Summer on campus

Well, it is officially summer! But who said there is nothing to do on campus during the summer time? Although the majority of student are enjoying all the benefits of being out of school, a lot of international and domestic students decided to challenge themselves with summer classes. Unless you visited the campus this summer at least once during past 6 weeks, I bet you have only a little idea of how lively it is now! Constructions, meetings, open houses, prospective students tours and orientations!

Lion is taking sunbaths:)

As you may have guessed, I am spending my summer on campus this time. Of course it makes sense, because I am taking summer classes, working in Admissions office (under student work-study program) and greeting incoming class as your orientation leader, but there is one really important reason I decided on staying here.

Definitely beats Oscar Selfie, because it is Orientation Leaders 2014 Selfie! The most amazing and fun people on campus!

I am Alena Sadykova, a Russian student who was born in the United States and spent my early childhood in Chapel Hill, NC. My family decided to go back to Russia so I grew up in Moscow, graduated from high school there and returned back to Philadelphia last year. I expected it to be hard to experience separation from my closest friends and family, but, on the other hand, I would have never guessed how easy it was to make new friends here at Abington. I won’t lie, I was scared, and I was scared so bad that when I came to the New Student Day with my parents I insisted to leave even before registration. I was all by myself during the first week of classes, glued to Facebook and Skype to feel like being with my friends in Moscow.

My beloved parents and I at my High School Graduation last year! Mom and Dad are holding my High School Diploma and Awards. They were so proud of me:) (photo was taken in Moscow, Russia, Gymnasium #1514)


But it all changed when I attended Involvement Fair on campus and joined International Cultural Alliance coincidentally led by amazing Ana Marta, who happened to meet my whole family on campus during my advising session. Ana speaks my language, which turned my college experience in the whole new direction. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the language barrier (imaginary, indeed) anymore, and I felt way more confident, because since then I had a friend here, right at Penn State Abington.

During the past year I met so many great and inspiring people on campus, who made me feel I made a right choice joining Penn State family. Our small campus is open to everyone, WE want to hear from YOU, WE want YOU to make a difference. You may be international, or athlete, or traveled the entire States, or make your own music, or being academically exceptional and conduct the whole research, whoever you are, whatever is your background, we want you to be involved here. Because Penn State Abington is more than college, it is a community.

My girls and I! Ana, Emine, Nazrin, Inga, Ayano and Agar! I am blessed to have you in my life! (By the way, we are all international:)


I want to make a difference, that is why I assured my family, who are still miles away from me, that it is very important for me to spend this summer on campus, being involved and completing my integration into a new culture.

And finally, shout out to all FIFA 2014 followers: team Russia GOOO!!!



Penn State Abington provides couple of Faculty-led short-term study abroad program, such as the Networking in China (the program that I was in). This program is 2 credit hour course with one during fall, studying the cultural background of China and preparation for the lab project that we will be doing in China; we receive another credit during summer, visiting Bejing, and Hebei University of Science and Technology.

Me and my parents have lived in Beijing for five half years about couple years ago. However, this time it wasn’t same. In couple years, Beijing have developed so much, and I have realised that really missed living here!

We stayed in Beijing for 11 days it was truly amazing experience, no words could describe what we felt!



– My selfie while Dr Duan trying to take a group picture ;)

For first three days, we stayed in Beijing—we went to loads of typical Chinese tourist destinations such as, the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the temple of heaven, local tourist market and so forth. And then, we went to the Shijiajuang, Hebei University of Science and Technology for the Networking Project.


–Here’s the picture of our first meal at China—火鍋 (pronounced Huo Guo– Chinese Hot pot), with Chris and Dan cut behind!


–Here’s the picture of me and our tour guide Eric who works at Abercrombie and Keith.


–Professor Duan not feeling young :D

Oh, by the way the tour guide Eric told us that Me and My bud Anthony set up the new record for climbing all the way up to the tourist restricted point and down to the chair lift place with time of 42 minutes, since 2004!


–and the Tourist-must part Group Selfie!  **(From left to right) Anthony, Chris, Amy, Me, Dan, Matt, Ethan (part of his face), Quadirah


–Whether the Hard Rock Café exists in China or not—who cares? it’s just a shirt!


–Me and some random (?) Middle Eastern Lady that I just met in China


–the Super Expensive Chinese Restaurant that our tour guide led us….#touristripoff **Chris and Dr Duan


–She’s not happy with the amount we got charged :/ The only place where Water’s at least 5 times more expensive than can of Sprite (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!) **Matt (L), Amy(R)


–Penn State Abington, that’s how it is in Chinese!!! on the side note,the Translator thought we were from the Penn State Altoona; the lady felt sorry after Professor Duan made the correction


–My team working on the Campus Networking Setup Project **Chris (L), Lala (CL), Me (CR), and Malujia (R)


–Professor Joe Oakes lecturing


–And of course, the plane had to break down on the way back, so we had to stay at local hotel for one more day while me and my buds enjoy the spa, sauna and the pool (“Free” luxury China Trip for one more extra day yea!)  **Demetri waving like a kid :D

Overall, This short-term study abroad program was a fantastic opportunity for me to get to know all the participants, learn the Chinese culture, learn about the network, and get a hands-on experience with networking routers, and switches and so forth.

Before the trip I knew the names, and faces, of couple of people and Amy, but I wasn’t really close with any of them. Now, I feel like we’ve known each other for so long! I strongly encourage you all to apply for the Study abroad programs!

Man oh man oh man oh man.

These last weeks will be the end of one road, and the path to a new one for many people at Penn State and across the nation. After crunching through finals and the tons of stress and work that come alongside them, students are beginning to realize just how crazy life is about to get.

They’re going to part ways with old friends, but are ready to make new ones. Leaving loved institutions and homes to bigger and wider places. They’ll be dropping old work to turn over a new leaf and begin working on brand new projects. This summer they’ll be interning, getting paid at part-time/full-time jobs. They’ll be going abroad for studies, or taking classes at the local community college to try and graduate early. Some will be screaming their hearts out on their first roller coaster at Six Flags, while others will relax for the first time in months with a big book and a nice cup of green tea (that sounded really cheesy).

Some people will regret things they have done, or regret not doing things they wish they had done. Some will have no regrets and look towards the future with bright hopes. Some will have learned from their mistakes and vow to do better, some won’t recognize the mistakes until they repeat them.

Whatever is going on, it’s been pretty crazy…for everyone. I thought I would go around and ask people a couple questions about the past years at Penn State, and just life in general. The “[]” brackets indicate my own little footnote on the quotation/statement:

“Who or what will you miss the most from this year that you won’t have next year?”

AbingTones at ICCA (source: Jon Price)

AbingTones at ICCA (source: Jon Price)

“What I’ll miss the most is the unified feelings of family, belonging, and camaraderie at Abington that I know will not be matched at UP. Therefore, I will miss the people here more than anything. Everyone at Abington is so friendly and accepting; it’s great to feel so welcomed and appreciated.” – Chris

“I’ll miss the comfort of Abington. I felt like I belonged and fit in – a feeling that I’ve never really had before! It takes a long time for me to feel comfortable somewhere and leaving Abington for a completely new place will throw me for a loop!” – Lauren

“The campus, the school, people, COW (Community Outreach Workers)…of course I’ll miss the computer lab, my first job, teachers (Newman, Sessa, Dr. Cappelotti), best-friend Elizabteh. Not going to miss catching the bus to school.” – Danielle

“UPark” – Jeffy. [Simple enough, and congrats graduate]

“Easy A professors [she said this with the utmost respect], 1-1 connections with professors [see, she means it], Woodland building (347, cafe), friends such as you[ :D ]…what I wont miss: Parking Problems!” – Roshnii

“After I’m married this weekend [May 10, congrats Angela and Suren!] one of my best friends is getting married and moving to California for good. She’s my favorite Indian (no offense, but Persis John is one heck of a woman) and I don’t know what I’m going to do without her. It’s selfish of me, but I wish he’d move to her instead). She’s my biggest support system next to Suren!” – Angela

“I will miss the students that are either transferring or are graduating, that have somehow made an impact on my life. I will miss the professors that I have had this year and I hope to stay in contact with” – Bre

“I’ll miss people who are leaving too.” – ‘Emma’

“I can tell you what I won’t miss, all the hard ass classes I took this semester. My teachers showed no mercy. However I will also miss a lot of people that will be moving up to Upark or just to other schools or graduating.” – Fab

Without a doubt I’ll miss my best friend Jairus James, every single day – Zaib. [and I’ll be missing you Zaib. (At this, Pooja begin vomiting)]

“I am going to miss all the people that are going to upark, or graduated. I have spend the last two years with them, its going to be different without them. I grew with them, and they mean a lot to me. #nitwits.” – Roshan

“I’m gonna miss some good friends who are [transferring] to u park.” – Steve A.

“The ease of hanging out with friends (it’s ALOT harder now).” – Charles V.

“Walking down the hall and chillen with like 15 people. Staying up late with people and working towards that common goal.” – Justin

One big response I received was Mrs. Stephanie Yoder (aka O’Dea); many of her music students (such as Princess Consuela Banana-hammock and myself included), responded saying how great of a teacher and person she is; Mrs. O’Dea is moving up to Boston so it is going to be tough for all of us who have spent the years with her in Abingtones and music class.

“Are there any regrets you have from these past few years?”

Snowy Abington (source: Jairus)

Snowy Abington (source: Jairus)

“I wish I started my minor earlier, because now I have to take summer classes in order to not have to do credit overload.” – Bre

“Wished I had minored in English, wished I had gotten my drivers license; they used to have buses that ran after 6:20, but now they don’t and it’s annoying. To fix this, the best I could do is take a few English classes, see what I can do with it in graduate school or community college. – Danielle

“…I regret thinking that PSU is the only good college in America. I also regret not trying harder to take out student loans so I could dorm away from home at PSU. I regret taking off a semester of school to work (even though I go to school full time now anyway), the taste of money controls me now, so I’ll always have to go to school AND work, not just go to school.” – Steve S.

“I regret not making calc wait!” – ‘Emma’

“That I had a clear goal in the beginning, I wanted to transfer out, but I wasn’t sure. I should have decided from the beginning and stuck with it, instead of changing it back it forth. Also time management and not trying to do everything,  but do the things I needed to do.” – Roshan

” I regret taking calc, physics and chemistry together. It set me back a semester.” – Steve A.

“I wish I stood by my faith more, especially at college. I let other people’s opinions sway my own.” – Jenny.

“No regrets.” – Charles V.

“In history, college kids are the ones that changed the world. Wished I changed the world somehow.” – Justin

“What would you have done differently these past years in college?”

 Lion Showcase Lion Showcase (source: Jairus)[/caption]

“I would be involved in something” – Zaib

“I would have not have wasted so much money on buying food from school and out, mostly out. I wish I goofed off less. I wish I was more involved on THON; they had a lot of meetings so I couldn’t attend all of them”. – Priya

“Me too [ ^ ]. I wish I went to class more.” – Daveshu

“I wish I used a calendar for all the assignments I missed.” – Sasha

“Should of tried to meet newer people instead of being shy.” – Mike

“In the beginning I thought Abington wasn’t great campus and I compared it to other campuses; I couldn’t it compare it because the people made the campus. Its a wonderful place where people can grow. Even though it doesn’t have everything other campuses have. I would have tried to enjoy every moment more and wouldn’t complain.” – Roshan

“I wish I had taken a minor…also taking a loan out, because you realize “dang i got to pay this back?”. I wish I had paid attention more in classes”. – Jimmy

“Taking classes I didn’t really need.” – Chun (Prettyboy Floyd)

“I probably would’ve done more art.” – Emma

“I wish I hadn’t taken microbiology because I wasted a drop credit on a class I didn’t need.” – Liz

“I wish I was more involved and knew lots of people and had more things to do.” – Charles

“Getting involved in clubs.” – Matt

“I would have spread out my gen-eds so I could balance it out with the classes I have now.” – Jairus [that's me]

“I would have taken less gen eds and more core classes.” – Steve A.

“Would not have changed anything.” – Charles V.

“Been more intentional about doing good to and for others.” – Justin

“What are you excited for in the future?”

Friends at graduation. (source: Jairus)

Friends at graduation. (source: Jairus)

“Japan! I’m excited for making long lasting friendships, networking with the companies I’ll be meeting with, and experiencing the Japanese culture.” – Bre

“Graduate school and driving, and turning 21 [turn up].” – Danielle

“Moving in and finally living in the same zipcode as Mike Zo, my significant other of 5 years! :)Colleen

“Excited for electrical engineering classes :D.” – Steve A.

“Season 4 episode 6 of Game of thrones on Sunday [May 11].” – Alvin

“Living on my own… terrifying and exciting at the same time :).” – Lauren

“Short term, I would say graduation, I want to see how that’ll turn out and who’s going to be there and all my accomplishments.” – Sherlyn

“I think I’m excited to just focus on my major itself and graduate with it. Not worry about all the useless extra classes I have to take…and then for UPark; I’m excited, nervous, scared, and sad all at the same time so that might be too many emotions.” – Zaib

“Pretty stoked for some more art.” – ‘Emma’

“I am excited to see what the future holds for everyone. To see where our path takes us, and which route we will all take. How our dreams hold up.” – Roshan

“I’m extremely excited for the summer and what it holds for me and most definitely excited for the next two years at UP!” – Shane

“I’m excited for this summer, to meet new people, spend more time with my family, work at my internship, and to start fall semester at UPark.” – Priya

“The next iPhone. Jk the upcoming Babies [for his family]. :).” – Charles V.

“Changing the world as a college grad :p.” – Justin

And of course, there were the funny responses too.

“Becoming undisputed king of the universe.” – Chris

“Getting married to some really hot guy I met through a prison dating site >:D Jkjk.” – Angela

“Hopefully you’ll come over by then or able to hangout [I'm going over to kick his butt in Battlefield].” – Dan

“Becoming a billionaire.” – Zain

“What are you most proud of?”

Friends in front of Woodland (source: Jairus)

Friends in front of Woodland (source: Jairus)

“I’m most proud of the use of what I learned in school. Knowing that what I learned is actually helping and people are noticing.” – Justin

“I’m most proud of the long lasting friendships I made.” – Zaib

“I’m proud I managed to make it through some rough classes. Somehow. :) ” – ‘Emma’

“I would say I’m proud of who I’ve become, I used to be a random student who just goes to class and goes home, but now I am involved on campus and rarely go home.” – Steve A.

“I am proud for doing clubs like Tazmania/SASA , even though I didn’t like it all the time, they taught me valuable skills about teamwork, and how to handle bad situations. To show was a real team is like. Hard work pays off, and seeing an end product of something.” – Roshan

“Proud of all the friends that I have made over the past few years! Because the friends that I made really made me a better person, in school and in life habits.” – Shane


I hope everyone has a safe and exciting summer and a bountiful future, you guys rock. Hopefully I can keep adding questions/answers to this as I get more feedback.

On the morning of November 29, 2012, Ryan Viola was walking to his bus stop with his brother, Vincent, when he was struck by a car while crossing the street.  Vincent, only 14 at the time, rushed to him and covered him with his jacket, performing CPR on his older brother.  Ryan was soon rushed to the hospital. His injuries were too traumatic; he would not survive.

The Viola family knew Ryan’s desire to be an organ donor. So, an 11-year old girl has Ryan’s heart. An 8-year-old who otherwise would not have made it to Christmas that year has one of his kidneys. Two infants survived because of his liver. Two women can see because they were given his corneas.

ryanstrong logoIn December of 2013, I stumbled across the “Ryan Strong 5k”, a run taking place at Bucks County Technical High School in honor of Ryan Viola. In that instant, I knew this was going to be the first 5k I would run in my life. The story of Ryan Viola was enough to make me put aside my disdain for running to honor his memory.

Seeing how something so beautiful could come of something so tragic was absolutely touching.  While I didn’t know Ryan personally, learning his story made me wish I did. He was going to join the army after high school, which is where the “Ryan Strong” logo comes from. After seeing the turnout this past Sunday, it’s clear to me that being “Ryan Strong” is something the community strives for, and for good reason.


The event kicked off with some heartwarming words from local congressmen, presenting awards to Vincent Viola for his actions taken on that dreadful morning. If that wasn’t enough to make you shed a tear, there wasn’t a dry eye in the building after Ryan’s mother spoke about her son and the 16 months that have gone by since his passing. We weren’t there to mourn his death, we were there to celebrate his life and the life that has come because of him.  After a quick prayer, the participants were out to the starting line.

Dave-runningIt might not make sense to a lot of people to run 3.1 miles in the rain at 9:00am, but all of us had good reason.  The started shouted “GO!” and we were off!  I quickly broke to the front of the pack and found someone whose pace I could stick with. I moved forward to a few different runners whose paces I felt comfortable with and before I knew it, I had finished 5th place out of over 300 participants. With my time clocking in at 22 minutes 31 seconds, I ran a steady pace of 7 minutes 14 seconds per mile, or about 8.3 miles per hour. That’s faster than the speed limit in some parking lots, so I’m kinda proud of myself for that. My parents were the first ones to congratulate me at the finish line and despite the fact that we were given times and places for finishing, fellow runners congratulated each other because none of that real mattered.  We had all done it for bigger reasons.

It was an amazing experience to have my first 5k event be something so meaningful to not only myself but the entire community. My heart goes out to the Viola family for all they’ve been through and how they’ve made something beautiful out of all of this.  I may have not run a half-marathon or made a dramatic recovery of some sort, but I’m proud of myself for this accomplishment and can say I now have one run under my belt. You can bet I’ve already been looking for more 5k’s to run in the new couple months and eventually I’ll work my way up to the half-marathons and even beyond.


My parents were almost as drenched as I was.

If you keep pushing yourself far enough, you’ll soon realize the only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.  Whether it be for an honorable cause, an inspiring story, or your own determination, go out and run for your life.


If you’re interested in reading the full-length version of this story, visit my personal blog.


Fabienne, Rianne, Marielle, and me in Washington DC


This past Spring Break I actually wanted to go to the Netherlands and see my friends but I couldn’t afford it. So instead, my friends brought the Netherlands to me! Fabienne, one of my best friends, visited me during Spring Break together with Marielle. Marielle’s sister Rianne has been working in New York for the past two months so it was nice for Marielle to see her sister too.

They were only here during my Spring Break so we had only a week to spend together. We decided to spend the first four days (Monday-Thursday) in New York. They both hadn’t been in NYC before so we basically did “tourist-stuff” in these couple days.



  And here is the Ultimate Tourist Picture :)



          Night out in NYC (Times Square)


A day in Metropolitan Museum of Art. This picture was taken at the end of the day and we had difficulty standing BUT it was worth it! This museum is so interesting!


Selfie with the Statue of Liberty!



This was one of the coldest days I experienced in my life! We only had two days left in New York and I had to take Fabienne and Marielle to Central Park so we literally froze our butt off and turned purple from the cold but hey at least they got to see Central Parks!


Fabienne is obsessed with taxis and was dying for a picture on top of a taxi. We asked like 10 taxi drivers if she could sit on his car for a picture. Well, I know I have crazy friends and I know we get weird looks a lot, but these looks the taxi drivers gave us were different.. First they needed 10 seconds to comprehend what she just asked them followed by a laugh and a “Are you kidding me” -look. So of course none of them allowed her to take a picture with their taxi but she was stubborn and found a taxi in one of the stores we walked in. She forced me to take this picture with her so we could get embarrassed together.. and get yelled at together :) We got yelled at actually. Pretty embarrassing. But who cares?! I’m never gonna see those people again anyways. At least, I hope so.


This picture was taken when the weather was much better! We decided to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan. As you guys can see, we had a beautiful view of the city!


And last but not least we visited the 9/11 Memorial. This was my favorite. Our tour guide’s husband was suffering from cancer because of the chemicals he inhaled while saving lives as a firefighter on 9/11. “We were lucky. He came home. But now he can leave any moment” she said and made us all cry. It was very emotional to walk through this memorial and listen to people’s stories. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

From Monday till Friday we stayed in New York and decided to go to Atlantic city on Friday night. We quickly booked a hotel in Atlantic city for the night and hopped on our car and drove all the way to Atlantic city. When we arrived at the hotel in Atlantic City, without losing any time, we got dressed and went downtown. We walked around, saw the different casinos, and of course gambled! I won 29$, Marielle and Rianne won 71$, and Fabienne made our night by hitting the jackpot and winning 0.10$ :)) 



At Ceaser’s Casino in Atlantic City. Marielle was grumpy because she was hungry and we were only taking longer to get to the restaurant :) I mean you are not in Atlantic City every week :)



              And we finally got to the restaurant.. Marielle is smiling again :))


                                  Fabienne saved the night :) #milionaire

After spending a (long) night in Atlantic city and having a complete blast we headed to Washington DC the next morning. That saturday the weather was amazing and we walked through the city all day. By the way, when I asked my friends what they liked about America the best they said: “You don’t have to wait to wear you summer-winter clothes till the seasons change. You can actually wear a hoodie on Monday and wear a dress the next day.” I guess this is very true. The temperature changes are crazy sometimes.


                                            The Dutchies and the White House!


While we were sitting here some guy passed by and offered us to take a picture. He took a picture of us and asked us where we were from. The second we said “The Netherlands” his eyes got bigger and he shouted out “Goede middag dames” which means “Good afternoon ladies”.. it turned out he was Dutch too. What a sweet coincidence!


Resting and enjoying the sun! We could get enough of this beautiful weather and of Washington DC of course!


Like some of you guys know, I was born in the Netherlands but I’m from Turkish decent. The red-white flag in this picture is the Turkish flag and the red-black-white flag is the flag of Amsterdam. I saw these two flags next to each other while walking through the international street of Washington street and I couldn’t pass it without taking a quick photo. 

After having dinner at one of these international cafes, me and Fabienne headed to Philadelphia and Marielle and Rianne stayed in Washington DC. On sunday I showed Fabienne Philadelphia around. It was the day of the St. Patrick Day parade so it was perfect!



Fabienne and me at the Love Park in Philadelphia. Do you see the parade behind us??


                    Beautiful Philadelphia and my beautiful car of course :))

Annnd it was time. This is why I want to have a time machine sometimes. After spending a week together it was time to say Goodbye. Fabienne had to take the bus back to New York. Her flight was the next day. I made myself a promise: I was NOT gonna cry! And I didn’t… till the bus left… with Fabienne.





































































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