Monday, November 10, 2014

Heat Is Neat, Frost Doesn’t Cost, But Ice Isn’t Nice

Weather in Fairbanks is a unique beast to deal with. The temperature ranges around mid-80s in the summer time to frigid winter colds of 40 below. Many people would question how to live in such conditions, but there are many methods for dealing with this madness. Most incoming students arrive in the fall semester. During this time, sunny days can reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remember those parkas you brought? Probably would be a good idea to make a trip to Value Village - local thrift shop in Fairbanks -  by either bus or by bumming a ride from a nice friend with a car. This is the time of the academic year to get outside every chance you can get and enjoy the weather!

However, this initial warm glow from the weather dies down around October. Here temperatures begin a gradual decline (or sometimes suddenly plummet) into winter.  There is still enough daylight that one may be confused about how the temperature can be a bit chilly. Still no need for a parka; a windbreaker or thick hoodie will give a nourishing hug of warmth on the scramble between buildings.

Once November hits there is most likely going to be a fresh layer of snow on the ground.  Now, for those of you that are not used to snow, there is nothing terrible about snow...unless of course you have to shovel whole driveways at which point snow is not your friend. The most unpleasant part of winter isn’t the frost rather the ice. Even as temperatures drop to the point of feeling that your eyes may freeze, it is easy to bundle up with layer after layer. No one will judge you for wearing long johns, jeans, snow pants, two hoodies, arctic jacket, and a face mask to class.

Ice is a difficult foe to conquer. Even the nimblest of walkers eventually fall prey to a slip on a glazed patch of dastardly ice. To conquer the ice, seek out a pair of ice cleats sponsored by the UAF Office of Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (EHSRM). These ice cleats are plastic shoe sole covers that add small metal spikes to the bottom of your shoes. Once wearing the ice cleats, slick patches of ice are child’s play.  No more will you sore your body, and your pride, by falling in public places with an excess of observers. As a bonus they are easy to apply and remove!

Finally, in March, warm temperatures begin to thaw the Fairbanks and the UAF campus.  Dreaded ice begins to melt, daylight increases, and temperatures rise. Breezes no longer feel like bone rippling chills but rather a refreshment of warmth.  Everything only gets better towards the end of the semester when the green grass returns and you are left with finals completed and a warm tingle of accomplishment in your heart.     

The Circus is at UAF!

Gymnasts, Aerial Artists, and Acrobats galore:
If you're like me and have ever had the distant (or maybe not-so-distant) dream of running away and joining the circus, then UAF is the place for you! You can put that running away bit to the side for a few more years, though, because all of our circus groups meet right here, on campus, in our very own Student Recreation Center (SRC). So, whether your end goal is to be an aerial performer in Cirque du Soleil, an acrobat on America's Got Talent, or a contortionist in Las Vegas, come check us out!

Aerial Silks
See them flying, soaring, gracefully twisting and turning between two streams of silk. But don't just sit back and watch, there is no better time than now to join them! As the saying goes here at UAF: "there's a club for that." Our Aurora Aerial Arts club was founded just last school year, but since then it has become quite the hit on campus. Students from all walks of life, study interests and skill levels are invited and encouraged to take part; this club turns absolutely no one away. They meet twice a week in the dance studio of the SRC (Monday & Wednesday, 8 - 9:30pm). Stop by and learn the basic locks, knots, and seemingly impossible moves; or if you are a veteran of the arts, come hone your skills, spread your knowledge and even choreograph a routine with your fellow aerial fanatics.

Stick around at the end of the aerial session, and you may even be invited to join the acrobats as they practice the new moves they've seen in YouTube videos over the course of the week...

Partner Acrobatics
This bunch can be seen performing absolutely anywhere, anytime. Since they require no further equipment beyond a partner and a decent amount of trust, you can catch them hand-standing on someone's shoulders, flipping on someone's feet or just posing in some crazy position in front of some cool landmark anywhere on or off campus. From its simple beginnings as an offshoot of the aerial silks club, partner acrobatics has become a small community on campus. They are no official club at the moment, but they do have regular meetings in the SRC dance studio as well (after silks on Monday & Wednesday, and Thursday, 6:30pm - whenever). However, if those meeting times don't work perfectly for you, don't sweat it! This fun-loving group is very flexible (pun intended) and meets just about whenever, wherever outside of the regular schedule. They will work with you as long as you, too, share an interest in fun, inclusion and adventure.

But maybe partner work isn't really your style, UAF has something for you as well!

Have you ever wondered just how those contortionists on TV can twist their bodies in such insane positions? Or maybe how someone can stay so composed and balanced on a tight-rope (or slackline)? The answer is yoga. Yoga is a great way to steadily get into shape while also maintaining good flexibility. At UAF, multiple yoga classes are offered for all students. There are beginner classes as well as classes for the more experienced yogis. We even have my personal favorite: hot yoga! So if you need a class to calm your nerves, or maybe one to get those abdominal muscles working, UAF has something for you!

So come check us out and help build our circus family!

The complete list of clubs on campus can be found at:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Yoga Class

This semester my friend Emmie and I signed up for our first recreation class. The decision was based on being able to see each other during our hectic week and on the side try something new.... so yoga it was. We would be able to spend an hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday together practicing. 

All we needed was a yoga mat and an open mind: our expectation was for the class to revolve around meditation and stretching, but it has been so much more.

Our first class focused on learning the basic poses and "flows" like downward dog and sun salutation. It must have been a funny sight to see us attempt simple balance exercises which resulted in us toppling over. It is important to note that in the first class neither of us could touch our toes! The instructor stressed that in yoga do only as much as you can do. Much to our surprise, by the end of the hour both of us collapsed on our mats exhausted - who knew that yoga was such a workout!

Over the past month and a half, we have learned how to use deep breathing to stay focused throughout the day. Every class ends in shavasana (corpse pose), which is the easiest pose - try it right now! 

Lay on the floor and simply close your eyes and think about nothing. Of course this happens to be my favorite pose and (if done correctly) can take some focus in order to clear your mind.

The instructor told us at the start of the semester that yoga would find a way into each of our lives - when I heard that, I silently chuckled as I couldn't imagine myself taking the time to just sit and focus on my breath. However, I was wrong. I encourage you to look at different classes: who knows what it could teach you. As for me, I am already searching for my "fun class" next semester and will continue to touch my toes every morning!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Not Every University

Every university can boast about their students, faculty, staff, location, etc. But there are some things fairly unique to the University of Alaska Fairbanks that are certainly worth mentioning. So I have compiled a list of 30 things that UAF does/has that not every university does for your reading pleasure!

Not Every University...

1. Has a School of Management that boasts 100% job placement rate for undergraduates that complete their Accounting Degree, and the College of Engineering and Mines has nearly that same job placement rate for all undergraduates who complete a degree. 

2. Has 7 different types of Engineering Degrees-- Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Geological Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mining Engineering, and Computer Engineering. They also have a Computer Science Degree.

3. Has a ski and snowboard terrain park. Ours is conveniently located close to the Student Recreation Center, and there is a program on campus where you can rent gear to use both on and off campus (Outdoor Adventures). More information here.

4. Has a brand new dining facility (just finished this fall!) called Dine49, plus a brand new cafe with extended hours, Arctic Java.

5. Has an office specifically designed to promote volunteerism and leadership (the Leadership Involvement and Volunteer Experience office, which we call LIVE). 

6. Has on campus housing specifically for people who want to live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle (the Sustainable Village).

7. Not only gives students an opportunity to graduate with Leadership Honors, but also has a Leadership Minor.

8. Has a shuttle system with a heated waiting area for students wanting a ride to a different part of campus.

9. Has a student ID that doubles as a bus pass for the city bus system.

10. Gives their students free passes to D I and D II sports.

11. Has on campus student housing available for 365 days a year.

12. Has an expansion of the engineering building in the works that will result in a LEED Silver Certification for Green Building Standards, and connect the College of Engineering and Mines with the Bunnell building, which houses the School of Management.

13. Has over 100 active student clubs and organizations, with the opportunity for anyone to start a new one every semester.

14. Organizes buses to drive students almost 300 miles to watch their hockey team play their biggest rivals in the Governer's Cup hockey match at the end of March. This takes place during Winter Carnival, one of our three Nanook Traditions (Starvation Gulch, Winter Carnival, and SpringFest).

15. Has an on-campus pub that, due to its strict ID checking policy and the fact that it only serves beer and wine, reduces the instances of drunk driving, and provides a safe environments for students of age to drink.

16. Has (as of 2013) an 11:1 student to faculty ratio.

17. Has instituted a program that provides a study group leader to the traditionally more difficult classes. We call them Supplemental Instructors, and they are present in many science classes.

18. Has an office dedicated to helping students get started/fund undergraduate research. It's called the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activities office.

19. Has a  university owned rocket launch station (Poker Flats), which is sponsored by the Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

20. Houses the Alaska Interior Medical Education Summit, which is a full day of panels and presentations on different careers paths after college for anyone interested in the medical field.

21. Hosts a week long, campus wide Humans Versus Zombies game that any student of UAF is welcome to join.

22. Has a community of people who choose to live without water in "dry cabins".

23. Has every piece of literature ever written on Alaska Native Languages.

24. Has housing specifically for students from rural areas of Alaska, called the Eileen Panigeo MacLean House.

25. Has an outdoor rock climbing wall that, in the winter, is turned into an ice climbing wall.

26. Has Battleship as an intramural sport. In Battleship, teams are in canoes in the on campus pool, and they attempt to capsize other teams by dumping buckets of water in their canoes.

27. Has a Global Class Ice-Capable Research Vessel, the R/V Sikuliaq.

28. Has claims to mineral deposits throughout the state.

29. Has a tradition where teams build massive structures out of pallets, and then school officials light those structures on fire. We call it Starvation Gulch. We also have two other traditions, Winter Carnival and SpringFest. Winter Carnival is basically a huge weekend of fun, packed with games, competitions, and a trip to Governer's Cup (see number 14). SpringFest is a weekend where we get Friday off from school, and have all sorts of activities--including a concert--to go to! We love our Nanook Traditions!

30. Has the 40 Below Club, where students pose in bathing suits in front of the temperature sign when it reads -40F.

There are so many more unique things about UAF! I definitely encourage all prospective students to email a Student Ambassador with questions, or just to get to know more about the campus. If possible, come learn more amazing facts on a tour! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Fairbanks, Alaska is the Raddest Place on Earth

Posted by Valerie 

I first came to Fairbanks with the intention of going to school, getting some requirements out of the way, and then moving on to someplace else. I was looking for someplace warmer, someplace different, someplace that wasn’t the same state where I’d lived my whole life, dreaming of the big city.

As you’ve probably already guessed, that backfired. I fell in love with Fairbanks the way Alicia Silverstone falls in love in Clueless, with a friendly sort of banter merging into an epiphany of everlasting love with Paul Rudd. 

"Oh my God. I'm in love with Josh!"
For me, this epiphany came when my parents visited me in the spring (in Fairbanks, still winter) of my freshman year. My mom, shivering under three coats on our way to eat dinner, sighed and said “Valerie! How can you stand it?”

 My response was “I know, isn’t it great?”

In that moment, I realized with perfect clarity that I don't want to be anywhere else. That my heart had unabashedly given itself to this frozen wasteland 200 miles from the Arctic Circle. That Fairbanks was home.

I love that in Fairbanks, you can wear hats--warm hats--from September through April. I love the feeling of snuggling under a pile of blankets, knowing that if you walk out your front door, the temperature will drop 110 degrees. I love the “we’re all in this together” atmosphere that develops in a community where there’s no guarantee that your car will start in the morning. I love the aurora, quietly making the long dark nights beautiful, and the clarity and intensity of the air on the frigid nights when you’re most likely to see colors in the sky. 

The warmth of the people here more than makes up for the chilly temperatures. People at UAF aren't accepted for their differences; they are celebrated and embraced for them. Being "weird" isn't the exception, it's the norm. And as a result, I'm consistently surrounded by unique people who understand that their individuality is what makes our little Fairbanks community vibrant, people who you love and who love you back. Unconditionally.

This is my home.

PS: Just a note to all you prospective students out there--Fairbanks is always an option. It could be your home too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ally Week

Posted by Sage

What is an Ally? 

Now you may have heard of the term ally, but what exactly does that mean? 
The definitions may vary but one decidedly stands out among the rest.  

"A person who associates with or cooperates with another; a supporter" 

And that is what being an ally means, supporting or cooperating with someone despite your differences and working towards a more just and peaceful world. 

Now hopefully this basic definition helps you realize what an ally is, but you might still be pondering on why exactly you should be one, and if so how you can be one. 

Now the why question is actually pretty simple to answer, it's nice when people treat you well, right? And it's not nice when people disrespect you, agreed? So the reason you might consider being an ally is that if you are one you will be treating people in a respectful manner. 

How can you be an ally?
(courtesy of UAF GSA group)

Simple, treat people with respect regardless of their differences or who they are. Simply understand that people are people. Now this week from the October 13th-17th is Ally week, and GSA is putting on various events throughout the week that present a wide variety of information regarding how to be an ally and how to understand the LGBTQ+ community.  

I hope everyone will consider attending some of the events going on this week, and if you attend 6 or more events and get your punch cards signed you can enter a drawing for prizes. GSA is tabling today and Tuesday and we will be distributing punch cards and giving out information as to what the events entail. Punch cards must be signed by Brandy Floures, Zoey Kohrt, or the guest speaker of each event. 
Hope people can make it, and remember to be kind to one another.

Sage Tixier. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aurora Borealis

Posted by Serena

If you spend a winter in Fairbanks, it is almost a guarantee that you will witness the northern lights. The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon that light up the midnight sky with stellar colors.

What exactly is the aurora?

The northern lights originate on the surface of the sun when a cloud of gaseous particles are injected into space and carried by the solar wind. It takes nearly three days for the mass of gasses to arrive to the earth. As it nears the earth’s atmosphere, it collides with the earth’s magnetic field. When these electrically charged particles enter the magnetic field, they generate currents towards the north and south magnetic poles. The lights tend to band around the magnetic pole and the larger amount of charged particles means the bigger the band around the pole. As the band of particles begins to grow in size around the magnetic north pole, the further south the majestic northern lights can be spotted.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute is a great resource if one is interested in viewing the northern lights because they publish an Aurora Forecast every day.

On Friday, September 26th the forecast was “Active”. Looking out my dorm window on campus, I could see dancing green bands overhead so I decided to go aurora hunting, armed with my camera. I haven’t had much experience photographing the Aurora but I did not leave disappointed!