My Top Three Class Recommendations from Freshman Year!

I took some great classes during my freshman year! Even though I am decided on my major, Journalism & Media Studies, some of my favorite classes expanded my interests and filled up some of my core requirements! None of my favorites particularly filled a bunch of core, but they were beyond interesting and filled some of the harder ones for me.

1. Our World: Social Justice and the Environment (01:195:220) fills CCD and AHo, Honors Section, with Professor Marcone

Our World was my favorite class during my second semester! The class mainly explores environmentalism as a movement in fourth world countries but also focuses on the West’s history with the environment, human and animal relations, and climate change. This class was reading heavy but there are no exams, only 3 papers based on the reading and a few forum posts! The class is four credits and has a lecture/recitation format. Participation is important but not difficult.

Although it is officially a Comparative Literature class, I believe it applies to practically any major. Also, a huge bonus is that if you take the H1 recitation section it counts as an Honors course! This means that it will fill one of your honors requirements for a seminar course!

Overall, I got a completely new perspective on the environment and why our actions matter, as well as how corporations should be held accountable. Also, Professor Marcone was a great professor who was always willing to help anyone with questions.

2. Writing for Media (04:567:200) fills WCr, with Professor Fitzpatrick

I needed to take this class for my major but later found out that it filled a core! This class focuses on writing in different journalistic styles, such as broadcast, print, web, etc. There are a few professors who teach this course but, in general, most of the course focuses on your major assignments for each style of writing. There are also short online quizzes and shorter assignments. I took this class with Professor Fitzpatrick, but I know that a lot of professors, including him, have drafts before the final assignments and in-class, ungraded assignments. Attendance is definitely important for this class, mostly because of the in-class assignments. 

I’d definitely recommend this class because the work was manageable and there were a lot of “practice” drafts before each final graded assignment. There is also no final exam for this class, just a final project! Additionally, I feel like this class would be great for someone who isn’t that interested in writing because there are no essays and you are taught each style of writing in class! (And if you get a chance to take it with Professor Fitzpatrick, do it! His teaching style and feedback are extremely effective!)

3. Astronomy (01:750:110) fills NS, with Professor Jha

I’m not really a science person so this class was perfect for me! It does only fill one core (now I know that there are other science classes which do fill more than one!) but if you only need one NS, this class was intriguing and pretty easy (and there was practically no math either!) You’ll need to read the textbook but there’s essentially no graded homework and all lecture participation is based on clicker questions. There is a midterm and a final but both are short and definitely based on lecture slides and the readings. 

The reason why I’d recommend this class is because of how interesting it was. Like I said before, science isn’t really my thing. But even though some lectures felt a little slow, the actual topics we were covering were amazing. I’ve never really learned anything about astronomy before so absorbing all this new information was exactly what I wanted to get out of my first college science class. And Professor Jha is very passionate and knowledgable about all things astronomy (and did a good job of including exciting and easy to understand demonstrations too!)

I know deciding what classes to take can be confusing if you have a lot of interests (and a lot of core to fill) but I hope I helped you find something exciting to take next semester!

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A Semi-late, Semi-subjective, Semi-Review Of Wallows’ New Album ‘Nothing Happens’

In case you didn’t know, Wallows released their album ‘Nothing Happens’ on March 22nd and for the last month it is all I’ve been listening to and talking about. Sorry if I’m a little late to the internet with this review but since I have exhausted my friends with this exact conversation, I figured I’d just rant to my computer and you.th.jpg

Quick disclaimer: I am obsessed with music but am not exactly an expert so bear with me while I pour all of my emotions into this review and, sadly, leave out some of the technical terms.

I stumbled on Wallows one night after dance class a few years ago because I don’t have Spotify Premium and they love to stop my super long playlist randomly to recommend me other songs. Sometimes the songs are so off base but other times, such as this time, it is kinda great. I heard ‘Pleaser’ which had just come out at the time (and I only half heard it over my sister talking) but I FELL IN LOVE. The band, which includes Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston, humbly started playing together when they were just 11. Their imaginative half-rock, half-indie style is weirdly a time machine but also makes me feel like I’ve actually left my life and am living a completely different one (I don’t know, is that too dramatic?).

‘Nothing Happens’ is exactly what I was hoping for after their ‘Spring EP’ — it doesn’t stray too far from their previous releases but still further builds their sound into something unique and solid. The album feels like a story and all the songs end and flow right into one another (which I think is such a cool thing that I think everyone kinda loves). I think there’s also something to be said about the beautiful and kind of funny lyrics in the songs. They feel raw, to the point where they explain all those inexplicable feelings. And they are So. Damn. Fun. to sing along with.

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I do wish it was a little longer; even though the album is 11 songs, I really want to listen to more. And even though the album was nicely in line with their past songs, I am curious to see how and if they will every branch out or change up their sound. Overall though, their music makes me so happy and comfortable and I’m so glad I get to share it with you!

So, if you want to feel like you’re at a 1980’s high school dance or like you’re seven again, dancing with your shoes untied in the backyard — listen to Wallows!!!!! It was hard to pick but some of my personal faves off this album are ‘Do Not Wait,’ “Sidelines,’ and ‘Ice Cold Pool’ and ‘Remember When.’

Bonus: Some artists that, for some reason, give me the same feeling and are some other favorites of mine are Lauv, LANY, Cage the Elephant, Mac Demarco, and Tame Impala (I feel like all their styles are a little different, but nevertheless, make me feel electrifyingly alive).

My Take on My Improv Dance Byrnes Seminar!

If I’m being completely honest, taking a Byrnes Seminar was just crossing a requirement off the Honors Program checklist for me. But when I was doing my schedule planning last semester in preparation for this one, I decided to opt for one of the seminars which wasn’t related to my major. (Just as a side note: I am a Journalism and Media Studies major and as I was looking through the seminars, I noticed a lot of them were more science related, especially the ones that were left by the time I got to choose classes.)

I am taking a lot of writing courses this semester and I wasn’t particularly interested in taking a more technical seminar so I decided to take Dance Improv! I’ve always loved dancing and have taken classical Indian dance classes for most of my life, basically until I came to college. I have thought about taking a dance class here at Rutgers but I didn’t want to feel too much pressure or put too much pressure on my body, as I have had two pretty serious knee injuries in the past.

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Taking this seminar seemed like the perfect match, but I was a little nervous as it was improv which I’ve never even attempted. I am helplessly attached to choreography and way too comfortable knowing exactly what’s going to happen next (in every part of my life). But taking this class allowed me to challenge myself and it was totally worth it. The class was more focused on movement and the properties that create improv than actually dancing, so not much prior experience was required. We learned about the history of improv, certain techniques which we later put into practice, and the social movement “Don’t You Feel It Too?”, which uses dance as a social justice tool. Also, we got to go to the Joyce Theatre for free and see an amazing performance titled “To Create a World” (and it was my first time seeing contemporary dance live!)

Even though I’m taking 14 credits this semester, which is relatively light, I felt like this class was a much-needed break from all the writing and reading I do every day. I also really enjoyed dancing with all the people in my class and venturing out of my comfort zone.

I completely recommend taking this course, or another Byrnes Seminar. It was low pressure and fun. I’m definitely going to miss it for the rest of the semester! :’)

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You: Pure Genius in About 300 Pages

Hello my name is Shrusti, I’m 18, and I am a notorious re-reader (and re-watcher but that’s for another time; disclaimer: I have seen the Gabby Douglas Story maybe 6 times and I don’t know why).  

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This spring break, I decided to reread one of my absolute FAVORITE books of all time, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. I have recommended this book to anyone who will listen and, after taking some much needed alone time to reread it, I’m so excited to recommend it to you! (no spoilers, I promise!)

Set in the 1970s, the mixed-race Lee family is already a subject of interest in the small Ohio town. Then, daughter Lydia Lee is found dead at the bottom of a lake and quiet chaos ensues. Her family is left to piece together the mystery of Lydia’s life, which each of them only understands a small part of. Her older brother, younger sister, mother, and father each have their own version of Lydia living in their subconscious and while they confront the truth about her life, they must also confront their own secrets and faults. Ng does an amazing job at writing this story so that every sentence seems to bleed into the next one. Her descriptions never fail the reader and the emotions that all the characters feel truly jump out of the page. Yet what draws me back to this story, besides Ng’s eloquent and beautiful writing style, is her creativity with the story itself. The complexity of each character’s history and the plot twists had me begging for more at every turn. Ng’s take on the story intertwines so many subplots that there truly isn’t a boring moment in the book; every chapter is an opportunity to understand a different person.

This book tells the “missing girl” story in such a unique way, intertwining aspects of ethnicity, family, and expectations so well into the story without over analyzing the characters in order to draw meaning. This novel really is something that always keeps me thinking!

As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of rereading. The first time I read this book, I was on vacation in San Francisco in desperate need of something to help me survive the flight. But it turned into the reason I stayed up at night, fighting off my sad three-hour jet lag. Rereading it now, I feel my own view of the novel has changed and I know much more, in general, than when I first read the book 2 years ago. I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up this book and give it a read, I promise you won’t regret the journey it takes you on!

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.

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1. FOCUSING ON THE SIMPLE THINGS

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!

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3. SOCIAL MEDIA BREAK !!!

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.

What to Watch Next!!

Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to spend with friends and family, a nice break from all the chaos of exams and essays. But, it’s an even better time to throw yourself into hours of TV, movies, and the endless stories of make-believe universes. Four whole days to pretend like it is your JOB to catch up on all the shows you’ve been putting off.

1. Thursday night: YOU

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Now, I’m not exactly a fan of anything that has to do with anything remotely scary but for some reason, thrillers never fail to keep me intrigued and on edge. And with my sister, cousin and I talking over basically every scene anyway, there’s nothing to really be afraid of. Except for the fact that YOU is about a bookstore manager/stalker Joe (played by the same actor who plays Dan in Gossip Girl, are you even surprised?) who falls in love with writer/normal girl Beck. The story is told through his perspective, and you hear every unapologetic, ironic, and creepy thought that crosses his mind. Maybe the best part of the show is kind of laughing at all the oblivious mistakes Beck makes which makes it ten times easier for Joe to stalk her—until you realize that maybe you do them too. All in all, an eye-opening and attention-capturing show which can occasionally be cheesy and ridiculous and may scare the shit out of me at some point. Bonus: all episodes are currently free to watch on Lifetime’s website!! (don’t ask why it’s on Lifetime, there is no explanation).

2. On a lighter note, Friday night: The Princess Switch

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It may be a sad tradition of mine to watch countless horrible movies that all somehow take place during Christmas and/or reference it excessively. But, what’s better than a movie that makes you laugh when it’s trying to not be funny at all? The Princess Switch was no exception, except for the fact that it stars Vanessa Hudgens who plays a baker named Stacy and also a freaking duchess named Margaret. Warning: her British (?) accent is not good at all. The movie has a few plots, all beautifully underdeveloped and predictable in almost every way. But it got me in the holiday mood and gave me something pretty cringey and fun to laugh about with my family.

3. Saturday Morning: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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I woke before 10 am to see this movie and it was 100% worth it. I don’t consider myself a Harry Potter Fan (though it’s a great book and movie series) and I had just watched the first part of the Fantastic Beast series recently. But this movie has me completely entranced in the wizarding world of the 1920s. The plot, the characters, and the ending have all left me speechless and impatiently awaiting the next part for more. The second part of the story still follows Newt Scamander and his creatures but with another plot line of Grindelwald and the ministry. I don’t want to give away too much but I do want to tell you to WATCH IT!!! I’m still thinking of how good it was!

All of these have their positive and negative qualities but have left me with a happy feeling in some way or another. Hope you decide to watch them, you won’t regret it!