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The End of the Finish Line

In the last four years, I have been thinking about what my life would be like as I wrote my last one or two blog posts about my college journey. What my life is like right now with a pandemic happening and a complete change of my senior year and post-graduation plans, this is not what I would’ve guessed.

For those who are reading this and don’t know, I have been writing a blog post every month since I started college in September 2016 for a scholarship I received with the Concord Foundation. The point of it is to continue to build relationships between the scholarship recipients and the people from Concord.

It is hard for me to even write anything out for this blog post because I know it was supposed to be exciting, eventful, thrilling, and even emotional as I could reflect on saying my final goodbyes to the place I spent the most time at in the last four years. Circumstances right now are obviously not that, but I am doing my best to make the most out of the time I still have at Hamline, even though it is not the same.

As of right now, I only need to finish my Communications Senior Seminar Research paper and then I am officially done with college. I have been continuing to work at my job in our student center and my job with our Programming Board. The campus is completely shut down, except for our student center for on-campus students to get food-to-go. On our Programming Board, we have been planning and executing virtual events and programs for students to still have access to. I can’t say it has been a success as much as we hoped, but this is a brand new venture and we have been doing our best to be uplifting and build community. After May 22nd, I will be out of all jobs since I will be an official graduate (graduation was supposed to be May 23rd) and because I lost my restaurant job and my dance teaching job at Justice Page Middle School.

My original plan, before COVID-19 struck, was to save money over the summer by working at my restaurant job and finding another part-time job. Once the fall or winter came around, I was planning on moving to Europe to get my Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certification and find work in Amsterdam for some time. This plan has now changed for obvious reasons. Maybe in a year from now, I could still make my journey to Europe, but for now, I had to think seriously about what I am going to do. For the last few weeks, I have been applying to jobs in the Twin Cities and Chicago. I have had some interviews and am waiting on responses from other applications. Surprisingly, I do not feel as stressed out as I probably should be feeling, but I have so much hope for what is supposed to come my way, despite all the craziness and uncertainty happening around me.

I will most likely continue to make monthly posts on this blog site. It has been a great way for me to pause and reflect on the direction I am heading and think about where I want to go. Next month will, however, be my last post reflecting on my college experience. If you have been reading my monthly updates each month or every so often, thank you! I hope we can all connect in person sooner than later. Stay safe and keep lifting one another up!

Savannah

Without Hope, We Have Nothing

The last thing one expects is for a pandemic to strike and ruin a handful of things in your life. In my case, I would have never expected the last few weeks of my college experience to end in such a depressing, stressful, and abrupt way. Everything happened so fast and now it feels like time has completely frozen with it difficult finding an escape out.

I had just discontinued my internship at the Governor’s Office and began a new internship. I was helping plan our school’s largest off-campus event for the beginning of March. We we finishing up our rehearsals at Justice Page Middle School for the musical. I was getting ready for my spring break trip. In the matter of a few short days, the event and musical got cancelled, my trip got cancelled, I lost three jobs, classes went permanently online for the remainder of the semester, and our commencement ceremony had the possibility of getting cancelled. All thanks to our new friend, COVID-19.

The feeling of grinding through your final weeks of college, although stressful, is something I did not know I wanted to experience until it no longer was a possibility. To work so hard and have the exciting anticipation of graduation day coming sooner than you think with finishing up your final classes, your final college commitments, and your final goodbyes. The feeling to not finish out everything I started at Hamline breaks my heart. My on-campus jobs, my leadership positions, my academic classes, my dance classes, relationships, and my high involvement are all things I can not take advantage of or will ever see again. As someone who has high emotional attachment in things that deeply fulfill me, this hurts…a lot.

The thing about COVID-19 is that we all are impacted, but we all are impacted in different ways. The way this is impacting graduating seniors who are looking for a job is not the same as those already out in the workforce with a reliable job. The way this is impacting those with an Asian background and who are being discriminated against every day is not the same as white people. The way this is impacting people with children is not the same as those without children. The way this is impacting those with mental health issues is not the same as those without mental health issues. I could go on, but you get my point.  COVID-19 does not discriminate, but people still do. This is an important time, in my opinion, to reevaluate your privilege and your blessings. This is also an important time to continue to build community and not close yourself off.

There is no one way to go about this pandemic. Everyone needs different things to survive what is going on. For me, my saving grace has been hiking, dancing, watching documentaries, reading, and writing. Typically, in the middle of my insanely busy semesters, I always had hobbies or skills I wanted to execute and grow upon but I never could since my time was taken up by work or school. Now, I have been able to practice learning new languages, reading new books, getting into photography, choreographing more, and even mindfully balancing myself through meditation. This is a lot of time I may never get in this capacity ever again. Although we all need different things to combat stress, anxiety, and a whole lot of uncertainty, I encourage whoever is reading this to do things that center you and do things you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time for… with proper social distancing of course. (;

Continue onward with hope. Without hope, we have nothing at all.

Savannah

Changes, Transitions, and Decisions

Spring feels near and we are only two months into the year. Fingers crossed the sunshine and the snow melting stays this way through the next few weeks. While the weather is changing and in transition, so am I.

I am only one month into my last semester of college and I have already been faced with tough decisions and changes in my life. I am notorious for being the type of person who takes on too much. I often overbook my schedule and my commitments and I hit my breaking point eventually. This time around, I feel like I have finally learned my lesson the hard way.

At the beginning of the semester, I started an internship at the Governor’s Office. A few weeks in, I learned how much I was taking on and how the stress of that was impacting my physical and emotional state to a great extent. I was faced with one of the most challenging decisions I have had to make for my current and future self in regards to my health and my career. Long story short, I just recently decided to discontinue the internship and seek an alternative solution that works best for my schedule and my overall well being. This was incredibly hard for me to make this choice because of the amazing opportunity I was given at the Governor’s Office. At this moment in time, I now know it is not the place for me and other opportunities will present itself that better suit me. This entire experience was a lesson I learned about boundaries, making commitments out of love, and putting yourself first. And hopefully this time around, these are lessons that will permanently stick with me.

On other notes, the musical I have been choreographing at Justice Page Middle School is finally showing on March 13th-14th at 6:30 PM! I am so proud of the kids and all of their talent and hard work. I also got asked to stay at the school and teach hip hop dance as an afterschool program at Justice Page. I will begin that once I get back from my spring break trip I am taking to Florida. I also have a dance performance this Friday, the 6th, for the Dance Marathon event at Hamline. This is a fundraising event for Gilette Children’s Hospital and I am super grateful for the opportunity to dance with some amazing dancers I get to call my good friends. The remainder of the semester will consist of a steady grind to graduation on May 23rd. I am grateful for the support and advice I have been receiving from so many people. And I continue to be grateful for the challenges I face along my journey that are setting me up for what is yet to come in my life.

Homerun Stretch

The last semester of college is commonly known as the “homerun stretch” and/or “senior slide”. These two could not be more fitting for me. Prior to starting up the spring semester, I used the month of January to work, travel, and relax after my 13 hour days from the fall semester. I traveled to Florida and New York City with friends and caught up on all the sleep I lost in the fall. With all that relaxation, it still was not enough to prepare me for my final semester of college. But here we are, at a dead sprint.

My semester started off beginning my internship at the Minnesota Governor’s office with Tim Walz. So far, I have learned a lot regarding local politics and been able to use my Social Justice knowledge in a more political context. This is something I have not been able to do in my college career until now. Aside from my classes, I am working three other jobs, choreographing a Middle School Musical, on the executive board for a national honors society, teaching weekly dance classes, on the Hamline dance team, and I joined intramural basketball for the spring. You could say I’m a rocket and I don’t stop moving. I am trying to soak up every second I have left at Hamline and wanting to graduate in May not wanting to regret not doing something. At the same time, I am practicing personal boundaries and saying no to things in my life. This is a hard lesson for me to learn, but I am actively practicing.

One class I am taking this semester is my Senior Seminar Communications Research class. My research is investigating if there are inadequacies of higher education sexual assault policies that impact why survivors don’t report. If there are, what are they? I have been working on the research methods for this topic since the fall and will be able to get my data this spring. Academically, this is probably the biggest task I am working on this semester. 

I have several options in front of me for what I am going to do after I graduate. Nothing is set yet, except that I will be traveling for several weeks closer to August/September. While I am not trying to wish my time away, I am extremely ready to graduate and move on to the next chapter of my life.

New Journeys Await

2019 will be a year I’ll remember as a year of drastic growth for myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. While I am a very youthful person and am always changing, it feels like this was my transition year from adolescent behavior to more of adult behavior and mindset. It has been really meaningful to take the last few days of this year to reflect on the last year of my life: the decisions I made, the people I met, the relationships I had, the work I did, the joy I found, and the places I saw. A lot of people see the start of new years as any other day, which it is, but I have used it as an opportunity to check in with myself, something we don’t do enough of. Overall, the biggest thing I can say about this year is how proud of myself I am to have accomplished and overcome the things I have.

The month of December felt like I was running at a dead sprint. Here are some of the exciting things I accomplished and am looking forward to.

First, after several interviews for spring internship positions, I was able to land an internship in the Governor’s office starting in January. I had some other amazing opportunities, but in the end, I found this was the best option for me as I finish out my college career. This is an internship I never thought I would get since I have not yet embarked on this type of political work and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity.

Secondly, I began teaching dance classes at Hamline and have found so much joy in doing so. In my four years on campus, Hamline has the strongest dance community I have ever seen so I wanted to take advantage of that before I graduate. I have had this as a goal for over a year and I am really proud that I made it possible and am even more proud and grateful for all the people that have attended my classes. I wanted nothing more than to provide a space for people of all dance experiences to destress, feel confident, and feel comfortable. So far, I think it is going very well. Along with this, I will be returning to Hamline’s dance team for the winter/spring season.

Thirdly, I got asked to be a dancer in a music cover video by my friend Abha. We did all the work for the video the day of and finished filming in just a few hours. If you haven’t seen it yet, please check it out here!

Fourthly, for my Social Justice capstone, I had to create a website that highlights all the work I have accomplished as a Social Justice major during my time at Hamline. I spent all semester working on the website and am very pleased with the outcome. You can also check out the website here.

Fifthly, I am excited to go on two trips I have planned for the month of January. One is to Florida and the other is to New York. After my 12-14 hour days this past semester, I thought I deserved to treat myself to these trips. This will not be the extent of my traveling experiences in 2020. I have some exciting things planned after I graduate as well.

And lastly, I graduate in May and feel the most grateful that I’ve made it to my graduation year. I can feel the change after I graduate coming my way and am very excited to make decisions on my journeys after school. I have been waiting a very long time for this time in my life and my goal for myself is live as present in the moment as I can and not wish time away. I still feel like I have unfinished business to do at Hamline and feel I have a few more things to learn or share of myself before I leave this institution.

I hope you all have a wonderful end to your 2019 and an even better beginning to your 2020!

Savannah

A New Year with New Beginnings Awaits

The last month of the year and decade… where did the time go? 2020 is a year I have been waiting for and looking forward to for a long time. Because it’s my graduation year, I expect it will bring good, new, and exciting things to my life. This past year has been a year of hard work and self-transformation and while it sounds riveting and thrilling to start a new journey after graduation, it has not been easy to get there. This year was filled with the greatest barriers and lessons I could have learned. Fortunately, this semester has shown me that I am on the right path of putting past things behind me and keeping my eyes open to my new opportunities and endeavors.

This semester has been the hardest academic semester I have had thus far in my college career. And thank goodness it is almost over. With how challenging it has been, I am proud of what I have accomplished during this time. I have worked four jobs throughout the semester, joined the Hamline Dance Team, spoke at an Ed Talk, continued to help out at Washburn High School’s Black Box Program, joined an intramural basketball team, applied to several spring internships, began teaching dance classes at Hamline, all while dealing with some mishaps along the way. For all of it, I am grateful.

Because my school has a J-Term and I don’t go back to school until the first week of February, I am going to spend my break working, traveling, and beginning the job search. More importantly, I am looking forward to resting my body and spending time with friends and family. Next semester should be easier since I am only taking three classes and will fill my fourth class as a four-credit internship (unknown what it will be yet, although I am excited about the ones I applied for).

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. Stay warm out there!

Savannah

Constant Grind

The last month has been a constant grind. From Homecoming to midterms, there has been so much fun and excitement around me, as well as a lot of hard work. I thought my Senior year would be relatively chill and calm but in fact, it is the opposite. This is okay with me because I am doing all the things that I enjoy.

Homecoming was a very high energy time. I was able to perform at the Lip Sync Competition and open the show with a few friends. The next day I also performed with our dance team during the football game. Along with these performances, I have made a goal for myself to consistently take dance classes in the community so I can grow as a dancer. College has been a wonderful experience to find this passion for dancing and pursue it. If I had not attended Hamline University I would not be able to do this and have this outlet in my life.

I also decided to join intramural 3v3 basketball. This has been so fun and nostalgic because I used to play basketball my entire life. While I have noticed I have committed to a lot of things this semester, I am trying to take in every moment of what I have left of my college experience. I would rather regret doing too many things than not many at all.

I had mentioned previously that I am a part of doing an Ed Talk with the Washburn High School Black Box Program. This event will be Monday, November 18th at Ice House in Minneapolis. I am really looking forward for this opportunity to speak on the importance and impact on art outlets and social justice for young people. Click here to find more information on the event!

That is all for this month! I hope everyone is doing well and staying warm! Hello to everyone at Concord. (:

Savannah

 

The Beginning of the End

It’s about that time. The beginning of the end of my college career. I am now a month deep into my senior year and I couldn’t be more grateful for opportunities that have been presented to me and more stressed with everything I have going on. All good things though! They were right when they said these four years fly by.

I was on campus two weeks before classes began to do training for one of my two on-campus jobs. I am the Development and Outreach Coordinator for Hamline’s Programming Board. We put on dozens of events each year for the campus community. I run meetings, recruit volunteers, and serve as the team captain for the board. I also have another on-campus job working in our student center. Last year I got chosen to be on the Executive Board for Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a National Honors Society on campus. I also decided to join Hamline’s newly established Dance Team. Along with this, I pick up shifts at the restaurant I’ve been working at and I nanny. You could say I quite literally do not stop moving. One of the hardest lessons so far this year has been learning my limits and finding how my social/work life has been impacting my health. Saying no to things not might put me over my limit but that I also enjoy is a huge challenge for me. This is a lesson I try to remind myself every day.

This year I have the opportunity to go to Thailand for a J Term program. While I am still working out details on if I can even go, it sounds like an outstanding opportunity. We would be working with a New York Times journalists, local Thai journalists, and Twin Cities journalists to create and publish stories on varying social justice topics in the community. To be determined if this ends up happening.

Another amazing opportunity that came about was getting asked to help and be a part of a TED-Ed Talk that Crystal Spring, Washburn High School Black Box teacher, got asked to do. I interned for the Black Box last year and continue to help out as an artistic alum. I am so excited to help make this amazing talk about education and social justice for the community to hear about. More details to come!

Savannah

Post-Traveling Thoughts

It has now been a few weeks since I have been home from my trip to Europe and I have been trying my best to transition back into my crazy, American lifestyle. For some, transitioning back from a major traveling experience is no big deal. They can pick up where they left off. For me, on the other hand, it hasn’t been as easy. After the very few times I have been out of the country, I realized I have a hard time and am sensitive to the shift of cultures and lifestyles. The good thing about this is that it forces me to deeply reflect on the experiences I had, where I am at now, and where I am moving forward. Another reason why this transition has been so difficult is because of the challenges I stumbled upon and how they have changed my outlook and perspective on life. That being said, and without going into those stories, I will say I am incredibly grateful I had an opportunity to figure out and manage some difficult things while being on my own for five weeks. If it weren’t for this time away and my self-dependence, I would not feel as grounded, centered, and surer of who I am.

To sum up my trip, I traveled to London, Malaga (Spain), Valencia (Spain), and Prague. I began my trip in London seeing a friend of mine who was studying for the past semester. We visited the National Gallery, China Town, Camden Market, the Sky Garden, and ate outstanding food. My time here was short, but it was wonderful to be back for my second time. From London, we traveled to Malaga, Spain to visit another friend who has been studying. We soaked up the sun at the beach, jumped into the Mediterranean Sea, went paddleboarding, saw many street art performances, and ate tapas, tapas, and even more tapas. This, too, was a short trip and the fun only lasted a few days. I then journeyed via train to Valencia, Spain where I stayed with a host family. During my time here I interned with Villarreal CF (professional Spanish futbol team), took Spanish classes, visited Spain’s voted most beautiful city (Albarracin), visited the famous Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias, and made some memorable friendships. For my final destination, I flew to Prague to visit another friend that moved there. We roamed the city, visited the Prague Castle, spent time at the river, ate the best gelato of my life, traveled to a city outside of Prague (Karlovy Vary), watched a Czech rap show, and watched the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

I think it is important to acknowledge that traveling isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it doesn’t always live up to your romanticized expectations, and it is okay to struggle on such a journey. It was the people I met along my trip that helped support me through my days and challenges. From the people I met for an hour on a train and will never see again to the people I met that I now call my best friends. Life is definitely too short to get stuck in our bad experiences and let them dictate how our life moving forward will be. It has taken me almost three weeks since arriving back to the United States to process everything I experienced in five weeks and I think I will continue to process for a while. I am grateful for the time I had, the friends I got to see, the friends I got to meet, and all the beautiful cities I got to visit along the way. Now it’s time to take the lessons I learned and put it towards my final year in college and onward.

Travel Bug

Hello everyone!

Here I am writing to you all from Valencia, Spain! I am currently sitting in my program’s office where my internship also takes place. If you have missed the exciting news from a few months back, I am in Spain doing an internship with one of Spain’s professional fútbol teams, Villarreal CF, for a few short weeks. Along with my internship, I am taking Spanish classes here in Valencia as well. In total, I will be gone for a little over a month with also traveling in London, Malaga, Prague, and potentially more European cities as well. While my internship just started, I do not have much to share. However, exploring London, Malaga, and Valencia the last week and a half has been a treat.

I am staying with a host family on the edge of the city. They have shown me wonderful hospitality and care for which I am so grateful. They make me feel so at home and comfortable. They also have been making the most delicious Spanish food. Staying with a host family has been a challenge but a great opportunity to enhance my Spanish communication abilities since they only speak Spanish.

While traveling is presented to be this amazing, magical thing to do, it is truly not easy. Although my Spanish is moderate, I have struggled with the language barrier most of my time here. I was struggling to make new friends in the first few days. I literally did not know what to do with myself because I felt so alone. This gave me an opportunity to walk around and explore the city, which is gorgeous by the way, but I felt a type of lonesome I had never felt before. I just had to figure it out on my own. I was talking with a friend of mine from back home and she told me that it is okay to feel this way and that you do not have to be happy all the time just because you are traveling. This was the best advice I could have recieved. I am taking in the challenges and learning from them. In all honesty, I am so grateful for the challenges I have faced.

The month of May has been the best month of this year so far. I celebrated my 21st birthday, I concluded my Junior year with HECUA’s Art for Social Change program, I traveled to Chicago for my sister’s graduation, and I got to travel to Europe. For that, you could say I definitely have the travel bug.

Savannah