On an Island in the Sun

“On an island in the sun / we’ll be playing and having fun” 

These lyrics from Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” accurately describe my Spring Break. It’s always difficult, yet fun, to plan out activities for that week. For me, having been abroad, staying at my house in Brisbane was not the number one option. While friends and neighbors were going to New Zealand, Thailand, Fiji, or Bali, I chose to go to Fraser Island with my ecology class.

What’s Fraser Island, you ask? Why, it’s only the WORLD’S LARGEST sand island. I can tell that you are super impressed by this but Fraser Island is pretty impressive. Despite consisting solely of sand, this island supports a variety of vegetation, birds, reptiles, rodents, and mammals. When was the last time you saw a fifty-foot tree growing in sand and not soil?

Because I went here on a class trip, for me, the entire week was not all fun and games. Half of the day was spent doing field work, i.e. collecting data for a report due later in the semester. But the other half of the day was spent relaxing at one of the many beautiful lakes on the island.

Before stepping on to the island, visitors are reminded to be cautious of the wild dingoes that live there. While the dingoes are used to human presence, they should not be approached or fed.

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Always. For their sake and yours.

We had to board this barge to cross over to Fraser Island.

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Our transportation to paradise

Lake Birrabeen was the first lake we visited and made a great first impression for what the rest of the trip, relaxation-wise, would be like. The water was clear and refreshing but rippled from splashes from a game of keep-it-up.

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The water is like a mirror

This gorgeous burnt-orange-colored dingo posed for pictures near where a few of us were standing.

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He is not afraid of humans at all

After a long hike identifying trees in the forest, we arrived at the most exciting lake: Lake Boomanjin. The water is clear but tinted red. The entire lake is reddened by the leaves that fall in, which contain a natural tannin similar to tea leaves.

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Obviously had to get a selfie with the red water

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It was pretty cool

We saw many, many different species of plants, including this Scribbly Gum, which gets its name from the scribbled trails that larvae make in the bark.

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One of the cooler trees

Of course big spiders are lurking in the forests. This is Australia.

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*shudder*

A sand island wouldn’t be complete without a sand dune.

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It would be fun to slide down this

This is a strangler fig, which is also pretty cool.

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Wow so many cool interesting pictures of trees

There are plenty of beaches, lakes, and sand dunes on Fraser Island but there are also rainforests. Who knew that rainforests could survive in sand and in Australia?

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Lake McKenzie was by far the most beautiful lake that we saw. One of the TAs took us to a special spot away from the other tourists. It was like we had our own little private beach on an island in the sun. The water was crystal clear and the sand was so white. It was a great way to spend the last afternoon on Fraser Island.

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Although Fraser Island was one of the less adventurous Spring Break options, it still was a great option and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I went somewhere that not many people can say they’ve visited, and those kinds of experiences are part of what studying abroad is about.

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Reflections on My Senior Thesis

I had planned to make this post a reflection on my last semester and writing an honors thesis, since most of you reading this blog are in the SAS Honors Program and may wind up writing a departmental thesis as a senior. However, I don’t feel quite “done” with my thesis, even though I handed it in last month, because I have not yet presented at the Honors English Symposium. The symposium will take place this Friday, April 29th at 3pm (cue panic mode!!!!).

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Swing by if you’re considering writing an English thesis and want to see what it’s all about!

So, instead of trying to offer you advice while I’m still working on an important component of my thesis, I will instead tell you about how this thesis changed my mindset and introduced me to a life-changing set of books.

I knew since last summer that I wanted to write about gender and sexuality in literature. An academic year is a long time to spend on one project, so your topic should definitely be something you are passionate about. It would have been very difficult, in hindsight, to fake interest in a topic for 40 pages of writing. So, I began to research and gather ideas for a thesis having to do with gender and sexuality, a specialization in literature which I had an individual interest in but had not delved into too deeply in any particular class.

After changing my mind and altering my ideas a number of times–a scary part of the process, but something that is to be expected–I set out to write about gender fluidity. For those of you who don’t know, gender is not the same as sex. While sex is biological, gender is constructed based upon our society’s ideas of the characteristics to be associated with our sex. For example, my sex is female and my gender identity is also female because I identify with being a woman. However, not everyone’s gender automatically aligns with their sex.

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So, if we think of sex, gender, and sexuality as a spectrum, as pictured above, then fluidity describes one’s ability to move freely on the spectrum. (Click here for a really great, simple breakdown of gender, sex, and sexuality terms if you’d like more information).

The more research I did, the more fluid my thesis topic became. One of my primary texts was Orlando by Virginia Woolf, a genre-blending tale of Orlando who undergoes a magical transformation from biologically male to biologically female. Woolf uses fiction and magic as a way to discuss real issues of gender, identity, and privilege in 1928–issues we are still discussing in startlingly similar ways today. At first, I accepted most critics’ idea that Orlando represented a transgender identity.

However, I noticed moments where Orlando had to construct her gendered responses, or moments where the narrator of the story would become frustrated with the language available to describe Orlando. I started to feel that I could not determine Orlando’s identity because I did not think she could be concretely placed on either end of the gender identity spectrum. I felt that boxing Orlando in with a label would be unfair and do a disservice to Woolf’s progressive writing on gender. Orlando was still Orlando at her core, regardless of her sex OR gender, and this concept of “internal identity” seemed separate and potentially more crucial to one’s personhood than their gender identity.

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Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West was photographed for the images of Orlando–but this book is so much more than a love story written for Vita, like some people think!

Spending months and months with Orlando really opened my eyes to how long progressive thinkers have been grappling with the same issues and struggling to find words for identities that feel right.

Additionally, writing my thesis exposed me to the best book I read during my four years of college: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. Around the time of Maggie Nelson’s reading on campus last fall semester, Professor Jurecic, the director of the honors thesis program, recommended that I read The Argonauts and potentially use it to frame my thesis. Little did I know that Nelson’s genre-blending book of memoir/criticism would represent my own identity and life better than any other book I’ve read. Seriously, if I could recommend one book for the entire world to read, it would be this one.

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Seriously, grab a copy of this book. My absolute favorite!

The Argonauts tells the story of Nelson’s relationship with her partner Harry Dodge, whose gender identity can be considered fluid, though he presents on the more masculine side of the spectrum. As Harry takes steps to change his body by using hormone replacement therapy and getting top surgery, Nelson progresses through her pregnancy, a markedly female experience.

Reading and considering The Argonauts in relation to Orlando was an incredibly eye-opening and hopeful experience. While Orlando had to be fiction and tell its story using magic as a way to disguise the real issues it brought up, The Argonauts was straight-forward, honest, beautiful–and best of all, real. While we’ve had progressive thinkers fighting to open society’s eyes for a long time, we now have people changing minds and opening eyes just by living open and happy lives, like Maggie Nelson in her memoir. Observing this shift through literature was certainly the highlight of my thesis experience because it made me hopeful for further progress in the future.

At the first meeting of students writing English theses last fall, Professor Jurecic told us that writing a thesis would be the most challenging and rewarding part of our undergraduate experience. I am so happy to say that she was right.

Appreciating Your Parents

With Mother’s Day coming up soon in May, I thought, “Why not dedicate this blog to my parents?” As an International student who lives an ocean away from my family, I have come to appreciate every moment I get to see them. I was elated to have my parents come and visit me here at Rutgers this week. Because I mostly see them back home in Europe, their visits here to NJ are always exciting as I finally get to show off Rutgers University. During an honorary ceremony last weekend, being able to turn around and see my parents waving to me from the audience felt great. Although we learn to grow up and become independent in university, we also learn to appreciate our parents even more.

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When I moved to Rutgers three years ago, the biggest adjustment I had to make was not seeing my parents and sister everyday. After living in residence halls, we come to realize the little things that make our parents so great. As most of my peers will recognize, having to suddenly do all of your laundry and buy your groceries is no small feat. During my first  year here, I remember watching my American friends go home on the weekend with bags full of laundry and coming back stocked up on food and clean clothes. During a busy semester when we are loaded with reading and papers, having our parents there to lend us a hand is invaluable. file41675

It is is the little things that count. Although that expression has become overly cliché, it holds true. I discovered this the many times I fell sick with the flu and wished I could call up my mother to take me home and feed me with her horribly-tasting “witch broth” (a combination of ginger, honey, tea, and other anonymous ingredients). I also noticed this when I woke up on Easter morning in my first year, and did not have a chocolate egg hunt to look forward to. Every year no matter what country we lived in, my father had always made sure to hide chocolate eggs for my sister and me to find. It is little things like these that we come to appreciate the most once we arrive to college.

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It is funny because the more we grow up, the more we long to be kids again. I know that my parents will allow me to be both. They will let me mature and still know when to step in and help me out. When you celebrate Mother’s Day in two weeks, make sure you recognize your parents for all the effort and love they put in everyday.

100 Days in Spain

This past weekend marked the hundredth day since my arrival in Spain. One hundred days is a lot of time, and hitting triple digits made stop to reflect on the time I have spent in Europe. I really hate how cliché it sounds, but studying abroad really has been the best and hardest thing I have ever done. The ups (such as realizing how much my language skills are improving, traveling to places I’ve never been, and the amazing weather) are better than I ever could have imagine. However, the downs (for example, homesickness) have been equally extreme. Though I have more than two months before I have to return to my real life back in New Jersey, realizing how much time has past forced me to think about aspects of life in Spain, as well as throughout Europe in general, that I’m going to miss the most.

  1. Mealtimes
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Here’s a pretty picture of the Kite Festival that happened two weeks ago here because I’m really terrible at remembering to take pictures of food!

Not only are the meals at different times in Spain, but they are enjoyed in a very different way. In the United States, we strive for quick, convenient meals due to overly busy schedules and a go-go-go attitude. Enjoying a meal in Spain, and many other parts of Europe, could not be any different. Meals are seen not only as a way to suppress hunger, but also as a social event. Lunch, the biggest meal of the day, can often take up to two hours from start to finish. The time may be filled with catching up with family members, or simply enjoying a post-meal espresso with a friend. As someone who doesn’t really eat lunch at Rutgers (I usually grab an apple on the way to class), I hope to bring the habit of more relaxed, enjoyable meals back home.

  1. Bike-friendly Cities
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One of the many trusty Valenbisi stations!

Though I cannot speak for all of Europe, or even every major Spanish city, Valencia is an incredibly bike-friendly city. I use the Valencia equivalent of Citi Bike (called Valenbici) almost every singly day. In Valencia, the extensive system of bike paths are a painted part of the sidewalk instead of a lane in the middle of the road, making them some of the safest paths I’ve ever ridden a bike on. I shudder to think about the dangers of trying to navigate New Brunswick and other parts of the United States on a bike.

  1. Outdoor Dining
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Sitting outside and enjoying lunch together in Barcelona!

Every single restaurant in Spain has almost as much outdoor seating as they do indoors. At first, I thought this was mostly in part to the mild temperature and sunny skies; however, when I froze for a week in Paris while on spring break, I realized that there were just as many outdoor seating options. In the months that I’ve spent in Spain, I’ve really grown to love eating outdoors, even if I’m just enjoying a simple café cortado and a croissant. When I thought about it, I could only name two or three restaurants in New Brunswick that have the option of sitting outside. Though we couldn’t eat outdoors all year round in New Jersey, I’m going to really miss doing so in the summer when I return home.

From the beach and the palm trees to the ham sandwiches, the list of things I know I will miss about living in Spain already goes on and on. I’m sure the list will just continue to grow after I return to the states as well. Fortunately, I still have more than two months left to take every opportunity to sit outside and enjoy café con leche while I absorb as much of the Spanish culture and lifestyle as possible.

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Reflections on My Dream Internship

 

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It’s a love/hate thing.

This spring, I landed a marketing internship at a children’s imprint of a major publishing house in New York City. I still have no idea exactly how I got so lucky. Remember that major snowstorm called Winterstorm Jonas that we had one weekend at the beginning of this semester, followed by a Monday snow day? Well, guess who was battling NJ Transit to get into the city on that blizzardy Monday for her interview…

Let me back up for one second and say that nothing, not even delayed trains and soaked dress shoes full of snow, were going to stop me from getting to this interview. I had spent the entire day studying and preparing–and yes, I really mean studying. I spent hours on the company website, studying their history and memorizing the bestseller list. As an English major, this was enjoyable studying, but studying nonetheless. I could not have been more prepared, but I was definitely nervous.

Following a thirty-minute train delay and almost having to buy a $45 Amtrak ticket instead, a train heading to NYC finally arrived. During my trek from the subway to the office, I realized I was going to be about ten minutes late–not bad considering the obstacles on my way there, but I realized that the interviewer didn’t know all the challenges I had faced and would only recognize my tardiness. I managed to hunt down her direct line on my cell phone and gave her a call explaining that I was right around the corner. The interviewer, who became my supervisor, told me later that she knew I had the job already from that phone call.

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This was basically me … except in less clothes and I was literally the only person outside. (Andrew Burton//Getty Images)

Following the wild interview process, I was offered the ten-week internship, working two full days per week! I could not have been more excited that my preparation had paid off. The team I was placed with was absolutely wonderful, and I am lucky to have spent ten weeks learning from a team of such intelligent, hard-working women. I had the sweetest supervisor ever, and everyone around me was a Gilmore Girls and Harry Potter fan. Seriously. It was everything I imagined at first.

And on a more serious note, I learned so much. My computer skills improved a ton, particularly through using Excel. I helped to manage an inbox and interacted with consumers via email. I now know how to write copy for social images, advertisements, event kits for retailers and educators, and more. I even wrote a “Book Boyfriend” quiz to match readers with their perfect book boyfriends, and therefore their perfect next read, and a Shakespeare quiz to celebrate the Bard’s 400th death anniversary. These were my favorite projects because I really got to be creative (and flex my English major muscles). I was lucky enough to be able to see the final product of my Book Boyfriend quiz all graphically designed and produced! I couldn’t believe it had all started with my little quiz.

However, I think that a hugely beneficial part of this internship for me was learning what I don’t want to do in my future career. I know that I could never handle that kind of a commute again–I live at home and my commute to NYC (driving to the train station, taking the train, the subway, and then walking) took about two hours each way. I was out of the house for 12 hours each day and was so exhausted when I got home that I could never do too much schoolwork on internship days. Of course, the commuting issue could always be fixed by moving after graduation.

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It’s a hate thing.

I also learned that I get very overwhelmed in the large crowds of New York, and I don’t love the kind of person I am when I’m pushing my way past tourists to get back to the office after a quick lunch break. It’s difficult to admit, but I didn’t expect to take on the moods of those around me so much. I was more easily frustrated, extra stressed, and very saddened by the homelessness I saw every day. Of course, I live close enough to New York that I’ve been there a hundred times for concerts, school trips throughout my life, and days out with friends–but battling rush hour and going in for work is a whole different beast. But once again, I believe that this is a frustration that could be alleviated if I lived closer to the city.

Finally, and most importantly, I learned what I prefer and dislike in a work environment. I love being creative and planning events. However, spending a whole day at a desk was definitely something I had to get used to. This opened my eyes to the individual tasks required of people in different departments. I took note of which types of people got up and out more, traveled for their position, or spent the most time in meetings. I was incredibly lucky to get my foot in the door as a student in the publishing industry — it was so exciting to see the inner workings once inside.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. If you have the chance, I urge you to do an internship as well during your undergraduate experience. Take note of the things you find monotonous and the moments that you feel proud of your accomplishments. This internship has been a key component of my education and really helped me, especially as a senior, to consider what I want my next step to be.

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The New York Public Library *heart eyes*

Beach Benefits

I don’t know about you but I almost shed a tear when I pulled out my iPhone this morning to check the weather and saw that the lowest for the whole week was 66 degrees. With New Jersey weather being the biggest tease I know, I initially had my doubts (I mean come on, we’ve gone from 70-degree weather to snow all within 36 hours) but guys, this is it– we can finally hang up our winter jackets for good! And warm weather for me, personally, only makes me think of one thing… the beach!

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Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Local New Jersey residents, we are all familiar with the Jersey Shore. Whether you go once a summer or once a week, there’s something about the beach that makes you want to never leave–unless you are badly burnt or a seagull steals your glasses–but regardless, going to the beach actually has a few health benefits that you might not have even considered. So while it’s usually fun in the sun or working on your tan, spending time in the sand and water can actually be very beneficial to your health. In fact, in a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by author J. Aaron Hipp, Ph.D., an environmental health expert, data actually proves that, “natural environments like beaches and waterfront parks offer more restorative benefits to people than gyms, entertainment venues, and the built urban environment.”

Let’s look at the sun first. Of course, the sun’s rays can be damaging especially for those prone to burning or those who come without sunscreen, but when your skin is directly exposed to the sun, your body produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in calcium absorption and strengthening bones. According to the Mayo Clinic, even just 10 minutes of daily sun exposure can help one attain his/her daily dose of Vitamin D. 

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Adequate = 40 nanograms/mL

Next, walking on the sand can also be very beneficial to your health. As the soles of your feet have more nerve-endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body, walking barefoot on the sand will stimulate those nerves endings. When you walk on the sand, you are also strengthening the muscles in your feet. Additionally, for you runners, researchers found that walking on sand requires 1.6 to 2.5 times the energy than it takes on a hard surface, so try running on the sand to heighten your workout.

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The last benefit I want to talk about is the water. Sea water contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and iodine, and these minerals are important for the body to have. Besides what the water contains, what you do in the water is extremely beneficial– swimming! Swimming provides great physical exercise that employs most of the body’s major muscle groups and the water provides a good resistance as well. If you need more convincing, just look at this following image!tumblr_nj8q20naXV1tbs1sqo1_1280

While the beach is great for lazy days, for catching up on some light reading, or for simply just working on that tan, maximizing all the beach has to offer (the sun, the sand, and the sea) can help you improve your overall health.

The Final Frontier

Recently, I’ve started thinking about space–the edges of our knowledge, the grounds that we’re covering now, the vast amount that lays undiscovered. Somewhere, hurtling through the edge of the solar system–basically still on our doorstep when compared to the size of the universe–the Voyager 1 flies at 35,000 mph, the farthest a man-made object has ever made it. That, by itself is amazing. The Voyager 1 is our first insight into what really lies beyond our solar system. You may have heard of the Golden Record, a large gold disc on the Voyager 1 that’s intended to be a brief introduction to humanity.

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That begs the question: how do you even begin to encapsulate humanity? What does it mean to be human? Who gets to decide this? A small committee headed by Carl Sagan were entrusted with creating a time capsule that could last up to a billion years. The items chosen do speak to the heart of life, in my opinion. Included are things like a mother’s cry, greetings in all sorts of languages, and music from different countries and time periods.

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America’s song: Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode

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One of the pictures on the record: a woman in a supermarket

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Another photo, one of a group of children.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about the Golden Record is that it contains the compressed brainwaves of someone in love. Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan fell in love working on this project and in the spur of the moment, she had her brainwaves read and put on the record. They then stayed together until Carl Sagan’s death in 1996.

“My feelings as a 27-year-old woman, madly fallen in love, they’re on that record. It’s forever. It’ll be true 100 million years from now.”Ann Druyan

The Pale Blue Dot -- the frame from the Voyager family portrait that includes the Earth [Image: NASA].

“Pale blue dot”: the last photo taken by Voyager 1. Carl Sagan convinced them to turn the cameras and take one last photo of Earth.

Of course, what’s on that record is just a small group’s ideas several decades ago. The world has changed–and a modern Golden Record would probably contain different things and different images. This leads me to a question I pose to you as well: what would you put on one?

It’s hard to say for myself, personally. I think one of my first choices would be the first picture of a molecule.

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In 2009, IBM took the first detailed picture of a molecule. This is a relatively new, cool scientific discovery that I think demonstrates humanity’s pursuit in both space and understanding the very fabric of the universe.

If you’re interested in hearing famous people’s perspectives on what they’d send, there’s a great episode on Radiolab, which you can listen to here. So, reader, what would you put on this record? What do you consider iconic about humanity?

Roommates

Excluding a twin and other siblings, your parents are your first roommates. In teaching you to be a decent person with manners, they are also teaching you the basics of how to live with other people. Life is a series of roommates, some more temporary than others. No matter who you live with, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies; it’s compromise that leads to a healthy relationship with whoever you share your living space with. Your parents can ground you when you’re being difficult, but it doesn’t go over too well to threaten to restrict your college roommate’s internet privileges unless they clean their side of the room.

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of living on a college campus is the random roommate assignment. The months leading up to discovering who you will be sharing a room with are filled with silent prayers hoping that the person isn’t crazy. Fortunately for me, my freshman year roommate and I got along so well that we decided to live together our sophomore year as well.

I credit my positive random-roomie experience with reducing my apprehension at deciding to move in with five strangers into an old house in an unfamiliar neighborhood in a foreign country. To my mom, a ferocious worrier, this sounded like the opening scene to a bad horror film, but to me, it was just the first hurdle of studying abroad.

As I eagerly awaited the email with a list of my housemates’ names, I naturally couldn’t avoid wondering if one (or more) of them was a psycho killer. I soon pushed that thought out of my head as I looked at each of my five soon-to-be-roommates’ Facebooks. I shamelessly scrolled through what pictures were available and they seemed nice and normal enough. After friend-requesting them, I let out a big sigh of relief. We don’t have to be best friends; we just have to tolerate each other.

It’s fantastic when the best case scenario occurs. Looking back, the first night we all spent together in the house really set the tone for how the semester was going to play out. We sat in a circle on the floor in someone’s bedroom and talked about our flights to Australia, and our excitement for the coming months. Somehow, High School Musical snuck it’s way into the discussion. Unabashedly, we sang our hearts out to a medley of songs from the Disney Channel movie. Comfort penetrated through our cloaks of uneasiness that shielded us from the strangers we had to live with.

I am so thankful that the six of us, randomly assigned to the same house, get along so well. This study abroad experience could have been a sour one had my roommates been terrible. Fortunately, that is not the case. Due to our similar personalities, we have happily spent hours sitting around the kitchen table passionately singing and coloring in adult coloring books instead of going out.

In these two and a half months, I have grown close to these five amazing girls, and we have quickly transitioned from strangers to friends. The beauty of random roommates is that although there is that risk of getting stuck with someone incompatible with your personality, most of the time, you end up living with someone who’s at least okay. If you’re lucky, they’ll be great. That roommate may have come from a different background than you and will have an interesting and unique outlook on situations. While there may be similarities, there is always something you can learn from a new person and housemate by sharing life stories.

Amidst the homework, the exams, the hangovers, the breakdowns, the homesickness, the tears, the smiles and laughs, the six of us roommates friends are each others’ support systems and I couldn’t have picked better ones myself.

We’re all in this together.

Saying “¡Hasta Luego!” to the Spanish Siesta

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Everyday in Spain, from about 2 to 5 pm, stores lock their doors, parents pick their children up from school, and life stops to take a deep breath. The idea of taking a siesta is unique to Spanish culture, and one of its suggested origins is the extremely oppressive heat that bears down in the early afternoon. Whether or not that is the case, the siesta affects almost every aspect of Spanish life. Because of the mid-day break “descanso” (rest), businesses usually stay open until 8 or 9 pm, and restaurants begin to serve dinner later, at about the same time. In a chain reaction, it is difficult to get an early breakfast, with most cafes opening their doors at around 9am. Initially, siestas seem awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take a two to three hour break from work or school every day that is specifically designed for eating and sleeping? However, Spaniards are tired of the hours that differ so greatly from the rest of Europe.

Earlier this month, the acting Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, proposed an elimination of the siesta. Though it is a cultural tradition, many are in favor of a nine-to-five workday. It is already easy to see a change from the traditional siesta hours in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona.

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The second part of the proposal made by Rajoy is equally interesting. Spain is on Central-European time, which doesn’t make all that much sense, considering it is located farther west than almost all of the rest of Europe. The country used to be on the same time as Great Britain, Portugal, and Morocco—all countries that are geographically in line with Spain. However, during World War II, in order to show his alliance to Hitler and Germany, Franco made the decision to push all of the clocks ahead one hour. Because of the shift, the sun sets significantly later in Spain than it does in the rest of Europe. Rajoy’s proposal suggests shifting all of the clocks in Spain back to the time zone that makes more sense geographically. The hours of daylight that last long into the night, in addition to the cultural siesta, contribute to the late hours of the workday.

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A map of European timezones (a.k.a. Spain why are you in the same time zone as Poland??)

Both aspects of Rajoy’s proposal would cause significant changes in the daily life of people all over the country. Personally, adjusting to the siesta was very difficult for me when I first arrived in Spain. It became easier once classes began for the semester, because the university schedule doesn’t pause for siesta. For those who are not Spanish, the concept is really strange. However, though siestas are seen as one of the culturally defining aspects of Spain, they could become a part of the cultural past—along with bull-fighting and “machismo” ideas. Whatever the outcome of Rajoy’s proposal is, it is interesting to think about the delicate line that lies between recognizing and maintaining the cultural past of a country and making changes to be more modern and move forward.

Chaos of Registration

It is 9:50 pm on Thursday night, ten minutes before I register. I am sitting on my computer with WebReg open and logged in on side of the screen and Course Schedule Planner open on the other side. Now, this being my third registration, I had already made five different schedules, knowing that somehow, Rutgers would find a way to leave me with 0 classes. Again. (Sidenote: I am not kidding, I actually had 0 classes one time during registration). After already having been hit with DDOS during two other registrations, having the entire network shutdown during my last registration, I was thinking while watching the clock change to 9:55 that there was no way something bad could possibly happen again. Right?  But then again, it’s Rutgers during registration… Be careful what you say.

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Now it’s 9:59 so I click the clock on the bottom right hand corner of my monitor to see the exact second. The closer and closer it gets to 10 pm, the more I am like this:

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Clock hits 10 pm, I hit “Register,” and the next five minutes hold an emotion so unique to Rutgers that I would never be explain it, but you all know exactly what I am talking about. My page finally refreshes, I look, and while I definitely was not at 0 credits again, I wasn’t completely happy with what was open. But the best part of Spring registration is that you have the entire summer to add/drop, so don’t panic! Breathe, relax, ask for SPNs (special permission numbers), and remember that I went from 0 credits during registration to a full courseload of everything I wanted during the add/drop period. – Fairooz Khondker

Registration is always a stressful experience; however, being abroad during scheduling presented a whole new set of problems. I am currently in the Central European time zone, which is six hours ahead of the time at Rutgers. Because registration occurs promptly at 10pm, I had to wake up at 4am to sign up for my classes. Additionally, because the course numbers for the classes I am taking while abroad are not actually on my transcript yet, I needed to apply for SPNs in order to temporarily waive many of the prerequisites that the classes I plan on taking require. Between the early hour, the spotty WiFi of my Spanish dorm, and the extra emails and paperwork I had to go through, registration was more chaotic than I ever thought it could be. (And that includes when the entire Rutgers registration system and internet crashed my freshman year…) – Madeline Padner

During my first registration, I camped out in the B.E.S.T computer lab for two hours because someone told me that I would have better luck applying for classes and get most of my classes, if not all, if I used a computer that was directly connected (by ethernet cable) to the router(?) or basically, to the Internet. I still have no idea if this is true. But I sat there, doing schoolwork, just hanging around. And I registered, and ended up getting most of my classes. But the process was nerve-wracking. With a minute left to go, this was me:

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I assumed that at some point, I’d register a split-second before everyone else. I’m pretty sure I only tired myself out, to be honest.

What happened was that I didn’t get some classes and had to input number codes to get different sections. I had written those codes down in a notebook in case something like that happened. But I realized later that I really could have just gone to my Course Schedule Planner, clicked register on another schedule with those different sections, and waited for WebReg to do its thing. I guess I knew for next time.

During my second registration, I made a close friend because I realized we were both registering for the same classes. It seems like widespread panic really does cause solidarity among the population.

But my Fall registration was someone’s second-worst nightmare (after registering and ending up with 0 credits). I FORGOT TO REGISTER. I LITERALLY FORGOT. I went to sleep AT 10 pm that night. I felt like this in the morning when it hit me like a brick:

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I was lucky enough that I got all of my classes, except for Organic Chemistry Lab. Waiting for that class to open up over a period of three months was a nightmare. Two out of ten; do not recommend. – Nida Saeed