Hello to Hell Week

From my last 120s on the track at 6am, to my last time bonding during hell week with such an awesome group of girls, I feel so blessed to be a part of the Northwestern women's soccer team. This year has been by far my favorite year as a soccer player. Though it's been a tough journey these past few years, I am grateful for this team.

During hell week we took one day to get off of campus and bond as a group. I heard we were going camping, so I thought in my head, "Lord Jesus, I can't do this." The bugs, tents, and dirt just aren't for me. 

Before the trip, Coach Karnish decided to tell the whole team we had to compete for our cabins. Whoever lost in laser tag had to sleep in the tents. The winners got to sleep in cabins. I just thought to myself, "This is not happening." So we went laser tagging at this huge outdoor facility with our goggles and epic guns.

As the day went by, I thought I was doing pretty good. I stayed away from everybody and tried my best not to die. It wasn't until going up stairs to the indoor glow room that they nailed me (aka the 5 freshman/Karnish). 

Long story short, I unfortunately didn't make the cut. So me and five other girls had to sleep in a tent. I thought to myself, "Maybe this won't be too bad after all." So we did what we knew, with no directions at all, and me and about 8 other girls put up this tent. As I looked at it, I tilted my head and thought, "This tent looks crooked." We did what anybody would've done, we left it alone, realizing the next morning that the whole tent looked like it was falling. 

That night, I remember sleeping on a slant thinking it was going to pour down rain. I was freaking out. Even though I heard so much noise that night, I remember it distinctly because I had one of the best conversations I have ever had with soccer girls. We went from get-to-know-you surface questions to questions that hit people deep. We laughed, some cried, but we had a good time overall. I am thankful for that night as I thought to myself, "Building that tent and bonding with my team far outweighed my thoughts about camping, and for that, I am truly grateful." 

Greecey Summer

              Here I am back in Orange City, trying to get into the swing of things once again. Classes are in session and they are going quite well so far, but I find myself reminiscing a lot about the summer. I had the opportunity to travel to Greece for three weeks in May and June with nine other Northwestern students and Professor Vonder Bruegge.

              Northwestern has a summer study abroad program that allows students to travel to different countries. This trip was associated with the Honors Program, in which we studied and learned about Greece by traveling there. Each student in the class came from different majors. The reason we went to Greece was because it was home to the start of so many different disciplines, and most all of us could find and apply our major to a certain site in Greece.

              We traveled all over the country and saw a lot—and I mean a lot—of old stuff. I don't think I truly realized the concept of old until I visited Greece. We saw pottery that was dated around 3,000 years ago, which is pretty dang old. Professor Vonder Bruegge was telling us about a column that fell, recently, that once stood tall to support the Temple of Zeus. When he said recently, he meant 300 years ago. That blew my mind! However, when we are talking about ancient Greek history, 300 years is a bat of an eye. 

              We each studied a site in preparation for the trip, and when we got there, we were the “tour guide” for the day. When we got to my site, which was in Delphi, I have never nerded out academically more in my entire life than I did in that moment. When you see an ancient site in person that you researched in depth, it is one of the most fulfilling moments ever. It was so incredible showing people around a site that I felt like I knew in detail, even though I had never actually been there before.

              I have been saving a very important detail about my trip until now. Of course, it is the food. When talking about Greek food, the gyro is the go to. I thought I had had some pretty good gyros here in America, but boy, did Greece take it to the next level! For those who are not aware, a gyro is a pita with either pork or chicken, tomato, tzatziki, onions and french fries all wrapped up in all of its goodness. Over the course of three weeks, I no doubt had at least 50 of them. 

              On the spiritual side, we visited an evangelical church, and what an experience that was. It was, of course, in Greek, but there were headphones that translated it into English. This experience was life changing because I was always told that there is a global church, which I knew was absolutely true, but once I traveled thousands of miles and experienced it firsthand, it made it so much more meaningful.

              This trip was a trip of a lifetime and has so much more meat in it that I simply can’t unpack in one blog. To put it simply, it was one that challenged me in many ways and made me step outside my comfort zone and try new things. 

It's Okay To Be A Little Stressed Out

Fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year has officially begun! Students are on campus, classes have started, and due dates have been given.

For many, the beginning of each school year is an exciting time. Friends move back onto campus, reunions take place, and great conversations occur. New friendships are made, new opportunities arise, and many new experiences are had. 

But the beginning of a new year can also be stressful. I'm discovering it can very well be both exciting and stressful at the same time.

So to everyone who is stressed or overwhelmed, I want you to know it's okay. You're not alone.

It seems that all at once, everything begins. Classes get going, extracurricular practices are held, on-campus work-study starts, events are scheduled, and all these previous commitments you made start to rise back to the surface. 

Some students jump from hectic and busy summers right into the school year, and that can be stressful. Some students come to campus from relaxing summers and find the transition back to college to be a little overwhelming. Some students are living away from home for the first time; though they've said their goodbyes to family and friends back home, that doesn't make it any easier. Some students are dealing with really tough issues, and the thought of adding homework to that already large load seems to accentuate the present stress.

Wherever you land on the spectrum from at peace to stressed out, it's okay. I can guarantee you there are several others on campus with the same kind of feelings as you.

Me? I'm stressed out. But I've done this thing before. I know it will all work out.

Today marks the beginning of my sophomore year. I'm excited for so much this year, but I've got to admit that right now I'm a little stressed out. 

Looking at the grand scheme of the whole semester's work and all of my commitments can be overwhelming. The trick is to take it all one day at a time. Take each assignment, each commitment, and each practice one at a time. Take care of yourself, sleep, and know that you'll get the hang of things soon enough.

It might take time, but eventually you'll realize that yeah, you've got this.

You've got this, and you've got the whole campus community walking right beside you.

What to Expect Freshman Year

So it’s your first year of college, huh? You’ve come to the right place.

This time last year I was in the same boat as you. I knew what dorm I’d be living in, what my class schedule looked like, and who my roommate would be. (Hadn’t met her yet, but we’d talked quite a bit over Facebook.) We were both excited, but also a little nervous. We had hopes for the year, hopes for friendships and new experiences, but there were also a few things we were unsure of.

I knew quite a few people going into college; my roommate only knew me.  I don’t think either of us had any idea of the amazing relationships God had in store.

I wondered what classes would be like, who I would meet, and what community ACTUALLY looked like at Northwestern. Growing up in Orange City, I had formed for myself an idea of what life at NWC was like. But let me tell you, there’s a big difference between observing something and actually experiencing it.

If this fall will be your first semester on campus, get excited!

College very well may be one of the best experiences of your life. Remember that college is what you make of it. Choose to make the best of the opportunities you find. Invest in those around you. Spend time in God’s Word. And remember─it’s okay to be a little nervous. College is a big transition.

If you’re wondering what to expect at Northwestern, I’m here to help you out. I can’t say your experience will be the same as mine, or that we’ll see eye to eye on everything, but I can give you a little glimpse into my perspective.

Here are a few questions you might have, and the answers I’ve found this past year:

What’s it like to have a roommate?

Honestly─it depends on the roommate. Your room is no longer just your room─it’s also their room. You’re sharing a living space with this person, so put in the effort to make it work. Don’t ignore them. Take the time to get to know them. Understand that you might not share the same interests. Your roommate may come to be your best friend, or they might not─either is fine. When it comes to having a roommate, consider the characteristics you want in a roommate and emulate those yourself. Show respect and remember that in any relationship, communication is key. Talk early about expectations and what’s okay. Set boundaries and respect those boundaries.

Having a roommate can be one of the best experiences of your life. Don’t make assumptions early on, and keep an open mind to what the year might hold.

Check out my personal blog for more tips on Getting To Know Your College Roommate.

How much homework will I have?

Again, it all depends. It depends on your class load and your chosen major. It’s a safe bet to say that most nights will be filled with homework. Some days will be filled with homework. Even some weekends will be filled with homework. But know that not every week is the same. You might have two tests one week and work non-stop, or you might have a week where you’ve got a smaller-than-normal load. Don’t stress too much the first few weeks of school. I promise, sooner or later you’ll get into the swing of things and realize that everything’s going to be okay.

If you’re anything like me, your first day of classes will be very OVERWHELMING. In college, most professors hand out the semester’s syllabus on the first day of class. This means you’ll know when tests will be given and when homework will be due for the whole semester. Opposed to high school, you’ll have access to everything, and seeing it all laid out before you might be pretty intimidating. Take a deep breath and take things as they come. Look ahead so you know what’s coming, but don’t let the bulk of it all stress you out.

Can I study AND have a job?

Yes! Last year I worked at the library circulation desk, called for admissions, wrote for the Beacon, and was a student assistant. If you’re able to manage your time, you can very easily study and find time to work. Side note: You’re going to want the money.

What does a typical day of school look like?

Most classes are every other day. If you have a class on Monday, you’ll also have it on Wednesday and Friday. These classes are typically an hour long. If you have a class on Tuesday, you’ll also meet on Thursday. These classes are typically an hour and a half long.

In high school classes ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. In college, however, you might not have class until 11:50 a.m., or your whole day of classes might be done by 11:50. A typical day might have around two or three classes. If you’re doing the math, you’ll realize that you’re left with a lot of extra time. Chances are there’ll be semesters where you have hours between classes to go and do what you like. (Hate to break it to ya, but it’s probably going to be homework related.) You might go to the library to study, your dorm room to sleep, or the caf to eat. Or you might just go and hang out with friends. That’s the cool thing about living on campus─you’re living with friends 24/7.

You might go the the RSC (fitness center) to work out or play ping pong with friends, you might just hang out in your dorm room, or you might play volleyball outside on the campus green.

Chapel is required?

Chapel is held consistently on Tuesdays for one hour and on Fridays for 30 minutes. This past year the college went through some changes regarding the number of chapel credits required and the number of times it would be held throughout the week.

Yes, you’re required to get 28 Christian formation credits per semester, but that’s out of 62 possible credits from chapel alone. Throughout the semester you’ll find other opportunities and events that count towards those credits. So no, you don’t have to go to chapel every time it’s held. There will be times you might just want to study for a test instead. But when you are in chapel─listen to the speaker, don’t sleep. Sing the songs, don’t text your friends. Chapel is a place to come together as a campus community to lift our praises to the Lord. Please don’t disrespect it for those who want to worship.

This year we’ll also have a new Director of Christian Formation and a new Director of Worship. From what I hear of these guys, this is gonna be a pretty great year.

Where do I even start making friends?

Chances are, you’ve had many of the same friends since elementary school. And chances are, they’re not following you to college. Some of you will come to campus knowing absolutely no one. I’m here to tell you that Northwestern is full of some pretty great people, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that you'll find someone to connect with.

Be open to conversation. Be willing to put yourself out there and say hi to someone. The first thing I told one of my best friends was that I liked her hair. By the time orientation weekend was over, I knew I had made a lifelong friend. Go to different events and meet different people. Invest in the lives of those on your wing. Be present and be yourself. You don’t have to put up a front in college.

Okay, the big question. What is community at NWC really like?

Northwestern is one big, encouraging community─and that’s really cool, but beyond that there are smaller communities within NWC that together make up the heart and soul of the campus. I found community on my wing and in my group of friends. These are the people I spend the most time with. These are the ones who pray with me and for me, who eat meals with me. These are the ones who simply walk life with me. Others might find community on their sports team or in their academic department. Some might find community in their RUSH group or in the band. What’s special is that because each community is interconnected, you will feel at home in any of them. And you can be a part of any of them. Together they make up the campus community of Northwestern.

So there you have it, my friends! A little taste of what’s ahead this coming year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back onto campus. As cliche as it sounds, it’s the community─and the people within that community. I can’t wait for you to experience it yourself.


Boker Tov

This year I have had the opportunity to take Hebrew here at Northwestern. The one and only Dr. Mead was the one to lead my classmates and me through this journey. The year has been full of learning experiences, such as learning Hebrew vocab words, grammar and translations.

The course is focused on Biblical Hebrew, so if you come up and ask me how to say something like “Happy Birthday”,  I won’t know. However, if you come up to me and ask me about Hebrew I can almost guarantee I will throw a boker tov at you, which means good morning.

Hebrew has its ups and downs for sure. One minute you're feeling super great and understanding everything and then the verbal system comes flying at you and you immediately retract to the fetal position. Overall, learning the ways of the Hebrew language has not been an easy experience, but it has been a fun one.

One of the assignments Dr. Mead had us do this second semester was to contact a local pastor in Orange City and help them on a sermon. We were to ask them to give us a passage they were going to preach on from the Old Testament. Our job was to dissect the passage and tell them everything there is to know about the original language of the section of scripture.

I reached out to Pastor Tim down at First Reformed Church. He gave me the passage from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with God. So over the course of the semester I spent a lot of time diving into the passage. I went straight to the original Hebrew text and started translating. After looking in depth at the Hebrew words, seeing how they fit together and deciphering their different meanings, I went straight for the commentaries. There I found what other people have said about the Hebrew translation and compiled them together.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from Pastor Tim telling me he is preaching on the passage soon. I asked him if we could meet so I could tell him what I found to aid him in the preparation of his sermon. He then asked me if I would be willing to join him on the stage during the service to help him educate the congregation. I was rather scared at first not knowing what to think.

Even though I am a religion major and have hopes to one day be a pastor, I have never been on a stage during a service or done anything like this before. Nonetheless it was a phenomenal opportunity and I absolutely wanted to give it a try.

Early Sunday morning we had a chat and talked about how the service was going to go down. The service came and he preached for a while then called me up on stage. It ended up going well and it was such a great experience for someone wanting to go into ministry. The opportunity that Pastor Tim offered me affirmed my vocation in ministry. I am super grateful for the experience and the opportunity to be up on stage with him.