Category Archives: Voices

Bloom Where You are Planted!

May 14, 2014 | Author: Allison Acquaviva

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” - Walt Disney (Mulan)


That quote speaks so much to me. In fact, it’s one of my favorites. Why do I love it? Well, I think this phrase fits so many people out there today, me included.

I used this as my senior yearbook quote back in high school, and several people were confused by what it meant. It’s pretty simple, to me anyway.

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all”….well, I look at that as the flower that dares to be different from the rest, is unique. So, let’s liken that to people.

I’ve always been different from the rest of the crowd. I was never one to follow what others were doing, and I sure am not about to start now! I do my thing, what makes me happy…and, if that means reading a Nicholas Sparks novel rather than going out to a party, so be it. That’s where I was “planted” so to speak.


Which brings me to my next point, bloom where you’re planted.

In my opinion, it is so beautiful to see somebody be themselves…and be content with that. Bloom where you are planted. If you’re different than the rest of the people you know…who cares? So what? That makes you unique. Congrats…you’re a fruit loop in a world filled with cheerios!

Never, I repeat, never let anyone tell you who you have to be or what you have to do. Give up the thought that you must fit in with the crowd because you don’t. It sounds so cliche, but it’s true. Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?

My point for this: I see so many people trying to change who they really are just to please other people or to look cool. I’m sorry, but that’s crazy. It took me a few years (and some lovingly advice from my parents) to figure out that by changing who I am OR by choosing to disassociate myself from something I loved was only harming me….not helping me.

I’ve loved country music since high school and so many people laughed at me because of that (and funny, they are the ones who love it now..;)) so, I did what I thought was best: gave it up. I tried listening to everything that was “cool”, but it was totally the wrong move. Eventually, I outgrew the need to care what everyone thought about it and just did me.

*Okay, I know that seems like a corny example, but I think it makes my point!*

So, bloom where you’re planted. Grow where you are meant to grow. Don’t worry about what anyone else has to say, or what anyone else does for that matter. Remember: the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful.


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Tips for Incoming International/Foreign Exchange Students

May 13, 2014 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

Seeing as I will be graduating in approximately ten days- I would like to share some helpful tips on making friends as a foreigner.

Diversity, yay!

1. Join clubs- This is an awesome, or probably one of the easiest ways to meet people with similar interests.

2. Join a team- If you are skilled in a sport then playing on a collegiate team will be one of the most enriching things you can participate in. You will meet a lot of people, come to love your teammates and travel and see a lot of places in the Northeast.

3. Play in Intramural Sports- This is a great way to meet people and socialize if you are fond of sports but not so athletically gifted. Intramural sports are always fun, and a little competition is healthy.

4. Befriend Americans- There is a tendency among international students to form clique’s and stay with each other 24/7. This is a sure fire way to isolate yourself from a lot of people, so go ahead and befriend that friendly kid in your English class or your roommate and improve your English and learn about American traditions, culture and food.

5. Ditch the laptop- I know super-fast WiFi 24/7 may seem like a blessing but it can be a curse and a crutch. So take a break from your 32 hour binge on How I met Your Mother and go outside, attend events on campus and socialize.

6. Socialize- The main theme here has been to socialize. Most American’s will be absolutely thrilled to learn about your country, your language and cultures so start a conversation, it really is as simple as that.

Brazil 2014: Players to Watch

May 11, 2014 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

Here is my pick for the players to light up the World Cup this summer.

Neymar da Silva Santos 

Brazil’s darling, Neymar da Silva Santos has blossomed into one of the best players in the world. Backed by a soccer crazed nation, he’s one player who can change any game with a moment of personal brilliance. Agile, fast, tricky and an excellent finisher he’ll definitely be one to watch.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese super star is coming off one of his best ever personal seasons. His goal scoring record speaks for itself, he has struck 49 goals in 44 goals for Real Madrid this season, more than a goal a game ratio. He also recently broke the Champions League record for goals in a single season and seems to just keep getting better and better. All rounded and incredibly athletic, Portugals’ World Cup dreams rest on his broad shoulders.

Lionel Messi

Widely considered one of the best players to play the game- he has won virtually every personal and team accolade possible, save for one; the World Cup. He will be hungrier than ever now that his rival Ronaldo has eclipsed him in the last season. His slalom runs, incredible touch and lightning speed coupled with his unparalleled finishing ability have made him a force to reckon with.

Radmel Falcao

El Tigre is a clinical finisher and an absolute menace in the air. He is a prototypical striker and the mere sight of him will have defender’s and goalkeepers shaking.

Yaya Toure

A criminally underrated soccer player who is currently Africa’s finest. He pulled the strings in Manchester Cities midfield all season and is poised to lead them to another Premiership title. He is a strong, box-to-box midfielder that commands possession and dictates the tempo of the game. When on form he is a real treat to watch.

Things I’ve learned from Hollywood

May 9, 2014 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

Very recently I sat down to watch the thriller Taken starring Liam Neeson. I was amazed at how many action stereotypes were packed into that hour and a half.

This is a list of things I have noticed while watching Hollywood’s finest and most predictable action films.

Disclaimer- Not an actual quote from the movie.

  • Every punch is a knockout punch.
  • Flammable materials are always near a source of fire.
  • Cars are always left unattended with the keys in the ignition.
  • If not, then remember that cars are also extremely easy to hot-wire.
  • If you shoot at a car, one of two things will happen A.) The bullet will strike the tire or the axle and the car will then perform acrobatics as it flips majestically through the air or B.) The bullet will hit the gas tank and the car will explode.
  • If you wake up in a strange place with no recollection of how you got there, do not fret- wait until you have a flashback and all will be remembered.
  • When a dead body is found, it is almost always by a woman who will then shriek in horror and drop whatever it is that she is holding.

Brazil 2014: The Teams

May 9, 2014 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

The Teams:

Group A

1. Brazil- The host nation and strong favorites to win the World Cup. They are the tournaments most successful team with 5 previous World Cup’s under their belts. They completely dominated during last summer’s Confederations Cup Tournament and dismantled the current World Champions, Spain, during the process.  Known for their flair and highly entertaining style of play, they have recently been able to balance that with a defensive stability that makes them a force to be reckoned with. My personal pick for the winners of the tournament.

2. Croatia- Boasts a strong spirited side comprised of many hardworking and talented players. Luka Modric is the marquee player of this team, the midfield maestro looks to bring other players into the game and looks to dictate play from deep.

3. Mexico- This nation breathes soccer, with a highly talented and technical side lead by Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

4. Cameroon- The African giants are led by an aging Samuel Eto’o, and will look to progress as far as they can in the competition.

Group B

5. Spain- The current World Champions and strong favorites to lift the trophy come the end of the tournament. The Spanish gave birth to ‘tiki-taka’ soccer, a style characterized by technical, rapid, one-touch passing. They look to monopolize possession of the ball and make the other team run themselves into the ground. They boast the most deep squad, with any given player on the bench capable of making an impact.

6. Netherlands- The previous tournaments runners up, The Dutch have a wealth of world class attacking players but will need to get ego’s and their defense in check in order to have a successful tournament.

7. Chile- One of the smaller teams in the tournament, many have this side picked as their dark horses. An exciting mix of lightning fast counter-attacks and strategic possession, this team has everything needed to be a huge surprise. Lead by Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez, they’ll be one of the teams to watch.

8. Australia- Another small team that will be happy just to be present. The Socceroo’s go to Brazil with no pressure or expectations.

Group C

9. Colombia- The South American side, led by their talisman Radamel Falcao could pack a surprising punch. I tip South American sides to do well on home soil, fueled by proud supporters and home conditions. The key this side doing well is the support cast around Falcao, simply put- make sure he gets the ball in dangerous areas and he will score.

10. Greece- The 2004 Euro champions are the epitome of a hard working, defensive side. Going to the tournament with no expectations they will look to grind out close games in order to progress. Goal scoring and creativity out of the midfield will be an issue that they should address before heading to Brazil.

11. Ivory Coast- This may be the last chance for Ivory Coast’s ‘golden generation’ to put together a meaningful assault on the World Cup as their leaders Didier Drogba and Kolo Toure are approaching the twilight years of their careers. Key to their campaign will be the form of Kolo Toure’s younger brother, Yaya Toure. Perhaps the most important issue facing this team is mentality, they need to rally together and not choke at crucial moments (As has happened so many times before).

12. Japan- The Blue Samurai are a technically sound team, perfectly comfortable in possession with a wealth of young, home grown talent at the managers disposal. Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa will look to combine in the midfield to unlock teams.

Group D

13. Uruguay- Tactically flexible and tough, the Uruguayans will be a tough team to beat. Especially if the enigmatic and controversial Luis Suarez manages to have a decent tournament.

14. Costa Rica- A small, defensive side. The Costa Ricans will be hoping that their star player, Bryan Ruiz is on his best form.

15. England- The key to England’s success at Brazil 2014 will be their ability to remained focus and cope with the pressure of their home media.

16. Italy- The Euro 2012 finalists are regarded as strong favorites for the title. They will be hoping that Andrea Pirlo will be on form and marshaling possession

Group E

17. Switzerland- The Swiss national side is ranked 7th in the World and features a tight-knit squad that boasts a large home base of players. This will surely be a huge advantage as these players are used to playing with each other, whereas start studded teams have their key players playing across Europe. Tough from set-pieces, they will look to score many goals through their aerial superiority.

18. Ecuador- The tragic death of Christian Benitez, a regular in the starting line-up has seemed to spur on the South American team. Many have tipped these smaller sides to exceed expectations during this tournament as they will have a large contingency of home support helping them out. Statistically speaking, no one was scored more from headers than the Ecuadorians and one suspects this might be key in their progression.

19. France- The French national team has always been blessed with incredible talent, however this means nothing when the team cannot rally and play together. The team’s shameful showing as well as the subsequent mutiny and removal from last the World Cup will still be on the minds of some player’s . If they can rally together and play for each other, they will be one difficult opponent to match up against.

20. Honduras- A relatively unknown team that boasts lots of homegrown talent. Few expect the team to go far.

Group F

21. Argentina- Perhaps the team boasting the best forwards at the tournament, the key for Argentina to do well will be making sure to balance all their attacking talent with defensive discipline. And of course, Lionel Messi might have a word or two to say for himself, with his feet that is.

22. Bosnia & Herzegovina- This will be the first time these nations are represented in the World Cup. Their team has an array of attacking talent, Edin Dzeko in particular, that will likely be undone by the team’s weak defense.

23. Iran- Coach Carlos Quieroz is the star in this team with a wealth of knowledge coming from coaching for years side by side with one of the game’s finest, Sir Alex Ferguson. He has taken this knowledge and constructed a defensively sound team.

24. Nigeria- The super eagles swept aside all competition and were head and shoulders above the rest at the last AFCON tournament. The current African champs have a wide selection of players to choose from with Emmanuel Emenike looking to impress on the world stage.

Group G

25. Germany- The German team has impressed and continually improved over the last few years. The core of young players has grown together and will be one of the hardest teams to beat at this year’s tournament. They have a fine blend of team ethic and individual talent. From Mesut Ozil to Toni Kroos to Marco Reus- the attacking talent speaks  for itself. Many have the German’s picked as their favorites.

26. Portugal- Led by the current best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal is essentially a one man show. This might be a weakness for most, but when Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form that he has been in over the course of the last few years- then this is simply not an issue. If Ronaldo is playing well, then Portugal has a chance in the tournament.

27. Ghana- Ghana never fails to impress or entertain. The heartbreaking moment when Asamoah Gyan’s last minute penalty struck the crossbar and their subsequent loss to Uruguay in the penalty shoot-out still is fresh in the memory of players and fans. They will look to undo this perceived injustice and accomplish a lot at this tournament.

28. United States- Jurgen Klinsmann’s team is playing some fantastic soccer but disappointing results in friendlies have undercut the American’s confidence. They will be looking to prove the naysayers wrong.

Group H

29. Belgium- The Belgian’s are considered by many to be the dark horses of the tournament. With a golden generation of players, the true question remains whether they can play together under pressure. We will find out.

30. Algeria- Considered one of the weakest team’s at the tournament, their presence is an honor.

31. Russia- The squad boasts a defensive solidity that has been missing in recent years. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev’s return to form following a broken leg will be a huge boost.

32. Korea Republic- Coached by legendary former player, Hong Myung-bo the Koreans have got to the tournament by playing soundly defensively and getting goals through direct play. Their star man Song Heung-min will need to be at is best for his nation’s side to progress.

Brazil 2014: The World Cup Dissected.

May 9, 2014 | Author: Ghedion Behonegne

The World Cup is the most widely watched sporting event on the planet. Last time around, an estimated 3.2 billion people watched the World Cup Final- roughly about 47% of the earth’s human population.

For those of you not so versed in the affairs of international soccer I have here a dissection, a series of posts in which I will do my best to: Explain the tournament, describe the teams and the key players to watch.  Without further ado…

Teams will be fighting for the chance to bring this home. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

The World Cup

32 teams take part in the World Cup. These teams are picked based on a 3 year preliminary period, in which teams play for qualification and the right to represent their country at the World Cup. These teams are then randomly sorted into 8 groups of 4 teams each. This stage is called the group stage; the goal of which is to finish with as many points as possible.

But what are points Ghedion, and how do you go about getting them? Points are awarded for wins and draws, with 3 and 1 point(s) being rewarded respectively. Losing will give you a whooping 0 points.  After each team has played each other, the top two teams advance to the next stage. So the winner of Group A plays the runner ups of Group B, and so on so forth. The next phase is called the knockout stage, it starts with 16 teams each playing to stay in the tournament. There are no draws in this phase, with games going to extra time and eventually penalties until a winner has been decided. Penalties are shots taken from a dead ball position from 12 yards away and whomever gets the best of five shall be declared winner.

Like so

The losing teams are knocked out, with the exception of the losers in the semi-finals, they stick around to play for 3rd and 4th place. The winners of the final are crowned World Champions and get major bragging rights.

Last year the Confederations Cup was held in Brazil. In this tournament, each continent sends its champion (From its respective continental championship tournament) and the host of the next World Cup as well as the past champions into a mini-World Cup style championship. The final saw the hosts, Brazil, take on the current world champs, Spain. The result was an emphatic 3-0 victory for Brazil, Spain were well beaten and will be itching to at the possibility of redeeming themselves.  The purpose of this tournament was to act as a teaser, but it has done more than that- it has stoked the appetite of soccer fans everywhere.

The Pros & Cons of Being a Perfectionist

May 8, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

self portrait 11

A perfectionist is defined as a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. Some might also add that they are delusional, generally nuts, and stress out everyone else around them.

But I’m not so bad once you get to know me.

I swear I wasn’t always like this. I think it was somewhere midway through high school that perfectionism started to infiltrate my brain, but even then, it was only in certain areas. However, when I hit college, full-blown perfectionism took over, and just about anyone who knows me now will describe me as a perfectionist.

It is not necessarily a bad trait. I mean, there are a lot worse things somebody can be.  Perfectionism sure has helped me both excel and go crazy throughout my college career, and now that I’ve got only one semester left to my senior year, I can see how it has both helped and hindered me.

These are the pros and cons I’ve discovered to being a perfectionist throughout the years:

Pro – You generally do exceedingly well on assignments and papers because you won’t hand in anything short of your absolute best.
Con – You cannot emotionally handle getting any grade less than an A. An A- might as well be an F, because an A- means you did something wrong. And mistakes mean failure.


Pro – You go the extra mile, even for things you aren’t necessarily interested in. For example, When I started weight-training, it was not my cup of tea, but I still worked to learn perfect form.
Con – You can never have that “I don’t care about this, so I’m not going to try” mentality. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a diorama for an art class you had to take for your core credits even though you’re a PR major; you’re going to stress over it.

Pro – People think you’re someone who really has everything together and look up to you.
Con – You are constantly busting your butt to live up to that impossible standard and feel mortified when somebody realizes that you are, in fact, imperfect like everyone else.

Pro – You have motivation, determination, persistence, and drive – qualities that most people find redeeming and can make you a great candidate for landing a job.
Con – You stretch yourself thin trying to exude these qualities in every aspect of life, whether it be schoolwork or getting your hair to look perfect (seriously, that takes some persistence).

Pro – You’re excellent at correcting and editing things because you get a secret joy out of seeking out imperfections.
Con – You’re constantly annoying people around you by correcting and editing everything they do without being asked to do so.

Pro – People admire how hard you’re willing to work.
Con – People don’t understand why little mess ups that wouldn’t bother the average Joe can bring you down so much.

The Perfectionist Scale 3

Pro – You always try to look your best, therefore coming off as put-together and professional.
Con – You can’t just “get up and go,” nor do you have a quick way of getting ready. If you’re going out, whether to a ball or to the grocery store, everything has to look perfect.

Pro – You are willing to try something over and over again until you can do it right. Therefore, you know the incomparably amazing feeling of watching something that seemed impossible become possible. For me, such is the case with challenging yoga poses.
Con – You waste way too much time and energy trying to do these little things, and beat yourself up when you can’t do them on the first try.

Only took me 254,183 tries

Only took me 254,183 tries

Pro – You can seek out and correct the tiniest imperfection in any area whether it be painting lipstick or painting a portrait.
Con – You have no control over your ability to walk away from a task; you end when it’s perfect.

Pro – You never accept failure from yourself.
Con – You never accept failure from yourself.

The Perfectionist's Guide to Results (Lo)

Move out Day, ARE YOU READY?

May 8, 2014 | Author: LaShanna Saunders

blogging web      Move out day is May 15th are you ready? Is all your things packed? Do you have a storage space ready? How are you getting home? Did you study for finals? All these things come to play all at once, it can get overwhelming. Dealing with finals and moving out is hard. For me its a little more hectic because I have to deal with finals, moving out, organizations events, internships and work all at once but when you find a balance it will all work out for the best. Staying motivated and healthy is what is going to get you thorough this rough time. Make sure you eat health and when up late studying replace junk food with health snacks. Like carrots, sandwiches, crackers and cheeses, cereal bars  and most importantly water to keep your body from crashing. If you are feeling stressed or maybe your just pissed off, there is always someone here to help. The counselling center is available and the gym closes at 11pm, take a break and go work out and release some stress I promise  that you  will feel a hundred percent better after you are done. Moving out is a better sweet time because at this point everyone is excited to finally be home and yet again it is stressful because we have final exams but as time goes by these things will become normal to us.

Confidence: The Key Component to Success

May 8, 2014 | Author: Allison Acquaviva

As a young woman in today’s society, it seems that everyone puts labels on us. If we’re curvy, we’re too fat. If we’re skinny, we’re unhealthy. All of the constant criticism weighs down on our confidence & self esteem. That, ladies, is just wrong.

I’ve struggled with confidence issues since high school. I used to care what everyone thought of me & tried to change myself to please them. That, by far, is the biggest mistake anyone could make.


I know now that I totally wasted my time worrying about the opinions of others. I’m finally at that point where I know who loves and appreciates me for who I am & those who don’t? Well they don’t matter. I make my own sunshine!

One of the few steps to happiness is finding your confidence & learning to love who you are, regardless of what people say about you. In my last post about surrounding yourself with positive people, I mention how they can help build up your confidence. That’s 100% true.

But, you also need to be able to build up your own confidence.

And how do you do this? Well….it’s quite the journey, but by having a persistent, positive attitude, you will succeed.


The first step to finding your confidence is: Stop comparing yourself to others. 

This is so hard to do, but it is absolutely crucial. I know. Easier said than done. We wish we looked like that, we wish we could dress like that, we wish we had that talent…..and the list goes on.

Why do we do this? Each one of us is a gift. Our bodies, minds and hearts are all unique. We are imperfectly perfect in our own way. So, stay focused on yourself. Run your own race. Just because someone does something better than you, or before you, doesn’t mean that you have no talent. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it too. Everybody’s different, everyone learns and grows at different rates. Confidence, confidence, confidence!

The second step? Relax & go with the flow!

Seriously, listen to what you are saying about yourself. If you had a friend that talked to you, the way you talk about yourself, would they even be your friend? Think about it. So, take a breather. Find an outlet that you can channel your talents to (and yes, everyone has a talent).

Never lose your confidence over a mistake. It’s not worth it! Remember – it’s all about perspective. You can gain your confidence from your experiences, rather than losing it from your experiences.


The third (and perhaps the most important) step: LOVE YOURSELF.

Listen, it’s not easy. There’s always something that we wish we could change about ourselves. But, once you come to that place of love and acceptance, you’ll be so much happier. When you have low confidence or self esteem, loving yourself can be a challenge. However, it is NOT impossible.

Put it into perspective. Life just would not be the same if you didn’t exist, or if you changed yourself for others. You were created the way you are for a reason. That means, you have a special gift & talent that can be used to put some good into the world, that maybe no one else has. Embrace it. Embrace everything you have to offer. *with dignity, of course*

Fourth: Be Positive.

Look for the good in any situation. Talking from experience, this can be hard too, but not impossible. Once you make up your mind that you want to be happy, the rest comes naturally.

Breathing in positivity and exhaling negativity, eventually becomes a habit. Sure, we all have our down moments. That will happen. The key is…don’t get stuck there. Sometimes, we are the prisoner’s of our own thoughts.


The fifth step to confidence: Do what you love & love what you do.

People shine the most whenever they are doing something they love. That’s when your true confidence shows because you want to be the best you can be.

Life isn’t all about making money, doing something because it’s in the family…..granted, having a good job, making money, those are pretty important. But, of course, they aren’t everything. You have to be happy in what you’re doing. If not, change it. You don’t like your major? Change it!

It has taken me 3 major changes to find my happiness….and I’m so not ashamed of that fact. I’m loving what I’m studying & I love all of the opportunities that are presented in front of me. I have big dreams, and I needed to find a major that complemented them. I finally did, and never felt better about it.

Long story short: Confidence is essential in everything you do, whether it’s at school, work, whatever! Build yourself up. Stop tearing yourself down. Ladies, stop thinking of yourselves as objects, or someone’s possession. Know who you are, and know your worth.

My Mama Rocks

May 7, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine


This Mother’s Day will be a little different for me because my mother and I will be apart for it. This is my second year spent separated after my parents moved to West Virginia last year, and I am still not used to it. While I was in high school, my mother and I grew to be like best friends, and we are to do this day much closer than most young adults are with their parents. I think it is because she has been there with me through so much when it felt like there was nobody else.

Although many kids are glad to get away from their parents when it comes time to go to college, I was not one of them. In fact, I lived at home for my first 2 1/2 years and much preferred being close to them. However, when fate intervened, and my parents had to move, I did not even know what to do with myself. I battled back and forth with moving out to stay at school here or going with them and having to transfer.

After endless back and forth decision-making, I wound up choosing to be on my own for the first time while my parents moved 10 hours away to West Virginia. We’ve adjusted, but I still feel like I’ll never quite be used to not having my mother right here with me.


I have a food blog, The Smart Cookie Cook, and she was always my biggest helper and supporter when it came to that. Now that she is in another state, she cannot be my camera woman or grocery shopper anymore, but she is still as supportive as ever, and it means so much to me.

I still call her every day because I miss having her around for all those little moments of the day. It is a little thing that makes me feel just a bit closer to her. When something funny happens, I want her to be there to laugh with me. When I watch “The Voice,” I want her to be there to comment on the performances. When I order pizza, I want her there to gorge with me.

I am rarely an emotional human being, but I can get very suddenly choked up if I think about how much I miss her, and my father for that matter, for too long.

It stinks that, because of when finals fall, I cannot go down there to celebrate Mother’s Day with her, but I’ll be thinking about her all day. She is the one person I can always count on, and no matter how much we fight, we bounce back like nothing ever happened.

She’s been there for me through everything from birth to high school graduation to all my food blogging endeavors to holding my hand through my third tattoo after she got out of being there for the one I had done on my leg for her. She is consistently giving and giving for both my older sister and I. I think all parents have to be a bit selfless, but my mom goes above and beyond.


A daffodil, my mom’s favorite flower

My mama rocks. This is a thank you to her for putting up with me and sending me along on the journey to where I am today.