Check out my other blog: Arugula Addict! I'll be writing about my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When the Fire Alarm Sounds It's Best to Leave the Building

Today has been full of excitement! As you can tell from my title, we had a bit of a scare today but thankfully, no one got hurt.

It was just before 2 pm and I had just finished eating lunch and was headed back to my room in Preston Hall. My roommate had shown me the back stairs several days prior, and since it was quicker to go in and out the back way, I was making good use of my newfound knowledge. I opened the door and as I started up the first of 3 flights of stairs I heard a strange buzzing sound that seemed to get louder the higher I climbed. "What's that?" I wondered, but unfamiliar with my surroundings, I shrugged it off. A couple seconds later, the buzzing stopped. I popped out the door on my floor and sniffed the air as I made my way down the hallway, wondering if perhaps there was a false fire alarm. I smelled the slighest tinge of what could have been smoke, but then again, maybe someone had burned something in the kitchen downstairs, so, unconcerned, I turned the corner and took out my key to unlock my room. As I did so, I heard a loud chattering sound coming from outside. I stood on tiptoe to look out a window and noticed small knots of women standing on the front lawn of Preston Hall, talking excitedly as men in white shirts circulated amongst them, asking questions. A large red fire engine with lights flashing stood guard and a police car was nearby. "Uh oh," I thought, "someone is in trouble for setting off a false fire alarm!" I then proceeded to calmly unlock my door and go into my room. I set my book and juice down on my bed, then, with wallet and keys in hand, I decided that now would be a good time to go and run some errands. I took the back stairs, this time a little faster than before, and slipped out the back door, heading towards the administration building by a path that did not take me by the front entrance. I was concerned that if indeed someone did set off a false alarm that I would look like the guilty one, and I really didn't feel like answering a bunch of questions about something I had no idea about!

To make a long story even longer, after getting my student ID card and buying a couple of postcards in the bookstore, I headed to the Education department for one more errand, then headed back to the dorm. When I asked the RA at the front desk what had happened, she excitedly exclaimed that someone had been using a microwave and it burned and there was lots of smoke. I guess my guardian angel was working overtime today to keep me safe!

I continue to meet people as I settle in here. Today, I met Finees, a friendly Hispanic junior Theology major, and Ruben, who was in the bookstore. Ate lunch with Vladimir, so that was fun, as the first eight days I was here, I ate lunch by myself every single day, reading a book so I wouldn't look like a loner.

I went for a walk at Dexter Drumlin again, this time in bare feet, and it was absolutely marvelous, tromping through lush green grass, squishing mud between my toes, as the sky expanded above me and the fields fell away in front of me. I'll have to take a camera next time to capture it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Show Yourself Friendly (but you don't have to befriend everyone!)

I checked my flip-phone for the hundredth time, it was still working and no, I had not missed a call, so I opened up my email account, but there too a familiar sight of "O New Messages" stared me in the face. Feeling rather disconsolate, I decided to go in to "town," a 15 minute brisk walk down Main Street to a small plaza with a few rinky-dink high-priced stores. I had been gearing up my courage all afternoon, but wasn't quite enthusiastic about the thought. However, it was almost 6:30 and I had another 3-4 hours of time to kill, so I thought, "might as well," pulled my small rolling suitcase out from under my bed and prepared for the trek.

Three hours later I sat on my bed, smiling, as I looked at the $5 sheet, mattress cover and pillow case that now adorned a very green mattress. I had replenished my mini-mandarin, extra crisp gala apple, and just-ripe banana supply and down in the kitchen, three plastic containers contained baby carrots, cucumbers and a green pepper. Black sharpie letters "maria L" inscribed across every one of them laid claim to my belongings. I had snacks, lotion, chocolate!, black socks, a small paring knife, a mini cutting board, a miniature brush and pan for dust, and my prize find: a gallon plastic storage container for water. I had everything I had put on my list and more! This time in town I decided to check out Family Dollar, an inflated version of The Dollar Store but it carried more items. I soon filled my basket (and wish now I had gone there first last week, but oh well!) and then popped next door to Shaws to get my fresh fruits and vegetables. I happily paid with ATM and got the maximum cash back, $20 in each store, thinking how I now had enough cash for another 8 meals. Students get a 10% discount for their meals, which I unfortunately did not know the first week I ate in the caf, so I can get my plated meal for $5 instead of $5.25, but oh well, what's a quarter?

I paid $35 for linens when I came, which included a towel set, pillow, "foam blanket," sheet and fitted sheet. Unfortunately all the elastic was gone from the fitted sheet, which has been driving me crazy because I wake up in the middle of the night with half the sheet off the mattress and I have to re-make my bed every single morning and evening (my bed is also my study room). I'd been dying to get another fitted sheet and was prepared to pay. When I went down the last aisle in Family Dollar, I was ecstatic to see sheet sets. I was in euphoria when I found one for $5!!! Okay, so it is 180 thread count and if I'm not careful, I'll probably break the elastic in this one, and it feels cheap but I DON'T CARE!!! I have a nice looking bed again, I put the new fitted sheet over the old one so it keeps it on nice and tight, and it even matches my "foam blanket!" So I'm happy. It's funny, I've probably spent at least $50 or more on household items, but I like my comfort and if I have to be living here for another 5 weeks, I am jolly well going to live in style!

I'm making friends and I'm happy about that :) Heidi, the mom in my class who is also on my team for group presentations, is super friendly and I sat with her at lunch today. She talked my ear off, sharing all about her life, and I didn't mind. Joan, my roommate, is very sweet. She is usually terribly busy, either in the library or the computer lab, but when we are in the same room at the same time, she likes to chat. Rosemary, Dr. Trott's secretary, is very helpful and friendly too and likes to give me all kinds of advice about doing different classes for Chaplaincy. I don't know what her name is, but there is a sweet Eastern European lady who takes my money at lunchtime and makes sure I have my juice and slice of bread and salad. I see Dorothy, the RA and a nursing major, every now and then and we exchange smiles. Finally, there's Vladimir, the Filipino Theology/Nursing senior who serves my lunch and is very outgoing and helpful. I realized today that I don't have to be friends with everyone and everyone doesn't have to like me. It's okay to be me, someone who observes the culture quietly for a time, and slowly befriends people who are most like me and with whom I am most comfortable with (Sherry!!!). That's a big relief to realize! Well it's almost 10 so I shall say goodnight :)

Grumpy Mornings

It's raining and when I went to prepare breakfast this morning, my cucumber and carrots were frozen. I could have cried! There are so many things about this place that irritate me to no end. The fridge stinks, because not everyone is vegetarian so there is a strong smell of fish and who knows what else, and I have to store my food in there. The kitchen looks disgustingly dirty, there aren't any plates or cutlery or sharp knives lying about in easy access, so I sneak a knife from a grubby looking dish rack, clean it as best I can without any dishwashing liquid, and hope I don't contract some deadly disease in the process. It stinks upstairs too, where I go to fill up my water bottle from a drinking fountain that is one of the few items on this campus that actually looks pristine, but the hallway itself smells (probably more fish stashed in someone's room). I have to drink water every day, and I can say I've tasted worse, but there's a metallic/rancid/off-tasting aftertaste in my mouth after I drink and it stays for the rest of the day. I've been trying to think positive thoughts all week long about how good the water tastes and how healthy I am being, but it doesn't work. My mind refuses to believe opposite to what my tastebuds happily share. So breakfast was 3 slices of bread with mayonnaise, that was it. I know, people in third-world countries don't have a lot of different foods to eat and I shouldn't complain, but even in third-world countries they have their own space (however small it is) and they can go to a nearby vegetable stand and buy fresh vegetables whenever they want, and the cucumbers aren't frozen! I went to bed last night at 10 pm but tossed and turned for about two hours, why, I have no idea, but probably lack of sleep is lending to irritability. Or maybe it's everything compounding. I want to go home, where I feel needed, where I am in my comfort zone, and where I can hide away in a CLEAN house and I don't have to wake up with kinks in my shoulder because the mattress is so hard. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! There's a circus coming to town on Friday but unless I want to walk for an hour in the rain to get there, I probably won't be able to go. Oh well, that's my life. As miserable as it could possibly get right now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Connection in a Field of Rye

Well maybe it wasn't exactly a field of rye that I was tromping through this afternoon as I stretched the kinks out of my restless legs, but my thought for the day came in a moment of epiphany as I contemplated hordes of small birds rising from perches hidden in the waving brown stalks. Connection. Something we all need to survive and yet, the older we grow, the more we seem to lose the capacity to connect easily. Little babies need to be touched and held, to know that someone cares about them, or they will die. Toddlers find it easy to connect with others as they beam missing-teeth-grins up at anyone who will stoop to their knee-high level. Pre-teens and soon teenagers, they continue connecting through best friends and puppy love. Young adults begin to learn, though, the harsh lessons of "letting go" and "moving on" as they search for the perfect job and the perfect spouse in the perfect environment. It is then that we need connection the most and yet when we find it the least.

Well, I've just spent the last 3 hours doing homework and trying to write deep philosophical essays based on deep philosophical books, so my brain is a little fried right now! Here are some bits and pieces from here and there.

"You can have more degrees than a thermometer, but yet not be very wise." Karl Haffner.

According to a study done by UNICEF, the country that has the happiest children is the Netherlands. The US is next to last, right before the UK, out of 21 countries.

Campmeeting was not without its humorous moments. A three-man trio on guitars did special music on Sabbath. As they solemnly strummed away, they quivered in true country style, "Fur He saaaved the wurst amung u. . .and I know, yes I know, Jesus' bloooood kin make the viiiilest sinnur kleeen." Kinda reminded me of Andy Griffith.

The junior clinic orchestra attempted to play Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring for offertory. Everyone clapped at the end, more out of relief that the song was over than anything else! The instruments started out together, at least, but about halfway through, the trumpets decided to take the path-less-traveled-by, while the flute went meandering down by the stream, the strings were harmonizing to a "new song" and the piano continued to pound out the notes, albeit slightly faster than before. The director bravely carried for another five minutes of the painstakingly painful rendition until she turned the last page of the music and ended with a flourish, with the instruments straggling to a close in various keys.

I seem to have an admirer. He's about 55, short, balding, and slightly pudgy. At lunch on Friday I was reading "The Book of Romance," one of my textbooks, while quietly eating in the cafeteria and minding my own business. The aforementioned person (who I do not know by name yet, most thankfully!), leaned over from the adjacent table and with a too-bright smile, asked what I was reading. I told him, he had a couple of questions about the book, and the conversation ended. Unfortunately, I probably was a little too friendly (blame it on the fact that I'm a sanguine and I can't help being friendly, especially when I don't talk to people for hours on end!) as Sabbath lunch he came around for the second time. This time we were at least two tables apart and I hadn't even noticed him or made intentional eye contact. I was again calmly eating my lunch when I looked up to see him beaming away in my peripheral vision. He didn't stay there, of course, and in a split second he was about two feet away, asking if I wasn't the person who was reading a book in the caf on Friday. Stupid me, I should have replied, "A book? I have absolutely no idea what you are referring to, I am illiterate," but as wit and speed do not always come to my rescue, I acknowledged that it indeed was myself. He wanted to know who the author of the book was, this time, and I said it was Tommy Nelson and he thought he could find it on Amazon and I hastily agreed. Thankfully that brought the conversation to a close, though he did pass my table several more times on his way for refills, during which I looked most studiously at my dinner roll or appeared absorbed in my mac-and-cheese dish. I dearly hope he was only here for campmeeting and that I shan't see him again tomorrow at lunch, beaming expectantly and wanting to know how many pages are in that book!!! Hysterically, the book is about Song of Solomon (which of course I happily told him the first time he asked about what I was reading) and is a Biblical commentary of love and intimacy within marriage. Mooooooom, why did you bring me up to be so polite and friendly???

It's been lovely weather in the past 24 hours. Cooled down dramatically and I absolutely loved my walk this afternoon in the fresh air, after which I went and studied outside for another hour and a half. Oh how I long to knock out the entire wall next to my bedroom and replace it with a floor-to-ceiling window with full screen so I can breath in deeply nstead of relying on 5 inches to keep the air circulating. I shan't complain, though. It could be worse, and guess what? I can sit outside and pick up wireless anywhere. It's amazing! I still hate the water, my mattress is as unyielding as ever, I'm rather lonely (maybe I should get a dog, hahahah), and mealtimes are a little too stressful, but I'm gonna stick it out :) At least for another week. . . .tehehehe.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Education Doesn't Come Easy or Cheap

Today has been rather uneventful. Thanks to Vladimir, I got a copy of the campmeeting schedule so I was able to go to vespers last night and then Sabbath services today with my roommate, Joan, who is currently taking a nap (and I'm very tempted to take one too!). During the sermon I had all kinds of interesting thoughts floating through my mind to blog about, but now they've all flown to the wind.

For Sabbath School the SNEC did a feature on Adventist Education and it was excellent. They focused on how their schools are heavily involved in ministry to their community, actively involved in missions to other countries, and energetically involved in helping every child develop a personal relationship with Jesus. After being in an environment where it appears that we are the only ones who have the true picture and blueprint of education, (except for other self-supporting schools, of course) it is refreshing to come to a mainstream conference that is pushing for values in education that will develop active young leaders in the community. I was happy to see that we aren't the only ones and wished that others could have been there to hear the presentation. It is all too easy to stay on top of our self-appointed high and holy hill, looking down in disdain at those "beneath" us, when in reality, they may not only know what we know, but they may be several steps ahead also.

Karl Haffner, the weekend's speaker, presented a sermon that got me thinking. He asked the question, "how does one recognize an Adventist?" which is a legitimate query. The answer he proposed was simple: those who love others are true Adventists. He gave five steps, including telling the other person, showing it through actions, writing it down, and two more I can't remember right now, and concluded by saying, Live Life with Love. I wish that simple concept was preached more from the pulpit and practised more in our lives. As I look on my current surroundings, and remember the past 10+ years that I have experienced in what some term as a "commune" I realize that if there had been more love and less rules, it could have been different. I'm not saying we should go all out and opt for "love only, we are all saved by grace," letting it all hang out and throwing standards and principles to the wind. There is a balance to be held, after all. What I am saying is that there isn't enough love out there. We're afraid to love because we're afraid. Afraid we'll step over some invisible line, offend someone, be misunderstood. We're afraid we may actually get to know someone and discover who they really are inside and find something in common with them and love them even more. We're afraid that if we love others, we will become vulnerable and then we could get hurt or left behind. We're afraid to love because it is not culturally acceptable to love, unless it's our golden retriever, our mommy or veggie pizza.

The question begs to be asked: what then is true love? True love as defined by 1 Corinthians 13, as demonstrated in Jesus' life, and as required by those who profess to be Christians and followers of God, well it is amazing. It is freeing, sacred, and faithful. As Paul said, nothing counts but love. Not charity, not tongues, prophecy, faith, or martyrdom. Only love.

I'd like to take this thought and ponder it a little more. How can we, as conservative Bible-believing Christians, share true love with those we come in contact with? How will they be able to know, by our deeds, actions and words, that we are loving Adventists?

Friday, June 26, 2009

An ID Card for a Vacuum Cleaner

Communication and trust. Those are two things that I highly value, which is why I get upset when I feel like I'm not getting that. Today I had an interesting experience. It's Friday, cleaning day, right? Since I'm only paying $100 a week for my room, I figured that cleaning wasn't included, so this morning I headed down to the front desk to ask the RA if there was a vacuum cleaner I could use to vacuum my room. I had attempted to find one on my floor, but with no luck as the doors which looked the most likely were firmly locked. The RA was helpful enough, she said she had no idea if there was a vacuum cleaner I could use, but she would ask the dean. Fifteen minutes later, after sitting not-so-patiently on the brown fake-leather couch in the lobby area, I looked up to see the RA wheeling an ancient dusty commercial machine towards me while she asked, "do you have your ID with you?" I replied in the affirmative, thinking she needed to know my student ID number, but no, that wasn't enough, she had to have my student ID card so she could hold it until I returned the vacuum cleaner. Of course that would be one of the things I wasn't told about, or given instructions on how to get, so I asked hopefully (and slightly frustrated) if my state ID would do. She nodded so I rushed up to the third floor to retrieve my precious ID, rushed back down to claim the dinosaur, and then lugged it up to my room to vacuum the tiny patch of carpet that had collected a week's worth of dust and dirt. Exactly eight minutes later I was back down in the lobby, handing the vacuum cleaner back to the RA while I claimed my ID. Then it was off to lunch.

As I reflected on why this particular incident upset me so much, I realized it came down to what I began this post with. I didn't feel trusted. At home, everyone knows me and my friends can give me the keys to their house and trust that when they can come back everything will still be where it was when they left it (maybe missing a chocolate chip cookie or two!). Not only that, but I will have cleaned up after myself, as I was raised by a very Dutch-German mother who taught us the value of leaving things better than when you found them, particularly when visiting others. (Sorry Mom, I'm still trying to learn that lesson when it comes to my home. . .and yours!) So here I was, in a place where no one knew me and obviously, no one trusted me very much either. I mean, it wasn't like there were 50 people clamouring for vacuum cleaners all at the same time, all determined to rush out and stash them in their cars and drive off with machines that could have been displayed in the Smithsonian with pride! They knew what room I was in, I was going to take it upstairs and bring it right back down again, surely they could trust me?

Needless to say, I did not dare ask for a dust cloth or cleaning supplies for our little sink, afraid I might have to give them my passport or some other valuable item in collateral. Hey, maybe next time I should leave my laptop down there! (NOT!) I improvised with one of the cleaning cloths I'd bought at Shaws earlier this week, and discovered that dishwashing liquid can do double duty to clean sinks as well, even though it doesn't smell as nice as lemon Soft Scrub!

Communication is my other pet peeve. I have realized that is one of the reasons why I feel frustrated here, and more determined to work on my communication skills when I return. If nothing else, at least this experience has helped me see what it is like to be a student in a place where you can't easily get away or go to a nearby store to pick up some personal items, where you don't know what's going on or who knows what is going on, where if you want something, you'll jolly well have to figure it out on your own, and where basically, while a few people are happy you are here, the general population couldn't care less. I'm learning what it feels like to be part of the minority, while ironically enough, I have always been in the minority, but this time around it isn't as comfortable. Anyhow, as I was saying, if people communicated more, I wouldn't feel as frustrated, I think. I mean, I'm trying to reach out, to ask questions, but even to basic questions, the general reply is "I don't know." which is extremely annoying!

Okay, enough of the pet peeves. I'm grateful that I was able to buy a loaf of Squirrelly bread at the caf today, for $3.50 and I bet it's a Mr. Beaton recipe because it doesn't have any oil in it and it tastes and looks just like poppyseed bread from Weimar, tehehehe! Lunch was white jasmine rice with teriyaki tofu "beef," yum yum! and I have finished my homework that is due Monday. I'm trying to pace myself and not do my homework too soon, otherwise I shall be bored! The rain came last night, so it is cooler again, thankfully, but the humidity is still very prevalent.

By the way, if you're bored, check out You can create your own music station(s) based on your favourite musicians. I discovered Heritage Singers is on here, so I'm excited and listening to all kinds of fun gospel music now :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hawks & Haystacks

The sun is shining! For the first time since I came to AUC! It looks absolutely beautiful when the sun shines, except then it's hotter and more humid too. I haven't decided yet which is worse: sun and humidity, or rain.

I am now officiallly certified to be a Prepare.Enrich facilitator. We had a one-day training seminar today and I am now trained to administer online inventories to couples considering marriage and married couples and can provide specific feedback about couple strengths and issues. It's kind of neat and super scary. You can read more about the program online at

Today I went exploring and came across an incredible find: Dexter Drumlin Reservation. I headed out at a quarter to five, eager to work out some of the wriggles from sitting in class for 8 hours straight with a 1 hour break for lunch and a couple of brief breaks that I took advantage of to take a quick stroll along the neatly laid out sidewalks. They say that Weimartians will always find a Loop no matter where they find themselves. Well I've found two so far. One is a 5 minute rectangle right in front of my classroom, the other I discovered today is a real loop :) By the way, my classroom is in the Founders Hall, which is the oldest Adventist educational building that is still in use as such. There are two pulpits in there, one used by Ellen G. White and the other by William Miller. Pretty neat!

So, as I was saying, this afternoon I slipped my phone into one pocket, clipped my cayenne pepper spray on, and turned on my Ipod to shuffle so I could enjoy some invigorating music while I walked. It's really quite funny, for those of you who know me well, because I really am not the exerciser at home, as a matter of fact I'm always looking for ways to get out of walking, but the instant I leave and find myself in strange surroundings, I suddenly have an irresistible urge to go walking, wAlKiNg, WALKING! This afternoon I turned right and started doing a loop around the main campus. My first goal was to see if there were any sidewalks I could follow (it isn't a neighbourhood that is very conducive to walking) and perhaps to head up the hill I had seen off in the distance behind the library. But I soon ran out of sidewalk, so I turned around and cut across behind main campus, strolling past plant services, the back of the library, and then turned left past the Browning Elementary School and Lancaster SDA Academy. I noticed a really neat hill across the road and when I popped over to take a look at the green meadow topped by a gentle hillside covered in tall grasses waving in the breeze, I found I was entering Dexter Drumlin Reservation, a 38 acre wildlife reserve. I thought I'd just head up to the top of the hillside and see what was on the other side, but found myself pushing on, Ipod now turned off, the explorer instinct in me eager to see how long of a path it was and where it really led. It was absolutely amazing. You know all those quotes about being in nature and how we can learn about God and feel closer to Him there? Even though I live in nature and can practically fall out of bed into the woods, I am still not as connected to it as I could be. Not in a pantheistic manner, mind you, but just being more aware of the beauty and purposely setting aside time to spend observing it. I think past experiences and how I was raised, though, haven't really helped much in my desire to be out there, exploring and reveling in the fullness of nature's expression through so many creative pictures.

I stayed on the narrow path as it took me over the top of the hill, through tall reed-like grasses, past clumps of small brown mushrooms, alongside a rushing stream, through marshy areas and freshly cut grass, past tiny buttercups, and finally back in a loop to my original starting place. It only took me 15 minutes of brisk walking on a 1-mile loop, but it was exactly what my soul needed, to breathe deeply of nature's beauty.

But I haven't told you about the hawk I saw today! On my way back to the women's dorm, after my 45 minute hike (yes, Dr. J, I'm getting my exercise in every way I can!), I noticed a huge bird gliding to a tree about 20 steps away. It settled on a broken-off branch and proceeded to preen itself and settle on to its perch. I think it was a hawk, but then again I think every large bird I see is a hawk and, living in California, most large birds are usually vultures, but it was huge and brown with white spots and colouring. About 2 seconds after it landed, a tiny bird about 1/10th its size began to chatter rather loudly as if berating this intruder. I found a park bench and settled down to watch as the audacious bird began to dive-bomb the hawk, repeatedly coming at it from different angles, sometimes swerving at the last minute so as not to end up plastered against the huge bird, but never giving up. The hawk, unperturbed, continued to fluff its feathers or survey its surroundings, looking rather bored with it all, all the while not even acknowledging its rival. Soon the tiny pipsqueak was joined by a partner, and now there were two taking turns, swooping and swirling, but the hawk would not be budged. I finally left after 10 minutes of inaction from the hawk. As far as I know, he's still sitting there, content to perch high above it all. It was a lesson for me, though. I wish I could be more like the hawk, solid and consistent, not paying attention to the distractions that seemed to be ever-present.

Haystacks? We had them for lunch and they were yummy, but it's been forever since I've had haystacks with the real corn chips, you know, the kind that are curled up, not tortilla chips but real corn chips, so it was quite tasty. Even though I'm fast tiring of the fruit juice and bread that is always the same every single time, I still relish being able to eat a hot meal that I haven't had to prepare!!! Sabbath is a buffet line (I pre-bought my meal ticket yesterday) and while it's a little pricier, at least I can go back if I want.

I guess this has been rather a long post today, but I don't get to talk a lot to people who want to listen to me, hence I find my outlet online! Hope it hasn't been too boring, cuz I sure enjoy it!!! Till tomorrow :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk, Walk, Walk!

"Bleugh," I think I just tried to swallow a bug! On my walk after lunch today, I was briskly trotting along under my blue and white Andrews University umbrella (which prompts people to ask me if I'm from there) when I realized that a foreign object had just entered my mouth. Having seen a rather large mosquito on my arm seconds earlier, attempting to suck my lifeblood out through my shirt-sleeve, I promptly concluded that the foreign object needed to be expelled—IMMEDIATELY!

For some reason, and I really cannot explain this strange phenomenon, I am not only craving fresh fruits and vegetables, I am also feeling strong impulses to go walking. Anytime, and all the time! I happen to be living on the third floor (and no, Mom, there is no fire escape outside my window, but at least the fire station is right across the street from us) and every day I walk up and down those 30 stairs to get from the first to the third floor. Because incidentally, "we have no elevator here," the associate dean told me on my first day as she kindly lugged my 46 pound suitcase up the stairs as I struggled with my laptop bag and book-bag. All I can say is, it's great exercise! I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to get snatches of exercise here and there, because it seems like most of the day I'm sitting. Sitting in class, sitting for lunch, sitting and doing homework, sitting and watching movies (oops, that wasn't supposed to be in there!).

Today my adventure took me the opposite direction, past the Conference headquarters, past a beautiful park-like area, and past all kinds of interesting looking buildings. I saw a Settlers' Cemetary that had a no trespassing sign and found a spot that talked about some massacre in 1692 or so. My 35 minute walk, in the midst of steady sprinkling rain that loves to blow up under my umbrella, was invigorating and prepared me to hit the grind of reading and writing reflection papers for the rest of the afternoon (though it's 3:47 pm and I haven't started yet!).

By the way, for those who are wondering, I am settling in bit by bit. In class we are working on group projects and I have some neat people I'm working with.

Here's something fun to end with. My Packing List for Next Summer:

1. Cute summer shoes that can withstand torrents of rain (and not galoshes!)
2. An umbrella that folds into the size of a slice of bread and unfolds into the size of Noah's Ark
3. An ultra-light laptop that weighs about 5 ounces
4. A portable elevator, or a rapel rope (whichever will get me from the first to the third floor the quickest)
5. A pillow that refuses to shrink to a cubic inch the instant your head touches it
6. Light-weight no-wrinkle clothes that will keep me warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot
7. A cucumber-tree, onion pot, mandarin bush, and a just-ripe banana tree
8. Anti-frizz that really works! (so you won't mistake me for a science experiment on static electricity)
9. Water purifier that can attach to the bathroom sink for easily accessible water at all times
10. A fitted sheet that is fitted and does not insist on slipping sideways in the middle of the night

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rules Of Life

Rule # 1: Always carry an umbrella with you because it can start raining at any time.
Rule # 2: Nobody uses an umbrella.
Rule # 3: If you want to go anywhere, you're going to have to walk.
Rule # 4: No one walks; they drive.
Rule # 5: There are few caucasians here; it is largely multicultural so you should fit in.
Rule # 6: Since you are caucasian, you do not fit in.
Rule # 7: A vegan option is served at lunch in the cafeteria.
Rule # 8: After 2 days of vegan food, you will be craving fresh fruits and vegetables (1/2 cup of salad greens at lunch does not count).

I am learning a lot here, as I explore a new world very alien to my own. It's amazing how quickly we adjust and adapt to what we then term as normal and when we are thrown into another environment, we are quick to label what is "right" and what is "wrong" according to our previously known "normal." For example, I am used to seeing people walk for exercise. Well here, either everyone exercises at Curves or finds a city park to walk in, because the most walking you will see is someone going from one classroom to another. Or the whole "vegan" thing, which is quite fascinating. I am most grateful that there is a vegan option, don't get me wrong, I'm glad I don't have to stuff my arteries with cheese (even though I do at home, haha, but I'm trying to get away from that). However, here is where it gets interesting. Lunch today was a large serving of meat loaf, a generous portion of mashed potatoes & gravy (all ladled by a very friendly server), then a scoop of dried up tough green peas, a small serving of assorted salad greens with 3 cherry tomatoes hidden among the leaves, and then there's a slice of wholewheat bread and margarine, and a tub of 100% fruit juice. Okay, you say, what's wrong with that? Nothing, except for the very strange fact that I am craving fresh cucumbers, steamed vegetables, stir-fried vegetables, salad vegetables, any kind of vegetables! (and a fruit here or there too) Funny, isn't it? I realized that at home, while I need to work on eating healthier breakfasts and suppers, I actually have extremely generous portions of vegetables for lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY and so I'm missing that now. Even at supper I'm used to eating cucumbers on my sandwiches and the odd tomato or two.

You'll be happy to know that I signed up for a membership at Shaw's today. In case you're wondering what in the world Shaw's is, it is the closest grocery store to AUC and it has plenty of. . . .you guessed it. . .vegetables! And other things too, like bananas for 54 cents a pound, teeny tiny clementine tangerines, paper plates & bowls and spoons (don't worry Dr. J, I'll re-use them at least twice!) and plastic croc-look-alikes for the shower. It's a Walgreens/Safeway combo, has good stuff and terribly high prices, but doesn't have every single little thing your heart could desire. But I'm happy because I am now the proud owner of an English cucumber, which won't last long because I'm planning to eat some for supper tonight, and I have tons of tiny baby carrots, so I shan't be lacking for my fresh vegetables either!

Well, it's 3:30 pm and while I did some of my homework for today, yesterday, I should probably finish it off and do some other important things like read ahead or watch The Batchelorette, tehehehe!

Till the next discovery!

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Day @ AUC

well, I just got back from a lovely brisk 15 minute walk :) I don't know why I suddenly feel like hiking up hill and dale, but it's probably because I'm such a sucker for fresh air, and I've been stuck inside for 3 hours straight this morning for class (with a tiny break) and 3 hours straight this afternoon doing homework and I had our single window that only opens up 5 inches closed till just a few minutes ago. The problem is that it is windy, so every time the wind blows, the door jiggles, and that can get extremely irritating after a while, to hear the door constantly jiggling back and forth! I am really appreciating Weimar more and more every day, especially having my own little place, and being able to work where I can smell fresh pine air and have my window open in the office and walk to get water from behind the caf and walk to the admin building and walk everywhere, constantly! I smiled as I went on my walk today, I realized two reasons why God brought me here: so that I could appreciate the blessings I have at Weimar and so I can focus on Him with no distractions. Here there is no TV, no music, no friends, no places to eat, no shopping, no cleaning, no meetings, no work, nothing except for the basic every day things like eating breakfast and brushing my hair, going to class and doing homework. The rest of the time I'm free. It's kind of strange, I realized, as I found myself checking my work email, but then stopped myself short of answering the emails. I realized I am a workaholic and it's because I need to feel needed, I need to know that people count on me, because that is the type of person I am. But this is what I need, right now. I need to be in a place where I can be quiet, get away from the busy rush of it all, and just be still. I think that's gonna be kinda hard for me to do! but I'm grateful for the opportunity and am actually reveling in the thought that I have 6 whole weeks of stillness. Oh, one thing I am absolutely grateful for is that the water tastes good and there is a water fountain in the building. I'm sooo happy about that because if the water doesn't taste good, I'm not likely to drink it! I hope I can sleep better tonight, but at least I have a pillow and my mattress is firm instead of hard (it's comparable to one of those Weimar sanitarium mattresses!). And praise the Lord for fast internet and Pandora so I can at least listen to music. I think my roommate will be in the library most of the time (she's doing a night class too) so I shall be here by myself quiet for a lot of the time, which suits me just fine. Tomorrow begins a whole new day, and I'm pleased because I've already done my homework and am contemplating doing tomorrow's homework as well :) We had an interesting assignment today: to evaluate a paper about God as Woman. I personally thought the author was focusing on all the negative parts of how women haven't been able to hold equal ecclesiastical posts, but I was happy with my reaction paper. One point I made was: we (men & women) are equal but equal does not mean identical.

Okey dokey, I shall sign off for now!