Category Archives: So, that happened…

A Spring Hike at Shenandoah National Park

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By: Eric Cecchett

Although you would never believe it after stepping into the brisk 32 degree Harrisonburg weather, the spring season is officially upon us.  As we keep our fingers crossed for rising temperatures, it is difficult not to begin contemplating warm weather plans from the comforting shelter of a dozen blankets.

During a short-lived spike in temperature this past weekend, a group of friends and I eagerly pulled out our mental lists in order to decide on how we would take advantage of the lovely weather.  After narrowing down our options, we eventually decided on a hike at Shenandoah National Park.  

As a child born and raised in the gentrified suburbs of northern Virginia, even our drive to the park left me completely amazed.  Located roughly 20 miles outside of Harrisonburg, the road to Shenandoah National Park consisted of steep winding roads that provided breathtaking views of the surrounding area.  

Upon our arrival, my friends and I decided to take on an intermediate trail known as the Rose River loop trail.  This particular hike consisted of a variety of terrains, ranging from rocky climbs to tame creek-side strolls.  The Rose River loop is also known for its proximity to two spectacular waterfalls, which hikers are able to walk directly up to.  Unfortunately, the beauty of these natural wonders was slightly obscured by the residual ice and mud left over from the long winter.  Our group unanimously agreed that this would be a trail worth doing again in the summer months.  

Despite the intermediate label on our trail, by the end of the hike, everyone was sufficiently exhausted.  During the relaxing drive back down the mountain, the sight of dozens of deer and a beautiful sunset only augmented our sense of serenity.  After my amazing first trip to Shenandoah National Park, I have yet another reason to keep my fingers crossed for warmer weather.

Check out the park’s site and plan a trip of your own here!

My Alternative Break Experience in the Dominican Republic

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By Taylor Hudson

If someone asked me what I did over spring break, I don’t even know where I would begin.

Should I mention sleeping outside in hammocks for a week with no electricity or plumbing? Should I describe sitting on the back seat of a “motoconcho” for a 30-minute ride through Dominican mountainside? Or, what about sliding and jumping off 15-foot cliffs in the Saltos de la Damajagua?

While all of those experiences were unforgettable, the majority of the memories of my spring break reside in a small construction site in the village of Angostura. My favorite part of the week was not the white-sanded beaches or the breathtaking views. No, my favorite part involved sweaty foreheads, blistered hands, and heat exhaustion. The days spent building a house for Ernesto, Hida, and their seven grandchildren are what truly made my Alternative Spring Break experience a life-changing event.

Before, Ernesto and Hida’s house was barely a house. The walls and roofs had holes. The home sat at the bottom of a hill, so water had ruined any existing foundational structure. The floor didn’t even meet the wall. But then, Village Mountain Mission (the organization that is responsible for this trip) told them that they were going to build them a new home.

A week before we arrived, a group from La Salle University demolished the old house, leveled the ground, and began the foundation. When my fellow JMU students and I arrived, it was our job to finish as much of the house as possible before we left. Challenge accepted.

Within four days, we were taught how to lay block, cut frames, nail siding, and attach windows. We didn’t do it alone either. The entire village came out to watch the construction. More often than not, a random villager would squeeze in to work alongside us for a few hours, and then disappear without ever saying a word. Even the youngest kids—no more than four or five years old—would pick up a hammer and start whacking random things simply because they wanted to help. The sense of community and work ethic in Angostura was admirable.

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When the roof was finally completed, Ernesto looked up, raised his hands, and exclaimed something in Spanish. Of course, none of us knew what he said, but Jamie, one of the Village Mountain Mission staff, translated. Ernesto had said, “Now when it rains, we won’t get wet!”

It was the small moments, like that, that made the entire week so impactful. Realizing that this family got soaked during every rainstorm before this house was built changes your perspective. Further, realizing that this family will now be dry, humbles you in an unexplainable way.

All week, the smallest moments made the biggest impression on us ASB participants: Watching kids walk around the construction site with no shoes. Seeing Hida’s face light up when we gave her the leftover rice from our lunch. Being gifted a hand-made bracelet from a little girl. Singing and dancing to “Danza Kudoro” with the little boys on the way to the construction site. They are the moments that I don’t think I will ever forget.

As we left Village Mountain Mission on Friday night, we hugged the staff members goodbye. Jamie said it right when he said, “This isn’t goodbye, this is a see you later.” I know I speak for all of us in the group when I say that returning to the Village Mountain Mission and the nation of the Dominican Republic is inevitable.

Appropriate Places to Snapchat: Is There Such a Thing?

by Molly Robinson

There are certain moments where it is perfectly okay to whip out your phone and take a Snapchat of a notable moment, such as your friend getting pied in the face or a dog doing a ridiculous body movement. But what about those “reply” selfies? Is it okay to Snapchat in the hallway? What about at lunch?

In all actuality, people use Snapchat for different reasons, and I totally agree with BuzzFeed’s 12 stereotypes of friends on Snapchat:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/types-of-friends-you-have-on-snapchat

Regardless of your Snapchat use in college, I have compiled a few do’s and don’ts for the appropriate use Snapchat:

1. DO send selfies when now one is watching.
2. DON’T take or send snaps when in class.
3. DON’T take or send snaps while walking; trust me, you will run in to something.
4. DO take group snaps in a public setting—only when you’re in a group. Nothing looks weirder than you making a demented face at your phone while sitting in the corner of TDU by yourself.
5. DON’T open a snap in a public setting, such as class, if you have reasonable cause to believe it will make you burst out laughing.

Happy snapping!

Finals Week Myths: True or Busted?

By: Taylor Hudson

Summer is within your grasp! After what I am sure has been a long semester, finals week has approached us. But don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with your schedule overflowing with papers, projects and exams. And, more importantly, don’t fall victim to many of the finals week myths and study schemes that some students swear by.

Study Now, Sleep Later: BUSTED!
I suggest that you refrain from entering Carrier or Rose library during finals week after ten o’clock at night. The only thing you will find in there at that point are overstressed, overworked and ridiculously tired students that are probably not leaving until their exam time on the following day. Don’t be one of those people; studies show that all-nighters actually decrease grades. You brain needs sleep in order to function properly, so depriving yourself completely the night before an exam will actually hurt you in the long run. Aim to get at least four or five hours of sleep, and I promise you won’t regret it.

Lots and lots of Caffeine: BUSTED!
As a coffee drinker myself, this one hits home. One or two cups of coffee won’t hurt, but drinking massive amounts of caffeine through out the day will do more to hurt you than help. Your attention span will decrease, your anxiety level will increase, and energy level will decrease faster. So, you can see how this won’t exactly help your already high stress level and heavy workload.

Jamming Out While Studying: TRUE!
Music will actually keep you more focused, if used correctly. I suggest not listening to your favorite songs or artists because you will end up singing along—or in my case, dancing around the kitchen—rather than focusing on the task in front of you. Perhaps, you can try some acoustic or classical music without lyrics?

The Library is the Best Place to Study: BUSTED!
Contrary to popular belief, there are many places you can study on this campus besides the library. Both Taylor Hall and Warren Hall are open 24 hours during finals week. Try some off-campus locations such as Starbucks, Panera Bread, Greenberry’s, or, or head to Martin’s Grocery Store—the little café in the corner is open 24 hours and they have free wireless Internet.

The moral of the story is simple: Don’t believe everything you are told. Finals week shouldn’t be about all-night cram sessions and overworked students. It should be about ending the year on a positive note and heading into summer knowing you just kicked that exam’s butt.

Hippie Headbands… Why?

The title speaks for itself—I want to know why you wear these things. They serve no apparent function, except to force your hair to stay in front of your ears and on the side of your face, which can be maddening. Not to mention, you have no peripheral vision. This fashion trend is dangerous!

Also, ladies, why do you where them when you work out? I’ve been at track meets and seen people running events like the 800 with their hair down and that hippie headband on while their hair flies all over their face. WHY? This is a work out headband; you have your hair tied back and the band keeps the bothersome fly-aways out of your face so you can see.

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Hippie Headbands…for Athletes?

So it’s a trend thing? Trying to bring the hippie back? Fight the man? NO. Headbands were originally created to keep sweat out of your eyes. They were used extensively in Vietnam by the military, which also happened to include drafted hippies. When they returned from Vietnam they passed this knowledge on to their hippie friends who started off using it for the same purpose—as summers in parts of the U.S can be pretty hot as well. Ironically, that’s how they were introduced to the hippie community. Somewhere along the way, their function was lost and the bands became skinnier and stylish.

All in all, if you want to wear them, wear them—to each her own. You’re only this young once; you can wonder why you wore it later. Keep in mind that this is a trend that will probably be acceptable only through your college years, so no need to buy a $58.00 hippie headband like this. You can buy them for as little as $5.00 on Etsy.com or go to Michaels and get the material to make your own!

Hiking In Harrisonburg

By Taylor Hudson

Ignore the fact that there was snowstorm on Sunday night—I promise; warm weather is on its way! We have one month left before finals week. And, if you are an outdoors junkie like I am, that means only four more weeks available for sunbathing on the Quad, and most importantly, hiking.

As a Delaware native, mountains are nonexistent; therefore hiking was never a regular pastime of mine. But, when I came to JMU, I was bitten by the hiking-bug and fell in love with spending hours on a trial. So, I like to take advantage of all the hiking options the Shenandoah Valley has to offer as often as I can.

White Oak Canyon is a personal favorite of mine. Even though it is located in the Shenandoah National Park about forty minutes down 81, it is well worth the drive. This hike is about eight miles and takes about four to five hours to complete. Plus, it has a waterfall. Fair warning: the waterfall might not always be in its full glory. Try this trail after a good rainstorm, and the waterfall is guaranteed to be stunning, but if you catch it during a dry spell, I’ll admit that it can look a little weak.

Another favorite is Reddish Knob. This trail is an even further drive from campus, taking about an hour. This trail has a gorgeous view at the peak, so I suggest going during sunset or during the fall to take in the sight of the leaves changing colors from different heights.

If you are one of those people that loves the outdoors but don’t have time to devote an entire Saturday to a hike, don’t fret. Go to Blue Hole. Sure, it isn’t a hike, nor does it offer much in the realm of awesome views. But, this swimming hole is a popular spot for JMU students. It’s about 40 minutes away from campus and offers just enough outdoor experience to quench your craving. As it gets warmer, however, Blue Hole gets pretty popular, so it may be crowded, especially on the weekends.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newbie to hiking, the Harrisonburg area has plenty of awesome trails. For a small fee, UREC even offers excursions through out the semester.

Click here to visit their website to learn more information about how to sign up!

Mind Your Body

by Molly Robinson

Eating Disorder Awareness is not as popular of a topic as other illnesses such as Breast Cancer Awareness. However, it should be viewed in equally high importance, at least to some populations and ages.

We are constantly flooded with ‘ideal’ images that society teaches us to value, such as actors/actresses with a specific physique. At the same time, some of us may also be flooded with phrases on the JMU campus such as ‘Our first and last love is self love’ and ‘the prettiest girls are the happiest girls.’ But what if you’re not happy at this point in your life? Does the idea of ‘self love’ sound cliché and a little conceited to you? These are just examples of ideals that can cause us to question our views of body image personally and societally.

Each individual faces the challenge of accepting his or her body, learning to like it, building confidence in one’s inner self, and finally, fully embracing one’s self and opening up to happiness. Positive body image is an issue that most people struggle with, no matter your body type or gender. Eating Disorder Awareness Month serves to remind us that body image extremes can lead to unhealthy habits and, eventually, can even compromise our ability to function.

Awareness on the health issue can facilitate us, as college students, to recognize symptoms of someone who could be suffering from an eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some tine in their life including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or otherwise not specified. Thus, it is likely that you may come across someone with an eating disorder.

You may ask the question: What can I do to help my friend/family member with an eating disorder? The simplest answer is just to genuinely support them, encourage healthy meals with healthy proportions, and normal workout habits.

At JMU, the Hope (Help Overcome Problems with Eating and Exercise) team is available for any student. UREC’s Nutritional Analysis, is another resource at students’ disposal that offers a nutritional analyst who can meet with you to discuss decencies and excesses in your diet and how to approach a healthy meal plan.

This February—Eating Disorder Awareness month—embrace this quote by Amy Bloom, an American writer: “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”