An Open Letter to the English Language

Let’s talk about ghoti for a second.

I had two pet ghoti when I was a kid. I was really into Sesame Street at the time so I called them Dorothy and Elmo and they were kind of useless. All they did was swim around in their tank and I couldn’t pet them or teach them tricks, but I loved them in that four year old way of mine. When they died we had ghoti for dinner and I don’t know if my mom meant that as a joke or if her dinner planning just worked out like that, but in hindsight it was pretty funny.

You may be wondering what ghoti are, though I feel like I’ve given you enough context clues to let you know that I was actually talking about fish. So if I was talking about fish, what was up with all that “ghoti” nonsense?

Now you may have heard of ghoti before, but for those who are completely unaware “ghoti” is an alternate spelling of “fish” based on the fact that the “gh” in “tough” is pronounced like “f,” the “o” in “women” is pronounced like “i,” and the “ti” in “information” is pronounced like “sh.”  Based on those rules, why shouldn’t “ghoti” be pronounced like “fish”?

We know “ghoti” is not pronounced “fish” because we know those syllables don’t work in that order, but let’s use this thought experiment, I guess that’s what this is, to talk about just how confusing the English language is.

I know it may not seem that way if English is your first language (kudos to anyone who learned English as a second language) since speaking has become more or less intuitive by now but let’s not pretend the fact that “tough” is pronounced “tuff,” “through” is pronounced “threw,” and “though” is pronounced “tho” makes any sense at all.

And speaking of words that look like that they should be pronounced the same even with slight differences in spelling, let’s talk about words that are spelled exactly the same but are pronounced differently. I found this list here and the more I read it the angrier I became:

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  5. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  6. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  7. I did not object to the object.
  8. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  9. They were too close to the door to close it.
  10. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  11. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  12. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

There’s probably a whole load of linguistic reasons why these words are pronounced like this and spelled like this, but for now I’m just confused.

And don’t get me started on silent letters like in “doubt” or “receipt” because those words used to be spelled phonetically as “doute” and “receite” until someone (I’m looking at you, 13th century English scribes) decided that people needed to be reminded of “doubt’s” roots in the Latin word “dubitare” and “receipt’s” roots in the Latin word “recepta.” Alright, fine, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of an etymology (not entomology, that’s bug thing) nerd, but this just seems unnecessary.   

Also, I’m all for cultural exchange and stuff and, again, there’s probably five textbooks worth of reason for why this is, but I’m pretty sure most Italian words originate in Italy. Is the same true for English? According to the 52 wikipedia pages of English words with foreign origins, the answer is “NO.”

And if you, dear reader, have noticed that I italicized one or two words in this post already, it’s because tone, the way you say words, not even how you pronounce them, can completely change the meaning of some words. Which is totally fine, communication is more than just the words you use, after all, but I think I’m still allowed to be frustrated by the fact that the phrase:

I never said she stole my money

Has SEVEN different meanings depending on what words is emphasized.

And there are so many words that mean basically the same thing (we sure do love our synonyms), but have such wildly different connotations; they might as well mean different things entirely. Being invited to someone’s cottage in the forest is very different than being invited to a cabin in the woods. If you get invited to the former, then you’re in a fairytale; if to the latter, a horror movie.

We all know which one we’d prefer.

Which, to be fair, if you’re dealing with the English language, you’re already sort of in a horror movie. Just one with less horror and death. So, not a horror movie, I guess. Whatever.

Well, I hope this was educational, and if you ever find yourself getting annoyed with an international student or someone with less than perfect grammar and pronunciation, kindly get over yourself.

The Library

For the first two years of my college career, I hated the library. I found the environment too sterile, too academic, and too quiet, instead preferring the atmosphere of the Brett Hall Slounge, also known by its more formal name as the Study Lounge. Also, the Slounge was just a few flights of stairs from my room, whereas I actually had to walk outside to get to the Library.

After moving out of Brett, I no longer had a Slounge to study in. So, I reluctantly started going to Alex. Soon enough, I grew accustomed to the library and was pleasantly surprised by how productive I could be there. Key word, could. Silence used to distract me. I could not get any work done if things were too quiet, which is why I enjoyed the Brett Slounge — you could often hear people chatting in the regular lounge through the closed door. But now, I require silence for concentration.  I walk into the library, search for an open spot, ideally one by the window, and get down to business.


Over the past few weeks, I spent most of my time in Alexander Library, studying for midterms. Last week, as I desperately tried to focus on the words right in front of me, my concentration was broken by the loud voices of two students sitting behind me. The first issue I had with them was their volume. They weren’t even trying to keep quiet and talk in whispers, and that bothered me. I guess they didn’t realize that they were in a library. I tried to get back into studying but they continued talking and I couldn’t block them out. I could have said something to them. I should have, but I wasn’t in a confrontational mood. Also, I couldn’t help but listen in on their conversation since their voices were so loud. It was quite enthralling, in a “Real World” kind of way. This was even more distracting. After 20 minutes of talking, one of them leaves. Did she even get work done?? I don’t think so.

This isn’t like The Breakfast Club where you can chat around with your friends for your entire stay at the library. And even so, those five were the only ones in the library at the time and didn’t have to worry about other people trying to study.


I could have changed spots, but that’s not how it should work. Where are those librarians who are infamously known to “shhhh” people even for a sneeze or a cough? I could have used one of them a few times this month.

So when you go to the library, please be considerate. I’m not saying don’t sit with friends. Sometimes friends are great motivators for when you really need to do work. But if you need to talk about things irrelevant to the work that brought you to the library, please keep your voices hushed. Everyone actually trying to study will thank you.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

October is coming to an end, and for most of you, that means looking forward to Halloween, to Thanksgiving break, and to giving up the last five-dollar bill in your wallet to a pumpkin spice latte. But for me, the end of October signifies deadlines, interviews, midterms upon midterms and general anxiety. Oh, and iced coffee. Lots and lots of iced coffee. (Surprisingly, I am not a believer of pumpkin spice).

iced coffee.jpg

With “Halloweekend” around the corner, everyone is shopping for witch hats and gorilla masks, but if I want a scare, all I have to do is open my Google Calendar. While I would love to just relax, grab a bowl of popcorn and watch Halloweentown for the umpteenth time, I am instead knee-deep in textbooks and study guides, trying to juggle finishing homework while practicing interview skills, all while working part-time, conducting research, and taking a 20 credit course-load. And personally, no matter how many tasks I check off in my planner or how many events on my Google Calendar are marked as completed, I seem to have somehow created a black hole of never-ending assignments and obligations.


Just like me, so many of you find yourselves balancing a hectic schedule almost every day of your week, and when midterms roll around, it seems almost impossible to get everything done. And that’s when the danger begins: lack of sleep, caffeine pills, trying to find shortcuts, and lying in a pool of your own anxieties and worries. So now, more than ever, it is vital to stress the importance of mental health.


This bar graph (pictured above), pulled from College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Health, a study conducted by Dana Crudo through the National Alliance on Mental Health shows the percentage of students/recent graduates who have suffered from some sort of mental illness while in school. The following statistic (pictured below) from USA TODAY illustrates a staggering percentage of college students who have felt common indicators of depression.


Research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on college campuses further shows that:

  • 25% of students have a diagnosable illness
  • 40% do not seek help
  • 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
  • 50% have been so anxious they struggled in school

But this post isn’t about numbers or statistics; it is about learning of and using the endless resources available to you. Even if you do not suffer from depression or any other mental illness, but simply just feel overwhelmed, whether it be today, next week, or for a month sometime in the future, it is good to know what’s out there for you.


From personal experience,  when I am completely overwhelmed, I do the absolute opposite of what I should be doing. Rather than starting at the same paragraph of a textbook for the 30th time, I get up, put a bookmark my spot in my textbook, and go put on an episode of Friends, play a quick game on my phone, or go bother my little brother. Sometimes, it’s best to get a little distracted and let yourself breathe for a few minutes. One time, I had the worst writer’s block. I was in my dorm, all my friends were gone for the weekend, and essentially, I had nothing distracting me nor were there any other assignments getting in the way of writing my paper – I just couldn’t do it. So, I cried. Then, after realizing my tears were not magical water droplets that would write a 10 page research paper for me, I left my dorm and walked to Starbucks. While coffee didn’t write my paper for me either, just that 45 minute change in my environment allowed me to focus and restrategize when I got back. And sometimes, looking at your work from a different perspective is exactly what you need.

Another resource I highly recommend is the Quiet Place Project; it sounds like exactly what it is. Here’s the link:

It’s also useful to know what resources are available on campus for you. Many of you might not feel comfortable sharing your worries with your friends or families, and in that case, just know that there are plenty of confidential services offered right outside your dorm or just a bus ride away.

  • CAPS (Rutgers’s Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services) offers a free online screening for Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Eating Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for students. It is completely anonymous.
  • CAPS offers a variety of information on topics from ADHD to relaxation exercises that can be accessed here. But if you wish to make an appointment or just speak to a staff member, they can be reached at 848-932-7884.
  • Scarlet Listeners is an excellent free & confidential student-run referral hotline for both the Rutgers community, and surrounding New Brunswick community as well. If you need to rant or listen to some words of encouragement or just need to get something off your mind, call them at 732-247-5555.
  • 24-hour emergency hotline (available after 5:00 pm and on weekends) at 732-235-5700

And some other useful websites and phone numbers, just so you know everything that is available to you are as follows:

Remember, there is nothing you have to face alone. You have an endless support system of friends, family members, and even your dog. And when none of those seem available to you, do not be afraid to reach out to any of the resources listed above. You do not have to compromise your sleep or your health for your schoolwork; and you absolutely shouldn’t. You are a trooper, you can do this, and when in doubt, reference Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation.


Words You Must Know!

Hey there fellow students! If you are a logophile (lover of words), then here are some words you ought to know. Feel free to comment your favorite word below.

I love learning new words. In fact, it’s an important skill to have a rich vocabulary. You could enhance your vocabulary many ways. Download the app on your phone. I have it on mine. It sends me a “word of the day” every day. That’s 30 words you will learn a month and 365 words in a year! Another great way to learn new words is to read. Read. Read. Read some more. Whenever you get a chance, try to read at least a page or even a paragraph of a book, news article, or literature every day. When you come across words you don’t know, write them down. Try keeping a word journal of all the words you learn! It is quite fun.

Anyways, here are a list of words that are absolutely stunning, fun, and just beautiful. I challenge you all to use at least three words from this list today! Have fun.

  • Ailurophile (n): a cat lover.  Which cat is your favorite?

  • Bucolic (adj): in a lovely rural setting. What is your favorite place?

  • Conflate (v): to blend together
  • Cynosure (n): a focal point of admiration
  • Dalliance (n): a brief love affair (like the many dalliances of Barney from How I Met Your Mother?)

  • Desmesne (n): dominon, territory
  • Demure (adj): shy and reserved
  • Denouement (n): the resolution of a mystery (I wonder when  the directors of Pretty Little Liars will reveal the show’s denouement?)

  • Desuetude (n): disuse
  • Desultory (adj): slow, sluggish (I sure feel desultory on Sunday mornings!)
  • Diaphanous (adj): light, delicate, sheer (oh those diaphanous lace prom dresses are to die for!)
  • Dulcet (adj) sweet, sugary (the dulcet fall desserts? yum, yum, and yum!)

  • Ebullience (n): bubbling enthusiasm (do you have a friend who exudes ebullience?)
  • Efflorescence (n): flowering, blooming (spring is the season for efflorescence, right?)
  • Elision (n): dropping a sound or a syllable in a word (“I’m going to sleep” as an elision when saying “I’m.”)
  • Embrocation (n): a liquid used to rub on the body, such as a lotion (Oh, the many embrocations of Bath & Body lotions!)

  • Emollient (adj):  moisturizing, soothing
  • Erstwhile (adv): formerly
  • Evanescent (adj): short lasting, transient
  • Evocative (adj): suggestive
  • Felicity (adj): pleasantness
  • Fugacious (adj): fleeting
  • Halcyon (adj); happy, care-free
  • Imbrication (n): overlapping and forming a regular pattern
  • Imbue (v): to infuse, instill
  • Imbroglio (n): an altercation or complicated situation
  • Inglenook (n): a cozy nook by the hearth (a perfect inglenook for reading on a cold, autumn afternoon?)

  • Inure (adj): to become jaded
  • Lilt (v): to move musically or lively
  • Lissome (adj): slender and graceful (ballet dancers are very lissome)
  • Mellifluous (adj): sweet sounding
  • Moiety (n): one of two equal parts
  • Pastiche (n): an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period

  • Propinquity (n): an inclination (Do you have a propinquity to procrastinate?)
  • Pyrrhic (adj): successful with heavy losses
  • Riparian (adj): by the bank of a stream
  • Scintilla (n): a spark or very small thing
  • Susurrous (adj): full of whispering sounds
  • Wafture (adj): wave-like
  • Chatoyant (adj): (of a gem) like a cat’s eye

I hope you learned some new words today! Try to spice up your everyday texts or in-person conversations by adding these words. Have a great day! Happy Fall! Good luck on exams!

Prepping for Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. But I’ve honestly never really known why. It could be the free candy; I feel that’s the response most people would have as to why they enjoy the holiday. Or it could be Mischief Night, which I actually have never partaken in and if destruction of people’s property is the point of the night, then I don’t think I ever will celebrate it. (Mischief Night, by the way, is only a tristate area thing. The rest of the country has almost no idea what it is).

I think, for me, it’s the spirit of it all. It’s something to look forward to, especially for someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas (but still gives out presents because of how widespread the holiday is in the United States). Halloween is all-inclusive. I guess that’s what I really love about it.

I even got my roommates involved in decorating our door! Here’s a picture:


And the creativity of costumes. I love that too.

As a senior in college, I am obviously not able to go door to door to get free candy anymore, but I can still have fun, adult-style. Safely, of course. As a senior in college, I also wanted to do something special for this Halloween. In the past, I haven’t really tried to dress up. I wore black and called it day, for the most part, from my freshman through junior year. But this year, I actually wanted to create my costume, akin to the way many parents sewed together costumes for their children.

I wanted to be Harley Quinn, but then I realized that every girl was going to be Harley. I opted to be the Winter Soldier instead. At least I’ll be warm during Halloween.

Most of the materials were pretty easy to obtain. I already had black pants and boots. I bought a $6 long-sleeve black shirt from the kids section and a $20 vest from Target. I ordered an official and legitimate tactical belt holster and some straps to attach to my vest from Amazon.

But what remained was the arm. Here’s the original Winter Soldier:


How in the world was I going to make the arm? I could have taken the easy way out with aluminum foil but… that’s not fun. Nor was I going to learn something new.

So I found this tutorial and decided to give it a try.

The tutorial said it would be cheap, easy, and fast, but… it’s been three days and I know I’m going to be working on this arm until next weekend.

Here are some of the pictures of my progress:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I knew nothing about plaster (except faint facts remembered from elementary school). Those cracks weren’t supposed to be that bad. I should have layered rather than slathered on a thick layer of plaster and glue. Oh well. That’s how we learn.

I’ll update you all on how the rest of it goes next time around when I finish!

October Movie Recommendations

The weather is cooling down, midterms are coming and going, and Halloween is fast approaching. If you’re sick with a cold or just don’t feel like leaving the house, watch a movie! This time of the year is perfect for curling up under the covers with a bowl of popcorn to watch some scary (or not) movies.  

The Honors Program Bloggers have put together a list of recommended movies for this month so check them out whenever you need a break from homework:



One of my favorite movies of all time! A widowed mother reads her son a story about a monster called the Babadook. The story is so realistic that he starts having nightmares and terrifying visions that the monster is coming to kill them. At first, his fears are dismissed–but then his mom starts seeing the monster too.
Meg Tsai





This movie is another one of my favorites. It takes on a very classic zombie horror situation. 5 friends vacation at a cabin in the woods, but how many come back out? You may think you know the answer, but then you realize that there is a little more to the story than meets the eye.
Meg Tsai






I am a major weenie so you won’t be getting any #2spooky movie recommendations from me. Instead, I recommend that you punch yourself in the face with some childhood Halloween nostalgia and watch the Halloweentown movies. All of them. Even the last one, 
Return to Halloweentown, which takes place in college and in which the actress for Marnie is inexplicably replaced with Sara Paxton. Just thinking about these movies make me feel like a kid again.
Noreen Anquillano




Truthfully, I like to watch this movie all year round, so Halloween time is no exception. Harold is kind of a downer and likes to try to kill himself in unique ways, so I guess you could say it is gory if you’re looking for a reason to watch this around Halloween. Maude is super free spirited too, so maybe she’ll motivate you college kids to be happier around exams, possibly… hopefully. It’s a good movie and should be watched no matter the season.
Becky Kowalski






It feels a little cheap to recommend Harry Potter when there’s little to no chance that you haven’t seen at least one of them already. Since I appear to be on a nostalgia kick I’ll go ahead and recommend them anyway. I’m a diehard Harry Potter fan and since the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie is coming out in November, now is the perfect time to rewatch your favorite Harry Potter movie(s) (mine is Prisoner of Azkaban and also all of them). Get your head back into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry instead of, like, calculus.
Noreen Anquillano



Monster House
is a must-watch! It is absolutely my favorite! My brother and I have watched this movie countless times. It has the right amount of scare and comedy for a perfect Halloween movie that’s suitable for people of all ages. It is about a boy named DJ Walters who discovers that the house in front of him is actually haunted. A creepy old man always runs out whenever anyone dares to trespass even a millimeter onto his lawn. One day, the unexpected happens. The old man gets a heart attack, and the house seems to come to life in his absence. This is when the creepiness starts. I would say for an animated movie, this has done a very good job of unwinding a riveting yet frightening plot.
Aishwarya Madhikar


At this point it’s almost a cliche, but Nightmare Before Christmas, an entertaining mashup of all your favorite holidays with some Tim Burton-produced flair, is my favorite Halloween film. It has been since I was 3 and we rented it from Blockbuster (anyone else suddenly feel old?). However, though I will maintain that this is the perfect movie for any holiday, it is definitely most appropriate for Halloween. And, well, yes, it is a cartoon and yes, it is a Disney movie, it is entertaining at any age. Also, how can one not be ready for October after watching “This is Halloween”? Seriously, if you want to get both the trick and treat feeling from your movie, watch this.
Kim Peterman


This psychological horror thriller is a classic and a must-see if you haven’t yet. I was fascinated by the psychological aspect of it, which left me thinking about what I had just watched. It follows a young woman, Marion Crane, who comes across the Bates Motel, a vacant lodging in the middle of nowhere. She meets a handsome, yet odd, man: Norman Bates, owner of the motel. They seem to get along at first but what happens as the night goes on? You may already know the general plot of the story but it is worth watching the entire film.
Stephanie Smyczek





Here’s a movie to fit the spooky Halloween spirit. Yes it may be based off a children’s book series, and yes it’s probably only for little kids, but do I care? No. I’m watching this movie till I die. #Bugab004lyfe. No but seriously, it’s super cute and makes me feel like it’s October, so if you don’t mind watching a kids movie, then watch this one.
Becky Kowalski





screamAlthough Halloween and Friday the 13th are some of my favorites when it comes to horror movies, I can’t help but consistently relive the intense thrill and suspense that comes from Wes Craven’s 1996 classic. It not only brings back to life all the tropes and aspects of horror movies from the ‘80s, but it also serves as a sort of satirical comedy poking fun at those tropes while still remaining one of the best murder mysteries I’ve seen in a full-length feature film. No spoilers, but as a fan of whodunits, I congratulate the director for making it so captivating. Even if I know who did it, I still like to go back and look through all the scary scenes (and the not so scary ones) in hopes of finding some way that would point to the killer’s identity as if I were watching it for the first time. The best part about slasher films, especially Scream, is that the killer isn’t necessarily a supernatural being. No, this movie shows just how the dark side of humanity can be just as captivating as the claws of Freddy Krueger and that terrifying hockey mask worn by Jason.
Neelay Inamdar



So this isn’t technically an autumn or horror movie, but I always considered it as such. It resonates pensive transition that always felt autumnal. More importantly, it’s terrifying. From the first scene to the last, there’s a sense of dread, punctuated by some humor, and quite a few scares. Still, it’s the last twist that gets you (no spoilers in the comments!). For this reason, I highly recommend The Sixth Sense for a Halloween thrill.
Kim Peterman





I love this movie. The first time I watched it, I was blown away. While the movie poster seems ominous, it’s not so much a horror film as it is a psychological thriller. As far as I can remember, scary things don’t pop up and make you scream in this one. Anna, a young girl, returns home from a psychiatric facility to find many changes at her house upon her return. She sees a ghost of her dead mother who accuses her father’s fiancé of killing her. Prompted by this, Anna and her sister try to uncover the truth of her mothers death (murder?). This movie will leave you anxiously awaiting what happens.
Stephanie Smyczek


There are countless movies out there that are perfect for October, such as Hocus Pocus or The Conjuring. If you’ve already seen these movies that we’ve recommended or you’re looking for something a little different, check out Rotten Tomatoes’ list of Top 100 Horror Movies to check out here.


All My Posts Are About Adulting

My apartmentmates and I have settled into life at school. We cook. We clean (usually). We divvy up fridge space and share utensils and pots and pans and a single bathroom. We may live off-campus, but we are still deeply involved with activities on-campus. At the same time, we’ve all got packed schedules: one of the girls I live with is a biomedical engineer on the pre-med track, and the rest of us are pursuing multiple majors and minors.

Personally, I’m balancing my off-campus life with a 19-credit semester, running a sports club, and maintaining membership in my other extracurriculars. But I’d be lying if I said I were organized. This year marks the first time I’ve ever used a planner in my life, and to be honest–I have no idea why I ever insisted on keeping everything in my head. Writing everything down makes it so easy to remember what I have to do next.

I recently got into bullet journaling, which is a fancy way of saying that I bought a notebook and started drawing lines in it. It seems weird, doesn’t it? We live in the digital age; everything is in the cloud and on Google and it all syncs beautifully with your phone and your laptop, but here I am telling you that I left all of that for plain ol’ pen and paper. Why?

Well, for starters, bullet journaling has an insanely easy structure that makes it an absolute piece of cake to build from. There are basic pages that serve as the backbone of your journal:

  • Index: makes it so nothing has to be written consecutively. Every page of your journal is numbered, and everything gets recorded on your index pages (people typically use two). For example, I have my September spending log on page 7, but I made my future log (see below) after I started September, so that’s on pages 12-15.


    My monthly log

  • Monthly Log: at the start of every month, you write the days of the month down the side and use that to keep your monthly events/due dates/tasks at-a-glance.

Future Log

  • Future Log: since the bullet journal focuses on one month at a time, it’s hard to plan for things that are several months down the road (such as my exams and hockey games). That’s where the future log comes in! You can make it mind-numbingly simple and just write a box, the date, and the event, or you can get a little fancier and section your future log into months so you can put each event under its respective month.
  • Daily Log: the meat and bones of your journal! You write your day here. I approach it in a purely task-driven manner, and I’ll write in events that I have to do as the week goes on, but I leave room for notes & reflections on my day as well.

Of course, bullet journaling seems weird and a little boring until you actually start and realize you can customize your journal for your own needs. Plus, you don’t figure this out until you really get into it, but I’m gonna spoil it for you: writing things down forces you to only write the things that are important to you for the sake of saving time and space. I was able to cut down on so much clutter in my online calendar by making myself fit everything I needed to do into a third of a notebook page. I definitely got intimidated by all the beautiful journals people were doing, with fancy calligraphy and layouts and colour-coding and fancy folding habit trackers. So I did what any sane human would do: I stopped looking at #bulletjournal on Instagram, bought myself a Moleskine (on sale!), and threw myself into the deep end.


People on Instagram. Is this even real???



My first attempt at bullet journaling

As you can see, my bullet journaling attempts were incredibly basic and bare-bones (the pen colors didn’t even match!). However, as the weeks went by, I found myself spending more time caring about how my journal looked. I still freehand everything, but now I take the time to make my lines neat and tidy, because when things looked pretty I actually gained satisfaction from writing in a journal that surrounded me with the aesthetic pleasure of it all.


Final Attempt

I can honestly say that writing everything down has made me way more careful and much less forgetful. You may find a different use for it–everyone does bullet journaling differently–but give it a try! You might be surprised (:

The Easy Classes

Wow! It’s already past the first month of the semester and I haven’t written a single post since the summer, and it’s getting colder! As I attempt to regain the creative mindset that had at one point controlled my thinking, I am now taking the time to look through my schedule to see where I am in terms of my classes. I tell myself I am not simply trying to kill off requirements for my major, and I’m not just aiming to take the easiest classes to get the best grades  in order to get that perfect GPA for medical school. Yup, I’m still pre-med, still loving clinical experience, and still hoping that that feeling never goes away.

The classes I’m taking this semester consist of two labs, organic chemistry (the honors option, probably not the best choice), statistics, and an intro to teaching course on chemistry. The reason for fewer classes is because I am working, and I’ll elaborate on my decision to take fewer classes shortly.

What do all these classes have in common? They’re all geared towards getting the requirements for my major and making a stand on my position as a good candidate for med school. Where are the fun classes, the ones where I don’t necessarily have to shut myself off from the rest of the world over 80% of the time? Why am I burying myself in only math and hard science courses?

The answer to that question is because I thought I would be done with my major classes all this year. Boy was I wrong!

After orgo, the possible reason to explain why I didn’t take more credits in addition to my work is that I thought the stress would be over. I kept listening to the opinions of those around me that it will get easier in terms of what classes I take later on. I was planning to push off the “fun and easy” classes until my junior or senior year. However, I realize that where I am now only partially reflects the intensity of stress I will feel later on, especially because of MCATs and med school admissions. If there is any good time to take those non-major related courses that open your eyes to other parts of the world, it would be earlier rather than later.

I look at my schedule for Spring 2016, and Theater Appreciation was one of the classes I had taken. Honestly, that class, while it had a lot to teach, wasn’t one where I had to put in as much effort as the science courses to do well in. I consider it the most “fun” class of freshmen year, as I got to explore acting and a part of myself I wouldn’t have found in my major courses. I decided to take the explorer approach that year and not just stick with General Bio and General Chem, which surprisingly are not considered some of the hardest science courses!

While Theater Appreciation did fulfill one of the core requirements, it wasn’t the main reason I took the course. I took it because acting has been a hobby and passion of mine, and this class made me explore the various facets of theatrical acting and the overall image that a play has to evoke in its audience through its scenery, its storylines, and most importantly, its characters. Also, I wouldn’t have found freshman year so exciting had I not allowed myself to enjoy great performances, including one right on Broadway in New York City about a sinking cruise ship and the musical journey of the characters trying to escape with their loved ones.

Image result for disaster broadway

This was one of the scenes from the musical, and yes, that is Kevin Chamberlain, for those of you who recognize him. I didn’t even know he did theater, or that he went to Rutgers!

Overall, taking this course really helped me navigate the stresses of my freshman year science courses. Looking back now I feel like that is the balance I should be consistently following going forward, instead of only focusing on difficult courses in one semester and taking all fun classes in another. Instead of hoping that the stresses of hard science classes will be reduced next year, I will personally take the time to look through available courses and see which ones can relate to my other interests, and I will even try to take one of them next semester, maybe one on dinosaurs. Even one non-major related course per semester would probably be enough for me to stay connected to other areas of study, and would allow me to get a more complete picture of what I like to do and ultimately, where I would like to go in my career path, even if it doesn’t turn out to be medicine.

Just because I am a pre-med doesn’t mean I have to surround myself with only science-related topics. After all, doctors don’t deal with the same types of patients all the time. If anything, I should also be focused on trying to see what characteristics make the people around me different, and to do that, I have to involve myself in various settings, classes, and activities that make me who I am and that make college so diverse and exciting.

Great Short Reads: Honors Seminar

One of my favorite parts about being involved with the Honors Program is the classes it allows students to take. This semester, I am taking a one credit seminar called “Great Short Reads” that is only offered to students within the Honors Program. The class only meets about five or six times throughout the semester, but is constantly active online, in Sakai forums. We have to read three short novellas during the semester, the first chosen by Paul Blaney, the instructor, and the following two chosen by the students.

We meet every few weeks, with pizza of course (thanks to Honors Program!), to discuss the novella and tp watch a movie adaptation of it. The discussions, especially the online potions of them, are very thought-provoking. It’s also fun and relaxing to get together as a group every few weeks to hang out, talk about really interesting books, and compare the movies to the novellas with my peers.

The first novella, titled Death in Venice, was unlike anything I have read before. I flew through the story, finishing the entire book in one sitting. Thomas Mann painting a beautiful, yet bleak, image of the city of Venice. The story was slightly disturbing, as an older man became obsessed with and fell in “love” with a young boy while on holiday in Venice, Italy, but I still enjoyed reading the it. The internal conflict and thoughts of the main character were fascinating to read and try to understand. The movie adaptation was enjoyable to watch because of the way in which we were able to compare it to the novel as a class.

I am looking forward to the next two novellas we plan on reading: The Lover by Marguerite Duras, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Though I have not read these novellas yet, it is interesting to think about the major themes of the class that have formed through our choice of books. The overarching theme of the class has somehow been turned into aging, or more specifically, the acceptance and fear of it. Other themes that will form links between the three stories are likely to expose themselves in our readings, and I look forward to trying to find and discuss them.

Accio Funding

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a ten page, single-spaced paper between midnight and five am on a Sunday morning. The next day I had a friend and my roommate look it over. After doing a couple of edits myself, I submitted this paper at 7 PM and tried not to think about how horrible the writing in the paper must be or to dwell on every formatting decision I’ve ever made.

What was this hurried, ill-advised writing for? A last minute class assignment? Something for a job? The proposal for my campaign against Trump?

Alas, it was for something far geekier: I submitted a paper to present at a Harry Potter Conference.

Even nerdier, they accepted me.

Before I continue: I do not recommend this method of writing if you want to present at a conference. Any research should be done over a long period of time with planning, editing, and advice from others both in and outside of the field. You should leave time to reflect and change your mind or see a new angle, not attempt to get it done in a 14 hour period. The only reason I was able to do this is that I’ve read the Harry Potter series thirteen times and, as such, knew a lot of the needed information off the top of my head.

So, once the Harry Potter conference said they wanted me to speak, I said yes immediately, without really thinking it through. I don’t know how to present a paper at a conference. How do I dress? Who do I contact? How does any of this work? Also, this conference is on a Friday at 9 am. In Pennsylvania. I would be missing a class and need to find a way to get there.

After looking into this, I determined that this trip would be affordable (around $200), but it’s not necessarily a price that a unemployed college student would really feel very comfortable paying.

Thankfully, Rutgers can fund your conference travels.

Unfortunately, you need a research mentor to apply and I did this all on my lonesome. Also, the only professors I really know are in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Department and the Classics Department, neither of which had a whole lot to do with the paper.

So, given the scenario, what’s a girl to do?

In my case, I emailed my Ancient Greek professor, Professor Allen-Hornblower, who is completely awesome. There’s a saying about how students slave for hours over an email that the professor reads in under a minute — that’s definitely the case here. I waited a day before sending the email because I was busy worrying about how it would be phrased, how any professor would view a Harry Potter conference, and if I was being too presumptuous.

But I really shouldn’t have worried about it. The professors in the Classics department are amazing and very willing to help anyone who asks.

For example, Professor Allen-Hornblower got back to me the same evening I sent the email and we met the next day. She helped me not only with determining my next steps in preparing for the conference, but also with the funding. She said that she’d vouch for me.

Unfortunately, at this point the funding was due in two days and we weren’t able to get everything done on time. However, I’m still going — just paying out of pocket.

So then why tell you this story?

If you are ever like me and have a sudden impulse to submit a paper to present at a conference on your own with no help, I figured you could learn from my mistakes so that if you get accepted, you don’t have to pay to get where you need to be.

Here’s a handy list of things to do if you end up in this scenario:

  1. Always think carefully before you say you will do anything, no matter how exciting being accepted is.
  2. Find a mentor to support ASAP. Don’t be afraid to email professors, most will be understanding. Even if you don’t want/need funding, it’s good to talk to someone who regularly goes to academic conferences and knows what’s going on.
  3. Got to the conference link above.
  4. Make sure you have enough time to get things together. The deadline is the last day of every month. If you don’t, there are alternatives, but also email ahead to see if you could get an extension.
  5. No matter what happens, funding wise, be excited. You’re about to go somewhere to speak about something you worked hard on, about a topic you know well, and with a bunch of other people who are equally as passionate about the same field.

This’ll be fun.