Preview: Boiler Con – a Purdue experience

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The wait is over – it’s finally time for Purdue’s annual Comic Con hosted by PSUB. If you’d like to go to an international and cultural event, don’t miss out on Boiler Con.

Boiler Con is a comic book convention that revolves around comic, manga and gaming. There will be, for example, video and card game tournaments, cosplay contest and DIY lessons. The event will feature guest speakers from popular anime series like “Fullmetal alchemist” and “Sailor Moon”. One of the topics they will discuss is the LGBTQ themes within “Sailor Moon”.

  • What? Boiler Con. More info and event times here.
  • When? April 9, 2:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
  • Where? Ballrooms, Purdue Memorial Union.
  • Who? Free for everyone.

Organizer Cheyenne Chaplain said anyone will enjoy the event because it has elements from different countries. For example, anime, which is a big part of Boiler Con, was developed in Asia.

“This event showcases international cultures and the huge impact that they have had on American pop culture,” Cheyenne said.

She also thinks the event is a great opportunity to meet new people who have the same interest as them, and to see what other people at Purdue are passionate about.

“If they are afraid to let their “nerdy” side show, this event shows them that it’s OK to let that side out of the closet,” Cheyenne said.

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Last year was the first Boiler Con. This time, PSUB expects 1500 people attending the event. 

 

 

Fun facts about Indiana

After studying at Purdue for almost two semesters, I realized I don’t know much about Indiana. I don’t know why I’ve never looked into that; maybe I assumed that Indiana is not very exciting compared to other places in the U.S. But now, a few weeks before I go back home to Sweden, it’s time to learn about the “Hoosier State”.

1. Santa Claus. Isn’t Santa Claus the coolest name of a town ever? This town in Indiana receives tons of Christmas letters, more than a half million every year. Also, my friend from there told me tourists go there because of the name only, and at first, the town didn’t have anything to offer, so they decided to build a theme park.

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2. Popcorn producer. We all know Indiana has plenty of corn, more specificly, almost half of the cropland is corn. Indiana produces more than 20 percent of the popcorn supply in the U.S. Salt, butter, chocolate, caramel – how do you like them? (P.S. I tried peanut butter popcorn. Gross.)

3. Weird laws. Indiana, like most states, probably, has odd laws. For instance, it’s illegal to catch a fish with dynamite, firearms, a crossbow or your bare hands. Darn it, my weekend plans are ruined…

4. The Harry Potter rumor. My roomie told me that the last book in the Harry Potter series was published in Crawfordsville, Indiana. But when I google it, I find nothing but rumors from 2007. So did it happen or not? I choose to believe my roomie; it would be awesome if my favorite book was published close to Purdue.

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You Americans out there were possibly already familiar with some of these fun facts, but I hope you learned a few new things about Indiana. If you know other fun facts about our state, feel free to share.

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Languages and personalities

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When I talked to my sister, who studied linguistics, on the phone last week, I told her that I wanted to write about languages on my blog. I said to her to tell me something interesting that I don’t know about languages. And she did. She said some people who know several languages change their personality depending on what language they are currently speaking.

I became curious about this, so I started doing some research. According to an article I found, people don’t only experience different personalities depending on what language they speak, but also different world views.

In the article, it is reported that people feel different depending on what language they speak, for instance, being more rude in a certain language. When I think about it, I think I’m more polite when I speak English than Swedish. I also think I’m more social and open-minded.

But it might not be the languages themselves that are the cause of changing personalities. One of the reasons the article provides is that people can be bicultural; they feel different depending on what language they are speaking because the languages are associated with different cultures. So the reason why I am more polite and open-minded when I speak English could be that those are the norms in the American culture.

The article also mentions a few advantages of speaking several languages. These are better performance at tasks involving planning and prioritizing, and a better defence against dementia. I have always thought knowing several languages is important, but it turns out it is beneficial in more ways I could imagine.

Being able to change personalities, or adapt to different cultures, is also an advantage to me. It tells me I have the ability to live, and maybe work, in different countries and develop my understanding of the world.

Same holiday, different traditions

Since Easter last weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions and how they differ between countries. I like experiencing another country and learn about their traditions, but it also makes me miss the Swedish ones.

It was shocking to learn that Americans celebrate Easter on Easter Day – in Sweden we do it the day before. I guess this shouldn’t have been surprising to me since I know Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day in the U.S., but in Sweden the big celebration is on Christmas Eve.

So why is it that countries celebrate on different days? It was very hard to find an answer, and I still haven’t found one about Easter, but the reason Sweden celebrates Christmas on the 24th is that a long time ago, a new day started at the sunset, not at midnight. I don’t know if the same explanation goes for Easter, too. If you know, please leave a comment.

It’s not only the day of celebration that differs between Sweden and America, but also how we celebrate. I told my American friends about how we celebrate Easter, and they looked at me like I was crazy.

On Easter Eve, kids in Sweden dress up as “Easter witches” or chickens, or something else that has to do with Easter. They go around the neighborhood and give Easter drawings they made themselves to their neighbors, and get candy in return. Basically, the Swedish Easter is our version of trick or treating, since Halloween is not a big thing over there.

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Kids dressed up as witches walking around the neighborhood on Easter. Source.

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The Easter witches come from an old Swedish folk belief about a witch who flies on her broom to “Blakulla” on Easter. The idea is based on the 1700th century, where there was a big concern about witches. The reason why it somehow became connected to Easter is unclear.

What I’ve heard from my American friends, the holidays here focus more on the religion itself, for example, they told me many people in the U.S. go to church on Easter. I think the religious aspect might be one of the biggest differences between the Swedish and American traditions. Even though Sweden celebrates religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, most Swedes do it because it’s tradition, without reflecting over religion.

Common ground for domestic and international students

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This past weekend International Programs hosted a soccer tournament for Purdue students, where every team had to include both domestic and international students, and both men and women. On Saturday, the first day of the tournament, 20 teams competed, but unfortunately not all of them were able to come back to Trec to play the second day.

20 teams is almost twice as many teams that joined the tournament last semester. Organizer Leighton Buntain said more teams than they hoped for signed up, so the event was a success.

“We meant to use soccer as a common ground to bring people from all over the world together,” he said.

Most teams played for fun, but some were more serious. A team that was a little bit of both was Colombo Combo, with members from Colombia, America and Albania. One of them, Colombian student Stiven Puentes, said it was a friendly atmosphere, but people were serious when they played.

“But it’s not like we have to win, it’s just for fun,” he said.

Stiven joined the tournament because he enjoys playing soccer. He likes that he got to play with and against people from different countries; he has never done that before. Before the tournament, he didn’t know everyone on his team very well, but he sure knows them better now.

“A team is like a family,” Stiven said. “We are going to be closer after this event.”

Spotlight: Kanupriya and India

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Exchange student Kanupriya Bhargava went to Tennessee for spring break.

Many Purdue students went to the coast on spring break. But Kanupriya Bhargava, an exchange student from India, didn’t want to spend the break on a beach; she wanted to do something adventoures.

“Going to Florida is really mainstream,” she said. “I wanted to do something not many people do for spring break.”

So Kanupriya went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to spend a few days in the mountains, hiking and white water rafting. The trip was arranged for international students by Bridges International. She didn’t know the people that signed up for the trip, but she thinks that is a good thing.

“If I went with friends I would have stuck to them, but now I was able to make new friends,” Kanupriya said.

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Traveling is one of the things Kanupriya enjoys as an exchange student. She has already been to San Fransisco, and Los Angeles and Miami are next.

“I want to explore as much of the U.S. as possible,” she said.

She suggests other exchange students at Purdue do the same. There is not a lot to do and see in the area, so she thinks exchange students should take the opportunity to travel. Also, she suggests they commit to trying to learn about the American culture. Don’t assume you know what the culture is like just because you’ve watched American movies, or you will be pretty shocked, Kanupriya said.

Do you want to study in India? Currently, Purdue has five departmental programs there: engineering, management and liberal arts.

Misconceptions and challenges about America

There are plenty of misconceptions about America, or any country for that matter. Some of mine were expecting random Americans to come up and talk to me for no reason, and that people don’t work out that much. This turned out to be false.

Some of the biggest misconceptions Europeans have about Americans are that they are not interested in learning other languages or living in another country, and they don’t learn about geography in school nor appreciate soccer.

Today I had a chat with a transfer student from China, Zifan Wu, to find out what his biggest misconception about the U.S. was.

“I though I would hate the hamburgers, but then I realized they are really good,” he said.

Zifan said before he came to America, people told him that he would not be able to find any good food – nothing beats the food of your home country. But then he tried American fast food, and he was hooked.

“The fast food in America is good enough to be an important part of your life,” Zifan said smiling. “I eat at McDonald’s twice a week.”

I went on asking Zifan about one of my misconceptions about America, that Americans are really open-minded and like to talk to strangers. He said Americans are indeed very friendly and easy to talk to, but it’s hard to become close friends with them and get involved in the American culture. He thinks the language differences are the reason behind it.

“You can see many Chinese students hanging out together and staying in their comfort zone,” Zifan said. “It’s hard to get to know Americans because we don’t speak as good English as they do.”

According to Zifan, the only opportunity he thinks he has to talk to Americans is in class, but that is not enough to become close friends. Living with American students might be the best way to actually get to know them and get involved in the American culture, Zifan said.

But if you don’t have American roomies, Zifan said a way to make it easier to get to know Americans is by improving your English. Maybe it’s easier to practice with other international students since they’re all in the same boat, but once you get more comfortable with your English, you should go talk to Americans.

Preview: Purdue World Cup Soccer Tournament

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Source. India, America, England, Germany and Italy represented in the soccer tournament last semester.

Hello Purdue, and welcome back from the spring break; I hope you had a great time. I spent a few days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, hiking and white water rafting. But that’s not what I want to talk about today – today we are focusing on soccer.

International Programs and the Latino Cultural Center are hosting a soccer tournament this upcoming  weekend. All Purdue students are welcome to join, and today is the last day to sign up.

  • What? Purdue World Cup Soccer Tournament.
  • When? March 26, 3 p.m.-7:30 p.m. and March 27, 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Where? TREC (behind CoRec).
  • How? Register today.

Every team must have five to ten players, and at least one of them has to be female, one has to be international, and one has to be American. This is a way to connect domestic students with international. If you want to join the tournament, but don’t have enough members on your team, email ipprograms@purdue.edu.

There will be prizes for the winners. My friends joined, and won, the tournament last semester and said it was a fun event. I will try to be there, and I hope to see you on the field or cheering on the side.

Spring break in the Midwest

Spring break means it’s time to leave campus and experience other parts of the U.S. If your are here on exchange, and your time in America is limited, you should definitely take the opportunity to travel.

If you’re going on a longer trip, you have probably already planned and booked it. But some people might not want to go on a long trip, or they couldn’t decide where to go so they ended up with not booking anything. For you people, I was looking for some interesting things to do in the area.

I found a website that is about the life in the Midwest, and one of the things it does is giving travel tips. There are a lot of different things you could do in the Midwest, and I’ll share a few of them:

  • Cities – You don’t have to go to New York City to experience a big city, they are right here in the Midwest. If you’ve already been to Chicago and Indianapolis, you could check out St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis has a great museum and a zoo.
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St. Louis Zoo. Source.
  • Small towns – Not everyone likes big cities; maybe you prefer to spend a couple of days in a charming town instead. One of the towns that is suggested on the website is Stockholm, Wisconsin, which I though was funny since Stockholm is the capital of my home country. But if you want to stay in Indiana, you could go to Nappanee.
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Nappanee, Indiana. Source.
  • State Parks – If you, like me, sometimes want a break from the city, or town, and just want to relax in the nature, there are many state parks in the Midwest to visit. There are some exciting parks in Ohio and Michigan, but you don’t need to look further than Indiana. Turkey Run State Park and Indiana Dunes State Park are two of the best parks in the Midwest, according to the website.
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Indiana Dunes State Park. Source.

No matter where you’ll spend your spring break, I hope you’ll enjoy it. I won’t be posting anything on my blog next week, but I will see you again after the break.

American vs. Swedish education system

The week before spring break is usually hectic for college students; there are projects and midterms, and all the regular homework at the same time. In the middle of the stress that arises from all the assignments I have to do, I started thinking about the differences between the education system here and in Sweden.

When people here ask me what the biggest difference is, I usually say that the education in Sweden is free. But when I think about it, there are a lot more differences, and they are huge. Here are five things about the American education system that are different from the Swedish one:

1. Focus on practice. One of the biggest differences between the Swedish and American education system, which is one of the reasons I wanted to study in the U.S., is that the American universities combine theoretical learning with practical training. My major is communication, and in the classes at my home university I only get to do academic things, whereas at Purdue I get to do practical things, such as producing video and television projects, and writing this blog.

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My classmates in television production get ready for producing a talkshow.

2. Classes are many and mandatory. In Sweden I used to have about three lectures every week, and they were not mandatory. The teachers don’t care what you do; it’s up to you if you want to learn and get good grades. I like the freedom, but you need to have some level of discipline because the learning is your own responsibility. But I don’t mind having to go to class here; for me it’s a way of hanging out with my friends.

3. Personal and interactive learning. The teachers in America are more personal, and they challenge you in a different way. I think one reason is that the classes are smaller in the U.S. But I also think it has to do with commitment. I feel that the teachers here are more willing to get to know and help the students. I like this personal atmosphere in the classrooms; it makes it more fun to learn.

4. Homework mania. Seriously, why do they give us so much homework in the U.S.? It feels like I’m back in high school! Joking apart, when I came to Purdue I was not used to having to do homework every day. In the Swedish universities we don’t get homework. Reading is suggested, but there are no reading assignments.

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5. Exams are frequent and short. I must say I love the exams in America. Since they are frequent, they are short, which means you don’t need to study a lot for them. In Sweden we usually have a huge final exam that covers everything, and it takes about four to five hours to take it. They give us a week off from school before the exam, just because there is so much to study. For the last exam I took before I came here, I had to learn four books, no study guide. Fun…

Even though the differences are big, I don’t think one way is better than the other, especially now that I’m used to the American system. What are the differences between the American and your country’s education system?