A mini “interview” written Spring 2017

Stephanie Ford

German Literature Major, Junior

This was required by university housing as a way for the RA (resident adviser) to check-in with the students. It was also meant to be beneficial for Freshman students to reflect on how university has impacted their lives. Yes, I wrote this as a Junior. If you keep reading, you will discover why I was living in Freshman housing.

What were some of the highlights of this year? Why?
I had an article published on an online magazine
I worked in Little Five for seven months at Rag-O-Rama
I applied for an internship and scholarship that both required recommendation letters, essays and a lot of work (didn’t get internship; still waiting on scholarship)
I got to explore different types of German classes (found out I didn’t like translating but I like German poetry)
I’ve maintained regular lessons at Goethe-Zentrum and practiced my German consistently
I took a course “Women Lead in Business” and gained a lot of practical knowledge
I teach English weekly to non-native adults and truly enjoy teaching
I led a Book Drive for Golden Key Honor Society and gave a speech during the New Member Recognition Ceremony (in front of President Becker)
I’ve read 15 books since the fall semester began (not to mention all the articles and excerpts I read for my classes; and more than half of the books were in German)

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What were some of your personal successes? Why?
One of my personal successes was that I got a little tougher this year. Before I wanted to maintain friendships and relationships with people who brought me down. But this year, I have protected myself and have decided not to let people play with my emotions.
Another personal success is that I’ve managed my negative emotions well. I have used music or writing to express what was making me feel bad. I didn’t go to some of the negative coping options I used before.

What were some of your struggles this year? why?
Time management has not been a problem for me. It has been not having enough time to do everything (work, school, sleep, work out, shop, hang with friends, etc., etc.) Many college students do have to work, or have other responsibilities. This year has been the busiest for me. I have been exhausted so many times, and relied on coffee to keep me going. I have had to lack in certain areas like giving myself free time to go out, or hitting the gym. Although being busy is good for me. It keeps me in line and feeling good, I have been pushing myself and have neglected (although not to a ridiculous degree) my body and well-being.
The other major struggle I had this year was with my roommate before I changed dorms. We had to share a bedroom (and of course a bathroom). It did not matter how many compromises or roommate agreements we made, she always did what she wanted to do (including keeping me awake many nights and talking to me like she’s my overcorrecting aunt.) I tried to live in peace and keep to myself, but she truly began harassing me and I felt like I could not even breathe in my own room. So, my other main struggle was being practically tortured by a person who didn’t want to make things easy for anyone. On top of that, getting in touch with the right people at Georgia State, and them actually doing what they are supposed to do to change things for me has been a major struggle out of my control.

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What are things you can do in the future or things you’ve already started doing to help in the areas you struggle?
When I finally got to a point that I was so used to being busy all the time, but losing my drive a bit and relying too much on coffee and energy drinks, I decided to put in my two weeks at work. Now that I’ve stopped working, I am feeling much better and I am putting time into the things I neglected before.

Do you think anything has changed about you since coming to college?
Sure, a lot has changed about me since coming to college. My fashion sense has developed into a new direction. I am pickier about my friends. I have been to a few different foreign countries and have experienced different cultures. I also speak another language and am learning my third. In high school, I was more of an outcast and rebel. Although, I am not trying to please everyone now, I put a lot of consideration into my actions as I want to help others and make an impact on my community. I am still shy, caring, and a little nerdy, but I have challenged myself in many ways and done things that I would not have done in high school. I have matured in many aspects and have really learned a lot. I am more focused and have passions and interests that I didn’t have before.

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How have your relationships at home changed since you’ve come to GSU?
My parents see me as a young adult and have a lot to be proud of and share with their friends. Having more distance with my parents has also allowed us to understand each other better. My family is still important to me and I will never forget that my parents worked hard to provide for me and gave me a lot of support, but now I have become more independent and cannot rely on my parents to fix everything when something goes wrong. I think my parents have learned from me and hearing about my experiences; I can also appreciate hearing some of their old stories and points of advice.

What was it like at home over break?
Normal, boring, relaxing… Things do not change that often back home. Of course it is weird at first but I have adjusted to it and see that as where I’m from and where my family is. Everything was fine with my family and I kept myself busy, but didn’t overdo it and gave myself time to rest. I was still working in Atlanta during break.

How have your views on social or cultural issues changed since coming to GSU? Have they changed at all?
Apart from travelling abroad, I will say that Georgia State has exposed me to many different types of people. Because of that, I am used to working with people who are different than me. I do not let stereotypes or outside appearances guide my decisions.  However, I have also seen that people are very divided and are quick to blame others. I think that there is potential for all people to be treated equally, but there is a lot of pain and hate that hold people back. In a way, I have been inspired because being with all kinds of people is the norm for me, but, on the other hand, I have been discouraged because although Georgia State and Atlanta may be diverse, people are not so open-minded and misjudge others when they are different.

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Is there anything you’d like to challenge yourself or other students about regarding perceptions of other cultures or your own culture?
I think that everyone should either travel abroad or study a foreign language. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone allows us to see our flaws and our strengths. It also helps us realize that no one is always the insider and no one is always the outsider. There will always be similarities and differences between people. Exposure to new things and opening yourself up to different people is a great way to challenge one’s perception of their culture and other cultures.

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Have there been any programs or events on campus that have exposed you to different ideas about culture and society? What were they?
I went to a World Youth Alliance meeting and discussed stereotypes about homeless. I heard a lot of interesting stories from volunteers with experience around working with homeless people. I also learned some surprising statistics about how extreme poverty and homelessness are in Atlanta and the state of Georgia.

I enjoyed putting this post together. I did not make any changes to what was originally written in Spring of 2017. Now you know a little bit more about me.

All the best,

Stephanie