Archive for Month: May 2015

Home sweet home

Yahoo, I’m officially writing my first blog post on Norwegian ground. Last week was really stressful with another two final exams, packing and then the whole move-out-and-clean-the-dorm-room-process.

While packing… It’s amazing how much crap I’ve been able to collect in just one year. My new room is identical, so I SHOULD be able to fit everything in next semester.
Brittany and Karen were absolutely indispensable when moving my stuff out from my old room.

Irene can fit in anywhere, even in the back seat of my overfilled car.

The trip from Sioux Falls to Haugesund went great, and I was able to keep myself entertained throughout all the 18 hours of traveling – mostly thanks to Delta Airline’s amazing selection of movies.

Words cannot describe how great it felt to hug my parents at the airport! For those of you that don’t know it, I’m very close with my family, so living that far away from them has been a challenge, but since they are extremely supportive of my whole “American Adventure” I haven’t really been homesick for a single minute abroad. Like my mom always says: “Nothing makes us happier than to know that you’re happy where you are, and with what you do.”

Now that I’ve spent nine months at the opposite side of the Atlantic, I’m able to see the differences between the two countries even clearer. What I once thought was weird about America has become normal to me now, and everything that was familiar in Norway suddenly seems really odd.

Like when I landed at the airport in Norway, a man accidentally ran his suitcase over my foot. I automatically said “I’m sorry!” as if it was my fault that he was unable to handle his luggage. He just looked at me and said “Oh..” and then he kept on walking. Argh, these rude Europeans !! Heard about manners? Haha, that would never have happened in America. But I guess that bluntness can be pretty charming.. once I get used to it again.
I know I used to be like that too, so maybe I shouldn’t speak out too loud about it.

The past two days I’ve slept a total of 25 hours, watched four movies, worked out twice and made an American style breakfast once.

God Bless,
Maria Lavelle




Two down, two to go

I’ve just completed two of my final exams for this semester, and with only two more to go I’m about to get ready for the summer !!

In hectic times like these I really appreciate the hours I get to spend in the gym every day. Lifting heavy, feeling the sweat dripping from my forehead, and the blood flushing through the veins of my quads is very soothing to me (!) The stress from school and homework suddenly feels very far away, and I can focus all my attention towards just lifting. Yeah, it might sound weird to some, but it’s truly relaxing in its own way.

Now that the season is over and we don’t have practices with the team, I promised my coach to post some training updates on the blog every now and then.

So this is for you Coach Binstock:

To those of you who are not into this type of training, the video above might seem a little repetitive, but it kind of resembles the ongoing repetitiveness an athlete deals with on a daily basis. There’s no glitter and glam either, so if you still choose to watch it…. at least I warned you – afterwards.

On Tuesday we went to the Zoo in biology. I would’ve smiled even more had it not been for the three page lab report we had to write afterwards.


Then on Wednesday I went to the annual “End-of-the-season-track-banquet” with the team.

To celebrate that Friday was the last day of classes for this semester, we went to an Indian restaurant and then to Coldstone’s for ice cream.. again. As I mentioned, my doctor advised me to start eating more calories, diary and fat, so why not pick the biggest size? It was delicious.

Now I just got done studying for tomorrow’s biology exam, wish me luck…

Maria Lavelle

Love is in the air

If you, after reading the title, think that there’s love in the air surrounding ME, then you better think again. Wups, this is supposed to be a highly professional post, so enough about my (non-existent) love life.

Anyway.. What I was trying to say was that I learn something new every time I turn on my camera, and yesterday was no different. I did a “couple photoshoot” of my dear friend Brittany and her boyfriend Harald.

This type of photography requires a bit more planning and preparation compared to the “Run & Gun” photography I usually do. But I truly loved every part of it – everything from putting the makeup on, to finding locations and actually shooting the pictures.

With two people in the same photo, it suddenly gets twice as easy to mess it up. But these two beautiful people behaved absolutely exemplary in front of the camera.
(To view in full size, click HERE)

(To see more, click HERE)

Maria Lavelle

Profile: Bill, the Man of the Many Jokes

The air inside Ordal Dining Hall is filled with a mixture of different smells ranging from meatloaf to chicken teriyaki stir-fry. The clock is just about to hit 5:02 p.m. and I’m working my way through the masses of students whirling around the tables.

As I walk towards the western corner of the cafeteria, I pass the football-table and the scent of food suddenly gets a touch-up of masculine fragrances and sweat. There, sitting alone on a table facing the windows, I see him. He is wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt and a dark baseball cap, waiting patiently.

When I approach him, his eyes immediately light up behind the lenses of his steel-rimmed glasses. The smile is as genuine as always, and the handshake is surprisingly firm.

Photo: Maria Lavelle

To most, he’s known as just Bill – with the endless stream of jokes. Every single day, he starts his shift off with sharing a new joke with whoever has time to listen. The jokes never repeat themselves, and his enthusiasm always makes it worth the time.

“If you’re having a bad day, and he comes over to your table to tell a joke, you can’t help it but to feel better when you see how excited he gets,” says freshman Abby Schulte.

“I just love how he shares his jokes with everyone, without singling out anyone,” says freshman Jennifer Lang. “He doesn’t care whether it’s a white girl or a black guy, he just wants everyone to hear his jokes.”

Bill works as a utility worker. He does anything and everything he is asked to do, whether it’s helping with the dishes or picking up the children from the daycare on Campus.

One of his colleagues for many years, Jane Flint, describes him as a team player, a gentleman and “he’s a guy who always looks out for others,” she says.

His full name is Bill William Ellsworth Rooker. Ellsworth, like the air force base. “I have no idea where it came from. My mom just liked it I guess,” he says.

As a Sioux Falls native, he took his first breaths of air in 1957, at the former Sioux Valley Hospital, now known as the Sanford Hospital.

Last year Bill celebrated his 20th year at Augustana. “I got a streaming player for TV, the longer you stay, the better the prizes are,” says Bill who is planning on staying for as long as he can still make a contribution.

Now, let’s go back to the jokes for a minute. As I said, he has a new one every single day, and today is no different. “Why was the baby strawberry crying?” he asks, with his face full of expectation. I’m unable to compose a decent answer, so I ask him to tell me. “Mom and dad were in a jam.”

“At first it started off with Laffy Taffy, the candy. There would be two jokes in every wrapper,” he says. “Then I was given a joke book for my birthday, but it kind of ran itself out, or all the good ones were taken.”

“Now I got some brand new ones, online.” I asked him how he was able to keep track of the ones he had already said, and he quickly responds, “I just mark whichever I’ve used.”

When he’s not working he likes to watch TV and movies, or solve word puzzles. Right now he’s working on some big ones with more than 200 words. “It’s probably going to take all summer to get it done,” he says.

He’s had a lifelong passion for movies, and likes to use Netflix on his computer, especially when he is sitting around and there’s not much on TV, other than Dancing with the stars and the Voice. Since his childhood he’s enjoyed watching the classic Western’s, like Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke with James Arness.

What not everybody knows is that besides telling jokes, Bill also sells jewelry and hairbands. This week he’s even having a special Mother’s Day sale. The sales, however, have not gone as well as he’d been hoping for.

He says that part of the reason is because he doesn’t use social media for advertising like some do. Instead, he gives offers to the people he meets around on campus. “I tell certain people, and hopefully I’ll get it out,” he says.

Now that summer is right around the corner, Bill explains that while many of the students leave town to visit their families, he will keep on working. Even if the days look different without all the students around, there will be camps and other people who are coming in to eat.

That means he won’t have the same split shifts like he usually does.
“It’s like being a doctor, you have to be ready when they call,” he says. “But they will usually tell you ahead in time.”

“Bill is ‘Mister Consistent’ and he always comes in with a good attitude, always full of jokes,” says Bill’s supervisor, Glen Elder.

Some students may feel they see Bill working day and night, and they are right. He starts the day at 10 a.m., before he leaves again at 2 p.m., and then comes back for his second shift from 5:30 to 8 p.m. – every day except Saturday.

He doesn’t mind working long days. ”It helps. It makes it worth getting up in the morning,” he says.

For some students, talking to Bill every morning has become a part of their daily routine. However, in January this year, Bill was suddenly gone, “The atmosphere in the cafeteria just wasn’t quite the same without his jokes,” says junior Karen Joesdendal.

A couple of days later there were a picture of Bill in the dining hall, saying he had been in a car accident.

He had gotten struck by a car as he was crossing Duluth Avenue on 33rd Street on his way to the gas station to pick up some drinks, like he always does.

“I was in the middle of the street,” he says. “Then I look to the left and I saw lights coming at me. I heard a ‘thunk’ and next thing I’m laying on the ground.”

“There was a little bit of bleeding in my head, and they did a couple of CT scans, and I was in the intensive care,” he says. “My eyes were all puffed up, and I still go to physical therapy for my hand.”

Photo: Emily Spartz / Argus Leader
Photo: Emily Spartz / Argus Leader

He says that he is close to fully recovered, but his hand may never get back to a hundred percent. It doesn’t affect him much at work, unless he has to put a lot of weight on it.

However, his smile, enthusiasm and ability to spread joy around him is as good as ever, and the only thing reminding him of what happened is the one-inch scar above his right eye.

The overwhelming conglomeration of smells that filled the air earlier has now vanished, and the only things left at the football-table next to us is a pond of ketchup and a bent fork.

I ask Bill what he would wish for if he could get one wish fulfilled. His answer is simple.

“I’m happy with the way things are.”

Written by Maria Lavelle May 14th 2015

Portrait: Colorgirl

As some of you may already know, I have over the past few weeks been working on another short profile documentary.

The first one was about actor Grant Elliott and how theater helped him overcome an anxiety disorder.

And this time I wanted to let Cassandra Dulek tell her story on camera.

During one of my very first weeks of college, I couldn’t help it but to notice her colorful clothing style and the confident charisma she radiated. So I wanted to know more about her, and why she dresses the way she does.

As I started interviewing her, I realized that I would not be able to fit her sparkling personality into a four minute video. She has so much to offer! But this is the best I could do –

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