Study Away: Monterey Bay, California

Alexandria Waldschimidt explores California’s coast during National Student Exchange. BY ALEXANDRIA WALDSCHMIDT for the UAS Whalesong During last spring semester I was able to travel around California, be a part of a larger student body, and all while, worked on my UAS degree. I did that by participating in one of UAS’s academic exchange programs – the National Student Exchange (NSE) and spent the semester … Continue reading Study Away: Monterey Bay, California

Whalefest 2015

For the UAS Whalesong

On November 5th, a group of students taking a ‘Discussions in Marine Mammalogy’ class went to Sitka, Alaska, to attend the 19th annual Sitka Whalefest. Unlike other years, the symposium was held on the Sheldon Jackson campus rather than the Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Many UAS students left early for the conference because they had volunteered to mentor a student from Kenai Peninsula College. When they arrived on the 5th, the UAS student mentors were introduced to their mentees and promptly set out on a whale watching tour. On this tour students and other passengers with cameras were urged to take as many fluke pictures as possible so that students could have an opportunity to practice identifying them.

At the symposium the students and their mentees attended talks that ranged from harmful algal blooms, sea ice ecology, whalefalls, bioluminescent jellyfish, to glaciers. Each day of the symposium covered a different section of the ocean. Day one was shallow apex, the second was deep edge, and the final was frozen border. Continue reading “Whalefest 2015”

Study Abroad: Greece

For the UAS Whalesong
Growing up, my main travel inspiration came from stunning photographs of Greece that I would find in National Geographic or other various magazines. I loved to cut out photos of the white sand beaches, blue waters, little villages, and ancient temples and turn them into collages of my dreams for the future. I had always known I would travel there someday, but last fall, when I was looking into study abroad opportunities I was thrilled to find out that ‘someday’ had come sooner than expected.
Originally I had planned on studying in France but while snooping around the AHA (now GEO) website I discovered a program in Athens that was right up my alley and I was immediately sold. I’m a BLA major with concentrations in history and art, so for me the idea of studying in one of the most historically and artistically influential places in the world was a dream, and the classes offered through the program were not only intriguing, but filled my degree requirements and transferred as 3-credit courses. Continue reading “Study Abroad: Greece”

Saving Seahorses in Cambodia: Kate Hauch

For the UAS Whalesong
As many of you probably know, over-fishing and pollution are just a couple of the major challenges many marine organisms are facing. This is especially true for costal areas around poorer countries. One organism that is being hit particularly hard is seahorses.
In order to understand why they are being so heavily affected, it is necessary to know a bit about their biology. Seahorses are a monogamous species, when a mate dies they stop reproducing until they are able to find another mate that is suitable. They are also male brooders. This means that after mating, the female seahorse will deposit eggs into the male’s pouch, where they will stay until fully developed. Depending on species, their sizes can range from about half an inch to 14 inches.
Back to marine habitats surrounding poorer countries: over- fishing is huge because it is a source of income. The styles of fishing are can also be very destructive. In order to catch as many fish as possible some of the fishermen trawl (dragging a large net across the bottom of the ocean which disturbs everything in its way), cyanide fishing (sodium cyanide is poured into the water to stun fish), dynamite fishing (explosives are set off under the water and then the dead fish are collected), and ghost fishing (animals and fish become entangled in fishing gear that is either lost or abandoned). Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bycatch and habitat destruction associated with all of these fishing techniques. It is easy to see how quickly many different organisms are having a difficult time surviving in areas where this is taking place unchecked.
Earlier this semester I learned that a couple of UAS students had traveled to Cambodia in order to help save seahorses in these habitats. Over the last week I had a chance to talk with one of those students, Kate Hauch, about that amazing opportunity.
Continue reading “Saving Seahorses in Cambodia: Kate Hauch”

The Game is On

For the UAS Whalesong
Post-Halloween and pre-Christmas break is perhaps the most stressful time of year for students, because it heralds the arrival of final tests and projects. And, while I do not promote blatantly ignoring your problems until they go away (because most of the time, they won’t), sometimes you do need to just stop and give yourself a little break. And I think that video games are a great way to do that! But before you skip away from this article, muttering something derisive about gamers – give me a chance. I’m not talking about Call of Duty or Halo or World of Warcraft, here. I’m simply referring to a selection of calming, distracting games that I’ve found floating around the internet that I find both distracting and relaxing. I thought I would share what I’ve found with those of you who might want something to do on your computer during your 15-minute study breaks, or in the evenings after you’ve just finished a huge assignment but still have a bundle of nervous energy you need to get rid of.

Continue reading “The Game is On”


For the UAS Whalesong
If you have spent over an hour in my immediate presence, you’ve probably heard me voice something regarding my distaste for nature. That being said, it then becomes understandable that several people have approached me regarding my participation in the recent camping trip up to Windfall Lake Cabin that UAS Housing put on. So in answer to the not-infrequent question “Why did you go camping?”, I respond that my reasoning was precisely because I do hold little affinity for nature. I don’t like being outside, amongst the elements, “roughing it” in the style of true Alaskans – but I still know how to go camping, and enjoy doing so occasionally, and I have also read many writings that extol the virtue of the Great Outdoors™ and Fresh Air©. Also, I have a Very Alaskan Father who makes fun of me if I don’t do at least one outdoorsy thing each year.
But on this particular occasion, there was even more to it than that. On this particular occasion, my presence on the Windfall Lake Camping Trip of 2015 was a serious case of Hardcore Investigative Journalism to compare it with the Windfall Lake [Winter] Camping Trip of 2014. That was an Experience of an entirely different kind from regular camping, filled with snow and ice and wet gooey marsh and a 5-hour hike in the rain and dark with failing flashlights. (There are some who would argue that the hike took us only 3 hours. I will maintain to my deathbed that it took us 5.) So, my participation in this camping trip was as much to see if conditions had improved and the housing department had listened to our feedback from last year as it was for my own personal edification and exposure to the outdoors. Continue reading “#Nature”

(Fake) Cash Money Dolla Bills

For the UAS Whalesong
I first heard about the Casino Night event, I was a little dubious. An evening of gambling hosted and orchestrated by the campus Housing Department? It seemed a little shady. Almost like a trap. Kind of like that time I was doing jury duty and the questioning lawyer asked one of the potential jurors if he’d ever committed murder. I mean, you can’t just ask someone if they’ve committed murder – but that’s tangential to the subject at hand. I have since attended every Casino Night that’s been held since my arrival at UAS in 2012, and I’ve had a blast at every one.
For those of you unfamiliar with the principal of Casino Night, allow me to enlighten you. When they walk in the door, attendees are handed a plastic cup full of custom UAS poker chips. They are then given approximately 2 hours to try their hand at a variety of classic casino games, such as blackjack and roulette. (There’s also some kind of cowboy card game – Texas Hold ‘Em, I think – but my eyes tend to glaze over after the first 5 minutes of someone trying to explain the rules, so I generally just stick to the former two.) The idea is that for every set amount of chips – 10 this year – you receive a raffle ticket, which you may then place in a box at the end of the night in an attempt to win either one of many general prizes, or one of just a few grand prizes. Grand prizes in the past have included a Tempur-Pedic mattress topper and a flat screen television of not-inconsiderable size. Given what’s at stake, there is obviously no little impetus to try and do the best you can at gambling in order to turn in as many chips as possible to get as many tickets as possible. Continue reading “(Fake) Cash Money Dolla Bills”

Study Abroad: Hawaii

BY MADISON BOVAIS For the UAS Whalesong Sunshine, surf time, and island exploration is why I chose Hawaii but what I returned home with was so much more. And actually my decision to study away in Hawaii was because I wanted to experience a bigger school in a different climate. With my geography and environmental studies major, I knew that Hawaii would offer classes in … Continue reading Study Abroad: Hawaii

Study Abroad: Tips

BY STEVEN HANDY For the UAS Whalesong My Suggested Tips for Future Study Away Participants: 1. Assimilate. Consciously disconnect your sense of identity from all groups of which you’re a member to maximize potential for assimilation. When our social groups become our identity it is manifested in our behaviors that, consequentially, may force others to cling harder to theirs. Be a good representative but be … Continue reading Study Abroad: Tips

Study Abroad: Mexico

For the UAS Whalesong
Thirty years into a successful telecommunications career, I began to question to what greater good my career served. The conclusions led to a lot of soul-searching and exploration of options. Consultations with career advisors and batteries of tests revealed a strong inclination to the field of law, a notion I had for many years. I knew the journey to a new career would be long and complex but I gave myself no choice other than to move forward and figured out the next steps.
Fueled by a long-time interest in politics and world affairs, I solidified my new career plans – I would advocate for greater social responsibility and justice in our country’s foreign policy, particularly toward Mexico. I knew I’d need, among many things, a higher level of understanding of Mexico as well as a view of the U.S. from Mexican eyes. These would become two distinct goals for my exchange experience. Continue reading “Study Abroad: Mexico”