P(art)s of Speech

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I searched “what is poetry” on Google Images, and there were a lot of really strange slides from teachers trying to make (fun? colorful? relatable to the youth?) PowerPoints for their classes, but this one really spoke to me because of the terrifying color scheme and how direct the question is. I would argue that this picture, itself, is what poetry is.

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately about what poetry “is,” although I’m hesitant to assign it any sort of restrictive definition that would limit what I felt I could do and still safely consider myself a poet. Because I’ve been writing poetry for so long (not in a pretentious way, but just in an actual way), I feel very comfortable almost dismissing questions about what I write with like yeah, whatever, poetry. I think it’s really easy to say that the problem is with the noun poetry. But as an “artist” (which feels like a false title, but more on that later), it’s really important to talk about verbs and how they’re working against creativity.

The verbs we use to describe the creation of art create imaginary restrictions on what we, as artists, can do. If you say, “I’m writing poetry,” then there are already all of these associations that come to mind from the word write: I’m sitting on a chair at a desk writing words with pen on lined paper or, because we’re in 2016, I’m sitting on my bed with the lights off typing words on a mostly empty Word document. Writing is a very particular action that involves some sort of static word production; it refers to a contained medium– words–that doesn’t leave a lot of room for innovation. There are, of course, so many cool things you can do with words, but, ultimately, if I was going to write poetry, using the traditional verb used to describe the act of creating poetry and the dictionary definition of the word write, then there is a limit on what I can do and still call myself a poet.

This gets complicated when you realize how expansive the genre of poetry is, especially with all the really neat things going on with digital poetry (which I conveniently wrote about in my last blog post). The limits of writing poetry in the way we typically think about poetry are so much easier to ignore if we talk about creating poetry; it becomes less about specific action and more about producing something, regardless of medium. When I write poetry, I’m a writer, and, to me at least, calling myself an artist doesn’t really make sense because artist implies something visual. It feels like we engage with words in a different way than we engage with “art,” but I think that has something to do with these unnecessary medium boundaries we place on artists. If we strip ourselves of verbs that aren’t needed to define what we make, then there is room for so much more innovation.

I’m struggling with verbs and, as I said earlier, nouns, and just words in general. As hard as I try to do particular things with them or make them work a specific way, working with pure straight-up words is just not cutting it for me lately. Last semester, I tried to developed a way of writing in which words were so far dissociated from their meanings that their sounds just became feelings, but much of it just felt a little too empty to me, probably because the reader doesn’t end up connecting with the words, but feeling something apart from the words. I tried to fill this gap with some visual elements, and I think it definitely feels fuller, but, if nothing else, it was really fun to make:

Because this is a remediated piece, it was more of just a practice run to see what I could do with Keynote (yes, this is basically a really elaborate PowerPoint). Keynote (or PowerPoint, or whatever software you have) is actually an amazing visual tool, even if a little tricky to get started with and weirdly unnecessarily time-consuming to use if you want everything to move at the right time. My point is, though, that this isn’t any less a poem because it’s a video. In fact, I think the words are more full of life when they’re in movement than when they’re tied down to a piece of paper, and I especially love that they’re able to interact with each other in a way that usually just isn’t possible. Art doesn’t need to be created or experienced in any particular way, and if we step outside of our medium comfort zones and start experimenting, then we can produce art in whatever form it wants to be in.

Eurail, an Easy and Affordable Way to Experience Europe

Have you ever wanted to go to Europe and see all the historic cities in a single trip? Maybe you have, but were turned off by the idea of the cost that would go into such a trip. Well, I am happy to say that through a vacation pass called Eurail, you will be able to travel across Europe at a relatively affordable cost.

As the name suggests, Eurail consists of travel passes that enable you to visit Europe through train rides. With open borders and facilitated movement between European nations, Eurail is an attractive way to get a comprehensive experience of Europe. The idea of traveling across Europe through train is not a new one. In fact, as teenagers, my father and his friends left the Netherlands to travel around to different countries. Many European college students like to purchase such passes to be able to go on affordable trips with their friends. When I went to visit my best friend in Poland, I purchased a similar train pass to be able to explore the country more extensively with her. Because youth hostels are found in almost every European city, you can minimize both the costs of transportation as well as overnight stays.  If you have ever watched the movie Euro Trip, you will get a sense (though not entirely accurate) of what such a trip across Europe could entail.

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The Eurail deal offers three different pass options: Global Pass, Select Pass, and One Country Pass. Each pass has a different itinerary based on the number of cities you would like to visit and the price you are ready to pay. The Global Pass, for example, allows you to visit 28 different countries for a starting price of around $342. The One Country Pass, on the other hand, allows you to ride the trains in a single country of your choice. This type of pass can be useful if you are vacationing in a country that you wish to explore extensively. If you are interested in exploring the Netherlands, for example, I would recommend the Eurail Benelux pass for $149 which enables one to travel between the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Select Pass option is also nice if you prefer visiting fewer countries but taking the time to visit each one for a longer length of time.

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By purchasing a Eurail pass, you will receive benefits along with the train transportation. For one, all youth traveling between the ages of 12-25 receive a 35% discount on their Eurail pass. This special offer is for teenagers and college students (just like us!) who are looking for affordable ways to travel. Back home in both the Netherlands and Switzerland, college students receive many discounts in transportation, museums, and tours if they present their College Student ID. Thus, during your travels in Europe you should always keep an eye out for student deals. The Eurail pass also comes with discounts on Ferry routes in Europe which can facilitate your travels in a country.

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College is the perfect time to go on such a trip. If you have the time and means to go to Europe this summer, I would definitely recommend that you consider the Eurail deal. With trains connecting all European cities, you can literally go wherever you choose. In fact, when my family and I still lived in Belarus, we were visited by my cousin who had purchased a Global Pass in Switzerland with some of his friends and had chosen to stop in Minsk as one of his destinations.

Eurail is an easy and affordable way for college students to create their own experience of Europe. For more information, check out the Eurail website.

Zooming in on Zika

Zika. It’s a small word causing a not-so-small commotion. Zika is the new world-ending virus, the new Ebola, the new daily email advisory update I receive from various health-related email services. But what exactly is it, how is it spread, and why should you care? Well, let me tell you what is known.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is not a recent health disruption; rather, it was first isolated in 1947 and has existed since then. Currently, Zika is present across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, including, yes, even us. Well, Texas anyways.

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of infected mosquitos of the Aedes species, and if you look at the following image, courtesy of the CDC, it will show you the locations where the species is prevalent and how it has spread so far. However, the latest news and data shows that as of February 3, 2016, a patient in Texas was found to be infected with Zika through a person who had recently traveled to Venezuela, a country in which Zika is very present, indicating that the virus can be sexually transmitted.

CZqSM71WIAAHE0JSo now that we know what Zika is, how does it actually affect us? What are the symptoms? The WHO states that the symptoms are usually mild and last two to seven days. They include:

  • a mild fever
  • a skin rash
  • aches and pains
  • headache
  • conjunctivitis

About one in five people infected with the Zika virus become ill and this virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week (WHO). While these symptoms do not appear to be so bad for the average person, they spell bad news for an expecting mother who has been infected:the Zika virus can affect her newborn child. There has been a link between pregnant, infected mothers in Latin American countries and their children being born with abnormally small heads as a result of the brain developing abnormally, This phenomena is known as microcephaly.

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But I don’t live in Latin America, I am not expecting to get pregnant, and I am not planning to travel to any Zika-infected country, so why should I care?

The way I see it, you should care because the WHO cares. You should care because this is a public health issue. You should care because there is nothing wrong with knowing a little more about something that is prevalent globally, even if it isn’t specifically affecting you. The WHO has declared the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern for the following four main reasons:

  1. Zika may be linked to birth malformations and neurological syndromes
  2. the potential for it to spread further internationally given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquitoes that carry it
  3. the lack of immunity in newly affected areas
  4. “the absence of vaccines, specific treatments and rapid diagnostic tests

Additionally, you should care because it is almost SPRING BREAK and how many of you are going to Central American countries or to the Caribbean or to South America? Even if you aren’t, I can guarantee you know at least one person that has plans to go to tropical islands and countries where Zika is present for Spring Break. So yes, even though you will not die or get horribly sick, why take a chance of even obtaining the virus? Since there’s no vaccine or medical treatment for Zika presently, the best and only thing to do is prevention. So if you or someone you know will be traveling somewhere where Zika is present, reduce contact between mosquitoes and yourself. According to the WHO prevention guidelines, you should definitely:

  • use insect repellent
  • wear clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible
  • use physical barriers such as screens, closed doors, and windows
  • sleep under mosquito nets
  • empty, clean, or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets or flower pots, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed

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And with that, I hope you learned a little more about Zika! I completely recommend checking out the CDC and the WHO’s respective websites to find out more!

When in Rome (and Florence, and Milan..)

After the experience I had while traveling this past weekend, I had to call my mother and tell her how much I appreciated each and every family vacation she had planned through the years. My mother has been the mastermind behind perfect week all over the United States—from Seattle to Key West, and everywhere in between. Every experience I have had on the Padner Annual Summer Vacation has been positive: the hotels were always clean and spacious, the restaurants authentic and delicious, and the transportation painless and efficient. After doing all of the planning to travel to Italy this past weekend with some of the other Rutgers students who are spending this semester in Valencia, I realized how much organization and prepping goes into each and every trip.

There are so many things to think about when booking a trip somewhere. For example, not only do you have to book a hotel, but you also have to research to find the safest and most interesting neighborhood in a city, as well as the closest train station and metro stops. When going out to eat, you have to make sure that the food is not only affordable for everyone you are traveling with, but that the restaurant makes food that is true to the tradition and culture of an area. The list of things to consider while traveling goes on and on, with more important points than I ever thought possible.

Going through all of the hassle of planning a trip seems intimidating at first, but results in such a rewarding feeling. I can look back on this past weekend and truly be proud of myself because I am the one that made it happen. I got myself there, despite the six hour flight delay. I was able to get around on public transportation, despite the language barrier. I saw all of the sights I wanted to, despite time constraints. This past weekend, as well as all of the planning that had to happen prior to the trip, really left me with a sense of accomplishment and maturity, and I appreciate that. I avoided becoming the victim of pickpocketing, I stayed calm when our hotel reservations had been cancelled without our knowledge, and I met a lot of really cool people.

Since I arrived in Spain, I’ve been thinking a lot about the learned habits I plan on bringing back to the United States with me. Some are simple, such as eating more olive oil. Some, like the ability to plan trips well, will be more difficult to adopt upon my return. However, there are so many places in the U.S. that I haven’t been to yet. Some, like the Delaware Water Gap, aren’t even that far from Rutgers! Now that I know how much planning and organization goes into travel, I know that I can make these shorter, more manageable trips at home a reality. Even the simplest trips need at least a little bit of planning, and the feelings of accomplishment when you put together an incredible day or weekend trip for yourself are worth going out of the way to guarantee an incredible experience, no matter where in the world you go!

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The sunset over Florence, Italy was definitely one of the best experiences I had this past weekend.

(Actual blog posts about the sites I saw and the museums I went to will be available in the coming weeks on the blog I’ve been using to document my entire study abroad experience! The url is http://www.madelinepadner.wordpress.com if you’re interested!)

A Good Cuppa

As I sit in Alex Library pensively sipping on my thermos of Earl Gray, I relish the brief moment my lips touch the warm, comforting notes of lavender and citrus delicately balanced in a bold blend of black tea. Author Lin Yutang captures, quite eloquently, the essence of tea that explains the (sometimes outrageous) amounts of tea I consume. He reflects:

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.”

As someone with an absurdly hectic schedule, I find something inherently meditative about making myself a cup of tea, regardless of the time of day. Here to impart some of my wisdom on this lovely beverage, I invite you to take out your favorite mug, put on the kettle, and take a seat as you read about why you should be drinking tea.

The earliest history of tea can be traced back to China, where the art of making and drinking tea has remained an integral part of the culture for centuries. Tea, in its truest form, comes from the leaves of an evergreen species of plant known as Camellia sinensis, whose two varieties, sinensis and assamica, are used in tea cultivation.

What’s magical about this single species is that it’s responsible for the base of every type of tea, such as black, green, yellow, white, and oolong.

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The trick to creating such a diverse landscape of tea from a single plant lies in… (chemistry lovers rejoice)… oxidation! Oxidation of the tea leaves occurs when the plant cells become damaged (through rolling, cutting, or crushing the leaves) and the components inside are exposed to and react with oxygen. The extent and duration of this process defines the type of tea you drink, which is really cool. If you want to find out the individual process for each tea, I recommend this site: TeaClass.

Anyway, besides the magic of oxidation, knowledge of how to prepare each class of tea is crucial in your tea journey. One of the biggest mistakes both beginner and seasoned tea drinkers make lies within the critical period of steeping. Now, most tea bags and loose teas come with directions on how long to steep (or submerge) the tea leaves in hot water. But this is just one half of the process. The next half is usually where the fatal error occurs, and it involves water temperature. Most oxidized teas (black and some oolong varieties) can handle very hot water; however, the more delicate leaves of green and white tea will burn and leave a bitter taste at the bottom of your cup. Here’s a good, basic guide to steep time and water temp:

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Note: If you’re interested in how steep time and water temperature affect the nature of tea, I would recommend reading up on tannins, which are a group of chemical compounds found in plants that are often responsible for the bitter taste of over-steeped tea.

Now the question is: why go through the hassle of making tea? The answer: tea is actually really good for you. First off, tea leaves contain a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which help against free radicals that are linked to many cancers and neurological disorders. Some studies also link drinking tea to regulating weight and lowering levels of LDL cholesterol (woo!). Additionally, all tea is moderately caffeinated (black tea containing the most mg per serving), making it a great alternative to coffee, especially if you’re looking for a more gradual caffeine boost without the headache-inducing crash.

There are so many more things I can say about the wonderful nature of tea, but by now, your water is probably boiled and your tea diligently steeped. I hope this short introduction will inspire you to venture into a tea shop (or tea aisle) and make yourself an incredible cup of tea. 🙂

“Welcome to the Church of my Thunder Thighs”

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Last Wednesday, February 10, Mary Lambert visited Rutgers for a Body Positivity Week event co-sponsored by RUPA and the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities. Before I tell you how absolutely incredible the event was, let me address the title of this post.

This post has been named for my favorite line from my favorite body positive poem that Lambert read on Wednesday. The poem was written in response to Oprah Magazine’s Creative Director’s comment that women should wear crop tops “if (and only if) you have a flat stomach.” You can read Lambert’s full poem on her blog here. But in the meantime, following the positivity of Wednesday, I have decided to name this post for a moment of a poem that made me feel happy, confident, and worthy.

For anyone who may have forgotten the incredible queer representation in Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm” video, here’s a little reminder!

I’d also like to address the hateful, body shaming comments made on the event’s Facebook page, since the comments were addressed by Lambert herself on the night of the event. If you read the comments and felt hurt by them, or perhaps if you contributed to that negativity yourself, I want you to know that Lambert’s very first poem was a response to the Facebook commenters — and it was absolutely beautiful. Many people might be nervous to take the stage at a school that had shown them so much hate, but I’m so glad Lambert addressed the commenters with her art and then moved forward with her performance.

The most powerful point that Lambert made on the topic of Body Positivity, to me, was her point that you should acknowledge what feels good when figuring out what your body needs. If your body feels gross after eating fast food, don’t eat it. But if ice cream makes you happy, go for it! If your body needs a sluggish day in bed, great, but if a spin class would make you feel good, be sure to do that too. Listen to your body — it knows what you need.

Lambert also discussed allowing yourself to feel emotions rather than becoming numb to them. Her performances combine music and poetry, and she discusses her life experiences in a vulnerable way in order to make a connection with the audience. Sometimes, she says, she has been told that her writing is a catalyst for someone to begin dealing with their emotions. But she says that if you find that strength within yourself, that it’s all you and you should be proud. Lambert’s openness in her art was a refreshing change of pace, and the event staff definitely created a safe space, which should be commended.

Although Lambert tackles difficult topics in her writing, including body shaming and past sexual trauma, Lambert does an excellent job of also including positive messages and hilarious stories. For example, Lambert told us that she became emotional during the final rehearsal for the 2014 Grammy performance of “Same Love” because the 33 same-sex couples to be married during the performance came out during the rehearsal, and Madonna wiped away Lambert’s tears. In response to being touched by Madonna, Lambert says, “That was the best sex I ever had!”

Thank you to everyone who made this event the wonderful evening that it was. Thanks to Verbal Mayhem for their opening poems, which set the mood for the event, and to Michael Anderson, the host for the evening! I am grateful to have had this opportunity at Rutgers.

Thanks to Brayden Donnelly at the Daily Targum for the use of this video! Check out the Targum’s YouTube page here and the Daily Targum website here.

Interning with the World Information Transfer

This semester, I have had the privilege of becoming an intern for the World Information Transfer (WIT), an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. The WIT is an organization that was founded in 1987 in response to the Chernobyl nuclear incident. Realizing the growing importance of the impact of the environment on human health, the WIT works to promote civic literacy on issues such as the environment, health, and sustainable development. As an intern for the WIT, I am required to attend UN meetings and conferences and relay the information through live tweets/social media posts and summary briefings which we post to the organization’s blog.

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As a political science student interested in the field of International Relations and Global Development, I found that interning with the UN  and observing politics happening right in front of me is close to a dream come true. Although I have just begun, my experience thus far at the WIT has been very educational. Not only does the internship offer me the opportunity to observe world leaders represent their nations on different development issues, but it also teaches me how to disseminate live information through forms of social media. After attending a conference, we are also required to submit a 300-word summary report on the issues discussed that pertain to the goals of the WIT. Although condensing a three-hour meeting into 300 words can be challenging, doing so teaches us how to become selective and efficient observers. After attending a few conferences, I have already begun to identify the ways in which many countries’ efforts are overlapping, as many are working toward similar goals. In light of the recent Sustainable Development Goals that were created as part of the 2030 Agenda, I was happy to observe these similarities between nation initiatives.

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I am greatly anticipating the arrival of spring break, as I will be representing the WIT in a week-long conference on the Commission on the Status of Women. I believe that the information and knowledge I will gain from the conference will be extremely insightful. Learning the policies in class is one thing, but observing them as they are being created is another. What I find admirable about the WIT mission is that through its live media feed and blog posts, it allows people from all over the globe to follow UN conferences without having to be there in person.  Efforts such as the WIT promote transparency in the UN and allow civilians to be kept informed of the information and decisions being taken on important matters such as health and the environment.

The WIT accepts interns during the Spring, Fall, and Winter semesters. If you are a political science student interested in the United Nations and Sustainable Development, I would recommend you check out the internship program.

Included below are the WIT social media sites which you can follow to receive live feeds on UN conferences and relevant information. Fun fact: if you check the sites on Fridays, all posts and tweets will be created directly from me 🙂

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldInfoTransfer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/worldinfo1987

WordPress (blog): https://witnewyork.wordpress.com/

 

Social Media While Abroad

The role of social media in my life has shifted greatly since I arrived in Spain about a month and a half ago. Before my semester abroad began, both at home in Pennsylvania and at Rutgers, social media meant scrolling through each and every one of my feeds—from Facebook to Snapchat, and everything in-between—when I was bored, whether I was on the bus, a few minutes early to class, or trying (a.k.a. failing) to fall asleep at night. I never paid much attention to it, mostly because the virtual connection to my closest friends was seemingly irrelevant when they all lived down the hall from each other. Of course, there were a few exceptions. Using Facebook to connect with friends from high school, as well as my sisters and the rest of my family while I was away at Rutgers each semester, was important to me. However, more often than not, I found myself opening apps to pass the time when I didn’t know what else to do with myself.

Going abroad for the semester changed the role of social media for me. There are so many positive and negative aspects of websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while abroad. With a very limited data plan, I can no longer scroll while walking to class or on the metro. However, I have found that this is for the better, as I pay greater attention to my surroundings in those situations. My favorite positive aspect is very obvious—keeping in touch! I love seeing what everyone at home is up to! The keeping up goes both ways, as I can share photos and stories with my friends and family at the click of a button. My family loves to see what I’m up to and where I’m traveling to every weekend, especially when the time change and less-than-perfect Wi-Fi makes it difficult to find convenient times to call.

However, there are numerous negative aspects to social media, especially when abroad. When I begin to feel homesick, or miss something as simple as watching movies with my friends in Brett Hall, I find it dangerously easy to scroll endlessly through newsfeeds and seeing all of the activities I’m “missing out” on. The scrolling leads to more missing/feelings of homesickness which only leads to more scrolling, which in turn leads to more homesickness, a vicious circle that can be difficult to break. In reality, however, it is very easy to get out of the trap that of social media. Whenever I being to feel “too-connected,” I turn off my computer or phone, and get outside. Here in Spain, I usually end up running or biking to the beach and laying out in the sun for a while. Being outside in the fresh air gets my mind off of the 4000 miles that lie between home and me, while simultaneously making me feel more awake and energized.

The new role that social media has in my life, along with all of the positive and negative effects that come with it, can be applicable anywhere. It is too easy to be pulled into the cycle of constantly checking social media, even at home. Spending a multitude of time online can make anyone feel as though they’re missing out on activities, parties, travels, or anything else that can appear in a newsfeed. Additionally, getting off of your phone for those few minutes before class, or on the way to the bus stop, can be refreshing no matter where you are. This summer, when I finally return to New Brunswick and the United States, I plan on bringing some of my new social media habits back with me so I can appreciate my surroundings and the moments of my life as they happen, instead of being concerned with whether I got the perfect video for Snapchat, or if the latest picture I took can be considered Instagram-worthy.

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Why be on your phone when you can see sites like this? (Córdoba, España)

Land Down Under

The seeds for my interest in Australia, the far-away exotic land, were planted by Men At Work’s song “Down Under.” My dad would sometimes play this song during the car ride to school in the morning and I would sing along to a string of words that didn’t quite make sense to me and mumble over the parts I didn’t know. One of the verses mentions Vegemite, the well-known yeast extract spread. When I first heard the song, I had no idea what a Vegemite sandwich was, so naturally, I asked my dad to explain what it was because aside from my mom, he knew everything. “A Vegemite sandwich is something they eat in Australia.” That was all he said and that was all I needed to hear. He didn’t go into what Vegemite was made out of and at the time, I didn’t care. My mind was racing. What a funny word, Vegemite. What an interesting country. It’s so far away, how exotic. Learning about kangaroos, koalas, and the Great Barrier Reef watered the seeds and their roots anchored themselves in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to freshman year of college. The possibility of studying abroad and my dad’s recent connection with family in Australia reawakened my dormant interest in the land down under and the seedlings rapidly and uncontrollably grew. My desire to study abroad in Australia intensified as quickly as an airplane flies through the sky.

After flying 9,904 miles, I finally made to the country I’ve been dreaming about visiting for years. Not only am I visiting, but I am also living here for the semester. My parents made the intense trip with me and after doing some sightseeing and visiting family, they are going to drop me off at school.

While I’ve been abroad for less than a week, here are a few differences I’ve noticed between the US and Oz so far:

1. Australians drive on the left side of the road, so crossing the street will require more vigilance on my part.

2. Contrary to popular belief, toilet water does not spin the opposite direction when you flush. At least with the toilets I’ve seen, the water doesn’t spin at all; it just sinks down. There’s also less water in the bowl compared to the toilets in the US, which is kinda weird to see.

3. The outlets have on/off switches, which is very practical, but they have a downside: forgetting to turn the outlet on overnight will result in you waking up to find your dead battery uncharged, which really puts a damper on the morning.

4. Australian’s don’t say “G’day mate” as often as you might think. Granted, I haven’t even been in the country for a week and I’ve only visited two cities so far, but not once have I heard this phrase uttered.

 

While I’ll miss my friends and family back home, I’m excited to see what this adventure has in store for me. I am looking forward to noting more differences between the two cultures and appreciating them more as a result.

 

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day When You’re Single

If you’re single, Valentine’s Day can often be a holiday filled with loneliness. As the couples around you express their love for each other, it’s difficult not to wonder where your one true love is. But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to suck if you’re single! Here are a few ways–put together by all the bloggers–to celebrate Valentine’s Day until you find your soulmate.

1. Galentine’s Day

Inspired from the show, Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is usually celebrated the day before Valentine’s. A favorite holiday among my friends, Galentine’s Day is a great way to celebrate the awesome women in your life. As Leslie Knope said, “Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” So invite your best gals over, and take time to appreciate what they do for you!

2. Singles’ Party

If you’re feeling quite like Cupid this year, you might want to try inviting all your single friends over and seeing if any potential romances spark. If you want to include everyone, a Stop Light Party is a great way to introduce people to each other! Everyone wears a different color to indicate their relationship status–‘green’ is a go, ‘red’ is committed, and ‘yellow’ is unsure or maybe.

3) Indulge Yourself

Why should couples have all the fun? This Valentine’s Day, gorge yourself on chocolate and pamper yourself. Sit back, put your feet up, and relax. Just take the day off to appreciate who you are. 

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Really, though, you can never have enough chocolate. Even this guy knows that:

4) Send cards to your friends

We did it in grade school, and we can still do it now. Many organizations on campus are offering to send your chosen ones a flower, candy, or some other trinket of your affection. For example, RHA of the Busch Suites were selling carnations that they would then deliver. BEST Hall was selling candy and condoms! But if you don’t have to have a significant other to partake, and you can join in on the good cause by sending those gifts to your friends.

5) If all else fails, well… At least it’s only 24 hours long.