Sunday, September 20

how to love this college student: a step by step guide.

Being away at college is a wonderful and beautiful thing.
I love it here, it's where I'm supposed to be. My heart is full of joy and my head is (sometimes a little bit too) full of knowledge. There is no doubt that Spring Arbor is the place I'm called to call home for the time being.
But yeah, it can be a little weird. You feel like you have two separate lives in two different places, and trying to balance responsibilities as a daughter, sister, resident of Zeeland, etc., alongside those of a student, friend, and gets a little hairy sometimes, especially when the demands here at school can be a lot more intense than those at home.

It's just that here is where I get to be physically, where I live my life right now.

Want to help bridge the disconnect?

Words are my biggest love language, followed by time and gifts, in that order. Facebook messages are nice, sure, but I love getting letters and packages so much. It's a reminder that people back home still take the time to think of me, to make me a part of their lives, even while I'm at school.

How to prepare an AMAZING package:
(1) write a letter. tell me what you're doing. share a bible passage. tell me something stupid you did yesterday. share your favorite quote. color me a picture. I don't care, just keep it real.
(2) knickknacks! YAY!! As nice as it is, sometimes cash and huge gifts aren't what I really need (and, let's be honest, where's the fun in that?!) Some random, fairly inexpensive ideas of things that are super helpful are gum, nail polish, washi tape, dried fruit (current obsession, actually, the stuff is AHHHMMAZING), stamps, sticky notes, photos, tea, and the like. Just little stuff that you encounter while you're out and about that just kind of scream "I bet Julia'd love that!"
(3) Pack it. UPS has those flat rate boxes, which I assume help if you've got something randomly super heavy? But the more decoration the box has, the more fun it is to open. My family sometimes wraps boxes in newsprint paper so they can color all over it. It's just the little things that scream 'I took the time to do this for you because I care!'
(4) I try to make a point of thanking people and telling them when their letters or packages arrive, but it's not exactly one of my strong points. Please don't hate me if I don't get back to you or don't share a long, heartfelt reply. Life is crazy, and I truly treasure every little letter that I get, but life is crazy here, especially with the academic demands of this semester and all of the preparation I have for this spring.

Send your little letters or packages to (yes, packages can be sent to a box number:)  :

      Julia Klynstra - box 403
      Spring Arbor University
      106 E. Main St.
      Spring Arbor, Michigan

Friday, September 18

water leaks!

Well, there are currently four maintenance men in our little dorm suite. Thanks to random mini-flooding twice in 14 hours and an air conditioner that I can't use because it smokes up the room and makes the whole hall smell like death, they're spending some pretty significant time around here.

Out of respect for them and the crazy chaos that's happening, I'm not running around and taking pictures right now, but I can show you the aftermath:

We've been running these noisy fans for 48 hours straight, trying to get the carpet all of the way dried out again. (We're still not there yet...)

In their leakage investigation, they took out a cinder block from one of our walls (sledgehammers and picks, whole nine yards), pulled out some piping, put some PVC in, and did their best to cover it back up with a grate.

While we were getting the whole water leak figured out, we also threw out the fact that somewhere in the pile of maintenance requests on their radar was the fact that my air conditioner is unusable due to the fact that turning it on fills my room up with smoke and makes the whole floor smell like death.

Basically, this has been an exercise in patience and the ability to laugh at my situations. God's got things under control, and He throws me for a loop sometimes to remind me to rely on Him.

Sunday, September 13

photo update!

It's pretty much impossible to sum up my last week of summer in just one photo, so you're getting three.
My last day at the factory was super anticlimactic, running around covering breaks and making people happy and just thankful to know it was almost done.
My last meal was chinese takeout with my father from Mr. You's while we snuck in our last two episodes of Grimm because, let's face it, we're obsessed and we do our best to watch all of them together.

I house sat at two different places, one of them back at the corgi, the other snuggling with a super personable plott hound and a cat who sort of thinks that he's a dog. That house is more like a second home to me and those animals are almost as much fur babies to me as my own, who was obviously pretty not happy about my leaving for school, either.

She's super smart, and once my plastic tubs came into the living room, she knew what was up. I insisted on our ceremonial 'last goodbye for a while' photos, and she was more excited about bolting out the door, attacking my stuff in the truck, and generally getting the focus back on her silly sassy little self.

The dorm room is back to being 'home,' though for the first time in my entire life I have my own room. Half of a suite in the air conditioned basement that I can say is 'my room' and no one else's. I have two lovely suitemates, Corina and Megan, who make this experience all the more enjoyable, as well as a portion of my group of friends living just down the hall.

Finally, we have this past week. The six of us girls in the picture were the brave ones that decided to adventure up north and go camping for a weekend. Tent, outhouse, campfire cooking, almost-freezing temperatures, the whole nine yards. We had so incredibly much fun, even though we were perpetually cold, unable to start a fire the first night thanks to everything being damp, and a little bit freaked out by all of the wild turkeys (that we found out roosted in treetops overnight. who knew?!).
All in all, a very worthwhile weekend getting some quality girl time in before it got super cold and our schedules all got even crazier.

welcome home.

I am so very thankful to be back on my 'home turf' here at the arbor.
After a summer of lots of work, a fair amount of crazy, a few naps, oh, and more work, I am back to the place of color-coordinated schedules and school supplies running my life.
I'm one of those crazy people that just genuinely loves school. I love the routine and the learning and the being pushed by profs to really reach out and make myself better.

I'm taking 'just' four classes this semester, though each of them will be challenging in their own way and they bring me up to 14 credits, near the crazy busy end of 'full time student' classification.

  • Physiological Psychology
    This is the class that terrifies me slightly. I'm not going to lie, the professor is intimidating. This class has a reputation for being one of the most difficult classes on campus, but I'm going at it full force. We'll be studying brain physiology and it's implications on psychology. We'll be covering everything from sexuality to schizophrenia to prescription medications and how each topic occurs within the brain and body at a neurological level.
    It's no secret that science isn't always my strong point. However, knowing that (1) I'll be able to apply it in my career field on a daily basis because (2) I really am leaning towards to working in a clinical setting. This will be day-to-day stuff for me as a working professional. Overwhelming, but also oh so exciting!

  • Statistics for Behavioral Analysis
    Math, the other of my less-than-favorite subjects. However, the prof is the single sweetest grandmotherly type woman I have ever met. She's 67 years old, intent on retiring after this year, and also a genius. This is another class that's going to take a lot of work for me to do well in, but it's all work that's going to be able to benefit me after I leave the arbor for 'work world.' A lot of it will be directly applicable to understanding how research studies are conducted and the implications of such methods on interpreting studies.
    Social work application? Reading study after study of new research, medications, and hypothesis on human behavior in order to better serve clients. Right up my clinical social work alley.

  • Research Design
    As it turns out, I haven't actually had this class yet. We'll meet every Wednesday night for three hours. The prof is my academic adviser, who's a sweetheart, but relatively new to the teaching portion of our social work department. However, I'm confident that she'll be amazing. Research design is the practical, hands-on side of stats, where we'll really be working on decoding (and possibly conducting?) some research in order to better understand the process and validity of findings and such.

  • Core 300
    Oh, the COR program. Core 100 is Spring Arbor's freshman orientation type class. I opted out of Core 200 because of my Spanish minor (and because I have NO wiggle room in my schedule for fun stuff beyond a one credit here and there, which I prefer to think of as nap breaks in semesters instead of holes to fill). Core 300 is officially entitled "Christian Faith: It's Practices," but it's always just referred to as Core 3. The class is up to a lot of interpretation based on the professor that teaches it, but all center around faith formation and personal faith development.
    Ever since hearing Dr. Laura talk at a chapel last spring, I've had the desire to figure out a way to take one of her classes. However, she's a youth/camping/general ministry prof...not exactly room in my schedule. When I found out she taught Core 3, it was one of the first classes I plugged in because I knew I was going to find a way to take it. She's just the kind of person that you want to be around and soak up their wisdom. I have so much respect for her and am looking forward to listening to her lecture and talk with us.
    (Also, one of our assignments is to take a bible, journal, and food with us to someplace completely quiet or isolated in nature and hang out there for three or four hours and just practice listening for God. This is so right up my alley!)

So that's what my semester is going to look like from an academic perspective. Honestly, this will probably be the most challenging semester of my entire academic career. I'm excited for the challenge, anxious for the work load, and basically just all around ready to give it my all and see what God does on campus and in my life this semester.

Tuesday, September 8

WSPW '15.

I interrupt this usual blog stream of photos and life updates to talk about a cause very near and dear to my heart.

This week is World Suicide Prevention Week.
Weather or not people know about it, take it seriously, or realize the scope of the issue, suicide is something that is very, very real.
WSPW, then, is a chance to talk openly and honestly about something that affects each of us in some way.

Can I throw some stats at you?

  • Someone dies from suicide in the US every 13 minutes.
  • This comes out to 38,000 lives per year.
  • Not including the 250,000 yearly survivors.
  • For people in my age group (15-24), suicide is the second leading cause of death.
    • This number is more than those who die of cancer, AIDS, heart disease, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and lung disease COMBINED.
  • Over 80% of those who take their own life at this age show clear warning signs.

I could go on, but honestly, if this doesn't hurt your heart then I don't know what I can do to make you understand how very real this is.

I have almost lost two people very close to me to suicide, one about a year before we became friends, and one with whom I was close at the time. And these are just the individuals I know about.
In serving in a position of leadership last year, I handled the topic of suicide with numerous different individuals on countless occasions.
I can honestly say that there were chapters in my life that I wasn't so sure I was going to make it through alive.

Now can I take a hot second to dissipate some myths?
  • People who commit suicide are NOT inherently 'crazy'. 
    • They may suffer from very real medical conditions and chemical imbalances, be going through unfathomable amounts of emotional turmoil, or have any number of other factors lingering just beneath the surface.
  • Talking about suicide will NOT an individual more likely to make an attempt.
    • Honestly, if you have reason to suspect someone may be suicidal, the likelihood is that it has already crossed their mind. You're not giving them ideas. Instead, you're giving them a safe space to process everything they're dealing with.
  • People who talk about committing suicide are NOT always just looking for attention.
    • A vast majority of those who end up making a suicide attempt have exhibited clear warning signs. Knowing the warning signs and trusting your gut when you're speaking with the people you care about could very easily save a life.

One of my favorite nonprofit organizations, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), does a campaign every year for WSPW.
This year, the slogan is 
"We'll see you tomorrow."
Can I tell you how much I absolutely love this?
So many reasons, so much good, wrapped up into a simple, four word statement.
It establishes a personal connection between the speaker and recipient (We'll see you), it gives a concrete time (tomorrow; insinuating that 'you don't have to hold on for forever, one day at a time'), and it tells the recipient that they're not in it alone, that they are surrounded by a team of people who love them without limits, who need them in their lives, and who will fight alongside them.
The campaign then challenges you to find your own reasons to hold on.
I'll see you tomorrow because ___________________________ .

Why will you all see me tomorrow?
Because my story is not over yet. Because there is so much more I have been called to. I have not been so much 'pulled from' death as I have been 'redeemed for' life. Because I have chosen to fight every day, to have honest conversations with those around me, to spread awareness and bring hope in my own subtle ways, to use my voice to build others up, and to always believe in the promise of a better future.
I'll see you tomorrow.
And every tomorrow, Lord willing, for many years to come.
Because hope is real, help is real, and each of our stories carries so much importance.