My First Time using the COTA

Coming to Ohio State and leaving everything familiar behind was daunting, especially as an out-of-state student. Not only did I have to get used to a new school, new academic rigor and new friends, I had to do it all in a city that was 12 hours away from my parents by plane. Whether you are moving to Ohio State from a different state or just a different city, getting off-campus and exploring the city is one of the best ways to make this place feel more like home. And how do you do that? By using the COTA, of course!

What is the COTA?

COTA stands for Central Ohio Transit Authority. It’s pretty much just the public transit system for Columbus. Now, if you’re anything like me when I was a first-year student, you may never have used public transportation before. That is OKAY! Using the COTA can be an adjustment, but here’s a short video about how to get started!

The first time I used the COTA was when a friend and I wanted to go check out the Short North. I had heard about the Short North from people in my residence hall and people who were more familiar in the area, but no one had explained much to me about what it was besides that I NEEDED to go there. So I looked it up on the maps app on my phone, talked to my RA about which buses were the best ones to use, and the following weekend we walked to High Street, got on the #2 COTA bus heading south, swiped our BuckIDs and sat down for the ride. Some quick pieces of advice:

Have your BuckID out and ready when you enter the bus. I didn’t and it took me way too long to both get it out of my wallet–hidden deep inside my purse–and figure out which way to swipe it in the machine sitting beside the bus driver.

Find your seat quickly. As soon as everyone is done swiping in, the bus driver is on the move again and if you’re still standing when the bus starts moving, you won’t be soon after. Generally scan the bus for seats to sit in as you’re swiping in, that way you head straight there after swiping. Even if the bus starts moving before you get there, you will have somewhere to land!

Use a maps app or download the COTA app on your phone. These will help you to see which buses are arriving soon, what routes they follow, and which ones to take to get to a designated place. The #1 and #2 bus are generally the best ones to get on if you are just wanting to stay on High Street.

Back to the story–it turned out that the Short North is a section of High Street that has many little shops, restaurants, mural art and more. We were a little confused about where to get off, so we got off as soon as we saw the arches over the street that say Short North. Also, you need to pull the yellow cord to stop–it isn’t like the CABS buses on campus that automatically stop at every stop.

At night, the arches are lit up and the Short North becomes a whole new place. We spent the day walking around, taking pictures, eating food and checking out fun shops–though we didn’t buy anything. We even travelled further downtown to check out more mural art and architecture. We came home feeling way more connected to the city and confident in our ability to continue exploring Columbus. I definitely recommend checking out the Short North when you get the chance. For more places to explore and a list of events around the city, visit the Experience Columbus website.

Identity struggles (A little inspiration from watching Super Bowl 52)

At the time I started writing this blog post, I was also getting ready to watch Super Bowl 52 (only the third Super Bowl I have ever watched) and that brings back memories for me. Watching the Super Bowl prompted me to think about how I spent the past 2 and a half years – what I’ve accomplished and whether I am proud of who I am after all this.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Some good, some bad, and some just straight up stupid. I decided to come to Ohio State (which turned out to be the best decision I have ever made). I decided to tell people that I’m from Cincinnati instead of Taiwan (which now I really regret). I decided to offer to buy this person behind me ice cream at Jeni’s. And I’ve decided to spend 10 hours watching 3 previous Ohio State football games on YouTube during finals week. I think you know which category those decisions go into.

To me, football isn’t just some sport that people watch. To me, football is what connected me with American culture. Before I came to Ohio State, all of my knowledge about football came from the movie, The Blind Side, and I had no idea that Ohio State even had a football team. During the first game of the 2015 season against Virginia Tech, some upperclassmen in my learning community hosted a watch party in their room. I went because I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about the next day if I didn’t go (I mean, I still had nothing to talk about even after I went because I couldn’t understand anything). My friend Alex Steitz was sitting next to me during that game and I told him that I knew nothing about football. He started explaining every single thing to me despite me understanding only about 2% of what he said. Little did he know, that was one of the first times I really felt welcomed here. We started to watch every OSU away game together and he would teach me more and more about football. I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been thinking about my identities and why I do certain things. It makes me think that the reason I love football so much is partly that it is where I found a friendship early on and partly that I think that it makes me more “American.”

Through my two and a half years at Ohio State, a lot has changed in my life and that caused me to constantly think about how my identity is changing. Yet, I was never able to really step back and say “Yeah, that is an accurate representation of me!” Even now I still don’t know what defines me and what I really identify with. In all the thinking I did, one thing really stood out to me: I’ve always been reluctant to tell people that I am an international student. Being an international student can have come negative connotations and it can mean certain restrictions for me legally and culturally. Every time when I have a conversation with someone and then they ask me where I am from, I have two choices: I can either be honest and say that I am from Taiwan, or I can “lie” and say I’m from Cincinnati because I’ve stayed with my Cousin in Cincinnati for a summer.

I’m proud of being a Taiwanese individual but all the “standard” follow-ups really exhaust me. The common response is usually “Wow, you speak English really well! I would’ve never guessed you’re not from the states.” And sometimes when the individual is interested in world politics, I would get asked “What do you think of the political struggle between China and Taiwan?” For the former, I understand that they are trying to give a genuine compliment but hearing it over and over again really frustrates me and made me not want to proactively say that I’m from Taiwan. For the latter, I’m a very non-confrontational and yet patriotic person, I will state my view and then try to steer the conversion away from that topic. But if I say that I’m from Cincinnati, the response I get is “Oh! This Ohio weather, right?” In this case, telling the alternative actually made my conversation a lot easier and a lot more “American”.

Most students at Ohio State don’t know that International students have a very different orientation than they did. Most students don’t know that international students are usually the last ones that schedule for classes for their first semester. Most students don’t know that international students are treated very differently than domestic students because of all the regulations and “initiatives.” I’d love to speak up for international students but there’s really not many ways of doing so. I’d love to help international students integrate with domestic students but there are not a whole lot of resources to make this possible. I’d love to see more international students represented in Ohio State community but I’ve only heard from domestic students that international students are part of the population that makes Ohio State more diverse. These constant downsides have made me not want to proactively identify myself as an international student. But now, I want to use this identity as an advantage.

Most of the time when we hear someone’s motivational story, when we hear how someone overcame their struggle, we think “Wow, that really inspires me” or “Wow, if they can overcome that, I think I can overcome my challenges, too!” It’s just like thinking “If the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with a backup QB, I can conquer this upcoming thing.” It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by a story, but we have to recognize that these stories are only being told because the struggle was overcome. How about those who are still struggling? How about those who are still having a tug-of-war with their destiny? I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve told a lot of story with an ending. But now, I want to start telling a story without an ending. I still struggle with acknowledging my identities, but I’m working on being proud of being an international student. I don’t want my identity to define me, but I don’t want to throw them in trash and ship it to landfill. Because even though I don’t think these things define me, they are a part of me. And it’s not about how these things make me who I am, it’s about how I want to use these things to empower me. I don’t know where this will take me or what this will bring me. But I know…

 

I am Willy.

Why Should I Care?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Although this poem was written over a century ago, the message translates through time.  Niemoller wrote this about the complicity of Germans and their silence towards the Nazi persecution of millions of people.  Take a moment to reflect on how the meaning of this poem might change if you replaced ‘socialist’, ‘trade unionist’ or ‘Jew’ with any marginalized identity in America.

Complicity can be just as bad as active action.  Recall those anti-bullying campaigns we all went through in elementary school.  There is the bully-the one taking action, the victim-the one negatively affected, and the bystander-the one who sees injustice, but stays silent.  We all know the consequences of the bystander affect: everyone thinks that someone else will do or say something, and in the end, nothing is done at all.  The bystander is complicit in the injustice by staying silent.  That affect goes much further than a high school bully, however.

Consider the ways in which not only people, but institutions, policies, and media bully and neglect people of marginalized identities. Just focusing on one identity isn’t enough though. All identities intersect. There’s race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, language, citizenship, religion, and more. If you don’t recognize the affects of any of these, you may be complicit in your privilege.

Awareness of your own privileges are the first step in taking action.  For me, this means using my whiteness to advocate for people of color, using my economic status to advocate for low income populations, and my citizenship status to advocate for immigrants and refugees.  I recommend choosing to give up an easy, complicit life style for one of advocacy and speaking up for those who can’t.

Don’t know where to start? Start with a google search ‘inequality in America’, ‘problems facing diverse populations’, and ‘the affects of privilege’ are some good starting points.  Explore the Multicultural Center in the Ohio Union or Hale Hall on south campus.  Go to a Pride meeting and just listen. In a few days, Black History Month will begin and there are more than enough options for presentations, Ted Talks, and events focused on Black history and pride. Educate yo’self.

Eventually, if you don’t start to care and speak up, there will be no one left to speak for you.

 

Life Hacks: Ohio State Version

By this time of the school year we’ve figured out the basics of surviving college–but what about all those tips and tricks that make your life just a little easier? Peer Leaders provide their insights on the hacks they’ve discovered during their time at Ohio State. Feel free to comment with your own personal Ohio State hacks!

Academics

  • Canvas has an app that makes it significantly easier to access your grades and class information from your phone? The app is just called “Canvas” and can be downloaded for free from the App Store.
  • On a Canvas grade page, you can click on the check+ and see where your grade compares to the average, high and low scores for your class.
  • Lots of times you can get cheaper textbooks by buying them directly from older students–ask around or check social media pages to buy used textbooks from older students.
  • Tired of not finding a seat at Thompson? Check out another hidden gem on campus such as the Fine Arts Library or the Geology Library! Check out this link for the full list of library hours and locations.
  • You can reserve a study room at the library–check out this link!

Entertainment

  • Follow OUAB on Twitter or other social media to find out about events before all of the tickets are gone!
  • Take advantage of D-Tix! (Did you know you can get Gateway Movie d-Tix at the Union for $3?)!
  • Take advantage of FREE group fitness classes at the university recreation facilities (check out the full schedule here).
    • Be sure to get there a few minutes early to make sure you get a spot!
  • Venmo makes life easier for paying back friends/splitting costs.

 Transportation

  • When it comes to bikes: “cheap bike, expensive lock”
  • Don’t bike on the Oval.
  • Lots of off campus parking meters are free on the weekends—check the meters if you have friends or family coming into town!
  • Don’t jaywalk (especially on Woodruff) by Scott.
  • The COTA bus now provides real time updates of when they’re coming on Google Maps and the COTA transit app.
    • Sometimes it is quicker to ride the COTA around campus than a CABS bus (and it’s free with your BuckID)
  • Always carry an umbrella…at Ohio State you should be prepared for all 4 seasons in one day!

 Dining/Food

  • Get creative with the food in the dining halls to change things up. For example, you can build your own buffalo chicken wrap at Traditions at Scott (chicken from the breakfast station, buffalo sauce and lettuce from the grill station, and a tortilla from the Mexican station).
  • Having a Brita pitcher for water in your residence hall room will save you lots of walks to the water fountain on your floor!
  • Food apps (such as Hooked, Tapingo, PostMates, and UberEats) make getting food super easy and convenient!
    • You can even use your meal plan with Tapingo!

Trending Tuesday

What’s trending on campus this week?

1. Officially survived your first semester of college!

2. One week down of spring semester!

3. We can finally walk across campus without fear of slipping on ice!

4. Still looking to get involved with a student org? The Spring Involvement Fair is this Thursday (1/19) from 4-7 at the Union.

5. Students made their day off a day on by serving Columbus at the MLK Day of Service!

6. It’s time to register for spring intramural sports!

Trending Tuesday

What topics are trending with the class of 2020 this week?

 

1.Voting Time!

vote-gif

2.  Waiting for spring semester scheduling windows to open!

waiting-gif

 

3. Thinking about changing majors (or have already done so!)

decisions

 

4. Trying to avoid the cold (and other sickness) that is plaguing campus

frozen-gif

 

5. Starting to think about whether to go Greek

sistas

6. Halloween events across campus!

halloween-gif

 

7. Can’t complain about the beautiful weather on campus!

autumn-gif

Trending Tuesday

What’s trending with the Class of 2020 this week?

 

  1. Tapingo App is saving time with campus dining (check it out here!!)

food

 

2. Fall Break was much needed

relaxing

 

3. Time to start thinking about next semester’s schedule

2-naps-per-day-gif

4. Classes are becoming increasingly difficult

cant-wait-to-learn

 

5. Major changes are scary…but you’ll figure it out!

major-unknown

 

 

6. Look outside and you’ll beLEAF fall is here

autumn-leaves

7. About that football game though…

osu-football

Trending Tuesday

What’s trending with the first year class this week?

1. Fall Break is almost here!

jumping-into-leaves

2.But really…plans for fall break:

sleep-gif

3. Author Wes Moore inspired the first year class

inspiration-gif

4. Homesickness is becoming a reality

homesick-gif

5. Time to bounce back after a rough midterm

you-got-it-dude

6. Working hard to finish midterms out strong!

just-keep-swimming

Trending Tuesday

1. Ohio State football has got us like

football

 

2. Learning how to study is tough

studying-gif

 

3. Hogwarts is Harry’s home and Ohio State is beginning to feel like our home

home-gif

 

4. Living with roommates can be challenging, but it can also be fun

roommates-gif

 

5. Tutoring services on campus are extremely helpful

tutor-gif

 

6. Midterms, will they ever end?

midterm-gif

Trending Tuesday

What’s going on with Ohio State’s Class of 2020? These are the top trending topics from the past week with Ohio State’s first year class!

411-gif

1. First time being sick away from home

sick1

2. Have you registered to vote?

vote

3. First Chemistry midterm

science

4. Calculus midterm scores came back

calculus

5. Even more midterms are coming

midterm-gif

6. OUAB events are the place to be (and for free!)

movie

7. North Rec Center (NRC) is the place to work out

workout-gif

8. Laundry! It’s expensive and time consuming

laundry-gif

Comment below with your own thoughts about how you are feeling at this point in the semester!