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Music at Coe: Hailley's First Semester Clarinet Experience

Even though I am not majoring in music, I've played the clarinet since sixth grade and really wanted to continue with it at Coe.  Lucky for me, Coe has a great music department with lots of opportunities available to both majors and non-music majors.  For this post, I'm just going to discuss my first semester experience and hopefully in a future post I'll discuss more music related options and opportunities.

Music takes place in Marquis, directly across the quad from the library.  I spent a good amount of time there this past semester both for Concert Band and practicing for my private clarinet lessons.  Concert Band met on Mondays from 4:30 PM to 6:15 PM and on Wednesdays from 7:00 PM to 9:15 PM.  There were some times when those rehearsals were a little long but we did play some challenging music this semester.  Here's a link to a song we played for our Homecoming showcase called New World Variations.  Since it's a long video, fast forward to 4:00 minutes to hear us play.

Speaking of concerts, we had three this past semester.  The first one was our Homecoming Showcase concert and we teamed up with the choirs, orchestra, and jazz band for this one.  The second was a preview concert at a high school where the band director is a Coe alumni.  Finally, we had our Fall Concert (along with the Jazz Band).  Concert Band is open to anyone, music and non-music majors and the band also has community members and alumni which is a neat aspect.  I met some people and became close with the other two clarinetists who played third clarinet with me.

When I was not in Marquis for band rehearsals, I was either having a lesson or practicing for it.  I took private clarinet lessons with Dr. Carson (who is also the Concert Band director) because I had never taken private clarinet lessons before and I wanted to improve my playing.  I had a half hour lesson and I had a lesson each week.  There are two other components of taking private lessons: seminars and a jury.  Seminars are one hour a week and it's where you meet with your professor and the other students who are studying privately with that professor.  For my seminar it was myself, Dr. Carson and four other clarinet students.  We played music, discussed elements of the clarinet and also performed for each other as our juries approached.  A jury is where you play for a panel of music faculty so they can see your progress over the semester.  You play the piece you've been practicing for the past 14 weeks and they give you feedback.  For my first jury, I played excerpts from Concertino by Faber which was a challenging piece but I had such a great feeling at the end of the semester when I could play it well.  In my jury and all the practicing time leading up to it, I could hear my improvement over the semester and that really kept me going and motivated.  The other part of the jury is that you have to find your own accompanist because a piece really does sound better with backup.  You do have to pay your accompanist but it's worth it; my accompanist was a fellow first year named Gina (who happens to live across the hall from some friends of mine).  She was fabulous and it has been decided she will be my accompanist for the rest of my clarinet career at Coe.  So that was nice.

And that's my first semester of music at Coe.  I hope it gave you some insight into I did the first semester on the clarinet.  Again, if you have any questions about music here at Coe, let me know because I'll ask one of my music friends and get back to you.  Just leave me a comment! :)    


Reflections on First Semester

First semester was fantastic.  I had great classes, great professors, and overall a great experience.  First semester showed me over and over and over again why Coe was the right choice and the perfect fit for me.  I know some of the friends I made this semester will be friends for life and that's such an amazing feeling.  Instead of trying to organize and spell out the highlights of the semester, I'm just going to make a top fourteen (because remember I'm part of the 2014 graduating class) list.  Enjoy! :)

My list, in no particular order because that would be too challenging (and probably too many ties!)

  1. Being asked to write a blog for Coe
  2. Trip to Baltimore
  3. Having fantastic roommates!  
  4. Christmas party 
  5. Reading Buddies
  6. Excursions off campus: bowling, ice skating, baseball game, shopping, museums, dragon boat racing 
  7. Activities on campus: Blindspot and Common Hour
  8. Spending lots of time in the library (especially on second floor, long tables!)
  9. First year portfolio 
  10. Movie nights
  11. Making new friends and meeting new people at Coe
  12. Becoming part of the Coe community
  13. My first clarinet jury (more on that soon!)
  14. Work study at the "U" (aka the caf) 


It's All Greek to Me: Sororities and Fraternities at Coe

Like many other colleges, Coe does support a Greek life.  Although I am not part of a sorority, I have friends who are.  Coe maintains three sororities and five fraternities.

Sororities: Tri Delta, Alpha Sigma Alpha, and Alpha Omicron Pi

Fraternities: Tau Kappa Epsilon, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Nu, Phi Kappa Tau, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia

Each group has their own wing in Voorhees and Greene, respectively.  Sororities have a formal recruitment process while the fraternities are much more causal and laid back in their recruitment.

The sororities at Coe conduct a formal rush process.  There is a small fee to rush and for one weekend, girls move from sorority party to sorority party meeting the girls and discussing each sorority and their philanthropy.  An interesting aspect of rush is that some girls rush simply to meet people.  A few of my friends rushed simply for the experience and they did meet a lot of great girls.  The parties are a way for the sorority to get to know all the girls who are rushing and decide who is a good fit for their sorority.  Rush is a three day process (usually a Thursday, Friday, Sunday deal) with Thursday being very informal.  The parties on Friday are a bit more formal and it's still a getting to know you and the sorority sort of party.  Finally, on Sunday there are preference parties.  These parties are by invitation and so on Saturday, girls who rushed fill out cards that say what preference parties they would prefer to attend and the sororities fill out cards with what girls they'd like to attend their party.  The preference parties are very formal, like Homecoming dress attire, and are held off campus (transportation is provided).  After the preference parties, each girl that rushed fills out a card saying what sorority they would like to join.  If the sorority they requested also requested them, it's a match.  The final part of the rush process is the running of the stairs.  The new members are called out, given a sorority t-shirt and run down the main Voorhees stairs into the arms of their new sisters.  It's a very loud and exciting ordeal and lots of sisters lose their voices from screaming so loud!

And that's kind of all I know about Coe Greek life; they do a lot for both their philanthropy and Coe.  I thought it would be nice to describe a bit about Greek life so prospective students can get a feel for what it's all about.  If you have any more questions, let me know and I can ask my friends who are a part of Greek life and get your question answered.  Oh and much thanks goes to my friend Briana Fischer who gave me lots of information on the rush experience!


Merry Christmas!

Hey gang!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, hope everyone is enjoying today.  Also wanted to give a quick update on upcoming blog posts.  I'd originally thought that with all my free time over break I'd be able to crank out multiple blog posts.  But I've been really busy this past week with catching up with friends, family, and old teachers, reading books (just for fun!), sleeping in, baking and much more.  So the next week, expect blog posts, I promise.

To all my Coe friends, I miss you bunch and can't wait to hear about your breaks!  To everyone else, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and thanks for taking the time to read my blog, I get a lot of enjoyment writing it and I hope you get enjoyment out of reading it.



Bye Sabrina! We Will Miss You!

On Friday when I left for home, it was the last time I saw my roommate Sabrina.  If you remember, Sabrina is a foreign exchange student from Germany and their program to Coe only lasts one semester.  She flew out of Cedar Rapids today to New York and then she returns to Germany like the 23rd or 24th of December (just in time for Christmas).  Heidi and I are really sad to see her go because she's been a fantastic roommate.  Having a foreign exchange roommate is a great experience: I encourage you to have one if you have the opportunity.  Heidi and I learned a lot about German culture and college life as well as some German words.  It was interesting to compare things between Germany and the United States (you can learn some interesting things).   

Heidi and I threw Sabrina a little going away/roomie party on Wednesday night.  We watched Sabrina's favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone, ate some chocolate, and reminisced on the semester.  We also got Sabrina a little going away gift, a Coe sweatshirt and we made her a pretty homemade card.  It was a fabulous time and it was a nice study break!    


Well yesterday I had my last two finals (which went splendidly by the way).  My first semester at Coe is officially over.  It feels great and I can't wait for the next semester.  After I explained the foundations of Western Civilization, I headed back to Murray to finish packing, said goodbye to my friends and the campus and headed back to Wisconsin.  There is a lot more snow here than at Coe which was definitely a shock.  But it's nice to be home.

I'll be home for three weeks and I will keep posting so make sure to check back.  I'm planning on putting up some reflections on my first semester of college and also some informative things on different aspects of Coe.  It's going to be great!

Happy Holidays! :)


Finals Update

Well, it's day two of finals.  I turned in a paper for my FYS yesterday (it was about the failure of macroeconomics) and today I had my African American Literature final.  Now I'm in the process of packing and studying for my French and History of Western Civilization exams which are tomorrow.  French is bright and early at 8 AM and History is right after at 11 AM.  And then I'm home free for three weeks!  Wow, first semester is almost done!!  Well just wanted to check in, more later when I'm not busy studying!


Reading Day

Yesterday was our last day of classes for the first semester.  It's kind of hard to believe one semester has already flown by.  Today is "Reading Day."  There are no classes and the goal of the day is to get some good studying in.  The campus is quiet and peaceful and the library is full of students.  I started my day off with breakfast in the caf and then I hit the library bright and early.  Because you know the early bird gets the worm.  Studied for a good three hours and then took a study break for lunch.  Then back to the library.  Hoping to take another study break to play some volleyball with my friend Krista and then dinner.  After dinner more studying will be done before going to bed early to make sure I'm all rested for the week ahead.  Tomorrow I have a paper due, then on Thursday I have one final and then on Friday I have my last two finals.  Then the semester is officially over!  Wow!!

Well, got to get back to the books.  More later! :)

Study Strategies

As Winter Break draws closer there is one thing left: FINALS.  Last week was our final week of classes and finals start this Wednesday through Saturday.  I've asked some friends and I made a list of the best study strategies my friends use.  We're hoping they will work for us this week while we hit the books!

  • "Special places" Find a spot that's comfortable to study so you can stay there for the long haul.  
  • Reward strategies: Commit to a length of study time and then give yourself a reward such as candy, watching a movie or hanging out with friends.  
  • Order of importance or order of finals: If you look at everything you have to do you'll get overwhelmed easily. So take it easy and order what needs to get done.  Study what finals comes first and then move on. 
  • Don't cram: it never helps.  Brain overload is more damaging than helpful.
  • Reread your notes everyday: keeps it fresh in your head and so you're less overwhelmed with information when the final rolls around.
  • SLEEP.  It's crucial.  No matter how stressed you are, staying up 'till the wee hours of the morning will not help you in the long run.  Your body can't run on only a couple of hours of sleep.  My rule is this: you're allowed one late school night a semester, a night staying up past 4:30 AM.  That's it; don't put your body or your friends through that and your moodiness/tiredness the next day.
  • Comfy clothes.  Another crucial element of good studying.  Break out those sweats and t-shirts, the hoodies and the boots.  If you feel comfy then you'll be comfortable and it will be more fun to study.  
  • Dog therapy: Coe is offering dog therapy on Reading Day (Tuesday).  A lot of my friends have a dog at home or simply love dogs so they're psyched for dog therapy.  Petting a cute, furry dog is probably a nice way to de-stress.  A dog is a man's best friend you know.
  • Cooking.  Sometimes after a long study session cooking or baking some cookies is the perfect way to relax.  And the best part is when they share! :)
  • Exercise.  It's a great way to de-stress.  I've played volleyball and ultimate frisbee this week as a way of taking a study break.  Not only is it fun, you get to hang out with your friends, and you're getting a work out in.  
  • Good music.  A must.  Find those songs that pump you up or calm you down, whatever music allows you to study at your best.  Plug in those earbuds and let the rest of the world fade away.  I find music a good way to get into the zone.  
  • Group study.  This works for some but it's not for everyone.  I like group study from time to time as a way of bouncing ideas off of each other.  But at the same time it also can be distracting because if you're studying with friends it isn't too hard to get off topic.  Balance is key.
  • Quiz your friends (and then they can quiz you!)  For some classes making notecards is the best way to study the information.  Grab a friend who also uses notecards and have a quiz session.  Spend 30 minutes quizzing them and then switch so you get a chance to study!  Heidi and I do this, I quiz her on Philosophy and she quizzes me on History of Western Civilization.  We both find this method beneficial.  
More to come! 

Gingerbread House Making: Writing Center Style

Every Monday night from 6-7 P.M. the Writing Center staff piles into the Lynch room (right off from the "U") for our weekly staff meeting.  We talk about a lot of different things and we always review the week ahead.  This week's meeting was a Christmas special one.  The night started off with a gift exchange and then led to a gingerbread house contest.  I was in a group with Heidi, Haley, Courtney, Alison and Karin.  We made a SWEET house if I do say so myself.  We didn't win but we came close and we had a lot of fun.

House under construction

Made with love!
Heidi, Courtney, Haley, Karin, and Alison



Ugly Sweater Christmas Party :)

Harry Potter Uno! :)

Heidi and Gretchen

As I said in my last post, my friends and I had a little Christmas party.  We snagged half of the Armstrong/Douglas lobby and Heidi, Sam, and I arranged a pretty sweet set up.  The night started with Rashad reading to us like little kids and then we popped in the movie Elf.  Caroline had made some cookies as a way of de-stressing and we drank cocca.  Ping pong games were won and lost, the boys failed at pool, intense games of Harry Potter Uno and Twister were played and overall, there was fun Christmas spirit in the air.  When we first had the idea for the party we wanted to make it an ugly sweater one and some came in their sweaters.  The other week, Millie, Caroline, Heidi and I had hit up Goodwill to find some ugly sweaters.  Millie and I both found one so we were decked out (until Millie's got itchy, then I was the sole ugly sweater girl).  A great way to spend my Saturday night before finals and Winter Break!  

Sam, Krista, Tyler and Claudia
Our epic set up!

The girls with the ugly sweaters! Hailley and Millie!

Hailley and Heidi



'Twas the Night Before Christmas Reading

On Saturday night, my friends and I decided to have a study break and get into the holiday spirit.  Our night began with our buddy Rashad reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  It was pretty fun and I even caught it on tape: enjoy! :)


Three Sisters, So Much More than Cast Mates

Last night Heidi and I attended Three Sisters.  It was a pretty packed house which was fabulous for a Thursday night performance.  We were somehow placed in the nosebleed section of Dows, top row on the second level.  At first we thought this would be problematic because we were so high up.  But as the play went on we actually discovered this wasn't a bad spot: we had lots of leg room and could make commentary if needed because there was no one around us.  And some commentary was necessary because we knew pretty much everyone in the play (this point pretty much emphasizes how awesome the Coe community is).

So as Alison warned me, the play was long.  Along with two intermissions the play lasted a good three and a half hours.  But it was unique.  Chekhov had a lot of narration, sometimes people are just describing events but not really having any dialogue.  Also, every character had multiple Russian names which confused me from time to time.  There was no rhyme or reason to when each name was used so that got complicated.  And sometimes the action was really slow, the characters would just talk and talk.  But I figure that's part of Chekhov's charm.  

The strongest part of the play was its cast.  Even if Alison wouldn't have told me her favorite part was becoming close with the cast, I could still tell the cast was close.  You could tell everyone wanted to be in the play and everyone got along well.  The dynamic between all the characters was fantastic; the three sisters acted like real sisters which really enhanced the play.  Their relationships seemed real which made the play more interesting and more entertaining to watch.

Heidi and I also just loved the play because we knew a lot of the people in it.  It was composed of people from the Writing Center, mutual friends or just people we see around campus all the time.  We were entertained last night and also knew we were supporting our friends.  Great feeling.  



Additions to the Blog, Evaluation, and Suggestions

You might have noticed I've been playing around with the blog features.  I'd like to highlight an addition I've made.  The big additions are pages (which are located on the left hand side of the blog below the picture of myself).  Pages are stand alone posts pretty much that don't appear in the blog reel.  I'm still working on some pages but my hope is that these pages will be a mixture of fun and interesting information.  The two pages that are up as I'm writing this post are "Books Read" and "Movies Watched."  I thought it would be a fun way to document what I've done and seen while I've been at Coe.  I'm also working on a few other pages but I won't spoil the surprise.

I'm also looking for suggestions.  Because it's the end of semester I'm filling out evaluations for every class I'm in.  So I decided to conduct an evaluation for my blog.  Do you have any things you'd like to see in the future or anything you'd like to learn?  What do you like about the blog, what keeps you coming back?  Are there features that I should do away with or should I just keep adding to what I've got?

Let me know, I believe (fingers crossed) I've got comments enables so post a comment, I'd love to hear what you have to say.  Thanks for reading!!

Interview with Olga, I mean Alison Polivka about Three Sisters

All right everyone, I'm trying something interview.  Coe's got a lot of fine arts activities on campus and the past weekend and this weekend Coe is showing off their acting talent with the performance of Three Sisters, a drama by Anton Chekhov.  Check out the news feed about it here:  One of the sisters is played by my friend Alison (she's Olga) so I decided it would be cool to interview her and get the inside scoop on this Chekhov drama.  I'm checking out the show tomorrow (Thursday) and I'll post a follow up review on the highlights of the show later this week!

The Three Sisters: Alison (standing), Taylor (sitting on chair), and Heather (sitting on the floor).

Hailley: So tell me briefly about Three Sisters.

Alison: Three Sisters was written by Anton Chekhov in the early twentieth century in Russian.  It is a play about three sister who are part of the military aristocracy and they have this big house in this little town far away from Moscow, which is their home town.  And the entire play is them wanting to go back to Moscow and they never do.  Their brother, Andre, marries a women whose name is Natasha and she takes over the house and kicks them all out.  Olga is the eldest sister and a schoolteacher.  She eventually becomes the headmistress, which she never wanted to do.  Masha, the middle sister, has an affair with a solider and he has to eventually leave.  And Irina, the youngest sister, almost marries someone but he is killed.  So the play ends with their lives being very tragic and the sister-in-law, who they hate, gets everything.    

Hailley: How did you get involved with Three Sisters?

Alison: There were tryouts in September and I wasn't going to tryout but decided "Eh, I'm not going to make it so let's go and see what tryouts are like at Coe."  And then I ended up making it as one of the three sisters and I was like, "Well that was unexpected."  And then I didn't really have a life anymore... (chuckles)  

Hailley: (Laughs) Well, that goes really well with my next question: What was the time commitment?

Alison: The time commitment is pretty intense.  But Three Sisters is a much bigger show then they've really done at Coe in the past.  It's a very long show, it's three hours and most shows are like an hour and a half so that's twice the time commitment there.  Then it was rehearsals five days a week for three hours, generally Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  But when that didn't end up happening, we added practices randomly and then before Thanksgiving we tacked on some extra practices.  Once we got back, we had two weeks of running the full show so I've basically spent the last month in Dows*.  For example, tonight (Wednesday) we have a dress run so I have to be there at 6:30 PM and I'll probably leave at 11:30 PM.   

*Note: Dows in where our stage and Theater department are located.

Hailley: So how did you balance the school and the play?

Alison: Not much sleep (laughs).  Well on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have class from nine to ten then an hour break, then class from eleven to one and then an hour break and then I have class and work from two to five.  Break from five to seven and then rehearsal.  So I have about four hours in there to get all my work done.  So I did a lot of work on Tuesdays and Thursdays because those are my semi-free days and then I'd also do my readings for history right after I got back from class.  And then when I was working in the Writing Center, I'd do my Asian Literature readings.  And I'd just try to squeeze in things and tried to work ahead if I had any extra time.  

Hailley: So did you come up with any new strategies in regards to time management and or keeping yourself sane?

Alison: Well I went to a high school that had a modular schedule which is a lot like the college schedule of random blocks of open time.  So that really helped me and also before Three Sisters, I found that generally from seven to ten at night was my best work time, which was now when I had practice.  So, I had to change all of my study time and I would do a lot of going to the library and locking myself in a room and not letting myself out until I finished what I had to do.  And then there was also the futon in my room became my study area and I'd have all my crap everywhere.  But also, I would have to go to the library sometimes because I have a roommate and she'd be in there and she would be doing things and I just need quiet.  And post-its, I did a lot of color coding.  (Chuckles at herself)

Hailley: It's all good.  So, what was the best parts of being involved with Three Sisters?

Alison: I got to meet a lot of upperclassmen.  There were two other freshman in the show; I'm the only freshman with a speaking role and juniors and seniors kind of permeate the show.  I've gotten to meet a lot of people that way; I've made some really great friends.  And it also helped introduce me to the school better than if I hadn't been in it.  Because I know a lot of fast ways to do things and just where to go and "You don't actually have to do this, just go in here..." sort of things.  The cast itself has been the best thing.   

Hailley: So kind of going along with my last question, what's been the most rewarding part of being a part of Three Sisters?

Alison: Being able to actually put on a performance because we've had a little bit of a rough time getting it together.  But we managed to get it together and we bonded so tightly and well as a cast that it was good.

Hailley: What were the most challenging aspects? 

Alison: The amount of time needed was really intense.  

Hailley: Did you expect that amount of time commitment going into it or was it unexpected?

Alison: No, I was definitely caught unaware because I was use to the time commitment of my high school shows which is maybe two, two and a half hours a day.  And four days a week with maybe a practice on Saturday if it was a particularly intense show.  

Hailley: Did you like Three Sisters going for two weekends?  Had you done performances for two weekends before?

Alison: In high school, it was never two weekends so that's been different.  I don't know if I like it yet because I haven't done it; it's the second week right now.  Because I mean, I'm kind of glad because we've worked so hard and for so long on this show that having two weekends to do it is nice.  But at the same time, it would be nice to have this week off before finals.  It really would be nice.  That's another challenging aspect: because this is the first show in Coe history to be performed after Thanksgiving break.  Other shows before Three Sisters go up the first two weeks before Thanksgiving break and then once break hits, we're done.  And then you have December to catch up on work.  But we don't have that now.  So we literally have our final show Saturday, strike on Sunday, last day of classes Monday, Reading Day Tuesday, final exams begin on Wednesday.    

Hailley: So that's all really quick right at the end.  Alison I'm going to switch up topics a bit, what's up next for your acting career? 

Alison: I'm in Twilight!

Hailley: What's that one about?

Alison: It's about the Rodney King beatings in 1992.  It's a collection of monologues that were originally done by one woman and we've split it up with thirteen people.  I'm playing a Korean women, a Southern man, and an anonymous juror, middle class American man.  So I don't know where that's going but I'm excited nevertheless.

Hailley: And when does that show start?

Alison: It starts in February and then it goes up in April.  

Hailley: This one is probably much smaller than Three Sisters?

Alison: Yes, it's smaller in scale in people, in costumes and set, and in time commitment.  Because I'm only doing three monologues and I'm never in a scene with another person.  So, there is a lot of individual work, which is going to be a little scary but it's going to be a lot less time commitment.  Because I guess what we are going to be doing is a lot of movement work which Dennis (Barnett) is going to have to teach those of us who weren't in his movement class this semester.  We'll do that for a little while and then we'll sort of have to split off and work on our monologues by ourselves because you can work on a monologue and get feedback but you can't really sit there and be like, "Let me act with you," because that doesn't work.

Hailley: So then how many shows a year does Coe do?

Alison: There are usually three main stages but this year there were four this year: Frauen Im Schatten (Women in the Shadow), Three Sisters, Copenhagen, and Twilight.  Copenhagen is being put on by two professors: Dennis Barnett and Doc (Steve) Feller and Doc Feller's wife.  Oh and for the record, Twilight is not about vampires.  

Hailley: Well, thank you Alison, you've been more informative and I can't wait to see the show tomorrow (Thursday!).  

For more information on the upcoming shows at Coe, visit the Theater Department link:


Video of the Week: Liquidity Trap

So with finals approaching, I'm a little short on time.  But I don't want to let my audience down and not post a video.  I've decided to show you a project I made for my FYS; we had to make a whiteboard presentation with a partner about a economics concept that is related to the current recession.  We were suppose to present it in a clear way so that anyone could understand the concept.  My video was on the Liquidity Trap and I made the video with Austin.  Enjoy and I hope you understand what the Liquidity Trap is after it!



First Snow at Coe!

So for the past week we've been getting flurries but no accumulation.  It has been a bummer because we all want that first snow of the year but keep getting false ones instead.  But last night it finally happened, the snow STAYED.  Heidi and I were so excited, you can probably tell from the pictures below! :)  I'm sure we'll come to despise the snow when it's still here in late January and February but right now, we are pretty content it's here to stay.

Lace Up Those Skates and Hit the Ice

With winter in the air and Christmas just around the corner what would be a better way to spend my Friday than going ice skating?  SAC hosted free ice skating at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.  This was my second trip to the arena because for Orientation week we also got the opportunity to ice skate.  I had so much fun the first time I wasn't sure if this trip could top it or not.

Heidi and I

Tyler and Daken
Coe had rented the rink for two hours on Friday night.  There were a fair amount of people there and everyone was at a different skating level.  Two of my good friends were EXCELLENT skaters because they've been playing hockey since they were little kids.  And for some of my friends this was their first or second time or they just hadn't skated in a while.  I myself ADORE skating and even brought my skates from home!  I can't do any tricks but it didn't stop me from trying.  And so I epically failed.  Fell only five times, so I feel that isn't too horrible.  And it was just fun, relaxing and enjoyable; such a perfect way to spend my Friday night.  When we got back to Coe, Heidi, myself and two friends of ours went to our room for some hot chocolate.  It was fabulous and really hit the spot after skating for so long.
Claudia, Haley and Heidi
So I learned I probably won't become a professional figure skater and win a gold medal in the next Winter Olympics, but I still had a lot of fun skating and I hope to go back soon!


A Stimulating Intellectual Conversation....aka Common Hour

Heidi and I had an adventure today; we attended Coe's Common Hour for the first time.  What is Common Hour you may ask?  Well according to Terry McNabb, who is in charge of Common Hour it's

" Common Hour is meant to bring faculty, students and staff together to learn about issues of common interest to all members of the campus community." 

Today's topic was about academic rigor and culture at Coe.  Heidi and I sat at a table with a sophomore at Coe, three faculty members and one administrator.  Our question we were suppose to discuss was 

"Where else on campus, besides in the classrooms, does academic rigor 'live'?  How are academic expectations communicated by other members of the college community?  How can members of the campus community support each other in their attempts to be rigorous?"  

but we didn't get far on that because the faculty we were sitting with wanted to grill us on what we thought about Coe's academic rigor, teacher expectations, peer support, our college preparation, and much more.  What was great about it was it allowed me to think about and reflect on my opinions of the liberal education I'm receiving at Coe.  I was able to put my thoughts into words and have my opinion be heard; I loved the opportunity I had to discuss the definition of "rigor" and my expectations for the educating I'm receiving.  One of the administrators who was there said he loved that we had such a great passion for learning.  And that's true; I love learning and school.  While people might get overwhelmed by a syllabus, for me, a syllabus excites me; I now know what we are going to cover.  All that knowledge is sitting there on that one piece of paper just waiting for me to dig into it.  I love that. 

Heidi and I left Common Hour feeling intellectually stimulated and excited.  The discussion we had epitomized what we hope to have in all our classes; an atmosphere that allows us to express our opinions and debate or agree with others' opinions.  The back and forth conversation that eats up large chunks of time but to us, seem like only a couple of minutes; a place where time really does "fly."  Although this was the last Common Hour of the semester, Heidi and I have vowed to attend almost every one next semester.          

Caf Creation

All right, so here's the video of the week.  I've entitled this series "Caf Creations" and I hope over the next few months, you'll get to meet a lot of my friends showing you how they spice up the food they see everyday at the caf.  First up is Krista and she's here to show you the industrial easy bake oven the caf owns.  Enjoy! :)


Learning to Read...The Joys of Service Learning

Well it's snowing in Cedar Rapids and the first snow parallels what I was doing this morning.  Part of my first year experience requires me to volunteer 20 hours at a site of my choice.  I chose Garfield Elementary School, just a ten minute drive from Coe.  I volunteer every Thursday and I usually read books to kindergardeners.  They are so adorable, exciting and full of life.  I've read some great books to them so far, my all time favorite is Fancy Nancy.  But today I did something a bit different; the kids read to me.  They've gotten to the point where they know their alphabet and know small words.  The books they read to me were short and often rhymed, but it was exciting.  All the kids I worked with wanted to read to me, they were excited to show me what they knew.  To see them pushing through the words, making sentences, understanding that each letter has a sound, it was mind blowing.  We take reading as a simple thing but at one point we were at that stage, sounding words outs and feeling the accomplishment of figuring out that "tricky" word.  And none of them gave up.  I might have given them some helpful hints along the way but in the end, it was all their work.  I was so proud of them.  And I'm so glad I chose Garfield as my service site.  I've accomplished the goal the Service Learning Program gives each first year student: find a place where you can be passionate about what you're doing.  Because then the service doesn't really seem like service at all; it's just something you love to do.  


Thanksgiving Break Discovery

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

When the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie come out, everyone knows it's time for Thanksgiving.  Today is my last day at Coe because our break starts today.  I leave this afternoon and come back on Sunday night.  Heidi and I were talking and we decided on this: we are really psyched for Thanksgiving Break.  We know we will have fantastic times with our family: catching up, hanging out, and eating wonderful home cooked food.  But at the same time, we will dearly miss Coe.  Because at Coe we see our friends everyday: walk to class with them, hang out with them, eat dinner with them.  And so for about the next six days, that won't occur.  We'll all miss each other and serious catching up will need to be done when we return.  So Heidi and I have discovered we are an integral part of the Coe community and that feels great.  It's a beautiful situation we find ourselves in.

Have a great Thursday everyone!


A Crazy Week...Preparing My First Year Portfolio

This week has been a crazy one for me.  To start off, I had my first college research paper due today (Friday) for my FYS class.  The paper was on the 2008 Recession: how we got there, what happened once we got there, and why did it even happen in the first place.  I actually really enjoyed writing this paper (don't tell my classmates that, they weren't crazy about writing it!) and I felt it was a nice way to show my professor everything I've learned the past three months.  I now have a pretty good grasp on the crisis, the players involved, the gravity of this crisis as compared to recessions in the US' history, and the multitude of problems it created.  My paper, complete with three graphs, ended up being 12 pages so I spent a lot of my time this week revising and strengthening the paper.  At the same time as I was becoming very comfortable with the crisis, I was also preparing my First Year Portfolio.

Every first year has to make a portfolio; you include at least two FYS papers and then you could also include another paper you've written this year at Coe if you'd like.  The other part of this portfolio is a preface.  It's a reflection on your college writing experience so far at Coe and reflections on the two (or more) papers you've included.  You talk about your writing process in creating these papers, challenges you faced and triumphs you had.  You print two copies of your portfolios and one copy goes to a professor in your FYS area of study (for example, one of my portfolios will go to an economy teacher) and the other portfolio will go to another FYS professor.  Each professor will read my papers and give me a score from 1-6 along with feedback and comments.  The portfolios are a way for me, my FYS professor, and Coe to see how am I doing with college style writing.  So I finished my portfolio and research paper last night and turned them in today.  It feels REALLY GOOD.  Now I've got a nice weekend to relax and catch up on everything I had to put on hold while I worked on the paper and portfolio.  Then I've got Monday and Tuesday at Coe and then Tuesday afternoon, I'm going back to Mt. Horeb for Thanksgiving Break! Whoo!    

Slight Delay for Movie of the Week

Hey guys!

Okay so here's the deal: I'm working REALLY hard to get a movie up here soon but I don't know if it will be this week.  I have been really busy preparing a research paper and a First Year Portfolio (see next post) so I've been spending an enormous amount of time at the library writing and revising.  So I apologize for the delay but I promise a movie will be up here soon!  The movie I'm working on is called "Caf Creations" because sometimes the cafeteria food needs to be a little jazzed up and I (or my friends) will show you how to do it!


Car Jumping 101...Friday Night Adventure

Another exciting Friday night for me at Coe College.  First off, it was a little rainy which was fine but also sad because even though buildings aren't very far apart, it's still a pain in the butt to walk in the rain, even with a raincoat. But anyways, my friends and I decided to go on a little Target run and grab a few things that would sustain us until Thanksgiving break.  We head to my friend Haley's car and we get in.  Haley sticks the key in, turns go.  Battery dead.  Problem.

So we head back to Murray, our Target plans dashed.  As we are sitting in Murray we are running through our lists of friends trying to decide what friend would know how to jump a car because none of us know how to and don't have jumper cables (because we don't have cars).  We finally figure out what friend would mostly likely have jumper cables and the knowledge of car jumping: Briana.  So we call her up and then Haley and I head back to the parking lot.  Here's what I learned about jumping a car: red and black cables which correspond to the positive and negative of the battery.  Hook them up, starting with the car that actually runs and then the car with the dead battery.  Let some of the juice flow from one to the other and then test it out.  To take the cables off, you just do the reverse of what you did before.  And volia!  The car no longer has a dead battery.

After that adventure, my friends and I went to our fourth Blindspot of the year!  Yipee!  My favorite part of this Blindspot was a five minute dance party at the end of Blindspot; I'm hoping it becomes a tradition!!  After Blindspot was Midnight Bowling at a bowling alley north of Coe.  Bowling was totally free, Coe's Student Activity Council sponsored it.  This council, known as SAC sponsors something every week for Coe students to do.  Sometimes there are midnight movies, ice skating, bowling, board games, pumpkin carving, comedians, musicians, etc.  So Midnight bowling ROCKED.  Got a 118 on my first game, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself! :)

And yep...that was my Friday Night Adventure.


A Trip to Baltimore!


Hey everyone!
Coe College Writing Center (not all of us, just the 35 of us who went)
Right now as I'm writing this I'm sitting outside on the quad near the library enjoying the uncommonly beautiful November day.  All the trees around me are changing colors and some of their leave have fallen or are about to fall.  It's nice to be back on campus and enjoy this weather.  I said back on campus because only one week ago, I was headed on a train to Baltimore, Maryland for an nationwide Writing Center conference.  I think I've talked a bit about Coe's Writing Center but to recap, it's a place at Coe where students can come in with their papers (at any stage of the writing process) and consultants, such as myself, will help them make the paper better.  There are college writing centers across the United States and each year they like to come together to share ideas, discuss their practices and make new friends.  This year the conference was in Baltimore and I got to come along.
The harbor
Me at the Capitol
The trip was a blast; we left last Tuesday from Coe and returned last Sunday night.  We took vans to Chicago, a train from Chicago to Washington D.C., spent half a day in D.C. and then took another train to Baltimore.  The conference was three days and we got to explore the city along the way.  Any good trip isn't complete without good food and we certainly had that as well: Indian, Thai and seafood were our big three.  In Washington D.C., my friends and I racked in seven miles in only four hours and saw all the necessities of D.C.: the capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the White House.  In Baltimore we really enjoyed the harbor and spent a good amount of time there, shopping and wandering about.  It was a fabulous trip (as you can probably tell from the pictures I've included) and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this through Coe and the Writing Center.  
Some Writing Center consultants shopping it up

Question of the Week

So here is the question: how does one release all that stress that us college students face?  Answer: CLARK RACQUET CENTER.  The video this week shows my friend Krista showing you the fabulousness of the racquet center.  Just a bit a history for those followers who like their history, the Clark Racquet Center was built 1989 and was funded with the help of K. Raymond Clark.  Enjoy!


Blindspot Footag

So it's the Friday night.
Before Halloween.
Everyone is pretty psyched.
And to make the Friday night even better, it was time for a Blindspot.

The thing I love about Blindspot is how people from all niches at Coe perform all different sorts of things.  And every Blindspot is unique because no one person or one group of people do exactly the same thing each time.  My favorite act of the night and maybe my favorite Blindspot act of all time was a cello quartet called Cellotic Chaos.  Four girls, four cellos, and one song.  Pretty epic.  I won't spoil what the song is though, I'll let you see for yourself (footage compliments of my friend Haley).


Question of the Week

Hey everyone!

I'm so sorry that my question of the week has been delayed so long; I've been extremely busy keeping up with school work, mid terms were last week and along with studying for them I also had a few papers to write.  So now I'm back in the swing of things and hope to have movies more frequently.  The question of the week is how do I get mail at Coe?  Well, we have mailboxes, as I am going to explain in my video.  You get your mailbox or GMU box for four years.  In this nifty mailbox you can receive mail from friends and family and also mail from other Coe students and Coe staff.  They're pretty cool and since they are located right near the cafeteria, they are easy to check.  Enjoy!


Cirque de Coeil : HOMECOMING 2010

Our Homecoming Dance group!
All right so last week was Homecoming and it was a blast!  For me things really got kicked off with the Homecoming Concert on Friday night.  Concert band, jazz band, choir, and orchestra all performed pieces and the concert ended with Coe school spirit songs.  Later there was the coronation of the king and queen followed by a bonfire near Eby Fieldhouse.

My friends and I enjoying the football game!
On Saturday there was the football game and our football team took on Wartburg.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day and a perfect to watch football.  Sadly, we lost but we put up a good fight.  Then it was time to dance!  The Homecoming Dance, Cirque de Coeil, was Saturday night from 9:30 PM to 1:00 AM.  It took place at the Crowne Plaza, which is only about seven blocks from Coe, not even a mile away.  There were shuttles to take people to and from or you could walk if you didn't want to wait.  Some Coe students rented rooms at the Plaza so they wouldn't have to worry about getting back to Coe in the wee hours of the morning.  A ton of students were at the dance and we all had a great time.

There are other Homecoming festivities that I didn't discuss because I didn't have a chance to go to them.  There was a Powderpuff Tournament (girls playing football) and boys' volleyball tournament for the athletes and Homecoming Follies for those who would like to showcase a talent of theirs.  I hope that next year I'll get to check out more of the Homecoming events but for my first year, I had a great time!  


Marv Levy: Outlier and FYS Speaker

Part of the First Year Experience is reading a book over the summer before you begin your first semester at Coe.  The book I had to read was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  It's a good book and Gladwell discusses success and how certain people are more successful than others.  What I like about this summer reading is that it gives you some small talk when you meet other first years because you all had to read the book.  And if you don't decide to use it as small talk there will be plenty of other times to talk about it: we had multiple book discussions and I had to write a paper on the book.

The reason I'm bringing up Outliers is because every year the FYS committee tries to bring in a speaker that relates to the book.  In prior years the actual author of the book has come in and if the author isn't able to make it, Coe tries to chose someone who embodies the theme of the book.  This year our speaker was Marv Levy, popularly known as the Buffalo Bills coach from 1986-1997.  Levy is a Coe alumni and also coached football at Coe at the beginning of his career.  Since it was Homecoming week it was a perfect time for Levy to be on campus and talk to us first years!  

He was a great speaker.  Levy told a lot of jokes and made us feel at ease.  He talked about his career and related his speech back to Gladwell's message of success.  The quote Levy kept saying rang true to me was this: Where else would you rather be than right here, right now.  And it's true, enjoy the moment you're living in right now.  At the end of his speech he gave us a few words of wisdom and here is just a few of his words o'wisdom: idealism, being a friend and having friends that are trustworthy and patience.  I left the speech feeling energized and inspired.

Issue Dinner: Freshman Experience

So every incoming freshman has certain requirements and activities they need to do, it's all a part of the Coe experience.  I got to check one of these items off this week when I attended my Issue Dinner.  An Issue Dinner is where Coe brings a speaker in and instead of eating in the cafeteria, we eat in the Lynch Room (located right next to the cafeteria) and listen to the speaker.  After the speaker is done, we discuss the issues the speaker brought up with our table mates.  For my Issue Dinner, I listened to Momodu Kamava an African refugee.  He shared his experience in Sierra Leone and his journey with his family to the United States.  A few weeks ago, Momodu became an official US citizen and he shared his excitement with us.  The biggest thing he stressed with citizenship is our right to vote; he told us how we take our right to vote very much for granted.  We think our one little vote won't make a difference but Momodu tried to tell us that our vote does make a difference because a lot of little votes add up to one very big change.  He was so excited to vote, he couldn't help from screaming his happiness to us.  Momodu hopes to go back to Sierra Leone because he wants to make a difference and feels his experiences and time spent living in the US will help him do that.  He is already trying to make a difference while he is still in the US by starting his own book collection.  One of the biggest problems in Sierra Leone is illiteracy and Momodu is gathering used books and sending them to Sierra Leone as a way to try to begin to tackle this problem.  Overall I thought he was a wonderful speaker.  I learned more about Sierra Leone and how difficult it was for their citizens to escape to the US while their civil war raged on.  I loved Momodu's spirit, he was full of life and optimism for the future.  He was strong in his beliefs and I believe he will end up back in Sierra Leone, ready to make a difference.        


An Ultimate Friday

Hey everyone!

So at Coe there are a ton of clubs representing all different subjects.  It would be hard for you not to find a club you enjoy.  But the club I'm going to talk about today is Coe's Ultimate Frisbee Club.  You can bet that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3 - 5 PM you can find around twenty kids enjoying the whizz of a frisbee on the Library Quad.  The club is all about having a good time, learning the rules of the game and improving one's skill.  And the Coe Ultimate Frisbee Club is pretty serious about their sport; they travel to tournaments and compete against other schools.  It's a lot of fun and great way to relax and worry about catching the frisbee instead of that paper that's due in a few days.  What the club also really needs are girls; they can't play in tournaments unless there are enough girls so the team isn't completely dominated by the boys.  So check it out, meet some new people, throw the disc around for a bit and enjoy the weather, you won't regret it!


BLINDSPOT: First one of the year

Lynette doing some poetry
Friday night was the first Blindspot of the year.  Blindspot is a variety show hosted once a month.  The story behind the name is that anyone can perform anything, the audience is blind to their faults.  Any student can perform an act (lasting no longer than five minutes) in Blindspot as long as they follow three simple rules:

Mike singing it up

1. They can't harm themselves.
2. They can't harm the audience.
3. They can't harm the space.

G playing his flute
Of course they are the regulars, the students who perform every Blindspot and are adored by the audience.  I saw a Blindspot when I came in February so I recognized some of the regulars.  There's Joe, the host, who plays original piano pieces, Georgia, who improvs while singing, the ladies of Sigma Phi Mu with interpretative readings, G beat boxing on the flute, and Ellie who sings.  And these aren't even all the regulars, they are some more but I don't know everyone's names (yet).  And of course there were some newbies and they did a fantastic job.  It was great fun, can't wait for the next Blindspot!


Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

Here's another cool place to check out while you've got some down time in Cedar Rapids.  I got to go because Heidi had to go for an Art History assignment and I tagged along.  It's about a fifteen minute walk from campus.  And with your campus ID, admission is free.  It's a small museum but really pretty.  Heidi was checking out the Roman exhibit which corresponded perfectly with my study of Western Civilization.  Some of their other collections include a Grant Wood collection, Malvina Hoffman (Rodin's last student), Czech and Slovak collection, and Mauricio Lasansky.  Here's the link to their website:  It's a really nice place and you should check it out!

Coe Question of the Week

So Heidi and I have decided we are going to do a Coe Question of the Week.  Check here each week to find a new video of fun.  This week with fall starting up it has been a bit chilly and we needed some hot beverages, aka hot chocolate.  Heidi has decided to share her special recipe with you all so enjoy!

Question number one: How does a college student make hot chocolate in a college dorm room?