Day 7: Departing Lithuania

As you can see, I need to be more diligent in keeping up with posting about my travels with IBI this summer. Wrapping up our stay in Lithuania; not knowing much before staying a week, I would say the country certainly exceeded my expectations. Staying at LCC University and having the ability to walk into the Old Town of Vilnius in the evenings made our stay that much more enjoyable. Having a few authentic meals; those of which varied from sausage and cheese rolled and boiled in potato, to fried bread with melted cheese appetizers. While walking into town and eating fantastic meals along with walking by the river and taking in all the sites, we had three class days in which we learned about comparative economic systems within the EU and Russia. Corporate visits entailed the US Embassy, the Presidential Palace, Klaipeda Port Authority, BEGA and Albright Lithuania. Giving a quick overview of the the many cultural visits and sites that were taken in, we visited the KGB Museum of Genocide, Trakai castle and the town of Palanga to name just a few. In short, this small segment may not explain the beauty of of Lithuania, therefore, I hope the following pictures are able to help with my lack of articulated description.

 

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Day 1: the Arrival

Arriving at the hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania, the feeling of jet lag was weighing down my excitement of finally being abroad. Even though the nice clean bed had seemed inviting during our flights, I instead decided to tour the city with a few friends. Taking in all the sites and surrounding myself in the culture was going to be my main focus. Though we walked around like American tourists, speaking loud and taking pictures of anything and everything, it turned out to be an enjoyable brief stroll down the city of Vilnius. Walking back to the hotel there had been a champagne cellar that was quite intriguing from the outside. Heading down the steep steps trying not to hit my head on the rough ceiling, we were warmly greeted by a young Lithuanian woman. She spoke well enough english for us to understand and asked us where we were from. After telling her we came from Pennsylvania in the U.S., she laughed and said they (meaning her and her mother) knew the U.S. better than we knew Europe. We laughed and further discussed the reason we had been in country and our goal to learn more about the people of the culture. This is when the young lady’s mother spoke up and explained that Lithuania had recently, within the past 25 years earned their independence. She mentioned how most people had the preconceived notion that Lithuania was part of Russia. In her opinion, this belief was degrading since Russians are thought to be intense and harsh in general. Previously having these negative connotations and now hearing it from a local Lithuanian, I didn’t know what to think. Our visit to Moscow in a week should hopefully shed more light on my real-life perceptions of the Russian culture. The mother then went on to describe the innovative culture of Lithuania and how many locals aspired to be entrepreneurial and start their own businesses. The main issue is that young people felt that the “younger” culture had been lacking and therefore gave them the only option of looking elsewhere to live. Talking with the two local Lithuanian women was a great way to gain first-hand inside look at what common folk felt about their country. stock-photo-close-up-of-lithuania-on-a-map-with-red-pin-194739695

Take aways:

1.) Touring with newly made friends in an unknown city is always fun.

2.) Get out of your comfort zone and talk to the locals!

I chuckle a bit when I include take aways on the first night. My thought in doing this is to bring a broader perspective of what I learned that day—whether it’s trying something new or things I would do differently. Finally, I want to mention the fact that I have decided to make a few of these posts more in-depth for myself. When looking back and discussing the trip with friends and family, hopefully I can recollect these memories more easily if they are written in greater length.

Hope you enjoy!

Words from the author

In all honesty

 I have gained an appreciation for bloggers since starting this journey. Having to write copy for a Digital Marketing course, it has been both frustrating and thoroughly enjoyable. Not knowing what exactly would be hold my interest much less the readers for a little over two and half months. Luckily business is something that I find quite interesting and it also happens to be the major I am pursuing. With this in mind, accompanied by recent books that I have read, I figured starting a blog along those lines would be pretty easy. Of course my ignorant self believed this lie and I have since then regretted choosing an awfully time-consuming topic. Although very time-consuming and stressful as it was, having to articulate my thoughts in ways I had never before has been immeasurable beyond my belief.

Pivots don’t mean the end

I will be traveling this summer, to many countries—13 countries and 1 state to be exact. With this in mind, I would certainly like to keep friends and acquaintances’ up-to-date with my adventures; therefore, I will be adding a ‘Travels’ tab to TheEquitableSource. You are certainly welcome, but not obligated, to read my hopefully (meaning hopefully I remember/make time) to write a weekly blog post. Along with writing I hope to keep some sort of photo journal just because who doesn’t like photos?!

Feedback welcomed

Though I know everyone that reads these posts will not feel comfortable commenting on posts, that it completely fine. Feel free to contact me through email or comment. You may not know it but I can control whose comments get published and who’s do not. Thank you for those of you have kept up with my sub-par blogging experience and have left notes of appreciation and encouragement. All is welcome.

In closing, thank you again for following me through this journey. It has been both challenging and rewarding. To reiterate what I previously stated, if you would like to follow my summary travels, there will be a ‘Travels’ tab soon to be added.

Mentored Collaboration

With so many students entering in extracurricular activities and other fields, most wouldn’t think of doing service during their academic career. For at least a few dedicated students, sharing the mindset of service, innovation, education and collaboration is on the forefront of their lives.

Like-minded collaboration 

Students at the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnership and Applied Research on Messiah College’s campus know just how service and innovation, along with education collide. Although closely fused with the Engineering department, having been integrated in the curriculum, students from all major are accepted. With this collaboration of various majors tends to give the opportunity for learning how to work with those who may not think like you. For instance, an engineer may be thinking more about the process and the product; whereas a business-minded individual would think more about the customer and the follow-up, making sure that contact is not only satisfied with the product but figuring out exactly how they can be served. The cool thing is that one person doesn’t have to do it all!

Shared Leadership

It’s exactly what is sounds like. Not necessarily shared in the sense that students are sharing roles, but that professionals advise students in their roles as managers. This structure is enforced all the way from the top down. From the Collaboratory’s director role, to project managers, there are professionals mentoring students through their leadership role. Take the Student Director role for example. All logistics are done through both the Director and Student Director, bringing full transparency to how the organization is run. This gives students the opportunity to grow leadership skills much quicker than in the classroom. It is with this aspect tied with a service-oriented mindset that the Collaboratory strives to ensure.

Service-oriented

Not only are the students working on projects for either academic credit or pure experience, they are also doing this as service. As Christians we are called to work in the kingdom of God—many feel that this is one way of doing exactly that. With projects like the Zambia Business Training Project, students formulate, create, and implement a business plan to help community members in Zambia learn how to save their earnings. Once implemented over site-team trip, they analyze feedback from community members to see how well their plan has taken up roots. This is an example of just one project. If you would like to learn more, click the imbedded link.

A campus focal point

Have you ever wanted to start a business but not quite sure how? Learning from others in business who have first-hand experience or can mentor you through some of the basics can sometimes be the key to getting off the ground. Startup accelerators can prove to be exactly what is needed. With close mentorship and educational components, individuals can start either for- or non-profit companies. At Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, students have one specific opportunity to enable this articulate thought. In the case of starting a business, the Impact Venture Challenge that is hosted on campus has become the focal point for entrepreneurship.

The bulk of the story

In short, the Impact Venture Challenge does just that of a startup accelerator; giving mentors to students along with adding the educational learning piece to give students the knowledge they will need to start their own business. Hosting workshops to teach accounting, marketing and even how to pitch your idea, students hopefully have a better grasp on what their business plan. Speaking of business plans, groups are expected to submit detailed plans of how they will implement their product or service, along with figuring out their market demographics and future plans for how they will use their prize money.

There’s money involved?

The Impact Venture Challenge Finale gives the chance for six finalist teams to win up to $5,000; having 1st win $5,000, 2nd $3,000 and 3rd $2,000. Now this is a sizable winning for most teams therefore their plans have been vetted through a committee as well as having to pitch their business idea to six judges on the night of the Finale. This tests the knowledge of the teams as they need to figure out all the strengths and weaknesses that their plan may have—being able to enter a market with their idea or service while making money in the long-run is quite critical.

All this being said…

The consensus seems to be that the Impact Venture Challenge is a great way to get students interested in business while still in college. Sparking that enthusiasm now may help to get creative thinkers in the mindset that there is no need to wait, why not start a business in college?

The Best Question Ever

Have you ever entered a situation wondering just how you were going to make a decision? Wondering what exactly it would take for you to make the right decision? Georgian pastor and speaker Andy Stanley gives quite the answer to help articulate a new thought process for this thinking. In his book, The Best Question Ever, Stanley states that no matter what circumstance you face, asking “what is the wise thing to do” is the best question you could ask. This is certainly up to interpretation but if you think about it, he has a point. Think about it this way.

Your boss tasks you with the ultimatum of creating a new and improved five-year marketing plan of the company by the end of the week. Today is Wednesday and you still don’t know what you want the company to be marketing to their investors. Reaching out to your boss this late in the week would make you look like a poor planner, even incompetent to some extent. What do you do? Google marvelous marketing plans that helped companies survive impotent turmoil? Not exactly. You reach out to a close friend or mentor. Finding out what exactly it is that gets them through a tough time. You certainly don’t say the first thing that comes to mind when asking others. You think, “what is the wise[st] thing to do” under these circumstances? Maybe it’s reading a book or two that has helped your close friend or mentor out of a terrible situation.

Another aspect to The Best Question Ever  is knowing and admitting that you don’t know. Stanley states that this is one of the best kept secrets of wise people. He doesn’t mean not knowing in an academic way; I think I would sound like a terrible student if I let professors know that I didn’t know anything. Instead, answering “I don’t know” to a question or decision that you truly do not know the answer to, and then moving on. In the end, this realization of not knowing portrays that self-actualization. Also noted as the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In essence, you know yourself more than most people know about themselves in a lifetime. Next time when you’re wondering what you should do in a tough circumstance, ask yourself “what is the wise[st] thing to do?”

4 Ways to Accelerate Productivity

Being in college you learn that there are many distractions. Those distractions vary from friends to coursework (yes, coursework can especially be distracting when starting to pile up and you need to get other work done) and not to mention just noise in general. There are countless distractions in this 21st century that we live in, I figured I would share four ways to be more productive and help block those annoyances.

1. Turn off those notifications!

If you do any work on the computer and there are notifications that popup all the time, either by getting messages through your phone or your social media accounts, you have the ability to turn them off. If you have a Mac, there is a ‘Do not Disturb’ button that you can switch on and off to mute those annoying notifications. If you’re on a set schedule of working on your computer, you can even set a schedule for notifications to not be sent to you during specific times. This is certainly helpful when your trying to crank out that eight-page research paper.

2. Invest in some good headphones.

If you’re anything like me, you love listening to music and you do so even while getting work done. It’s a motivator that helps get you through the day. Now I recently invested in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones this year which had me skeptical at first, are they really worth the money? Yes. I can say that they have done wonders! I could be in the middle of the dining hall on campus and not hear anyone talking. For me, that’s key! Being a people-person, I love to talk to others around me; most of the time. If there is an interesting conversation, I want to listen in. This is certainly difficult when trying to study and picking up side conversations everywhere around me; or even my own thoughts becoming too loud to think. Noise-cancelling headphones have cured that problem. If the space isn’t terribly loud and you don’t want to listen to music, no need. Just put the headphones on and boom! Your productivity level will go up just like that.

3. Learn to take notes

Content is something that enters your everyday life. If you’re anything like me, you have a hard time remembering all the information that is thrown out at you in a days time. Due to this issue, I have learned to take write/type these thoughts down. Hardcopy ways that you can do this is my keeping a notebook, like a moleskin, in your pocket or daily-carry bag of choice. Pull it out whenever you need to take notes and color-coat the notes with small sticky bookmarks for the various pages on unrelated content. If you are at your desk all day and need to take notes, I suggest writing in sticky notes and have them color-coated to different tasks or even in regards to due date.

If you’re looking to get into mobile options, would suggest Evernote or event the Notes application if you have an iPhone. Evernote has the a three-tiered service, Basic (Free), Plus ($2.99/month, $24.99/year), or Premium ($5.99/month, $49.99/year). Now I still have Basic which gives me plenty of space, 60MB for notes to be exact. I have found that I don’t need to upgrade yet because text doesn’t take up too much space. Now if you are trying to turn your notes into presentations right from Evernote, you will want to purchase the Premium version. The Notes application for the iPhone has become very useful. With a recent update, Apple has added the ability to create checklists, group your notes in select folders, and now lock select notes with a master passcode; one different from other passcodes.

4. Exercise those muscles.

A study was done by The American College of Sports Medicine to see whether or not students tested better if they exercised or sat still for a bit. The study shown that the students who exercised more had better scores on their homework. Even just 30 minutes a day can make you more productive! Try it and see if you can tell a difference.