Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"All bags are packed, I am ready to go..."

Do you know the song "I'm leaving on a jet plane"? It always comes to my mind when I think about the arrival of new students in the summer and my own experience two years ago. A lot of Scotties that will be joining us next year share with me their excitement. I know that many of you are already planning your trip and arrival. This is very exciting and I remember myself making to-do lists and trying to prepare myself well. I realize that it can be a stressful time as well, especially for the international students and really anyone who lives far from Agnes Scott. Please remember that there is a bunch of people working at Agnes to provide resources that will help you with the transition to college. One group is the Orientation Council, who will welcome you as you arrive. Xiaoxuan Liu "Lulu" (class of 2015) and myself will have the pleasure of being the coordinators for the International Student Orientation.
Lulu (on the right) and I can't wait to meet you in August
As you start to think how possibly you are supposed to fit everything in one or (depending on the mercy of your airlines) two pieces of luggage, feel free to use these guidelines that I created based on my own experience.
What is a Scottie dress code?
  1. Your favorite, comfortable set of clothes. One of the aspects of American culture is individualism that is prominent for example in the way people dress. This definitely applies to the daily dress code at Agnes. All styles - formal, classy, comfortable - are acceptable and no one will judge you by the way you look. In other words, there isn't a dress code that you will be expected to follow. 
  2. Formal set of clothes. There are multiple occasions during school year when festive or formal attire is required. The most fun that comes from the opportunity to dress up is the picture time. Everyone seems to love taking pictures here.
    Photo credit: Center for Student Engagement
  3. Be prepared for ALL kinds of weather. Coming to Atlanta, I expected the climate to be "tropical" in my understanding. I was surprised though when it started snowing in February. The solution is to dress in layers. Warm jacket, hat, scarf and gloves will be very useful. Shorts, dresses or any other summer clothes are a must-have for sure.
Spring and summer in Atlanta are beautiful. In addition to light clothing, a water bottle is an important accessory. 
"I'm singing in the (Decatur) rain..." 
Seeing snow after a beautiful summer and fall weather was a surprise for all the Scotties, but a nice one.
Shopping for personal care items
  1. When leaving for the first time, I thought that I should pack the supply of toiletries (like shampoo, toothpaste, shower gel etc.) that will last for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this kind of items weigh the most and after taking just a few, there is hardly space for anything else. My advice: take a travel size bottles of the toiletries. You can buy all the other personal care items here in Decatur. In fact, we will take you on a shopping trip a day after you arrive. Here is what I discovered: most of the products like shampoo or shower gel in the American stores are size XXL. It means that you can buy one thing that will last you for a very long time which is money efficient and simply convenient.
  2. Although there is a big variety of products in the stores, I personally prefer to have my favorite items from back home like my make-up. Therefore, this is my recommendation: bring the items that you are most attached to. I am positive though, that with time you will find a great substitute among the many choices offered in the American stores. 

Scottie Study Gear
  1. Just like you don't have to worry about packing the personal care items for the entire semester or a year into a luggage, it's not at all necessary to bring notebooks, pens, pencils or other school supplies from across the ocean. There will be multiple opportunities to go shopping and purchase these items before the classes start. Also, did you know that we have our own bookstore on campus? It is one of the places where you can buy paper and other accessories once you run out of them.
    Besides books and school supplies, our bookstore sells clothing and accessories with fun Scottie logo on them.
  2. Regarding personal computers, it is definitely helpful to have your own. However, it is not required and you can definitely get around without it. In fact, I have been without my own computer for a semester now and I have been perfectly fine using library computers for my assignments and other projects. I also want to share with you that this year our library purchased five iPods for students that we can rent, so there are plenty of resources that you can use even when you don't have a computer.
As I mentioned before, Lulu and myself (your Orientation coordinators) will take you to a shopping district a day after you arrive. There, you'll get to purchase bed linen, reading lamps, cell phones and anything else that you'll need. We will prepare for this trip together before we go, discuss the best deals and our recommendations.
This crazy bunch of Scotties from your Orientation Council is so excited to welcome you to our community! Can you see that red is a dominant color here? This will be a color of class of 2018. 
I hope that you can find some of these tips useful. Thank you for visiting my blog and working with me on your applications throughout the year. It has been a great pleasure to be getting to know so many of you and helping you out on your college search. Right now, I am off to prepare for the final exams and start my summer break, during which I will be travelling around Europe and studying abroad with the Agnes Scott program in Spain. If you need to contact us during summer, please write to admission@agnesscott.edu. Starting in September, I will use a new link for this blog: www.agnesupclose.com. I look forward to meeting you next semester as well as sharing even more of the Scotties' experiences on the blog. Good luck with the rest of your school year and see you soon.
Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E. College Ave
Decatur 30030 GA

Friday, April 25, 2014

"SpARC" Spring Annual Research Conference

This week a lot of Agnes Scott students presented at SpARC, our Spring Annual Research Conference. To explore SpARC, I reconnected with alumna and admission counselor Cara Snyder, who is featured in the SpARC portion of our virtual tour on Agnes Scott website. Feel free to watch a short video below,introducing SpARC and its significance to our community.

I was very curious to hear about SpARC experience from the perspective of the presenters themselves. Dildora Sharipova, an exchange student from Uzbekistan told me about her research "Digital Storytelling with Middle School Refugee Girls": "It was very challenging to carry on a research, you have to be careful about recording all the details throughout the whole process and make sure to keep them safe and organized. At the same time, it was very rewarding. I want to become a teacher so experiencing a relationship of teacher and a student was extremely useful. I learned that letting my students be independent is very important." 

Melissa Easley and Katharina Groeger (class of 2016) are members of a research team that is being conducted with one of our Biology professors: "The preparation for SpARC was very helpful for us to see where we are are at the moment with our project. Sometimes, when we are in the lab it is easy to forget a big picture of what we are doing, so it was exciting to share it once again, this time officially with a bigger crowd of our fellow students and professors. Although it was a challenge for both of us to speak in front of the audience, it turned out to be a perfect practice of our public speaking skills."

"The Pharmacology of Oviposition in Grasshoppers"
Authors: Abigali Vaka, Gifty Affadzi, Anoinette Anderson, Sasha Grant, Zarina May, Allana Thompson 
"Digital Storytelling with Middle School Refugee Girls" These students conducted a project that involved teaching refugee girls from Global Village Project how to create a digital fictionalized, personal story. They truly worked for social justice and were happy to present their research to Agnes audience.
Authors: Nareeja Panchapakesan, Fikella Hill, Alberta Sabree, Dildora Sharipova, Patience Shepard 
"2013 Huber Scholars" The Hubert program supports students to conduct public service projects around the world. Last years, our scholars interned in Harvard Medical School, at Bai Thuong organic farm in Vietnam and Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs- a microfinance organization in Decatur. Think about a destination this program could take you one day!

Which presentations would you attend? Check the list and description of all the research this year. Imagine, your name and a project that you are so passionate about can be on this list next! 

Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E.College Ave
Decatur 30030

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What happens at Agnes, stays at Agnes a.k.a Scotties in Vegas

This year, spring semester goes by really fast! The snow days that left us out of school for a week (which Scotties didn't mind at all but rather took advantage of this rare weather condition to its fullest extend) and a bunch of activities that have been taking place for the past months kept us busy and will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks. Last week was particularly exciting with a number of events organized as a part of Spring Fling celebration.
Spring Fling happens every year in April and is meant to provide some fun time for our community, celebrating the beautiful weather and the last month of school. As we all know, finding balance between academics and other activities is extremely important to maintain a healthy college routine. Many organizations on campus worked hard to make sure that everyone would find something that they enjoyed doing. Programming Board (ProBo) took charge of most of the events and was very successful in organizing the Spring Fling party and the Spring Festival. ProBo is one of the biggest organizations at Agnes. Maybe after watching Amy Rahimpour's (class of 2015) video and learning what they do, you'll consider joining ProBo next year?

The theme of last week was "Las Vegas." A lot of activities and the Spring Fling Party in particular were organized around this theme.

Spring Fest
Have you ever celebrated or heard of Holi, a Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colors? This was definitely the messiest and most colorful activity during our Spring Fest. Photo credit: Alice Malkova (exchange student from Russia)

Spring Fling
Agnes style weekend plan: get a good group of friends, put on some fancy dresses and enjoy a great time in Vegas-like party. Photo credit: Celeste Whitman (class of 2016). 

5K run
Last week, Agnes hosted a 5K run. Running, walking, volunteering- any form of participation was welcomed.   

Jazz Ensemble and Word Percussion concert
The week closed of with something delightful for our ears. Two music groups at Agnes, Jazz Ensemble and Word Percussion performed a wonderful concert under the supervision of their instructor Emrah Kotan who happens to be a drummer of a famous American singer, India.Arie. Check out our website to read more about this faculty member...
...and enjoy a short extract of the event. 

I can't believe that we have only three more weeks of classes. Good luck to those of you who are also finishing the school  year or getting ready for the final exams. As promised in the previous post, I will soon publish a list of "must-haves for college." I hope this will be helpful once you start planning your arrival to college. Please, don't hesitate to contact me at my e-mail: globaladmission@agnesscott.edu. 

Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E. College Ave
Decatur GA

Friday, March 21, 2014

Walking on sunshine

Greetings full of sunshine ya'll! 
This is a post about, perhaps the most relaxing time for Scotties this semester, the Spring Break 2014. After taking a week off from classes and our regular school routine, we are back for the last part of this academic school year before summer kicks off. In case you are curious, the tradition originated more than 2,000 year ago in the Roman and Greek Empires (thank you great-great-great-...- grandparents). Just like today, they were celebrating the season of fertility. The first official Spring Breaks in the United States started in 1930s when a group of college students competed in a swimming championships in Florida. Today, many students take this opportunity to hang out with their friends, travel around or participate in a special kind of Spring Break, the Alternative Spring Break. Scotties experiences all of these options and were kind enough to share them with us.
My favorite place in U.S. is Washington, D.C.

After this Spring Break, I can officially say that my favorite place in the United States so far is Washington, D.C. First of all, my stay there was like a two-day-long history lesson. I visited so many memorials that honor victims of different wars. I learned about the history of some American presidents. I also went to see a ballet and the Air and Space Museum. The most interesting part of the trip though was learning that the Capitol (on the picture) with the Statue of Freedom on the top of it is the tallest building in the city, symbolizing the greatest value of the American society, freedom.  

Dildora Sharipova (exchange student from Uzbekistan): "My dream came true."
I've had an amazing time in California during Spring Break. Together with my two friends, I visited the best cities of the West Coast: San Francisco, LA, San Diego and Las Vegas. We went to so many places and learned a lot about people and culture in California. Besides, we made new friends with other travelers from different parts of the world like Russia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil. However, the highlight of our trip was the day trip to the Grand Canyon. I have always wanted to see it and this was absolutely a breathtaking experience. My dream came true!
"The view from our room was simply amazing," said Amy Rahimpour (class of 2015).
This year for Spring Break I went to Panama City Beach with a group of friends. I had a great time with them and we met a lot of new people, too. The view from our room overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and was simply amazing. It was really fun because we really got to know each other and had great conversations during our drive from campus to Florida. I also had some amazing seafood while I was there. There were so many delicious restaurants along the road where we also did some shopping. I had a great experience, and I can't wait for next year's Spring Break!

Tayla Burnett, class of 2016 (second from the left), with other participants of the Alternative Spring Break.
I had the privilege to participate in Alternative Spring Break. This program gives students the opportunity to give back to a local community during Spring Break. As a participant, you are required to participate in pre-departure meetings that will help build a sense of community within the group. These meetings were very helpful in producing dialogue around oppression and privilege and facilitated a free space to raise concerns freely. This year's location was Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez is a very quaint, historic city that is filled with wonderful people. Our main volunteer site was Natchez Children's Home. Here, we did yard work, cleaned and organized classroom space, participated in training on prevention of sexual abuse, and learned about their new initiatives toward working with children with mental health issues. We were able to interact with the locals from Natchez and hear about their stories and the impact the children's home have on their lives. The most exciting part of the trip was bonding with my fellow Alternative Spring Break Scotties. We shared laughs, cries, and created so many memories during our time in Natchez. I created a bond so strong that I will carry throughout the rest of my time here at Agnes. I would recommend this experience to anyone and can't wait to do it again, next year.                         
"There is always excitement in Atlanta," said Jasmine Howard (class of 2016).
I spent my Spring Break in Decatur, right at Agnes Scott! It wasn't lonely if that's what you are thinking. Yes, I spent a lot of quality time with, well, myself, and it was great! I watched movies every night with yummy snacks, and got a lot of rest, which was exactly what I needed in the middle of such a busy semester. My good friend Cara lives in Decatur, and we had a lot of fun together, grabbing bites to eat and going out on adventures. Toward the end of Spring Break we even went to a concert of Broken Bells (an indie hip-hop band) and they were amazing. So, even if you can't get out of Georgia for your Spring Break, there is always excitement in Atlanta! What can I say? Getting rest and going to adventures is best of both worlds!
First Day of Spring- only several weeks left to go.
Now, that the Spring Break is over, the Scotties are back to their busy school schedules. We have only six weeks left until the summer and another set of exciting experiences. I personally look so much forward to Orientation for the class of 2018 when I'll finally get to welcome all the new Scotties to our community. I wish you a lot of patience in awaiting the acceptance decision as well as courage to make your final choice. Let me know if I can help you in any way. As always, my e-mail is globaladmission@agnesscott.edu. Lastly, check out the blog in a couple of weeks to find tips on how to "pack your life" in a suitcase when getting ready for college.

Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E. College Ave
Decatur GA 30030

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sophomores gonna put a ring on it... joining the Black Ring Mafia

You are probably asking yourselves: "What is that mysteriously sounding Black Ring Mafia?" I can ensure you that it has nothing to do with an organized crime group or any illegal activity. Rather, it is a colloquial term by which Scotties refer to one of the greatest traditions at Agnes Scott - the Sophomore Ring Ceremony. Every year in February, second- year class (the sophomores) at Agnes Scott participate in this formal event. They invite their families and friends to join them in this celebration during which they officially become a part of Agnes Scott legacy. Black onyx rings became a symbol of this membership. In fact, this tradition has been present in our community for many years. It originated from a jewel, first awarded in 1929 as a way to recognize the contributions that Dean Nannette Hopkins had made to the college at that time. Later on, the jewel changed its form to the black onyx ring that we use today. Last week, on February 22, my very own class of 2016 joined the "Black Ring Mafia" and was welcomed to the circle of Agnes Scott women from the past, present and the future.
As you can imagine, a lot of organizing was involved for many weeks before the actual event. It must be that the class of 2016 is very hard working and has a big class spirit because everything turned out very successful. The Sophomore Ring Ceremony committee was formed with the supervision of Hiram Ramirez (director of the Center for Student Engagement) and Emaline Laney (the president of the sophomore class). We prepared a slide show, set up decorations, communicated with the rest of the class members - in short, there were many opportunities to a leadership role and to practice teamwork skills. 
Megha Patel, representing the creative part of our committee.

We spent many hours working on different projects.

One of our committee goals was to get the entire sophomore class excited. I think we succeeded.
Even though President Elizabeth Kiss didn't graduate from Agnes Scott, she is highly respected among Scotties and therefore she also proudly wears the Black Onyx ring. Photo credit: Lena Glowka

All the students and even their parents wanted to take a picture with President Kiss. Photo credit: Hannah Plank

Blue and purple dresses dominated during the ceremony, as they are the colors of our class and Agnes Scott, respectively. Photo credit: Celeste Whitman
I felt so honored to join the Black Ring Mafia. Photo credit: Lena Glowka

The traditions at Agnes Scott make me so proud to be a part of this
Photo credit: Nana Nimako
community. The Sophomore Ring Ceremony will forever remind me about the values that I am exploring during my education here. A lot of times we hear stories from Agnes alumna about their own rings and places all around the world where they were able to meet other Scotties because of this symbol on their fingers. I hope that one day a similar experience will happen to me or that someone asks me about the meaning of my ring. I know for sure that there will be a lot I would want to share with them about the impact Agnes had on me.

Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E. College Ave
Decatur GA 30030

Friday, February 21, 2014

Scotties LOVE Agnes Scott

Greetings from Decatur that, at last, is waking up from a long period of winter hibernation. We can finally enjoy days when jackets and boots are not necessary. All the Scotties look forward to the spring when everything starts to bloom and spending time outside is technically compulsory. 

This beautiful weather was a perfect opening to the event "Love Actually" hosted this week by the International Students Association. As the celebration of the February 14th Valentine's Day, we invited three students from Ghana, Japan and Mexico to talk about the relationships and marriages in their home countries. Our audience consisted of the international as well as the domestic students who enjoyed the presentations and were able to compare them with their own experiences. Our talented photographer, Alice Malkova, an exchange student from Russia, was so fantastic to document the event for us. 

Sarah Adams Inkoom (Class of 2014) told us that there are many tribes in Ghana and if your loved one comes from a different tribe than you, both families engage in intense talks about the possible marriage.

"Some Japanese couples like to match their clothes to look cute." - Rumiko Imai & Kaori Yamazaki (exchange students)

Did you know that singing serenades is still common in some parts of Mexico? In the picture: Karina Santamaria (Class of 2017)

The audience really enjoyed learning about customs in other cultures.

Some participants became so enthusiastic about the topic that they jumped up from the audience and told us the stories from their own countries. Here, an exchange student from Malaysia shares her story.

In fact, several students got inspired to share with us their experiences. Here, Varsha Thebo from Pakistan (Class of 2016) speaks of her country.

The organizers were happy for the successful event. Pictured above is Xiaofei Xue from China, Treasurer of the ISA (Class of 2016).

Love is actually celebrated all around the globe in one way or another. What about your country? Is Valentine's Day a common tradition?
I look forward to hearing from you on my e-mail: globaladmission@agnesscott.edu. Please, don't hesitate to ask me any questions about your application or share concerns regarding living and studying at Agnes Scott. 

Now, I am off for the preparations to one of the greatest traditions of Agnes Scott: the Sophomore Ring Ceremony. It's a time for my very own class of 2016 to join the Black Ring Mafia... more to come in the next post.

Karolina Klimczak '16
Office of Admission International Fellow
141 E. College Ave
Decatur GA 30030