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April 27, 2008

Senior Blogger Receives Campus Award

This is an exciting time of the year for those of us in the admissions office as high school seniors are in their final few days of making college decisions. This year we have had the chance to get to know some really great students and we look forward to having them join our campus this coming fall.

Unfortunately it is also the time of the year when we have to say goodbye to seniors who will be leaving us for greater things. UMM has a great student body and we sometimes wish we could keep them forever. I was browsing through our website today and came across this article announcing that Simón Franco will receive this year's César E. Chávez award along with Anthropology professor Donna Chollet. If you have ever visited campus for an open house you may have met Simón as he is always happy to volunteer to be a tour guide and last week even served on a student panel for junior visit day.

Congrats Simón!

April 15, 2008

Job Fair and Jogging

I don't have class until April 28th, so I could be really lazy, sleep till 2pm, and watch tremendous amounts of TV...but that is not my style and I've been staying productive. Yesterday was the education job fair at the convention center in downtown Minneapolis. I went to the fair with two main purposes: Get interview practice and meet and greet with some of the schools I’ve applied to. I ended up accomplishing both, and had a real interview with a school I’m really interested in! It went well and I’ll know by Friday if I move on to the next step of the application process. I’m staying hopeful but realistic as well.

Also, today I started my first day of training for the Irongirl duathlon. It's being held in Bloomington this September. What is a duathlon you say? Not to be confused with a biathlon, a duathlon consists of running and biking, so skipping out on the swimming section of a triathlon. I’m training early because I have a looonngg way to go considering last time I jogged outside for fun was never, and for sports it has been since 2004! So far, so good.

Until next time!

Warm and Windy

It finally feels like spring at UMM today. Some students were on the mall, although there probably would have been more without the 30 MPH wind gusts. It is sunny and coat necessary! This week is really busy at UMM because there are alot of social events as well as academic events going on. In only two of my classes I have two exams, and a major paper due not counting any of the regular homework I have due on a day to day basis. Sometimes I wonder how I get it all done...and somtimes you just don't.

On the social side the dance ensemble has its show which is always a great thing to see. Students work all semester on choreographed dances designed by other students or faculty or staff and then perform them in Edson Auditorium over two nights. Early in the week though there are elections for the Morris Campus Student Association and sadly that will mean my term as Vice President of MCSA will be over. With the elections come the debates between executive candidates, that is all candidates running for the presidency or vice presidecy positions. There was a debate that was aired on KUMM 89.7 last night from TMC. Students could come in and submitt questions to the candidates. I think the debate was alot of fun and I was happy to see engaged students there. The Briggs Library Associates, who are, "UMM friends who love books, who enjoy cultural pursuits and who believe in supporting an important campus and regional intellectual resource" have their annual meeting and elections tonight (BLA Website). The theme of this years event is UMM students and their study abroad experiences. I think it will be alot of fun because it brings together students, faculty, staff, administration, and Alums who all love the Briggs Library. The list could go on and on and the events I talked about are only a sampling of the variety that is available on campus. Next time you visit UMM check out the activities board in the Student Center for the latest happenings on campus.

March 27, 2008

Off to Law School

Today I sent in my deposit to William Mitchell Law School. In about 5 months I will be studying in St. Paul and on to a new phase in my life. I was pretty nervous sealing the envelope and putting it in the mailbox. Being myself I waited until practically the last minute to mail it in because it is due Tuesday in their hands. I wish you better time management when applying to schools because it can be a nerve-racking feeling to wait until the very last possible day so let a school know you are coming. My advice to you, send in your deposits soon because the sooner you do the sooner you can get your housing, registration, and other fun information. Sadly it is time for me to move on to a new project. Check back soon and perhaps I will have new information about my law school escapades.

Spring Break in Marco Island, FL

After being in Marco Island, Florida for a week, it has been a hard transition back to the snow and cool weather. My spring break this year was amazing. This is the first year I have gone on a trip for it; the past three years I have gone home to work for my parents at our Dairy Queen. I went with a friend from my hometown and her family. We stayed in a house on a canal that was connected to the ocean and it had an in-ground pool and hot tub. The Tiger Tail beach complex was only about two blocks away and the sand at the beach was super fine and soft. Almost every day it was in the mid 80s and sunny so of course I got lots of sun and time to swim. I suggest that every student should go on spring break somewhere because it is a very relaxing event in the middle of a hectic semester. It was tough to fly back to Minnesota to a snow storm but I think I am beginning to transition back. I have about half a semester left here at UMM and I know it is going to fly by. Below are a couple pictures from my spring break…the first one is the group I went with on break at a Minnesota Twins spring training game (by the way they won; hooray!) and the second one is a picture with the four girls on the trip on the beach on Marco Island. In both pictures I am on the far right.

whole group at twins game.jpg
4 girls on the beach.jpg

March 26, 2008

UMM Summer Jazz Workshop

Interested in Jazz ...

Many know that a highlight of the spring jazz calendar is UMM's Jazz Fest. This year, UMM is also offering a Summer Jazz Experience for high school students.

This June we hope you will have the chance to come to campus for a 3-day residential jazz immersion. In addition to instruction from UMM's Jazz Director "Doc" Carlson, students will also receive instruction from international jazz legends Chris Vadala and Allen Vizzutti.


This event should be an excellent opportunity for high school students to further refine their jazz skills. The clinic is open to high school musicians in grades 9-12 (coming year) with a range of music and jazz backgrounds: from beginners to experienced, there will be sessions designed for your needs and interests. Click here to further explore this opportunity.

March 7, 2008


Wow...time sure does fly. I cannot believe it has been a month and a half since I last blogged!! Where does the time go?

In her blog, Claire wrote about how fast time passes. She is so right to cherish her time here at UMM, because being an undergraduate student is such a unique period in one's life. Never again will you have the chance to stretch your mind with a group of students who are all approximately your same age, living, laughing and studying together. It is a challenging time of life, but also very rewarding.

As I look at the faces of my students this week, however, I am not sure that they are feeling very rewarded at this point in time. It is mid-term at UMM, and everyone is taking exams and writing papers like crazy. The students look a bit tired and haggard, and everyone is eager for spring break in a week.

But I also know that once the crunch time has passed, most students will be very happy with the fact that they are being pushed and stretched. They know that they are learning and that the skills they are acquiring through these moments of stress will help them live their lives one day.

Ahhh, life is funny. We complain when things are hard, but we are also proud of ourselves for accomplishing difficult goals!

Keep on pushing, everyone!


Last week of Student Teaching

This term has gone by soooo quickly that I can hardly believe it is March and almost Semana Santa (holy week) which marks the end of my experience here at King's College Madrid. I came to this school not really knowing what to expect and was immediately welcomed into the Humanities department by my wonderful cooperating teachers, and the others that work in Geography and Economics. They gave me the freedom I needed to experiment in the classroom (some trials were errors I have to admit!) and the support I needed to gain such a vast amount of knowledge about myself, teaching, and being an educator. I didn't always say the right things--"I would kick you all out if I could!"--but I feel I have gained the respect and trust of the students I have worked with during this short time, and in general I believe they have learned from me as a teacher, and that is the most important thing to me! This next week I look forward to closing out my experience and coming back to what I hope will be a snowy Morris to start a new chapter.

I wish King's looked like this!! But it has been too warm for snow. It is throwing my biological clock off too because I had thoughts of the state fair last weekend when it was 70*...Not right when it is only March!

Until next time,
Kate Oliver

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 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.


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!


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