Thursday, June 28, 2018

What I've Been Learning in New Zealand

Kate Liggett, ISA Intern Abroad, New Zealand

I have been in New Zealand for a little over two weeks now, and I have been learning a lot about living in a new country as well as in a city and living independently. Here is a list of some things I have learned so far while living here in Auckland.

  1. Traffic goes the other way in New Zealand, so do people when they're walking. When you're crossing a street, look to the right. When you're on a sidewalk, walk to the left.
  2. Kmart is cool here. They have cheap clothes that look pretty good, so I can see why. They are not like the Kmarts in the US that look like they were abandoned 10 years ago despite still being open.
  3.  The World Cup is a big deal here. If you don't have anything to talk to your coworkers about, get up to date on the games.
  4.  Rugby is very different than American football. If you try to watch a rugby game only knowing the rules for football, you will be very confused. Find a local to watch a game with and have them explain the rules. It's actually a very cool game.
  5.  The buses don't stop at every stop on their route. They have to be signaled by either a passenger on the bus or a person at the stop putting their arm out. If you aren't paying attention and assume other people at your stop are waiting on the same bus, you will miss you bus and be late.
  6.  Most people here dry their clothes on a line to conserve energy which is actually really cool.
  7.  There isn't always A/C or heating in your apartment and sometimes your window has a leak in its seal making your room really cold at night. You definitely should have brought pajama pants from home (this might be a really personal one that most people won't experience).
  8.  It's possible to have a female Prime Minister who gives birth while in office (look it up, she just had her daughter last week). Maybe this means a female President could get the job done if elected? But I won't say anything about the US here.
  9.  Togs means swimsuit. There are a lot of words that are different here. It can be confusing, but if you ask what something means, everyone I've met has been happy to clarify.
  10.  It is illegal to turn left on a red light (this would be the equivalent to turning right on red for us).
  11.  Flying within the country is pretty inexpensive. In related news, I'm going to Queenstown on the south island in a month.
  12.  Hokey Pokey is an ice cream flavor, but the description on the label is "hokey pokey flavored ice cream." I still don't know what it is, but it tastes good.
  13. You have to remember to go grocery shopping regularly or you'll wake up one morning and not have anything to eat for breakfast.
  14.  When you do go grocery shopping in a city, it's helpful to not buy much more than what you can fit in your backpack so it's easy to walk up the big hill to your apartment (or take the bus or whatever is applicable to you). This means more frequent grocery shopping so you don't have carry as much at once.
  15. Kiwis, at least all the ones I've met so far, are very kind and helpful. Don't be afraid to ask someone for directions when you're out walking around. I've gotten a lot of good advice, from what to do in my free time to where to shop for clothes, form coworkers, servers at restaurants, and cashiers at grocery stores.
  16.  Kiwi means the people but also the bird but also anything New Zealand made or owned (example: kiwi bacon is not bacon made from their endangered national bird. It is New Zealand made bacon). The fruit seems to always be distinguished as kiwifruit just to make things a little less confusing.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

One Year Later - From Nanzan to JET

Last May, I was preparing to depart to Japan to study abroad at Nanzan University in Nagoya for the summer. Now, I've been preparing for my departure back to Japan to work abroad as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) with the JET Program.

Taken from JET Program USA -
"Founded in 1987, JET has sent more than 60,000 global participants (including nearly 32,000 Americans) to work in schools, boards of education, and government offices throughout Japan. What makes JET unique is that it is the only teaching exchange program managed by the government of Japan."

I first heard about JET in high school through former JETs and informational tables at my high school. Being a participant has always been a goal of mine, so receiving my congratulations email was unbelievable. Although you don't need to have a teacher certification or any knowledge of the Japanese language, you do at least need to have your Bachelor's, an interest in teaching, and an interest in Japan. 

Here is a general timeline of the application process (based on my experience, most appropriate for US JETs) -
October: Application Available
November: Application Due

January/February: Interview Notification + Interviews
March/April: Interview Results

May: Placements (for initial shortlisted candidates)
July/Early August: Departure

If you are considering applying for JET, start the application as soon as you are able to. Double-check, even triple-check your application before turning it in. When the interviewers need to choose between two applicants, they will go back to the applicants' original applications and compare those. You do not want to ruin your chances because of a careless mistake. For the Personal Statement (two page essay included in the application), have someone proofread and correct it. You really want to emphasize your interest in Japan and teaching English IN Japan. Showcase your ability to be creative, adaptable, positive, outgoing, humorous, etc.

Being able to adapt in different environments is a major qualification that no JET applicant should take lightly. Although applicants may request up to three placements, nothing is a guarantee. The placement map for incoming JETs actually shows that a majority of people did NOT get any of the three places they requested. You are able to note what you are comfortable with and not comfortable with (city vs. rural) on the application, but that can significantly narrow your chances of getting accepted into the program.

These were my requests in order - Akita prefecture, Nagoya city, and Aichi prefecture. Akita is not a popular choice, so I was very lucky to get placed in Yokote city of Akita prefecture. Yokote has a population of around 91,000 people; there are seventeen elementary schools and six junior high schools. There will be (surprisingly) ten ALTs (including current and incoming JETs) in Yokote this year. I will be working at several schools out of the twenty-three.

Although I am dying to go back to Nagoya, I'm very excited for my new journey to start in Yokote. I leave for Tokyo on August 4th for a two to three day orientation with other JETs before leaving for my placement.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Work at Maryville College

As a college student, many students experience a tight budget and may want to earn a little extra money by getting a part-time job. Getting a part-time job is a decision that you should really think through. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

·    Does my visa status allow me to work at Maryville College?
·    Will I have time for a part-time job with my current class schedule?
·    Do I want to trade off time with clubs and fun activities for a part-time job?
·    Will I gain something from this job? New skills or competencies?

If you feel that working at Maryville College is right for you after answering these questions, here are some things to consider.

Students on F-1 visas and some J-1 visas may work up to 20 hours a week on campus during the school year. On breaks, students may work up to 40 hours a week. Many on-campus positions have lower limits to accommodate your school schedule. If you are eligible to work, you can try to find jobs through one of these methods:

a.      Handshake is where most campus jobs are advertised,      including work-study jobs.  They are usually posted late August. You must make sure that the work position is not a federal work-study position, as you won’t qualify for any of those positions.
b.      Metz Culinary may offer student positions. Check with them to see! Metz Culinary is the company that runs the dining services for Maryville College.
c.      Mountain Challenge sometimes hires students. Contact Bruce Guillaume and he can explain his hiring process. It involves shadowing events and pretty extensive training.
d.      It won’t help immediately but applying to become a Resident Assistant (RA) or doing other leadership opportunities that might give you spending money like becoming a Peer Mentor or MC Ambassador may be an option if you plan on spending more than one year at Maryville College.

What if you don’t want or can’t be employed, but want to gain skills and experience for the career world? You can still have valuable experiences without having a job. Join a club or organization and ask if you can help plan or organize events or initiatives. Some great organizations to develop leadership skills are the Student Government Association, GCO or the International Education Week Planning Committee. Want to improve your writing and communication skills, check out the Highland Echo or one of the other great organizations. There are many clubs and organizations that you can join and strengthen skills and gain experience for the “real world.

Maryville College Academics

As you know, Maryville College has very high academic standards, and you will be expected to keep good grades. Although you may have your system of education figured out and know how to thrive in that environment, Maryville College may be quite different, especially from schools in Europe. Some important benefits and other aspects of Maryville College classes include:

-       Small class sizes. On average, your classes will be with few other students, perhaps about 20. Maryville College has a student:faculty ratio of 13:1, meaning for every 13 students there is at least one faculty member;

computer lab in lamar library with students working
Lamar Library Computer Lab
-       Expectation of class participation. Often times, your grade is dependent on your class attendance and participation. Therefore, you will be expected to complete your reading and assignments before class, so that you can actively contribute to class conversations. It is also important that you develop your own opinions on course topics, rather than just repeating things from the readings and assignments;

-       High level of interaction between students and faculty. If you need extra help in understanding the class material or just have a question that you may not have had a chance to ask in class, professors encourage students to reach out during office hours and after class. Professors are used to being asked for clarification and help. They are here to help you learn as much as possible, and they take their role very seriously.

-       Intensive amounts of reading, writing and assignments over the course of the semester. You will be expected to have readings and assignments done by the specified due date. You will need to demonstrate your knowledge on the topics throughout the semester, rather than primarily on final exams.

This may seem overwhelming now, but if you plan your time appropriately and ask for help when you need it, you will all do fine. All students may run into roadblocks in some courses and may need extra help. Maryville College has many resources to help you overcome those roadblocks, but each student is responsible for seeking help out when they need it. If you need help researching a topic for an assignment, librarians at the Lamar Memorial Library are always willing to help. You can email or call them with your questions, or you can set up a face-to-face appointment. There is also an Academic Support Center on campus. This center sets up group study sessions and has writing and math help. We highly encourage students to take advantage of these resources.

Mountain Challenge Tower - You can do it too!
Learning at Maryville College also extends beyond the classroom. There is an emphasis on experiential education at the College. Experiential education is typically a guided activity of some form, typically in an unfamiliar location or new task. Performing these activities allows students to adjust their mental and emotional process to the task at hand and develop new tasks. Many times, students participate in Mountain Challenge programming for experiential education, which gives students the opportunity to explore themselves while outdoors. The Center for Community Engagement plays a role in experiential education. Students can reach out to them to help find volunteer opportunities in the surrounding community. Some examples are tutoring, adult literacy, work in social service agencies, environmental projects, and many other possibilities. These are just a couple of ways that Maryville College students get involved. To see more options, click here

Maryville College Sports and Athletics

the mascot of the college is a scot, with plaid of orange and garnet
Maryville College Mascot

Maryville College loves sports! There's an option for everyone from the devoted athlete to the curious stander-by. Sports events are also a great way to make friends and understand the culture of the campus, whether you're playing or cheering the team on.

Maryville College's mascot is the Scot and the school colors are orange and garnet. On game days, and especially during Homecoming n October, you will see students, staff and faculty alike wearing the school colors to support our teams.

Maryville College is home to 14 competitive sports teams. There are seven sports teams for women and seven teams for men. Games and competitions are often held at Maryville College, and you can go to support your friends on the team and also to learn about unique sports that you may not have in your hometown. You may have seen many TV shows or movies that feature American Football teams and cheerleaders, but you can learn about the real thing here at the college. You can find the schedule for all sports here.

Intramural Sports

If you want to try out a sport during your time here, there are teams on campus that are for anyone. Nearly two-thirds of students at Maryville College participate in some sort of sport or intramural during their time here, so its a great way to spend time with existing friends and meet new ones. Maryville College has recreational teams for students on campus in several sports, which are open to any student. Intramural teams play various teams on campus to become the reigning champions of club sports, such as flag football, sand volleyball, softball, and table tennis among other things. In past years, I-House has even formed some teams in various sports and competed.

Mountain Challenge

Japanese students conquering Camp 4's 60-foot climbing tower - Spring 2018
If you're not sure if intramural teams are right for you, you can join Mountain Challenge on any of their adventures or activities. On many Saturdays, they organize a trip or outdoor activity that students can participate in. Find the schedule here and be sure to sign up for trips one week in advance. On Wednesdays, they've started the initiative Camp 4, which is a designated time for students, staff and faculty to have access to Mountain Challenge fitness equipment, classes and the bouldering cave. (Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where you are close to the ground and climb freely without ropes or other equipment.) Each Wednesday, there is a Group Fitness Class from 4pm to 5pm, followed by a yoga class from 5:15pm to 6:15pm. These services are available free of charge to MC students. They also have many other opportunities, so stop by Crawford House when you get to campus to learn more!

Student climbing in Mountain Challenge's bouldering cave! 

Cultural Programming at CIE

There is no doubt that you will be kept busy while attending Maryville College. Through the Cultural Ambassador program and possibly joining the Global Citizenship Organization (GCO), you will have a lot of exposure to activities. Sometimes you will want to do fun activities with friends without the complications of planning those activities yourself. And that’s where CIE comes in!

GCO members after Homecoming Parade - Fall 2017
Every month, CIE plans fun activities for all students – ESL students, international students U.S. American Cultural Holidays as a group at I-House. For example, last year we had a Christmas party for all students, but have done Halloween activities as well. One of our biggest events of the year is our annual Thanksgiving Dinner.  We celebrate with international students and our local social host families to learn about and celebrate this popular U.S. American holiday.  Students have set up international dance parties on campus and coordinated fashion shows. These events are fun and allow you to teach friends about your culture.
and U.S. students.  We offer many events to learn about the USA. In the past, we have celebrated 

Decorating the I House
Other times, we offer the opportunity to learn about local Tennessee culture!  We explore the Great Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. I-House has adventured out to rivers for white water rafting or tubing and gone hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Some years there have also been weekend trips to Nashville, Atlanta or other cities. These events are organized by I-House and students can sign up for a reasonable fee.

If there are any activities that you and your friends are interested in, you can tell the staff at I-House. Whether the idea is for an on-campus program or off-campus excursion, we can work together to see if the activity is a good fit for I-House programming. If it is a good fit, we can work together to plan the event for students to enjoy. One of our more recent trips was a day at Dollywood theme park which is always a lot of fun.
A group of students white water rafting

Maryville College Cultural Ambassadors

At Maryville College, all students become active leaders in their community. The Center for International Education's Cultural
a group of students with a lot of colorful powder on their clothes at the holi celebration
Holi Celebration 
Ambassadors program helps International and Exchange students achieve this goal. All international and exchange students at MC are Cultural Ambassadors and share their culture throughout their time at the college.  Cultural Ambassadors will, in turn, learn about U.S. culture through active participation in at least one organization on campus. With your help, we hope that campus will have a strong presence of international leaders.

Let's get into more detail on the three requirements of the program. Each term, Cultural Ambassadors share their culture both 1) on campus and 2) off campus, as well as 3) actively participate in a campus club or organization. 

A group of international students at homecoming
Group of students at Homecoming
Many students share their culture on campus (1) through the Global Citizenship Organization’s (GCO) cultural presentation times, in your resident halls or during international education week. There is a lot of flexibility in sharing your culture on campus, so students can also plan their own event or way of sharing. For example, perhaps you love to cook traditional food from your culture and want to host a small event teaching others how to cook a dish. If you have traditional clothes or items from your country that you want to share, remember to bring them with you to Tennessee. Staff at CIE are always here to help you brainstorm ideas and put plans into action. We will ask you to present your culture AT LEAST ONCE formally on campus, so be prepared!

Jamaica presentation at Alcoa Elementary - Spring 2018
Sharing your culture off campus (2) can be done in similar ways. CIE organizes at least one off-campus visit or fair per semester and you can plan to join in on those events. In past years, we have set up events with the Boys and Girls ClubRotary Association, Alcoa Elementary School, William Blount High School, Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy or local churches.  You’re always encouraged to reach out to other organizations on your own and set up other small events or activities.
students sharing traditional chinese new year activities at isaac's
Chinese New Year Celebration at Isaac's Cafe

The last requirement is a fun one that will help you find your place on campus. You can join any organization (3) you want and participate fully to fulfill this requirement. Participating fully means that you will go to meetings and be involved in at least one event each semester in your chosen organization. Being a member of GCO or the International Education Week Planning Committee may be a good option, but you could also join the Student Government Association or one of the many groups on campus (we’ll talk more about these groups in a later post!).  One of the best things about a small college is that there are many leadership opportunities within organizations right from Day 1. Attend the Opportunities of a Lifetime Fair the 2nd week of class to get to know all the clubs.

The CIE is looking forward to seeing how each of you embraces your ambassadorship this coming year!