Madeline Osman
Personal and professional blog of Madeline Osman
January 12, 2013 by admin

Barcelona vs. United States

When visiting a foreign place, its easy to feel a little bit overwhelmed by how different some things are. I’ve never lived in a city or internationally, so combining those two is a little bit of culture shock. Here are a couple of differences between Barcelona and the United States:


  • Dogs don’t need leashes, here. They are very well-behaved and stay with their owners, even if another interesting dog is walking nearby (mostly). Its also interesting to note that they tend not to spay or neuter their pets here.

  • The metro/buses will get you anywhere, and if you don’t have an unlimited pass, you can go from metro to bus, or vice versa, and it will still count as one stop within an hour! The stops are all in Catalan, but are pretty easy to figure out.
  • People don’t go out in Barcelona until American clubs are having their last calls. Discotecas don’t fill up their dance floors until at least 2am, and people stay out until 5 or 6am. The metro ends anywhere from 12-2am and doesn’t start up again until 5am, so it kind of makes sense that people would stay out until the public transportation is up and running again.

  • Barcelona is a part of Catalonia (Catalunya) and they are damn proud of it. Their ultimate wish is to separate from Spain and start their own country, but there are a couple things in the way (being barred from the European Union for example).  Catalonian flags hang proudly outside many apartments, all of the streets signs are in Catalan, and the people identify more as “Catalan” then “Spanish.” However, that’s not to say that Spanish isn’t spoken and celebrated, because it very much is.

  • When you see the walk light flashing, get out of the street. Cars will not stop for you like they do in the United States. People on scooters are crazy and will weave in and out of traffic as they please.
  • Living with a host family means adopting some Spanish traditions, including wearing socks most of the time. Spanish people believe that you can get a cold if you walk around barefoot, so my feet have not gotten a whole lot of air (ew).

  • There are many different options for cheap eats in Barcelona. Lunch is the big meal of the day (instead of dinner), so restaurants make a “menu del dia” that includes a starter, main course, drink, and dessert for about 10 euro. The food offerings are usually fixed, but often there are a few choices to pick from. Tapas are good for snacking or for dinner and you can order as many small plates as you’re hungry for (depending on where you go, they can be 2 euro or less). There are a lot of chains in Barcelona that offer all you can eat paella, beer, and other things – a great way to start off the night!
  • Chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) is literally chocolate that has been melted. It is so rich and creamy.
I haven’t been here long, but its easy to see how different Spanish/Barcelonian culture can be than in the United States. My next post will be about what I’ve been up to since I’ve been here!
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January 7, 2013 by admin

First Impressions of Barcelona

Where do I even begin?

Cathedral in the city

First of all, I got the same feeling upon arriving in Barcelona that I got when moving into my dorm my freshman year at Iowa. I knew I had made the right decision, and that I would enjoy the time to come.

I flew in a few days early to save costs on plane tickets, which turned out to be a great thing. Before the program had even started, I met a new bff (Lena) and a friend of a friend who is now a friend (Hass). I got lost in the city, found my way back, and tried my hand at the Metro. I took a bus tour and saw most of Barcelona’s most famous sites. Most importantly, I got to sample the food before everyone else (including the most delicious breakfast buffet I’ve ever been privileged to eat, at the hotel where I was staying).

My host university - Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Soon enough, the rest of the students arrived – all 100 of them. Our program is huge. I met some new people and my circle expanded. One of my biggest “fears,” if you could even call it that, was that it would be hard to make quality friends. Somehow I managed to find a group that I am absolutely in love with, and it took mere days, if that. We spent the first couple of days orienting ourselves to our new home – learning about the city, the academics, and moving in.

Apartments designed by Gaudi!

I decided to live with a host family to get the most authentic experience possible. My host mom is Imma – a beautiful Spanish woman with a big heart. She has a son who is currently living with her ex-husband. I also have a roommate – another girl in the program. We all make up an interesting little family and I wouldn’t trade it. Imma is a wealth of information about the city and especially el Barrio Gracia, our neighborhood. She’s also a gnarly cook.

I’ve never lived in a city before (Iowa City doesn’t count), so Barcelona is certainly a change of pace for this “farm girl.” I’m starting to get the hang of the Metro and bus system, which are the easiest and most efficient ways to get around. Today I started my classes – just Spanish for now, but Catalan and International Marketing tomorrow. Things move quick here, which is just fine by me!

My next post will be a more in-depth look at Barcelona and what characterizes it. Until then, hasta luego!

Hass, the Oxford man (unfortunately stuck on crutches)

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January 4, 2013 by admin

Semester Wrap-Up

Before moving on to talking about this semester, I want to revisit last semester. Usually, I would have a month to reflect, relax, and rest, but my winter break this year was just 2 short weeks! Lets start with a couple things I’m proud of:

3.6 semester GPA = Dean’s List, baby.
I honestly feel like I did the least amount of “work” this past semester, and somehow got the best GPA, yet. I think committing myself to a process of studying and knowledge retention has really paid off in the long run, and I’ve gotten better at it. My GPA is finally at a point that I’m truly proud of, and I know I earned it. I hope to be able to sustain it this semester, despite taking all my classes in Spanish!

New NextGen Compensated Client Project.
So I had an unpaid Social Media Internship this past summer with a local startup – NextGen Marketing Group. The internship went well, and I was contacted midway through Fall semester to help with a compensated client project. The client was 4114Less whose business is selling directory assistance subscriptions and I set up their social media presence. Working on this project was a fun way to put some of my skills to use, and a unique challenge at times due to the nature of changing technology and communications.

 

Director of Technology for AMA.
This semester, I served as the Director of Technology for my school’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. While my role had less to do with my specific title, and more to do with supporting the entire executive board and our members, it was a great experience that led to so many new friends and experiences. We planned three events – a pumpkin carving contest, a professional trip to Milwaukee, and an end of year promotional event that I tied in with my Sony ambassadorship and ended up giving away a sweet PS Vita bundle to one lucky winner. I was sad to leave them this semester, but they have a very capable and awesome replacement.

Sony Student Ambassador and Web Designer for Campus Marketing and Design.
Both of these jobs were incredibly hard to leave, for different reasons. With Sony, it was hard to give up such a solid job where I got paid to talk about technology, engage people via social media, and meet new people on campus. I handed over the torch to a very capable replacement – a girl with a lot of connections in the Greek community. She will do well. I left this semester with a new title – October Creative of the Month. I hope Sony isn’t done with me yet :)

I’ve had my job at Campus Marketing and Design since the first semester of Freshman year. I’ve grown with them, they’ve grown with me, and I’ve met sooooo many awesome people – students and professional staff. This semester I was given the increased responsibility of co-writing for the student blog, Under the Dome. I also helped create conversations and engagement on the IMU’s social media pages including Facebook and Twitter. Slightly tweaking how the IMU interacts with its student fan base resulted in many good changes. One of my favorite examples is how I put up a status asking people where there favorite bathrooms on campus were, and 50 people commented with some very strong opinions. Mission – accomplished! Finally, I helped coordinate our department’s Annual Report. You can see that and my contributions here: http://studentlife.uiowa.edu/report12/

 

Barcelona!
Finally, I spent most of the semester planning my next semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain! Check back soon – this blog will become a travel diary of sorts.
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December 18, 2012 by admin

IMU Blog: Have a Productive Winter Break

Finals are finally over. After a hard semester, all anyone wants to do is take a break. However, winter break is an excellent opportunity to get things done that you may not normally have time for. Consider this list of options – many of them can be done without missing out on all the fun of winter break.

Refresh your resume and cover letters.
Joined a new student organization this semester? Took on a new volunteer project? Got a kick-butt GPA? Winter break is an excellent opportunity to update your professional materials. Get it out of the way while you have time instead of rushing to produce something lackluster when you really need it.

Get a job

Apply for summer internships (and full time jobs if you’re graduating).
Resume up to par? Perfect, because winter break is also the perfect time to get a head start on applying for summer jobs and internships. Many companies make hiring decisions early in the year, so don’t count yourself out by waiting until later. Your best chance at getting your ideal job is to be prepared and to commit yourself to applying for a set amount of jobs each day. You’ll thank yourself when you’re back to the old school grind and don’t have as much spare time to devote to job applications.

Get a winter job.
Between buying gifts for family and hanging out with friends, the holidays are expensive. Winter break is a great time to try and offset the cost of holiday spending by getting a seasonal job. Check out Monster and snagajob to jumpstart your search.

Learn a new skill

Learn a new skill.
Imagine if you set aside an hour a day for a month to learn a new skill. Its not a large time commitment, but could give you excellent results. Whether it benefits you personally or professionally is irrelevant. Don’t let your brain stop developing even though you’re not in class. Refer back to my earlier post about Lynda, an online skill-learning video library for some ideas.

Reflect and set goals

Reflect on the past semester and set goals for the next semester.
Now is the perfect time to think about the past semester. What did you do that made you proud of yourself? What were you not so proud of? What can you change going into next semester? After reflecting, make some goals for the next semester. Do you want to get more involved on campus? Get a certain grade point average? Set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals and go over them throughout the next semester.

Read a book

Read a book.
Its hard to find the time and energy during the school year to sit down and read a book. By the time I’m done reading the required text for a class, I’m usually too tired to do much else. Winter break is the perfect time to catch up on your reading list.

Anything else you haven’t accomplished this semester that you wanted to? Do it now!

Original Post: http://imu.uiowa.edu/news/2012/12/14/have-a-productive-winter-break/

 

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November 19, 2012 by admin

IMU Blog: Campus Insights from Foursquare

If you’re on Foursquare, you’ve probably seen me, I’m the mayor of the Iowa Memorial Union and the Pentacrest (still working on winning back the Pappajohn Business Building). Foursquare is a location-based social network that allows users to “check in” virtually to real places. Each place has its own page with user-submitted pictures – and insider tips from the people that frequent it. The following are some of the best tips that Foursquare users have left for University of Iowa students.

 

IMU Parking Ramp

Great place to park if you are visiting University of Iowa buildings located near central campus. Also there is no charge for leaving after midnight - Ben

Iowa Memorial Union

Students can rent any conference room in the IMU for free. A very useful utility for finals, meetings, or organizations. - Wade S.

Bijou here really has great opportunities to see some indie films that otherwise wouldn't get played in smaller cities. - Nicolas C.

Delicious, make your own pasta bowls in the river room! - Meghan L.

Hubbard Park

Concerts and Intramural activities happen here. This is a great place to meet people and spend some time outdoors. Its also the location of the Fall Semester Poster Sale, -> Something worth attending. – John F.” width=”587″ height=”102″ /></a></p>
<h2>Schaeffer Hall</h2>
<p><a href=Home to the Dept. of History, the Dept. of Political Science and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences! Questions about College policies, graduation and academic problems can be answered here! - The University of Iowa

Pentacrest

The Free Movie Series features a full-length movie on Friday nights during the summer time. The screen is set up in front of MacBride hall on the Pentacrest. - Michael A.

Phillips Hall

There's a great study lounge in the basement! - Christine W.

Pappajohn Business Building

Along with good study space the Papa John Business Building also has a large computer lab on the second floor along with the MIS Lab on the south side of the third floor. - Wade S.

The fourth floor library is always dead silent. I suggest going in to the reading rooms. In the ends of the room they have really comfortable chairs and an outlet for you to plug in your laptop. - Nick D.

 

English-Philosophy Building

Don't sit by the heaters no matter how cold you are when you come in. You'll regret it in 15 minutes when you're taking a sweat shower! Gross. - Molly Irene O.

 

by Maddy Osman
@MaddyOsman on Twitter

 

Original post: http://imu.uiowa.edu/news/2012/11/15/campus-insights-from-foursquare/

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October 18, 2012 by admin

IMU Blog: Get Your Finances Under Control!

Set a Budget.


It’s easy for a college student to get overwhelmed about money. Some people have jobs, some don’t, but we all have expenses. I’ve created a Student Budget Spreadsheet to help you figure out where your money is going and how much you have to work with after paying for everything. Allow me to explain…

The expenses are listed per month. Rent is the amount you pay each month, and utilities are all of the add-on services not included (most commonly electricity). Depending on your situation, you may be responsible for paying tuition and other related expenses, so there is a space to figure in school-related expenses. Everyone has to eat, so a food category is included that separates what you buy to stock your kitchen, and what you spend when out with friends. Some students bring their cars to campus, so there is a very basic category devoted to figuring out those expenses. There is also a category for pets so you can be proactive in thinking about their health and care. Finally, under the miscellaneous category, there are other things to consider when setting a budget, such as laundry (boring but necessary), entertainment, shopping (my favorite), and hobbies. I tried to make the list of expenses as exhaustive as possible without getting too specific, but if I left anything important out, please tell me in the comments and I will update the file! Obviously, not all of these categories apply to everyone, so put a “0″ in for whatever row isn’t applicable.

There’s also a column to enumerate sources of income. The miscellaneous row could be used for scholarships, research studies, etc. There’s also a row to specify monthly savings for people interested in being proactive about putting away money. Whatever money is leftover is computed at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

A few handy tips:

- Account for things that don’t happen every month, like car repairs, vacation, gifts, etc.

- Track your spending to make sure you’re sticking to your budget and that your budget is accurate

- If the above budget isn’t exhaustive enough for your needs, visit the Student Credit and Money Management office (more details on that later) for a much more in-depth version

Get a UI Bank Account.


Before even starting school at the University of Iowa, my parents encouraged me to open a University of Iowa bank account. At the time, the UI bank was the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. However, the UI bank is now Hill’s Bank. If you want to avoid ATM fees (due to widespread Hill’s Bank ATMs around campus), and have quick access to your money and bank tellers (they have a branch located in the IMU), then this is the bank for you. I didn’t close my account from back home – just added on a new one. Depending on how you manage your money, this may complicate things, so undertake at your own risk. Cathy Fitzmaurice-Hill of Student Credit and Money Management concurs that its a good idea to establish a local checking account. It gives you a connection to the community, and bank tellers that are familiar with you are more likely to help you when problems occur.

Get a Credit Card?

Photo credit: http://premierconsolidationloans.com/credit-cards/

Credit cards are not for people who have no spending plan, nor are they for people who don’t have enough money to pay for their big purchases. I got a credit card so that I could start building credit while I’m still in school. There are plenty of good reasons to start building credit now. When you graduate, you will likely start looking for a job and will be applying for loans. It would be a shame to lose out on a job because of a lack of financial history, or not be able to buy a car because you have no credit to show that you’re capable of paying for it. We live in a credit society and its very difficult to get buy without one. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the psychology of getting things without immediately paying for them, so don’t go into it blindly. If you’re under 21, you’re required to show proof of being able to pay or have a parent co-signer. If you need help managing your money, it is an especially good idea to have a parent co-signer that can keep track of your spending habits and make sure you’re on track. I make it a rule to not put anything on my card that I couldn’t immediately pay off. A bad credit score can hurt you in so many ways, including higher interest rates. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 30% of your credit limit in any given month. Being a good credit card user has additional perks in the form of points and rewards… I’ve already earned $100′s of dollars worth of gift cards to stores I love.

Get Personalized Financial Advice.

Still have more questions? The Student Credit and Money Management office, located in the IMU, is here to solve your problems.You can meet with a consultant that can help you with questions about many different topics, including budgets, credit cards, and dealing with debt. For issues regarding student loans, see the Office of Financial Aid.

 

What financial tips would you give to a student?

 

Maddy Osman
@MaddyOsman on Twitter

 

Original Post: http://imu.uiowa.edu/news/2012/10/18/get-your-finances-under-control-2/

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September 25, 2012 by admin

Anonymous Strikes Again!

Anonymous

Anonymous is a “hacktivism” group that has been very vocal about and involved with protecting internet freedom and privacy rights. Although I agree with their basic beliefs, their execution of what they think is right is certainly questionable and doesn’t mesh well with existing business ethics.

One of Anonymous’ most recent demonstrations was taking down GoDaddy.

GoDaddy

It was later determined that the attack was not the work of the group as a whole, but a lone hacker.

Anonymous Tweet

So, why did Anonymous go after GoDaddy? Last year, when the SOPA act was introduced, GoDaddy was a vocal proponent of it. SOPA was an anti-piracy bill introduced to Congress that would essentially allow censorship on the Internet.

Eventually, GoDaddy changed their stance. It’s hard to run a company that serves the internet community while being against the freedom of information sharing. Some large and influential websites, such as Wikipedia, moved their hosting elsewhere and “blacked out” their websites in protest of SOPA (and GoDaddy’s support of it).

Wikipedia Blackout

Anonymous claims that he took down GoDaddy not because of SOPA, but because he wanted to test their cyber security. He didn’t elaborate as to how he managed to take the website and it’s hosted sites down, but when asked if he was able to take down the DNS servers, he Tweeted “yes! its not so complex.”

Anonymous Tweet

As a result of this attack, many major e-commerce websites switched to a different host. GoDaddy lost a lot of business and hurt its chances at future new business. They need to:

  • Investigate this attack and figure out how it happened
  • Reassure their customers that their websites are (now) safe
  • Reward their loyal customers by compensating them in some way for the downtime
  • Be careful who they piss off in the future (in regards to their stance on SOPA)

Once GoDaddy can do all these things, they will have handled this unfortunate situation in the best way that they possibly could.

Sources:

http://www.zdnet.com/anonymous-hacker-claims-godaddy-attack-outage-hits-millions-7000003925/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)

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September 13, 2012 by admin

Sony is a Social Media Monitoring Superstar

Sony is a company that is well represented on many different social media mediums. They are tech-savvy to a fault and make sure that the Sony brand is constantly under watch. One of the biggest tools they use is HootSuite, which allows monitoring of many different social media platforms including, but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. Hootsuite allows for keyword tracking and helpful analytics to judge the effectiveness of campaigns.

Hootsuite

According to an article on RavenTools.com, Sony listens to its customers and changes their marketing in response to what people are saying online. The Sony VAIO was previously sold in terms of technical specifications, but customers responded better to features described in ways that evokes emotion. Words like “love” and “style” created more sales than talk of disk space capacity or amount of RAM. People also like the ability to customize their laptop and Sony responded with accessories and colors – an additional sales opportunity. The results meant a significant increase in sales for the VAIO line.

VAIO

In another instance, Sony responded to customers Facebook and Twitter questions about how to do certain things with the Cybershot camera by creating easy to follow Youtube videos. This resulted in less Cybershot returns and cut costs in customer service calls. The Youtube videos represent an innovative response that ended up saving the company a lot of time and money.

Keyword monitoring turned up word associations between the Sony Reader and “moms” – the purchasers of the product. Sony repositioned its advertising to feature this group which again resulted in increased sales.

Sony listens. The company also has a Twitter just for product support questions. Being proactive about solving customer complaints is another way that Sony manages its brand and handles what people say on social media.

They also sell great products! And if you’re a student, you can receive an education discount by going to the Sony Education Store. The aforementioned Cybershot and VAIO are some products I physically have to demonstrate if you’re interested in checking them out. Just respond to this post with a comment!

Pctures are from Hootsuite.com and Sony.com/Uiowa

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May 20, 2012 by admin

Spring Break Goals – REVISITED

My original goals:
  • Get all A’s.
    Grades are all in. I got 4 A’s a B+, and a B. Not exactly what I wanted, but for taking 20 semester hours (on top of 2 jobs), I think I did a pretty damn good job. I made the Dean’s List and my GPA went up to 3.23 :)
  • Get fit.
    Well… I didn’t go to the gym as often as I wanted to. However, I did train for the River Run 5K, and ran it to the best of my ability. Not my original intentions, but a commitment to fitness, nonetheless.
  • Kick ass at work.
    This year was my first working for Sony – one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve consistently surpassed the goals they’ve set for us ambassadors, as well as got voted April Ambassador of the Month. At IMU Marketing + Design, I brought in two new clients on my own, and designed countless new websites, e-newsletters, and volunteered for work outside of my specialty. I’d say I accomplished this one.
  • Join a student organization.
    I sucked it up and committed to weekly American Marketing Association meetings and I’m SO GLAD I did. I met a lot of awesome new people who are also passionate about Marketing and event got elected of Director of Technology for next semester :)
  • Read one book a week (on average).
    I don’t know why I always think I’m going to do this when I have school reading to do… Unfortunately, this one didn’t happen, but I still fit in a book here and there.
  • Apply to one internship a day (on average).
    Did this and the results are below!
And I added…
  • Score an awesome Marketing Internship.
    Check! This summer I will be interning with Sherwin-Williams as a Sales and Management Intern AND with Next Gen Marketing Group as a Social Media Intern. Summer of Marketing, here I come.
  • Become fluent in Spanish.
    I gotta say, I’m getting very close. I took Writing in Spanish this semester, which helped me figure out how to conjugate on the fly. I also went on a service project trip to Mexico which allowed me to practice my Spanish in a very immersive environment. I’m hoping to volunteer for an organization this summer that will allow me to continue to practice my Spanish. Regardless, I’m heading to Barcelona next spring for a semester! I think I accomplished this goal to the best of my ability.
  • Try a new recipe every week.
    Ok, so I didn’t follow this one religiously, but I really did branch out. I’m trying to be more healthy without sacrificing taste, and Pinterest is helping me get the best of both worlds. I’ve tried so many new recipes I’ve found using the site, with many more I plan to try this summer.
So maybe I didn’t accomplish all of my goals, but I came close, and they helped me get to where I want to be. Next step – summer goals!
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February 2, 2012 by admin

How Sony can help your (student) organization

My latest feat on the University of Iowa campus is finding ways to reach out to students. So far I’ve been presented with a lot of “You Cant’s” which include:

  • YOU CANT… table at any University-affiliated building
  • YOU CANT… table at any non-University affiliated building (without having to pay a hefty sum on a per-day basis)
  • YOU CANT… submit flyers to put in student’s mailboxes without printing up 4,500 and getting it approved through the Residence Hall Association

It’s easy to get down about that, except for the fact that I’ve gotten a very positive response from student organizations so far. I’m asking them for 10-15 minutes of their meeting time to talk to their members. In exchange, I have a lot to offer.

For student organizations who I haven’t talked to, or need an extra push, allow me to explain what Sony (and I) can do for you.

First of all, I can talk to your student organization about professional development.
I’ve held two brand ambassadorships this year, so I understand what it takes to do the job, and do it well. I can give tips to people looking to find an ambassador job, and how to be an awesome employee once you secure it. Brand Ambassadorship teaches students many skills – event planning, promotions, personal selling, how to network, design, social media… I could go on. It’s an excellent opportunity to educate students on a niche job that will help build their resumes.

Second, I can provide video and photography support to you for an event.
In exchange for you generously allowing me to give a demo during your meeting, I’m willing to help you out with filming and photography for an upcoming event of yours. What better what to show you what Sony products are capable of?

On some occasions, I can also lend products to you in exchange for demo time.

Third, I can provide support for your philanthropy projects.
No promises on what specifically I can provide, but Sony does give me freebies to distribute with as I please. I can petition for additional materials as events come up. Wouldn’t it look sweet to have the “Sony” brand help draw support for your cause? My other brand ambassadorship, iChill, also loves sponsoring big events and will send money and product samples depending on how many people you expect to draw in. Stick with me, we’ll go places!

Fouth, I can give you a first look on exciting new technology.
Because that’s essentially what it all boils down to. Getting new technology in your hands, for you to try and figure out. Sony products are notorious for their design and innovation.

So get in contact me. Even if you’re not a student organization through the University of Iowa. I want to talk to off-campus groups, too! And I’m always willing to do individual demos if you’re a student interested in Sony’s product offerings. I might even give you a goodie bag filled with Sony freebies :) Email me at madeline-osman@uiowa.edu for more information and to set something up!

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