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I’m On a Boat at WSU! Wait, What??

a boat is docked on the river

Drum roll please……………… Here is the Cal Fremling, WSU’s newest classroom!

Hello and welcome back to another year in beautiful Winona. I spent the majority of my summer back home in Milwaukee completely isolated from Winona and any events that may have happened over our long break. I had little contact with the Winona community outside of my roommates, who frankly are useless at relaying interesting social news, so when I returned to start the new school year and logged on to the school website after months of ignoring my responsibilities, I was shocked to find a new addition to Winona State. We now have a boat.

This new boat is named the Cal Fremling after the late Dr. Cal Fremling, professor of biology and was acquired through the Winona State University Foundation. Frankly however, I could not figure out why the school would need a boat. What would we use it for? Why do we need it? What can it do? For those of you who are in the same boat as me (get it?), don’t worry, I (strangely for me) decided to take some initiative and went to tour to find out what the Cal Fremling boat was all about.

My guide through the inner workings of the boat was the director of technology and man of the hour, Thomas Hill. As the man in charge of all the technology present on the boat, Tom’s job was to bring the Cal Fremling into the modern world. Thanks to his tireless work, the boat is equipped with state of the art technologies including wi-fi, live video streaming capabilities, GPS navigation systems and interactive maps. There are also cameras mounted on the front, back and underside of the boat.

With these modern technologies and interactive learning tools, the Cal Fremling has become a brand new, state of the art “floating classroom.” According to Tom, the purpose of this technology is to provide students ways to bring the river to life. He wants this technology to act as a gateway to provide students ways to interact with the river and apply what they have learned in their classes to the real world in a hands on and interactive way.

As a classroom, the Cal Fremling is open to students and professors of all disciplines to use as an interactive tool to develop a better understanding of class material. For example, the Cal Fremling recently served as a lab for biology students studying algae growth in the Mississippi river. The students cast out nets to collect algae from the river and used the technology in their classrooms and on the boat to analyze their findings. Theater majors have also used the boat to study lighting at various times of the day and how it can be recreated on stage.

As well as being a classroom tool, the boat also provides students a way to use what they have learned and apply it to the Winona community. The nature of Winona is a large part of what makes the city a beautiful, unique place, and the boat allows students to connect these natural resources to our education in ways specific to Winona.

The Cal Fremling is very young and currently still in the developmental stages. Constant updates are being made to the boat in an effort to find new and innovative ways it can be used other than joyriding down the Mississippi. This means the future of the Cal Fremling is being left intentionally open-ended. This open-ended nature is what helps the boat provide countless opportunities for fun, engaging and flexible learning in the Winona community.

I encourage you to talk to your teacher if you think there is a way the Cal Fremling boat can be used in your courses. It would definitely make for an interesting class period.

Happy Sailing!

Caleb Bednarski

10 Ways to Avoid Homesickness

For many freshmen, going to college is the time they’ve been away from their families for months at a time. Homesickness is pretty common around the residence halls and it sucks–we know, we’ve been freshmen too. To help you avoid feeling homesick, we interviewed 22 freshman and asked them what they have been doing to adjust to college life. Here is their advice:

1. Keep busy
The more active you are the easier it will be to meet people and to feel at home.

a group of students smiling

2. Go to Class
This keeps your mind occupied as well as gives you something to feel proud of.

Students in a classroom

3. Get a Job
If you get an on or off campus job, you will meet quality people who could become life-long friends as well as get work experience for your resume.

students working at a coffeeshop

4. Explore Winona
Get out and get to know people, explore Winona’s treasures such as Sugar Loaf, Garvin Heights, the Lake Lodge and other area stomping grounds.

a person jumping into a lake from a rope swing

5. Hang Out with Friends from Your Hometown
Occasionally spend time with familiar faces as they can be a little piece of home at school. Be sure to return the favor and visit them at their colleges too!

visiting friends at college

6. Participate in Campus Activities
Join intramurals teams or other clubs on campus. Participate in residence hall events also. These activities are a great way to meet the people living around you as well as people with similar interests.

students have a mock sumo wrestling match

7. Keep Your Door Open
Keep your door open and get to know those around you. They will become some of your best friends and will see you at your best and your worst.

a group of students

8. Occasionally Skype Friends and Family
Don’t call home every day as that can make you more homesick. But a little skype chat from time to time can be very reassuring and refreshing.


9. Keep Family Traditions Going
Maybe you had some fun family traditions like watching the Super Bowl, Sunday Muffin Day or Friday Game Night. Keep these traditions going with your new friend-family!

students eating dinner together

10. Decorate Your Room with Pictures
Putting up photos may seem like just a little thing but making your room look and feel like home can make a big difference.

decorated dorm rooms

–Trevor Frosig and Sara Bahnsen

Faith: The Choice is Yours

teens form the outline of a cross with their fingers

These are my friends from the youth group in my hometown that I went to throughout high school.

Religion has been a part of my life since I was a baby. Every Sunday, my family and I would go to church and on Wednesday nights, I’d go to some type of youth group event with my brother or friends. While I knew that faith is meant to be more than a routine, sometimes it felt like I was just going through the motions.

Coming to college completely changed that for me. Suddenly, it was up to me if I wanted to continue to stay active in my religion. I could choose whether to go to church or sleep in. It was up to me if I wanted to spend an evening at a college ministry event, stay in and study or go out with friends. I knew what my parents and friends would expect of me, but they weren’t there to tell me what to do. It was truly my choice.

While I am telling you about my personal faith story, the fact is that we all have this choice. I am sure many of you–whether you’re Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim or non-denominational–are also from families where you were expected to go to worship services or observe religious practices. And college presents the perfect opportunity to decide if this is a faith you want to follow for the rest of your life or not.

Now for me, I went to church in the first week of college just to see what it would be like. The church, Pleasant Valley Church, was very similar to mine at home. and I actually liked it quite a bit.  I could definitely see myself as part of their community.

But fast forward a few weeks, and suddenly I didn’t think it was extremely important to go. I was confused about whether I wanted to go church consistently or put my faith lower on my list of priorities. For a few weeks, I struggled with this question. I would go to church, enjoy it a lot, but then by the middle of the week wonder if I wanted to go.

About a month into my freshman year, I went to Pleasant Valley Church’s college ministry event for young women, H2O Women: Apple Orchard. You can guess where we all went– Eckerson’s Apple Orchard! It was such a great experience and I got to know some of the girls involved with H2O. Over the next few weeks, they helped me realize why I wanted to pursue my faith. I could see their passion and fire for the God I serve and I realized that I wanted that passion too. Getting involved with a faith discussion group also strengthened my choice to serve God wholeheartedly.

In the past year, I have definitely struggled with my faith. Do I continue to actively practice my faith? Do I let it slide? But then there are always times after these doubts where I realize that I could never give up the faith I grew up with. It gets me through the stress of college and is very comforting to me. I feel like my faith helps me very much with my spiritual wellness. When I get stressed about something, I know that I can rely on my God to take care of my worries – something that I have a lot of.  I just remember that I don’t have to worry about the next day because my life is in God’s hands.

Pursuing my faith in college was something I ended up choosing.  By doing this, it became more than just my parent’s faith: it became my own personal faith. I couldn’t be happier with this choice and the benefits to my spiritual wellness I’ve gained from it. I hope that you all will think more about whether or not you want to pursue your childhood faith also.

–Sharna Miller

The Great Cafeteria Debate: Main v. West

a piece of greasy pizza

It actually doesn’t matter which caf wins, because at least we don’t have to eat this!


If you’re a student here at WSU, odds are that some point in your college career, someone will have attempted to get you to join their club in exchange for free food. And you’ve probably attended a meeting for that reason alone.

Why does this tactic work so well? Answer: Because, it’s a widely accepted fact that college kids love food.

In this two part post, I will tackle one of the biggest food-based debates on campus: Does the caf on Main or West Campus have better food? This is the kind of hot topic question that keeps students up at night wondering. I will evaluate the food based on availability, variety and quality.

So let’s see how our first contender, the Jack Kane Dining Center on Main Campus, matches up.


Over on Main, food is restored at a significantly fast rate. If there is no salad in the salad bar, the Chartwells employees are likely already on their way with a big tub of leafy greens. If the supply of monster cookies has been depleted, you can usually go back to your table for a few minutes and return to find the plate full of yummy baked goods. The Jack Kane Dining Center never misses a beat with food restoration.

However, the physical accessibility of some items is not that great. Pizza, for example, is assembled on the spot and then cooked for about seven minutes. Although super fresh pizza sounds great in theory, it actually creates a really long line and is less efficient than just grabbing a slice from an already cooked pizza. Dessert is another example. If you are in the mood for ice cream, you will also have to wait in a long line as opposed to serving yourself at West Campus.


On Main,  your cup may runneth over with variety. There’s nowhere else on campus where you will have access to apple butter, red pepper hummus, a waffle machine and a potato bar as well as a wider range of cereals than you find on West. Of course, whether this variety matters to you or not will depend on your eating preferences. I know that a waffle covered in hummus isn’t for everybody.


Here’s where things get heated. Although variety and availability matter in terms of overall experience, quality holds the most power in this debate. In order to ensure, that this was a fair debate, I spent a week eating on Main campus and a week eating on West. The variety definitely gave Main an advantage. If I didn’t like the look of the main course I could try the vegetarian option or make myself a waffle, which were usually pretty good.

The pre-prepared food, however, seemed to be a toss-up. There were times when on Main , the sandwiches were a little sloppy, the meat a little dry and the pizza line was just too dang long. These issues though are not totally criticisms of Chartwells or the food they provide. I think a big part of why I had less than perfect experiences was because there is almost always a ton of students in the Jack Kane Dining Center. Also, Chartwells has to guess how much food will be demanded as well as how much time each dish takes to prepare which are both factors in the quality, especially in the presentation of the food.

In Short

The variety on Main campus is top notch, but the accessibility can get a little frustrating and the food at times can be a little dry or just warm rather than truly hot. Overall, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

And with that I bring this first post to a close! Main will be hard to beat, so tune in next week to see if the Lourdes Cafeteria on West campus can measure up!

–Hannah Carmack

The First Round of Exams is Here

This week brings not only red-tinged leaves and pumpkin spice lattes, but also the first round of exams! Have you found your perfect place to sincerely study, rigorously review and properly prepare?

Take this quiz to discover your ideal study spot.

4 Secrets to College Success

a graduate receiving his diploma

Follow my advice and that diploma will be yours!


College classes are hard—they demand that you read more, write more, hold more information in your head and confront more new ideas than you had to in high school—and you are probably all realizing this right about now. When I was a freshman, I had this same realization after my first round of exams and essay assignments. I knew college was going to be a step up, but I didn’t understand how high of a step it would be.

You see, high school had been pretty easy for me. I was usually one of those kids who set the curve and was salutatorian at graduation. I had set a high bar for academic success and I wanted to succeed in college too. My friends, parents and former teachers expected me to succeed as well. Failure was not an option.

Whether you were a straight-A student or not, we can all relate to the fear of failing at college, of disappointing your families, of becoming another statistic, of ruining your chance at a good career. But before you start down that slippery slope, know that there are steps you can take to avoid that dreaded fate.

As a senior who has never come close to failing a class, I am proud to present my secrets to college success.

1. Go to Class and Participate

It seems like a no-brainer, but one basic key to college success is showing up to class every day. Even if you totally understand the subject matter, go to class. It doesn’t hurt to hear the concepts repeated in the lecture or get some hands on practice with in-class activities. That being said, it isn’t enough to show up but spend the class browsing Facebook or Reddit, you have to participate as well. Really listening to your professor, taking notes and asking questions will help you get the most out of the class.

2. Do Your Homework Right Away

Let me say this straight out: being a procrastinator is NOT a badge honor. Staying up all night to finish a paper does not make you a hero— it only makes you sleep-deprived with a crappy paper to turn in the next day.  Instead, do your work early so you have enough time to create something of quality. Plus, by getting your work out of the way early, you can have all the fun you want over the weekend without worrying.

3. Study Without Distractions

We all think that we are great multi-taskers, but in reality we can only focus well on one thing at a time. So, when you are studying, make your textbooks the priority. For example, watching television and studying do not mix well. Neither, in my experience, do beds and warm blankets (Hello, nap!). If you don’t like studying by yourself, by all means study with friends but don’t let the discussion wander off-topic with roommate drama or football stats.

4. Get Help When You Need It

Maybe you want to figure everything out for yourself, but there is nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. Take advantage of the Writing Center, the Math Achievement Center and Tutoring Services,  all of which are free of charge and open to walk-ins. Tutors at the Writing Center can help you write a thesis and properly cite your sources while the tutors at the Math Achievement Center specialize in all areas of math and statistics. At Tutoring Services, you can get help with just about everything else from Anatomy/Physiology to Spanish to Organic Chemistry.

Ok, so maybe these tips are not so secret. Nevertheless, they are tried and true tactics that can help you succeed in college. I know they have certainly worked for me.

–Elizabeth Meinders

8 Ways to Save Money

a bank shaped like a cow

Money in your bank is definitely something to smile about!

Last week, I talked about the importance of saving money and why it is good to create a budget. This week, I’m going to give you some specific ways to save money and reduce your spending.

And they are (…….drumroll please…….):

  1. Open a Savings Account
    The first thing you need to do is to go to your bank and open a savings account. Think about it: how are you going to save money if you have nowhere safe to put it?
  2. Divide Your Paycheck
    Whether during the school year or not, you should be dividing up your paycheck between your checking and savings accounts. A good rule is to put half of your paycheck in your savings account so that it can gain interest and you won’t spend it. You should also be using some of that money to build up an emergency fund. Only use your emergency fund for large, unexpected costs such as taking your car to the mechanic shop.
  3. Track Your Spending
    Meticulously add up your receipts for one month and see how much you spend on non-essential items– like eating out or clothing. You might be spending a lot more than you realized and then try to cut back your spending on those things
  4. Make Wish Lists
    There are several gift-giving occasions throughout the year and family members need ideas for presents. So let them buy the stuff you want but don’t really need for you! Make a Christmas list and a birthday list with those non-essentials that you’ve cut out of your monthly spending.
  5. Walk Instead of Drive
    Don’t drive your car as often.  Gas is expensive, so you’ll save money by walking or biking instead (and get a workout!). We are pretty lucky that many places in Winona are within walking distance of campus.
  6. Use Your Meal Plan
    Eat in the dining center on campus if you have a meal plan.  You have already paid for those meals so use them up!
  7. Make Your Own Lunches
    If you live off campus, go home for lunch if you classes allow it or pack a lunch and bring it with you to campus. Buying groceries is less expensive than buying food at restaurants or convenience stores.
  8. Take Care of Your Things
    Take care of your things–clothes, shoes, backpack, phone–so they don’t get worn out quickly or broken and need to be replaced often.

I know these tips are pretty basic, but believe me, they work! It might be difficult at first to give up going to Mugby for coffee every morning or keeping yourself from clicking “Add to Cart” while browsing, but you can do it. If you start saving and keeping track of your money now, you future-self will thank you after graduation .

–Liz Peterson

Meet My Fishy Friends

four fish in a small tank

Here are my first four glow fish! And you thought the title meant my human friends :P

From the moment we all moved in, the Class of 2018 Facebook page has been inundated with posts about missing our furry friends. I’m sure that these emotional outpourings aren’t limited to the freshmen. Those brave dogs and cats that put up with our nonsense for years are probably sitting at home and content to be left alone, but also missing us terribly–just as we are missing them.

Personally, my pet, a guinea pig I had for four years, passed away a couple of weeks before I left. That gave me time to mourn (Yes, I know he was a guinea pig, but he was my first real pet) and get used to the idea that I wouldn’t see him when I woke up in the morning or when I arrived home from school. For others, kittens are being born and Scruffy has to go in for surgery. Yep, college without our beloved pets is going to be tough, but there are some alternatives to moping in the corner because you miss Mr. Cuddle-Kins’ adorable face.

a pet guinea pig

As you can see, it would have been extremely difficult to leave my guinea pig, Keenan, behind.

The rules for living in the dorms say the only pets allowed are fish. So go get a fish! That’s what I did my first day in the dorms (which for me, was Sunday before everyone else arrived on Monday. There are some perks to moving here from the East Coast :) ). There may not be a huge pet store in town, but Wal-Mart has a nice selection of fish and tanks. Now you don’t have to be like me who spent $60 on fish and supplies. My tank, a one-gallon diamond-shaped bowl, was only $11. They don’t have bags of rocks smaller than 5lbs., but if you know someone who is also looking to get a fish you can share. The rest of the accessories you put in the tank is up to you–except the water. The water on campus is chlorinated and the fish won’t survive. You can pick up distilled water at Wal-Mart as well or go to any other store.

Also, there’s always Winston, the therapy dog. He is a 3-year-old Blue Heeler/Rat Terrier and as cute as can be. He’ll cheer you right up! Wednesdays with Winston, held from 4-5pm in the IWC every Wednesday, might be just the thing you need to pick up your spirits.

Then, of course, there’s Skype; the only way to talk to your pet from the comfort of your dorm.

But I mean, come on–fish are great! And even though you can’t play with them like a dog, cat or even a guinea pig, they have their own unique personalities and can fill the void in your heart that was once filled with taking care of that special little friend back home.

–Rachel Adam

Give Back for a Sustainable Future

three potted plants

These carbon-absorbing beauties are one small way I give back to the environment.

In an industrialized world, it can seem near impossible to do everything you can to save the environment—sure you recycle and you walk when your destination is close by, but there are many other ways to adapt a sustainable lifestyle. That being said, you DON’T need to do anything drastic like permanently ditching your car and biking miles from place to place or going off the grid and covering your rooftop in solar panels (Your landlord might not appreciate that too much). Leading a sustainable lifestyle, as this year’s University theme “Sustainable Futures” calls us to do,  is all about giving back in little ways.

Give Back to the Earth

For many years, humans have destroyed plants and habitats to make space for cities and farmland. By stripping the land, we have fewer plants to soak up all the carbon dioxide we put out through cars and other machines.

A simple way to combat this is to plant. This summer my roommate and I bought some pots at the Salvation Army and planted flowers in them. Not only are they good for the environment, but they also look so pretty on our stoop. You could also get vegetable seeds at Wal-Mart and plant them in a pot. At the Sustainability Fair last week, I planted a few pea seeds in a Dixie cup and recently transplanted them to a pot. They’re growing steadily next to the cactus on my windowsill.

Give Back to the Local Economy

As college students, we tend to buy anything cheap and easy–i.e. pasta, pasta and more pasta with some frozen pizza thrown in for good measure. However, buying from local food sources will help sustain the local economy as well as help you avoid all of those nasty pesticides found in grocery store produce and high-fructose corn syrup in pretty much everything else on the store shelves.

The Winona Farmer’s Market runs 7:30am – 1pm every Saturday until October. On special days, the Winona Artisan Market is there as well. I went a couple times this summer and got really great food for cheap (an ear of corn was $0.50 and four cucumbers cost $1). The Bluff County Co-Op is a great place to buy local and organic food all year round. When you buy local, you support members in your community and you get great food out of it too!

Give Back to Your Wallet

Drop your thermostat a few degrees lower. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Stop using paper towels. Quit buying bottled water and use a stainless steel or glass reusable bottle instead. Wash your clothes with cold water and line-dry them (at least during the summer anyway). These little things can help you save money on your energy and grocery bills. At the same time, you’re making a positive impact on the environment.

–Kim Schnieder

14 Things We All Experienced As Freshmen

Freshman year can be many things…dramatic, scary, exciting, but don’t forget, that nearly everyone here has been through those same experiences.

1. Having to get real serious with your parents when they refuse to leave on Move-In Day

a woman slams a door

2. Realizing you packed enough clothes for a small army and you have a closet the size of a walnut. And you look at your over-packed duffel like…

a man holds his head and the caption reads "This is too much"

3. The awkward meeting of the roommate. Need I say more?

a woman looks awkward

4. Hitting your head for the first week because you’re not used to your nose being inches from the ceiling. And it feels something like this

a girl gets punched in the face

5. Realizing that Winona doesn’t have a Buffalo Wild Wings or a Chipotle

Harry Potter looks shocked

6. Thinking that what your professor is saying sounds more like gibberish than English

a toddler looks sleepy and confused

And by the time the first exam rolled around you were like…

A woman looks confused and a caption says "What is happening?"

7. Acting like you knew where you were going when really you didn’t even know that Pasteur was a real place

a woman is lost in a crowd of people

8. Counting down the days of cafeteria food

a man makes a face after eating some food

9. Realizing that all of your money has been spent on dorm-delivered Domino’s and scantrons

a man covers his eyes in embarrassment

10. Deciding how to wear your lanyard, which probably held your student ID and a back-up copy of your class schedule

A woman taps her chin with her finger while looking thoughtful

11. Finally appreciating all those years you didn’t have to do your own laundry

a man carrying a basket of laundry glares over his shoulder

But by the end of the year you’re like…

a man quickly folds t-shirts in a laundry room

12. Flip flops in the shower–it was a new thing

A woman shows off her shoes with the caption "Metallica are very in this season"

13. Reflecting on how you’ve been doing since you started making your own decisions

a woman nods and says "My life is a day to day experiment in bad decisions"

14. But after all the drama, homesickness and tough choices, you realized how awesome WSU is going to be

a toddler waves her arms and bounces excitedly in her car seat

–Leah Dobihal