Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars

Last night I watched the Oscars ceremony for the first time in my life. Back in Europe it's to late to stay awake and watch it so I was used to see the winner's speeches the next day on the news. However, now that I'm in this country I went to a friend's house and got together to watched the whole thing. One of my friends had the brilliant idea of dressing up to make it more fun. Each of us had to chose a character, an actor, a movie or whatever that had to do with the Oscars 2011. I really wanted to be Woody from Toy Story, but I forgot the hat at home! Anyways, some of my friends were really funny. We had a doll from Toy Story, a girl dressed in red (yes, the red carpet!) and even a Justin Bieber fan (because she thinks he should have nominated just because!). As happened in the Superbowl, we had tones of food again... couldn't get better than that!

I had watched the whole ceremony before, but I guess this year they tried to make it more entertaining and dynamic, so the hosts were two young (and awesome) actors: James Franco and Anne Hethaway. I think they did a good job, even though many people say Anne wasn't that great. At least Franco looked quite natural, some of his comments even looked spontaneous to me. However, my favorite part of the night was the opening show. Both hosts broke into the best movies of the year, see it if you missed it!



One thing that surprised me about this event is how much expectation the red carpet has. Most of the people are more interested in seeing what the celebrities (specially female celebrities) are wearing than in the ceremony itself. We started watching it about one hour before it started. It was actually funny to see how silly most of the questions were. "So... were you happy to work with Darren Aronofsky?" how could someone answer anything other than yes to that question in that precise moment! Anyways, I must admit it was quite entertaining. 

I just realized I've said my favorite part was the opening show, but this is not true. My favorite thing was seeing Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. It's funny how being away from home makes you like whatever comes from home. When I saw both of them in the screen I actually felt happy that they are from Spain. I know how silly it sounds, but I felt proud of them. Javier Bardem was nominated as best actor for the movie Biutiful. I actually haven't seen it yet, because it's hard to find it in regular theaters. I guess I will have to wait and iTune it! I had seen all the other nominees' movies though. My favorites were 127 Hours and The Fighter, but I think it was fair that Colin Firth got it. The King's Speech was definitely brilliant. Nevertheless, again I felt so proud that an actor from Spain was nominated that I really wanted him to win (even though I haven't seen the movie yet!). 

These are the trailers for the two movies that I've liked the most this year, even though I think the competition was really tough. There have been many great movies: Black Swan, Inception, The King's Speech, Toy Story 3... but I would recommend you to see:

The Fighter


127 Hours


Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Writing in English

We are halfway through the 8th week of the Winter quarter, wow! Four weeks from now I'll be going crazy with the finals, they're just here! Apart from the exams, most of us will have a lot of papers to hand in. That's why today we had an extraordinary lecture in our Writing through Literature class. Pat Stabile, a reading and writing coordinator at Berkeley College, gave us a very helpful workshop on writing research papers and plagiarism. She gave us guidelines to write a proper research paper following the rules we are required to at Berkeley and avoiding plagiarism. It's always interesting to see how some formatting rules and writing issues are different from other countries and languages.

First of all, I'd like to mention the Academic Suport Center (ASC), which is located in the 13th floor of the B-Building in my campus (NYC - midtown). They provide you with any help regarding your academic issues. There are tutors available all the time to help students with the subjects they struggle with (from Mathematics to Accounting, Marketing, etc.). Moreover, for English and writing matters they have full time tutors available who are willing to help you improve these skills. Whatever your problem is, they will help you keep up with the good grades! I never had such a thing in any of the colleges I've been before and it is actually a great help for students, plus it's free of charge! If you're a Berkeley student, you might want to have a look at this service on Blackboard (you can book a tutor online, download guides, etc.):

"The Academic Support Center (ASC) at Berkeley College provides tutoring and helps students to achieve academic success by meeting with them on a regular basis to improve learning and study skills. Students can receive free tutoring in subjects such as Accounting, Computer Applications, English, Math, Reading, and Writing. On the ASC Web site on Blackboard, students can access a variety of handouts, presentations, and links about all of the above subjects plus some very useful information about study skills, such as time management and test taking."
 During the workshop, we were told how to get started with a research paper once we get the assignment. We were recommended to start asking us as many questions as possible: what do I know about the topic? what are the requirements for the assignment? what kind of information am I looking for? Where should I look for it?

The last question is very important. The sources we use are an essential part of the paper and they need to be reliable. It's very common for students to use Wikipedia, which is a good starting point because it might lead you to reliable sources; however, it's not valid as a source in our school (and in the majority of schools in America). Looking for information through the Internet is a little bit challenging. It is important to know who is responsible for the information and who is providing it. Pat Stabile gave us a clue on how to quickly detect if we can trust a web site or not: if it's a .gov (official statistics and this kind of matters) or a .edu (college studies, thesis...) they are both going to be valid sources. However, web sites ending in .com, .net or .org are questionable.

I personally think the best way to find sources is using the library. By using the library I mean not only going to the actual building, but also taking advantage of the digital data bases the school provides. We were told today about them and I have used them in my last quarter for my papers, they work perfectly! Part of our tuition is covering the subscription to these data bases, which are not free. Students can access them through Blackboard using our Berkeley ID; they are very convenient. Any document from any of these data bases is going to be accepted by any professor and you don't need to worry about who wrote it and if it's a reliable source. Moreover, I find it easier to find information about a certain topic than Googling it (Google is awesome, but it will give you thousands of invalid results while a data base will be more accurate). To find out about the databases you just need to go to Blackboard, Library and then you will find the list of databases classified by subjects or by alphabetical order. I recommend using ProQuest for general topics, I like the search options and I usually get what I want faster than with others. 

Finally, we talked about plagiarism. I find it funny/ridiculous how a student can hand in a copy-pasted paper. Because it's strictly punished by the school, it is better to avoid doing it by all means. I don't understand how people can copy something from someone and pretending the professor to believe it's your own work. However, it can happen that you want to refer to a source, but don't know how to do it. There are basically three ways to refer to a source avoiding plagiarism: paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting. Paraphrasing is the most common one. When you read one or several sources, you can say the same in your own words. Summarizing is the same but focusing on the main points of the source. Whenever a direct quotation is needed, it is acceptable to introduce it with the proper formatting. At any case, when using a source you are required to cite it. At Berkeley we usually work with the MLA format, which gives us the rules to cite properly. To get a detailed guide about how to cite and use MLA format, I encourage you to check this link: http://berkeleycollege.libguides.com/cat.php?cid=26262 where you will find guides for every single topic I mentioned in this post. They are really helpful... Have a great week!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Talented People

Before coming to the city, I knew I would meet very talented people. New York is a melting pot of everything and it's also a city full of opportunities for creative people. I've met singers, actors, fashion people, dancers... and the truth is that they are all really good in what they do. One of my friends, Andrea, dances at the Broadway Dance Center and she had a show there yesterday. The performers were all students from the BDC and it took place there in one of their studios.The school is just amazing, it's full of young dancers and you see people rehearsing everywhere.The show was very nice, especially when a friend is performing.

Everything in that center looks so professional. However, there are classes open to anyone who wants to learn. I recommend you to have a look to their site here. You can find information about their activities, classes and why not? If you're a dancer and you're interested, go for it!

"BDC offers many programs and workshops including our Children & Teen Program (CTP), International Student Visa Program (ISVP), The Professional Semester, Summer Intern Program, The BDC Training Program, Work-Study Program as well as many ongoing workshops such as our Absolute Beginner Workshops and Rockette Experience."


I mentioned before in this blog that the most important things of this kind of experiences is the people you share it with. There's something about New York that is bad and good at the same time: people here come and go. Most of the people I have met so far aren't staying here forever, like me. Some of them have already left, there are always new people arriving and at some point it will be me the one moving out. It's hard to get used to this situation, because you get close to people that sooner or later won't be with you anymore. However, the good thing is that it brings you the opportunity of opening your mind to new people, which is always enriching.

The reason I'm thinking about it now is that this weekend we have a visit from one of the good friends who left the city last semester, another talented guy from Canada who is just a genius! It's been very nice to get together this weekend with the people I met in the dormitory when I arrived to NYC (even though there weren't all of them). In this last two years I have met people from many different places around the world and I could say I'm already a little bit used of this situation. Moreover, thanks to the technology and the Internet, it feels like people never really leave and it feels great to meet these people again.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, I guess most of you are free tomorrow (I remind Berkeley College classes are canceled for the President's Day). Enjoy the extra day off! I leave with a tip that I'm using a lot lately to find cool things to do in New York. I recently started using Twitter, I've actually had it for a long time but never really knew how it worked until the last weeks. If you follow "@pulsdJFK" you are going to get real time updates about what's going on in the city, what cheap or free events are taking place every day and much more, check it out!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Run, José, Run!

Good news: the weather is finally getting better in the city! It's not that nice yet, but it's changing gradually. Today is has been great, sunny and warm. New York is a city that allows you to have a very healthy life if you want to, but there are too many temptations to forget about that lifestyle. The sunny day was the perfect excuse to go running. I used to do that in summer, but stopped as soon as the cold season started. I went running once during winter and I didn't felt that was a safe thing to do. However, today I woke up full of energy and decided to go back on track! 

At the beginning I felt like if I was a grandfather, just breathless! But then somehow my energy came back and I was able to run  longer than I expected. I usually go running by the Hudson River in the lower west side of Manhattan. There's a very nice walk in that area (I do from West St. and Chambers St. up) and when the weather is nice you see nothing but people doing exercise, running, cycling, etc. I guess the atmosphere is what keeps me going. Good weather gives me positive thoughts, but seeing so many other people doing the same also contributes. Another good place to run is Central Park, which I will save for later, when the weather really allows me to get up there.

There are many ways in NYC to do exercise. I've done yoga a couple of times in two different places, and both of them are great. This discipline is very popular here and I'd like to talk about a yoga studio that offers a really cheap way to practice it in the city. It's called Do Yoga Do Pilates, and it's located in Tribeca. You can check it here (http://www.doyogadopilates.com):

"Yoga and pilates lovers can now do 'downward-dog' and 'the hundred' for hundreds less, thanks to Do Yoga Do Pilates, a new donation-based studio situated at 78 Reade St. between Broadway and Church in the heart of Tribeca."
As it's said in their mission statement, Do Yoga Do Pilates is a donation-based studio, which means there is no fixed fee for the classes. They have a suggested donation of $12 (which isn't that bad for New York), but everyone is free to pay more or less. I have gone to other donation-based studios and I was really happy with that. There are usually more people than in a regular studio, but you save a lot and the atmosphere is always good. This one offers different classes everyday, weekends included. You can check the class schedule in their website and the exact address is 78 Reade St. (between Broadway and Church). 


It's amazing how the city comes alive when the weather is warm. The restaurants opened their terraces for the first time in months. It was nice to walk around the village and see people hanging out outside. Some time ago I blogged about the effects of bad weather, well now I see the opposite effects with the good weather and I liked it. I feel a lot more energy and I am genuinely happy that the spring is really close! Can you believe on Monday we start week 8 already? If times keeps going by so quickly, I see myself wearing flip flops before I can even notice. I hope you all felt the positive vibe of the sun and enjoy this long weekend we have!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

United Nations Association of the USA

In the meeting for the Model UN program this week, we have been going into detail with the preparation guidelines from the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNAUSA). I had been looking mostly at the official background guides, which are more specific with each committee. However, UNAUSA offers concise guidelines regarding every single aspect of the program.The website (http://www.unausa.org/mun) is a great source for participants. I believe preparation is the key to success, and I think being prepared is the only way to really enjoy this experience. Ever since I enrolled the program, I've had difficulties trying to explain what it is to other people who have never heard of it. Now that I have explored this site in detail, I think it's the perfect reference for those students who wonder about the program and are afraid of participating because of a lack of information. Just check it out!

"Saving the world in 96 hours or lessIn Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization's agenda. Students make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the conference rules of procedure - all in the interest of mobilizing "international cooperation" to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world." (UNAUSA)
There is also a video about the event that talks about the program in full detail. Check it out if you have 7 spare minutes! 


The most useful part of the site is the preparation guide. It's divided into the different aspects we need to work on to become good participants. They're just the same aspects that Dr. Weinstein and Dr. Bedi want us to work on. Let's see them one by one, I'll try to make clear the fact that participating in the Model UN is not impossible even if you have no idea about how it works.
  • Research Overview: I think this is one of the most difficult things. You receive your country and then what? Where do you start looking? How do you know the position your country has for each issue? In this section of the site, there are clear and helpful instructions on how to do a research for the Model UN program.
  • Country Assignments: once everyone in the team knows about the country and the different topics that will be treated on each committee, the next step is to distribute the students into the different committees. We actually didn't have a hard time with that and reached an agreement quite quickly. However, in this section there is some help on how to distribute the committees.
  • Position Papers: this is the part we are at now. It's just a paper we have to send (one per each committee) stating our position on each topic. It's just a short paper, but it is very helpful. If we make a good research, and write a good position paper, we will already know what our country has to say regarding every issue in the real debate. The only way to do it correctly is collecting as much information as possible, so that we have arguments for every single word we say.
  • Flow of the Debate: extremely helpful! One of the biggest doubts when I started this whole thing was "will I know what's going on?" well, I can't say "yes" yet, but this section helps a lot understanding how a debate works. It explains all the parts of each session, starting from the roll call to the final vote.
  • Public Speaking: it is obvious that we need strong public speaking skills. There are many participants and we will have a few seconds to speak. We need to be confident and be able to say everything we want to say in that short period of time. This section of the site has tips and guidelines for different types of speeches. I'd say it's a must!
  • Rules of Procedure: here we can find out how we are expected to behave in each situation. I think it's very important that we all have it clear, because all of us are coming from different countries and sometimes what we think it's polite turns out to be rude in a different place. This section has all the rules we need to know and it even includes class activities with the vocabulary we need to use, the procedures we need to know etc.
  • Caucusing: it is the informal debates that take place during the event. They are very important because countries need to get together to be stronger. In this section there are tips on how to set a good strategy in caucusing, which is known to be one of the most important parts of the UN simulation!
  • Writing Resolutions: it was one of the most difficult things to understand for me. I have never studied any subject related to this topic and I found myself a bit lost with it. Who are the sponsors and signatories? What kind of clauses do we need to include in a resolution? This is where I think I need to put more effort in. This section is really concise and there are tips and steps to follow when writing a resolution.
  • Dressing for Success: finally, even if it might sound silly after talking about writing resolutions, participants need to know how to dress for the event. You don't want to be noticed because of the way you've dressed but because of what you have to say. That is why it is important that everyone knows the dressing rules, even though they are quite logical and reasonable. In this section of the site there is a chart divided into females and males with the guidelines.

Wow, now that I have gone through each aspect one by one it seems to be a lot of work! However, we have already covered many of these aspects and we are learning so much from it. I'm glad that we still have a lot of time to get prepared. I also wanted to encourage students from other schools to participate in the program. In the website I've been talking about in this post, there is a section called "How to Start a Model UN Club" that will help you organize it if your school isn't participating yet! Have a great week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recyclemania!

I know this might sound a bit weird. It's Valentine's day and this kid is blogging about garbage.  Connections? I'm actually happy that it finally is 14th of February, even if it's only because from now on there won't be more heart-shaped stuff in every single store. Moreover, I'm happy to say that we are in week 7 already and I did my last midterm exam today. It was a long week, but we're finally here!

I was checking the Blackboard this morning and one of my professors sent us something about the environment that had little to do with the subject itself. I read it and I was actually quite surprised! It's about a project called "Recyclemania" that will be going on this month in the school, including all the campuses. This project tries to encourage people to recycle and reduce garbage, since apparently Americans create 4.5 pounds of it every day! Recyclemania will take 8 weeks (it started last week and will last until the end of March). During these weeks, the campuses of the school will compete to see who can recycle, reuse and reduce more. See the video where it explains what this whole thing is about in a more entertaining manner than my broken English:


 
The whole thing has a section in the school's website, you can check it in this link: http://www.berkeleycollege.edu/greenpath.You can see everything the school is doing about the environmental issue, not only with this project. If you're interested in this topic, the website gives a lot of sources as well. It even gives the students the opportunity to send suggestions about how to become more sustainable. You can also read the newsletter for this month here and you'll find updated information about everything the school is doing:

"The problem is that trash is still being created. The population is also increasing. So while each person is creating a bit less and recycling a bit more, overall humans are still making more trash than ever before. We tend to throw it away and forget about it. However, trash does not just go away. It goes somewhere, and that somewhere is getting closer."

Personally, I had no idea about this topic before I got the message from my professor. I must admit that I'm positively surprised that the school is taking action on that. When I arrived to America, one of the biggest shocks for me was to find so much garbage everywhere. Not that in my country we don't create it, but we keep it in big containers that are located in the streets so you don't see it. However, if you walk around New York in the evening, you will find garbage bags in the streets... a lot of them. Moreover, people here are usually in a rush at lunch time and get food to take away, which means plastic boxes, bags, forks, napkins, more bags, cans... And I guess most of it isn't being recycled. I think it's a great project and if only it helps making people become aware of the environmental issue, it will already be worth it!

I encourage everyone to participate. If people start participating and taking it as a "game", some habits might change forever and everyone's little actions count! This project doesn't ask you that much, it is actually easier than it seems. For example, just with the BYOB thing (Bring Your Own Bottle, Bring Your Own Bag) you are already participating, and I don't think this is a hard thing to do. When I think about how many plastic bottles and plastic bags I throw away each week, it actually makes sense to think about a reusable bottle and bag. Check out the links for more information and have a happy week!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Food and the City

These days many people from Europe are coming to visit the city. I guess it is because this is the break between semesters in our universities there. This is one of the cool things of living here, you can be sure that sooner or later someone you met before in a different country will come to visit the city! There's something people always ask when you live here: cheap and nice places to eat. There are a few places around the city where I go quite often and I always recommend. Now that many people are coming to the city and considering that Monday is the lovers day (and many of you will have to invite someone for dinner!) I figured is a good time to talk about those places. 

Peep
It's located in Soho, 177 Prince St. This is by far my favorite place! It's a Thai food restaurant.The restaurant is really cool, the decoration is fancy and the atmosphere is always nice. Moreover, the price value is unbeatable. They have great deals for lunch on weekends. In fact, I would recommend you to go there any Saturday or Sunday for brunch! They have a deal for about $10 which includes an appetizer, a main course and a drink. I usually get the grilled salmon meal, which is just delicious! And the Thai Ice Tea for drink, it's a very interesting flavor. It's definitely a nice place where you would expect higher prices for what you get. Plus they usually have the happy hour thing for drinks for those who are in a party mood in the afternoon! Here's the website if you want to look at it (http://www.peepsoho.net/home.html).



Zeytinz
If you are around midtown in a rush, I'd say this is the place to eat. It's located by Bryant Park (24 west, 40th St.), which is really close to my school. I usually go there on a daily basis during my school days for lunch. Here you will find a huge variety of food, from Sushi to Turkish kebab, Mexican burritos or Indian food. In the main floor there are salad bars, home made cuisine stands, pastry, etc. It looks like a huge deli. Once you get your food, you can sit upstairs, the whole floor is full of tables and it has a cool view facing Bryant Park. During the weekdays, the place is always packed up for lunch. It is nice to see how it looks like a cheap deli, but it's full of fancy business people gathering there.  You can find a delicious and decent meal for less than $10! This is difficult to find around that area... They also have a web site to have a look on what they offer, check it here (http://www.zeytinz.com/).

Vapiano
This is a chain of Italian food restaurants, and I just love it! The reason I went to the one in NYC is because I used to go there very often in Tallinn, Estonia. The one there was close to my place and it looked exactly the same as the one here (except that the prices here are three times what I paid in Tallinn!). When you enter to the restaurant, you receive a card where they will charge you everything you order. When you want to leave, you don't have to ask for the check. You just show the card in the exit counter and pay there. Ordering isn't traditional neither. You order the food directly in the kitchen and they will give you a gadget that will start buzzing when your meal is ready. I would recommend to have pasta. They make it fresh, in fact they cook it in front of your eyes and it is delicious. I would recommend the fusilli with funghi sauce... and I stop recommending meals from this place because I'm actually getting really hungry as I type it! Depending on what you order  I'd say the price will range from $15 to $22, but the price value is really good here. Check the website (http://www.vapianointernational.com/vapiano/).

2 Bros Pizza
It's the end of your trip and you're almost broke? This is the place! It's not appropriate for a romantic dinner, cross it out from your Valentine's night places. There are 2 Bros Pizza all over the city and this is the best pizza deal. It's just 1$ for a plain slice and they have offers with soda cans. It's not a place for gourmets, but it can save you from starving when you're on the go! There's one in 8th Avenue and 37th Street that was very close to where I was staying and it was open until very late, it saved me from those busy nights when I didn't have any food in the room and wanted something fast and cheap!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

F-1 Employement

I attended a workshop about the employment opportunities for F-1 visa students this weeks at school. It was given by K.Rosal, who gave us really useful information. There are many things that are confusing for international students regarding this topic. Are we allowed to work? If so, how, where and when? Are we allowed to work after we got our degree? Can we get paid internships during our studies in the US? All these questions were answered during the meeting and I'm going to try to summarize the most important parts. However, since we didn't have time to discuss everything we wanted, we were told that there will be another one soon.

First of all, we made a distinction between what degree and major means. For non-English speakers, it might be confusing and cause problems when interviewing for any kind of job. The degree is the "level" of your studies, for example, in my case my degree would be "Bachelor" (it could be Associate's, Master, etc.). Then the major is your field, which in my case is "International Business". We were told that at the beginning because many students say "my degree is International Business", which would be incorrect. 

Another issue it the Social Security Number and the working authorization. Students will get the first one whenever they get their first paid job. However, having a Social Security Number doesn't mean the student has the right to work, it has to be complemented by the working authorization. However, the requirements change depending on the kind of employment we are talking about. Let's get started with the employment options for F-1 visa owners:
  • On-campus job
This is the easiest way to get a job for international students. The working authorization is not required, it is the college that will allow you to work and will assist you to get the Social Security Number. The restriction for this kind of employment is that it can only be a part-time job. The student can work up to 20 hours a week during the school period.  There is no need to wait until the 3rd quarter has been completed in this option.
  • International organizations
The international department of the school can provide you a list with certain international organizations that allow international students to work for them while being in F-1 status. The challenge here is that the working authorization is required. To get this authorization, the student needs a job offer, but the whole process might take several months. It is hard to find an employer who is willing to wait these months until you can start working. However, if the employer is able to wait for your authorization, you can work up to 20 hours a week after you have completed 3 quarters at school. 
  • Economic hardship employment
This option allows the student to work in a part-time job (up to 20 hours a week) in any kind of company after receiving the working authorization. However, to apply for this option, the student has to present compelling reasons that prove the financial situation has changed and it is necessary to work to be able to stay in the US. This option is available after having completed 3 quarters at the school and the whole process might take several months.
  • Unpaid positions
There are many internships that are unpaid, as well as some volunteer positions. For this option, the student does not need approval. The Social Security Number is not required neither. Even though this option doesn't allow you to get money, it is a good start point to gain experience in your field and it's recommendable because you might use this experience in your resume when looking for a paid job. 
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
This option allows the student to get paid in an internship. It lasts an academic quarter and it's done before graduation. It can be both, part-time or full-time positions. The job must be related to your studies and it's part of your academic curriculum. We were recommended to benefit from that the very last quarter of our degree, which is quite logical considering it can give you a job opportunity once you get your degree. To apply for it, students must fill in some forms that are available in the international department, which will assist students regarding this issues.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Finally, the Optional Practical Training allows students to work 12 months after having received their degree. The position must be related to the student's major as well. The process might take several months, so it's recommended to apply three months before graduation. This option extends the F-1 status even if the visa has expired. The OPT starting date is chosen by the student, and can be up to 60 days after having received the degree. From the starting point, the student will have 3 months to find a job. The student will be allowed to work until the OPT expires. After that date, to continue working for that company, the employer has to sponsor the student to get another visa. However, additional 12 OPT months can be given after completing a higher degree in the US. For example, a graduate student who just got a Bachelor, can use 12 months and then study a Master's degree. After that one is completed, the student can get 12 additional OPT months. 
    We also spoke about the challenges we, as international students, might have to fight when trying to get into the job market. First of all, the employers might not be familiar with the immigration issues. As a tip, we were told that we should be confident on explaining them the options we have. Moreover, the immigration issues are always a complicated process that might take long time. The biggest challenge is that the permissions are usually temporary and employers might be afraid of hiring someone who won't be able to stay for a long time. To overcome the challenges, we were recommended to improve our English skills as much as possible to be able to communicate effectively and to do as much networking as possible, which is always the best way to get into the job market in this country. I hope the information here will be useful for international students and don't miss the next workshop at Berkeley College!

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Cool Events at the NYC Campus

    I'm in a very happy mood today because I just did two midterms today. I had the Body Mind and Accounting exams, which had quite a lot to study. Now there's only one more left on Monday so I feel very released now. I was happy with the exams, which means that hopefully I won't get a negative surprise. Anyways, now it's time for me to relax a little bit and forget the exams stress for a while. It seems the school did it on purpose, but there so many fun things going on tomorrow in the NYC campus! Let me tell you about them because I'm sure many students will be interested in some of them, pay special attention to the workshop if you're an international, it will be definitely useful. 

    Employment Workshop for Internationals
     
    "Come learn about F-1 Employment options, learn how to market yourself to employers, and learn what you can do now to prepare yourself for the job market." Link to the Facebook event here.

    In this event, those international students like myself that have an F-1 status will get useful information. Our role in the job market is subjected to many conditions that might be confusing. I'm definitely attending this one and I will try to blog about all the information that can be useful for the international students in America. The workshop will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 9th) in the B Building (41st Street and 5th Avenue) in the room B202 at 12pm.

    Berkeley College Celebrates Black History Month with Art by John Mubiru
     
    "In celebration of Black History Month, Berkeley College is exhibiting the work of artist John Mubiru at its New York City Midtown Campus Gallery, First Floor Lobby, 3 East 43rd Street. This exhibit will be on display from February 1 through 28--Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Mr. Mubiru will hold a student seminar on Wednesday, February 9 at 3:00 pm, followed by an artist’s... reception from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. All events are open to the public." Link to the Facebook event here.

    I love art, it;s one of my biggest passions. I even used to work in an art museum back in Barcelona! This exhibit looks pretty amazing. There are going to be some events with the artist himself at the Lobby of the 43rd Street building. Unfortunately I can't make it to the student seminar that Mr. Mubiru is holding tomorrow at 3pm (in the Lobby as well) because I'll be in class at that time, but there is a reception later on from 5:30 to 7:30pm which is actually a good excuse to stay in the school after classes! Anyway, the exhibit will be there until the end of February, so there's still a lot of time to see it. Check the Facebook link (previous paragraph) for more information about the artist!
     
    Karaoke Day
     
    "The Music Club of Berkeley College in connection with H.O.L.A ( Hispanic Organization for Latin Americans ) Club Invite you to the first Karaoke of 2011 of Berkeley College . Come and show the support remember we make the school what we want it to be if we provide change." Link to the Facebook event here.  
     
    Finally, the Karaoke event! It looks like it's going to be a lot of fun and there's not much more to say. The organizer says there's no need to have musical experience (which means that people singing like I do wouldn't be thrown tomatoes to stop performing). It will take place in the SAC center (43rd Street Building) at 4pm. I think it's a great idea to chill after classes in the middle of the midterms, good job Music Club! 
     
    Finally, as every Wednesday the Model UN team is meeting tomorrow in room B404. Now that I see everything that's going on tomorrow it feels a little bit overwhelming, but I'm definitely trying to attend as much as possible! I wish you the best luck if you're still dealing with the midterms and have fun tomorrow!  

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    My First Super Bowl!

    Another weekend is gone and the midterms week is about to start. Which means we are halfway through the quarter. I spent most of the time this weekend being a good boy and studying for my Accounting exam, which I can't wait to get over with! However, as usual, there's always time for fun. This weekend there was something big going on in America: the Super Bowl! I must say I have (or better I hadn't) any idea about American football, since soccer takes it all in Spain. But I was actually excited about this event because I've been hearing a lot about it and I know it's a big thing. It's been great to live it here and compare it to the big soccer games we have back home, which have little to do with this.

    The plan was to watch it at some friend's place while eating good junk food. I was actually more excited about that part, we had so much food (so much!). We ordered chicken wings, which I assumed is the typical thing for such a night, and I loved it. We might have ordered way too much, plus we also had snacks and desserts (some of them were actually homemade, I have very nice friends!). I was very happy surrounded by such healthy food.


    I can't say I understand everything about American football now, because I obviously don't, but I did learn a lot. However, there is something that drives me crazy and it might be just because I'm used to soccer. They stop the game every few seconds! Here's the thing, in soccer they play for 45 minutes, have a 15-minute break and then again 45 more minutes in a row, no stopping. Here there are pauses all the time, which are quite long and even have commercials. Nevertheless, in the seconds that they are actually playing, a lot of action goes on, whereas in soccer it's 45 minutes  with the ball and might get boring at some points.

    One thing I realized about the Super Bowl, the game is not the only thing going on there. Actually most of us were more excited about the show, the half time performance, the commercials, etc. than excited about the guys running. I was amazed by how spectacular this whole thing is. People have a lot of expectation for the commercials. Because companies pay crazy amounts of money to be advertised there,  they put a big effort on making the commercials as fun as possible for people to enjoy them. Here's an example of one of these from tonight, it's a Doritos' commercial:



    There are commercials going on all the time during the whole game. However, the most entertaining part was the performance in the half time. This year it was a great one, by Black Eyed Peas , Slash and Usher. It's been just spectacular. The whole stadium turned into a big concert for a few minutes. The stage was awesome (at the beginning it's just an O, and at the end the whole stage is shaped with the word LOVE), there were hundreds of dancers, fireworks... pure American show! I wish they had these kind of performances in Spain for the soccer league, but I guess this is not going to happen there. I know many people think Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas wasn't good tonight, but for me the whole performance was amazing. It must be very difficult to sing live in such a huge stadium, with such a huge crowd, while dancing and handling with all this pressure. It was very entertaining and even Usher was there with his OMG song! I couldn't believe that they set up all this show within a few minutes. Good for them! Here's a video of the performance:



    Since I'm not that into American football, that was my favorite part of the event! However, I think the best part about these sport events is watching them with friends and having a good time. It really reminded me of the big games back home, except that this time I didn't have my father and my brother (big soccer fans) screaming by my side! It was a good night and a good way to disconnect from the exams for a while. I hope you all had a nice weekend and good luck this week!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    The Good UN Delegate


    In yesterday's Model UN meeting we got great news from Dr. Weinstein and went one step forward on becoming a well prepared delegate. It was only a few of us due to the weather conditions, hopefully we'll be able to meet with the whole group next week. The good news is that Dr. Weinstein contacted Botswana's mission, the real one in New York City, and they seemed to be ok with us meeting them! Now Professor Bedi will need to send a formal letter, because this is how these things work, and I hope we will receive an answer soon. 

    Becoming a delegate in the Model UN for the first time might seem really difficult. At least that's how I saw it a few months ago. However, there are many sources out there to get ready for it and once you see everything it doesn't look that much complicated (I'm not saying it's easy anyway!). The website that is providing more help for delegates in my opinion is http://www.nmun.org/. I talked about it before, when we got assigned the committees, because they have great guides for each of them. Nevertheless, they have tips, backgrounds, resources and all kinds of help to get ready for the event. For those who missed the session, it's time to start looking at all the material we have there and for those who wonder if they should join the team for the next season, I would suggest you to have a look at everything you get and you will feel more confident about it. 


    There is a section called "Tips for preparation" that is very interesting and even if you are not participating you might want to have a look at it. I'm sure it will encourage people to join the program! It's from the website cited above (see it here). In the introduction it explains how useful the Delegate Preparation Guides are:

    "How to Prepare
    The key to being a successful NMUN delegation, and a quality overall conference, is thorough preparation. The NMUN Delegate Preparation Guide is an excellent resource. Although specifically prepared for the NMUN-NY conference, delegates participating in any of NMUN’s conferences will benefit from the suggestions for researching:

    • The structure and history of the United Nations
    • Your assigned member state
    • Research your committee
    • Your role in the committee
    • Your agenda topics beyond what is written in the background guides
    This research will help you prepare your position paper outlining your member state’s policies towards the agenda topics."

    After overviewing the material we have to work on, Dr. Weinstein gave us some new vocabulary to use during the event. I think it's important for us to work on it because, first of all, we are all international students and English is not our native language, and then because we want to behave properly in front of everyone! For example, how do we address to the chair? That would be "Honorable chair"! We need to feel confident in speaking, that's why we need to train our public speaking skills and our vocabulary. Because we will have a time limit since there are so many countries participating. Apparently, the maximum time we will get is 90 seconds, so we really need to be able to fit in such short time all the ideas we want to be heard by the others.


    Now that my research on the African Development Bank committee has already started, I will be writing about it soon. However, I'm still in midterms period and first thing first, there's time for everything after all! I wish you good luck if you are in the same situation, have a great weekend!


    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Enrolled!

    We are in the middle of the 5th week, which means the registration for the Spring quarter is already open. I think it is because of the registration that I feel the quarter is almost gone. We are only halfway, but thinking of what subjects I will take during the Spring quarter makes me feel in such a rush. Moreover, the midterms are approaching. I guess most of Berkeley students, like myself, are having them around next week. Nevertheless, thanks to the self service system, registration doesn't give me a lot of headaches. Let me tell you about it.


    I'm not sure if all American colleges work the same way, but definitely not in my country. Back home I used to follow a course schedule planned by the administration and it wasn't flexible at all. In fact, I would know from the first day of class which courses and which time table I would have for the rest of the academic year. At Berkeley College students choose the subjects and schedules quarter by quarter. I love it, because it allows me to plan it according to my situation (internships, part-time jobs, family, etc.) as well as deciding what subjects of my degree I want to take each time. 

    At the beginning I was a little bit confused by the fact that I wasn't meant to follow a plan made by somebody else. I thought I would mess it and take the wrong subjects. However, the reality is that this is not going to happen and registering for each quarter is actually very easy in my opinion. The registration is done online by the students. We use a tool called the Student Self Service which tells you the registration date and gives you and overview of your degree. The subjects are divided in different types, in my case I have to satisfy different requirements in:  "Major Courses (International Business)", "Business Courses", "Business Electives", "English" and "Liberal Arts" (which are divided in different fields as well). That way it's very easy to see what you've already done and what you still have to do. Then you just need to look for the time each course takes place at and build your own schedule. It takes time to get used to it and to figure out the schedule, but it's worth it considering how flexible it is. For example, in my case I feel like doing Business Courses right now, so most of the subjects I chose are from this type. I'm happy that I could work out a good time table which is more or less the same hours I'm doing this quarter.

    One more thing about Berkeley College and the Internet! Because this season is full of snowstorms, the school might be closed at some point. There is a link that tells you the situation of each campus so that you don't happen to go there when the classes have been cancelled. Check it out here. However, after checking this site I would also check  the Blackboard. Berkeley students know what I mean, because we use it as much as Facebook! For those who wonder, the Blackboard is the online tool we use for the school. It's the space where our professors post the assignments, announcements, discussions, material and grades. I honestly think it's such a useful tool. I've been in two other colleges in Europe where they also had some kind of virtual space with the same purpose, but was never as effective and helpful as the Blackboard. 

    That's it about the Internet and Berkeley for today! I think it's very interesting to see how organizations take advantage of the cyber space and I'm glad that my school is doing a good job with it. Now it's time to organize myself for the imminent midterm exams, wish me luck!