Student bloggers chronicle their unique perspectives on Calvin

Five Calvin student bloggers and one vlogger regularly document their Calvin experiences online: Dana Drosdick, Temi Ogunnoiki, Kurt Delos Trino, Jay De Man, Purun Yeo and Dario Lirio. Each blogger has their own unique approach and adds a unique and necessary insight into the spectrum of experience as a Calvin student.

Dana Drosdick, a sophomore digital communications and Spanish double major, who is currently studying abroad in Spain, tends to give advice to fellow students as she reflects on her own experience. She writes posts in series. She has a series called “Win-ternships” in which she provides helpful tips for landing an internship; another collection of posts, “What I Wish I Knew,” is a series in which she explains some of the nuance and unexpectedness of studying abroad — cultural differences, homesickness and finding the balance between exploration and introspection.

Drosdick explained that she tries to write about “resources that people would find helpful at Calvin, relatable experiences … since I’m in Spain, I’m trying to chronicle my time here with plenty of stories.” Drosdick is using the blog as a filter for her experiences — a way for her to reflect on her experiences as a Calvin student and pass on whatever knowledge or wisdom she can to the next student. “I think Calvin blogs are a great way to hear from peers about things you might never have heard about or see opportunities you might not have known existed,” she said.

Each of the bloggers focus fairly heavily on their experience as a Calvin student. This is both by design and nature. Temi Ogunnoiki, a junior engineering student, explained: “I write about my general life experiences, but I try to focus it on Calvin.” She continued, “I try to communicate in an engaging way. I like when readers can relate to my context or gain information from it.” For Ogunnoiki, the blog helps her not only communicate her experiences, but connect and engage with fellow students through those experiences — students with whom she may not otherwise have the chance to interact with.

Stylistically, Jay De Man, a sophomore philosophy and Latin student, tends of late to write what he refers to as “micro blogs” — short, succinct, nearly poetic expressions of particular moments from a particular day or week. As a philosophy student, De Man is fond of probing deeply into issues and asking complex questions beyond the surface of the Calvin experience. He reflects on rituals such as Kill-a-Watt and dorm retreat with a particularly introspective and distant eye. His thought process and reflection are worthwhile and demonstrate yet another type of student experience: metacritical.

Kurt Delos Trino, a senior nursing student who has been writing as a Calvin blogger for two years now, sees the blog as a way to express joys and frustrations with Calvin — a space to be real about his real-time experience as a student. He explained, “the things I write about change from week to week … I have written about being busy at Calvin and combatting that, to being a nursing student, to being an RA, to Rangeela.”

According to Delos Trino, it is important to use his platform not just as a way to explain how he is involved as a student, but as a place to be real about his experience. “I also get the chance to talk about some of the controversies I go through at Calvin … it is not all pretty things, which is good.” He continued, “I think it is important that I write about the reality of my weekly life. It’s authentic. I think I can’t always write about why Calvin is great, so I can write about my challenges at Calvin. It’s also important that I can write everything in my own voice, not Calvin’s.”

Delos Trino explained that, though the blogs are sponsored and generated from the Communications and Marketing department, supervisor Amanda Greenhoe allows them a fair amount of freedom of both subject matter and language. It must remain clear that the writing reflects student opinion, not college endorsement, but within that frame, much is permissible. This allows the bloggers to fully express themselves and accurately explain their experiences.

Dario Lirio, a first-year business marketing student, has the most unique approach visually. Instead of communicating with words and pictures, Lirio reflects and relates his experience through vlogs which tend to be roughly five minutes in length. Lirio’s vlogs are an interactive and engaging way to catch a glimpse into what being a Calvin student is like in preserved motion. Lirio’s catalogued adventures provide a window into day-to-day student experiences like chapel, eating in the dining hall or escaping off campus to see a movie or eat at Yesterdog.

The blogs serve as a demonstration of student experiences at Calvin. In the same way that each blogger has their own diverse perspective and approach to their blog, there are myriad ways to be a student at Calvin. By learning to listen to the experiences of others, Calvin becomes a more connected community through the power of shared experiences.