Keeping it Small – Tiny Homes in the USA

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December 21, 2016 | Posted in ASH Online

By Lobke van Meijel

Henry David Thoreau might actually think there is still hope for us, now that the United States is moving more and more to his former living standards: a cozy little home, near or inside the forests. And the movement even holds communal values dear to its heart. Indeed, Americans are increasingly embracing the tiny house hype. Time to elaborate the reasons and show some examples, I think!

A tiny house is tiny. Logical, but vague. To put its size a bit more into perspective: a typical American home takes up about 2,600 square feet of space (240m2). For a tiny house, that number is decreased to 100-400 square feet (9/37m2). That is right: more and more Americans are choosing to live in spaces as big as student rooms that Dutch students immediately cross of their lists.

In addition to the cramped space–which tiny house owners consider a positive as it leads to less clutter and more time to focus on what they regard as truly important—there are several other things that tiny homes often have. They are often placed on long trailers to make them mobile. In many instances, the second-floor bedroom space is vertically low, which requires its inhabitants to crawl to bed. And although most have a working shower and toilet, many owners choose for a composting toilet because of sustainability reasons or because they can be used off-grid. Last but not least, there are even those who choose not to install a toilet or shower in their home altogether. These people must really enjoy nature.

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Picture from CountryLivingSpace.com. Original photo by Garett and Carrie Buell.

What is the appeal, then, of the tiny house movement? Well, some of the more popular reasons include financial motivations, environmental concerns, minimalist wishes, and the desire to be less tied to specific investments or a specific space. Financially speaking, tiny homes are a great option because the cost for land and for utilities is low. In addition, there is the dream of not having to pay mortgage, of course. Nevertheless, one should not expect to drop a couple thousand dollars and get the tiny house of their dreams. Precisely because of its small size, careful planning and good use of space and materials is vital. A great design costs money, one always has to calculate the weight of every screw and piece of wood, and if you want your living space to truly match your needs and desires, almost every piece of furniture has to be custom-made. Tiny house designers and builders have stated that in their experiences, costs are often cut in places where there is no room to save money; on the very frames of the house, or on the trailers that supports the mobile home.

Unless someone wants a house that will break down after a couple years of use because of its unsustainable or insufficient frame, therefore, tiny homes still call for financial investments at first. Still, many people take the initial costs to build their dream house (by themselves or by a tiny home designer—what a fantastic job) and to be able to pursue their desired mobility.

To make this a bit more real and to brighten up your day, I want close with a few examples of wonderful tiny homes and equally wonderful life experiences and desires.

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Picture from CountryLivingSpace.com. Original photo by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

This guy lives in the forest in Maine, where he built his own (immobile) tiny home with 80% recycled materials. He made his own wood-fired brick oven to make pizzas when his friends come over. They do have to cross the forest though, because there is no road to go by car. He does not want to imagine dealing with a huge house and heaps of stuff anymore.

These two converted a big yellow school bus into a tiny home for themselves and their dog. Felix considers his stereo and his slingshot some of his most prized possessions. Mogli is incredibly happy with their hand-made shower tiles. They started off in Alaska, and are now crossing Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and so much more to make their way to Argentina. Oh, they even have a blog!   

Jacob and Ana White are carpenters from Alaska who show you how to build a tiny home over here. There are many different episodes, and I love watching the final one with the actual reveal! This is somewhat of a more “traditional” tiny house, with it being on a trailer and actually mobile. They did, however, opt for an outhouse instead of a inside bathroom.

And then there is this man, who just had a nice idea and went on to executing it without a plan or anything.

For additional awesome videos, here are some suggested channels: Explore Alternatives (Canada), Tiny House Listings (US), Living Big in a Tiny House (NZ), and Dylan Magaster (US).

An insight in the life of an NCAA-athlete

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December 15, 2016 | Posted in ASH Online

Interview with NCAA-player at Miami University Laura Cornelius

By Hanne Nijtmans

Dutch basketball player Laura Cornelius comes from Groningen and has lived here and played basketball in the Netherlands for several years. She has played in the youth Dutch national teams with as one of the highlights that she won a bronze medal with her team in the European Championships (which is quite an accomplishment, considering that the Netherlands are not really big in basketball) and recently played her first game for the Dutch national women’s team. She decided to take her basketball career to the next level and moved to the United States to play college basketball in Miami. Although in the US first year players, or rookies, usually won’t get much minutes to play, Laura did get a chance to shine on the court. This year she is a second-year (or Sophomore) and in this interview she reflects on life as an athlete in the US and the importance of sports in American culture.

Miami guard Laura Cornelius (1) dribbles past South Dakota State guard Chloe Cornemann (22) in the first half of a first-round women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Miami guard Laura Cornelius (1) dribbles past South Dakota State guard Chloe Cornemann (22) in the first half of a first-round women’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Why did you decide to go play basketball in the US?
Laura: “Because the level here is way higher than the level in the Netherlands, and I can combine basketball here with an education as well.”

What did the university provide for you to be able to play basketball at a level this high? How do you combine classes and basketball?
“Well, I’m here on a full scholarship, which means that all athletic and academic costs are being covered for me. Our class schedules are adapted to our practice times, which is in contrast to the system back home. When I played in Amsterdam, my practice times were adapted to our class times. Combining academics and basketball takes a lot of self-discipline, especially because we often miss classes when we are on the road. The U [Miami University, red.] provides free tutoring and required study hall hours for athletes who struggle, but so far I’m doing pretty well.”

I heard there were quite some sponsors for your team. What kind of sponsors does your team have?
“We indeed have quite some sponsors. Most sponsors are alumni and just individuals or families who just love basketball. They have season tickets and every now and then they donate money to our program. Recently we had a 1 million dollar gift and we upgraded both men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms with that money.”

What is the atmosphere like at the games?
“Great. In general, America has a great passion for sports and especially basketball is so big. I played for 10.000 people once and people on campus just recognize you because you’re on the basketball team. It’s just a complete different world, I never had that in the Netherlands. I love the sports culture here.”

What’s the difference between playing in the Netherlands versus playing in the United States? Is there a difference in attitude?
“The level is way higher. I play in the ACC, the best league in America and the pace of the game is just so quick. Also I play against the best athletes so you really have to bring your A-game every day. I think Americans do show more attitude and emotions, but that also has a lot to do with the passion for the game.”

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How is the relationship between the basketball team and the community?
“Good. Multiple times a season we go out to the community and give back to the people who need it the most. We all know and appreciate the fact that we are privileged, but the opportunity to help people in our community is just awesome. We visit elementary schools to help kids with their homework and play a little with them. But we also help giving away Thanksgiving boxes with food for homeless people.”

How important is basketball for Miami University? Are the coach polls and rankings compared to some kind of status symbol?
“Basketball and football are our biggest sports. We get the most attention, money etc. But our programs also make the most profit for the U. Rankings and polls come out every week, but as soon as you lose you’ll drop. Therefore in my opinion, these rankings are a little overrated, but people pay a lot of attention to them. And they do show status. Most of the big schools are ranked, we are currently ranked #16 in the nation.” [They even climbed to 13 now, red.]

A few weeks ago you flew back to France and The Netherlands to play for the Dutch National Women’s team. How was this coordinated?
“We played on Wednesday the 16
th a game with Miami, the day after we flew straight to Paris, had one practice with the team [national women’s team, red.] and we played the 18th a game against France. The next day we flew back to Amsterdam, and we played the 23rd our final game against Estonia and we flew the next day back to Miami to have a game on the 25th. So it was pretty intense to say at least, but it was also a lot of fun.”

What do you like best from playing at Miami?
“I just love our culture and the family we created here. I really see my teammates and coaches as family and this place really feels like a home far away from home.”

Finally, what are your plans after graduating from Miami?
“After I graduate, I would like to play professional basketball, and until my body gives out I will keep on playing. After that there is always time to look for a real job.”


Do you want to know more about the sports culture at the American universities? Make sure you won’t miss the next ASH!

Thanksgiving Dinner

November 22, 2016 | Posted in General News

Dearest EPU members,

Every year in November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and it’s an EPU tradition to join them in this celebration, to be thankful for the past year and more important: to eat a whole lot of food! So next Monday, on the 28th of November, EPU hosts a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at O’Malleys, starting at 19.00. The delicious three-course menu consists of pumpkin soup, roast turkey with potatoes and veggies, and dessert. The costs are €12,50 (drinks are not inclusive).

We hope to see many of you next week! Love, DrinksCie

 

Warsaw Sign Ups

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November 21, 2016 | Posted in General News

Hello EPU-members!

We will fly to Warsaw on the 22nd of April. The flight will depart at 8:50 from Eindhoven airport, so we have to leave Groningen on arranged transport early in the morning, around 04:00. This means that we will have the whole first day in Warsaw to rest and explore the city a bit! We will fly back the 25th of April, and arrive in Eindhoven around 12:00.

The total costs of this trip will be 190 euros, including flight, hostel, activities, and dinner. If you want to join this awesome trip, make sure to be ready for the opening of the sign-ups on the EPU website (21st of November, 17:00, link will follow on Facebook). In order to fill in the sign-up sheet, you will need to have your passport or ID card ready, and you should know whether you have a travel insurance or/and a liability insurance.

Shortly after you have signed up, you will receive a confirmation-email of your spot on the trip, or an email that states you have been put on the reserve list. If you are one of the lucky people that have managed to claim a spot, you will have to transfer your first deposit payment of 70 euros to the EPU bank account (IBAN NL06ABNA0468748490) before the 25th of November. Please note that if we do not receive the first payment before the 27th of November (it might take a maximum of two days to receive your money after transfer), you will lose your spot on the trip. The first person on the reserve list will then get your spot, so make sure you pay on time!

Note that you will not be able to cancel after the 27th of November, and we will not give refunds. If you have any questions regarding the trip, please send an email to travel@svepu.nl or comm.intern@svepu.nl We hope you are just as excited for the trip as we are!

The TravelCie

Warsaw Studytrip 2017 Sign-up




First Year Bowling

November 4, 2016 | Posted in General News

Dear First Year’s,

Where in the world do they take bowling more serious than in the good old USA? That’s why EPU has the honour to present to you: FIRST YEAR BOWLING 2K16! With American Studies comes American leisure activities and that’s why we have a great night planned for you where you can show of your (lack of) bowling skills and have lots of fun. Amateur or Pro, you are all welcome to join us on the 16th of November, and for only 7,50,- you will have 1,5 hours of bowling.

 

America’s Seminar

October 31, 2016 | Posted in General News

Dear First Years,

In order to help you prepare for the Americas Ia exam, we will organize a workshop on Friday the 4th of November from 13.00-14.00. The structure of this workshop will be similar to the one for Theories of Culture I. The first fifteen minutes you will be able to ask any question you might have from your preparation. Then, the group will be divided into smaller study groups and you will have the opportunity to discuss the texts amongst each other. During this time, older year students will walk around to help you with any problems that might arise. After this, the last couple of minutes will be devoted to any questions you still have.

Once again, this is a workshop and not a seminar and the structure requires you to come prepared. We ask you to send in any questions you might already have beforehand to info@svepu.nl or put them in the sign up form, so we can prepare some main topics to discuss. The workshop is open to everyone, but we ask you to sign up so we will know how many we can expect.

We hope to see you all on Friday!

 

Salsa Event

October 28, 2016 | Posted in Events, General News

Fancy a break from studying? Well our Salsa event is the perfect chance to unwind with your fellow EPU members!

On the 10th of November, for just three euros per person, EPU members have the chance to learn some Salsa, access to cheap alcohol and a night off studying.

You do need to sign up for this event using the form below.  There is also room to let us know if you have any injuries that we should watch out for during the night.
Hope to see you on the 10th! – The Akcie

Essay Writing Workshop

October 24, 2016 | Posted in General News

Dear First Years,

Within the American Studies program there is a big focus on essay writing. We know that people struggle with this, especially in the first year, and EPU wants to help you! Therefore, we have scheduled a workshop on Friday the 28th of October from 13.00-14.00. We would like you to bring the (old) essays that you have written up until now, so we can discuss (general) issues and problems that are pointed out. We will also discuss comments we have received from your teachers concerning your writing skills, as well as a (thorough) walkthrough of the American Studies Writing Guide. There will also be time to answer any other questions you might have regarding (essay) writing, so be sure to join!

We ask you to send in any questions you might already have beforehand to info@svepu.nl or put them in the sign up form, so we can prepare some main topics to discuss. The workshop is open to everyone, but we ask you to sign up so we will know how many we can expect.

 

We hope to see you all on Friday!

The American Elections with Koen Petersen

October 19, 2016 | Posted in Events

Is it the extravagant business-tycoon Donald Trump, or the experienced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is going to be the next president of the United States?

On the 21th of October, America-expert Koen Petersen will visit us to broaden our perspective on the elections. Koen Petersen is a political scientist, specialized in American politics and history. He is known for his critical analyses in national tv-shows like Pauw and EenVandaag. He is also author of the book ‘Einddoel Witte Huis’, in which he discusses the American elections.

The event is organized by the JOVD Groningen in cooperation with E Pluribus Unum and Lijst Sterk. It takes place in the beautiful Heerenhuis. Everyone is welcome from 19:30, and the event will start at 20:00. Save the date, because it is going to be a very interesting evening! Feel free to bring your friends with you and we hope to see you on the 21th!

Note: The event is going to be in English.

You can buy Koen Petersen’s recent book on the American elections at the following website: https://www.bol.com/nl/p/einddoel-witte-huis/9200000047597220/?suggestionType=suggestedsearch

ToC-1 Workshop #2

October 18, 2016 | Posted in General News

Dear First Years,
On the 24th of October you will have your second Theories of Cultures I exam and EPU wants you to be well-prepared for this! Therefore, we have scheduled a workshop in collaboration with your teachers on Friday the 21st of October from 15.00-16.00. The structure of this workshop will be slightly different from the first one and requires you to come prepared. The first fifteen minutes you will be able to ask any question you might have from your preparation. Then, the group will be divided into smaller study groups and you will have the opportunity to discuss the texts amongst each other. During this time, older year students and the teacher will walk around to help you with any problems that might arise. After this, the last couple of minutes will be devoted to any questions you still have.
Once again, this is a workshop and not a seminar and the structure requires you to come prepared. We ask you to send in any questions you might already have beforehand to info@svepu.nl or put them in the sign up form, so we can prepare some main topics to discuss. The workshop is open to everyone, but we ask you to sign up so we will know how many we can expect.
We hope to see you all on Friday!