Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Crazy Schedule - 1.5 weeks down, several more to go!

I've only been a grad student for 1.5 weeks now, but I feel the need to let everyone know how it is all going so far (plus I think this whole blogging thing is theraputic to me in some way). So far I am really enjoying it! I have very long days, but it isn't too bad yet. I am taking four classes: Human Behavior, Social Welfare Policies and Institutions, Social Work Practice, and Human Diveristy (taught by the one and only Edgardo). These classes meet once a week and are 2.5 hours, which amazingly goes by rather quickly (minus the library orientation we had on Monday, seriously, I am a grad student, I have done research before!). Anyways, I find the readings and discussions interesting and I enjoy what I am learning, so it is a good thing. And I even like all the papers I am going to write! (ok, the actual writing of them is not as fun, but the topics interesting). Yeah so I sound like a dork, but it is great because I am really confident that this is the profession for me and I feel like I am in the right place (yes I have decided this after only a week and a half) When I get to the paper phase, things will be a bit more stressful. I think I have pretty good time management by now, so I should be alright. I have to be sure to schedule times to have fun as well. Right now I could be at the BBC with several of my friends here, but I decided I was too tired. We went out last night though so it is ok.

My other "class" is practicum. Three credit hours which translates into sixteen hours a week in the field and lots of assignments and paperwork and such. It is pass/fail. My practicum is at Americana Community Center, three days a week. On my first day last week, I was a little frustrated because everyone was in meetings and I wasn't sure exactly what I should be doing yet. Of course I had real work to do, but I'm not supposed to do that during my practicum time. For a half an hour or so I questioned my decision to have my practicum at a place where I was an intern for a year and am currently working. It can be hard to keep those two things separate. Should I get a new eperience? (well I will next year for sure) If it was my first day at an agency that didn't know me, of course they would take the time to orient me. But I am no longer questioning things and can hardly recall that one day where I wasn't sure what to do because now I have so much! And now that I know what I am doing, I am very excited about it and it is definitely a new experience. Although I will still be with the youth programs, my role will be very different. Mainly I will be working on case management (along with developing a system of one there) and facilitating a group. I was asked to look for a need, and I know where there is one. So I will be starting a group for middle school girls. This is actually the group of kids that intimidated me the most when I first started working there. I am sure it will be challenging (especially with some of these girls) but it should be a great experience (and maybe help me to relate better to my own middle school sister!) We will combine "fun" time and structured activities to address different issues that middle schoolers deal with. I am just in the brainstorming phase right now, it will start sometime next month. Another one of my goals for practicum is to get to the next level of cultural competency.

Another reason I was frustrated with my practicum at the beginning of last week is we still didn't know what the heck was going on with our youth programs! But we have that all figured out now (after a 3 hour meeting yesterday) Things will be quite different than last year, but I think it is a good change. I was a little hesitant at first, but now I see how it will work well and be really beneficial to the kids. Last year, there were basically two separate after-school programs. One was ESL run by the public schools and was all Hispanic kids. The other was ours, which was less structured and run by Americana staff. This program mostly consisted of African kids. This year we do not have enough money to pay for enough staff to run that program. Instead we are combining them. The schools have committed to expanding the ESL program which will include all our kids that qualify (which is most of them!) The classes will be split up by levels and it will no longer just be for spanish-speaking kids. And they will incoporate more special activities into the program so they are not just sitting in the classroom. For our faithful kids who do not qualify for ESL, we will run a very small version of last year's program with one or two staff (that still need to be hired), volunteers, and interns. I am not a "staff" for this, but a social work intern who helps out with things related to my position (so I won't be helping kids with homework, making snack, opening the gym, etc. like last year as a regular staff, except as a backup). Anyways this all starts after Labor Day!

So one of my assignments today for practicum was to get the word out about our new program to all the kids. So I made A LOT of home visits. Luckily this is not too hard since 95% of them live in two apartment complexes, both located near the Center. I had a list of around 25 families I needed to visit, and I got them all, plus some more I ran into. I didn't need my list of addresses because all I have to do is drive into one of these complexes, spot a kid I know outside, and they show me where everyone lives. I think I pretty much covered everyone. This took a good 3 hours or so. And it made me realize another reason why I am doing this - I really love these kids! I hadn't seen them since the end of the summer program, so I missed them. I was worried they would not react well to the changes in the program, but most of them were just excited to come back! And they really do need the ESL help. I heard a lot fewer complaints than expected. I have really gotten more comfortable with this whole home visit concept. Everything went great tonight. Oh yeah, I was also assigned my first official "client" last week. The one and only Juma (who knocked me unconcious with a basketball). He wants to transfer middle schools and I am going to help him with this process. I went to talk to his school counsler today, and had a "meeting" with Juma.

In addition to all this school stuff, I am also working 18-20 hours a week at Americana. I am still the facility manager/newsletter writer/shopper, and in addition to this, I am now one of the front desk girls (I guess administrative assistant would be a better term). I work four days a week, and three of these I am at the front desk. Let me just say that time flies by because when you are answering the phone, talking to everyone who comes in and doing the million other things that come up, while trying to do the other part of your job, things go fast! I have four hours a week of work where I am not at the desk, but that is when I have to do all their shopping and errands, which takes up most of that time! (hooray for sam's club....ugh! I hate that place!) Thankfully I should be getting a work credit card with my name on it soon so I no longer have to pretend I am Bosnian.

Well there you have it. That is my life for the next year, well school year at least. My days are filled with the three components of work, class and practicum (a combination of two each day). Wednesdays will seem the longest days. I have work 8-1 and then practicum 2-8. So yeah 12 hours in the same building! Today I actually stayed until 9 due to the home visits. I am beat, I need to get some sleep. I might be getting sick and I really need to avoid that.

I know this is a very detailed blog, maybe one person will actually read the whole thing. But in case you were wondering "what exactly is Maria up to these days?", there you have it! I really do use this thing as a personal journal (well minus the really personal stuff obviously!) I might use some of this for my reaction paper that is due for practicum this week....

And maybe sometimes I will do fun things that don't involve school and work and I'll be sure to tell you about those.

P.S. I may have officially gone crazy. I came home after my 13 hour day and saw dishes in the sink and I almost wanted to do them. I did not do them purely out of obligation (really I didn't even have to) I guess cleaning can be theraputic for me too! (plus it doesn't take as long with only 3 people)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The New Apartment

Well here are some pics of my new apartment. It is part of the the beautiful, old house you see. We enter through a gate on the side of the house (and then get to climb up some lovely, steep stairs). You can also see "our" backyard. I love it. We have our own balconly/deck that overlooks it. The picture shows our view. When you first enter our apartment you are in the "sunroom" which is pictured here. Also on this level is the kitchen and our one and only bathroom. Then you go up the narrow, winding staircase (also pictured) and we have our "sitting room" (not pictured). On this level are the three bedrooms. There is a picture of my room which is so much bigger than my cell last year! I love all the space. I could do cartwheels in my room if I wanted. And you can also see how annoying it is when you wake up at 3 a.m. and have to go to the bathroom! Those stairs are fun. Okay I hope you enjoyed the "tour". Come visit me and you can see the whole thing!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm a Grad Student

I had my first day of class today and it went well. I think I will enjoy my classes. And this is my sweet new form of transportation. I can get to campus in about 8 minutes by bike from my new apartment. Pretty convenient (until it rains or gets cold, and then I will just ride the bus, which I can do for free as a U of L student). So yeah I saved myself quite a bit of money by avoiding a parking pass. I was thinking I would ride the bus or even ride my bike to work as well (which is a little further) but unfortunately I don't think I will be able to stick to that. When I have to be at work so early it is hard to make myself wake up even earlier when I can drive there in only ten minutes, while the other forms of transportation would take considerably longer. And the day I go into work late I found out I have to do the shopping for their supplies so I need my own car. So there goes that idea.

I worked 8 - 12:30 today and then had two classes from 1:30 - 7:30 (with an hour break in between). So it was a long day and I am quite tired. All my days will be like this between class, work, and practicum. I think I'll make it though. It will just become more difficult when the school work starts to pile up and I don't have much time to myself in the evenings and get less sleep and all that jazz. I had an ambitious goal of getting a head start on my reading tonight, but that didn't happen! (I only have each class once a week so I have plenty of time to do the assignments). But I did do the dishes, so I accomplished something. And I must say doing the dishes for three people is a lot easier than seven!!

So it was my first time back to the Americana today since we all moved out. It was quite odd. As I was opening the building it was like things were the same, but so different at the same time, if that makes sense. Our good friend Steven has now moved into our old place. He pays rent, but I think the idea is to have someone live there and help them out until urban corps is up and running again. During work I actually went up to the apartment and it was so weird, it almost made me cry!

I have had a good first few days in the new place. We pretty much have everything we need now and my room is all organized which makes me happy. And it is so big compared to my last room! This past weekend was fun. We had a housewarming party Friday night then walked over to the local bar that is a block away. Saturday I got free beer and queso at the BBC we frequently visit due to new developments. (Larry is great!) Sunday I accomplished a lot, including finshing my online statistics classs (I passed with an 82 I believe). Now just one more online class and I am done with those. Sunday was also random because I saw two friends from Hilliard that happened to be in Louisville. First my friend Kristen (who I danced with for years) was visiting a friend, who lived just down the street, so she walked over to my place and we got to catch up which was nice. Then right after she leaves Erin calls who just got into town for some vet thing and she is lost looking for a grocery store. Oddly enough, I was about to leave for the grocery store and she was lost in my neighborhood. So I gave her directions and we met up at Kroger (which happened to be giving 10% off to U of L students that day). So yeah we met up in Aisle 3 and it was cool. She will be here all week so we will get to hang out again, other than our brief meeting at the grocery store. Oh yeah, after church on Sunday my housemates and I went out to eat at the #1 Asian Buffet and it was amazing. I think I have another new favorite restaurant in town (that is pretty cheap!) I can't believe it took me a year to discover this place.

Well now that you are caught up on all the details of my exciting life, I think I will post some pictures of my new place. Which I really do love by the way.

Actually, pictures to come soon. Blogger is being weird and I need to go to bed. I will leave you in anticipation!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Next Chapter of Life in Louisville

This is a cute picture I took of my sister while I was home, and is completely unrelated to this post. Just thought I would share.

After dumping all my stuff into my new apartment (thanks to my gracious "host dad" Dave and his truck), spending one last night in the convent, and saying too many goodbyes, I left Louisville to spend a few days at home with my family. Katie looked on as I drove away with tears in her eyes. I was already crying on the inside, and this just made me lose it. It was hard to leave this great year behind, but now on to the next chapter of life in Louisville.

I had a nice time at "home" these past few days and time went much too quickly. I go back to Kentucky tomorrow morning. My family is coming along to help me move a few things from here. It will be weird to not return to the convent, but to my new apartment in Old Louisville instead. I really like the apartment, although it was not the easiest place to move into (lots of steep, narrow, and twisting stairs). Thankfully that part is mostly over, but I have a lot of unpacking to do tomorrow. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but to refresh your memory, I have two housemates now. Alisa who I lived with this past year, and Dan who we met at church. I'm sure we'll have a good time. Although it doesn't seem like I will be spending too much time there!

I am a little nervous to start school again on Monday, but excited too. I will just have to get back into that whole routine of studying and writing papers and being stressed out. And I will be working more than I have ever been before while attending school, so I hope that all works out.

I should get some sleep because tomorrow will be a long day. And then I have orientation on Friday all day, starting at 8 a.m. Yeah, something else I will need to get used to, the whole waking up early thing. I have to be at work at 8 a.m. two days a week and I can no longer simply walk downstairs to get there! I will miss that convenience, but it will also be great not to live where I work so I can really get away. Another thing I will miss from the old place - having a sink in my room! That was so extremely convenient. Now I will have to walk downstairs to our only bathroom. That's the only thing I would change about the apartment - a bathroom on the same floor as the bedrooms. Not really a big deal though (but annoying for people like me). And one more thing I will NOT miss from the convent - all the people hanging out doing lord knows what in the parking lot! I don't have to deal with that anymore and feel like I should be calling the police or Edgardo or someone. Yeah!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

LUC Quotes 2005-2006

I don't know if those outside of the LUC will appreciate this post as much as I do, but I'm doing it anyways. We started a quote board pretty much the first day we arrived and there are some great ones on there. Now the year is over and no more quotes. Of course all these are taken completely out of context and some just flat out won't make sense unless you were there. But they still make me laugh and I'm sure they always will. I won't include all of them, but several good ones. So for your enjoyment (or possibly boredom) here are some of the classics! They come not only from LUC members, but friends as well. (and by the way, the first quote from Keith was said one of the very first days when he barely knew the five women he was living with!)

"You can't have a good religion without oppressing women" -Keith

"Having 3 adolescents, I believe stoning should be brought back" -Susan

"No one uses vosotros with me!" -Emily B

"How do you know frogs don't have dreams?" -Maria "Maybe I was one" -Keith

"I don't know if it's the vodka or the talking, but I feel good" -Katie

"I'll find a girl, shove her in a windmill and we'll grow old together. She'll be happy there." -Chadd

"You weirdo, just tell me how your pretzel is" -Emily B to Keith

"I just want to slap something!" "Let's play war" -Emily G., Mennonite

"The problem is the Bible" -Andrea

"My shell's gonna be sweet!" -Emily while drawing a turtle

"You just lost me five million dollars!" -Maria to African kid, in her dream

"I AM a domestic goddess, man on man" -Katie

"Go to freakin' bed and leave me alone!" Keith to Maria

"I just remember my music teacher playing 'Proud to be an American' every week" -Emily "Oh, so you hated it?" -Andrea "Actually, I think I was the one who requested it" -Emily

"That's when I was like, man, she's kind of a silly girl" -Emily about Maria's handkerchief

"It's not the first time people have wanted to take a picture of my boobs" -Susan

"Alisa, weren't you the who told me you should allow yourself five minutes to freak out?"-Katie
"No, I believe that was Jack from 'Lost'" -Maria

"It's fun when trash smells weird" -Emily

"Can we just pray for God's sake!?" -Alisa

"I cook like a Mennonite woman" -Keith

"Country crock has changed my life here"-Emily two minutes later: "Country crock is a crock!"

"I hate it when people break wicks" -Emily "I'm a wick breaker!" -Katie

"You know I wasn't waving at your bitch!" -Emily B

"I'm going to make the perfect husband, oh lord" -Ben

"Sacrilege! That's what my life's all about!" -Emily

"I gotta say goodbye to my wives first" -Keith (referring to the rest of the house)

"The monks don't want to be sexually tempted by the nuns" -Keith

"I was herpes" -Andrea "You look like herpes" -Katie

"Emily is the most violent Mennonite known to mandkind" -Ian

"And that's my 'I just killed Maria' jig" -Keith

"Dude I'd totally have a union with you" -Brian to Moses

"Sometimes I like to pretend they are fish and I am spearing them" Katie (about pickles)

"If I was Jesus, I would make the flowers real for her......That's all I'd do" -Joel, on Katie's birthday

"The end. God is over." -Keith

"I've gotten to #5 with all my housmates!" -Keith, referring to the 12 steps of intimacy

*Warning: the following quote sounds really mean, but it was actually hilarious at the time (and of course very untrue)

"I'd say 'screw you', but everyone already has!" -Keith to Maria

"Do you wanna flip and I put out or you flip and I put out?" -Katie

"This is what drunk people do, isn't it?" -Maria

"I just closed the door on your hot thigh action" -Keith to Maria

"What the heck is this bus doing? Eating jelly beans?!" -4 year old girl during a traffic jam on TARC

"We're just being the sugar daddies" -Phil M.

"I wouldn't kill you" -Maria "But you killed Jesus" -Keith

"Did you see how it kept getting on me?" -Emily B., about plant

"I rode the short bus" -Maria

"I got stoned in middle school" -Emily

"Am I going to hurt you with an icepick, or hug you?" -Maria "Either one would be equally terrifying" -Keith

"I wouldn't date that tramp if you paid me!" -Keith regarding Maria

"I didn't know there were white people in Ohio!" -Somali boy

"All the escalator people were midgets!" -Emily

"Of course I went to a Catholic school so there was all kinds of hate going around" -Dan

"Everything about her is a scandal!" -Emily

Oh, what a great year! I miss it already. Even though most of those quotes are insulting me....but that's just Keith's sarcastic humor. And he once said he only insults people he thinks highly of...even though he didn't want me to know that! ha ha

Hope some of you appreciated this post!

More end of the year reflections to come later...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Last Weekend in the Convent

This Friday is the last day of the program, therefore this past weekend was the last in the convent with the remaining LUC. And not much time was spent there (which is great since due to this "oppressive" heat). Well every post needs a picture and I don't have any of my own from this past weekend, so I stole this awesome picture from Ian's website of our campfire. We went camping Friday after work at Otter Creek Park with our good friends Kate and Ian. I believe this is only the third time I have actually gone camping, as in sleeping in a tent, my whole life. And it was a great time! Amazingly I only got one mosquito bite and my allergies did not act up. Although sleeping on the ground was a bit uncomfortable. We were only 25 miles away from the city, but it felt much further and it was great. We ate lots of great food, lounged around, and swam in a creek. And we had perfect weather. As I said, good times. Just what camping should be, nice and relaxing.

I did not stay a second night in order to attend two going away parties. First to Brian's barbeque where I managed to get about 30 mosquito bites because I forgot to put on bug spray. Then I met up with Shavaun and her friends at Fourth Street Live to celebrate her departure. I will really miss both of these great people. It's sad that good friends I have made outside of the house are also leaving me! Then last night my host family took me out to dinner and then to the musical "Cinderella" which was a lot of fun.

So I have to say a lot more goodbyes this week, which is sad. It hasn't quite sunk in that this is the last week. And can I just say how much I HATE moving! Seriously, I loathe the whole process. I will move all my stuff into my new apartment at the end of this week, then go home to Columbus for a few days. Then back here to finish moving and getting settled in the new place before my crazy new schedule of work, class, and practicum begins on the 21st. As I've said before, it's been a great year and I will miss it. I expect grad school will be a good time as well, although not as relaxing and a little more stressful!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Ridiculous-ness of this day

Another post so soon? Well I have to share this ridiculous day that I am glad is over. Maybe it wasn't that bad, but at the time it was. I think the heat is making me delirious.

So last night I noticed gas was $2.83. How amazing! Did I get some? Of course not. I was near empty and fully intended to stop on the way back from the BBC. But as I passed the gas station I decided it could wait until the next day because I really had to pee and I was tired. Gas can't go up that much in one day right? So as I am driving back to work this afternoon after running errands I notice that gas is $3.19!!! I didn't know my overactive bladder would cost me nearly $.40 a gallon. Why oh why did I not stop the night before? Anyways, I go to the cheapest gas station around which is $3.18. I had a little trouble getting there since all the traffic lights were out and drivers were going crazy. Then I pull up ready to fill my empty tank wondering why it is not working and then I realize duh the power is out. No gas stations nearby were in service. So I go back to work still on E. The power is out at work too. It took me awhile to realize the scope of this - no power equals no air conditioning or fans! So we close work early and everyone is excited to go home to their air conditioning, while I get to go upstairs to my convent where it is even hotter. And yes it was painfully hot. I was sweating like crazy. My housemate and I have a brilliant idea to go to a pool. There was no way we could sit around in there. And Katie even had free passes to an indoor pool nearby she was going to let us use. So I get on my bathingsuit while Andrea calls Emily to tell her to hurry home from work so we can go to the pool. While Andrea is on the phone with her, Emily gets a flat tire on the freeway! And who is the only person with AAA? Me. So I am laying on my bed in my bathingsuit with a cold washcloth and slightly crazy from the heat, talking to AAA about my broken down car. Do I know what model it is? What color it is? What side of the road I am on? Do I have a spare tire? No. I know nothing. Andrea is trying to get the answers from Emily while I am talking to the AAA person while we are all laughing hysterically at this situation. That lady must have thought I was an idiot. So we go to rescue Emily, assuming the person with the AAA card needs to be there. They "rescue ranger" beat us there (probably because we were stuck in rush hour traffic!) Turns out you do not need to show your AAA card! Just get someone with AAA to call for you if you are ever in this situation. Emily just signed my name and we were off. (after standing on the side of the freeway melting away for awhile). So we get home and the power is still out. I contiune to lay on my bed in my bathingsuit with a cold washcloth pretending I am at the pool, which we no longer have time to go to because of another engagement. I start gulping down some water and choke on it, right when a phone call I had been waiting on comes. That was fun. So the power finally comes back on, just to tease us and go back off again. Then after awhile longer it comes on for real. By this time we were supposed to be at someone's house. But we haven't eaten dinner yet. So we eat hurriedly while trying to call this person, but we lost her number and everyone we could think of that would have it does not answer their phone. We finally leave but I have to stop at Walgreens to get a prescription (which is another story in itself - I have spent hundreds of dollars on doctors visits and prescriptions this past month or so trying to fix a problem that was misdiagnosed a couple times -ugh!) Anyways of course they screwed up my prescription and I had to wait which makes us even later. We finally arrive to our destination over an hour after we were supposed to be there. But our host was understanding and now we have her phone number. And I spilled a fudgescicle on my white skirt.

Ok that's my story. Is it really that ridiculous? But let me tell you, it was HOT! If you have ever been to visit me, imagine this place with no cooling system and over 100 degree weather. It does things to you. Ok so I am not in Bangladesh, but seriously. This heat is ridiculous.

And my tank is still on E. Think gas will go down tomorrow???

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's Getting Hot in Here....

I went home this past weekend because Vicki's bridal shower was on Sunday. I think it went well. I planned the games and they were fun I think. It has been quite awhile since I have seen so many of my friends from home all in one place, so that was good. And my bridesmaid dress was approved! (I found it in Hilton Head at a Gap outlet for only $27.99!) Her wedding isn't until December, but it is nice to have that out of the way. Especially since I will no doubt be very busy once grad school starts in less than three weeks. Anyways, it was overall a great weekend. There were a couple instances I could have done without, but all in all, I had a good time. I am getting tired of the three and a half hour drive though. I was falling asleep on the way back here yesterday morning.

Things have calmed down here quite a bit. I went from feeling really busy, to not having much to do which is nice and relaxing. One reason for this is the summer program at work ended last Thursday. We ended with a traditional booty-shaking talent show and party. It was extremely amusing as always. Gotta love those kids. It's hard to believe how fast this summer has gone and that the summer program is already over! It feels like just yesterday we were having meeting after meeting to figure out if we could even have one. So work without four hours of kids is quite different. I still have stuff to do though, in case you were worried. But it is a nice break. The after-school program will begin next month sometime. Although I am no longer running around the building at work, I have been exhausted when I return home. I blame this on the ridiculous heat! And our air conditioning seems to not be doing much again. I could barely watch a two hour movie because the room with our TV is sooooooooo hot. I was sweating just sitting there! So yeah I have done nothing much the past two nights which is new. And I started working on my online stats class finally. I should get out of the house tomorrow though. Particulary to somewhere there is air conditioning....or a pool.....or something....

Did I mention it is hot in here???

Oh and I should definitely enjoy this time of not being busy. I set my schedule last week of work, class, and practicum. Let's just say I will not be spending much time in my new apartment. 20 hours of work (paid, which is a new concept for me!), 16 hours of practicum time for credit, and four classes. And fit studying and having a life in there as well. Hope I adjust to the new schedule well! Wish me luck.

Soooooooooooooooo HOT!!