 2008

The true meaning of spring break...

Spring break: a wonderful time in every college student's life. The half-way point between the spring semester. The time to relax, vacation, sleep in, go some place warm. But what about the time before that? There is one word for that: MIDTERMS.

No college student likes them. But every semester they happen, just like a nasty cold, they take over two weeks of your life you could spend doing just about anything else. Midterms aren't worse this year than any other year, but they seem ill-placed. Usually with midterms comes the hope of spring, of warm weather, of the nearing of summer. This winter it has been colder, and with the snow we got yesterday, wetter and whiter. Perhaps it's also because this semester has been going by faster than normal, and it doesn't seem like it's already almost half over. Perhaps it's just because I don't want to take the tests and write the papers...whatever the case may be, I'm not ready for them to happen.

It's not that I'm overly worried about my grades, or to actually study for the test, or write those papers, but the feeling of things being almost over. I think this year more than the previous two years, I'm realizing that my college time is more than half over, and that I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss the crazy study sessions at 3 am, learning new things and expanding my ideas about the world, the endless hours spent studying in the library, going to concerts and plays my friends are in, eating at TMC, the parties, and of couse spending time with my friends.

I know that I'll continue some of my friendships, but I also realize that some will fade away in the coming years, and that makes me want to cherish every moment possible, now, when I have the chance. Of course, that means midterms too, but you know what? That's okay. I'm ready (or nearly ready) to continue on in college, in friendships gained and lost, in life, and in love.

I wake up to the sound of music,
Mother Mary comes to me,
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
~Let it Be

February 26, 2008

Busy Weekend!

Hello all! Wow! What a busy weekend here at UMM! Between the Jazz Concert, Play-in-a-Day, French Films, New movies at the Morris Theatre, and a Preacher Moss coming to campus it was tough deciding what to do. (And working in study time on top of it) The UMM Jazz Ensemble gave two incredible performances on Friday and Saturday night. Members form many different "combos" that perform pieces of their choice. One combo I especially liked was made up of about 7 musicians who did a ska piece. Super high energy and super entertaining! I also checked out a French film on Friday night (put on by Entre Nous, the French org on campus) and There Will Be Blood (which won a couple of Oscar's Sunday) at the Morris theatre on Saturday night. One particularly cool event this past weekend was a comic performance by Preacher Moss. He is a comedian doing a comic lecture series and was at UMM on Thursday. Absolutely phenomenal! He had the audience on the floor laughing and at the same time he had a really cool message. So that's that! Morris weekends are filled with events. And now to finish studying I have left to do!

February 23, 2008

Go Cougars Track and Field!

I have been falling behind on my duties posting on here, but with all everything that's been happening in Mo-town, I just haven't been able to keep up! Being a member of the UMM Track and Field team means a meet almost every Saturday, in addition to classes and everything else. This weekend has been especially exciting, even though it's only Saturday afternoon now. Not only was there a Jazz Concert last night, as well as one this evening (our jazz program is incredibly good, which means these concerts are awesome), but there was also a track meet last night at Concordia, at which the Cougs broke two school records! Both the 4x800 meter relay and the Distance Medley relay easily broke the school records, showing our beloved Cougars as viable contenders for the UMAC Conference Champ trophy to won at next week's meet. Go Cougars!

And for those of you who have not followed my other posts...I am usually this excited about sports, but the excitement of broken records has me looking forward to watching UMM beat out reigning conference champ St. Scholastica next weekend!

February 21, 2008

Law School

After waiting over a month I finally heard from a law school. I was accepted to William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul, MN. It is such a relief to be accepted to at least one of the ten schools to which I applied. Many of my friends will be attending a job and internship fair in Minneapolis early next week but I had decided not to go because I knew I wasn't looking for a job; I was looking for law schools. I was nervous because I did not have a back up plan if I didn't get into law school, but thankfully I don't need one now. I know I will be attending law school in August of this year and that is a great feeling. I hope that I will hear back from the rest of the schools soon.

British International School vs. Traditional American School

One of the reasons I decided to student teach abroad was to experience the ways of a different school system, and to bring back new strategies, approaches, and style. I plan on doing all three!

Right away the biggest difference I noticed was the frequency of classes. Students take the same 45 minute class (Geography for example) twice a week, some meeting three times a week. The school year is set up into trimesters, so during a 10 week term the students only meet for a class on average 20-30 times! Very different from the 5 days a week schedule like in the U.S.

Students in year 9 (8th grade) have to choose a directed path for their next two years of study, called the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). Final exams for GCSEs are taken at the end of year 11, where students then choose A-levels (Advanced Levels), courses of in-depth study that count for university entrance requirements. Students can take more than one A-level for the last few years of their secondary career, the average being around 4. So while a benefit to this approach is that students can choose their path and get a deeper look into a subject, criticisms are that it might be too focused for students to get the well-rounded education with many different subjects like in the U.S. for example.

On a lighter and less confusing note (I still don’t quite understand GCSEs and A-Levels!), one of the things I like here is that when students are given worksheets or other photocopies, they stick them into their workbooks! No more of the excuse “I lost my sheet…�? because that would entail loosing the whole workbook. However, teachers do need to be careful of flying glue sticks and using up time the students spend on meticulously cutting the edges so they fit--but either way, I like it!

For those of you freezing in Minnesota I'm happy to share that the weather in Madrid has stayed a pleasant 50-60 degrees, with only a few days of rain. But don't worry! I'll be back in the cold in just 27 days. :-)

For more information:
Wikipedia on GCSE
Wikipedia on A-Levels

February 20, 2008

Hi, I'm Claire!

Hey guys

I am one of the new bloggers here. I think it's best to first tell ya'll a little bit about myself before anything else.
I'm a junior here at UMM and double majoring in French and International Studies, and doing the honors program. I really like the French program at UMM because of the faculty. There are three French professors here, and they are ALL great! (One of the French profs actually blogs too--Sarah Buchanan.) I wasn't sure about what to major in when I came to Morris and actually ended up becoming a French major because I only had to take one class a semester to get it, but I've really enjoyed it. Last summer I participated in the July in Paris program through UMM, and that was really great. (A LOT more work than I thought it would be, but definitely worth it.)

I'm also majoring in International Studies, which is actually a create-your-own major. At first I thought that it would be a lot of extra work, but it was just a form to fill out and have approved, it really wasn't bad. I like this major because you get to pick what classes you want from different disciplines (French, history, art history, economics, ect...) and they count towards your major! I think it's a really great way to double major and still graduate in 4 years! ;)
The honors program here has been great. I really like that the classes are interesting, and interdisciplinary (you'll have 2 profs from different programs). The classes are usually pretty challenging too, which can be frustrating from time to time, but in the end a good thing.

I guess the reason I chose UMM was because of it's buildings. I know, I know, why would someone chose a school based on that? Well, I wasn't sure what I wanted to major in, so I didn't really look for specific programs, so one of the most important things for me was what the campus looked like. The first time I toured UMM it was a sleety spring day, and NO students were on campus because it was their spring break, but it was still a really nice campus. I toured again the next fall, and that really helped to seal the deal for me. The brick buildings covered in Ivy; the HUGE green mall in the center of campus; the smiling students--I really liked the school. Of course, I didn't decided until about a week before I had to, but I'm really glad I came here.

There are always about a zillion things to do around Morris, and this weekend is no exception. Friday night I think I'll go to a movie. The Morris Movie Theater is getting some new, great movies in it, and with tickets only $3.50 each (student reduced prices) it's really affordable. Saturday night I'm going to the Jazz concert. If you happen to be in Morris some weekend and there is a Jazz concert, I highly recommend it. They're really really good and it's always cool to see your friends in it. With tickets only $1, it brings my grad total for weekend spending to $4.50 (or $9 if I want to be nice and pay for my boyfriend too...).

"Well, I'll bet you I'm gonna be a big star
Might win an Oscar you can never tell
The movies gonna make me a big star
'Cause I can play the part so well"
~Act Naturally

February 19, 2008

The Beauty of the Student Center

Hey all!

This is my first blog! My name is Kathy Julik-Heine and I am a fresman here at UMM. I am originally from Dallas, TX, but moved during grade school and have since lived in Taylors Falls, MN. I graduated from Chisago Lakes High School in Lindstrom, MN. Here at UMM I am majoring in Economics with a Pre-Law focus. I am hoping to work in a double major in Political Science/International Relations. I want to work for the Red Cross when I get out of college and then go onto Law school after a year or so. I have figured out so much since I have been at UMM and everyone here has really helped me learn so much (especially about myself). Since I have spent the better part of my day so far in the student center I thought I would blog a little blog about my love for the place. I got here around 9:30 and grabbed some delicious breakfast before starting on some homework. Here's the thing, I brought my Experimental Economics problem set that I needed to figure out before 2:00pm when class is and my English of which I need to finish a first draft of a paper on by Friday. Now you may be thinking, so what? BUT this is particularly amazing because I WAS stuck with both bits until I spent a few hours in the student center and ran into both a member of my economics class who totally understood the problem set and helped me out AND my english professor who is super friendly and brilliant and was more than happy to give me some advice on my paper. So that's it. I love the student center. There is always something going on and always sweet people hanging around! Blog out.


February 18, 2008

New Bloggers

More people at Morris want to tell you about their life at UMM!

In addition to your current favorite bloggers, you will soon see from entries from new bloggers. As they are currently learning the blogging software you may see some test posts and test images as they get comfortable with blogging. Things will look spiffy soon!

And here's my clever interpretation of the typical website under construction icon.


February 14, 2008

ACT Scores and Course Selections

I read an interesting report this week that looked at ACT results of Minnesota students. For those high school students that will soon be selecting their high school classes for next fall, I found some information that will be of particular interest to you.

There are some very strong correlations between high school course selections and ACT subscores, especially in math in science. Students that take calculus typically score much higher on ACT Math, and students that persist all the way to physics in their science course selections see a similar effect on their subscore for ACT Science. While I realize that there is a self-selection effect in the data, I think the data results make a convincing case to continue your course of studies in each subject rather than meeting the minimum graduation requirements. Overall, this data should make Minnesotans proud, for in every category the Minnesota average score exceeds the national average.