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  • Covid-19: Finding Light Amid the Crisis

    by Ania Ksiezyc | May 19, 2020

    My Story

    It was late January; I was waiting in an airport becoming frenzy with excitement to board my plane to begin my semester abroad. I was heading for Ireland, the land full of green hills and cobble stone towns.  It did not come easy. Though I come from a low-income background, I was not going to let my socioeconomic status rape me of my chance to submerse myself into the experiences studying abroad had to offer. I worked hard to apply for many scholarships, including the Benjamin A. Gilman. Without the Gilman, the likely hood of my spring semester being spent abroad would have been relatively slim. The Gilman works to broaden the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. When I heard about the Gilman I worked hard during my application and was so thankful to have received the award. After all the hard work of applying to scholarships and wrapping up first semester of junior year, the excitement for Ireland was more real than I could even begin to describe.

    Arriving at the Dublin airport was the coolest experience, after eight hours of air travel I was eager to see what has been waiting for me! I had to board a bus once I got to Ireland and luckily, I met with a few others from other parts of America who were also heading to Maynooth University. We all safely arrived in the small town of Maynooth. Wow. The architecture of Ireland was breath taking. I fell in love deeply with what surrounded me. The University was similar to Manchester with professors enthusiastic about connecting with students. This truly made me feel at home. After about one month during my stay in Ireland I began to really open up and started exploring the great city of Dublin and checking out local shops. However, as more days went on the talk of Coronavirus kept growing. Events started to get canceled and worry hung over our heads.

    3:00 a.m. on the day of March 12th I jump out of bed in a panic. My phone blasted with emails and several calls from family members all worried because of the U.S. boarder closing due to COVID-19. Waking up to emergency departure requirements from the country I worked hard to be in was one of the biggest disappointments in my life. I had to leave with in the next 5 days and was very fortunate to find an open flight. I spent my last few days going to my favorite places to eat and saying goodbye to everyone. I walked through an empty airport, boarded my flight and just like that I was on my way back to the U.S. It was amazing when I landed on U.S. soils because at that point, I knew I was safe and I was going to see everyone I love again.

     The Light Amid the Crisis

    COVID-19 has brought much uncertainty and huge lifestyle changes for everyone globally. However, I feel instead of drowning in the negativity we can learn to observe the greatness around us. Especially on the perseverance and strength many organizations have maintained during these troubling times. Both Manchester University and Maynooth University have shown what it means to keep the ball rolling with unexpected and drastic circumstances. I want to highlight a few of the great things both my university at home and my university abroad has done to make us students feel secure and able to finish this semester strong.

    During a crisis like this, it can be easy to want to clock out and give up. But this is far from what I have seen from both Manchester and Maynooth University. I have had professors schedule online video chats with me from Manchester to make sure I have returned safely and to just check it. My professors at Maynooth have had such a “go with the flow” attitude when it came to any of concerns regarding class work. Let’s not forget about the consistent updates both university Presidents have provided for us students and concerned parents. I am entirely grateful for the staff at both Universities.

    Campus Life:
    Let us talk about campus life. I know what you may be thinking, “Um… There is no campus life?” Actually, both Manchester and Maynooth have done an excellent job at providing alternative online activities for students to escape the daily stress of COVID-19. At Manchester, the department of student involvement has been putting on fun online events and even clubs like Kenapocomoco still hold their regular meetings through Zoom. Similar things are happening through Maynooth University. Maynooth’s International Office provided “tea and chat” events when I was on campus in Ireland and they have now moved their events into an online chat. Its really amazing to know that staff are still working hard for all of us when they too must be feeling the stress of COVID-19.  

    In the End:
    At the end of the day, these are the things we need to look for and focus on. Even someone like me who has had an amazing opportunity taken from me can see the light and positivity. I know we aren’t all in the same circumstances but let’s challenge our human capabilities and find the strength from the small amounts of greatness surrounding us. Forgive yourself when times get tough and you break down. Encourage yourself to jump back up and focus on the light!

  • The College "Must Haves"

    by Nick Rush | May 07, 2019

    I’ve almost completed three years of college, and let me tell you what, it doesn’t feel like it at all. It feels like I just started college a couple weeks ago! Most of my posts have been tips about college or information about Manchester, but this time I want to share specific things that have helped me get to where I am today.

    1. Phone. I’m honestly not sure how I could’ve made it this far without my phone. I use it as my day-to-day schedule by using the calendar feature in Outlook. I put everything but homework assignments in the calendar – class, meetings, work, practice, etc. My homework, and my work tasks, go in my Notes app or in my planner.


    2. Laptop. My laptop is used for homework, worksheets, online quizzes, sometimes notes, papers, you name it. I use my laptop for so many things because in the College of Business most things can be done electronically. However, I’ve already used my laptop to help me land jobs and internships. I’ve taught myself photo and video editing in my free time, and I sort of credit that to having my own laptop; if I didn’t have my own laptop, I wouldn’t have had as much time to learn.


    3. Portable charger. This may sound a little odd, but I have lived off a portable charger. Being one who is always on my phone, I always find my phone battery running low. This will be good to have, especially if you’re an athlete or plan to be really involved, or both. Quick tip – if you can find a portable charger that has a USB port and a normal outlet on it, invest in that. I don’t have one but I really wish I did for my laptop.


    4. Xbox/Guitar. These are a little different than school-related topics, but they still have played an important role. Xbox has been a way of relaxing. I get on to play video games with my friends when I have free time, and I don’t have to think about school when I’m playing; I get my mind off of everything school and job related. As an aside, I have a friend that works outside of the United States and in South America, and I actually use video games to talk with him. Guitar, on the other hand, is another way to relax. I use down time to learn a new song or practice songs I recently learned. I’ve used it to meet people I barely knew. They were singers and I was the guitar player, so we got together and played a couple duets.


    5. Friends. My friends have definitely helped get me through college! My teammates have helped bus rides go fast and practices more enjoyable. Friends have helped me schedule classes and helped me with tough classes and homework assignments. They’ve made the extra activities more fun – bowling, going to MAC events, having bonfires, etc. They’ve also been a solid resource just to talk to. We learn about each other, talk about sports, make spontaneous trips, and make sure that we stay focused on getting the degree but being a normal college kid in the process.


  • Creating a Health Campaign for Manchester Spartans

    by Tiffany Byers | May 07, 2019

     Senior year is wrapping up way too quickly! I feel excited and overwhelmed that graduation is only a week away! However, the workload is not slowing down. I have passed my senior comprehensive exams and completed a few very big projects, but I still have one big item left.

     My biggest project is very exciting but is taking up quite a bit of my time: my Advanced Public Relations class project. My class consists of eight people: David Alvarez, Katie Doehrmann, Tanner Edge, Max Etter, Karloine Flower, Nizhoni Rhoads, Courtney Zentz and myself, and we were tasked with creating a health campaign.

     This class is ran a bit differently than others. During class, we have meetings to discuss what we want while our professor, Gaberlia Morales, advises us as needed. Ultimately, we get to choose the direction of our campaign. After researching the biggest health related issues on college campuses, we chose to educate students on the misconceptions of alcohol use. This campaign is called #Don’tBeIt and is about not being the statistic. Don’t be the student who spends $900 a year on alcohol, don’t be the student who fails due to drinking, don’t be the student who over−drinks at the bar. We have three core promotional events and every Wednesday you can find us in Haist Commons from 11- 1 p.m. for “We Fill Wednesdays,” where our group is ready to fill up your cup with lemonade and share what our VIA will be about.

     We also have a scavenger hunt, which is very exciting! Katie created this in the similar style of GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt). I suggest you look it up! It’s a big hit for “Supernatural” fans like me as it’s run by Misha Collins. The exciting thing about this is the fact that if students do at least seven of the 100 options, they have a chance to win a pair of fast passes for the Plain White Tees Concert!

     Lastly, we have the main VIA event on April 23 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. This event will be in an experiential learning style, which is learning while doing, as opposed to being lectured. We have designed it so students can come and complete the three core activities anytime during our event. We are very excited for this event as several parts of the Manchester community are coming to help us, plus there will also be food and a live band!

    It has been stressful but fun to plan this event. I would like to thank my fellow classmates as well as the Art Department, Center for Service Opportunities, Chartwells, Communication Studies Department, Econ Club, Manchester Activities Council, Manchester's Football Team, Spartan Choices, Student Senate, VIA committee members, We R Board and more for helping donate time and/or items to make this event work. Organizing this has proven one thing: Manchester is indeed a family and will step up to help when needed. 

  • Wow, Life

    by Heather Steele | Apr 15, 2019

    So... I have never written a blog post like this. Here’s a big life update for all of you.

    The past few weeks have been hard to say the least. Anyone that knows me is familiar with my busy schedule. I work 40 hours a week at a daycare in town, I’m a member of the Student Education Association and a social media ambassador which includes updating Manchester’s Pinterest page and writing these blogs (not complaining, this is my favorite part!). But please do not think I am exaggerating when I say that I absolutely do not have free time and rarely ever practice self-care, although I am working on it.

    In addition to my busy schedule, I now have doctors’ appointments because I was recently diagnosed with epilepsy.

    Honestly, I did not see this one coming at all. I have always had random shakes, especially when I slept. My friends used to throw blankets on me because I looked cold. Needless to say, I wasn’t  “cold”, and my “shakes” got much worse.

     It’s tough and my mental health isn’t exactly top notch. It’s not the diagnosis that bothers me. I see my epilepsy as a reason that I have to take medicine, nothing more. Instead, I see the effect it has on my family and friends. I see the way my parents react when someone tells them I had yet another seizure. I see their faces after they drove two hours to get to the hospital. I see the worried looks my friends give me after I wake up. I am exhausted. Some days I literally want to quit everything. But that’s not me. I might be tired and running fumes, but I can’t quit.

    No matter what’s going on in your life, don’t quit. We all have a mountain we have to climb at some point in our lives. And in those moments you have to surround yourself with support and encouragement. Whether it’s a bad grade on a test, a bad break-up, or heck, even being diagnosed with epilepsy, don’t quit. Because you are WAY TOO AWESOME. 

  • Amnesty General Meeting 2019

    by Virginia Rendler | Apr 01, 2019

    This semester I had a big goal to begin a chapter of Amnesty International on the Manchester University campus. The clubs and organizations on campus do an excellent job of outreach, advocacy, and education, but I saw an opportunity for direct action.


    Amnesty International is an international organization that investigates and opposes human rights abused by the hands of the government. Student chapters within the organization can be involved in letter writing campaigns, protests and persuasion. Since starting Amnesty chapter, one of the best outcomes so far has been passing the Refugees Welcome resolution here on campus. We are the only institution in Indiana to pass this resolution in conjunction with Student Senate, and it’s an amazing way to practice what we preach with our mission statement.

    One of the best things about Manchester University are the opportunities that students have to engage in their own passions. Earlier this month, a group of peace studies students presented a workshop at the Amnesty General meeting called “Using the Human Rights Framework to Create Change on Campus”. We discussed past actions on campus and the lessons that arose from those campaigns. We were able to interact with the people that came to our session, attend other workshops and spend time getting to know others involved in Amnesty International.


    We were in a unique position. As a group newly involved in Amnesty, we were able to see into an international organization and understand the structure, but also bring our perspective of a small campus that has been engaged in social change. From college students to high school students, the opportunity to go to conferences like this allows us to see others research and contribute our own lessons. High school students that are passionate about creating change at their school can learn so much from experienced college students that have participated in campaigns, and being able to share that information is incredible.


    Traveling to conferences with a big group of like-minded individuals has been, without question, the best part of my college career. Attending these workshops and conferences allows us to gain experience and varied perspectives of a big campus, but with the family feeling of Manchester.


    For more information on Amnesty, we meet bi-weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m.

  • Oh Antigua, Land of My Birth

    by Charise Samuel | Mar 08, 2019


    Since my first year here, I have taken great pride in the fact that Manchester is my home. This is a statement many of my fellow Spartans have made, but for me, it resonates in my heart. As an international student, I struggle with being so far away from home and everything that I grew up knowing. Before this past January Session, I had rarely left campus since I first stepped foot here. Outside of clubs, class field trips and spring break, my entire life for the past three years has been centered on Manchester.

    As much as I may love MU, being able to go back home for the first time in what felt like forever was exhilarating, overwhelming and somewhat scary, all at the same time. Just landing at the airport and looking out t from a the tiny airplane window filled me with a happiness that is almost impossible to explain. Being able to go to my childhood home and sleep in my bed for the first time in years was a feeling that I missed.

    A geography lesson for you adventurous Spartans: Antigua is a part of the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda and is located in the Caribbean. The national fruit is pineapple. We gained independence from Britain on November 1, 1981. Tourism is our main industry and our main attractions are the beaches, of which we have 365. The island is 108 square miles wide. We have Carnival every year in mid-summer. The most important thing to know, is that everything I’ve stated are just facts. To truly know and appreciate Antigua, you have to physically be there. The sights, the sounds, the smells, are things, in that need to be experienced to be truly understood.

    When it was finally time for me to leave and come back for Spring semester, I was numb for a little while. It didn’t truly hit me until I was in the airport and I had to leave my mom. It was unbelievably sad for me, but the one thing the brightened my spirts, was knowing  that I had a home waiting for me  back at Manchester
  • College Survival Guide: Student- Athlete Edition

    by Nick Rush | Mar 08, 2019

    If I wasn’t a student-athlete, two things would be true: 1. I would have more free time. 2.  I would still find a way to be busy. Let me explain! I would have more free time because I wouldn’t have baseball practices and games every day in the spring, but if I wasn’t an athlete,  I would be  too bored and  I’d join a club or get another job to fill the void.

    However, since I am a student-athlete, I’ve figured out how to best maneuver from class, to work, to practice, to clubs. All the tips below are ones I use every day that have helped me feel like a normal college student who just happens to play a collegiate sport. 

    1. Communicate. Communicate with your parents, friends, professors, coaches and everyone else. Communication is key when living a busy life because you’re not going to be able to do everything. If you communicate early enough, then feelings are less likely to be hurt and things can be worked out easier without a last-minute change of plans.
    2. Get to Know Your Professors. This will aid the communication process. If you look to be on the road often, consider asking professors if they’d be willing to email with you after office hours in case you need help on assignments
    3. Be Organized. Use a planner, agenda, phone calendar, or whatever you can write things down on. When busy, you’re bound to forget something. Writing it down on something you constantly view will help aid your forgetfulness.
    4. Find Your Balance. Being involved on campus is great and what many people strive for, but  if you want to be an athlete,  your sport will take time out of your day. Be involved, but don’t get too overly involved to a point you feel burned out.
    5. Be Healthy. Take care of yourself! Make sure you eat right, drink water and get enough rest at night. You’ll feel better throughout the day and you’ll be able to keep up with your busy schedule.
    6. Make Some “You” time. This helps you relax. Find a hobby or favorite TV show and find time to do it. Even if you are not a student athlete, this just helps any overwhelming feelings you may feel in college. Make sure to make yourself happy and take care of yourself!
    7. Take Work On the Road. This may not sound delightful, but it will help in the long run. It will prevent staying up late after a game to do homework or projects. Focus and preparation is important before games, I know, but remember – we are student-athletes and not athletic-students!
    8. Remember Why You Are In College. You went to college to continue a sport that you’ve enjoyed all your career AND to receive an education. Some say college is the best four years of your life, so enjoy it while it lasts, and make the most of everything you do! 
  • Monday Motivation

    by Heather Steele | Mar 05, 2019

    I am not sure what is wrong with this week. It seems like everyone, including myself, has felt overwhelmed since Monday. With this in mind, I’ve listed my favorite quotes below. Whether you need a pick-me-up, want to make a good day even better or you just like happy quotes, here’s some Monday Motivation you can use every day of the week. 


    “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

    -John Dewey


    "The voice that tells you 'you can't' is usually lying. The one that says you can't do it all at once usually isn't."

    -Marsha Wright


    "Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference."

    -Claire Fagin


    “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.”

    -Zig Ziglar


    “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

    -Lord Chesterfield

    “Perfectionism and procrastination have such a fine line. You say, 'Well, I want it to be good. I want it to be perfect.' But what you're really doing is not doing your work. You're putting off showing up and being visible because then you're going to be judged, and it might suck.”

    -Jen Sincero

    “Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There's going to be stress in life, but it's your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”

    -Valerie Bertinelli

    “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”

    -Winston Churchill


    “It doesn’t matter what others are doing. It matters what YOU are doing!”

    -Sarsuki Shibuya

    Do you feel that? It’s motivation! Hurry! Go finish that paper or study for your upcoming test! And if you’re still not feeling motivated, well,  I hope these at least helped you decide your next  Instagram caption. J

  • Two Months Later

    by Tiffany Byers | Feb 28, 2019

    As I write this blog, I have officially been in the United States for two months and ten days.

    I have mixed feelings about being back. I feel like my time abroad was almost surreal. The five months that I was in Brussels went by in a flash, they almost don’t feel real! I think that coming back to Manchester shortly after I got back from Europe helped me re adjust easier. Luckily, I did not experience the "reverse culture shock," effect that BCA and Professor Rorer warned me about.

    There are a few things that I do now based on my time abroad- little things to help me remember of the place I got to call home for a short period of time and some habits that I have picked up on.  


    I call lines, “queues”. It's something that everyone in Europe does. It was odd when I first got to Belgium and my friends asked me why I would call 'queues,' lines. Now, my friends in the states give me funny looks for saying, "queue."

    I also have forgotten to tip. In most places I visited in Europe, you don’t tip. Luckily, there was only one time I forgot to tip (Sorry to the waiter at El Mez, my sister lectured me for forgetting). Now, I'm to the point where I’m back in the habit of leaving a tip and no longer getting lectures. 

    Things That Remind Me of Belgium

    One special thing about a place is its food. Belgium is famous for its frites (fries). I may have snuck back a bit of my favorite Belgian frite sauce- Andalouse. It is made of mayo, tomato paste and peppers! I put it on everything that remotely resembles a potato.

    Another thing that I enjoy is milkrise, a German dish that my host mom would make when we wanted, "something sweet that is justifiable as a dinner dish." Milkrise is exactly what it sounds like −milk and rice with cinnamon sugar and some type of fruit on top. So far, I've been successful while attempting to make this. I only messed up the first time! After I burned the rice, I told my host mom and she laughed at me and gave me more direction.

    Though each dish may sound simple, they hold a big space in indulgent heart. Andalouse sauce reminds me of all the times I would go out with my friends in Belgium. We would always go get frite from the best place in Brussels, Maison Antoine, and talk for hours on end. While milkrise reminds me of sitting around the table with my host mom and roommate Emily, while talking about the deepest topics and indulging in the best desserts.

  • Attending MBLGTACC: Year Three

    by Virginia Rendler | Feb 21, 2019

                The past two years, I have written a blog every February about attending the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference (MBLGTACC). Last year, it was in Omaha, Nebraska, just a quick 10 drive away. This year, MBLGTACC was held in Wichita, Kansas, easily a 12 to 15 hour van ride. The difference about this year, besides the added mileage, was that I was in charge of organizing our cohort of Manchester students heading to the conference.

                I see a lot of value in this particular conference. Often times, especially in the Midwest, queer students aren’t exposed to people of other queer identities. MBLGTACC is a place where students can be wildly expressive, live in their own identities and meet other people who identify the same as them. For some, it can be the first time they have met someone who is like them.

                I’ve been to a lot of conferences during my time with Peace Studies and different student organizations. I’m familiar with how they function, how to take care of myself during them and what to prioritize. But I’m used to someone else figuring out the hotels, the drivers − I just show up with my suitcase and go with the flow.

                Organizing the group is something entirely different, though. Booking the hotel, finding amazing staff who will chaperone the group, getting the van, making sure everyone has the necessary accommodation and information − these are all details that I didn’t appreciate about these events before. We had two amazing drivers and chaperones for this trip, Scotty Secrist and Bekah Houff, who drove us all 30 hours and supported us in preparation for this conference. When we were leaving the conference, Scotty asked us to discuss four takeaways from the trip and I thought I would share mine here.


             1. It is polite AND necessary to ask permission before you share your emotional burden. This ensures they’re willing               and able to participate in your trauma before adding something that may trigger or stress them.

             2. Privilege is found in experiences you did not have to go through.

             3. Accessibility MATTERS because it is a form of representation and identity acknowledgement

             4. If you order something at a sushi restaurant that says “fire”, there is a chance that it may literally come flaming.


    I recommend everyone go to a conference at least once in their college career, because it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about current research in a particular field, but also to communicate with other students who share your interests. We had the opportunity to see keynote speakers who were nonbinary activists, leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement, Nyle DiMarco (FROM AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL!!!!), and other incredible queer folks. Spaces full of representation and celebration are not only wonderful and important, they are absolutely necessary for every individual.

  • Big City Living, Small Town Girl

    by Delaney Ray | Feb 18, 2019

             Many students at Manchester come from areas much larger than North Manchester, and the change of scenery is quite an adjustment in their first year. Well, I am having a similar adjustment at the exact opposite time! I have lived in the same house my entire life - in the middle of a field, just outside of North Manchester. (Literally in the middle of a field…this summer we were surrounded by beans on three sides!) Attending MU was not a change of scenery in the slightest and I have always been use to the small town feel. Now, in my very last semester, this small town girl has taken on the Windy City. That’s right! A girl whose closest neighbors have always been the cows across the road is now living in the heart of Chicago! And I love it! Change is so good. It is always eye opening and mentally fulfilling to try something new, especially when that new thing is a change of address. I’ve learned how to fall asleep to the sound of honking horns and the glare of streetlights, instead of chirping crickets and the soft glow of the moon.

             I cannot stress enough how good it feels to step out of your comfort zone! That can be literal or figurative and can be a small step or a huge one! I simply encourage you to try it. We are so young and have amazing lives ahead of us. We’re told to have plans and our lives figured out by the time we graduate, but that sounds too boring to me. Take a risk to be happy. Do odd jobs and travel the world. Sit down and write the novel you have always dreamed about. Learn to play guitar or to skateboard. Whatever it is, you still have the time to make a change! So what are you waiting for?

  • A Peaceful Hangout

    by Virginia Rendler '20 | Jan 29, 2019

    My primary identifier on the MU campus, even more important than gender or hometown, is the fact that I am a peace studies major. It’s what I say when I introduce myself, how I explain my friend group, what I do on a daily basis and how I structure my college experience. When people ask something about me, I can usually answer the question with, “Well, I’m a peace studies major.” I have been a peace studies major since the moment I stepped foot on campus, and have never had any quandaries about changing, only adding other programs to augment my learning experience.

                I think that in college people are meant to change their major at least once, or come in undecided and then figure it out from there. I think the exploration of programs and discovery of self is beneficial for every student. I expected to change my major at least once while I was at Manchester, but I didn’t. I don’t know what the explanation for this is, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the availability of non-academic community space for peace studies majors.

                We are lucky enough to have developed a space in the academic center that is not a classroom, not a computer lab, but a place with resources and familiarity. The Peace Studies Lounge provides us with somewhere to spend time with each other, work on homework, develop our program, do crafts, commiserate about the difficulties of college or take a nap in the middle of the day. There are no expectations or requirements, but at any point throughout the day, anyone can walk in for a cup of coffee and there will always be a friendly face waiting for them.

                I think we need more of this on campus, for other majors and programs. When I think of other students in other programs, I wonder where they hang out between classes. Where do they meet for group projects? Where do people drop off cookies and muffins and spend time together? I think this space allows us to work through our studies, struggles and successes in community, with solidarity and support.

                I would highly encourage folks of other majors to join us in our community space on the second floor of ACEN. I would also encourage students to create their own spaces for their major programs. Getting involved on campus can mean more than just joining student organizations, it can mean furthering the community within your major or connecting with another major. But in the meantime, please come visit the lounge, say hi to our community and have snacks and tea! 

  • A Smile, a Sandwich and some Arabic

    by User Not Found | Jan 15, 2019

             Belgium has three official languages: French, Dutch and German. I decided to study none of these. I was in the hub of Europe - Brussels, after all, is one of the three locations of the European Parliament - yet, I picked one of the only languages that Vesalius College offered that was not European. I understand why people were questioning my choice. I even questioned it myself; nevertheless, I was very optimistic and excited about the choice that I made. I wanted to study Arabic.  

             I chose this language because of the internship I was doing in Brussels. The organization that I worked for was a very small non-governmental organization (NGO)  called Serve the City. This organization works very closely with large groups of refugees and asylum seekers. In Brussels, the majority of these people speak Arabic.

             I understood that I wouldn’t be able to fully communicate with Arabic speakers at our projects, but I knew that by understanding the basics I would be able to do my job a bit better.

             One of the key projects we did was the Sandwich Project. Serve the City’s philosophy is that a sandwich can serve as a universal language. The idea is that no matter what language you speak, giving someone a sandwich conveys a special feeling of giving and welcoming. We would walk around Brussels and give sandwiches to those who are on the streets. Brussels, as a city of one million, has the same  homeless population as London, a city of eight million.  It was beautiful what a small gesture of kindness can do. With the sandwich,  I added a friendly, , “sabah al-khair,” which means “good morning” in Arabic; They then responded, “sabah an-nuurn,” which means, “morning of the light.” Who knew that a smile, a simple phrase and a sandwich was all it took to connect us.

             However, Arabic presented a challenge. French and Dutch would have been easier, as they are both Indo-European languages and my knowledge of Spanish and English would have helped me. Instead, I had to learn a new alphabet, the Arabic script and I had to train my brain to write and read from left to right. It was a challenge but I’m happy with my decision! Speaking to others with a different native tongue can be tough. But I think we can all learn something from the Sandwich Project -  there is always an ability to connect, learn and give to one another: even if it’s only between two slices of bread. 

  • Traveling on a College Budget

    by Tiffany Byers | Jan 02, 2019


    It's true that traveling in Europe on a tight budget is achievable! However, if you aren’t careful, miscellaneous expense start to add up. I’ve made a list of tips help you save a few euros and have fun on your next adventure!

    1. Always carry a student ID

    This saves you money in many ways: transportation costs, food, museum entry fees, etc. Some places will ask to see your ID and some won't, so it's best just to have it with you.

     Do your research to see where you can save with a student ID! I'll use the example of Belgian transport since it's what I know best:

     I found out my friends were paying €14 for a one-way train. Having now lived in Brussels all semester, I was aware that I could get round-trip to anywhere in Belgium for less than that! All they needed to do was a little more research on the website to evaluate their options and find out what works best their travels. Most places will provide this information on their website if they do not provide it in person.

    2. Get most meals at grocery stores when traveling

     I'm all for trying new food while travelling, but that can add up quickly. 

    My friends and I like to eat one large meal while we are out and supplement other mealtimes with food from the grocery store.

     It's also good to familiarize yourself with the area you're visiting. Is it touristy? What is the local industry in that area? Is it a high-traffic location? If so, prices for goods, even at the same grocery store chain, will vary differently.

     I'll use the example of a can of Coca-Cola since it's universal:

     In Brussels at a Carefour (grocery store) by Schuman, a can of soda will cost you €1.30. If I were to walk ten minutes towards my internship office, I could visit another Carefour and find the same product for €0.65. If I pay half the price for a can of soda, imagine the price differences you would find in other products. It is important to note that the reason the first store was more expensive is because it is located near the European Commission.

    3. Plan ahead for transportation

     There are many budget airlines (Ryan Air, Whizz air, etc.) available throughout Europe. Please take note of the word budget. Even when booking a few weeks out, you can find some great deals. However, if you book about a month to a month-and-a-half before your trip, you can find flights with these budget airlines for €30 or less round-trip! Sometimes, you can even find them for €9.99 one way!

     The only downside is that these airlines often have delays, hidden fees for luggage and minimal comforts. Nonetheless, I'm never too upset about this considering what I pay for them and just take a backpack to avoid additional fees.

     Most international trains work this way as well. If I book ahead, I can get a train to Paris for approximately €19. If I wait, it can cost over €100.

     The cheapest form of travel is of course by bus. The only downside is that it takes longer. Bus prices don't change. Bus companies like FlixBus are very popular here and a cheap way to travel. 

     Also, I suggest looking into a company called BlaBlaCar. It is a carpooling platform where you look to see if someone has posted that they are going from point A to B. If you are going the same way, you can essentially pay them for the gas to get there! I sometimes take this option to get to the Brussels South Airport. The shuttle to the airport costs €14. If I find a ride on BlaBlaCar, I pay about €5! It's much cheaper and a nice way to meet new people.

     There are many other ways to save by researching your options prior to departure. However, these tips are ones that I find most applicable to Western Europe as a whole.


    Enjoy and have safe travels!

  • 11 Tips to Help You Nail Your Next Job Interview

    by Nick Rush | Jan 02, 2019

    I feel like an adult now.

    I have real interviews, real internships and real jobs on campus! This really wasn’t something I pictured myself doing at 21 years old. However, I’m glad I have! The experiences I’ve had at Manchester have prepared me for this. I’ve spent my last three years here working hard to obtain all the skills needed – both for the opportunities themselves and for the interview.

    The interview process can be scary.. Talking to someone who has the authority to reject you isn’t fun.  There are several tricks and tips I’ve learned that have helped me, so I want to pass them along to you!

    1. Know The Organization

    When you can talk about the organization before they even tell you about it, it shows you’re interested and you care. It could also be a good conversation starter if you’re not sure what to say from the start. Take a look at the organization’s website. Here you’ll learn about projects they’re working on, news headlines and their mission statement.


    2. Know What You’re Applying For

    If you can’t tell the interviewer what your job will be if hired, then that won’t look as exceptional. Employers want people who are excited about their organization and the opportunities that await. Employers will be able to tell right away if you’re unsure or simply applied because you want the cash.


    3. Prepare What You’re Proud Of

    Interviewers will ask you what your biggest accomplishments are. Know what they are and what you want to say about them so you don’t ramble in your answer. Instead of giving vague answers, providing hard numbers is a great way to back up your accomplishments. For example, if your last internship consisted of social media projects, discuss how you increased engagement X% or how many followers you gained.


    4. Look Good, Feel Good, Interview Good

    If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Keep in mind that you can always ask what attire to wear depending on the interview setting. Personal advice: always assume it’s professional dress unless otherwise noted. Manchester’s Pinterest page (@ManchesterU) has some great tips for dressing for an interview.

    5.  If You’re Not Early, You’re Late

    Arrive early, but not too early. You should be in the lobby/waiting area 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time. If you’re checking in with a receptionist or front desk, be friendly. Interviewers will often ask for opinions on their first impressions of you. Remember, the second you walk into the building is when your interview begins.


    6. Build a connection

    If you can find a way to connect with the interviewer there’s an increased chance you’ll be memorable. Interviewers want to know about your professional accomplishments, but they also want to know you as a person. Try to build a connection before the first day of work even begins.


    7. Listen

    The interviewer will give you an insider’s prospective on the job and the company. You could relay that information back to them to prove you were listening, or you can turn it around and ask them a question about it.


    8. Take Notes

    Bring a small tablet so you can keep track of things the interviewer says. It shows you’re interested, and it’s also a good way to remember questions you can ask at the end.


    9. Practice

    Review common interview questions and consider what you would say to them. There are commonalities in many interviews; the more you practice, the better prepared you are – which means you’ll be more relaxed when you hear the question. But be careful, you want your answers to sound genuine and not rehearsed.


    10. The “Winding Down” Part

    This is when the interview is about over and you can tell they’re out of questions. Be thinking of how the interview went and what they could be thinking of you. When they ask if there’s “anything else” you’d like to say, always say something. I say something along the lines of I’m happy/excited to start working or at least having the chance to interview.


    11. Questions

    Ask one. I always ask about the timeline for their decision or the rest of the process. It shows interest to the interviewer.

  • Successful Studying

    by Nick Rush | Nov 06, 2018

    Throughout college, I’ve taught myself how to be a better “studier”. In high school, I didn’t particularly study as much as I should have, and man did that change in college. I had to learn to study efficiently and make sure that I set aside time to study. Being now in my third year, I’ve grown custom to several places on campus where I feel like I’ve studied the best.

    My study style is quiet and isolate. I enjoy being on my own to study since there are fewer distractions so that I can focus solely on my work. I wanted to share my favorite stations on campus in case anyone needs something new! 

    1. My room. My room is literally my best place because I can shut the door, shut off the TV, and just work.

    2. Athletics office. I go in there often simply because all the professors and coaches all have their own things to do, so they don’t bother me too much. Also, it’s not a high-traffic area for students, so anyone I know can’t bother me either!

    3. The Walker Room. The Walker Room is the new room on the 2nd floor in the library. When I have exams that are short answer or essay, I go there because of all the white boards. I check out markers from the desk and write out the study guide until I have the material memorized.

    4. ACEN 2nd floor – last chair by the wall. Pretty specific, I know. There’s an outlet right next to the chair, and I use my laptop all the time. There’s also a small gap next to the chair so I can put my bag there.

    5. Booth seats across from Bookstore. Again, these seats have an outlet at each table. I use the table and spread out all my work so I can see everything. This also is not a high-traffic area, so it’s nice for some quiet.

    Here are now a few tips I’ve learned and things I do that have helped me become a better studier!

    1. Everyone loves music, but it doesn’t help me study. I leave the music off for a couple reasons. First, my playlist is pretty awesome and it’s hard not to pay attention to good songs! But, it distracts me from my work because I’m thinking about the lyrics. Next, if you don’t like the song, you’ll have to look at your phone to change it. This also has the downside of allowing you to see notifications which leads to you to checking them and being further distracted from the work.

    2. This sort of goes along with number one. I leave my headphones in, but I usually never have music playing. I appear as though I am studying while listening to music, so fewer people bother me. However, I’m usually not listening to music because of reason one. People don’t want to bother someone (at least not for long) if they’re looking studious!

    3. Isolation isn’t bad! I get much more accomplished studying on my own because my friends and I will go off topic sometimes. When that happens, it’s hard to get back on track. And, we end up staying there longer than necessary.


  • What I've Learned in Belgium

    by Tiffany Byers | Nov 06, 2018


    It is true, Brussels is beautiful! It’s a completely new experience staying in a city and it has been surprisingly comfortable. I know how to get around or how to figure out where I am. I think that this is in part due to my host mom, Mechthild who made me feel at home within my first few days of being here.

    I am very happy with my experiences in the city so far; my classes, my internship and my homestay. I’ve already learned quite a bit from my experiences and I would like to share a few things that are different than I expected in Brussels.   

     Social Norms:  

     One of the most interesting things that I have encountered here, are social interactions.  

    On the first night I took a walk in my village of Tervuren. I wanted to explore a bit and get to know those that I lived by. As I walked, I looked at people and smiled. There were a few people that I even said, "hello," to.  Everyone I did this to just looked at me, so when I got home I asked my host mom what was going on. She told me that Belgians do not look at each other while walking down the street. To me this was odd. I realized that because I was from a small town in the U.S., I had no clue that people tended to avoid eye contact while walking down the street in Belgium.  

     Another social norm in Belgium involves the way that people greet those that they know. In the United States, it's customary to greet those you know with a hug. Here, that doesn't happen. Hugging is seen as something that is too intimate and instead, people kiss on the left cheeks once. This is something that I was told right away. 

     That still didn't stop me from being taken by surprise when I walked into my internship the first day and was greeted with cheek kisses! I’m not sure if I will get used to that.  



     I've only been here for three weeks so I do not know much about Belgian law but there is one thing that I think should be shared in case people want to visit the country. 

     To my knowledge, Belgium does not have a law like the American Disabilities Act, or ADA. Therefore, there is not a lot of infrastructure in place to support people with disabilities.  

     I asked my host mom about why there were no lifts, ramps, etc., to help people get around. She said that Belgium is one of the few countries who do not have any sort of protection in place to help people with disabilities get around.  



     There is no language requirement to study at Vesalius College in Brussels because it is an English-speaking institution. However, the two main languages spoken in Belgium are French and Dutch.

     I think it is important to not let yourself get intimidated by language barriers in Belgium, or to let it prevent you from studying abroad here. I did not previously know any French or Dutch, and I have been able to get around just fine. Brussels is a multinational city where many languages are spoken.  

     Most people here do speak English. In the Flanders region of Belgium, where I live, English is often their second language.  

     I've already picked up on a few directional words in French just for the sake of getting around better. The first day I was here, I got lost and knowing a few directional words helped me communicate with the people and ask for help. 


    So far, my experiences here have been great and rewarding. I am just getting started and am looking forward to all the other opportunities I will have in the few short months that I will be here.   


  • Top 10 Study Tips

    by Heather Steele | Nov 06, 2018

    Top 10 Study Tips


    Personally, these past few weeks have been filled with random tests and quizzes. I wish I could tell you that they will get easier, but usually that is not the case. Instead, I have decided to write a list of my top 10 favorite study tips that actually work.

    1. Use flashcards

    Using flashcards are beneficial because creating them requires you to study and rewrite things you have written in your notes. They are also a great way to quiz yourself or do some last-minute studying before an exam.

     2. Quizlet

    Quizlet or any other online applications are useful for many reasons. You can create quizzes, make flashcards, and take practice tests that are customized for your test!

    3. Rewrite your notes

    This can be helpful when you have lots of random facts to study. Instead of reading them over and over to yourself, try rewriting them. This has been scientifically proven to help and is especially true when you have previously typed your notes during the lecture.

     4. Study in sections

    Instead of cramming all of the information last minute, study sections of the information at a time.

     5. Make a plan to study

    In addition to studying in sections, make sure you have a plan in mind of when you will study those sections. For example, you could study a chapter a night if you have a big final or midterm to prepare for.

     6. Stay Organized

    One of the biggest tools I use to keep myself organized is a planner!

     7. Make a study group

    Finding a few friends to study with can be beneficial. As long as you are able to stay on tasks, friends can be useful to help you quiz yourself or answer questions you do not know.

     8. Take breaks

    Studies also show that taking “brain breaks” in between studying can help you retain the information better.

     9. Save everything

    Make sure to keep all of those notes and quizzes from each class! Reviewing past test, quizzes, and notes is the best way to study especially for cumulative finals.

     10. Quiz yourself

    This can be helpful to show you how much information you are comfortable with or what you may need to look over again. You could also have a friend quiz you if that works best for you!

  • What I did This Summer

    by Virginia Rendler | Nov 06, 2018

    In elementary school, we were always asked to write a personal essay about what we did over the summer. I think it was a way to test our narrative skills, as well as a way to shame kids who just sat at home and read and avoided any group activities (me). I never had anything good to write about. My family would maybe go visit my grandparents, or take a road trip, but it was hard to spread that out over one handwritten page (equivalent to two paragraphs but seemed endlessly long).

                This summer, though, I actually did something that I never thought I would be able to. And if those people reading this (hello) will humor me, I would like to write more than one blog about it. This summer I did an internship in Boston with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty at an organization called Career Collaborative. Career Collaborative aims to find employment for adults living below the poverty line in the greater Boston area through classes, practice interviews, and one on one relationships with employment counselors.

                If people were interested, I would love to write about the process of getting the internship, what daily life was like in Boston, what I did at the organization, any of that. But for this I just want to talk a bit more generally about what a summer internship means.

                I always felt like I needed to get an internship. It sounds academic, everyone says it’s great career experience, all of the stuff you always hear. And undoubtedly all of that is true, and undoubtedly this was the best summer I’ve ever had. I learned things about my career, myself, made friends, and grew as a person. All of the reasons I thought I needed an internship turned out not to be true though.

                I needed the experience this summer to prove I could be on my own, that I could live in a new city with strangers and work 9-5 every day, five days a week. It will look great on a resume, yes, but it wasn’t just a resume builder. I made personal connections with the people that I worked with, I learned about organizing and community building. I was able to witness the isolation and fear that comes along with poverty and immigration. The most valuable part of the summer was not the academics nor was it the professional experience, but rather it was learning that I could do it. That sounds cheesy and I don’t mean to make it sound easy, because it was not always easy, but I had the support of my family, both my parents and my family at Manchester. And now I certainly have something to say when writing about what I did this summer. 

  • My Journey to Becoming a Spartan

    by Heather Steele | Oct 09, 2018

    Hello everyone!

    For my first blog, I want to tell you all about myself and why I chose to become a Manchester Spartan. I am from a large town near Chicago and everyone asked why I was so set on attending a small, private University that was far away from home. Deciding on a college is a huge decision; and my decision came with a few bumps in the road.

    In high school, I played golf all four years which led to me earning a full ride to a smaller school in my home town. There was only one problem… I hated that school. At first, I didn’t think I had a choice and ended up signing a letter of intent. My family and coaches were so happy and proud of me, but I was miserable. It always seemed wrong, but after all it would save a lot of money and it’s what my parents really wanted me to do.

    One day, I was going through a rough time. All my friends were getting so excited about moving away and getting accepted to their dream school, so I went to my school counselor. I told her everything and ended up being an absolute mess as I cried and explained to her that I wanted to come to Manchester instead. I will never forget her answer. After listening to me cry and rant and beg her for some guidance, she said only three words: “Follow your heart.” Meeting with her obviously helped but how would I tell my parents and coaches? I met with her several times and obviously was an emotional wreck for weeks. It was a huge conflict within myself and many tears were shed while I decided what exactly I wanted to do.

    Eventually my parents began to realize that I was not happy with my decision. I didn’t have any drive to practice golf and I never seemed excited to start college like my other friends. It may have taken time and convincing, but I eventually convinced my parents to let me attend Manchester University and give up my scholarship. Of course, they were disappointed along with my coaches, but I felt proud that I was going after my dreams and finally excited to start furthering my education.

    I will always have a connection to Manchester University. When people ask why I wanted to attend school here, I tell them that I just had a feeling when touring the campus and meeting all the faculty, that Manchester is where I belong. After finishing my first year, I have fallen in love with the school and community itself. I am proud to be a Manchester Spartan!



    Heather is an Elementary Education major with a concentration in both Mild Intervention and High Ability. In addition to being a blogger, Heather works at the daycare in North Manchester and loves working with children.