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Student BlogsWelcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of The Universities at Shady Grove!

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Winter Break: My Study Abroad Trip to Denmark

This winter break, I had the privilege to leave the United States and fly across the continent to a small country in Europe called, Denmark. As a student with UMBC, I decided to apply for the study abroad program to Denmark because not only am I senior who is going to graduate this year but I also wanted to experience studying abroad in a European nation by learning about its culture and history. I was already familiar with the study abroad program before because I had the opportunity to travel to Africa for a study abroad trip to Ethiopia with Montgomery College, so I was not afraid to travel and get out of my comfort zone.

The statue is of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Here are some fun facts about Denmark before I dive into my experience about my time in a small city called, Slagelse and my brief stay at Copenhagen.

Fun facts about Denmark

  • One of the happiest countries in the world
  • The Danish language has no word for “please”
  • The oldest flag in the world
  • Have a word for that cozy feeling of togetherness: Hygge
  • Danish pastry actually origins from Vienna
  • Don’t have any mountains, so biking is never uphill
  • More than 50% of Copenhageners cycle to and from work every day
  • The Danish alphabet has 3 additional letters: Æ, Ø, and Å
  • Have some weird Danish traditions
  • You’ll find the two oldest amusement parks in the world in Denmark
  • LEGO® was invented by a Dane
  • Denmark has 444 islands, but only 76 of them are inhabited
  • You’ll never be more than 52km from the ocean in Denmark!
  • The Copenhagen harbour is clean enough to swim in
  • You can drink water from the tap
  • Denmark became the first country to legalise same-sex unions in 1989
  • There is an unofficial Danish law for “no one is better than the other”

Source: https://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/highlights/history-and-culture/fun-facts

My group and I stayed at a place called, Gerlev, which is a Sports Academy in Slagelse. My program was specifically about dance and culture and with that I was able to learn how to dance for three weeks while learning about Danish culture and history. As students at Gerlev, we participated not only in our major/minor classes, but we had theme parties, group activities, morning assemblies and team building exercises. Despite the language barrier, I was able to make friends with the Danish and other international students. I was well welcomed and the Danish people were very friendly and accommodating. The food was healthy compare to the American diet and I was able to appreciate the socialization of everyone here in Gerlev. While staying in Gerlev, I learned that it is common for Danish students and other European students to take a gap year after high school and attend a place like Gerlev, where they learn about finding themselves or traveling to other countries before heading to college. This was new to the Americans because it was interesting to learn that there is a culture of self-growth and an emphasis on this type of education.

Having fun doing arts and craft with the Danish Students

I further explored this concept and learned that this is known as Folk High School movement and was developed by a guy named, Grundtvig in the 18th century. Grundtvig is said to be the most influential people in Danish history because his work influenced the Danish culture in education, politics and the church. He influenced the Danish education system by advocating that every Danish student should have an education and should communicate ideas and speak out collectively. Grundtvig wanted to educated the Danish youth and take active part in the newborn Danish democracy. Studying about Grundtvig and his impact on the Danish culture was informative and significant because I was able to truly understand the value of the education system of Denmark compare to the United States. Grundtvig’s folk high school movement demonstrates that the Danes value education and believe that every citizen should take part in their nation and democracy and is through education that one can achieve that.

Morning Assembly Song Books- influenced by Grundtvig

During my stay in Denmark, I had the opportunity to visit Copenhagen and see historical sites. The historical sites that I got to visit were Rosenborg Castle, the Little Mermaid Statue, the West Indies Port, Christianborg, Stock Exchange, Nyhavn, Royal Theater, Marble Church, Amalienborg and the Kastellet. All these historical sites were significant to me because as a history major, I am able to appreciate the historical information but also take from the history of Denmark and apply to my knowledge on European history. My favorite historical places were Rosenborg Castle, the West Indies Port and the Little Mermaid Statue. These were my favorite because I enjoyed studying about the history of Denmark’s monarchy, their role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and their writers.

Copenhagen, Denmark
These colorful buildings are part of a town called, Nyhavn and it attracts millions of tourist from all over the world

In conclusion, my study abroad trip to Denmark has been excellent and I would rate it 9 out 10 of an overall score. I had so much fun and despite being homesick, I was able to get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself further, especially in my dance classes, and appreciate the Danish culture and history while learning about myself in the process. My time here in Denmark is thus bittersweet and I will not forget the bonds I have made with so many people here. Though, I wish we had stayed a week longer, visited more historical sites and learned more about the culture, I am satisfied with how everything went and I am immensely thankful for Gerlev community for accommodating our stay and being so hospitable. I would highly recommend this program to the students at UMBC so they can appreciate the wonderful community at Gerlev Sports Academy.

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Are students ready for the new semester? VLOG #1

I went to USG before school actually started to see If there were new things happening, and found some grad students that had their classes started before everyone else. Enjoy this short interview I did with them.

Please comment and share this with your friends.

Thank you all.

Music by Venus X : https://youtu.be/O4qZE7AIFMM

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The Holiday Season

Welcome back everyone! Though the spring semester at USG hasn’t quite started just yet, the blog is back in business. How has everyone’s winter break been so far? This winter break, I spent the holiday season walking around DC, and was able to see the National Christmas Tree. It was a beautiful sight, and for those who have not seen it yet, I definitely recommend it for Christmas 2020! 

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Already we have stepped foot into 2020, a year for me that holds so much weight as it is finally the year I graduate. It settles me into reality that yes, a new stage of life is approaching and I need to be prepared every step of the way. At the same time, it’s bittersweet how my life as a student at USG will also be coming to an end, as I loved every moment with the amazing students here. Maybe it’s because it’s a whole new year, but the fact settles in even more deeply than before.

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Regardless, it is better to keep moving forward than to look back, so I wish everyone the most success on whichever path they embark on in 2020! And please remember, that it is always alright to take a break, to take some time for yourself both mentally and physically. It isn’t worth it to keep pushing when either your mind or body cannot take it. The pace doesn’t matter, so keep moving forward fellow USG students! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and happy new year!

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How to De-stress During Finals Week

Finals are just around the corner, not to mention the multiple amounts of assignments, final projects, papers and exams to complete–all crammed into a relatively short amount of time. Let’s not forget that there is also high levels of anxiety and stress to top it all off. But what can you do to relief this stress and anxiety? And what are the steps you can take to alleviate this pressure during finals week. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the busy weeks ahead to hopefully help you stay calm, organized and feeling well. While it is important to get good grades and pass your finals, it is also vital to take care of yourself. These tips will help you balance finals week by providing you with practical wellness tips that will help you conquer your exams while staying healthy and happy!

10 Tips to help De-stress for Finals

  1. Get Enough Sleep
  2. Be Kind to Yourself
  3. Get Some Light Exercise
  4. Try Meditation
  5. Eat healthy snacks
  6. Make a to-do list
  7. Take frequent breaks
  8. Change study location
  9. Adult Coloring
  10. Watch a funny video

Here is a link to USG events that are happening right now for De-stress Week: https://shadygrove.umd.edu/news-events/events/de-stress-week

Here are some Memes to make you laugh while you study for the Finals!

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Aaaand We’re back!

Welcome back after a much needed short break. Much needed Thanksgiving break and madness of shopping is over (we still have cyber Monday to look forward to) and now… its the last end of the semester till we are hit by our exams. More then ever, every thanksgiving break made me realize how nice it is to sit in a class room and challenge my self mentally, because Thanksgiving challenges me physically, creatively and yes sometimes even socially. Thanksgiving meal preps and keeping my home throws me back into ‘mommy mode’ where I am determined to do everything in ‘perfection’ in the mommy world. Over the years I have realized that, I should not strive for perfection when it comes to family and relationships. One cannot control many things and sometimes imperfections are the blessings in disguise. So… like never before, this year, I decided to take it easy with my thanksgiving and reached out to another close family member for help. This is what family is all about. It is important for us to cherish family, no matter good, bad form it comes in. Relationships are never easy, but at the end of the day they are relations that if given a chance will stand with us, for us.

I am graduating this semester. In the spirit of beautiful holiday season, I am thankful for all my professors and fellow classmates, who have been with me, guided me, pushed me and when I fell low pulled me up through this journey. Leaving USG truly feels like I have created relationships with people for people for life. Saying good bye to USG with much love and appreciation.

 

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Motivations from Every Corner

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Having come this far, means that every student here has a story, a reason, and their own motivations. When studying can become too tiring, what motivates you? How do you keep yourself going? Those can be questions that can be hard to ask yourself, but asking is the first step to remember why you’re here, what you have done to get here, and how amazing it all truly is.

Though the questions might feel too grand in scheme, motivations do not have to be. For example, when I opened WordPress to start typing this blog post, I wasn’t really sure what to even write about. It’s only when I took a few sips of coffee, a little too hot on the tongue, with headphones playing a playlist shuffled with songs I’ve never heard of that I thought, maybe I should write about motivation. Because it was in the little, routine things such as a cup of coffee and a melody in my ears that have always motivated me to work a little harder, to keep going a little more forward.

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As Thanksgiving break comes closer, it can be harder to find that motivation you need for all the exams, papers, and projects that just happen to be right before break. It can be difficult to find something new that can motivate you, and it might even put your schedule off-track. I tried changing my schedule around for a change of pace, but instead of helping me focus and become motivated, I felt like I had been on unstable ground and confused. It might be the same for you, or different, so make sure to try everything at least once during your academic career here at USG.

For now, I’m sticking with my too many cups of coffee and tea in a day, and playlists from all genres to keep me going as I work on studying for exams once more. The Priddy Library has been the ideal place for me to study ever since I arrived at USG, with its cozy atmosphere and the bustling of students working just as hard surrounding you at every corner. It’s a place I’ve been in so many times, it feels like an intimate home now. Make sure to stop by and visit, and good luck with studying everyone! Thanksgiving break is just around the corner 🙂

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New Beginnings!

Last week was full of exciting news at USG. It was the inauguration of new ‘Bio-Science and Engineering (BSE)’ building. Apart from providing various new majors in STEM field the building is one of the most sustainability sourced building of the region. while passing from the bridge one can easily spout out the water feature, which is actually an artwork by Michael Singer, who is an award winning artist. I came to know that the water feature is going to harvest rainwater.

Upon entering the main floor one can spot various classrooms and labs. The center of the main building have a beautiful lounge area and one can almost feel like walking into a high end hotel lobby. I also realized the student’s Career and Internship Center and the Center for Academic Success are now located in the new BSE building. Student’s can now have access to even more efficient career and internship center which would enable them to unlock their perspective jobs.

Students can visit the inauguration proceedings on USG YouTube channel  and view photos here.

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Photos by the author

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Making University Affordable

scholarships

As students, seeing tuition fees can be daunting. Added to that, there are textbook fees, online application fees, and so much more that can accumulate before you know it. Coming into classes on the first day of fall semester, you might not have been prepared. But coming spring semester, you can reduce the surprise that comes with fees by applying for scholarships that USG offers.

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Every semester, USG offers scholarships for all students from the scholarship website. The deadline to apply for spring scholarships is November 30th, so be sure to start applying now! The Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources in Building III can help you through the process if you have any questions, so don’t hesitate – USG is here to help!

I encourage this so much because when I first arrived to USG, I had been so fortunate to receive grants that helped incredibly. The grants had lessened the overall fees and let me breathe, to take courses on without a worry from day one. No matter the background, scholarships can help students succeed in their path to education and career success. USG as a smaller campus has a smaller pool of students to give scholarships to, and thus students have a greater chance. No matter the result, I definitely recommend applying for scholarships. Good luck students!

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Why is Mental Health so Important?

Have you had thoughts where you just didn’t “feel right” and aren’t sure why or your thoughts, feelings or behaviors are starting to affect your life at home, school or friends? Or maybe you are unable to cope with the stresses in your life. I know as a student, school can also be daunting, especially when you are overwhelmed with assignments, exams, work and social obligations. Sometimes overworking and not taking care of your mental health can land you in a hospital. I just recently had to admit myself in the hospital for a week because I could no longer function and my body and mind had shut down from the stress of overworking and severity of my depression. Not to say that being in the hospital is a bad thing because sometimes we do need help and talk to the right professionals.

What is Mental Health?

According to MentalHealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

Factors that contribute to mental health problems include:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

The Importance of Talking About Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, “approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million Americans, experience some form of mental illness in a given year”(  https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers ). Conversations on mental health and mental illness “has been difficult to openly discuss and approach over the years and many people view mental health with a negative stigma. With these issues becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s imperative that we move mental health to the forefront of conversation topics and have transparent discussions about how we are truly feeling” says Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing & Technology at Banyan Mental Health. Therefore it is important to openly talk about mental health because it removes stigma, mental health and mental illness is more common than you think, and it promotes healthy treatment and decreases the rate of suicide.

(Source: https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2018/08/01/why-talking-about-mental-health-is-so-important/)

Tips For Talking About Mental Health

  • Write a letter if you are afraid to talk face-to-face.
  • Talk to someone who doesn’t know you such as a therapist or psychologist if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a loved one.
  • Start by journaling and then transition to speaking.
  • Practice speaking in the mirror before you talk to someone if you are struggling to do so.
  • Remember that you will probably feel a great sense of relief after talking with someone.
  • Remember that you are not alone.

Source: https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2018/08/01/why-talking-about-mental-health-is-so-important/)

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Source: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

For Universities at Shady Grove (USG) students who are seeking help, you can also visit the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Here is the link: https://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/center-for-counseling-and-consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember that your mental health matters.

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Fall Harvest!

As the midterm approaches the weather starts to cool, the wind blows on our faces while walking to class, and the leaves starts to fall. I could not help but think, that this will be my last fall season at USG.

I have started working part time as a marketing and communications intern and I am already missing my student life. Many significant changes in my routine have made me more thankful of the school years I have spent. Things I will miss are from my usual student messy sweaters, hoodies and messy bun to more sophisticated, corporate clothing. From eating my favorite junk food at the Green Grove cafe and hanging out in the cafeteria to now packing lunch and eating at my desk while at work. I must say, just like the season, the transition has started.

The other day I took aside some time before my 9:30 a.m.  class  and went to the library to just sit and study.  As I passed through the boardwalk, I got excited for the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) building. I never had a chance to study in there, but I am sure the incoming students will enjoy it. It looks like a sparkling jewelry box right now. I envy the new students who would get to study there. As the end of the semester approaches, I am looking forward to spending as much quality time with my classmates and professors as possible. These connections will last for years. It will be sad to leave USG in December when I graduate. So for now I will enjoy every last minute I have here on campus.

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Photo Courtesy : Internet

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