My summer at KU–Anh Le Nhat

2 Jun

As my sophomore year extends to a summer term, and signs of constructions appear everywhere on campus, my first summer in Lawrence has officially begun. After two years working on my degree as a full-time student, I have made many interesting plans to relax, recharge, and explore this amazing college town.

My first plan this summer is to work as a summer Resident Assistant (RA) in Hashinger Hall.  Even though I worked as an RA during the school year, the summer position provides a much different experience, as most residents living on-campus in the summer are international students from Japan and Brazil.  As an international student, I understand the challenges that international students face, such as language barriers and cultural shocks, and I hope to provide an academically oriented environment and organize fun activities for my residents, so they can enjoy their KU experience. Working as a summer RA in a community full of international students is also a chance for me to show my Jayhawk spirit and learn about Japanese and Brazilian cultures.

Another plan that is on top of my list this summer is watching the World Cup 2014 with my friends and residents. World Cup 2014 is the biggest soccer tournament in the world which only happens once every four years, and as a soccer fan, I will be sure to enjoy the competition between top teams for the glorious trophy. While lots of my residents and friends can cheer for their respective countries in the World Cup, unfortunately, I will not be able to cheer for Vietnam, since our national soccer team still has a long way to go to qualify. That being said, I have been cheering for Spain these past few years in international tournaments, and I hope my team will win a second consecutive World Cup this summer.

Last but not least, I want to spend my free time this summer enjoying Lawrence by visiting places that I have not been able to experience during the school year. Notable examples on top of my list are Prairie Park Nature Center, Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center and Regal Southwind Stadium 12. Prairie Park Nature Center has a wide variety of native Kansas wildlife and offers walking trails and public fishing, which is ideal for a wildlife enthusiast like me. Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, on the other hand, is the perfect solution for hot summer days, with water slides and fountains to escape the heat. As the upcoming summer is full of exciting blockbusters like Godzilla, Malecifient, 22 Jump Street, Transformers, and Dawn of The Planet of the Apes, Regal Southwind Stadium 12 will be where me and my friends hang out and enjoy the regular updated list of movies on the weekends.

Although doing well in summer classes will always remain my priority, summer provides me an opportunity to work at a comfortable pace and take breaks when I can, and I am excited to fulfill all my plans in my first summer in Lawrence! Until next time, peace.

Anh Le is a Jayhawk sophomore from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Volunteer for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Sunshine days are here again!–Melanie D’Souza

2 Jun

For lack of a better title, yes.  It’s summer, laziness has hit me, and I couldn’t be more bothered! I have three glorious months ahead of me, and I’m sure my peers are spending it in various ways.  Some of have summer jobs, some are on KU Study Abroad, dispersed in international academic programs scattered across the latitudes, and some are on hiking/camping/road trips. Some are busy pursuing hobbies they don’t otherwise get to indulge in during the academic semesters.  Some take this time as an opportunity to work on important research paths with a KU professor of their choice.

Well, I have summer plans of my own, of course.  I shall be on an internship and summer school through KU.  I shall also be doing KU recruitment, just as I did last summer.  But the best part is that I am already home!  Home as in Muscat, Oman in the Middle East! And that’s just another thing I love about KU: the flexibility of academics.  I get to live at home, in the comfort of family, under the sweltering sun of the Omani summer, by the sea and the sand.

I’ll just be taking general education classes that are required for graduation but not necessarily related to my major.  This allows me to focus on more major-focused electives during the regular fall and spring terms.  But the one thing that I am most excited about this summer is the internship that I bagged with a reputed architectural engineering firm.  In order to fulfill one of my academic requirements, I need to document my internship experience through a blog: The Charrette Frame of Mind.  If you are able to take time out to follow my newly created professional blog, I’d be extremely grateful!  It is here, after all, at International Jayhawks, that I first experienced the joy of blogging messages to you all!  So yes, summer classes and an internship are going to keep me busy for two months of the summer, but being a workaholic, it’s probably what I want.  At the end of it all, a family trip overseas during the regional Eid holidays, would definitely seem suitable.

What does summer mean for you? For me, summer always means time away from Lawrence, KS, time with family, time at ease. The extreme heat, the perennial sunshine, the sweet seabreeze, catching up on Bollywood films and Arab food and all the good wine with family.  It’s always a beautiful time! So you should let me in on your summer plans too! Once you’re done reading this, please do comment on what you are up to during this wonderful summer of 2014!

Melanie D’Souza is a Jayhawk junior from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture.  She loves travelling, writing and sketching. She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Volunteer for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

The unique cuisine in downtown Lawrence–Anh Le Nhat

29 Apr

As another semester is coming to an end, I am looking back on another year of college that is full of memorable experiences. I realize that I am almost half way to graduation, yet there are so many things in Lawrence that I have not experienced. Since I have a passion for different cuisines, I will introduce you to the eating experience in downtown Lawrence, because enjoying it more is one of my goals for the upcoming summer.

Since I am from Vietnam, I have a soft spot for Asian food, so I will introduce you to my experience of Asian restaurants.  On Mass Street, there are a variety of restaurants that offer dishes from China, India, Korea, and Japan.  I recommend Ramen Bowl.  KU alumni who came back from Hawaii just opened the restaurant last year.  I have been there a couple of times this year to try different kinds of ramen, and they have awesome broth, which will erase any stereotypical feelings associated with ramen noodles.  Another great place to try is Zen Zero, which is usually crowded on the weekends because they serve many great dishes from drunken noodles to soups and curry that can satisfy anyone’s appetite.

Of course Mass Street is not all about Asian food.  There are a lot of other national cuisines that appear here. One example is Aladdin Café, which is well-known for its tasty Greek and Mediterranean entrees. If you are curious about Latin American food, La Parrilla is definitely the place to go to (it offers tasty Brazilian steak!). There is also Genovese, which offers a pricey but decent Italian experience of antipasti and pastas. Furthermore, if you are not familiar with American food, you have to give Burger Stand a try.  Their burgers and fries are usually solid, and the variety of side sauces (which includes marshmallow sauce) is a great addition. Jefferson’s Restaurant is another great restaurant for American cuisines with diverse options for sandwiches and baskets.

Last but not least, there are always fast and convenient restaurants that satisfy the needs of the KU student body whenever we are hungry. Student favorites are Jimmy Johns, Chipotle, Quiznos, Pyramid Pizza, Tryyaki . . . the list goes on. There are many other places that offer mouth-watering cuisines around this area; unfortunately, due to a limit in my time and budget, I have not had the opportunity to try them all yet.  I think this is a unique aspect of Lawrence that students enjoy. If you are committed to KU, I strongly urge you to not miss out on this experience!! Until next time, peace.

Anh Le is a Jayhawk sophomore from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves travelling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Volunteer for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Election Season–Melanie D’Souza

23 Apr

It is quite close to the end of the semester, so various campus organizations are in the midst of a leadership change.  In other words, each campus organization will elect a new executive board to manage the events, activities, and programs which create a greater presence and indelible image of itself on campus.

Executive board positions in these organizations develop leadership skills and serve as great resume-builders.  Students usually run for positions that involve their majors, as it helps them better their contacts with future employers and allows students to interact with their peers in the same major. For example, a photography major can involve himself in a design honors sorority, be part of the Photography Club, or become the photography chair for a Housing Council.  There are just so many things one can do!

One must remember not to be intimidated.  It is better to involve yourself with a club for at least a semester as a regular member before you run for a leadership position.  Once you get acclimated to club meetings, activities, and outreach to the point you benefit from it, and at the same time can contribute to the organization, you can then decide to take up a leadership role.

It is important to stay in a leadership position in one club rather than constantly test waters, as commitment to the club will not only bring invaluable leadership to it, but also make you look invaluable to prospective employers.  Also, it is important to give your very best in whatever responsibility you choose, as it shows your pluck and ability to perform well. More importantly, make sure to go beyond your constitutional duties to create new traditions for the club, as it will definitely display your initiative.

So do not be too intimidated to get yourself out there and lead!  Remember leadership comes with an expectation of service and great communication.  But it will only prepare you to step into the workplace and to extend your network. Thus in the spirit of election time at KU, be thinking of positions you wish to run for and clubs you want to participate in next year!

Good luck to you!

Melanie D’Souza

Melanie D’Souza is a Jayhawk sophomore from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture.  She loves travelling, writing, sketching, cycling, and studying art history.  She is currently the Environment Chair of the All Scholarship Hall Council and a fervent schol-haller and Riegerette.  She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Volunteer for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Allen Fieldhouse: The best college basketball experience

24 Mar

Many students at the University of Kansas love KU Basketball. Some people in Lawrence even boldly claim basketball is a religion, Allen Fieldhouse (AFH) is a church, and Bill Self is a preacher. I am not an exception, even though I did not come to KU because of basketball but just happened to fall in love with my school’s basketball team. March Madness reminds me of my first home game experience: the Sunflower Showdown in my freshman year.

The Sunflower Showdown was one of the most hyped games of 2013, as Kansas State’s basketball team, the Wildcats, were ranked higher than my Jayhawks and had an upper hand in winning the Big 12 Conference. The game contained a lot of passions from the student body, as KU has developed a rivalry against K-State after the Border War against Missouri officially ended.  Tickets were hard to find, and I ended up paying $50 for student admission! (Note: Always buy the sport package, it is a wise investment.)  Waiting in line and camping out for tickets was kind of extreme; however, from the start of the game, it seemed like all my efforts paid had off.  There were no empty seats in Allen Fieldhouse; the traditions like singing the alma mater, waving the newspaper, and throwing the confetti were carried out in an electric and raucous atmosphere, which represented the tradition and spirit of the Jayhawks.

The game was physical and intense, as both teams consisted of talented and competitive players who played the game that could directly decide who the Big 12 Champions would be. The fans, especially those who sat in the student section like me, almost never sat down during the entire game while cheering for our team.  It seemed like the spirit of the Phog, the passion of being a Jayhawk, was just all over the building, from the announcer, coach Self, and the cheerleaders to all the other sections in Allen Fieldhouse (except the K-State fans, of course). The team delivered a spectacular performance, as Kansas cruised over K-State with a 21-point difference, and freshman star Ben McLemore scored his career-high of 30 points on his 20th birthday night. I lost my voice cheering and celebrating with the crowd, and it was an unforgettable experience in my college career.

There is a reason why Allen Fieldhouse is called the best place to watch college basketball. To me, it was an entertaining and thrilling experience that makes the college experience become unforgettable, where a student can feel that he/she truly belongs to the KU community. Allen Fieldhouse also has the Booth Family Hall of Athletics, which is free to the public and contains the rich history of KU athletics that is definitely worth your time. If you decide to go to KU, try to attend a basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse, whether you are a basketball fan or not.  Until next time, peace!

Rock, Chalk, Drive!–Melanie D’Souza

19 Mar

I don’t know about you, but I came to KU / America as a girl of seventeen with no family in the country. Back home, the driving culture was different.  It seems like here in America, a lot of teenagers are on the road, each family owns at least three cars, and people own cars like they own cellphones.

Back home, owning a car is a luxury, so if you own a car, you are definitely from a well-off family.  If you have a good job, you have the benefit of ‘owning’ a company car.  The car is owned by the company—although it is your personal possession—and based on your position at work, you get upgrades.  Therefore, a new job means a new car, and you never have to shell out a whole lot on a car or insurance!  You also don’t really need to learn to drive until you’re toward the end of college and ready to fly the nest, secure a good occupation, and live away from home.

But coming to KU has taught me it’s a whole different ball game here.  The steering is different, and so shall be the drive.  They drive on the right side of the road here, and they are most definitely greater sticklers for rules.  American drivers actually STOP at the Stop signs and (I speak for Kansas) practice good driving courtesy and decent following distance (space between cars while driving).  More importantly, drivers here know how to drive well before they enter college, as they start practicing as early teenagers. The regulations are plenty, and speeding rules are actually exercised, but they really help minimize accidents. The road is a thrill back home, but here it is a way of life.  Hence, you won’t be surprised to see so many college students embarking on road trips—and you’ll be one of them.

I am not going to keep honking at you but shall drive the point home.  I was 17 when I left my country, which then had a minimum age of 18 for entering driving school.  Obviously, I never had gotten behind the wheel, unless you count the bumper car rides at the park, where boys would scream ‘Yalla, yalla’ (Arabic for ‘Hurry, hurry’) in my face.  So a few months ago, I decided to—no matter how embarrassed I would feel—simply ‘shut up and drive.’

Here in Lawrence, if you’re like me and have never driven in your life, you have a few steps to follow:

1)      Enroll in a local certified driving school.  There are quite a few reputable ones, like Midwest Driving School LLC and Go Driving School LLC.  Take the vision test, familiarize yourself with the Kansas Driving Handbook, and complete the eight required classroom hours and the written test.

2)      With your driving instructor, spend six hours behind the wheel, learning to drive.  Practice driving at night, and more importantly, on roads with higher speed limits.  Keep in mind that when you go home, driving may be more rough-and-tough.  You might need more practice, so practice until you’re confident.  Practice with anyone older than 21–in their car and with your instruction permit on person.

3)      You’re good to go! Once you’ve gotten enough practice, take the right documents to the nearest office of the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for your American license! You might also wish to get an International Driving License, if you’d like to immediately start driving at home before you get your American license converted.

What if you already somewhat know how to drive? I’d still recommend going through the above process, though it shall be smoother for you, as rules back home are super different.

But if you’ve driven for years and are quite confident behind the wheel, you may contact the Kansas DMV for direct testing.

Over and above, driving is bound to add that dollop of independence that you’ve been yearning for. In that spirit, let me leave you with my lousy car pun:

I could not pull out of my parking space, so I used my back up plan.

Melanie D’Souza is a Jayhawk sophomore from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture.  She loves travelling, writing, sketching, cycling, and studying art history.  She is currently the Environment Chair of the All Scholarship Hall Council and a fervent schol-haller and Riegerette.  She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Volunteer for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.


Kendo: The Way of the Sword–Anh Le Nhat

28 Feb

Every one of us, at some point in our lives, has experienced passion, whether it be for a cause, a romantic adventure, or a hobby.  My passion is Kendo, which means “Way of the Sword” in English.  Kendo is a popular Japanese martial art that involves bamboo swords and protective armors. I discovered and fell in love it with during my freshman year at KU.

My interest in Kendo sparked when I came to KU about a year ago; it was my first year in college, and I was eager to get involved.  Kendo was an extra-curricular activity that fit my class schedule, so I figured I would give it a try. Since I had no prior experience with Kendo other than images and YouTube videos, I expected I could do all the flashy skills on day one.  As a result, my first experience with Kendo was not pleasant at all.  I was asked to swing the bamboo sword repetitively for the whole practice, while other kendo players wore cool armor and battled each other.  I came home, feeling exhausted and unsatisfied, since the bamboo sword seemed so heavy and hard to handle.  I did think about quitting, but I had come to college to improve myself, and I wanted to give more time and dedication to this sport.

Kendo only has a few techniques that take a lifetime to master.  The games are not exciting; they are mentally draining. You might ask why I would love Kendo, then.  It has taught me many important lessons about life.  First, Kendo is a sport of simplicity. When I began Kendo, I wanted to do flashy, unnecessary moves, but over time, I learned to strike more effectively (so I would not wear myself out), and improved by practicing simple techniques again and again. In real life, especially “busy” college life with so many aspects and worries, things get complicated, and Kendo teaches me to calm down and to avoid overthinking. Kendo has also taught me to keep working and never be satisfied with myself. There is no way I will ever be perfect in Kendo, and I always have to keep working hard to become better, whether I want to strike a point on my instructor (unfortunately, I haven’t yet) or get more efficient in my footwork.  The sense of purpose carries over to my real life, which I dedicate to improving myself, even though I will never be ideal.

My passion for Kendo could never flourish without KU Kendo Club’s instructors, who are so kind to devote their time to help me out, or The Student Rec Center, who is so kind to lend our club the Martial Art Room for practice. I hope you all can find your passion, as KU is a great opportunity to learn and experience, as well as connect with other individuals like yourself. Until next time, peace.



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