Soccer Tricks and Winter Wishes~

I know many of you have probably come across some of the awesome videos posted by our Bulldogs goalkeeper Lassi Hurskainen, but I thought that sharing this video would be a good final blog post before the break.  My brother is a Mass Communication major here at UNC Asheville, and does work with Lassi filming athletic events on campus.  He recently mentioned that he was helping Lassi film another short movie showcasing his athletic abilities, so of course I couldn't wait to see what they came up with.  If you're not familiar with Lassi's videos, these should catch you up to speed (and amaze you). 
So, as you can see, this guy is brilliant!  The UNC Asheville Bulldogs have been lucky to have such a talented keeper, and will miss him next season (he's a senior)!  But, that doesn't mean he has to stop making videos, right?  The latest video, which is called "Saving Christmas," is just as entertaining as the ones above, and perfect for the winter season.  I hope you all feel the same way and have a safe, warm, and enjoyable December.  Since the fall semester is officially over, I'm taking a break from the blog, but check back in January to see what I've been up to in Asheville!  Until then~  


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Chinese at UNCA

Can you guess what's been on my mind all semester?  Chinese.  That's right, Chinese.  Although I studied abroad in South Korea this past summer, I've been studying Chinese since my return. This semester marks the first time that UNC Asheville has offered classes in the Chinese language.  How exciting is that?  I am so happy that we've decided to expand our repertoire to include a language that is as unique as it is relevant; when I saw the fall 2011 course catalog during registration last spring, I immediately signed up for elementary Chinese.  (That, and I needed to take a foreign language to fulfill the foreign language competency requirement for graduation.) 

So, how was the experience?  In a word, intense.  We had to memorize each character, its stroke order, meaning, tone, and Romanization--it's a lot to keep up with!  Over the past few months, I have found myself writing these characters in the margins of my notes for other classes, sometimes inadvertently, as I tried to remember everything.  Now, just because I characterized the class as "intense" doesn't mean that I did not enjoy it.  On the contrary, Chinese class is one of the few classes that I always looked forward to, even on days when we had tests.  The reason for this is our teacher, who is enthusiastic, kind, and truly dedicated to helping us learn.  When learning a foreign language, especially one so different from English, it can often be embarrassing to practice oral communication skills. However, I never felt embarrassed or unwilling to speak in class because our professor is so encouraging and reassuring.  Professor Li created a warm, safe environment for us to explore Chinese, and I am so grateful for the experience.  I really wish I could continue to study Chinese at UNC Asheville, but I am graduating in May, so I have only one semester left before I go.

Coming to UNC Asheville in the future?  Then I'd strongly consider you to try your hand at Chinese.  You'll find yourself thinking of language in a new way, and will encounter a warm community of fellow language learners.  You might also consider completing a minor in Asian Studies while you're at it! 


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Holiday Treats

With exams about halfway finished (the final exams will be held on Wednesday), and my senior thesis successfully completed, I thought that today might be a good day for me to take a break from studying and relax.  Something that always helps me unwind and relieve stress is baking, something I've been doing a lot of this semester.  Blueberry pie, apple pie, brownies, cookies, muffins--I have made all of these since school started in September, and I'm not sure if this is more reflective of my academic stress or my culinary productivity!  In any case, I thought it might be fun to share one of my favorite recipes with you all in case you're feeling stressed or looking for a tasty snack to share with friends.  It's easy to make and delicious, a definite win-win! 

What you'll need: 
Square pretzels (waffle-weave style)
Hershey's Kisses

Preheat oven to its lowest setting (anywhere between 150 and 170 degrees)
While oven is heating, spread pretzels on a cookie sheet, unwrap the Hershey's Kisses, and place one Kiss on each pretzel.
When oven is finished heating, put the pretzels in for about 5-7 minutes, or until the Kisses are pretty melty.  Some kinds of Hershey's Kisses take longer than others to melt, and some (like the ones with caramel or cherry filling inside) are just wrong for this project.  
Remove tray from oven and quickly press an M&M into the center of each Kiss.  You've got a limited window of time to do this, so have your M&Ms ready to go.  
When you've finished, put the tray in the refrigerator or freezer to let them cool off and set.  When they've hardened, you can dig in!
The combination of sweet and salty makes this treat pretty addictive, and if you play your cards right (give them to your friends, family, or coworkers), can even help boost your popularity!  Also, they're so small that it's easy to take them with you to the library or, if you're sneaky enough, to an exam!  Enjoy~

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Exam Breakfast

As much as we may dread exam week, which is now upon us and in full swing, one of the the best things happens during this time--Exam Breakfast, also known as Late Night Breakfast.
So, do you have Late Night Breakfast at your school?  It's a really fun way for students to relieve stress, enjoy delicious food, and get some energy for exams.  Last night, my friends and I attended this event, held on the evening of the second day of exams, and enjoyed yummy breakfast foods and a wide variety of fruit. 

The really nice thing about Exam Breakfast is that some of our professors volunteer to act as "waiters," clearing tables and chatting with students.  It's always fun to see our professors outside of the classroom setting, so we enjoyed chatting with them last night.  Something else that is awesome about Late Night Breakfast is that there is karaoke.  Although it's hard to muster up the courage to sing in front of friends and strangers, students love it!  We got to see some really fun renditions of Elton John, Queen, and Lady Gaga.  Because the event is held to help students relax after the first few days of exams, a lot of students attend.  We arrived 45 minutes early, and were not even first in line.  So many people attended to see friends, let off steam, and of course, eat, so the atmosphere was loud, exciting, and really warm.  Now that I had breakfast for dinner, I'm ready to conquer the remainder of exams in my path! 

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Inside The Kress Emporium

So one thing I love about Asheville is that there are so many local crafters and artists in residence here.  I really enjoy seeing their work for sale or on display around town--I love art, so it never gets old!  Because it's almost impossible to encapsulate all of the places you can go to view or purchase their art (due to the huge number of locations around town), I thought that for now, I'd focus on one place in particular that I enjoy visiting and bringing out of town guests.  Last week, I mentioned the River Arts District, a really fun place to see local artists at work, and this week I'm writing about The Kress Emporium, located in the heart of downtown Asheville.  This historic building houses and sells the artwork, about as diverse as possible, of about 80 local artists.  I visited today and took some pictures to share with you.  Enjoy! 


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Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium

It’s been a while since I last posted!  Did you miss me?  I think this has been one of the busiest semesters of my UNC Asheville career.  Not only am I working and blogging, but I am also in the process of working on my senior capstone course, which is time-consuming and a bit stressful, to say the least.  I could not blog this week because I was working on getting a major part of this project out of the way: on Wednesday, I presented my paper at the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium, taking care of the “oral competency” requirement on my graduation checklist.  What a relief.  Now, all that’s left is for me to put the final touches on my paper, take exams, and enjoy Winter Break.  With just two more weeks remaining in the semester, we’re in the final stretch! 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with undergraduate research at UNC Asheville, I’ll tell you a little bit about the topic.  Not every student at the university is required to complete undergraduate research (done alone or in a team), but those following certain majors must do this as part of their course of studies.  My major, International Studies, for example, requires that I participate in research exploring a topic related to my field of study.  This semester, my academic advisor has helped me develop my topic and craft a strong research paper.  Every fall and spring, we hold an Undergraduate Research Symposium, where students are able to showcase the hard work they’ve been doing all semester.  The Symposia offer students the chance to be recognized for their research, as well as to learn more about the interests of their peers, which is fun, and at times, surprising.  In the spring, students who have successfully completed their research may submit their work for publication in the UNC Asheville Journal of Undergraduate Research and/or the Proceedings of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.  Pretty great, right?

Here's the title slide of my presentation, just in case you're curious~

Initially, I was a bit scared of the prospect of completing this research; when I realized that I would have to present the project orally, I was nervous that I might not do well.  However, as my project comes to a close, I feel glad that I was forced to participate.  I have learned a lot in the process, and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to focus so much attention and time on a topic in which I am very interested.  If you’re in Asheville in May of 2012, why not stop by some of the presentations on campus and see for yourself?  It will be 100 % worth your while.    

Here are the links for the Undergraduate Research Program and this year's Fall Symposium schedule.  Check it out! 

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This is one my favorite times of the year, not necessarily for the turkey or cranberries, but because the gingerbread houses are back at the Grove Park Inn!  Perhaps you read my first post about the gingerbread houses from 2010.  If you aren't familiar with the Grove Park Inn's gingerbread competition, here's what it is in a nutshell:  contestants from around the country submit 100% edible gingerbread houses for judgement at the historic inn here in Asheville.  The entries are displayed throughout the GPI until January 2012 for the public, as well as guests, to view for free.  Usually, my family likes to make trip to the Grove Park Inn on a Sunday in November or December, but this year, I went with one of my roommates.  We had a blast wandering around the beautiful inn, examining the gingerbread houses, and enjoying the warm atmosphere.  Are you curious about which houses stood out the most to us?  Check it out below, or if you're in the area, swing by the GPI to see for yourself~

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