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Traits of a World Traveler

wing of a plane while flying

Soon enough I will begin my new life in Sydney!

141. That’s how many days I have left in the U.S. before I move abroad to Sydney, Australia. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but now that I have my visa and bought my plane ticket, the reality of moving abroad is beginning to set in.

The process of my decision to move abroad really got me thinking…what is it about me that makes me want to move abroad? Or, better yet, what is it that makes me the RIGHT person to move abroad?

Well, I had participated in the semester-long study abroad in Granada, Spain. To say that the experience was the best of my life would be an understatement. After studying abroad, I knew that moving abroad after graduation was on my bucket list.

Winona State offers all kinds of travel opportunities for students, but how do you know if you’re the right fit for studying abroad? There are a few personality traits that I think are crucial to determining if studying abroad (or moving abroad) is right for you.

1. Open-minded

You need to be open-minded if you’re going to enjoy traveling abroad, especially for a longer period of time. While studying abroad, you experience new cultures, new people, new food, well…just about new everything. If you’re someone who can open your mind to new things, and even be excited about trying new and different things, then studying abroad might be a good match for you.

2. Flexible and adaptable

Moving abroad is a whirlwind of change in a small amount of time. I remember stepping off my plane into Spain and thinking, “Wow, these mountains are officially my neighbors, the language I’m hearing is what I’ll be hearing, these streets are where I’ll be walking.” It’s important to be adaptable, because if you don’t adapt, you’ll always feel like an outsider, and that can be lonely. Having a willingness to immerse yourself in a new place is key to being a successful traveler.

3. Independent

Independent is one personality trait of world travelers, and it’s an important one. Leaving family, friends, pets and acquaintances behind is inevitable when studying abroad, and as much as I wished I could pack everyone in my suitcase, that simply wasn’t going to happen. When you’re away from home for five months (or more), it’s important that you can feel content by yourself whether it’s on the subway to and from class, grabbing lunch alone or venturing out to make new friends.

If you read through this list thinking, “That’s so me!” then studying abroad just might be an awesome experience to explore. If you were thinking “kind of” or “possibly,” then a travel study might be a better option. A travel study give you the amazing gift of travel and experience without keeping you away from home for months at a time. Either way, I encourage everyone to travel the world because the learning is endless and the experience is life changing!

–Leah Dobihal

7 Things We Need to Stop Doing to Our Professors

There’s nothing that bothers me more than watching a student strut into class late (with no apology) and proceed to ignore the professor, text, chat with their friend before packing up early and leave. Professors work hard, and there are some things we just really need to stop doing to them.

1. Walking in Late

cartoon rabbit running with clock

It’s one thing to be late because you got stuck behind a train but using that excuse every day is another. Plan ahead. Be on time.

2. Talking During Their Lecture

girl talking to friend in class

Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s also really distracting for the students trying to listen

3. Expecting Them to Email Back Within the Hour

Bellatrix LeStrange waiting in hall

They’re busy people. Give them 24…not 1.

4. Packing Up Our Bags 5 Minutes Early

Genie packing a suitcase

Professors are trying to teach you from the start of class to the end. It’s just rude to start shoving books in your bag, unzipping and zipping your backpack, and rustling papers all while the professor is still talking.

5. Asking for Too Much Help

man yelling "help me"

Don’t misinterpret this one. Professors want to help in all circumstances, but it’s not fair to ask them to do all of your work for you. Ask for their suggestions and expertise, but don’t make them write your essay for you.

6. Texting During Class

Justin Bieber texting

Don’t kid yourself–you’re not being sneaky. Your professor knows you’re texting, and it’ll only hurt you in the long run.

7. Not Taking Their Class Seriously

smiling man says "don't even care"

If you didn’t want to learn, you shouldn’t have taken the class. Be respectful and take your education seriously or reassess why you enrolled in the first place.

So there you have it, Warriors. Stop the texting, stop the talking, stop the distracting, and make some real learning possible. Let’s all be more conscious of how we treat the people who make our education possible.

–Leah Dobihal

Late Work and the Race Against Time

a cat under a notebook

It might look grim, but it is possible to catch up!

I’m going to be straight with you: everyone skips class. Even the best of students — and professors — take a day off, but as the school year dwindles down, those who skipped more than a few days may find themselves drowning in the slew of homework they missed. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at a time like this, but I am here to assure you that you can catch up with enough hard work.

I am no stranger to missing class. Due to health complications this semester, I missed over 6 days of classes and came back to a veritable mountain of homework. Tackling this monstrosity seemed impossible. No matter how hard I worked, no matter how fast I wrote, I was suffocating in dense political science readings and English papers.

Luckily, with a little help from my professors and a lot of help from my planner, I’ve caught up and am finishing this semester with great grades despite my high amount of absences. Catching up is surprisingly easier than it appears. That pile of homework can look daunting, but once you come up with a plan of attack, the homework flies by and before you know it you’re back to watching Netflix and eating Doritos.

First and foremost, grab your syllabus. I cannot stress this enough — your syllabus is your ticket to freedom. You cannot start making up homework until you have a complete list of everything you missed. I know that compiling a list of everything you missed can make the task appear even more stressful, but at the end of the day  is going to help you out in the long run. Be sure to also check out your professors late work policy. If your professor doesn’t accept late work, there is no reason to stress over it. If they won’t accept it, they won’t accept it. Dedicate that time to the assignments your professors will accept.

This brings me to my second point: prioritize your list. If you’ve got homework due today, do it. It’s better to get your assignments done on time than add another assignment to your pile of late work. Once you’ve got all of today’s homework out of the way, prioritize in terms of importance. If an assignment is worth 100 points, do it before moving onto a 20 point assignment. Once you’ve determined which are most important, write it all down from the most important to least important assignment.

Finally, get to work. Easier said than done, I know, but the sooner you get to work, the sooner you’re back on top of all your classes. Keep at your homework. Close out those Facebook and Pineterst tabs, and keep your internet limited to school-related purposes. I know it’s hard, but if you want to catch up as fast as possible a homework binge is how ya do it. Of course, it’s important to schedule 15 minute sanity breaks, but for the most part, stick to getting your homework done. It is that easy and it is that hard.

Once your homework is done and submitted,  double check with your professors that they received the homework and make things are still good between you and the professor. It’s always nice to just check in with them, especially if you’re turning in late assignments. Odds are, they’ll understand. Your professors are human too, and they were in your position at one point in time.When that is all said and done, you’re free to return to your Netflix subscription and sail through the rest of the semester at ease. Just be sure to not fall behind again!

–Hannah Carmack

10 Stages of Enjoying Spring in Winona

In Winona, the winters are long—very long. And though many of us are in denial that warmth will ever come again, gradually, we pass through the stages of acceptance and enjoy a Winona spring once again.

1. Absolute denial

girl says no

Because we know better than to think warmth is ever coming back.

2. Being skeptical

man looks skeptical

We’re not really sure how to feel when the temp reaches above 30 degrees.

3. Shedding layers

woman takes off coat

And it feels so good.

4. Putting the layers back on to endure the inevitable last-minute snow storm

man talking

We can’t even.

5. Taking your winter coat out of storage, because you actually still need it

woman asks"are you kidding me?"

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

6. Wearing a T-shirt in 40 degrees and not feeling cold at all
woman skipping and singing

Even when spring hasn’t really arrived, we just pretend it has.

7. Refusing to acknowledge any temperature below 50

man shakes finger

No, we will NEVER go back there.

8. Actually smiling when you’re outside

little girl smiles

It’s not really our fault; our faces were frozen the entirety of winter.

9. Hitting the Drive-Inn, the lakes, the bluffs, the baseball fields and everything else you associate with Winona in the Spring

man yells "yes to all"

Yes. Yes to all.

10. Forgetting that winter ever even happened

man says "it's over" on cellphone

Were the past four months even real?

Put away the boots and coats because the winter amnesia is coming, and so is the warm weather!

–Leah Dobihal

No Car? No Problem!

people exit a city bus

Behold the Winona Transit in action!

As the snow finally begins to melt and we are freed from our arctic prison, it’s time to venture back outside and explore all the scenery and downtown life that Winona has to offer. Now, this won’t be a post about where to go and all the fun events going on in Winona because there are already many posts about that! I’m actually here to help you figure out how to utilize one of Winona’s most underutilized resources — the public transit options.

If you’re like most students at Winona State University, you don’t have a car of your own right now. This can make trips to the doctor, food runs and retail shopping seem like an enormous undertaking —especially if you are over on West Campus. Using the Winona Public City Transit can make these errands much easier. I started using the public transit when I caught a bad case of strep throat first semester. I had put off seeing a doctor for almost a week because I didn’t have access to a vehicle, and stubbornly thought I could sweat the fever off, but when that didn’t work I took the plunge and tried navigating the public transit.

Since there is a lot of timing to figure out and different shuttles to catch, getting started with the transit system can seem intimidating at first. I certainly had an awkward adjustment period, and my first attempt was pretty pathetic. I got on the wrong shuttle and ended up at Shopko when I needed to be at West Campus. The second time I managed to strand myself at Walmart by missing the last shuttle to Winona State University.

But with just a little bit more practice I was hooked! Now I have can visit the hospital when I need to, take weekly supply runs to Walmart and visit friends over at St. Mary’s University. I quickly got the hang of it, and I’m sure you can too.

To help you out, here are a few tips so you’ll be fully prepared to tackle the Winona Public Transit system:

1. Make Sure You’ve Got the Funds
One of the best things about the Winona Public Transit is that it is an extremely inexpensive mode of transportation. If you decide spur of the moment to take the transit, you’ll only need to pay one dollar for your ride to your location and then another dollar for your ride back. However, if you prepare in advance, you can visit one of the transit’s 3 selling locations and purchase a student token. A student token will knock your fee down to only 80 cents, but the tokens must be purchased in advance. If you plan on using the public transit often, a monthly pass is probably the best bet! The cost is unlisted on the Public Transit’s homepage, so you should call in advance or stop by one of their purchasing locations for more information.

2. Map Out Your Destination(s)
You’d be surprised at how far the transit can take you, but just to be safe make sure you know you can get to where you need to go. The city bus stops at Winona Health Urgent Care, St. Mary’s, Winona Health Hospital, Walmart, Shopko, Hyvee and lots of other places around town.  I’ve used the transit for all sorts of trips. If there isn’t an exact drop of point for your location, you can pull the “Stop Here” rope along the walls to get as close as possible. So pick a destination and carry on!

3. Know the Details of Your Bus
Winona Public Transit is not just one bus that travels the city, but actually four buses that cover different sections of Winona. There’s the Green Line East, Green Line West, Red Line and Blue Line. Once you’ve identified what line(s) you need to take, make sure you know the time and pick up location as well! The transit is pretty much always on time and leaves shortly after arriving at its stops. There isn’t much flex time so it’s better to get to your stop sooner than later.

Once you’ve got your shuttle picked out and you are at your stop, navigating the transit is actually quite easy. If you need to transfer from one line to another or are unsure as to where your stop is on the route, don’t hesitate to ask the drivers! The drivers over at the Public Transit are very nice and know all four of the routes very well. If I hadn’t spoken with them, I would have had a lot of trouble figuring out what shuttle to take get where I was going. If you have any questions they’ll know the answers.

–Hannah Carmack

I'm Undecided, but I Know What My Major is NOT

a man says no

I might not know what I want, but there are some majors that are definitely not for me.

During your first year at college, you will constantly get asked about your major. At Winona State, the two answers you will hear most often are nursing or education. But that’s not my story. I do not have a declared major right now, and quite honestly, sometimes I feel ashamed telling people that when they seem to be confidently pursuing such challenging and specific majors. I mean, how are we supposed to know what we want to do with our lives at 18 years old? When I was just starting college, this demand for an answer seemed so overwhelming.

The truth is that freshmen often begin as an undecided major, and it is a route that seems to be working for me. Actually an undeclared major is pretty great because you have an opportunity to explore your many interests. I love taking a wide variety of classes in a semester and there are always a few that I really enjoy. As a result, I do well in those classes and learning is the ultimate goal, right? Currently, I have no idea what I want to major in, but I do have an idea of a few things that I don’t want pursue for my major.

Many people come to Winona State because of our great Nursing and Health Sciences program, but nursing is not for me. I admire the medical field so much, but I don’t do well competitively and so the possibility of not making it into the highly selective Nursing Program would be too much for me to handle. In addition, I’ve never been gifted in the science department, so the struggle I had in my high school chemistry and biology classes would translate into hardships in that field. I am inspired by the strength, compassion and dedication that people who become nurses possess, but I cannot realistically see myself becoming a nurse.

I’ve also realized that I won’t be declaring an English major. I have struggled with academic writing for the majority of my years in school because essay writing gives me a lot of anxiety and I never seem to improve. I have English 111 this semester, and it is by far the hardest class I have, even though it is the intro English class. I just have a hard time with how there is not one specific way to write an essay, unlike the single correct solution to a math problem (although I don’t like math either). I do love creative writing, though, which is why I enjoy activities like blogging. I like the freedom in creative writing and the ways its more “forgiving” than academic writing, so some sort of writing field may be in my future.

I encourage you to not let people pressure you into making the decision about your major before you’re ready. Personally, I can really struggle in school, so when I find a path that has classes I enjoy and do well in, I take full advantage of that and see where it takes me. I’ve heard that switching majors, although sometimes the best option, is quite a pain and a hassle, so why not take a little extra time to explore your options so you make the right choice the first time? It’s ok to be undeclared!

–Liz Doyle

Beyond the Nerves: Performing at Mugshots

If you’ve seen me perform anywhere, you’d probably think that I have never been nervous to perform. You could probably throw me in front of 500   people now and demand “PLAY GUITAR AND SING RIGHT NOW!” and I would be really excited to do it.

While that’s true now, I wasn’t always that comfortable singing or playing guitar in front of people. It might be hard to believe but I used to get really nervous about performing in front of anyone—even my parents and close friends. I mean really nervous in the stress-out-all-day kind of nervous. The first time I ever played anything in front of a crowd was at a small open mic at a local coffee shop during my senior year of high school. There were maybe ten people there that I didn’t know and I honestly felt like I was going to throw up.

It wasn’t until my first performance at Mugshots on West Campus during my freshman year that I was able to get over my fear of performing in front of people. As a junior now, I’m a bit of a seasoned Mugshots veteran. I’ve performed there five times with one or two of my musically inclined friends for the whole night.

As a musician, Mugshots is a really great opportunity to get your foot in the door. It’s great experience with professional equipment like microphones and amps, but the pressure isn’t as high as it would be if you played in a more serious setting. At Mugshots, it’s ok to mess up occasionally; I’ve even started a song over once. It’s also a great place to sing those silly or really inappropriate songs that only college students can appreciate. For example, as freshmen my friend and I made an acoustic version of “Get Low” which was a huge hit!

Oh, and did I mention that Mugshots also pays its performers?? It’s not only easy money. but also probably the most fun I’ve ever had while getting paid. Plus, not only is it easy for my friends to get there because it’s on campus, but random students whom I don’t know come to listen too. It’s just fun to share my music and perform for my peers and great that I can even make an extra buck while doing it too.

–Kim Schneider

Student Teaching: It’s Not So Scary

a comic about being a teacher

The realization that you are the adult in charge is probably the scariest part.

Before I launch into talking about student teaching, let me give some background about my teaching major and how I felt before beginning student teaching. I’m a Vocal Music Education major, so my licensure is for Kindergarten through 12th grade. This means that I have 2 separate placements for my final semester of student teaching. For the first half of the semester, I was placed in a high school and soon I start my second placement at an elementary/middle school for the second half. It seems to me that the focus in my education and content classes at WSU has been very heavily elementary oriented, so I was definitely a lot more nervous for the high school because I didn’t know what to expect.

I was scared out of my mind to do my student teaching and, with the daunting task of taking the edTPA on top of that, I didn’t know what I was going to do. The night before my first day in the classroom I couldn’t sleep because I was sitting up thinking about the next day and how it would go. As midterm approaches, I can safely say, however, that I had absolutely no reason to be scared or anxious. I just had to be willing and motivated to put in the work student teaching requires.

I was lucky with my first placement. The high school I’m located at has a great environment, the students are respectful, the teachers are all welcoming and there are many of extra-curricular activities so that I can learn more about how the school functions. I am learning a lot and finding my excitement for teaching again.

Now if I was anyone reading this, I wouldn’t want to hear about someone else’s experience as much as I’d like to get some pointers and tips for when I start my own student teaching. So that’s exactly what I’m going to provide you with:

  • Let the students know you care. Attend their extra-curricular activities, talk to them, ask them about their lives and just get to know them! They are probably excited to see a new face in front of them and if you show them that you want to be there, they will show you respect.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! Your cooperating teacher, other faculty, students– absolutely everyone has something they can teach you.
  • Plan ahead and stay on top of your work. Because all the work you have to do for student teaching is amplified by the preparation you have to do for the edTPA, you need to make sure you’re staying on top of it all. As college students, procrastination is sometimes our biggest problem, and you can’t afford to procrastinate while student teaching!
  • Break-up the edTPA into smaller steps. There are 3 tasks to the edTPA, but those tasks should be broken up as well. Don’t try to do it all at once. Give yourself a timeline and stick to it and you won’t be overwhelmed.
  • The edTPA isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. If you stay on top of it and focus and read all the instructions, you will be able to complete the edTPA effectively and without too much stress.
  • Give yourself some “You Time.” I’m often stressed by all the work I have to do, but taking time to sit for a half hour and read a book or watch an episode of Friends on Netflix has proven to be a great way to re-focus my head on the tasks at hand.

In closing, student teaching isn’t so scary. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn, grow and have fun. This is what you’ve chosen as your future, and it doesn’t have to be so strict, scary and stressful! Enjoy yourself!

–Garrett Bowling

11 Animals Who Know How You Feel about Midterms

It’s midterms, a stressful time for everyone. These 11 animals know exactly how you feel.

1. When you’re searching your textbook for the answers

cat trying catch something

2. When you realize you actually don’t know anything

sea lion struggles

3. When you’re really just done for the day

kangaroo drops ball

4. When you finally get to go to bed

turtle flips plastic pool on top of itself

5. When you’re cramming minutes before the exam

excited puppy

6. When you just wish you could escape

cat floats across pool on surfboard

7. When you feel like there’s just too much information to know

costumed cat rolls off chair

8. When you almost got all your flashcards correct..but those last few won’t stick

cat tries to reach string and falls of table

9. When you really just don’t know if you can go on

sloth nods

10. When you know your studying is going to pay off

penguin baby bobbing head

11. When you’re done with midterms and realize it’s Spring Break!

dancing dog

Keep pushing, Warriors. These animals (presumably) made it through their tough week, and so can you!

–Leah Dobihal

The Ultimate WSU Graduation Checklist

a checklist note

The first item on this list–don’t panic– is the most important to keep in mind.

Graduation is coming fast, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve likely woken up in a cold sweat at 2a.m. having visions of poorly formatted résumés and a mental to-do list as tall as Mount Everest. But stay calm—here is everything you need to remember, all in one place.

  • Check Your DARS
    Make sure your pie is green and you’re all set for graduation.
  • Go to the Résumé Cart
    Make sure your resume is top-notch for future employers to see. The Résumé Cart is available in Lower Level Kryzkco.
  • Apply for Graduation
    Don’t forget to apply for graduation! Keep in mind that Winona State needs 6-8 weeks to process your application.
  • Learn to Write a Good Cover Letter
    There’s lots of good advice online about cover letters, or even better, visit Career Services for tips and sample letters.
  • Find Out About Your Loans
    Most students take out at least one loan to finish school. Make sure you know when your first payment will be, and in what amount, before you graduate so you have no surprises.
  • Sign up for a Job Search Site
    Although jobs sites like Indeed and Monster will likely send you a plethora of emails each day, sometimes it’s worth finding out the types of jobs that are out there, and you can grab the chance to apply.
  • Line Up Letters of Recommendation
    Future employers are undoubtedly going to want to see letters of recommendations and a list of references. Email your boss or professors, or even better, go to their offices and chat with them in person in order to get the best recommendations you can.
  • Check Your Credit Score
    If you plan on opening a credit or buying a car, a house or any large purchase after graduation, you want to make sure your credit is where it should be to do so. Your bank might have programs that can send you a free credit report or you can always go to for a free credit report once a year.
  • Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
    If there’s anything, and I mean anything, on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media accounts that you wouldn’t want to print out and show a future employer, take it off your profile.
  • Visit Career Services
    Career Services can help you in a variety of ways, whether you plan on heading into the job market or you plan on heading to graduate school.
  • Buy an Interview Outfit
    Make sure your closet is stocked with at least one or two outfits that’d be appropriate for an interview. Check out the Warrior Professional Pinterest board for interview outfit tips for both guys and gals.
  • Order Your Cap and Gown
    Thankfully, we can wait on this one for a while. However, as graduation nears, make sure you hit the bookstore to purchase or rent your cap and gown.
  • Thank Your Parents/Guardians/Supporters
    Last, but most definitely not least, thank those that helped you through your college career. Whether it was financially, emotionally or academically, we’ve all surely had help these last years. Make sure you thank your parents, guardians, friends, and supporters for their encouragement.

Now that you’re thoroughly stressed out, take a deep breath and know that all of this means you SUCCEEDED in college. Your hard work is now all coming together, and the stress of the list above will be worth it when you walk across that stage.

–Leah Dobihal