Let’s do Another Music Ramble I Guess

I’ve been like, way busier this summer than one should ever be in a summer pls send help save my soul SOS. Well, that’s not to say I don’t like it. I’ve been doing research over the summer for the physics department, and I’m doing the same job I did last summer, which is another job within the physics department, and I gotta say, it’s all really fun and I’m quite enjoying myself. But I’m tiiiiiirrrrreeeeddd. With these two jobs, and socializing, and my old sad computer died like a week ago so I had to rush out and drop one thousand dollars on a new computer that night so I could continue to do my job, I’ve been busy, and I get stressed easily. So I’ve been listening to music. Which I did anyway but hey, it’s like the only thing I do in my free time (socializing isn’t free time, it takes too much energy, it’s basically a job). So y’all are getting another music list from me. But this time: PLAY ADDITION. For some reason I got stupidly into two musicals, which I’ve never even watched but I listened to the songs and now I keep listening to them, so I’m forcing my opinions onto you.

Be More Chill:

is is like, a cute musical. Kind of sad stuff happens sometimes, some character’s get sad, but that’s most stories ever so, eh. Be More Chill was actually a book by Ned Vizzini, and it’s a Sci-Fi where super computers go bad. Shocking. A worn out trope, but kind of a fun spin on it because it’s basically a high school drama meet’s sci-fi thing which is kind of funny. Anyway, the musical. The music was written by Joe Iconis and I love all of the songs. “More than Survive” is a really catchy eight minute piece, with dialogue and fun, upbeat, techno sounding instrumental portions. “The Squip Song” is just all around funny; the story is a once loser, turned cool kid, is trying to convince a current loser to buy a squip, which will make him cool. The song is very much not cool, it’s just a kid screaming about ridiculous technology, which is amazing. “Two Player Game” is an adorable song about the main character and his best friend, both losers, who are sticking it through high school together and it’s all good because “IT’S A TWO PLAYER GAAAAAMMMMEEE!” Then my favorite song, “Micheal in the Bathroom.” This song, man. It’s so pretty, and it’s really sweet in a sad way. It’s the main character’s best friend, singing about how he lost his best friend to the technology that’s trying to make him cool. I just kind of love the actor, George Salazar; he’s precious, and has the voice of an angel (if you want to laugh, listen to him sing the song “Calculus,” not from the play but just out there on YouTube). This whole play, in my opinion, is adorable and I really like the music so I highly recommend 10/10.

Dear Evan Hansen:

This is actually a current Broadway Play, and while I again have not seen the actual play, the story sounds interesting and the music is really really good. The play was written by Steven Levenson, and the music composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. It’s essentially a story of suicide, and people dealing with that type of thing. Like I said, I didn’t really watch it, I just thought it sounded cool and read the Wikipedia article about it. So, I don’t know what to say without actually spoiling the story other than that. But the music in this play. It’s all beautiful man. I really, sincerely suggest listening to the songs. “Sincerely Me” is funny, light-hearted, and really fun to listen to. The whole song is two boys writing emails, and the stories they make up. Another song, which is actually the song that made me start listening to this play, is “You Will Be Found.” This is a gorgeous piece about not giving up hope in tough times, with a full chorus bit, and it sounds really lovely. However, my favorite song from this play is “Waving Through a Window.” I mostly like this song because the singer, Ben Platt, has a beautiful voice. It’s so full and rich, and really shines in this song. It’s a song about people feeling loneliness, but it’s not overly sad, with a very melodic and light tone to it. If you listen to any of the song’s I’ve mentioned today, listen to “Waving Through a Window.”

Well, I guess that’s it. I had fun rambling about music again. I hope y’all enjoyed my nonsense mutterings as well. Do you have any songs you’d recommend? (Side Note, if any of you guys are into play music as well, I haven’t properly listened to Hamilton, I just heard some song’s in passing, but I did quite enjoy them. Maybe songs you like from that play?) HAVE A GOOD DAY GUYS!

Wanna Get Fit?

So obviously college is a time of new life changes that I was personally ready and not ready for at the same time. I was expecting to not get enough sleep and I was expecting a lot of stress. I was even expecting to eat more unhealthy food than I usually do. But what I wasn’t expecting was how much of a toll this would take on my body. I definitely gained more weight than I wanted to but it was hard to start exercising regularly in the middle of the semester.

I obviously don’t want to gain the freshmen 15 again during my second year. In addition, there are many benefits to exercise that improves productivity and learning. I been using the summer to get fit and try to build up exercise habits that will carry on to next semester. So here a some of the habits that I have been doing over the summer.

  • Waking up early and going to the gym
    • Whenever I go to the gym, I tend to feel a little bit insecure going to the gym because there are always so many guys (and some girls) who know how to use the equipment and knows what they are doing.
    • So I found that going to the gym in the morning (if I don’t have morning classes), is nice because there is not that many people there and I feel less insecure. In addition, I feel great afterword and feel ready to study and take on the day.
  • Doing cardio and weights
    • I used to go only on the elliptical because I was always just focused on losing weight. However going to the elliptical gets really boring especially if there is nothing good on the TV. So I try to do weights to change up my fitness routine.
    • This makes working out more fun and more rewarding afterword.
  • Getting 7 hours of sleep
    • Obviously during college, getting 7 hours of sleep can be difficult. But sleeping honestly helps me stay alert, aware and happy throughout the day.
  • Eating more fruits/vegetables and protein
    • My diet usually consists of cereal for breakfast, rice for lunch and dinner, and some random thing in the kitchen for snack. But lately I have been trying to eat much more vegetables and fruits for all my meals and some protein for energy. And surprisingly I have not been getting hungry. Ever since I started this, I have been feeling very fresh and healthy.
  • Listening to body
    • Your diet is so important to your mental and physical health. It’s important to fuel your body and mind with the right products to live healthy, to be productive and to feel happy.
    • Personally, my body doesn’t digest carbs or gluten very well which is the main reason why I started eating more fruits and vegetables. I also found that when I start eating a lot of junk food, I have been feeling very ‘gross’ the next day. The sugar makes me feel happy in the moment but not overall.
    • So when I am presented with options either at the dining hall, students centers, or stores, I try to remember this when I want to avoid the tempting ice cream and cookies and pizza.

While it’s unrealistic to do everything when the school year begins I definitely want to be healthier and stay fit during next semester. It is important to treat your body right because it can have a major effect on your emotions, your work, and obviously your health. So try to hit the gym every once in awhile and try to makes healthier choices for yourself.

You’ll Have to Pry My Harry Potter Obsession out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Today I want to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart:

Harry Potter.

I had first read the Harry Potter series when I was around nine or ten years old, definitely before Deathly Hallows was published in 2010 because I have distinct memories of my mother pre-ordering the book for me and then waiting impatiently for it to arrive. I had seen the movies before then, of course, because it was almost impossible not to (though I do know of certain exceptions) but it wasn’t until I read the books that I became, and I’ll admit this, obsessed.

I’m not ashamed to admit this, though I probably should be. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter (I frequently wonder what I could be and all the things I would be able to do if 30% of my  brain wasn’t devoted to ‘useless Harry Potter trivia’).  In the weeks leading up to the premiere of the sixth movie, Half-Blood Prince, I’d read the entire series non-stop. A week long cycle of  “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” to “All was well.” I must have read each book ten times that week, but I was twelve so I didn’t really have anything better to do.

I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count and every time I watch them I feel like it’s the first time. My friends and I won a Harry Potter trivia contest after three tie-breakers. I got a Pottermore account as soon as I could and was Sorted (and yes, I used a capital letter for that) into Ravenclaw, just as I knew I would even though I’m terrible at solving riddles.

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!”

But it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who was obsessed. I wasn’t even the most obsessed. Fans have gone on to make three entire musicals, a puppet show, a convention, fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and countless other things that I probably don’t know about, which is a level of devotion and commitment that kind of scares me, to be honest. 

I loved Harry Potter when I was growing up and if you look at it from a certain perspective I’m still growing up, so I love Harry Potter with all my heart even now, when I haven’t had the time to read the Harry Potter books in an endless loop since I was about fifteen. The books were my childhood.  They were an entire generation’s childhood. We grew up with them and it seemed the books grew up right along with us as we grew up with Harry.  The later books in the series hit on some pretty dark themes, now that I look back on them now that I’m older. They touch on things like death, fascism, racism, war, sacrifice packaged up nearly in a story about wizards and magic. It strikes me now just how young everyone was. Lily and James Potter were only 21 when they died. Harry was 17 when he finally defeated Voldemort for good. I’m three years older than him and I can barely manage feed myself let alone save the world. When you’re nine or ten, 17 and 21 seem ancient, but not really.

I often wonder how Harry Potter grew to be so popular, the science of it, I guess. What exactly was it that caused Harry Potter to hit that thing in our brains that launched it into the cultural juggernaut that it is today (and will continue to be, she thinks hopefully). 

Was it the writing? The part of me that finds hyper-analyzing every little aspect of my life incredibly fun wants to say yes. That the setting, the plot, the style, the tone, the dozens of literary terms that I could shove in this sentence but I won’t because sometimes I forget what the all mean were all so brilliant and well-crafted that they impelled Harry Potter to fame. And  get me wrong, those things are definitely a part of it, but I’m not so besotted to say that the Harry Potter books are the best books ever written. Of all time. It’s a children’s book about wizards and not all well written books achieve this level of…I don’t even know what to call it. Impact? Adoration? Who knows. 

Maybe it was a matter of right place, right time? It hit just at the right time for an entire generation to get hooked.

Maybe the magical world Rowling created hit just the right spot between fantasy and reality. “Harry Potter goes to school just like me but he learns magic. He gets to take classes on charms and how to turn goblets into ravens. They learn about spells and hexes and there are flying cars and talking spiders and dragons! Dragons! That’s so cool! I wish that was me!” I still wish that was me, to be honest.

Still waiting for mine

Maybe it was a combination of both. Maybe it was a lot of other things. Maybe it was magic. Who knows?

But Harry Potter is not without its flaws. It’s been criticized for its LGBT and minority representation. Confirming that Dumbledore is gay in an interview is not the same as confirming it in the books. Rowling’s depiction of Native American culture in Pottermore was tone-deaf.   

But nothing’s perfect and nothing has to be perfect (as long as, of course, you don’t try to pretend that it’s perfect in the first place. It’s important to be critical of the things you love.) 

I love the Harry Potter books and will continue to do so for the rest of my life (probably). So I’ll read the supplemental material on Pottermore, I’ll read the play, I’ll watch the Fantastic Beasts movies, I’ll go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter someday, and do or buy whatever other thing corporate executives come up with to suck money from poor, innocent millennials who love Harry Potter.

Just take my money

I know it may seem weird to still be so obsessed, but isn’t it nice when a lot of people love something this much?

 

RU Top 4 Eats

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I’m a commuter, and I’m hungry. ALL the time. And I spend most of my time (and money) at my top 4 favorite RU food destinations (when my lunchbox from home is empty, but my pockets aren’t). What are they? Read to find out, of course.

#4: Henry’s Diner ~ Livingston Plaza

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I honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted to place Henry’s at a tie with #3 (which shall remain unnamed for now). Apart from offering an aesthetic atmosphere, Henry’s also provides what seems like an unlimited amount of meals to choose from on the menu (that’s designed to look and feel like a newspaper, by the way!). You want eggs? Well, there’ll probably be more than twenty ways to have them. You want chicken? Prepare yourself to choose from a variety of chicken dish combinations. Orrrr, do you want to have pasta? Then you can Build Your Own Pasta Bowl!! What I’m saying here is that there’s a lot you can choose from when it comes to Henry’s. And the food itself? It won’t let you down. I usually have Chicken Marsala or Chicken Parm, which comes with a side of veggies and your choice of starch–rice or pasta. And the pasta bowls are so creamy and definitely exceed expectations. These dishes are super delish and extremely filling. Last time, my friend and I left with a food coma because there was so much “GOOD” to eat. Alas, Henry’s falls on the expensive spectrum for us college students, but hey, if you want a nice lunch out once in a while, this is the place to go!

#3: Moe’s ~ Busch Campus Center

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Moe’s: my go-to place to eat with my best friend! After a long lecture, this is the food we choose to dig in to cool off and rejuvenate. It’s quite healthy–a salad-like bowl that you build, with free tortilla chips and salsa in your bag (that’s designed like Mad Libs, by the way!) It’s a lot like Chipotle, so if you’re looking for something similar without taking the A or H bus to College Ave, then this is for you!

#2: Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant ~ College Ave; Easton

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Ever wonder what Middle Eastern food tastes like? After going to Mamoun’s, you will definitely know. Mamoun’s offers authentic Middle Eastern dishes, along with some beautiful Middle Eastern music! The chicken kebob sandwich is. AMAZING. That’s what I have every single time I go there, because I truly can never get enough of it. It’s  marinated cubes of juicy chicken with lettuce and tomatoes stuffed inside soft, fluffy pita bread. Tahini sauce, made from tahini paste (crushed sesame seeds), lemon juice, garlic, and water, is generously added inside this sandwich. I always ask for feta cheese in that sandwich as well, because why not? (Remember, folks, there is never “too much cheese” in this world.) Aaaand, of course, Mamoun’s Falafel Restaurant proffers the best and real falafel on the East Coast. Falafel, or deep-fried balls of finely ground chickpeas, onions, parsley, garlic, and spices, also comes in a sandwich option at Mamoun’s. Try this restaurant–you won’t be disappointed!

#1: Hidden Grounds ~ College Ave; Easton

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This, my friends, is only one of the many pictures of my coffee from Hidden Grounds. Not only does this fantastic coffee shop have stunning latte art, but it also has one of the best coffee concoctions ever. EVER. That up there is a cup of Nutella Mocha–coffee, but with the perfect amount of chocolate sweetness drizzled in. Every cup I have at Hidden Grounds is steamed, stirred, and served with actual perfection. The atmosphere of this place will make you want to whip out your notebook and just start scribbling away. The suave wooden surfaces of the tables, chairs, stools, and counters are simple, but just so soothing, and they also make an ideal setting for a date. 😉 There’s also food available here, from the Bombay Sandwich to Vegan Cookie Brittle! I just adore Hidden Grounds, and it’s my favorite place at Rutgers, not to mention on Earth.

Hope y’all visit these excellent places for a bite–or drink–at one point!

Fireworks at Home

The Fourth of July may have passed already, but there are personal moments from this particular celebration of the national holiday that I thought I should share on this hot July weekend. Trust me, whenever you don’t know what to do, I would advise writing something down, anything. Even a simple written statement as “I’m bored” can do wonders for your overall well-being.

This was the first time in over 5 years that I had actually managed to capture the view of fireworks up close. Every year, I was always away with family on trips out of the country that prevented us from appreciating the freedom our nation has worked so hard to obtain, but this time, I had the pleasure of looking up at the sky and listening to the loud deafening roars of American pride in the form of bright colors and beauty, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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Even if some of you may be too busy to celebrate, I would advise just looking at the sky even for a second on this special day, and if within earshot, to just take a moment to listen to the sounds that accompany it. In a world and in a nation where most of us are fortunate to have the civil liberties and opportunities to do what we put our mind to, we may tend to take those liberties for granted, and forget that two hundred years ago, the similar sounds of the fireworks we hear today instilled feelings of fear, not excitement. Although we no longer have to worry about being under British rule and fighting intensely for our freedom, the Fourth of July is a day we could just be happy to exist as fellow Americans, and only after seeing the fireworks up close for the first time in years did I finally come to realize the power of the human spirit to push forward even in the most difficult of times, leaving future generations to look back and appreciate all that has been done.

If this post comes off as excessively preachy and didactic, I do apologize. I simply intend to convey to my readers the astonishing moments that we may not realize we are missing sometimes, and that these small moments can be useful for days of low activity or motivation that the summer sometimes tends to bring upon us. After returning from a long vacation in Baltimore the previous week, it was nice to just sit down on the grass, amidst the mosquitoes and loud screaming children, and be part of a diverse crowd of various different races and ethnicities, all dedicated to one simple goal: to enjoy our freedoms on the birthday of the United States.

Now that I am done speaking about what Independence Day meant to me, here are some more pictures of the elusive fireworks I was fast enough to take. For you smartphone users (I have the iPhone 6s), a Noir and Process background really fits if you’re trying to capture the fireworks when it gets really dark after 9 pm.

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Anyone can Draw

One of my biggest goals this summer is to improve my drawing skills. Personally, drawing is something that calms me and makes me happy, even though I am not a very good artist. But I watched a bunch of videos recently of artists and their drawing progress over a period of time, and I realized that anyone can become a great artist if they are dedicated. Here are some of the tips that I am following to improve:

1. Watch YouTube Tutorials

Today, you can learn to do virtually anything just by watching a YouTube video. I have watched many YouTube videos over the past few weeks that have taught me how to shade more effectively, how to work with guidelines, and how to use colored pencils to create depth in a picture. I also watched videos to learn how to draw eyes and lips realistically. YouTube has proven to be a very important resource to me as I was able to learn so much from it and create drawings that I didn’t know were possible for me!

2. Use a Book

I went to the bookstore around two weeks ago and looked at what they had available for drawing. I flipped through many books, and I found one that I thought might be able to help me learn some of the basic techniques better. The book that I am currently using every day is called You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler. The book has so many different examples of people who used these methods to improve their art, which I find to be very inspiring. The book is split up into lessons, so it is easy to just do a lesson a day. It doesn’t take up much time, but I can already see a change in my skills when I flip through my sketchbook. If you are a person who wants to learn more about drawing techniques, but are too busy or find it hard to commit to learning for a big chunk of time each day, I think it is worthwhile to check out this book and see if it may help you.

3. Watch other people draw their drawings

I guess this could be under the YouTube category, but since I talked more about tutorials in that one, I will consider this a separate category. I like to watch pictures of other people’s artwork to get inspiration to keep drawing. I also like to see what other people do and gather ideas for my own work. Another thing that I think is helpful is watching speed drawings and seeing the process that artists use when they draw. When you look at the steps that other people take to get to their end product, you may want to try something new!

You could follow all of these steps but the most important step to becoming a better artist is…DRAW! Sometimes I fall into the trap of just sitting and watching video after video, but not actually trying anything that I have learned. The only way to improve is to take action. So pick up your pencil and sketchbook and just doodle away!

A Summer-Suspense-Must-Read!

Hi there everyone! Summer has officially (I mean the actual season) kick-started. For some of us that means days of contemplating  what to do, while for others it means research, volunteering, internships, etc. Either way, I think it is very important to consecrate a little bit of your time each day for reading. Therefore, I thought I would encourage you to read this really awesome book I have read this past month!

The book is titled Memory Man and is written by David Baldacci. If you are a sleuth and love unraveling mysteries, then this is definitely a book for you. The story is about an extraordinary man named Amos Decker who, after a gruesome concussion on the football field, suffers from a peculiar brain condition called hyperthemia and synesthesia. Hyperthemia is the ability to never, and this is no exaggeration, forget a single thing that has happened to the person. Synesthesia is the ability to use one sense of the body with another seemingly unconnected sense. For example, Amos is able to see everything in colors and numbers.

The story commences with Amos walking right into the murder of his entire family one night. Horrified and absolutely devestated, he doesn’t know what to do. The grisly murder scene leaves him abashed and grieving. He thinks about killing himself, but the police come just in time and talk him out of shooting himself. He later vows to find the killers and avenge his family and himself. Amos’ journey is one filled with countless shocks and surprises that will leave you ardent to find out what happens on the next page.

Amos, a retired detective, definitely has the brains to solve this case, and this is evident in every step of the story. With a little more help from a former partner named Lancaster, a journalist named Jamison, and an FBI agent named Bogart, Amos sets out to catch the merciless killer. To everyone’s, but Amos of course, surprise, the killer is no less intelligent than Amos himself.

A huge twist in the story comes when a shooting at Mansfield High School leaves few students and adults dead. At first, you may think that this may be an entire new mystery in itself, however, it turns out that the shooter was no other than the one who had shot Amos’ wife, strangled his daughter, and slit the throat of Amos’ brother-in-law.  These two interconnected cases elucidate that the killer has no boundaries. Why? Why is the killer is doing all of this? What did the shooting have to do with Amos and his family?

You will discover that each clue that Amos uncovers is carefully crafted to fit into the final puzzle. In the beginning, it may seem that the pieces are all random, but believe me, you will be awestruck as to how the entire mystery unfolds itself at the end.

I really hope you all take time this summer to definitely give this book a go. I promise you that it will not be a disappointment at all. Baldacci is an impeccable author who is meticulous in his vivid imagery; don’t be surprised if you get so engulfed in the words that you soon find yourself alongside Amos, deciphering the murder’s clever clues.

29 Things to do Over the Summer

So buy know we got all our summer plans. Some people are interning, volunteering, and traveling. But there are those days where we have absolutely nothing to do. So here is a list of things to do on those days.

  1. Color in a Coloring Book: This has shown to be very relaxing and can be even fun
  2. Read a new Book: Try getting inspiration somewhere or just to do it for fun
  3. Or reread an old book: So I love rereading Harry Potter books so this is always an option
  4. Catch up with Friends by : It’s great to see old high school friends and just catch up
  5. Going to the Park : You can have a picnic or play with a frisbee or just sit and soak up the sun
  6. Or to a Museum: There are many places that have student discounts
  7. Or New York City: There are many other things that are available in NYC in addition to the museums
  8. Go shopping: It’s always nice to have an updated wardrobe or just browse
  9. Go to Six Flags: Six Flags can be so much fun and definitely takes up an entire day. This is what I do with my friends.
  10. Do some crafts: That can also be therapeutic and relaxing
  11. Try to do Some Writing: Again relaxing and a good way to get your thoughts out
  12. Catch up on Netflix: So while I’m not a Netflix person, it’s nice to just binge watch your favorite show
  13. Sleep: This speaks for itself
  14. Go to the Gym: So a nice way to get rid of the Freshmen 15 (even if you are not a freshmen) or just a way to stay fit
  15. Or Biking: So this could be another adventure
  16. Or Hiking; If there are any hiking trails nearby then why not?
  17. Try Yoga: Yoga is believed to reduce stress and soothe the mind so why not try it
  18. Try Meditation: It can be nice to think absolutely nothing
  19. Get Organized for Next School Year: Organization and planning is always good
  20. Try Cooking: It’s a good skill to have an why not?
  21. Listen to Podcasts: It’s an easy way to learn more about a topic and relax.
  22. Spend Time with Family: It’s hard to see them throughout the year.
  23. Lie in Bed and listen to music: Seems like an easy way to relax
  24. Maybe put on a face pack: It can feel refreshing afterword.
  25. Search for textbooks: If you know your textbooks you might as well by them now
  26. Start reading them: You might as well read/skim the content so you have an idea when classes start.
  27. Start a new habit: Maybe go to the gym in the morning or wake up at 6 am.
  28. Read inspiring blogs: Stay motivated and productive throughout the school year.
  29. Read about the profession you want to go to

There are so many things that we can do over summer. And we have 4 months of summer vacation. So instead of watching youtube all summer, we might as well.

Road Trip!!

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go on a nice long road trip with family or friends. Whether you are at the wheel and cruising on the highway at 60 mph or just relaxing in the passenger seat while enjoying the awesome views, road trips are relaxing and fun for all (of course not if you get car sick!).

We all know that the best part of road trips is not the destination, but the journey. Even though people think road trips will be great once they start, they soon come to find themselves bored, tired, and regretting doing this in the first place! So here are a few ways you can make your road trip even better:

  1. Make an awesome playlist! The one thing all road trips have in common are nice energy-filled tunes. Songs that not only keep our adrenaline levels up after hours of tiring amounts of driving, but also that really set the mood of the environment. And of course songs you and your friends can all jam out to (even if you are a bad singer like me lol!).
  2. Pack snacks and water. The last thing you want to hear from your fellow road trip buddies is “I’m hungry”. Make sure to pack tons of healthy snacks and plenty of water for the trip. Not only will they keep your energy up but also soothe hungry passengers!
  3. Road trip games! Ok I take my words back. The LAST thing you want to really hear from anyone is “I’m bored”. There are so many ways you can keep people from falling asleep or buried in their phones. One of my favorites is guessing the make and model of nearby passing cars. So many cars you probably have never heard about. Another favorite is trying to spot unusual licence plates. You never know when someone is from a state all the way across the country from you or a plate that reads “ILV2EAT” lol!
  4. Chargers and gadgets! You do not want to end up in the middle of nowhere with no GPS and a dead phone! Make sure to pack a good GPS gadget unless you car has one and car chargers for you and your friends and family. If you are planning to drive in a very rural area or in the middle of nowhere, it would not hurt to pack a map of the area (assuming you know how to read a map haha!).
  5. Spare tire and car tools! A flat tire will not only delay your road trip adventure but also keep you stuck in one place for some time. It might be worthwhile to finally learn how to change a tire without having to rely on AAA or other tire changing services. It might also be handy to keep the tools to jump your car’s battery if it dies any time. Remember red is positive and black is negative!

Well that is just a few of my tips for anyone who is planning to take a road trip in the future. And if you have never done one before, no worries! You will find out yourself how much fun road trips are when you take your first one!! And of course remember to always stay safe while driving with or without other passengers. Don’t drive when tired, keep caution in hazardous conditions, and never text and drive!! And remember it’s not the destination, but the journey!!!

Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum

I recently found myself in Philadelphia with my boyfriend on an unseasonably warm day, without any real plans of what we would see or do in the city. Due to the high heat, we didn’t want to just pick a neighborhood and wander, which is usually my go-to activity in any large city. We settled on the Mutter Museum, mostly because of the awesome student discount, its central location in the city, and the promise of a few uninterrupted hours of air conditioning.

The interior of the main section of the Museum

The Mutter Museum is a medical museum that contains hundreds of historical medical instruments, wax representations of different diseases and samples of mutations and “oddities.” The museum is named for Dr. Thomas Mutter, who collected many of the specimen now in the museum throughout his career in the middle of the 19th century, keeping many of the skeletal and wet samples for his own biomedical research purposes. Dr. Mutter greatly improved the surgical techniques of his time and expanded the understanding of the ways in which the human body works and heals. With the student discount, a ticket to the museum is only $13, which grants access to every single exhibition, collection, and the garden full of medicinal plants in the museum’s courtyard.

At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy or even “get” the museum. I am not very fluent in medical terminology, and haven’t taken any biology-related science since my freshman year of high school. I also usually favor art museums over any other type of museum when I am traveling. That being said, I recommend the Mutter Museum to everyone, regardless of their interest in or knowledge of science and medicine. As someone who is more humanities-inclined, I appreciated the historical approach taken by the museum towards medicine. I can honestly say that the Mutter museum is equal parts science and history. There are many specimen that are completely unique to the museum such as slides of Albert Einstein’s brain, the full skeleton of an “American giant,” and the connected livers of Chang and Eng Bunker, a set of Siamese twins born in 1811. The collections allowed me to reflect on the ways in which the practice of medicine has drastically changed in the last 200 years or so, and better appreciate the fact that I am alive in a time of modern medicine, anesthesia, and better acceptance and understanding of genetic mutations and birth defects.

The skull collection, containing 139 skulls from various people throughout the world.

Personally, my favorite part of the museum was a permanent exhibition focusing specifically on medical care and access during the Civil War in the hospitals of Philadelphia. This collection included surgical instruments and horrific descriptions of common medical practices such as amputation. I also appreciated the focus on the important role of women as nurses in the Civil War hospitals, and the use of Walt Whitman quotes throughout the exhibition, which further combined science with the humanities.

Just one of the many interesting skeletal specimen you can check out in the museum!

After visiting, I can truly say the Mutter Museum has something for everyone, regardless of personal interests and prior knowledge. I highly recommend taking advantage of our university’s proximity to Philadelphia and visiting the fascinating museum for yourself!