Student gains experience with a side of fish and chips

Last semester I had a professor tell me that I needed to be well traveled to become a better writer. So this semester I enrolled in ENG 361, a literature course that traveled to London for spring break. I knew a few of the students from previous classes, but I didn’t really know them. From the moment we boarded the plane in Kansas City we became a group. Our fearless leader, Dr. Fulton, led us through the streets of London with her fist clenched and her arm forged high above her head. We knew to look for the fist (and the neon green jacket) if we became lost. Outside the National Theater, after we saw a play, I exchanged cameras with another classmate. We realized after taking pictures that the group had forged on without us. There was no fist in the air or a green jacket in sight. We were lost. Parts of the tube (underground transportation) were not running that day. We had taken a taxi to get to the theater. Neither of us knew our way back to the hotel. However, we found Waterloo station rather quickly where we purchased maps and hopped on the first tube ride of our lives. We navigated the tube through an interchange with a different line and disembarked at Nottinghill where we set out on foot to find our hotel in Kensington. After what seemed like several hours of walking, we stopped and asked someone in a corner store for directions. Thanks to the directions, we found a nearby bus stop and took a bus back to our hotel. Together, we not only found our way after having been lost in a huge city, we formed a new friendship. We were given four “walks” as assignments to do in London. We had to travel to a certain destination and then write about the experience. Two students who enjoy literature more than me, Anita and Jennifer, accompanied me on my first walk. After having taken many wrong turns and having walked up and down Old Church Street, we finally found our final destination. Anita was convinced that that Dr. Fulton wanted us to walk this so that we could have the whole literature experience. They forced me to open my eyes and see the history in the buildings and all that was around us. Heather and I went to Abbey Road, where we took pictures crossing the street like the Beatles did. Michelle, Mark, Brand and I went to Platform 9 ¾ (from the Harry Potter movie) and posed with the cart. We ate fish and chips in a London pub. A large group of us tried to find the Sherlock Holmes Pub on the last night of the trip, but instead shared a crazy evening in Piccadilly Square and Soho. I walked across the famous Tower Bridge. I went to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. The parks in London were absolutely breathtaking. I walked through Green Park after my visit to the original Hard Rock Cafe. I also visited Hyde Park, as well as saw the memorial to Princess Diana in Kensington Park. The Study Away program does so much more for students than just take them on spring break to some place fun. I formed friendships with students I barely knew before crossing the Atlantic together. Now, when I see these students on campus I do not hold back. I say hi to them and converse a bit. I have opened my eyes to see the history in my surroundings. I feel this experience has allowed me to grow as an individual, as well as become more developed as a writer. I visited places I only knew before in books and fairy tales. I now understand what that professor last semester was talking about.

Western has made great strides, but are we missing something?

There have been some wonderful changes made at Missouri Western State University since I first began my articulations in the hallowed halls of Academia back in 1991. Missouri Western has made some real progress, and that should be applauded. We have had an enormous erection spring up in the center of campus with all these littler erections popping up all over the place now. I used to make my run for freedom on the last day of finals in hopes of giving the rent-a-pigs something fun to do that day. Security, back then, was not the real cops we have on campus today. Murphy Hall now stands where I drove my 1976 Dodge van tearing across the then open expanse between the English and Science Buildings. That kind of ruins an exit plan. In the last three years, we have had all these new administrative faces come in and troubleshoot the kinks in system. We now have definitive plans for things like graduate programs and new departments on the rise like Professional Studies. We have an Applied Learning Program that is raising the charts and letting us shine as a beacon of success to all the schools in the state. Missouri Western has done a really good job. However, we should not break out the bubbly just yet; we still have a ways to go. It seems weird to me that there are foreign language choices available to the area’s high school students than there are to us Griffons. Am I so odd for wanting to study Latin? With all trends showing the shape of the coming world economy, isn’t it an injustice that I can’t study Arabic or Chinese here at Western? Many high schools across the nation have a student-run radio station, broadcasting across the airwaves. Now, there is some applied learning for the bigwigs to consider. All we have to offer is dead air. It’s dead air. The true question is how long can we seriously be considered a university without a stronger graduate school? Back in my day of high school, admittedly this was 17 years ago, teachers told us that if we went to college, we could write our own ticket in the professional world. Turns out that it was a ticket for coach, not first class. Today, to have any real success that might let you lift your oppressed head above the middle-class red line you need a master’s degree. Can I get one here? Not yet. The good news is that the future holds a whole realm of possibilities, and maybe with our rising tuition we will see even greater improvements. We are off to a good start as a university, but let’s be the turtle not the hare, because we know what happens when we start napping.

Chiefs leave Western waiting for another year

Many people move places to get closer to home. For the Kansas City Chiefs, it seems that is not the case. The Chiefs have been talking about having training camp at Missouri Western for the last five years. They are worried about the size of Missouri Western’s building. Athletic director Mark Linder believes that is getting in the way. “They have concerns with the space of the locker room and the space available in the fitness room,” Linder said. The process of getting the Chiefs to Missouri Western has been long. The university has jumped through hoops to try to get the Chiefs to come here. The act of getting the Chiefs here is beginning to wear on Missouri Western. “It has been a long process,” Linder said. The door will always be open for the Chiefs to have training camp here at Missouri Western. A main reason for this is the economic impact the Chiefs would have if they came here. “The economic impact would be around $5 million per year for the city of St. Joseph,” Linder said. Not only would the economic impact be huge, but the exposure that Missouri Western would get could be really big for the university. Missouri Western could be recognized on ESPN and other local channels. Economics professor Patrick McMurry believes the exposure would benefit the university. “The recognition on television would help the status of Missouri Western,” McMurry said. There would be many visitors that would spend their money at businesses in the city. Many students at Missouri Western are Chiefs fans and would love to have their favorite team have training camp at their school. Junior Kyle Stone is a diehard Chiefs fan and thinks it would be great idea. “It would be pretty cool, especially since my boy, Bernard Pollard, would be up here,” Stone said. As of right now, the talks have stalled with the Chiefs, even though Missouri Western has gone out of its way to satisfy them. Though it seems unlikely, the possibility is still out there that the Chiefs will make Missouri Western their training camp home.

I see deaf people all over campus; and they wear iPods

I see them everywhere... People trekking across campus, oblivious to the world because they’ve got their headphones on and their iPod rocking. From the year 2005 to 2006, the number of people who own digital music players more than tripled, booming from eight percent to 27 percent. And why wouldn’t we love them? They allow us to escape life for a few minutes and enjoy something we love… while not having to do anything but press a button. The danger comes when we escape for longer than a few minutes. In fact, experts say that listening to music through earbuds for more than an hour a day can damage ears in a hurry. Earbuds are particularly harmful because they are inserted into the ear, dangerously close to the fragile inner ear. They are a far cry from resting on the outside of the ear like the foam-covered phones we all wore in the 90s whilst rocking out to Bon Jovi on our Walkmans. Aside from the impending hearing loss however, there lurks a larger and more disturbing issue in this writer’s opinion. It concerns me that my generation seems so desperate to escape the life that goes on around it. Everybody’s either got their ears plugged by earbuds or their mouth running to a friend over the phone. I’ll admit, I tend toward the organic. I believe that God intended life to be a certain way, and that way makes people the happiest. And I believe we’re very far from that way. We regularly consume MSGs and preservatives. We take the elevator instead of the stairs. Our children are obese while others around the world die from starvation daily. I sit for hours and stare at the television when I could be biking, gardening or just enjoying a sunset. I know it’s crazy to think someone might experience life in such a romantic, mindful way, but I believe that is what life is all about. By pumping high-decibel music into our ears all day, we are causing literal deafness in addition to the deafness of soul from which we already suffer. And while the damage we suffer from abusing our bodies might be permanent, the abuse our souls have undergone can be reversed over time. As The Verve would have it, it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life. Let’s unplug our ears and listen for it.

Sixth year MWSU senior goes for lucky number seven

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow collegiates and collegettes, I would now like to take this opportunity to notify everyone of my upcoming sexennial celebration – and that has nothing to do with making the “beast with two backs.” Instead it is the sixth anniversary of me ending a year of school without a degree. Why, you might be asking yourselves, would someone want to celebrate an event such as that? Is it a joke? A demented sense of accomplishment? A coping device to keep him from crying himself to sleep? All of the above? Maybe. For the purposes of this notification however, I am celebrating this landmark moment in my life so that others might fully understand what a great thing it is to be a second year red-shirt senior. And a great thing it is indeed. While some people might not agree – my parents, my adviser, basically anyone associated with higher education – they just haven’t taken the time to comprehend fully the positive aspects of degree abstinence. For example, by not following a logical, straightforward path towards graduation, I have had the opportunity to sample from the academic smörgåsbord at MWSU. And even though I might not have passed or otherwise finished all these classes, I still picked up enough tidbits of knowledge to impress friends and family. Seriously, how many people know the linguistic significance of the sentence “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously?” And those of you who do probably passed the class. My scholastic circuit has also allowed me to test my mettle by taking classes that were not only educational, but also physically challenging, like Beginning Golf. Without these extra years of education, I never would have brought my handicap to the sub-20 level. But I must admit, these last six years haven’t been all nose-to-the-grindstone. In the course of my collegiate half-decade, I have had the opportunity to make long-lasting friendships and long-term business connections. And while most of my business connections will have retired by the time I get around to being in business, I still might be able to get in good with their children. A major part of any good, non-doctorate six-year education plan is the amount of  supplemental education one can get by having a low paying part-time job. And my experience is no exception. My jobs have paralleled my level in school, starting with a few trips to the plasma donation center in the beginning, to the much revered dry-ice thrower in a wholesale warehouse. These jobs have taught me many things, in many scholastic subjects. For instance, my biology lessons were furthered by learning how losing the liquid content of blood lowers alcohol tolerance. I also increased my knowledge of physics by experimenting with dry ice, water and a 2-liter bottle. But most of all, being a Champion of the Chump Change has taught me that I really need to graduate and get a real job. Whether or not that occurs before my Sweet Septennial remains to be seen.