Monthly Archives: September 2013

Victoria Sweeney, Reutlingen, Germany


Germany has been absolutely amazing these past five weeks. Today I finished my three week intensive German language course which went really well. My semester courses start on Tuesday and I will be taking 5 classes while I am here.

Since my last post, I have visited four major cities in Germany, Konstanz, Meersberg, Heidelberg, and Tübingen. When in Konstanz, I took a ferry on Lake Constance into Meersberg. Lake Constance supplies a lot of freshwater to parts of Germany, including Reutlingen where I am living. Meersberg is one of the prettiest cities that I have ever visited. From Meersberg you can look out over Lake Constance and see Switzerland and the Swiss Alps, it is absolutely breath taking. Last weekend I went to Heidelberg, which is known for it’s castle. The picture above is taken from the castle, which overlooks the city. The picture below is from the Heidelberg Bridge where you have a perfect view of the castle above you. 



I recently visited Tübingen, one of the oldest cities in Germany and the buildings are still in beautiful condition. One of the “must do’s” when in Tübingen is to ride in a Punting Boat and lucky me, I actually got to steer one of the boats! There is a punting boat in the picture below. In order to move the boat, you use a long pole, about 6 meters long, and push the pole along the bottom of the river…it is a lot harder than it seems!



This coming week I am going to a concentration camp memorial site which is going to be a very informative and emotional experience. It will be a trip that will probably impact my life in a way that I can’t imagine right now, but I am absolutely thrilled about it. 

More to come soon!


Avoid That Awkward Initial Email!

Avoid That Awkward Initial Email!

    It’s not uncommon for students today to prefer reaching out via email. After growing up in a technology-based world, it’s so much easier to email their professors or family instead of calling them.   Therefore, it makes sense that, when making an initial contact to make their network bigger, a student would use email. If that is your preferred method of outreach, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    First, it will be a lot less awkward for you if you know you are emailing the right person.  It’s easier to feel comfortable reaching out to someone if you have a connection with them, such as being an alum.  You can use the company website or LinkedIn to do your research. This will yield better results than just sending an email to

   Second, don’t be afraid to be tactfully forward in your subject line. Don’t be too abrupt, like “Need advice ASAP!” or ”need  an internship” ) in the subject line. Be specific. “College junior looking for advice for the Fashion field” is perfect.

  Third, be formal. Use their title, and of course their last name, such as “Mr. Feeney” or “Ms. Matthews.”  This will show the recipient your level of maturity and tact.

  Fourth, give a little background information. Let them know about yourself professionally.  Explain to them what your goals are. Ask, kindly, for specific advice. For example, “could you tell me more about what you were looking for when selecting a graduate school,” this is precise and not overwhelming for them to answer.

   And fifth, tell the person you are emailing why you like them!  This shows that you’ve done your research AND that there is something in particular they can offer you.

   To learn more about these suggestions, check out USA Today College at :

Darleny (Antibes, France)

Today marks exactly two weeks since I’ve been in France. It seems like I’ve been here forever. Most likely because I don’t get lost from school to my apartment anymore. Within 2 weeks I’ve been able to get to know France a little more. Nice, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, Saint Tropez and of course Monaco have all shown me as to why the French Riviera is the dream destination of many. It took me a while to realize the huge opportunity I have been given and I am making it my mission to enjoy all of it to the fullest. I try to make the most out of everyday before school gets too serious. I can say that out of 14 days I’ve been to the beach about 10. Let’s just say, I am now too dark for my make-up foundation. 
Living in paradise almost makes you forget that there are certain things you must still take care of. School of course is a main priority. It will be specially challenging as I meet more and more people. It is almost scary how easily I have become adjusted to a completely new culture. The language is a barrier, but with a few years of college French under my belt and being fluent in Spanish I can get my pretty well. I can at least order at a restaurant. I’ve been wanting to get my blogging started, yet it has been so difficult to find time. Between volunteering at the Red Cross, School, Excursions and any daily social activity it becomes almost impossible to find time to sit and just write. After all, I wouldn’t want to miss anything during the day or night. 
Things will quiet down a bit here in Antibes, when all the tourists decide to go home. I am sure I will have plenty of time in my hands.

Dan McGurl – Legislative Fellowship Program

Moved In and Ready to Go!

Well after weeks of searching Craigslist, talking to landlords, signing leases and hounding professors for my school paperwork; I am finally here, in my apartment and ready to go. While my formal internship doesn’t start until Monday (can you tell I’m ready?) I have been telecommuting classes back at Albright for the last three weeks. I am anxious to meet my new coworkers and other interns but mostly I am excited to get of my couch and have something to fill my time. While having an extended summer has been great I am ready to return to the real world and be productive.  While I’m not quite sure what exactly I will be doing for the next 13 weeks I do know that I will be working out of the office of Representative Rosita Youngblood from Philadelphia and I will be assisting the Gaming Oversight Committee which handles legislation on gambling and small games, so it should be pretty interesting. Last night I walked around Harrisburg for a few hours trying to get a lay of the land and I like it a lot, it’s a cool place with a lot to do and a surprisingly vibrant outdoor community.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

It’s All About The Mindset!

It’s All About The Mindset!

Every year, Beloit College puts together a Mindset List to help college faculty and administrators better understand the viewpoints of the newest class.  It discusses technology, social interaction style, and the American culture.  For many college staff members, it’s a chance to reminisce and exclaim “WHAT?! They don’t know who that is?!” By the same token, we’re no longer making outdated references to celebrities these students have never heard of.  It’s easier for college administrators to relate to students if we know where the student is coming from and what they understand- their mindset.

 Mindset is important because, as you go through the world, it’s necessary to understand culture and the people around you. Things that may have never impacted you may be a huge influence on the life of someone else. It’s imperative to understand how the past is impacting the present. It’s easier to communicate and establish rapport with someone if you have, essentially, walked a mile in their shoes, and understand a bit about what makes them tick. For example, if you want to study abroad, it may not set a good example if you bring up something negative from that country’s past, or you argue with them about an aspect of their culture without understanding it.  Or, you may be an intern pushing for more social media outreach and automated emails from a company that prides itself in face-to-face, personalized interactions.  Have there been any times when someone didn’t understand your mindset? What about a situation where you really grasped a mindset, and the other person really appreciated it? How did you react? 

Victoria Sweeney, Reutlingen, Germany




I have now been in Germany for about two and a half weeks, and it as been such an experience. My first two weeks I volunteered at a children’s camp, Burzelbach, and it was nothing that I was expecting. About 140 children ages 7-11 attend and it is set up as a fake city. Children arrive and they are placed in an “apartment” with others where they will eat breakfast, lunch, and have a snack in. Each child picks a job for the day. For example, they could work in the Bank, Café, wood shop, newspaper, cosmetic studio, Police station, etc. There were roughly around 20 different jobs to choose from. After you work, you would then go to the bank to get paid (taxes come out of the paycheck also!). The money can then be used to buy things within the “city” at any of the places the children work. Oh! They also have to pay rent in their apartment! These are young children learning how to manage their money and survive in the a life like situation! There are also different performances throughout the two weeks. The dance group will put on a show, the theater group will put on a play, the band will play and things like that. There is a big event the first week, the Olympics. Each “apartment” participates in different events and then there is a bronze, silver, and gold winner of Burzelbach. One of the events is that each group has to come up with a special performance. My group, WG Weiß, decided to build a human pyramid and then perform a rap song. The song was, obviously, in German. When practicing the song one of the children came up to me asking if I could write an English verse for them to sing. I felt so special! At the end of the day it was announced that my group won the Olympics! When it was announced all the kids looked at me and shouted “AMERICA!” 🙂 Another day there was a talent show that anyone could sign up for. A few of the children convinced two of the girls from England and I to sign up and perform the Cup Song from the movie Pitch Perfect. The leaders of the camp approached us after the show and asked us to perform at the “Stadtfest” (City Festival) the next day where all the parents and the Mayor of Reutlingen would be attending. So, the next day at the festival, the Mayor of Reutlingen introduced the international kids and we performed…stressful? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Below is a picture of my group, WG Weiß and the beautiful view that I had everyday going to camp. 



After the camp I moved to Hochschule Reutlingen (Reutlingen University). I am currently taking a pre-semester German Language course with a bunch of the other international kids. It has been amazing meeting so many people from all over the world and becoming close with them. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the semester has waiting!

Transitioning? There are Wise Words for that!

Well, the semester is back in full swing! As everyone transitions- new school, new classes, new internship, new job, or maybe even just a new season, it can be difficult to stay motivated.  A key aspect of becoming and staying motivated is your attitude.  Careerealism has some great tips on improving your attitude in order to stay motivated.  You can read more at .

  1. Discuss, don’t complain.  It’s easy to complain about the people in your group for a class project, or your new co-worker, or even just the fact that you no longer have summer flexibility. By keeping a positive attitude and finding solutions, you stay more open to new things and get out of a slump.
  2. Listen to comprehend.  Don’t start off on the wrong foot by shutting down whatever anyone else says. Be open to their ideas, and then refer back to tip 1.
  3. Speak with understanding. Negative words can cause disruptions among roommates, classmates, and co-workers.  That isn’t a healthy environment, and hurtful words can eat at you.  Combine all this and you lose your motivation because you’re too distracted.
  4. Help, don’t hide.  The old adage is “you get what you give.” By pitching in and helping others, you feel better about yourself and the work you do.  This is quite possibly the best motivation in the world!

So what do you think? What other sources of motivation do you have?