Random and Cool Facts !!

Hey everyone. Hope everyone is surviving the spring semester! The midterm season may have begun for many of you, so good luck to you all. Now, for this month’s post, I thought of spewing out some random yet cool facts that you may not have known before. Some of these definitely surprised me. I hope you enjoy and learn something new today! These facts are from an app called Facts.

  1. The average raindrop falls at 7 miles per hour.
  2. There are between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers kept as pets in the United States.
  3. The Philippines has about 7,100 islands of which only about 460 are more than 1 square mile in area.
  4. If you could fly a plane to Pluto, the trip would take more than 800 years.
  5. One out of ten children in Europe is conceived on an IKEA bed.
  6. Sponges hold more cold water than hot.
  7. ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine.
  8. The Minneapolis phone book has 21 pages of Andersons.
  9. The Earth weighs around 6,588,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons.
  10. If you drop silly putty from high enough, it will shatter like glass when it hits the ground.
  11. For every 230 cars that are made, 1 will be stolen.
  12. Every day is a holiday somewhere in the world.
  13. If you count how many times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds and add 37, you get a rough estimate of the temperature in Fahrenheit.
  14. It has NEVER rained in Calama, a town in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
  15. Bubble gum contains rubber.
  16. Jupiter has the shortest days of all of the planets. It rotates on the axis every 9 hours and 55 minutes.
  17. Oslo, Norway, is the world’s most expensive city. A gallon on gas costs almost $5, and it costs $1.32 to use the public restrooms.
  18. The house fly hums in the middle octave key of F.
  19. The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.
  20. You blink over 20,000,000 times a year.
  21. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump were all born with a 66-day stretch.
  22. Camels have three eyelids.
  23. If done perfectly, a Rubik’s cube combination can be solved in 17 turns.
  24. The “pound” key on your keyboard (#) is called an octothorpe.
  25. Moisture not air, causes super glue to dry.
  26. South Dakota is the only U.S. state which shares no letters with the name of its capital.
  27. It’s against the law in Kansas to catch fish with your bare hands.
  28. Andorra, a tiny country between France & Spain, has the longest average lifespan of 83.49 years.
  29. At birth, Dalmatians are always white.
  30. The word “muscle” comes from Latin term meaning “little mouse” which is what Ancient Romans thought flexed bicep muscles resembled.
  31. The word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” which means “the king is dead”
  32. Most household dust is made of dead skin cells.
  33. Brushing your teeth regularly has been shown to prevent heart disease.
  34. In the marriage ceremony of the ancient Inca Indians of Ancient Peru, the couple was considered officially wed when they took off their sandals and handed them to each other.
  35. A healthy (non-colorblind) human eye can distinguish between 500 shades of grey.
  36. More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.
  37. Lightning strikes the Earth 100 times every second.
  38. More than 1,000 different languages are spoken on the continent of Africa.
  39. Paraskevidekatriaphobia means the fear of Friday the 13th, which occurs one to three times a year.
  40. The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters.


WOW! Did you learn something new? Feel free to comment below your favorite fact(s) or share some that you know! Thank you!


Keeping Up with Hobbies

Every semester, as I get swallowed up by studying and other responsibilities, I always forget about my hobbies (like drawing and writing). And then when I do finally get a break from work, I almost forget how to do them! I think this is a problem that a lot of college students, or just students in general, go through when they are overwhelmed with work. But this semester, I am making it my goal to hold onto my creative side.

This year, I started a new sketchbook. It’s a Moleskine art book, and it is pretty small, so I keep it in my backpack. Since I always have it with me, I am able to pull it out when I am waiting between classes and doodle a little bit. I have already seen a change in my drawing habits, since in previous semesters, I would forget about drawing when I had spare time. Now, it has become somewhat normal for me to reach for the sketchbook when I have a little time.


Another thing that I am doing this semester to boost my creativity, is decorating my planner. Last year, I tried keeping a bullet journal to organize my assignments and other tasks, but it was more stressful than helpful. I am a perfectionist, and trying to make every line perfect really just burned me out. This year, I have a planner with weeks already set up. It is plain though, so it allows me to be creative without making me get tired of it. So I have been stocking up on washi tape and stickers that I am using in my planner. It makes my planner look nice, and doesn’t really require me to spend a lot of energy and time in making it look good.

In terms of writing, I often get writer’s block during the semester. I recently bought this little journal called, The Severed Moon, by one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo. She put quotes from her books as well as other little prompts in the journal. The book itself is quite small, so there isn’t a lot of space to elaborate, but for me this is perfect and allows me to focus for a period of time. These prompts are fun and make you think, and they are great for people who like to have a guide to keep their creativity flowing.


I think for most hobbies, it is hard to keep up with them during school season. But most of the time, there is a way to include your hobbies in your daily life. I hope my tips can be helpful for anyone who wants to include more drawing/writing in their day. A little creativity can really boost your mood and give your brain a break from the routine!

Staying Sane: What a Rutgers Student Can Do During Free Time

College can be tough. For me, over here on College Avenue, life sometimes feels like a fever dream of last-minute assignments, Academic Building staircases, and Brower’s General Tso’s Chicken. But one of the things I’ve found about college that’s differed drastically from high school is that I’ve gotten a great deal of free time. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone; if you feel like college courses haven’t even left you enough time to breathe, then maaaaybe just disregard this blog post entirely. However, I’ve learned that there are a great many things that you can do in your spare time at Rutgers to keep your life feeling fresh and orderly. And yes, it goes without saying that you should be studying during free time– but sometimes we need a break. So I’ve put together a small list of things that a Rutgers student can do during those breaks to keep us from feeling like we’re melting into insanity.


1. Hit the gym.

There are no excuses for not getting out there and pumping some iron– Rutgers is practically throwing its gym facilities at us! If you’re a goal-oriented person (like I am), making an effort to get over to the gym is a great feeling– heck, for some people, it’s a walk right across the street! Not to mention, exercise is a fantastic stress-reliever.

2. Check out a movie.

$5 movies?! C’mon people. You literally can’t find a deal like that anywhere else! For someone like me who’s a big movie lover (you can check out my other blog posts for proof), hopping on that LX and seeing a movie for about a third of the price of a typical ticket is a great deal and can make for a fun afternoon. Or, since it’s timely, go support Rutgers students and see something at the Rutgers Film Festival!

3. Meditate.

I know, I know, it may seem a little weird. Meditation seems to be reserved for stoic spiritual nuts nowadays, but in truth, it can really come and handy. Sitting down and focusing on your breathing for say, 15 minutes a day can really lower your stress levels and put you in the right mentality to churn out that research paper.

4. Read!

Reading books is another thing that our current generation has detached from a little bit. I heard my friend say the other day that he hasn’t read a book in nine years. Yikes. But reading has plenty of benefits: mental stimulation, memory improvement, and stress reduction. It isn’t too late to make some amendments to that New Year’s Resolution– try reading a book every month. Give it a go, see what happens.

5. NAP.

Many will tell you that napping during the day is super unhealthy, but as long as you do it right, it can be good for you! A 10 to 20-minute power nap can really be an energy boost if you’re feeling drowsy and have a class coming up, and studies show that a 60 to 90-minute nap can improve memory and creativity. So when those eyelids feel like sandbags and you’ve got a window of time, just set an alarm and give in!

6. Stay off social media.

This isn’t necessarily an activity, but it’s something that I’ve tried lately, and I’ve gotta say, it’s really worked. Social media is great for staying in touch with friends, but it’s also a huge distraction and can get very toxic. Cutting social media out of my life has given me a lot of time to focus and has taken a lot of unnecessary stress out of my life. Who needs streaks?! Stop trying so hard to maintain your digital appearance and focus on the real world! It may not be as bad as it seems.

7. Study a new subject.

Okay, this may be the deal-breaker for those who feel like they’ve got enough on their plate, but we have the whole Internet, people! There’s so much to learn at our fingertips! If there’s something you find really interesting that you haven’t been able to fit into your schedule, put your curiosity to work and do some research! It’ll be like having your own personal class, without having to worry about making it to class (or homework!). Looking into something online that I find truly interesting and beneficial makes me feel a whole lot better than re-binging the Office for the third time or watching YouTube all day.

8. Learn a new language.

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to learn a new language but have never been able to fit it into your schedule, there’s plenty of places to learn. Alongside Italian courses at school, I’ve been using the app Duolingo (which is free) to learn Italian; all I have to do is take 10 minutes out of every day to study, and it’s super helpful and easy.

9. Listen to some new music.

Music is the greatest escape of them all, and can flip your mood in seconds (well, it can for me at least). Try a new genre and expand your artistic horizons! There’s a lot of great music out there, from mumble-rap to Beethoven. I’m constantly listening to music and it’s a big mood-changer for me.

Well, I hope this list was helpful to any of my fellow Rutgers students. If it wasn’t, no worries! These activities don’t work for everyone. But we’re in this together– I’m here to help! Don’t make life difficult for yourself; college is stressful enough sometimes! There are so many things to do that are entertaining and healthy at the same time.


Let’s Practice Self-Love!

February is that month. The newness of January has worn off and break is just a little too far away. I find myself just letting days pass by, either throwing myself into work or scrolling endlessly on my phone until 2 a.m. So this month, I have decided to prioritize self-care, relaxing, and mental health.



Sometimes it’s easy to forget the simple things that make us happy and it’s hard to make time for those things when so much else is going on. There can be a few approaches to making hobbies a habit but I’ve started implementing them at the beginning of my day. During the weekdays, I sleep a little earlier so I can wake up around a half hour earlier in the morning. I am not, and never will be, a morning person, but honestly, this makes the mornings a little more bearable (don’t get me wrong though, coffee always helps)! For me, reading is the best way to take a break from the world and makes me instantly happy. I find that when I decided to start reading in the morning, I actually stay true to my word. At night I’d be too tired and would just opt for scrolling down my Instagram feed for an hour before falling asleep with my phone on my face. By starting my mornings by doing what makes me happy, I feel like my day goes better as well. (And this doesn’t just apply to just reading a chapter! It can work with exercise, a face mask, watching a video or show etc.)

fc12666f7edf9fc4baaaca38e6e86bf02. LISTENING TO RELAXING MUSIC

I listen to music almost all day and it has always affected my mood, as I’m sure it does for many people. Recently, and quite randomly, I’ve started listening to a lot of “Lo-fi” music, which is basically music with no real lyrics and just calming beats. It is super easy to focus when it’s playing and a complete mood-booster. I only use one playlist on my Spotify (sorry, I’m too far gone and I don’t have the heart to change that now) so every other song is a different genre. In the last week though, I’ve added tons of lo-fi music to my playlist and play it in the background when I’m studying, getting ready, or before I sleep. When that chunk of my playlist is over, I can listen to my other music or turn it off. But I like that I’ve almost “built-in” a break so naturally in my life. Some of my favorites are “Proud of You” by A L E X and Alicks, “hello, it’s me” and “please, say something” by j’san, and “falling asleep at 3:37am” by Idealism and Alex Szotak. I hope you’ll give them a listen!



So a few months ago I did my first real “social media break.” I’m sure you’ve heard about it, maybe know a person that’s done it (or is doing it right now) but it was one of the best things I ever did! Currently, I’m still mostly on a break from Snapchat (sometimes I’ll post on my story or send my close friends something but that’s about it). My first “break” was about 3 months long and I didn’t use Instagram or Snapchat pretty much at all (if I used Instagram to post for something, I wouldn’t scroll down my feed/ explore and I would log out almost immediately). My sister or friends would talk to me enough about certain things so I wasn’t completely out of the loop (but not being totally aware and “on” all the time wasn’t such a bad thing). The break I went on wasn’t super extreme but it really did make me so much happier, made me more productive, and made me focus on the life that was actually right in front of me. Even if you log out for a few days or a week, I believe you’ll feel the same effects. My habits and mentality regarding social media use are definitely much healthier now as well, so that’s a major plus!
I hope you’ll take some of my suggestions and implement them in your daily life too! And I just thought I’d share what my Intro to Gender, Race, and Sexuality professor, Dr. MisirHiralall, sent out in an email earlier today. In the end, she wrote “Remember to practice self-love. It is not selfish. It is an act of self-care.” I don’t think anything could be truer than that.

A Beginner’s Guide to Galentine’s Day

February 13th is known as Galentine’s Day!!

What is Galentine’s Day, you ask?

Galentine’s Day is a holiday made famous by Parks and Recreation‘s Leslie Knope. In the appropriately-titled Season 2 episode “Galentine’s Day,” Leslie describes it as “only the best day of the year!” It’s a day dedicated to celebrating friendship, particularly female friendships. Leslie celebrates by going out for breakfast food with her female friends, but Galentine’s Day can be celebrated however you and your friends would like! Here are some ideas on how to celebrate:

  1. Take a break from studying and get coffee, dessert, or a meal with your friends.
  2. Remind your friends how much you love and appreciate them.
  3. Go for a spa day or a spa afternoon!
  4. Stop by the Yard for a Galentine’s Day celebration from 7-9 PM!
  5. Watch both Galentine’s Day episodes of Parks and Recreation.

However you end up celebrating, or even if you don’t end up celebrating at all, I hope you have a lovely Wednesday and a great rest of the week. Make Leslie Knope proud : )

Valentine’s Day? PSH–PALentine’s Day!

Feeling lonely this 14th of February? DON’T WORRY–you’re definitely not alone! I’m sure not every one of us has a significant other, and if you do, read this anyway. (Please.)

I’m proposing the idea of PALentine’s Day–a day when you celebrate your single life with your other single friends. I dedicate this stroke of inspiration entirely to Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation, who celebrates Galentine’s Day every time February 13th rolls around, with her girl-frands.

Image result for parks and rec leslie galentine's day gif

So if you don’t feel like having another candlelit dinner all by yourself this year, desperately hoping for someone to fill up the seat across from you, then here are some ways you can celebrate your very own PALentine’s Day!

1. A romantic dinner with…friends?

Image result for office dinner party gif

That’s right–get that same romantic dinner atmosphere except with your friends! Get those candles going. Eat with fancy cutlery. Exchange cute lovey-dovey cards. Okay, yeah. I admit it. This is going to turn out to be hilarious! What a better way to laugh your woes and heartache away than spend the time with your friends in a ridiculous setting?! Write messages like “Feline good when I’m with you” if you’re a cat lover or “Olive You” if that’s your favorite pizza topping. It’ll be a lot of fun, I promise! Just think how you’ll be reminded of elementary school when everyone had to give each other cards and candy in brown paper bags. (At least I did.)

2. Enjoying an activity with your pals!

Image result for bowling spongebob gif

Whaddya all wanna do together? Answer: SOMETHING FUN, DUH! So…why not pick an activity and well, do it? Nobody’s stopping you and your friends from meeting up, after all. Racquetball, anyone? To whack your frustrations away? Or bowling to knock down the pins that stand in your way? Or even a nice, relaxing walk at the park. What do all of these have in common, though (besides relieving pent-up stress)? Answer: you’re with your beloved friends!! Being with them will make everything ten times better. You won’t be alone; you’ll be doing fun things; and you’ll be making your own unique memories on this special day.

3. Movie night…HUH?

Image result for spongebob watching movie gif

Have you ever heard this blasphemy before? A movie night with friends on Valentine’s Day? WHAT? No, you heard it right. I’m not speaking gibberish (and I have not blasphemed). First of all, it’s PALentine’s Day. Secondly, who cares!! You and your friends can watch a movie if you want–nobody’s stopping you, least of all the couples out there! Maybe give Happy Death Day 2U if you’re looking for a thrill. Or maybe settle for some Oscar-nominated films, like Roma (on Netflix) or Green Book or even Black Panther (also on Netflix) if you didn’t get a chance to see that yet. Whatever the movie, having friends to watch it with will definitely make the day less lonely and more fun!

Let me know what you decide to do on this…PALentine’s Day! 😉

Planning Ahead

Year after year, day after day, I tend to hear this advice: plan ahead. Sounds easy enough, no? After all, it really comes down to the question of what to do after you’re done with something. Sometimes, the answer is easy, like if you have an exam coming up after you just finished one. But other times, when all stress is done, that feeling just never shows up. Last semester, I had no plan after I finished. I got good grades and was excited for my family trip to India. But then what? I look back and realize that a lot of the times as we were growing up, our parents planned for us. As I discussed previously, it was a lot easier for my parents to guide me on a certain path given as I was the only child of the family. But at college, things are different. We attempt to be taught independence as soon as we come in, but it never really settles down on us until we actually come in contact with it.

Image result for plan ahead gif

For a lot of the time, I hoped someone else would guide me during the difficult times, like trying to have a social life when caught up in academics. However, I realized that doing this only makes you more reliant on other people, and then you start to worry about what they think of you. Instead, try to weigh all the possible options, form your own plan, and stick to it. Your mind will wander and will resist all attempts to follow through with a difficult decision, but let me tell you from personal experience, it pays to persevere. You don’t always have to be excited or feel good about a choice when you first face it. Tell yourself that you made the right choice, and the feeling will eventually come because it will. And that’s all there is to it, really.

When I was in India over the break, I noticed that my role in the family had changed from my last visit. I was no longer the excitable kid who looked forward to going to the grocery store in the busy streets or could get away with watching TV while my aunties and uncles helped around the house. I was now an adult with many household responsibilities, expected to participate in more adult conversations, and constantly asked what my next plan in life was. I was a bit hesitant but told them I did not know, and that was okay. Just because I know I want to be a doctor someday doesn’t mean I have every step to help me get there figured out, and I know I must plan ahead if things are to progress. As graduation nears, so does my necessity to plan ahead.

Well, that’s all the preaching I can do for one night. Happy new year, even though the first month is already almost over. I am sure things will work out, but having a plan, no matter the pain and resistance I face will surely help. I promise the next post will be a lighthearted one. That’s my plan!

Tips for Medical School Interviews

Hi everyone! Happy new year! I hope your winter break went stupendously. I am currently applying to medical schools and going to interviews, so I thought I could share some tips that I have gleaned from these experiences for those of who might be thinking of going into the medical field. Even if you are not, some of these tips will surely help you with other types of interviews as well. So let us begin!

1. Attire

You may know this already, but I will still say it. Make sure that you are in business formal attire. Although many may think that it doesn’t quite matter whether your attire is black or another neutral color, I think it may make a slight difference. I personally avoid black suits because in my point of view it is so generic that you are lost in a sea of interviewers. If you go for, on the other hand, a very slight hue of dark blue or even gray, you may stick out. The shirt you wear on inside also applies to this!

2. Getting there

Try not to drive on the day of your interview. You want to relax and not be tired from driving. Know how far the exact location is at least the night before. There has been an instance in which the address of the medical school is not the same as the place of your interview, so do make sure you double check the directions to your interview location.

3. Eat

Make sure to eat the morning of your interview no matter how stressed you feel. Going to an interview while you are hungry is never a good idea.

4. Practice and Rehearse

While you may think you are apt at answering questions about your own experiences, you should still dedicate time to go over some possible sample questions.  A simple Google search will do the job. For medical schools, I have found the Student Doctor Network blogs quite helpful. These blogs have students who have undergone the same type of interview and post the questions they have been asked. I am so glad I checked this out because at least 3-4 questions my interviewers have asked me were from these blogs. Try to spend a few days rehearsing it out loud. On the day of the interview, you will be much more fluid in your responses if you have thought about and spoke it out loud before. Make sure you research about the school/programs/etc. COME UP WITH QUESTIONS TO ASK THE INTERVIEWER/OTHER FACULTY ABOUT THE SCHOOL/PROGRAMS/ETC. However, my only caveat to this tip would be to try to avoid over-rehearsing on the day of the interview itself. Leave the day of the interview to relaxation by preparing days before.

5. Be Present in the Moment


6. Bring a notepad

Bring a small notebook or notepad with you (along with a pen) to jot down key things that you may learn about the school and programs proffered. This way you look engaged. Try to ask questions and participate during faculty presentations about the school, curriculum, etc. Note down any important emails/phone numbers of people with whom you want to ask more questions or just talk to.

7. Converse

Whether it is with your fellow interviewees or the faculty members, you should be actively conversing with them. This will further show your engagement and interpersonal skills. I personally found this helpful because I learned about a lot of opportunities (about extracurriculars and jobs) from my fellow peers as well as connected with faculty who will now remember my name and face because of our conversations.

8. Be Attentive

 Not all interviewers are comfortable with handshakes, so read the body language and greet wisely. If the interviewer extends his or her hand out for a handshake then you must follow up with a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact. During the interview (and throughout the day), pay attention to details. Really listen to what the interviewer is asking you. Sit up straight. Maintain eye contact while talking. Try to avoid rambling or talking in circles. However, it is okay to give your answer and elaborate upon it a bit. If you are unsure of what the question is asking, just politely ask the interviewer to repeat it.  End the conversation by thanking them and wishing them a good day. Walk out and do not look back.

9. Thank You Note

DO NOT FORGET to email your interviewer(s) saying what you got from the interview, how you think it went, what your favorites point(s) of the conversation was, how your interview experience changed (or strengthen your interests in) your view of the school/career/programs etc…

10. Be Patient

Don’t keep emailing the admissions office or the interviewer about when you will hear back. It takes time for this process so be patient. You have done your hard work so give yourself some downtime!

I hope this was helpful! Thank you for reading! Have a great rest of the month!

Why ‘Black Panther’ and the Films of 2018 Will Completely Change the Oscars

2018 was a bad year for movies. There, I said it.

In my last blog post, I listed some movies that came out last year that I felt were worth a watch. None of them were really masterpieces. After making that post, I watched Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, which has proven itself to be the only Oscar-caliber movie of the year. And what do I mean by “Oscar-caliber?” I’m talking about a movie that doesn’t boast a high production budget, grand special effects, or even an epic plot, but still manages to pack the emotional punch that the old white men of the Academy are hungry for. That’s what Roma did for me. I found meaning and beauty in a rather simple story, as most others also will. But other than Cuaron’s black-and-white foreign drama, there was pretty much nothing else of note movie-wise in 2018. A Star is Born? A solid film, but any other year, it wouldn’t get as much recognition. What about The Favourite? BlackkKlansmen? Green Book? Once again, great movies, but not necessarily typical “Oscar-caliber.” I’ll give Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther a pass for changing the course of cinema culture, but there weren’t really any other standouts. How ‘bout Adam McKay’s Vice? Eh. Bohemian Rhapsody? Certainly wasn’t deserving of any awards buzz, in my opinion; I found it to be a mostly-stale imitation of any other biopic, and it didn’t bring anything new or transformative to the table.

But what do all of these films have in common?

They’ve all recently received arguably the highest honor in film: a nomination for the Academy Award for “Best Picture.”

And as I mentioned, of the eight nominees, Roma is truly the only film deserving of that shiny golden statue. The seven others are just kinda… there.

But that isn’t a bad thing.

Sure, movies were lacking in overall quality this year, so atypical movies received nominations.

But this year’s group of “Best Picture” nominees actually represents something much greater for filmmakers: a break from the creative limitations which the Academy has been imposing upon the film industry.

There has always been “Oscar bait” throughout the history of film; in other words, there has always been a specific genre or style of film that the Academy is more likely to nominate for its largest awards. In the past few years or so, there has been a tendency for the Academy to pick both small-budget dramas (Call Me By Your Name, Room, Phantom Thread, The Artist) and large-scale biopic dramas involving a great historical figure (Lincoln, Darkest Hour, Selma) as nominees, but this pattern has been mostly consistent since the very first Academy Awards. Only three times has a film labeled “science fiction” or “horror” actually won the “Best Picture” award in the history of film, and each of them stray from the genre just enough to fit the Oscar formula and catch the eye of the Academy (The Silence of the Lambs, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Shape of Water).

But a Marvel movie being nominated for “Best Picture?”

To some, this may not be a big deal, or even a surprise. But to me, it was. Regardless of Black Panther’s cultural impact and the fact that I love Marvel’s superhero films, I never thought the Academy would actually nominate a superhero movie for its highest award.

But it did. And it’s a big deal.

The nomination of Black Panther and the lack of impressive small drama films that came out of 2018 represents a change in “Best Picture” nominee selections, and thus a break from the “Oscar-bait” formula. For a moviegoer like me who wants to see more awards and recognition across genres, this is a huge deal. For example, I felt like Mission: Impossible – Fallout deserved some Oscar nominations this year, just like how last year I thought Blade Runner 2049 and Baby Driver deserved more recognition, but seeing that a movie like Black Panther can get a number of big nominations restores my faith that a great action or science-fiction movie can get more recognition in the future. And not only will this change in formula simply satisfy movie-lovers like me– it will also provide more incentive for production companies to put more effort and talent into films that wouldn’t traditionally even be up for a “Best Picture” nod. We as consumers will hopefully start to see a slew of better-quality action and superhero movies as a result of the critical success of Black Panther, just as Jordan Peele’s Get Out did for the horror genre last year with its own success.

Even though 2018 hasn’t necessarily been a standout year for cinema, it marks a great change in opportunity for creators to expand their imaginations, and it weakens the harshly-imposed genre stereotypes which have limited creativity and plagued the Academy Awards for generations.

Who knows what next year’s “Best Picture” ballot will look like?

It’s an exciting time for movies.

Traveling Around Israel in Ten Days with Rutgers Birthright

I’m not much of an international traveler. I’ve only ever left the country twice, three times if you count a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. Airplanes make me very nervous, and it certainly doesn’t help that it’s very expensive to travel. But, an opportunity to go to Israel for ten days for free over winter break? Even I could never pass that up.

For those who don’t know, Birthright Israel is an organization that provides free ten-day group trips to Israel for people between the ages of 18-32. In order to be eligible, you have to identify as Jewish and have a least one Jewish parent, and you can’t have lived in Israel beyond a certain age or visited for longer than three months at a time. It’s an incredible opportunity for Jewish people to visit their homeland and find a connection to it while making new friends along the way.

I’ve visited Israel once before, back in 2013 when I was in eighth grade; in the five years since that last trip, I learned a lot about myself and the world around me, so I was looking forward to seeing Israel through new eyes. Though many of the sites we visited on this trip were the same as the ones I visited on my last trip, it didn’t feel repetitive to me; it felt as if I were seeing these famous places for the first time all over again. The main thing that set this trip apart from my last trip, besides being five years older, was the fact that we had seven Israelis around our age join us for the majority of the trip. I really enjoyed getting to know them and learning about Israel from their perspective, from their opinions on Israeli politics to where the best place to get Hummus is. I’m so glad they got to be part of our trip for so long because touring Israel would not have been the same without them. I was sad to see them go, and I really miss them.

I’ve always had a very strong connection to my Judaism so going on this trip didn’t change that for me at all, but seeing my new friends discover their own connections to Judaism and Israel for the first time reminded me how special Birthright is and how proud I am to be part of the Jewish community. I’m so grateful for this incredible opportunity and for the friends and memories I made, and I’m looking forward to spending time with the people on my trip now that I’m back at Rutgers.

If you are interested in Birthright and you think you may be eligible, feel free to contact me, visit the Center for Israel Engagement at Rutgers Hillel (70 College Avenue), and/or visit www.birthrightisrael.com for more information!