The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship

“The Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too” < that is really what I think of every time I hear the name in the title of this post.

Although it’s a mouthful, I never understood before this past week what exactly this wordy organization did on campus. When asked what they had accomplished here, I responded that they sponsored a lot of really cool speakers and panels with global perspectives. As an international business major, I learned a lot from attending these events, and was thankful for the opportunities the PFG CfGC had put forth on our campus.

But then, it was brought to my attention that this center actually did a whole lot more than just hire speakers for the student body. And that I was silly for thinking a powerhouse company would start an organization that was simply a speaker’s guild.

Speakers and On Campus Events. While this isn’t all they do, it is something important that they have been a part of the past 3 years at Drake. One of the most memorable for myself was the panel of Islamic finance experts. I had no idea the rules and regulations that went along with this growing financial sector. You can read more about that event here:

2 The Global and Comparative Public Health Concentration. The center introduced an entire new curriculum dedicated to making Drake students more globally oriented. While they have International Business and International Relations majors, the health sciences didn’t really have anywhere they could focus on global issues. Until now of course. Along with that, the center has worked to develop new classes in other colleges of the university that focus more on globalization.

3 Faculty Development. The center has worked to develop more internationally minded faculty as well as students. They have done this by sponsoring faculty led trips abroad, as well as promoting new ideas for curriculum with global aspects.

4 Global Ambassador Program. This program offers students to complement their major area of study with additional classes and extra curricular activities with global focuses. This includes 50 hours of volunteer work, which in turn gives back to our Des Moines community.

You can read more about the PFG CfGC on Drake’s website at The center has done so much for our university, and deserves a huge amount of recognition. I know that my undergraduate experience would not be as internationally enlightened without their involvement at Drake.

Secrets to Success (you’re welcome)

Here are a few tips to succeeding in college.

1. Write it down. A very wise friend of mine once said, “The biggest lie you can tell yourself is: I don’t need to write this down. I’ll remember it.” I don’t care if you know pi to 1000 places, write your assignments down. Not only has writing things down been proven to commit that better to your memory, but even the smartest people forget things once in a while. Exercise some common sense and utilize your planner.

2. Rest. Another wise mentor of mine, my father, gave me some very good advice when I entered college: “get some sleep.” I’m paraphrasing there. He said he understood that college sometimes meant late night study sessions and early morning classes, but to make sure to fit in a few naps and take your sleep seriously. Well rested means better focus and more energy.

3. Go to class. Even if your professor says he doesn’t take attendance. Even if the powerpoints are all online. I know I learn better from hearing something. But this means that if you are going to class, you have to pay attention. That means get off facebook and tune in. Do you realize how much you (or your parents) pay for these classes and this education? You’ll do better in your classes if you go to class, take notes, and pay attention. Period.

4. Get to know your professors. They’re kind of smart. Also very influential in your grade at the end of the semester. Beyond that- professors are usually actually pretty funny. And always helpful when you’re struggling.

5. Get involved. Getting involved in organizations also can lead to future successes. I know that in being a part of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a social sorority here at Drake, I’m held accountable to my sisters and my house to do well in school. On top of that, being involved in this organization leads to so many connections: people to do homework with, people to advise me on which professors to take, people to let me know about job and internship opportunities… If sororities aren’t your thing, these kind of benefits come from many organizations! Professional fraternities, academic clubs, etc, all keep you accountable and help when you need support.

Those are just five little tips from me to you. I’m sure you’ve heard them all before, but if you’re struggling with classes this semester, or confused on how to make the transition from high school to college classes, try incorporating some of these things and watch as your grade increases and your life gets better. You’re welcome.

Labor Day

According to the U.S. department of labor’s website, Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

The first labor day was celebrated in 1882.

Nice little history lesson for you. You’re welcome.

It’s fun being in the grown up world because you learn to appreciate Labor Day more. To appreciate a day where no one should be working… and if they do ask you to work they give you time and a half. Which is a wonderful thing really. 

Working retail has completely opened my eyes to the wonderful world of labor. And how a day off is so sweet. And so is time and a half. 

Working retail has also shown me I don’t want to spend more time working retail than necessary. I think it’s a decent college job but it drains my energy so quick. Helping rude people is exhausting. Like help me help you starts with you being nice to me. 

It has shown me that in my future job, I definitely want to be doing something with variety. I hate monotonous work. I want something that challenges me and helps me grow as a professional, as well as something stimulating and interesting to me. That can’t be that hard to find. 

Not on the job hunt yet though. One more year until senior year panic kicks in.


Back & Blue

Des Moines is really cool, don’t get me wrong. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. But it’s so weird being here after being abroad. 

I’m sure a lot of my fellow returnees are feeling this same way… It’s not that I’m not happy about being home. I love seeing my friends and family again. But after the magic of being abroad, being back is just sort of… average. 

I can’t grab Starbucks and walk to the beach to enjoy it. 

I can’t make friends with ANY street dogs. 

I can’t practice my Spanish (read: embarrass myself) as much. 

I can’t watch sunsets over the Pacific. 

My only solution was to throw myself 110% into my first semester back. So far, having real classes, i.e. classes that don’t allow for as much travel, and classes with real homework, have been alright for me. I can tell being back will be more challenging. But I’m ready for it. That along with work and kappa and other responsibilities will be more than enough to make me forget what I’m missing out on in that beautiful country 14 hours south of here. 

I’m still missing my abroad experience a ton, and already planning my next abroad adventure… That’s what J-Terms are for, right? 


Things I wish I knew my first day of freshman year, with quotes

1. “Kris made a list of all the children and the toys they wanted. He checked it over once, then checked it over twice.” –TV Movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Re-check your schedule. Classes may have moved. My freshman year, I walked out of my first class and double checked to see where my next class was at. It had moved to a building I had never even heard of. I was that freshman standing in the middle of the path with a planner map in my hands and a frantic look on my face. There might have been a lanyard involved.

2. “Lol lanyard, freshman.”Every Drake Upperclassman

Don’t buy a lanyard. You look like a freshman. 

3. “If you don’t take risks, you’ll have a wasted soul.” –Drew Barrymore (Very Wise Actress)

Try new things. You’re not going to like your meal plan if you don’t pop out of your bubble. You’re not going to make any friends if you don’t talk to new people. You’re not going to learn if you don’t challenge yourself in your classes. College is your time to expand your horizons and grow as a person, and stepping out of your comfort zone is the first step. 

4. “I get a thrill meeting kids who are into alternative music.” –Kurt Cobain (Musician)

Introduce yourself to your professors. They’re on your side. 

5. “Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.” –Khalil Gibran (???)

But don’t forget the first day essentials. Your laptop. Your writing utensils. Paper. Your ID. Thirst for knowledge. Just come prepared. 

6. “Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.” –Jawaharlal Nehru (again no clue)

The year goes fast. So all those things on your freshman year bucket list that you think you have months to check off? You don’t. Do them now. 


Scooter’s Coffee House Review

I tried Scooter’s today, the café that moved in where my beloved Starbucks (RIP) used to be.

My Professional Review of Scooter’s Coffee House:

Scooter’s Coffee House was a delightful experience all around. Walking through the door, I could immediately smell the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee. I felt welcomed not only by the baristas behind the counter, but by the fellow guests as well. The vibe there was both comfortable and relaxing, with a hint of productivity. 

I let the cashier know that I had never been there, and was given suggestions on their best drinks. I ended up ordering a turtle latte because you can’t go wrong there. After ordering, the cashier mentioned a deal they were having where you receive a free drink if you purchase a $25 gift card. Knowing that I’d be back, and being unable to pass on anything with the word “promotion” in it, I purchased the gift card. Well done, Scooter’s marketing team. They then gave me a punch card where for every 5 drinks you purchase, you receive the 6th one for free. As a Starbucks gold card member, I have been used to a certain standard of rewards programs. This blew theirs out of the water. Again, kudos to Scooter’s marketing team. 

My drink was handed to me with a smile, and after one sip I was smiling as well. I sat down to read my book, and continued to enjoy the relaxing ambience of the soft music and warm smell of espresso. 

My Not As Professional Review of Scooter’s Coffee House:

The coffee was great, the vibe was even better. It’ll be the perfect early morning pick-me-up on my way to class, or study spot later in the evening. Yay for coffee, thank you Scooter’s for bringing moderately priced espresso drinks back into my life. <3

A Week on the East Coast

I got to travel to the east coast this past week for both a training in Stamford, CT, as well as kind of a vacation in Boston (Duxbury), MA, and an hour or two of wandering in downtown NYC.

The training was awesome. I got to learn more about promoting study abroad, met some awesome people, and the food wasn’t half bad either* (*the food was incredible). AIFS is an awesome organization.

The highlight of my trip, however, was seeing my favorite person in the world again, after a month and a half without him.

We only spent a little while in downtown Boston, where we got to see a breakdance crew, an alpaca, and the shops and restaurants of Faneuil hall. We also got to experience the traffic struggles of a big city, and were able to grab brunch at this amazing restaurant next to the Garden. This is where I got to try fried oysters for the first time; they were delicious.

Down in Duxbury, I got to see what small town New England life was like. The beach was incredible, and the views of the ocean and the coast. I got to witness my first sunrise over the ocean and ride in a sailboat (on a windless night, but still kinda cool). After spending a semester in a coastal city and coming home to land locked Des Moines, I had forgotten how much I loved it. Any time of day or night, you can take a dip in the ocean. People who live in coastal areas I think can take this for granted sometimes, but count your blessings. I miss the beach every day.

After a 4 hour bus ride back to NYC from Boston, I wandered around the city with my luggage looking for Grand Central. NYC is not all it’s hyped up to be. It’s messy and busy, which is usually where I thrive, but this time it was just too much for me. Their skyline, though, is one of the most amazing things to look it in the world (Des Moines… yours is nice too..).

This trip also reminded me that while I love to pretend to be independent, public transportation is annoying and I love my car. After multiple planes, trains and <buses>, I’m finally home, enjoying my last week of the summer to the fullest. Next week, I move in to kappa and get to continue the adventure I started two years ago, as a Junior at the best uni in the world.


Things I Miss

Things I miss about the best experience of my life:

>>>The beach. The beach at sunset. The beach 6 blocks from my home. The beach whenever I felt like sunshine and sand. The beach dogs and beach gypsies. The beach with my best friends.

>>>My host family. My beautiful, caring host family that took me in and took care of my every need, want, craving, question, costume party outfit crisis… My host family that taught me the meaning of selflessness and graciousness. My host family that cried when I left, which led me to do the same. My host family that made me feel like part of their country, part of their culture, and part of la familia.

>>>Completos. Completos and churros de manjar. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana and sushi. Completos and churros de manjar and empanadas and jugo de manzana and sushi and nescafe (even nescafe).

>>>Adolfo Ibanez. Adolfo Ibanez, the university with a view. Adolfo Ibanez, the school that provided me an in-depth look at Chilean history and Latin American economics. Adolfo Ibanez, where the intercambios play soccer every Monday and Wednesday, and are so good they can beat the locals. Adolfo Ibanez, where the international department houses the best resident advisor in the world. Adolfo Ibanez, where I got to attend classes with some of the coolest people I’ll ever meet.

>>>Tercer Tiempo. Tercer Tiempo, where we watched Chile beat Ireland in the last friendly of the season. Tercer Tiempo, where we met our first Chilean friends. Tercer Tiempo, where we spent some of our last moments. Tercer Tiempo, where we accidentally ordered too many terremotos but that was okay. Tercer Tiempo, where we didn’t order a big enough chorilliana, and that wasn’t okay.

>>>Traveling. Traveling to Pucon and seeing a volcano for the first time in my life. Traveling to Saaaaantiago and seeing some amazing sights, along with Lollapalooza with one of my favorite kappas. Traveling to La Serena and stargazing with my best friend on the roof of our hostel. Traveling to the Atacama and witnessing the hottest, driest desert in the world covered in fresh, soft powder for the first time in 40 years. Traveling to the coastal cities right next door and seeing Pablo Neruda’s homes, the sand dunes of Con Con (often confused with the beautiful city of Cancun), and eating the best sushi of my life in Renaca.

>>>My friends. My friends of Chilean descent. My friends from the southwest. My friends from the midwest. My friends from the northeast. My ricky friends from Canada. My friend from Boston who turned into more than just a friend. My friends who experienced new things with me. My friends who shared the same homesickness as me. My friends who are now experiencing the same lets-go-back-chile-was-amazing attitude as me. My friends who I will see again before I know it (reunion planning ahora).

>>>My relaxation. My relaxation which led me to learn yoga and the art of zen. My relaxation due to my lack of organizational involvement and the absence of the 4 jobs I have now. My relaxation that will hopefully tie me over until my next opportunity. My relaxation that led me to learn more about myself- who I am, who I’d like to be, and what I’d like to accomplish in the next few years.

Most of all I miss seeing some of my favorite people every day, and it has finally hit me that while a reunion is VERY possible, we can never go back to those four months. That was it. Just like that it was over. I’m lucky enough to be at a training for an AIFS ambassador program right now where everyone loves to relive their experiences, and to hear about mine as well. This is as close as I will ever get to going back, and I am slowly coming to terms with it. If you have read any of my posts and are still on the fence about whether you’d like to go abroad during your four years, I’m questioning your sense of reason. So be reasonable- just go. Have a life changing experience. Relax a little. Learn a lot. Assimilate. Grow. Be independent. And let your abroad experiences change you. When you come back, you’re gonna miss it, but you’re also gonna be pretty happy with the new you.


Things to do in Iowa: I Cubs

The Iowa Cubs are one of the greatest things Des Moines has to offer. Minor league baseball is arguably better than major league (really though come argue with me I <3 the cubbies). The stadium is just minutes from my house and attending games was one of my favorite memories growing up. As an adult (lol) it's still fun, except I can't win tickets from being a nerd at the nearest PLDM all summer.

My dad, stepmom and I went out Saturday evening to catch the double header against the Memphis Redbirds. We only stayed for one inning of the second game. Baseball games are so relaxing, and they have the best food. Our tickets sat us next to a loud group of fans ready to cheer on our I Cubs and like ten feet away from former all star Manny Ramirez. He's old now.

According to my dad, a die-hard Pirates fan (go bucs), the I-Cubs are supposed to be really good this year and next, as the cubbies are looking to improve their major league team by working harder down in the minors to bring up good players. I didn't ever check the stats to back him up but the games we saw were pretty good. In both, they started out the first inning with 3 runs. Not a bad way to kick off a game (although they lost the first and idk about the second.. not important though.. they played well).

If you come visit Des Moines for the summer, you'd be missing out not to come to a game. Especially on an evening like last Saturday- such a nice way to wind down after a busy workweek.

Go cubbies!

Things to do in Iowa: Raccoon River Beach

It’s not the ocean. But pretty close. Main differences: water color, water movement or lack thereof, the sand, the people, beach treats, the animal sitch… So a lot of differences.

Despite the brown, still water, which you only get into if you a) desperately need to cool off or b)don’t mind swimming in mucky river water (who r u), the beach is kind of nice. Don’t get your hopes up when I say beach, because the sand is like playground sand. Sorry Iowa doesn’t have white sand beaches, idk what you were expecting. The people are also different- no surfers mainly. As for beach treats- I can’t imagine the ocean offering anything better than tro sno, the most amazing snow cone on the planet. The last downfall are the bugs. Do oceans have bugs? I wanna say no. There are plenty of nasty insects to ruin your day at the coon river. And there are no seagulls so that’s lame.

Take those pros and cons as you will- I LOVE the Raccoon River Beach. Free sun, that’s all I really want. You literally can’t get that with the shade at my house (from all of the tall skyscrapers in Des Moines that tower over the south side). And it’s chill for a cute date (we witnessed one and were very jealous). However please be aware that the water carries every word you speak out to the sandy sunbathers. Just keep that in mind. Also you really don’t need to bring your children though, unless they’re adorable and/or quiet. Do bring your dogs (not on the beach though I think that’s illegal).

Other beaches in DSM: Gray’s lake. That’s it. There’s more on the outskirts but not worth the drive.