LVC surprises me everyday!

LVC surprises me everyday!

I am Mai Phan, international student from Vietnam. I am currently sophomore at Lebanon Valley College, and double majoring in Global Studies and Politics.

I only knew about the Redbook trips when I arrived at LVC. To me, those Redbook trips are the most interesting thing to me. Normally, every weekend LVC offers students a chance to go off campus to do various activities including: shopping, travelling, bowling, and etc.

College life is never easy for anyone. Students struggle the whole week with homework assignment, essays, projects, and group works. That is, getting on the school bus, going out off the campus every weekend is the opportunity for us to refresh our mind for the new academic week. More importantly, as an international student, I always wait for Redbook trips due to several reasons. First, most the trips are free. Second, I don’t have transportation to go anywhere  by myself. Third, if I have the opportunity to go out, I would have no clue where to go. Therefore, the reasons that I always wait for the weekend is the Redbook trips.

Last year, I experienced many activities that I had never done when I was home, like kayaking, going on a hay ride, paint ball, and many more. Just get on the bus and go. LVC knows where the interesting places are!

This year, I went to Baltimore, the best city in America with friends. It was an amazing day. The weather was great: sunny and warm. We went to the Baltimore Aquarium to see such a variety of fish. Luckily, there was a festival that day. I remembered that we danced in the street with music, painted on the road, and enjoyed really good food on  the street. That was a memorable experience for me.

In brief, student life at LVC is not all about books, research or exams; we learn not only from classes but also from experiences.

Mai Phan


Lab Experiences at LVC

Lab Experiences at LVC

I really enjoy working in both chemistry and biology labs. Among all the labs, there are two labs that I liked the most. The first one is my independent study that I am doing in organic chemistry field and another one is mammalian anatomy lab. In the independent study, I am currently working on finding a way to maximize the synthesis of Lactone that is found in Greek Tobacco. Besides learning the cool facts and new information everyday from literature and research, I have learned and have been learning to use different instruments. Now, I know techniques such as running NMR both proton and carbon, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), regular Column chromatography, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS) and so on. I feel that coming to LVC and taking these labs, has given me an opportunity to have a hands-on experience on those different instruments, which many students from other colleges lack.

Dissecting a cat in mammalian anatomy laboratory class is another thing that I have enjoyed the most. Currently, in the lab, we have had to memorize all the names, insertion, origin, and actions of the muscles and need to relate them to human muscles. This was hard, but I enjoyed it because I am curious in learning new things and I like challenges. I only had a little bit of theoretical knowledge about anatomy and physiology. When I imagine and drew structure and locations of the organs, it was based on the picture that I have learned in the book. It was just so cool to learn that overall anatomy looks different in reality than it does in the book. This gives me an insight that we need to have as much practical knowledge as theoretical in order to be well educated in a specific field, especially in the medical field. Both labs have helped prepare me on pursuing my academic goals. My plan is to go to medical school or to go to a graduate school focusing on chemistry.

Global Studies and then Politics

Global Studies and then Politics

I am Mai Phan, from Vietnam. I am currently sophomore and double majoring in Global Studies and Politics in Lebanon Valley College. Before I enrolled at LVC, I only intended to focus on Global Studies because I am strongly interested in studying  international relations, especially, world politics, how one country interacts with others. However, after the first semester in LVC, I decided to add another major which is Politics. There are several reasons leading to my decision.

First, I had recognized that studying abroad is a very precious chance for me to fully immerse with new experiences as well as challenges. I will take this opportunity to accumulate knowledge and experiences as much as I can. (If I have chance I would like study Japanese in the future.)

Second, I am strongly motivated by my professors. The way they deliver lectures in class strongly inspires me to study more about politics even though I was primarily interested in Global Studies. As I recently did my research on Marxism, I have become more and more fascinated about the theory. Even after I finished my literature review essay, I still look up more information about Marxism, and read it whenever I am free. To me, Global Studies and Politics are not only my college majors but also my life passion.

Third, academic life here does not mean reading books and books and books everyday. LVC offers me opportunities that I never had at home which is to engage in other activities off the campus. During my freshman year, I was a scribe for the Harrisburg Foreign Policy Association about the relationship between Israel and Palestine. Last month, I went to Washington DC with my Law professor to the Newseum to discuss about the survival of public discussion. In the meeting, I had a chance to meet with professors from other colleges, politicians, and well-known scholars.

That is, the academic environment in LVC me feel confident in the future.


Typical Tuesday

Typical Tuesday


My name is Isaac Reese and I’m a third year Criminal Justice student at Lebanon Valley College who is studying abroad at Kingston University in England! I arrived at Kingston University September 12 and will be studying for one semester till December 16. I am living in the Middle Mill residence halls on campus here at Kingston. The University is located in the town Kingston Upon Thames and is a 15 minute train ride away from London. I am interested in volleyball (sports in general), music, and exercising at the gym. I decided to study abroad because I have never travelled to another country before and I wanted to change that immediately! I was not sure what to expect when I arrived in England because I’m from a small town and not a lot of people have the opportunity to travel like I have. I would have not imagined a kid from New Oxford Pennsylvania going this far away from home because it simply just does not happen and I wanted more then New Oxford could offer.



St. Paul’s Cathedral London England



Tuesday’s at Kingston  

On Tuesday’s I have one class and that is popular fiction from 2:00-4:00. My day will start at 9:00 usually and I will have a bowl of cereal or I will make myself a ham, salami, cheese, pepperoni, mayo sandwich. I have no experience cooking so I’m still learning how to cook more difficult things and I am enjoying it! Next, before class I will go grocery shopping at the Kingston Centre where I shop at Aldi and Sainsbury’s where the prices are cheap and the selection is very good. The farmers market is my next stop where I can get carrots, potatoes, onions, lettuce, raspberries, blueberries, and bananas but the selections are endless! Grocery shopping is a frequent task in England because food is fresh and there are less preservatives in food so it will spoil quicker then in the United States. Walking to class from Middle Mill is a nice seven minute walk with many different ways to go because of trails, roads, and alleys. This is my smallest class of the four courses I am taking at Kingston with only 34 students. The classrooms table and chair, not the typical desk and chair at some colleges and universities in the United States. The course is made up of lecture, class discussion, and small group discussion. This class also has a seminar that meets on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s for one hour making the total course three hours in length. In this class we will be reading and discussing romance, fairy tales, and comic/horror novels. After class I usually make dinner, talk with my flat mates, work on homework, plan weekend trips to new places, or I will go into the town centre to explore!

Courtauld Institute of Art London England


What is so different here?

The one thing that is normal in Kingston that I am not used to is the amount of walking and how it is sometimes the best transportation and I like it! The other forms of transportation are taking the bus, the underground (the tube), or the above ground rail. I have used all forms of transportation and they are all excellent. Once, when I was in London I used all four transportation services in one night to get back to my residence hall! My favorite aspect about my host country is the amount of different people I meet everyday. Kingston University is such a diverse student population and I enjoy meeting people I might never meet or talk to in the United States. I was surprised at the large number of United States students studying at Kingston when I first arrived because there are many in my residence hall blocks and in my other classes.

What’s next?

I have so much to talk about with all the other places I have travelled! My next few posts I will try to catch up everyone on the places I have been to. Fill free to follow my Instagram account: @reeseisaac. If you don’t have an Instagram, follow me on Facebook page Isaac Reese. I can be reached by two emails at OR If anyone has good recommendations on where to visit please tell me because I’m always looking for a fun place to travel over here! I have lots of pictures to post so stay tuned and sorry if I’m writing to much, I’m just having a great time and studying abroad has been the best decision of my life and I hope it never ends. Cheers!!


Trafalgar Square London England


I am Mai Phan, international student from Vietnam. I am currently a sophomore at Lebanon Valley College, and majoring in Global Studies and Politics. I had looked at more than 20 colleges and universities in the States before finally choosing LVC as my home in four years. So what makes LVC so special?

  1. The friendliness. Every time I had questions about the application process, school or anything, LVC staff never let me wait for too long and answer them almost instantly. Compared to other colleges, LVC makes me feel more welcome and homey!
  2. The generosity.  The school really appreciates international students by offering me and my international friends lots of financial opportunities to go here. These include various scholarships and on-campus jobs.
  3. Location. LVC locates in what I call ” the ideal educational town”. It takes me about 3 and a half hours to drive from Annville to New York City, about 2 and a half hours to Washington D.C., and about 2 hours to Philadelphia. Annville itself is a very old peaceful town in Central Pennsylvania. Students going here don’t get much distraction from the city life, shops, and criminal activities.
  4. Education. It is valuable; majors are diverse and flexible. LVC offers me lots of opportunities in my majors such as scribing for Foreign Policy Association of Harrisburg, attending the Interactivity Foundation event in Newseum, Washington D.C. and meeting with other successful alumni.
Picking LVC

Picking LVC

Hi, I am Devendra Sanyasi and I am a senior, double majoring in ACS Chemistry and Biology. I chose to come to LVC mainly because of its location and College size. I was looking for the small Liberal Arts College that has good biology and chemistry major, which I was planning on pursing. LVC was a great fit for me not only because of its academic reputation, but also it is located in the area where the crime rate is very low and everything is easily accessible.  

I enjoy and love being here. Everybody is very friendly and professors are great. All of my professors do not just teach a class, they make sure you understand the course materials. I got the opportunity to do independent research since my freshman year and I was even paid to do summer research this past summer. I am involved in many different clubs and I am the President of Global Education Club. Here at LVC, interacting with international students and students from different states, and also learning about their cultures, has helped me accomplish my academic goals, but it also has helped me expand my horizon in understanding culture, religion, and social life globally.


Expectations vs Reality

Expectations vs Reality

Hi everyone, my name is D’anna and I am writing this from London, England (oh my gosh). We arrived September 12th which already feels like a lifetime away; honestly, this whole country feels like a lifetime away from America. I always assumed England would be very similar to America (probably just because both countries speak English) but I was very, very wrong. I came to this country expecting one thing, but England has handed me something completely different, a good different. These are just a few of my experiences.

Expectation 1:

Every English person assumes my American accent is cool and would want me to say various American catchphrases.

Reality 1:

Brits don’t care about my accent, half the time they don’t even know where my accent is from. But this doesn’t only come from the English, it’s also apparent in other study abroad students as well. No one knows where I’m from by just the sound of my voice, nor do they care about the differences in my accent versus theirs. Maybe obsessions over accents is mostly an American thing.

Expectation 2:

It will rain all day everyday nonstop and there will not be a single day without rain.

Reality 2:

Although it is cloudy often, over the 10 days I’ve been in London, it has rained only about half of the days. And this rain isn’t a persistent all-day rain, it’s typically nice all day until around dinner time when it rains, then stops around 2 hours later. Like every rule, there are exceptions to this one, but at least for me, it hasn’t rained nearly as much as I thought it would.

Expectation 3:

I don’t like to drink/party so I’m sure I’ll find a bunch of people who feel the same.

Reality 3:

I have never before realized how big the drinking and partying culture was here. In England, there is “Freshers Week” which consists of parties every night at various clubs. This week is AWESOME because it’s a week to go out, meet people, party and let loose before the semester actually begins, although I will admit I haven’t been to a single night event.  I have talked to a lot of students here, and out of everyone I’ve talked to, only ONE doesn’t like to drink or party (like me). Only one person. Now, I’m sure if I keep searching I’ll find more people, but I’ve never realized just how big the clubs and alcohol were here.

Expectation 4:

Since the school is in London, there must be University buses going everywhere all the time.

Reality 4:

Now, this is true, but there was an unexpected twist. I assumed the buses would go everywhere I needed to go, so I’d be walking about as much as I would attending LVC. I have tracked my steps; last semester, I averaged 9,000 steps a day. My average amount of steps has doubled since coming here. Which is great for my health, but bad for my shoes. The (free) University buses only run during the weekdays, and at off-peak hours only run once an hour. This means that on weekends if I wanted to go into Kingston Town Centre without paying for the city bus, I have to walk about a mile there and back to my residence hall (which is good becasue with all this walking, I won’t have to go to a gym to get my exercise in). These are some awesome places I’ve been to already!

Kingston Town Centre market
Parliament and Big Ben across from the River Thames
The London Eye along the River Thames
Buckingham Palace
Royal Pavillion Brighton, England

Expectation 5:

Since I was never homesick when I went to LVC, so I won’t be homesick going to Kingston University.

Reality 5:

Although this one seems bad, it’s actually a good thing. I am very homesick; I call my mom every day for hours, something I have never done before. When I remember I’m not just at school,  and that I’m at school in another country, I begin to panic. BUT yes, this is good. It’s good because it’s making me stronger- one of the reasons I wanted to go abroad in the first place. It’s making me realize how lucky I am to have amazing parents and an amazing family of biological and non biological members. It’s making me realize that it’s okay to get lost because, after a lot of wandering around, I’ll always find my way back home. And it’s making me realize I can push through things, no matter how hard it may seem, because I won’t give up on myself or my situation.


Exposure to American culture and classroom setup has begun!

Exposure to American culture and classroom setup has begun!

I did not know this until now that when you are immersed in a new culture an inward obsession with identity is provoked. Several times you begin to question yourself who you are among all those in your new environment, what you are even doing there as if you do not know the cause and try to assess the extent of your relevance. But  you will begin to view the world through a completely different prism, one which highlights your differences and sobers you up to the fact that there is a rift between what you have always known and what you must now learn quickly to behave appropriately in a new society. I make it a point that I should befriend more Americans, and I feel for my sake I should make a more concerted effort to both gain and impart cultural awareness through friendships with Americans I know that will equip me to navigate the new complex society am finding myself part of!
Cultural adjustment is complicated because it goes beyond cultural understanding into a lot more to do with cultural interpretation/translation-different gestures and facial expressions mean different things in almost every culture. Also,  cars driving from the right is going against my inner natural senses. Growing up in Zimbabwe it had been hammered right into my skull that when crossing the road one should always look right and it is natural  without fail. Now imagine me relying on this very Zimbabwean information which is horrid misinformation in the US. Another example, all my life I feel embarrassed to look anyone direct into their eyes but now maintaining eye contact is more appropriate here -I still need to learn it!
There are so many things to learn, pounds instead of kilograms, Fahrenheit instead of Celsius, miles instead of kilometers, color instead of colour. Left instead of right!
I anticipated my first day of class with so much anxiety-28August, and my first class was ACT 151. I am not sure if I took something from this class on this particular day. Having been used to a classroom where I would sit next to my friend this time I instantly detected that it was going to be something else. I had to dismiss any prejudice of any kind -as I told myself on the first day that on this campus my future shines!
After going through the first week of my classes, I had got an insight of what to expect, realizing how engaging an American classroom is. You just don’t walk in without some preparation or rough idea of what is going to be discussed that day; it is just something else. Homeworks descend on a student like nobody’s business, and for fleeting moments I would freak out. I realized I need to start learning time management.
One of my biggest fear when I learned I was indeed coming to America for college was roommate-situation but, Dan, my roommate is nice I am learning so much from him. I appreciate his help and hanging in the grounds for no apparent reason by myself still refreshes me. These are some of the things beyond the classroom that makes my life meaningful at The Valley.

Arrival on Campus,Exciting experiences and Food.

Arrival on Campus,Exciting experiences and Food.

When we arrived on campus, I whispered in my mind that this is the campus conceiving my future- It’s what I had been longing for all summer. I have to let myself get comfortable and let it define my destiny. LVC is the campus that is going to watch me grow from a naive and innocent young man from the countryside of Zimbabwe into a complete citizen equipped to at least contribute to some of the problems labeled permanently by the society in the 21st century!

I arrived late afternoon the sun was spreading its light across the wide and expansive campus. Beautiful buildings sprawled over the green expanses of perfectly sheared lawns and rows of trees in neat pavements, everything I have seen since I arrived is beautiful. America as I have discovered, is beautiful, we have cities in Zimbabwe, but they are still incomparable.
When we arrived on campus, we went right to the LVC Book Store to get some t-shirts. I guess he was trying to create a more forthcoming atmosphere for us that homesickness will at least stay away, in fact, it worked. We headed to Caitlin’s office right away, located below the bookstore. Caitlin is awesome and invaluable to me, and I bet the whole International Students group would agree with me. I had known her for four months before this day through pre-departure emails, and I even knew her face because we had a couple of Skype calls while I was still in Zimbabwe. I had a great time working with her to prepare myself ahead of time for the life on campus. She cares!! She had instilled in me so much confidence that I was joining a supportive community -indeed it is, I love LVC. When we finally met, she was relieved because I guess she understood how hard it perhaps would get for me to negotiate my way through those airports and connect my planes but it just went smoothly.

My first dinner in America was that same evening; it took me by surprise as I failed to identify at least one single type of food. I told myself that everything is going to be confusing and I have to unlearn and relearn again like learning to talk again. With food, I am still struggling, and I am more inclined to eat the things I know such as eggs, sausage being my favorite, pizza, rice, and some I have no idea of what it is. I try a single American food daily and so far, have fallen in love with Kansas rice, my dessert is still simple cake and ice cream. It has been predicted back home that when I taste the delicious American food, I will be tempted to overeat.

Sleeping for the first couple of days was weird. I would, for the most part, feel sleepy around 3 pm because back home I usually slept around 9 pm and since PA, is six hours behind it will still be day. I am told this is what they call jet-lag. Jet-lag affected me through the first week, but after that, I normalized. The hardest thing is the complications of friendships with my peers. I sometimes feel overlooked. It is not as easy as it is back home to build a circle of friendships but at least I am seeing improvements with expectations that after at least a semester the friendships would have grown.
The second day of our orientations as International Students was jam-packed. We were introduced to lots of things on campus all these in Caitlin’s company and other international student assistants including Sierra, Michael, and Patrick. We went to Walmart; we have supermarkets in Zimbabwe, but this was a super big store for me. The most exciting but scariest experience that happened during our two-days of International Students Orientation was going to Hershey Park for some rides. I enjoyed them all but honestly; I dreaded Sky Rush, I imagined losing my life with its speed. After all, I had lots of fun in the Park! I signed for a bunch of trips, besides my academics, I am interested in seeing places in America It’s the superpower of the world I cannot still imagine that is where I am.





Zimbabwe to America

Zimbabwe to America

I left Zimbabwe, my home, my familiar environment, with a mix of emotions. I was excited but why did I feel like this was nerve wrecking? Would I love it? Would I hate it? Would I miss Zimbabwe chronically? Would I cope with speaking in English all the time or would forget I am in Pennsylvania? Would I end up confusing my peers and everyone around me with my language? These were some of the questions I came to face within my mind and wasn’t prepared to answer.

The family wished me well as I was embarking on this journey, deep down I knew I had to embark on a journey that will be a definitive experience of my life. A journey that will shape my beliefs, thinking and obviously my intellectual acumen. I have already exhausted my first three weeks in an unfamiliar country for the first time, all the things I have done so far are new – taking a long flight marked my first time, negotiating my way through new people – how overwhelming are all these experiences! All I had long been yearning for was the opposite word for “loneliness” if it is ever there. I get excited to watch my relations grow with each passing day and having a conversation with one more new persons a day is exciting.

I first landed in the US, at Washington, Dulles, this was my way to LVC, the place that will see me grow from a naive young man into a better person, positioned to face the increasingly interconnected world. I walked through Harrisburg International Airport and saw Bob, my mentor and Joe, another international student from China. It was such a relief to see them, and they greeted me and welcomed me to America. As we drove to campus, I knew my illusion that the LVC campus would have lots of good, friendly, accommodating people was true.