A Humbling Experience

Nine months ago, the island of Puerto Rico was devasted by Hurricane Maria.

Nine months ago, homes were destroyed.

Nine months ago, people were displaced.

Arriving back in the states after helping with disaster relief has allowed me to put many things into perspective. For one, it allowed me to realize how blessed and privileged I am as an individual and as a resident/citizen of the U.S.

Every day, people complain about minor inconveniences in their lives such as slow internet speed, missing their favorite show or even their phones dying. But, for the many homeowners that my service in Puerto Rico has impacted, small inconveniences such as the aforementioned, are laughable.

How can one complain about the internet without power?

How can one complain about missing their favorite show when the very room where you would watch that show, has been destroyed by water damage and mold?

Being in Puerto Rico was beyond humbling for me. It allowed me to see that whenever I feel as though things are uncomfortable for me, there are people who are living through far more serious and uncomfortable hardships.

Living in the states gives us many opportunities to seek the help we need in any situation while others get ignored. Comparing my service in San Juan, Puerto Rico to my service in Port Arthur, Texas, it is clear that one city received much more help than the other. For one, the traffic lights in Texas were up and running while many of the traffic lights in Puerto Rico still remain unrepaired- nine months later.

This trip has allowed me to step outside of my world and add context to what it means to be an American, living in the United States.

Hopefully completing service in Puerto Rico opens the minds and eyes of future students who are a part of the New York “Stand with Puerto Rico” initiative to realize how privileged we are here in the U.S. I hope that it opens their hearts to want to do more for others who are not as privileged and are often forgotten.

Nine months later Purto Rico still remains in need of recovery and yet, the people are so pleasant and welcoming. Truly, a humbling experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.



SUNY Oswego Takes Puerto Rico!

As a part of the New York statewide effort to “Stand with Puerto Rico,” several SUNY Oswego students including myself has chosen to embark on a two-week journey in San Juan, Puerto Rico to aid in disaster relief.

In collaboration with the non-profit disaster relief organization, NECHAMA, I have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of homeowners who are trying to recover from the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused.

Day 1:

My group was assigned to repair the roof of an 80-year-old woman. Upon arrival at the site, I noticed the condition of the home and the surrounding homes. It was clear that the roofs of many homes in that area were affected by the storm.

Her roof, which was once the second story of her home had been damaged by several hurricanes over the years causing her to transform it into a roof. Due to several cracks in the concrete, her house often had leaking when it rained.

After speaking with Marta I got to learn a little more about her life. She lost her husband five years ago and currently lives alone. They were married for over 40 years and have two sons together. One of which lives in Puerto Rico and the other residing in Texas. She expressed that her husband did everything for her including building their home so when he passed, it was very hard for her to adjust to living on her own. It was the first time in her life where she had to do things for herself.

Day 1 consisted of scrapping and lifting the old surface of the roof to prepare it to be cleaned and prepped for the sealing and painting of the new roof.

Fast-forwarding to September of 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit, she was faced with overcoming the devastation on her own.

Day 2:

Today was filled with concrete work and preparing the roof to be painted. My team and I dusted and swept the roof, applied concrete to all of the cracks and began applying primer to the surface of the roof. Unfortunately, it started to rain very hard causing the primer we applied to be washed away. Our resilient team, however, was not discouraged and quickly dried the surface and applied the primer for the second time.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the home cooked meal we were prepared for lunch by our homeowner, Marta. Marta prepared a delicious meal for us to eat (chicken, rice, and beans) to show her appreciation for our efforts to help her with her home.

Day 3:

Today was slower than the previous days in terms of busy work. Since we primed the roof and prepped it to be painted, the only task left to do was to actually paint. While completing this task, a news crew came to Marta’s home to interview the leaders of our group and a few students. We explained to the crew the process of our work and the importance of the “Stand with Puerto Rico” initiative.

Our lovely homeowner Marta, yet again, prepared us a delicious lunch. Today, she made rice and beans with pork chops. It felt great to see how much she appreciates us and which in turn allowed me to put the entire program into perspective.

Sadly, our time with Marta will come to an end soon as we only have one more task to complete to restore her roof. Tomorrow, we will be applying a second coat of paint and then we are off to meet a new homeowner!

Take a trip to Hollywood! | Hollywood POV Class

The value of a college education measures deeper than what one can read out of a textbook, off a powerpoint presentation, or on a spreadsheet. For me, the extracurricular activities I have partaken in have been equally fulfilling and empowering in regards to my overall personal growth. When making my college decision almost four years ago, I was informed of a program, Hollywood POV, where students essentially took a field trip to Los Angeles, California for just over a week. This baffled me, as Los Angeles always seemed like an impenetrable oasis reserved for masters of their craft across the country. The thought of having an opportunity like this at my fingertips was the push I needed to commit to SUNY Oswego, and I am glad that I did.

Three years after making that leap of faith, I had never forgotten about the Hollywood POV program — especially during the cold winter months where the air physically hurt my face. When I saw the program flyer in the Lanigan hallway, I immediately filled out an application. Weeks later I found out I had been accepted into the program, and the experience of a lifetime was right before my eyes.

Our class would meet once a week during the fall semester, just going over the trip itinerary and preparing ourselves for the travel. These meetings were helpful in finding roommates, finding cheap flights, and becoming closer as a group. Our class got along incredibly well, which only made the trip more enjoyable for me. But, after a few weeks of class, the fall semester was over, and the trip would soon begin.

In early January, everyone in the class flew separately to Los Angeles and was shuttled to our hotel, which is covered in the class fee–along with transportation and access to exclusive activities. The hotel is located in the heart of Burbank, which is an amazing city. Its downtown area was a five-minute walk away from our hotel, and it had a wide variety of restaurants and stores for us to visit. Not to mention, the views!

Now, for the meat and potatoes. The experiences we had on this trip were simply breathtaking. On the very first day, we got to visit the casting director of “The Young and the Restless” along with a tour of the set. Then we traveled to Venice Beach, where we met with a film producer of his own production company. Then to close the day, we got to tour the studio of a first-class Audio Engineer at Larson Studios. Each of these opportunities was eye-opening to the effect that they were all so welcoming. Each of the connections had a tie to SUNY Oswego, and they were very open to questions about their career paths and about the work they do. I learned so much in this first day and was so excited for the rest of the week ahead.

The second day consisted of attending a Q&A panel by ProMaxBDA hosted at the Warner Brothers Lot, where we learned all about careers in the entertainment and marketing field. Afterward, we took a stop at Universal Boardwalk, then to the Academy of Television Arts and Science–where we were able to hold a real Emmy and speak with the Director of the Academy Internship Program! As if that wasn’t enough, to cap off the night we met with the Manager of Casting of TBS/TNT in downtown Burbank. Needless to say, it was a tiring, but amazing day once again.

The next day consisted of a trip to the Hollywood walk of fame and a trip to the Hollywood sign. Afterward, we took a trip to NPR West, where we toured the radio station and go to learn more about the content creation process in this field of news. Then, excitingly, we returned to the Warner Brothers lot where we got to sit in for a live studio recording of the Netflix Original Series, “Disjointed” starring Kathy Bates and Chris Redd. This was one of the coolest moments of the trip, as we were able to witness the entire creation process of a professional-quality television show. Experiences like these are simply not accessible on Oswego’s campus, which is what made this experience truly priceless for me.

The following day we took a tour of the brand new Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank. This studio is where shows like “Spongebob” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” have been drafted and produced for years. It was a very unique and fun atmosphere and some of the people I met helped me get to the final round of interviews for an Internship at this company for the following summer. Following this tour, the class got to visit BBC America/National Geographic and the people who create the Emmy-winning series, “Life Below Zero”. We got to sit in on the show planning process and sit inside an edit bay, where the show is ultimately stitched together. Wrapping up the night, the class went to Beverly Hills to eat some dinner. My group elected to get tacos, which is never a bad choice…

The next day was my favorite day. On this day, the class took a trip to LA’s “Original Farmer’s Market”. I had the most delicious food of the trip at this farmer’s market and would have eaten here every day if I could have. With full stomachs, we all got to experience something incredible. The class had VIP seats to a recording of “The Price is Right”. That’s right! We were in the front section of the crowd, and I even got to speak to Drew Carey during a commercial break. Though we were not able to compete (because we were VIP), we were surrounded by people who actually were chosen, which was exhilarating and priceless. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures, but you will just have to believe me!

The next two days consisted of PA Bootcamp–yet another amazing activity. This Bootcamp was nothing short of a Bootcamp. In this time, we were trained to be professional PAs for film sets and television productions alike. We were trained by experienced PA professionals on how to read a call sheet, use a headset, be familiar with production lingo, sell your experiences, and how to keep being asked to return. Though intimidating at first, this experience could have proven to be the most valuable of our trip. If you were to become a PA in the future, there is no training process–you kind of just get thrown in the ring. And if you don’t do a good job/they don’t like you…..you’re out. Henceforth, this opportunity was incredibly informative and crucial to preparing me for what very well could be the next stage in my professional career. The second day finished with an alumni dinner, where the class was able to meet, and network with Oswego alumni who work and live in the Los Angeles area. I met some former friends, and some new friends in the Los Angeles “world” that I am sure will prove to be beneficial connections in the near future.

The final day was aimed to relax, and take in the beauty of Los Angeles. Our first trip was to Santa Monica Pier, where we spent a good part of the afternoon by the beach and on the boardwalk. There are so many things to do, and so much food to eat in Santa Monica, and I was sure to take advantage of that. If you are ever there, try the spiced Mango! Anyways, afterward, we took a cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and took in the magnificent views. We then stopped in Malibu, to walk along the beach and take some stunning photos. A full camera roll, and a large pizza later, the day was done, and so was our trip. We packed our bags early the next morning, hopped on a plane at LAX, and then arrived back home to the blustery winter of Upstate New York.

A great quote that was shared with us during this trip was from a panelist at the ProMaxBDA panel. He stated, “There will always be work in Los Angeles. The United States is the Entertainment Capital of the World, and it will always be that way. The more people want to watch movies, the more work there will be to make movies”. This stuck with me because it was a reality I needed to be told. Hollywood can be an intimidating environment, but sometimes you need a friendly voice to show you the real truth. The biggest hurdle is to get yourself to an LA/NYC/Atlanta, etc. Once you take the leap and put yourself in an environment that will allow you to grow, it’s just a matter of doing it.

I really cannot advocate for this class enough. This trip was so valuable in boosting my understanding of the professional industry. I came into the program hoping to get a sense of direction for my professional career and to learn about other opportunities that exist in the entertainment industry. Before, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, or where to even start. After this trip, my mindset took a complete 180-degree turn. Though I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do, I got a healthy dose of existing careers in the entertainment industry, and a cornucopia of connections to help me potentially reach where I want to reach a few years down the road. Not only that, but this class connected me with some of the best and most ambitious students SUNY Oswego has to offer. We created a family during this trip, and we all still vow to reconnect in Los Angeles a couple of years down the road!

If this trip is something you or a friend are interested in, PLEASE APPLY!!!

Applications close on April 26th, 2018.

For details, including estimated cost, travel dates and more, please visit their website.
If the link doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://www.oswego.edu/communication-media-and-the-arts/hollywood-pov
And feel free to respond to this post, or shoot me an email at gbruce@oswego.edu to learn more about the program!



Adjusting Back

I’m not afraid to say it; I miss being across the pond. By placing yourself in a foreign country, trying to build up contacts and a support network while cooking and doing other things for yourself, you change. It’s inevitable when you go off to see the beauty and the people that the world has to offer. You get pretty comfortable with introspection–and Citymapper for that matter. How can you not? You are undergoing so much personal growth and learning.


What’s the point I’m trying to get at? It’s easy to forget that being back is an adjustment. Yet another lifestyle change, and yes, you can get culture shock being back home. My first day back someone asked me what kind of tea I wanted. I said Earl Grey and she said “No, I meant hot or cold.” After being picked on by my fellow diners, I realized fairly quickly that I wouldn’t slip back into things as easily as I thought.

The college lifestyle is different back here, too. Classes are different and how students interact with each other is different. I think the key word in these phrases is different. Not better or worse, just different. That’s a really big takeaway from being exposed to new cultures that people don’t necessarily take the time to think about. It’s a concept that was mentioned in a communication class I had previously taken, and I always thought I had grasped it, but I truly understood it after my experience.

One thing to be really grateful for is my friends and family. I don’t think I’ve ever had better hugs in my life than those I received when I saw people for the first time in months. They are also what I missed the most, even more than Kraft mac and cheese or American peanut butter. They are what make the adjustment back so worth it.

An Intern Abroad

Imagine a 5’2 American girl lugging 15 lbs worth of equipment on and off the Tube, through places like Trafalgar Square and world famous museums like the Victoria & Albert. That’s my reality every time I go to work.

I’m one of the 3% of American students who intern abroad. I work for a news and entertainment channel called London Live. I get sent all over the city to cover all different kinds of events. My repertoire now includes filming a theatre show designed around accessibility for both deaf and hearing audiences, to covering one of the most famous portraits in the world at the National Gallery.

The Arnolfini portrait is one of the art world’s greatest mysteries. This is a screenshot from one of my pieces I filmed for my job.

Work has also enabled me to attend an exclusive opening at the world famous Saatchi Gallery. After spending a day filming different exhibitions within the gallery, the curator handed me an invitation to attend the members-only opening that night. It was definitely one of the more surreal moments of my life.

A piece by the delightful and talented Daniel Crews Chubb, who I had helped interview earlier that day.

However, that isn’t the only type of things I have covered. My first real day in the office was the bombing at Parsons Green. My train had been cancelled before work so I had to walk/jog to make it. Nobody understood the magnitude of the situation. Even as we covered the scene live, details would trickle out slowly as we learned exactly what happened. I even managed to track down an interview with someone who was on the train. Sure enough, as what happens in big news situations, even reporters from the BBC and other international news companies started trying to record the interview I was getting with the London Live journalist I was sent out with. Talk about an intense and exciting first day!

One of the images I captured at the scene of Parsons Green.


Media frenzy at Parsons Green.

My work experience in London has been challenging and immensely rewarding. Finding your footing abroad is no easy feat. I’ve had to adjust to different styles of storytelling, different spellings, navigating a foreign workplace (not to mention an entire city!). However, I truly enjoy all of the change that’s happening in my life. I’ve grown so much in many different ways, both personally and professionally. The tests and challenges keep on coming, but the best way to grow is to keep moving forward and to keep learning.

This is an overlook of–in a broad sense–my office.

Looking to Save Money Studying Abroad? These Scholarships May Apply To You!

SUNY Oswego offers many international scholarships to its students for various study abroad programs. Many of these scholarships are awarded to multiple students every semester. I personally have applied for the GETGO Scholarship and was awarded $500 towards my quarter course trip. The requirement for this was a 20 minute presentation about my trip abroad. All international scholarships have different requirements but it is worth looking into and applying! Below is the link for all of the international scholarships SUNY Oswego offers:



Good luck applying!

The Flamenco

I have never been more proud to be living in Spain until this moment. On March 8th (International woman’s day) I had the opportunity to see the unbelievable Sara Baras dance Flamenco at the Nuevo Apolo Theater. We stood outside the polished theater, show lights sparkling, wondering what awaited us inside. We sat in red velvet seats surrounded by native Spanish flamenco lovers; our American ignorance was all over us. The lights dimmed and a single spot light appeared on the stage showing the one and only Sara Baras in a beautiful dress, she started off very slowly, taping her feet and swinging her dress. But as the energy and anticipation grew, she got faster and faster and as the music grew stronger our faces brightened. The crowd was silent, except for the occasional Olay, but rightfully so, the performance was breathtaking.

She danced many different types of Flamenco, some with big dresses that she spun around, made shorter or longer and used as if it was part of her. She danced tango with a man, Jose Serrano, that depicted love and hate all at the same time. But what was most interesting to me was the dynamic between the dancers and musicians. They cheered each other on during their individual performances and when Baras did an interpretation (making her dance up on the spot) the musicians were right on cue with what she was going to do next, making sure the music and feet matched. The dancers used the different types of Flamenco in a special way that allows for them to show their own identity and interpretation but also keeping the traditions from generations past. That is one of the most important things about the dance, remembrance. During each dance style change, a recording was played from different famous flamenco dancers expressing their feelings about flamenco and why it is so special.The dance originated from gypsies living in Spain (also has roots from the middle east) to express the oppression they felt at the time. Throughout the dance, you can see the mix between the feelings of romance and desperation to freedom and suffering. The emotions embedded in the dance are what make it so powerful.

Dare I call myself Spanish for living in Spain for 3 months… no. But the feeling I had walking out that theater was nothing less than Spanish patriotism… Olay!


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Sal y Ven or Sal y Sue?

Let’s get one thing straight. The majority of students who study abroad are young, don’t speak the language and don’t know anything about living in a foreign country. This being said, when SUNY Oswego recommended that we find housing through an agency called Sal y Ven, we blindly trusted that would be the best thing to do. Well we were wrong.

We were placed into an apartment that previously had problems with the student tenants who lived there the semester before us. Those same students had warned us that the landlord was rude and that the people living in the apartment complex gave them a hard time. We took this warning with a grain of salt; those students could have been loud and maybe didn’t speak Spanish so communication could have been hard. Again we were wrong. From the moment we moved in there were rules, no socializing in the kitchen past 11pm, no using the water past 11pm, no visitors, no noise, no mail can be received to the apartment, no locking the bedrooms etc. We accepted these rules and moved on, living as quietly and respectfully as possible. Then the complaints started. The landlord received two complaints about us; one was that we threw a party… on a weekend that the four of us were in Budapest. The second complaint was to the agency Sal y Ven that said that the people in the building were going to sue the landlord if we did not move out of the apartment.

When we were told we had to move they included that it was not our fault it was the fault of the landlord. Well if it’s not our fault then why are we the ones being punished? We signed a contract to live in the apartment until May, no one, not the landlord or Sal y Ven should break that. The agency knew that there were problems in the past with this landlord so we should never have been placed there to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, we did not want to live the way we were in that apartment, but moving after we had just settled in was a big burden.

We got over the fact we had to move and went to go see an apartment that Sal y Ven said we could move right into. They had said that this was the only available option for us if we wanted to stay together. We were shocked when we saw the place they wanted us to live. It was 1/3 of the size of our other apartment and had no kitchen. HAD NO KITCHEN! They expected us to pay the same rent and live in an apartment with no kitchen for 4 months. It was rude that they even sent us to see that apartment.

That’s when we decide to take things into our own hands. We wrote an email to all party’s involved, SUNY Oswego study abroad advisor, the director in Spain and Sal Y Ven. we explained that we felt that we were being taken advantage of and it was not fair for us to have to move. It was not our problem that the people in the apartment complex did not like our landlord and we wanted some compensation for having to leave. Sal Y Ven wrote back explaining it was not their fault and that we could go live in another apartment for one month until they could find us another place…thus moving twice in 2 months. This was the best/ only option for us so we agreed.

We never heard back from SUNY Oswego, not even after the first move just to make sure everything was okay. That was the biggest disappointment, they were supposed to be on our side and let us down.

Moral of the story, do your research, ask questions, don’t blindly go into anything especially if they have had problems in the past. Don’t trust everything the school tells you and stick up for yourself because when we finally did it was too late.

Broken Abroad

After about two weeks of painfully walking around beautiful Sydney, I decided it was time to get a ct scan. And well it’s official, I fractured my heel.

I’ve been making the most out of this series of unfortunate events, however. This past weekend, CAPA rallied up the students to feed happy kangaroos and pet a furry koala at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I’m so glad I decided to go rather than stay in my room sulking; feeding that roo was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Afterwards our group was carted over to The Blue Mountains to see the iconic Three Sisters. I wasn’t able to hike the trails but I was able to appreciate the amazing views from lookouts and the railway cars. I am grateful CAPA has been so accommodating and comforting in this overwhelming time.

I am trying to be as positive as I can be while paired up with crutches and a boot. It’s hard, especially since I’ve been to the doctors more than I’ve been to the beach. BUT the sunshine brings me comfort and the salty air clears my mind. Only three more weeks with my hardware and then I’m a free woman!

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G’Day Mate

After 20+ hours on a tightly squeezed airplane, I lug my suitcases in the 96 degree heat to the taxi van. With a sigh of relief I can’t help but squeal, “I made it,” to the taxi driver.

CAPA had our next few days planned out for us; between scavenger hunts, field trips and jet lag it’s safe to say I was a zombie by the third day. It was hard to find the energy to be social and hold conversations with my classmates. That was until I finally had a long nights rest and I began to feel like myself again.

On Saturday, the 21st, I had a free day since my internship, at DEC Public Relations, wasn’t scheduled to begin until Tuesday. So, a few of my roommates and I ventured to the infamous Bondi Beach. We soaked up the Aussie sun and made sure to avoid the Blue Bottle jellyfish in the cobalt water. I was a little too adventurous that day and hurt my foot while exploring the Bondi Cliffs. Although the view from the walk was worth it, it was very hard the next day feeling immobile in such a beautiful country. I trekked to the General Practitioner and had to get an X-ray to reassure me (and my mom on the other side of the globe) that there wasn’t a serious injury. Thankfully, nothing was fractured, especially since walking is our main source of transportation in Sydney. I am still healing but I hope to be fully recovered this week.

Tuesday I was introduced to the office culture in the Central Business District at DEC PR. The streets in CBD are full of beautiful men and women dressed to impress. I thoroughly enjoy commuting to work and being apart of a “team.” I have already learned so much in the two days I’ve worked at DEC and I am so excited to see what the next 12 weeks brings.

It is nice to start being placed into a routine again. I am grateful my days are so busy because I feel as though I am making the most of every day I have here. Yes, I do miss home but I know I will see everyone in just a few short weeks. Therefore I plan on seeing everything and anything I can before I head to the Sydney Airport at the end of April. I am grateful for this spectacular opportunity and I’m excited to share my experiences with you. Thanks for tuning in.fullsizer-1 fullsizer-2 fullsizer img_2768 img_2772 img_2778 img_2787 img_2802