To travel, or not to travel, that is NOT the question

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Our twenties are full of questions, challenges and tough decisions to be made. The entire decade is full of never-ending transitions that have no road map.

One thing that should never be on the list of questions, challenges or tough decisions is whether or not to travel, which does have a road map. If given the option to travel, the answer should always be yes.

Take vacations

I know vacation time at work can be sacred. Use the vacation time. You earned time off and deserve to spend it doing something you enjoy.

Travel to as many places as you can

Whether it’s a two-hour road-trip, a weekend trip in a big city, a beach vacation, a mountain getaway or a 15-hour flight to a different country, it is worth it.

Don’t let money stop you 

It’s okay to say yes. I know all about tight budgets. I know that it’s hard to spend money you worked hard for. I also know there are realistic travel options for twenty-somethings on a budget and then there are unrealistic travel options. Sure you may want to travel to New Zealand, but the several thousand dollar flight is going to potentially stop you from doing that. I get that. But, you CAN afford to take some kind of trip. There are plenty of affordable options to help make it happen.

Never stop wondering

Learn from other people when you travel. Learn from different cultures. Learn from different food. Learn everything you can about everything.

Never stop wandering

Visit family, travel with friends or take a solo vacation. Dream. Explore. Go somewhere new. Try something new.

Say yes to traveling

I double dog dare you.

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A conversation with a teacher

Next in the series, collecting conversations,  I spoke with a teacher who not only has advice for twenty-something prospective teachers, but also isn’t afraid to participate in a 30-second Adele dance party.

Joan (pronounced Jo-Anne) is a science teacher who has the patience to work with seventh and eighth grade students daily. I would say that in itself is an accomplishment.

Joan has been teaching for 20 years. She spent the first nine years as a fifth grade teacher and next 11 in middle school science. She decided to go in to teaching when she was 26 years old and finished her degree when she was 31 years old.

“I was working in a dead end job as a secretary for a psychiatrist,” she said. “The therapists were loonier than the patients and I knew I wanted a degree and thought teaching would be interesting.”

Fast forward, Joan is in her early 50s and has experienced several ups and downs in the classroom. She has witnessed the change that comes with teaching.

“Even in just 20 years of teaching I have witnessed how much requirements are changing,” she said. “The system is standardized, rigid and students are now required to do so much testing.”

She said the best part of her job is the atmosphere of a school and the people she works with. The worst part of her job is dealing with parents who doesn’t believe their children can do wrong.

And as for her classroom, she said middle school students will always be middle school students.

“I’m  haunted by a child who has been eating boogers in my classroom this year,” she said.

Joan clarified seventh and eighth graders do, in fact, still exchange notes. She said she confiscates a lot but one that stuck out last year was a series of 80 questions between two individuals and one of the questions was “who invented masturbation?”

“I can’t make this stuff up,” she said.

Joan said advice she would give to twenty-something  teachers is to investigate requirements such as continuing education that will be required in the coming years and make sure it’s what he/she wants to do. She said she would also tell prospective teachers to be accountable and document curriculum covered in the classroom.

When asked if she thought new teachers knew what they were getting in to, she replied, “probably not, but I think that’s true of any job when you’re first starting out.”

The coolest lab (laboratory experiment) Joan has ever had in her class is an annual hot air balloon lab where students are required to make 6-feet tall hot air balloons out of tissue paper and launch them, with the help of faculty, using a gas grill.

Joan said the once piece of advice she says throughout each school years to students is that life is all about the choices you make.

In the future, Joan sees teaching becoming strictly computer, technology based. She said she wonders if teachers will become more like facilitators and students will do more online.

A look at a few of the questions
If someone asked you to participate in a thirty-second Adele dance party would you do it? Absolutely. (We then had a 30 second dance party to Rolling in the Deep)
What is something people don’t know about teaching?
I don’t think people truly know how much time we put in or how much of our own money we spend, especially grade-school teachers
How do you decide what age to focus on as a teacher?
Age is personal preference because some people can work better with younger kids more than older kids or vice versa. I did elementary education with a junior high endorsement in science. I have been happy with the age. I don’t like teaching high school students because they think they know everything.
Proudest moment?
Giving birth to my kids (She has two children in their twenties)
Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Giving birth to my kids
Favorite genre, author, and book? Favorite movie you’ve seen lately?
Mystery/thriller, Harlan Coben and To Kill a Mocking Bird. Silver Linings Playbook.

Life advisors at 18?

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When did High School seniors become miniature Buddhas covered with hair?  Are they normal students during the day and superheros at night?

Or, maybe is it the fact they are simply teenagers who look toward their futures with optimism, hope and refreshing determination.

I was typing in forms we got from the high school for the education page of the newspaper and some of them said things like “I love ____ because he’s a stud” or “my favorite band is One Direction, they’re so cute,” etc. but  there were also some really insightful answers. My favorite six:

6.) Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do. Also, don’t let it stress you out.

5.) Try different things to find out what you enjoy doing.

4.) It’s never too early (or late) to start preparing and planning for your career

3.) Explore your options. Ask questions and at least try the thing you have doubts about because you’ll never know if you will change your mind.

2.) Once you find your knack, learn as much as you can about it.

1.) Try everything. Explore. You aren’t going to find what you love to do unless you experience different things.

Well played, you wisdom-filled 18-year-olds. If this can’t brighten your day and pull you out of the Monday blues, I don’t know what can.

“A generation of kids choosing love over a desk. put those hours in and look at what you get.” 

Merger would affect current, future journalism students

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I’ve talked before about the fact I attended Indiana University and studied journalism. The journalism school at IU, located in Ernie Pyle Hall, is facing a merger that would result in the school losing its independence and merging with Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences (COAS).

Hearing news of this made my blood boil.

I spent four years, countless hours there. I attended 8 a.m. classes and stayed on campus all day because I also had a 5:45 p.m. class. I took naps on the furniture, read books with the glass doors open overlooking the courtyard, used the computer lab and checked out video, camera equipment. I took advantage of the resources offered.

Provost Lauren Robel announced the proposed merger of the school and several other programs at her “State of the Campus.” This has caused a Facebook page to be formed to save the journalism school and people are encouraged to sign a petition and contact university officials. Robel silenced objectivity by refusing journalists inside a meeting on Feb. 21. The meeting was held in Ernie Pyle Hall, where the Indiana Daily Student is located.

I plan to take action and hope others do too.

I attended mandatory freshmen courses in the dreaded lecture hall and made friends I kept throughout my college career. More than that, I learned. I learned more than I knew at the time and probably more than I realize now. Visual Communications with Claude Cookman, creating a magazine with Nancy Comiskey, war and the media with Steve Raymer, sports reporting with Terry Hutchins, Indianapolis star sports reporter, and magazine reporting with Zak Szymanski were just a few of my classes taught by brilliant professors.

I also worked for a year in the school as a writer for the website and alumni magazine. My boss, editor, Gena Asher was brilliant. I was able to interview professors I never had and learn new things about the ones I already knew.

I met people, talked with people, and learned from others.  I worked on PowerPoint presentations with group members until my contacts were dry and eyes were red. I studied, quizzed other students about subjects we were about to be tested on.

I grew. Indiana University has one of the best journalism schools in the country and to take its independence away is ludicrous. It isn’t just a place where people are let loose without guidance. They are sculpted into journalists. They are allowed opportunities to network and get the careers they desire.

I am outraged journalism students could miss out on the experience I had. Merging the programs and allowing the possibility of someone being lost in translation is a horrible thing to rob future, current students.

The merger would affect future writers, reporters, radio broadcasters, television broadcasters and publicists who will be delivering news all over the world.

I now work at a daily newspaper in northern Indiana and the Indiana University school of journalism and all those in it helped me prepare for it.

Journalism isn’t dead yet, but taking away the school’s independence is similar to shooting the first bullet.

People make living, really living, possible

Every so often I have a moment of panic. A moment where I question what I’m doing in life. At the risk of being cheesy and borrowing John Mayer’s lyrics from the song Why Georgia, I wonder if “I’m living it right.”

No one will come out and say it point blank, but most of what you learn in high school and college is pointless. I spent hours taking classes that were hard to pass- statistics, astronomy, poly sci- and had nothing to do with my major and for what? To forget it the week the class ended? Yes of course the things that I learned about my major were very important, and in my job now what I learned in journalism class keeps me from getting yelled at by my editor. 🙂

But one of the most important things I’ve learned with my internship is the REAL importance of college. There were times that I would be worried over a grade and stressed out because I was working two jobs on top of 18 credit hours. I thought I didn’t have time to have fun, but trust me I did.

The importance of my IU experience was watching basketball at Brothers Bar, skipping class (not THAT often) to have a long island at Roys, listening to Main Squeeze at the Bluebird on 15 cent beer night, spending time with my roommates watching Harry Potter movies, using weird accents and drinking ungodly amounts of Polar Pops (the gas attendants knew us), meeting people in class, meeting people at work, going out on a Tuesday or weeknight, and waking up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to tailgate, even with a horrible football program. The importance of my college experience was meeting the people who can be contacts for my future careers and meeting people who I call my best friends.

Before I left for my internship my editor and I met for coffee. My editor, Gena, is a wonderful woman that is a genius with all things journalism. She told me a story of when she first began working at a newspaper and how she got yelled at for the first time and it stayed with her for 25 years. Every time I’m having a bad day at work I think of her and her story and all of the wonderful advice that she has given me over the past year.

I also turn to my mother. The other day I got an expensive parking ticket and had a long day of reporting and I texted my mom and told her to tell me that everything was okay. She responded and told me that everything was okay, then she told me “Amie, sometimes you just have to say f*** it. In the grand scheme of things, a parking ticket is no big deal.”

Then I turn to my father. He always makes me feel better. He’ll give me advice and then tell me about a similar experience that he went through that will make me feel better. My brother pulls me out of a rut by making me laugh, even when I don’t want to laugh. He makes me laugh when I’m mad, sad, or any other emotion possible.

Growing up is hard. Living in a strange place in a job that you spent four years of class preparing for is hard.  The point of my twenty-something ramblings is that It’s the people that I’ve grown up with and grown to know that help carry me through all of the uncertainty.

When that panic moment hits and I don’t think I’m doing anything right, I turn to my best girl friends from college, my parents, brother, cousins and editor. I turn to the people that remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. I turn to the people who let me know that working hard will get me there. I turn to the people who help me live right.