Must-Watch TED Talks

Hey everyone! The fall 2018 semester has officially started and time is flying! I already have at least 4 midterms by November 1st. It is getting crazy, but one thing that I love doing when taking a break is watching a TED Talk. While many of you may know about these, I will give a brief background for those that are unfamiliar.

TED talks are talks hosted by influential and innovative individuals from around the world. The topics range from Architecture to Psychology and much, much more. What I like about TED talks is that they always present new perspectives on common issues and breakthroughs that you would have never imagined. I have compiled a list of all my favorite (thus far) TED talks, so watch these or ones that personally interest you! Have fun!

1. How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over by Mel Robbins

This talk is for everyone who has answered “I am fine” whenever someone has asked them how they were doing. Robbins discusses how life may seem boring because of the routine we put ourselves into. Just as we have basic needs to breathe, eat, and drink, perhaps, we also have a basic need to explore. When this need doesn’t get met then, we feel unfulfilled in life.  Note: if the link is not working, then try searching it directly on Youtube!

2. 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

This is a talk that I really urge all of you to watch because it gives you a condensed list of ten small and easy tricks to help you speak and listen better. Whether it is during interviews or being pulled into a conversation about drama by your best friend, everyone can definitely glean at least one thing from the video on how to improve conversational skills.

3. How to Design a Library that Makes Kids Want to Read by Michael Bierut

Bierut talks about how the key to inspiring children in public schools to read is through the design of the library. See how Bierut brings one library to life by infusing its design with the very readers who will use it.

4. How do You Build a Sacred Place by Siamak Hariri

Here, Hariri is part of an architecture team who is building a temple in South America. The reasons and philosophy behind the different components of the design are profound and truly riveting.

5. How Augmented Reality Could Change the Future of Surgery by Nadine Hachach-Haram

All you technology and science lovers better buckle up because this talk is about to blow your mind. This talk discusses how we can tackle the issue of a low surgeon-to-population ratio using remote surgery. A senior, experienced surgeon can supervise surgery from thousands of miles away. In addition to supervising, he or she can also train future surgeons!

6.  The Urgency of Intersectionality by Kimberle Crenshaw

This is a much-needed talk on the struggles of overlapping oppression and how the policies must change in order to talk into account such intersectionality. Crenshaw gives the powerful and terrifying example of the racism AND genderism that Black woman face daily. NOTE: there is graphic content so please pay attention to the warning label in the video.

Thank you! Good luck in all your classes!

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The Napoleons

In this world, we have homophones. Present and present. New and knew. Napoleon and Napoleon. The two main Napoleons of the world, Bonaparte and Dynamite, were both enigmatic leaders but symbolized two different things. While they both overcame their obstacles to success, one symbolizes strength and bravery turned corrupt, while the other symbolizes awkward lankiness turned into strength. In this list, I will tell you other differences between Napoleon Bonaparte and Napoleon Dynamite.

  1. The Hair- Bonaparte was a leader of a country and a military man, so he kept his hair short and neatly quaffed.  Contrarily, Dynamite only had to worry about how his peers saw him, so he decided to keep his natural beautiful, bushy locks.
  2. The Time Period- Bonaparte was the emperor of France from 1804 to 1814. He had a brief comeback in 1815 before he was exiled. Dynamite was a high school student in a movie that came out in 2004. For all intents and purposes, we can say that Dynamite is a bit more modern than Bonaparte.
  3. The Ambition- Bonaparte worked up the ranks in France from a starting point of being considered an invader by some because he was raised in Corsica, a French territory not of mainland France. When he was first exiled, he managed to come back for his “100 Day Reign” with sheer force of will and cunning. As for Dynamite, everything that happened to him was by happenstance, and not really will.
  4. The Corruption- Bonaparte became thirsty with power. He started manipulating the press and murdering the opposition. He also most likely rigged elections. He probably would have won anyway, but there was an election in which more people voted for him than the population in France! Dynamite never obtained much power, and remained rather humble, relatively speaking. Good for him.
  5. The Vision- I am talking about literal vision. It is hard to say for sure if Bonaparte had 20/20 vision, but he never died in battle, so I am going to say his vision was pretty good. Dynamite, on the other hand, wore some pretty thick glasses. I’m not saying that is a weakness, but if those fall off during a zombie apocalypse, he’ll be on thin ice.
  6. The Looks- One of them was much hotter than the other. I am not going to tell you which. I’ll leave it up to you. 😉
  7. The Height- Bonaparte, it has been found, was not actually that short.  He was always surrounded by guards taller than him, so he looked comparatively short. He was also listed as 5 foot 2 at the time of his death, but these were in French units. Dynamite was a little above 6 feet, so he has a lot more height on him. Imagine a tree and a smaller tree. This difference is a prime example of why this list needs to exist in the first place. When you hear “Napoleon Complex,” you may wonder which Napoleon in the world. It refers to Bonaparte, who some claim worked so hard his whole life as a complex, kind of like people who buy muscle cars to compensate.

I am glad I could clear this all up for the reader. I would have hated it if you had wondered your whole life, aimlessly wandering, “Which Napoleon?” Now you can make the most important distinctions, so put a little pep in your step.

Trying New Classes

If I could give any new student advice, it would be to not be afraid to try new classes in college. I learned this the hard way. You never know what you’re good at until you try it yourself!

I went to a biology/research oriented high school. And after four years of being surrounded by life sciences, I felt like that was what I was good at and what I should continue studying in college. To be honest, I never really had a passion for biology. I liked it because I got good grades, but I wasn’t excited about it. When I first came to Rutgers and we had to choose the classes we would be taking, I wanted to jump right into classes for a biology major. I was afraid to try new classes, mostly because I am a person who likes familiarity. Classes like chemistry and biology were familiar and felt safe to me.

So for my first year of college, I persuaded myself that Cell Biology and Neuroscience was the major for me and the one I would be most successful with. But during my second semester, I realized that I wasn’t happy. I didn’t look forward to any of my classes, and I kept questioning why I chose to be a bio major. So I talked to my dean and I decided that the next semester (the first one of sophomore year), I would take a mix of classes and just try them out.

And by trying a mix of classes, I learned that psychology is where my passion lies.

One of the classes I took that semester was Cognition, and it is probably the best class I have ever taken at Rutgers. It was so interesting, and I was just so excited to go to every class. I attended the office hour discussions to learn more about the subject, and I even went to some of the events that were related to the class. I had never felt so excited about a class, and I honestly didn’t know it was possible to like a subject that much.

That’s when I realized that I would be a lot more successful (and happier) if I continued studied psychology. I do feel like my first year was a bit of a waste, and I wish that I was more open-minded and let myself try new classes during my first year of college. But it’s too late for those regrets. I am just thankful that I was able to find a subject that I really enjoy and look forward to learning.

Anyways, I feel like I am rambling a bit, but the point that I am trying to make is that it is good to try new things. You will never know what you are good at or what is calling out to you until you explore what Rutgers has to offer. I have heard countless times from deans and professors that most students change their majors at least once. And I totally understand why. College is so different from high school. Not only do you change, but your interests might too, and you will never be sure what you are passionate about until you try it yourself! So don’t be afraid to try new things!

A Strange Summer Night

I want to tell you all a story that happened to me this past summer. You might laugh at me, but it’s ok. I’m also laughing at myself when I look back and reflect on this event. I hope you enjoy.

I believe this was around 11 pm on a weekday sometime during July. My household members are just about to fall asleep, after watching some TV or browsing the web on their phones. I myself try not to engage in those activities at night because it prevents me from falling asleep properly (read up on blue light from digital devices and its effect on melatonin levels and sleep patterns).  I’m literally just about to fall asleep when I suddenly start hearing a loud humming. I honestly thought I was dreaming about this buzz and therefore “hearing” it. But the sound continued.

Ok so at this point I know I am not dreaming. I figure it must be the AC unit or the 10-year old fridge my family just won’t throw away. But it’s too loud. Now I’m up and awake. What in the world could this be? I get out off bed and try to listen if the noise is coming from inside the house. Nope. Ok, I figure it must be a late night motorcycle driver or something outside. I open the curtains and start looking. And that’s when I see it. I’m not sure what it is honestly (keep in mind I’m still a bit drowsy). But here’s what I see. There is an object in the sky which is making that loud buzz. It is flying in place, aka not moving. The object has circular lighted windows, like 4 or 5 of them across the entire thing. I honestly have never seen such a thing in my life. While I’m rubbing my eyes and staring outside, I realize what it is. IT IS A UFO!!!

At this point, my adrenaline is rushing and I am running frantically inside my house calling my family members. I was on the border of feeling excited and anxious honestly. I mean, who wouldn’t be?! The chance to see a real-life alien spaceship is just exhilarating, especially if you used to watch Area 51 and alien documentaries on BBC when you were young all the time. Now, all my family members are glued to the window looking outside. And that’s when my mom ruins the moment. “Saad, that’s a rescue helicopter!” Ohhh.

That makes more sense. It does look like one now that I think about it. My mom later told me after checking Facebook that there was a lost child or something in my area and hence the rescue chopper (though I’m not exactly sure what the situation really was). Within 10 minutes, the helicopter flies off and everyone goes back to sleep, only after ridiculing me for my silly thoughts.

Looking back to that night, I laugh thinking why a UFO was my first thought. I’m not saying that aliens don’t exist (that’s a whole other issue we can talk about haha), but I think I could have had a more logical and reasonable explanation for what I saw. I guess I might have thought that due to a combination of many things, including sleepiness, too much BBC and Nat Geo while growing up, and definitely watching ET (1982) over a hundred times. But for one moment honestly I can tell you all, I truly believed in extraterrestrial life that night.

School is Almost Here!!

I know summer is almost over. Long sunny days (actually mostly rainy days) are almost over. Time to get ready for shorter and colder months. And with the end of this summer, it’s time to go back to school! While a lot of you might be sad, I am actually really excited to come back to Rutgers University in a few weeks. As many of you know, this will be my last year at Rutgers. And more importantly, I know a lot of incoming freshmen are even more pumped up to start college at one of the best places in the country.

So let’s talk about some things many of us need to remember and what new students should know very much as well:

  1. Involvement Fair. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! This is the one-stop-place where you can learn and join so many different clubs, fraternities, sororities, and other organizations at Rutgers University. I have attended this every year, not just to manage my own organization haha, but because I love to learn about the different missions I could potentially contribute to at Rutgers. Freshmen: PLEASE COME! Clubs are the best way to connect with people and gain so many unique experiences at college. You do not want to miss this!
  2. Dorms. So as you know, I am a commuter so I don’t have too many tips on this. But I have learned many things since I have many friends who do live on campus. Firstly and most importantly, make preparations ASAP! Clothes, shoes, personal items, supplies, etc. Don’t try to pack more; try to pack smart. Dorm rooms, for the most part, aren’t huge so you can’t bring your entire room from home haha. Another very important thing is to develop confidence as well as a sense of openness. I’m going to be honest. As a commuter, one of the BIGGEST drawbacks is the inability to meet new people and connect with others in places other than in classes, lounges, clubs, and a few other places. As a dormer, keep your doors open, both literally and mentally. Meet new people and make new friends. Trust me, the beginning of school is the best time where people want to meet others and connect.
  3. Commuting. If you’re commuting, don’t worry, you can enjoy college as well! First of all, make sure to buy your parking permits on time. Busch and College Ave sell out really fast!! Also, try to make your schedule work with your commute in mind. You do not want to have an 8 A.M. class and then another class 5 hours later. What about meeting new people? Social psychology says the people who will connect with you best are those in close proximity and similarity to you. I’m talking about the people in your classes, especially sitting right next to you! If you didn’t know, Rutgers has a huge commuting student group. You can find them at the commuter lounges at Busch or even the cafeterias where all the food vendors are.
  4. Add Drop. So you probably will hear about this a lot, remember the first week of college is add-drop period. You can check out classes, see how you like it, and then decide to add or drop them even. This is all done through Webreg. I also recommend using Course Schedule Planner, Schedule of Classes sites and Rate My Professor.
  5. Books. Ok, textbooks are expensive. I really recommend you to try to find used versions or better options through Amazon, eBay, or even Facebook Rutgers groups! And sometimes you can even find PDFs of your textbooks online!
  6. Buses!! One of the things that might have pushed you not to come to Rutgers probably was the bus system. They might be hard to navigate and probably will be so crowded that you won’t get on, but it’s doable. Trust me. Download the Nextbus Rutgers App and it will tell you when the bus will be coming and even where it currently is. That app will literally be your best friend in the beginning months!

The last thing I want to talk about is meeting and talking to new people. This is hard, trust me I’m a bit of an introvert so I know. But honestly, everyone is a bit nervous to talk to someone completely new and a stranger to them. Our minds think, “Oh my gosh, what if I sound weird,” “What if he/she does not like me,” or “What if he/she does not want to even talk to me.”  STOP WITH THE WHAT IFS! Talking to someone new is a risk we CAN afford to take. And what’s the worst that can happen? The person is not interested and leaves. Who cares! There are a million more people you can try talking to next. But now I want you to think of what is possible. You can find someone who is taking the same class as you and from the same town as you. You can find someone who is also interested in a certain TV show. That “someone” can become a friend, and even one of your best friends or more. The pros outweigh the cons trust me! All it takes is 15 seconds of confidence and your life might even change!

I cannot wait to go back to Rutgers this Fall and enjoy every day I have left before I graduate in the spring. I have made some of my favorite memories here and I hope you do too! It’s gonna be a blast, trust me!!

So What Now?

Could the summer progress any faster? Although I’m glad that I have some time left to enjoy it, there is really no other question that lurks at the back of my mind other than how I am going to spend it. Up until very recently, the answer was easy, with the MCATs buzzing around my head like bees around the most nectar-filled flower. Now that that time is over, which I didn’t even think would actually be possible, what grand brain-draining project will there be to replace it?

Up until June 30, the fateful day of my exam, this was how I was thinking.

Image result for thinking

So far, over the entire month of July, now this has been more in line with how I am thinking, possibly even right now.

Image result for patrick orb of confusion

No matter how redundant and cliche this may sound, the MCAT is the test, the one that really sucks all the brain power out in many different ways you could never imagine and makes you never want to go back. The best part about that is, never before have I gotten to enjoy myself so much with binge-watching Friends on Netflix or rewatching old classic Disney films I used to love when I was little, especially after my trip to Disney World last month. I am not afraid to admit that Disney really is magical for all ages, so call me a kid if you have to. Hey, how about a nice magical picture here? No admission fee!

Image result for disney

Unfortunately, not thinking can really get to me at times, and although the urge to relax endlessly constantly lingers over me while I am so busy with clinical work during the week, I always strive to somehow keep myself busy. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a new endeavor since the application cycle for med school has already begun. I am so looking forward to (sarcastically I say) the return of the college essay phase from four years ago, this time in the form of my personal statement- the literature that dictates my aspirations of donning the garb of the upholder of hope and the surrounding wind of circumstances that gave way to my ambitions to embark on this grand journey to that vast realm equipped with the essential maxim to ensure the fine fettle of all who embody the essence of humanity. If you’re like me and not really thinking, half, maybe all, of what I just stated probably made no sense, and you look as confused as my dog when I ask him if he knows he’s a dog. Basically, it’s the essay that states why I want to go to medical school to become a doctor. On top of this essay that addresses all medical schools I apply to, each school has their own secondary applications that ask why their school fits the bill for me specifically.

Although it may seem pretty straightforward what I should do now, the truth is, I don’t actually have much of an idea, and that’s okay. The scores for the exam take a month to come out, and during that time, all I really can do is plan my statement, since most schools don’t send the secondaries until the primary applications include the scores. Another thing to be mindful of is the guilt that comes with uncertainty. If you haven’t laid everything and figured out where you’d want to go, that is totally fine. In fact, I would argue it is essential for healthy development into a more productive lifestyle later on.

With that, I move on to brainstorming possible topics, and my time writing on this blog really has prepared me well with more confidence in expressing myself, both orally and written. Hopefully, that carries over well into those admission piles, and one thing is for certain in all of this: I enjoy it all the way, in spite of the fact that it is painful, long and exhausting, but precisely because it’s painful, long, and exhausting, and because it’s real. I really am applying, I really did take the MCAT, and I really need to start working on my essays before the fall semester comes. The reality of the endeavor and the hard work is what makes the results much more rewarding and fulfilling, instead of me wishing for the results and them magically appearing because of a genie in a lamp.

This is turning out to be one of the busiest, yet most satisfying, summers I have had so far. My mind and thinking power will come back soon, I am sure, and by that time, I do hope that the personal statement that I ultimately craft accurately reflects how much I have thought through this decision to write and master the magic of healthcare through a period of lifelong learning.

Summer Series Part Two: Knitting!!!

Hello everyone! Summer has officially kick-started, although it is currently raining outside. I thought I would continue my summer series posts to update you on what I will be doing this summer. I am really ecstatic to tell you that, this summer, I will be learning knitting!

Why knitting? Well, my mom has always been a knitter and I had a ball of purple yarn and a pair of dark green knitting needles laying around, so I thought, hey, let me give it a shot! So, here I am knitting. I should tell you that it is quite addicting once you get the hang of it. I started off checking out some beginner level instructional books from my local library. Unfortunately, I personally found it a bit difficult to comprehend whether the needle goes under the yarn or over from merely looking at the diagrams. One thing that I did glean from these instructional books was ideas on patterns. Then, I turned to YouTube videos. The videos were much easier to follow. My favorite videos are from Knitting Stitch Patterns. These videos have step-by-step, detailed instructions that are quite helpful.

knit purl

Before we get into some patterns, I would like to share with you the basics. Any pattern that you will ever do will always comprise of knit stitches and purl stitches. The difference between these two is a matter of whether the needle goes under or over the yarn. Knit stitches look like braids and purl stitches look like beads (see image above). If you master knit and purl stitches, then you are set for doing any pattern; the patterns are merely omnifarious combinations of these two stitches.

Before starting the pattern right away, my mom taught me that laying a strong and neat foundation is key. Thus, consecrate at least one row to laying out the foundation. The term for knitting the foundation and putting the yarn onto the needle is called “casting on,” which is often abbreviated as CO.  Before casting on, you need to do a slip knot (this will technically be your first stitch), then you can start casting on more stitches along your needle. 

Each pattern has a specific number of stitches that need to be cast on and this information will often be mentioned right in the beginning. The foundation is considered Row 1. Knitting patterns are often addressed according to specific rows. Often, instructions will be abbreviated. For example, Row 2: K2 * P2, K1. Translated, the preceding statement would be interpreted as the following: in row 2, do two knit stitches, then do two purl stitches and one knit stitch, and then repeat (*) the two purl stitches and one knit stitch till the end of the row.  Some other examples of key abbreviations are listed.

3-12-stockinette-right-sideknittingabbreviations

 

Now, let us get to the fun part: patterns! When knitting patterns, there are two sides: the wrong side and the right side. You can think of it as a shirt having a right side (the one shown on the outside) and a wrong side (the unseen side). Often, you would want to display the pattern on the right side. Some patterns that I have done so far include Moss stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, seed stitch, bamboo stitch, basket-weave stitch, and teardrop stitch. You can see seed stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, and bamboo stitch examples, respectively, below!

Well, I hope you saw how cool knitting can be. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! Enjoy the rest of your summers!

Seed-stitchrasp

Diamond honeycomb stitch.jpg