So Long And Thanks For All The Fish


Graduation is on Sunday. Four years really have flown by. They have been packed with activities: switching my major, taking Orgo, and participating in Dance Marathon are among the few things I’ve done. Yet I feel like I haven’t really accomplished much. I wish I had gotten more involved on campus with clubs or organizations or club sports. I wasn’t really able to find my specific calling on campus —  I wish I had put more effort into exploring all that Rutgers has to offer. I didn’t want to stretch myself too thin, but I wish I had some group or organization to which I truly belonged.

But that didn’t happen. And while my lack of involvement may be a minor regret, I nevertheless loved my college experience here at Rutgers.

The realization that things here are coming to an end are slowly starting to dawn on me. I don’t think the feelings will really hit until after convocation is over. Over the course of the past few weeks I have been taking in Rutgers and the aspects of the campus that I will miss. While walking down college ave from Brower to Scott Hall, I admired how the sun lit up the light green leaves on the trees as groups of students leisurely chatted with their friends or rushed to catch a shortly departing H bus. I savored the ability to get a slice of pizza at 2:30 AM from one of many late night food joints on Easton. I rode one of the buses and fondly remembered how clueless I was about them when I was a Freshman. I will not miss fighting with a throng of people to get on a bus at Scott Hall or the SAC. However, those survival-of-the-fittest moments have prepared me for New York subways. I’m going to miss the dining halls and getting food so conveniently. I’m going to miss the red and white flowers that line campus. I’ll miss tailgating for football games and partying afterward. I will miss many, many things about Rutgers…

Sure, I can always visit if I want to, but being at Rutgers as an alumna won’t feel the same as being here as a student.

These have been some of the best years of my life. I’ve made and lost friends, met new people, traveled to incredible parts of the world, had existential crises over my major and life plans, learned a lot in classes that interested me, stood on my feet for 30 hours to raise money, completed a thesis, connected with brilliant and kind professors and deans and staff members who have helped me every step of the way. I want to thank Rutgers for all the memories and life lessons that I have gained, because of which I am a better, more mature, and confident person than I was when I first started college.

Graduation is just around the corner and I am a mix of emotions. I’m a little sad to close the book on this chapter of my life. I’m shocked that I’m actually going to graduate; this day seemed so far in the future but now it’s happening. I’m a little scared and uneasy and anxious and a little excited for my life after graduation. Up until this point, every year has been planned out. It was easy — school. But now what? Freedom is a bit daunting because there are so many opportunities that I fear I won’t spend it correctly and I’ll end up doing nothing and wasting time. I’m scared that my motivations and desires are going to drastically change and I’ll be lost, unsure of how to proceed.

Despite my fears and worries, I know I will be ok in end. Because I am a Scarlet Knight, and I have learned how to stay strong, and persevere, and think my way through problems.

R U RAH RAH and all that. See you in the real world.


Sweet Release

Friday was the first-ever Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis (IHT) Conference, where seniors who have completed an IHT presented it to faculty and peers. After a year of researching and writing my thesis, I can proudly say that the conference marked the end of a long, long process.

As honor students, you all have the Capstone requirement to fulfill. I’d like to give you 3 big tips to consider as you prepare to complete it, whether you are graduating next year or in a few years.

1. Take the time to look at all the Capstone options.

The Honors Program now offers 5 different options for students to complete this requirement.

Option A: Completion of a senior honors thesis through Departmental Honors within the major department

Option B: Completion of the SAS Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis

Option C: Completion of two graduate level courses in the same department or program; requires prior permission of instructor and approval of department graduate director, and clearance by an Honors Program dean. The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Option D: Completion of two graduate level courses offered in professional tracks such as five-year programs of the Graduate School of Education, or the seven-year BA/MD; these courses must be taken in consecutive semesters. The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Option E: Completion of a two-semester professional, certificate, or service learning experience, field placement, or internship under the supervision of a sponsoring department or academic unit. Only coursework completed through approved programs run by academic departments and university centers, bureaus, and institutes will be recognized. The total credits earned must be at least 6The student must complete a scholarly report detailing their experience.

Because of the variety of options, looking into all of them will be helpful to ensure you do not get stuck writing a 40-page thesis on a topic you have no interest in.

If you are currently deciding which option to choose, please do not hesitate to visit 35 College Ave to talk to one of the deans about choosing.

2. Start planning and preparing as soon as you can. 

I had been thinking about my thesis since the beginning of Junior year. I studied abroad during the spring semester of Junior year and the deans recommended that I have a rough topic and advisors before I left. While it is possible to change topics at the beginning of senior year, keep in mind that it is a huge endeavor, so the sooner you have an idea, the sooner you can begin researching. That being said, make sure that you choose a topic that you are very interested in pursuing. You will be spending at least a year researching and writing about your topic, and if you begin to hate it halfway through the school year, then the rest of the project will be torturous.

Once again, do not hesitate to chat with the deans about potential topics. Dean Nazario helped me come up with the basis for my thesis. The deans are treasures and are resources in an of themselves, so I encourage you to seek their guidance, especially for help with the Capstone requirement.

3. Create a schedule with certain deadlines.

The first two tips are kind of obvious and can apply to any project or assignment. However, this third one is the most important tip I can give you, in my opinion. What do I mean by this? Before I explain, I want to briefly talk about my thesis process. I started researching late, probably around the middle of the fall semester. I also started writing late. I didn’t have a full draft until the end of March. My procrastination and last-minute everything created quite a bit of stress (although I am happy to say that everything turned out well in the end). I only got stuff done when my advisor (bless her patience with me) gave me a bunch of dates and told me what was due on each of them. For example, at the end of Thanksgiving Break, I owed her an annotated bibliography of the sources I was going to use for the first half of my thesis; on February x I owed her the first half of my paper; at the end of March I needed to email her a final draft.

This scheduling is the reason I completed my thesis and I wish I had set such goals for myself. So I encourage all of you to create a schedule with certain deadlines to help you complete your Capstone on time, organized, and with as little stress as possible.

I hope this helps a bit. If you want to talk more about my personal experience with the thesis, please feel free to leave a comment!

Guest Post: Everything Will Be OK

Editor’s Note: The following post was written by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. They have been going through a rough time and want to share their experiences and contribute to the discussion of mood disorders and their prevalence, without having the spotlight on them. 

I was dating someone at the time, and he made me happier than I had ever been. But my low self-esteem and my tendency towards self-deprecation and negativity took a toll on him and our relationship. Anytime something went wrong, I blamed myself to the point of making myself cry. I told him, repeatedly, to break up with me because I felt so unable to solve anything. I was rarely able to pull myself out of my self-destructive spirals long enough to focus on fixing our problems together.

We broke up. The bags under my eyes started getting worse because I was unable to stay asleep for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time. When I went home for winter break, my parents noticed that I wasn’t sleeping well at night and put me on house arrest in the hopes that I could better relax. I wasn’t allowed to go out for more than 5 hours, and I wasn’t allowed to use any electronics after 11PM. They meant well, but the lack of distraction just left me stuck in my own thoughts, in this endless loop of I’m not good enough. I don’t try hard enough. I don’t care enough. I’m not good enough. I grew distant from my friends, not only because of the enforced lack of communication, but because I didn’t have the energy to reach out, nor the energy to follow through with plans. I knew my moods were affecting my interpersonal relationships, but instead of motivating me to make contact, they just made me feel even more guilty and upset. I lost all interest in my hobbies; I lost all interest in the club I had previously worked so hard to save. Some days, when it was sunny out, I would get these bursts of excitement and I would become hopeful that I was over it–today is the day I go outside–but after an hour I would feel the energy slowly draining out of me and I would lie back down on my bed and curl up and go to sleep.

It was worst when the weather was bad. I don’t remember the day, but I remember I was coming back from class and I had gotten off the bus because I’d started crying. I didn’t want people asking me if I was okay because I didn’t want to be a burden. In a moment of clarity, walking in the bitter cold and the rain, I became self-aware enough to recognize, however dimly, that I was showing signs of depression and that I should seek help.

I remember how useless I felt as I was unlocking my phone. I cried harder as soon as CAPS picked up. I felt defeated. I felt like I had lost. How could I have let my emotions ruin me like this? I told the woman on the phone that I needed to make an appointment, as soon as possible. I hoped with all my heart she could understand me because I didn’t know if I would be able to repeat myself without falling apart completely. Clearly, she had experience talking to inconsolable, hysterical people because she scheduled me for that Thursday and gave me a number to call in case I needed to talk to someone after-hours.

I cried my way through my first few sessions. The counselor asked about everything that hurt; everything I didn’t want to talk about: my ex, my inadequacy, my guilt, my regret, my denial about wanting to get back together. But he helped me find the willpower to push through the sadness long enough to get into my distraction methods. Coping was extremely doable, once I stopped drowning (literally and figuratively) in my tears. I started keeping a dysfunctional thought record, to write down anything that made me feel like getting back into bed, and once I had symbolically transferred the thought from my mind I found it easier to move on from them. I made a slow return to the things I loved, but this time, I pushed myself to get lost in the activity. Over time, the feeling of dread associated with doing anything changed to a feeling of anticipation; I chased the catharsis. Nearly five months later, I go to CAPS to have someone to talk to, because the unconditional support offered by my counselor has been the most important tool in my arsenal against my depression. And as cliché as it is, time really does heal all wounds.

Obviously, I still have bad days. Just last Thursday I missed an entire day of classes and didn’t go to lab because I was crying that morning, but the best way to overcome negativity is by not dwelling on it. So I’ll seek out my roommate, or text a friend, or go to the gym, or read a book. But almost no one knows I’m seeing a therapist, as I still have not gained the confidence to believe that others won’t think less of me. As an Asian-American, it’s even harder to admit to my parents or my peers that I’ve changed or that I’ve been seeking help–partially due to the taboo against mental illness & treatment in Asian cultures, but primarily because it’s in such stark contrast to the lively, confident, driven person that most people knew me to be. I know I never considered myself a sad person, nor did I know I even had the potential to be depressed, until this year. But if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that falling into depression is easier than you think. Getting out is the tricky part. By fighting it, I am happier. I find more joy in and appreciation for the little things in life. I’ve gained more confidence in myself because it is proof of my strength–proof that I am, in fact, good enough–and one day soon, I’ll be able to wean myself off therapy.

One of my closest friends, and the first person I told about going to CAPS, attached a quote to a cup of my favorite drink from Starbucks. It’s a little cheesy, but beautiful in its simplicity as an oft-unstated truth:

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

When I was in elementary school, the quirky headmaster — Mr. Williamson — would always greet the students a warm and enthusiastic “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!” before classes started on the first of every month. He explained that this recitation would grant us good luck for the whole month. A decade out of elementary school, I still continue this tradition every first of the month. I even got my parents to partake in the ritual. Somehow my dad turned it into a competition and thought that you only got the good luck if you were the first one to greet another with these words.


I always participated in this ritual but didn’t know the origin. So I did some research in order to find out. I thought that it was something my elementary school principal had made up. But! When I was in Australia last year, I must have said “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first of the month, or I was randomly talking about it, when this boy from Los Angeles, California said he knew of the saying and participated in the superstition as well. I was so surprised and excited to find a fellow Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit-er who did not attend my elementary school — I only had to travel across the world to do so. I began to think that these words held meaning in places other than my elementary school.

An NPR online article interviewing Martha Barnette, host of the public radio show A Way with Words, discusses the superstition’s beginnings. I also found additional information on Wikipedia.

The written documentation of this saying began in the 1900s, but good ol’ Wikipedia states that the tradition originated between the 13th to 15th century England. For some reason, the rabbit was chosen as the animal associated with luck. The beginning of this relationship is unknown but perhaps it is because the animal is connected to “jumping into the future and moving ahead with life and happiness”.

Barnette talks about saying “Rabbit, Rabbit” while some say rabbit only once. I say it three times but all for the same reason — to bring good luck for the rest of the month. Luck only comes with rabbits so you will definitely not receive good luck if you chant “Gopher, Gopher” on the first of the month. In the UK, they typically say “White Rabbit.” If you forget to say it first thing in the morning, you can say “Black Rabbit” at the end of the day before you go to sleep in order to salvage your luck for the month. Alternatively, you can say “Tibbar, Tibbar,” which is rabbit spelled backwards.


Apparently, saying rabbit any number of times is only lucky if it is the first thing that escapes your mouth upon awakening on the first day of the month. My parents and I have been using it to greeting when we see/talk to each other that day; it is definitely not the first words we whisper in the morning — maybe that’s why I haven’t had any good luck lately. Totally kidding. Saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” is definitely the reason for all my good luck ever.

This is a just a nice a simple ritual that keeps the spirits up when looking at the month ahead. If you didn’t say “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” (or any variation) today, it’s not too late! Perhaps you’ll continue this tradition on your own for future months.



This past Sunday, the wonderful, always energetic Dean Nazario took a group of Honors Students to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. An art enthusiast, Dean Nazario wanted students to participate on this trip to see the Francis Picabia exhibit. For those of you in colloquium, you missed out on a fun, HP-sponsored event which counts as one of the needed colloquium events.

Here’s a description of the exhibit from the MOMA’s website:

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is a comprehensive survey of Picabia’s audacious, irreverent, and profoundly influential work across mediums. This will be the first exhibition in the United States to chart his entire career.

Among the great modern artists of the past century, Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953) also remains one of the most elusive. He vigorously avoided any singular style, and his work encompassed painting, poetry, publishing, performance and film. Though he is best known as one of the leaders of the Dada movement, his career ranged widely—and wildly—from Impressionism to radical abstraction, from Dadaist provocation to pseudo-classicism, and from photo-based realism to art informel. Picabia’s consistent inconsistencies, his appropriative strategies, and his stylistic eclecticism, along with his skeptical attitude, make him especially relevant for contemporary artists, and his career as a whole challenges familiar narratives of the avant-garde.

Francis Picabia features over 200 works, including some 125 paintings, key works on paper, periodicals and printed matter, illustrated letters, and one film. The exhibition aims to advance the understanding of Picabia’s relentless shape-shifting, and how his persistent questioning of the meaning and purpose of art ensured his iconoclastic legacy’s lasting influence.

I am not in colloquium, but I have not been to the MOMA since my freshman year, so I decided to go for the fun of it. The night before, I watched a brief video of the exhibit curator describing the artwork and the artist. I found this very helpful for when I went to the museum for I understood a little more about what I was going to look at.

As we get older, we go through different phases of life in terms of our perspectives on things, our jobs, our relationships, etc. And in the Francis Picabia exhibit, I loved how we could see how his perspectives and what he found important and focused on changed over the years through his artwork. Sometimes when we think of an artist, we think of their particular style, mistakenly forgetting that they may have experimented with a variety of styles over the course of their lifetime. Witnessing Picabia’s different styles, his growth, his transformation, was most enjoyable for me.


Other exhibits in the museum included a floor dedicated to artwork from the ’60s. Fun, funky, and full of color, my eye was constantly darting around the room. This floor had a few activities for little kids to work their imagination and creativity skills, which I found incredibly adorable and heartwarming.


Roy Lichtenstein knows what’s up


Some forms of modern art I just don’t understand. It’s message often flies over my head and I just don’t understand how or why it was able to secure and exhibition room in the museum. It is because of my inability to comprehend and truly appreciate some forms of the more contemporary modern art that I find myself drawn to the more “traditional” paintings of the artists I grew up learning about in elementary/middle/high school art class such as Picasso, Matisse, Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, et al.


I got the stink eye from one of the workers there for getting too close to the Picasso painting

I was so jazzed to see these artists and more in an ongoing exhibit on the 5th floor. To see paintings such as Starry Night right before my eyes was unreal. I’ve seen this piece in every year of art class since I was 5; I’ve seen someone do their own version of it by swirling paint in a container of water; I’ve even seen a cake’s attempt to mimic this famous painting.


Photo Creds: Me, because I was actually there in front of this beauty

I’ve never been so excited to be at the MOMA. I think it has something to do with being older — I appreciate it more.

Whenever you get the chance, I recommend going to the Museum of Modern Art because it is a great place. You will have a good time, perhaps not as good of a time as Francis Picabia riding a little cart.


Francis Picabia: Road Racer


Conquering Your Fears? I’ll Pass…

I think we’ve all heard about this tactic to help conquer your fears – it involves facing what you’re afraid of head on, and hoping you don’t pass out in the meantime. Whether it’s spiders, snakes, or heights most people will tell you how “it’s not that bad.” No matter how much you fear something, no one can make you confront it if you are not willing.

I’m scared of poisonous snakes, crocodiles, and sometimes the dark (especially after a scary movie). But what I want to talk about today is a fear and avoidance of truly being frightened. I want to distinguish this from the fright I get from watching scary movies: I willing bring that terror onto my self, I welcome it. And I know that the movie is not real. I’m talking about fright that occurs from events in the real world.

Let me tell you a little story to clarify what I mean about a fear and avoidance of truly being frightened.

A few years ago, during winter break, I went to Mountain Creek up in Vernon Township, NJ to ski; it was a ladies promotional day and we received a discount on the rental gear. I had never gone skiing before — my parents preferred to stay indoors rather than outdoors when there was snow on the ground. I believe this was also my cousin’s first time skiing, or she hadn’t gone in years. Either way, we agreed that it was a good idea to sign up for a ski lesson and learn the basics over a few hours. We got accustomed to walking with the skis on our feet, went down a really tiny snow covered mound, and practiced moving our skis into the position necessary to stop or slow down. After practicing our newly cultivated skills on this barely-even-an-incline-slope, my cousin and I, feeling confident, headed over to the ski lift to try out the big girl bunny hill.

As we went up, the nerves hit me. Compared to the ant hill that we had just spent a few hours on, this bunny hill that we were about to tackle was more like a mountain. It took me a few moments to actually go down the hill after getting to the top, and as soon as I started sliding down the slope, I immediately regretted my decision. Gravity was affecting me a lot more than I had anticipated and I was flying — or at least it felt like I was. Wind whipping my face, zipping past young children who making their way down the hill, I was panicking. Honestly. I tried moving my skis as one does when they want to stop, but that didn’t work. Scared that I was going to take out some poor, unsuspecting child due to my inability to ski, I purposely leaned to one side and made myself fall and stop moving. I did this a few times until I was about 2/3 down the slope. I wondered whether going down that tiny mound a few more times would have prepared me more… probably not.

Anyways, I’m 2/3 down the hill and I tell myself I’m going to make it to the bottom without making myself fall. I stand up and go… aaaaaand then I want to stop. I am going much faster than I wanted, the stop method still wasn’t working, and there was a crowd of people gathered at the bottom of the hill that I was sure I’d strike out. It was during this last stretch of skiing that I got truly frightened and experienced the emotion in a way I had never before. I didn’t think that I was going to die, but I thought I was seriously going to injure myself and others. I was completely out of my element, recklessly out of control, and I didn’t like the feeling. I didn’t feel free, but confined.

Seasoned skiers may read this have no idea what I am talking about. But whatever I felt that day has kept me away from the slopes ever since. A lot of my friends enjoy skiing and want me to go along, but I can’t. They’ll say, “Oh that was just one time, just try it again. It’ll be better.” Perhaps, but maybe not. I’m not too willing to find out.

I fear the feeling I got when I went skiing for the first time. I want to avoid experiencing that same fright and terror for the time being. Maybe in the future I’ll have the desire to give skiing another shot, but until then, I am perfectly content staying indoors, with my blankets and hot chocolate.

It’s All About the Christmas Spirit

Today is the day after Christmas. December 26.

After all the countdowns and all the advent calendars and all the anticipation, Christmas is over. This one day came and went so quickly. But is Christmas just about one day? Yes and no. From reading the SASHP Bloggers’ collaboration post, I realized that Christmas isn’t only about December 25, but about the season as a whole, and the spirit that accompanies it.

Despite finals ending so close to Christmas, the anticipation of being done with the semester and the accompanying joys of the season — such as gift shopping, baking, decorating, music, etc. —  add to what Christmas is all about.

More importantly, its the time with family that really makes Christmastime beloved. Family travels from different parts of the state, from different countries, to spend time together and catch up on the family gossip. And to also celebrate the birth of Jesus? While this may be an important, and founding part of the holiday, I think that reuniting with family is really what Christmas is all about. Even those who do not identify with the religious undertones still celebrate this time of the year as one for gathering the family together, and even exchanging gifts as a sign of love and appreciation.

But does Christmas have to occur on December 25? Sure, that’s the designated date, but I celebrated Christmas on Thursday December 22. It didn’t feel any less Christmassy, less holiday spirity, but it was as if it were actually Christmas. I was with all of the family from my mom’s side, we ate A LOT, exchanged and even opened up a couple presents.

“OMG opening presents before Christmas?!?!”

Omg yes we did, because it was Christmas for us. Because Christmas is about the joy, the love, and the family.

As we near the New Year, carry this happiness and appreciation for family and friends with you into 2017. Christmas is not just for December.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

As we all — students, faculty, and staff alike — prepare to finish up the semester, it’s hard to stay focused when the Christmas and holiday season is around us.

Taking a break from our studies, some of the bloggers have written a little about what they enjoy best about this time of the year.



featured-teAs a Muslim, I don’t really celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. I celebrate Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha, both of which are at different times of the year because the Islamic calendar doesn’t match up with the Gregorian calendar (the one we all use). But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the atmosphere. I love the Christmas songs on the radio, the lights on the houses, the pies, the idea of the mistletoe, the ugly Christmas sweaters. I love all of it, because I just love the joy it brings. And I love the idea of giving gifts. The only people I give gifts to are my closest friends from my hometown: we’ve had a gift rapport since middle school, when I first met them. The best part is seeing the joy on their faces when I surprise them with something they love. That makes everything worth it. It’s one of the many things that makes life worth living.
— Nida Saeed


So, I’m not really a festive person. My sister gets mad at me because on any holiday I make sure to avoid the festive colors, for no particular reason really. Perhaps it’s because of teenage angst and rebellion– young whippersnappers these days with their punk music and black instead of red on the holidays (even though Starbucks had issue with red cups and Satanism last year which I thought was hilarious). Despite that though, I like getting gifts for people. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic, so I don’t really care when and what type of gift I get, but I like giving people things. And now that I have a job I can get people whatever I want really, which is pretty cool (despite being Jewish due to maternal lineage, the urge to spend a lot of money on presents for friends and family is overwhelming. I’m doing the whole stereotype wrong, truly a tragedy among my people). So I guess that’s what I like about the holidays, I can be nice to the people I that I think truly deserve it. That and sugar. I’m so into holiday cookies and cakes.
— Becky Kowalski


If you know anything about me, you know that I love to bake. And with this festive season upon us, my normal Diasy perfume is now replaced with the scents of vanilla and cinnamon. My favorite thing about the holidays, besides gift-giving and getting of course, is the endless dessert recipes available. December lets me be more creative than usual, making everything from reindeer pretzel/chocolate treats to homemade cinnamon apple cider to peppermint brownie bark. My kitchen, this time of year, is covered with baking trays, sprinkles, cupcake wrappers, and a constant aroma of gingerbread and fresh-baked cookies. And I’m loving every minute of it.
— Fairooz Khondker


Because classes and finals at Rutgers end so late, ever since coming to college, I have felt as though the holidays sneak up on me. I’m always too focused on papers, presentations, and exams to notice how close Christmas actually is. The long-standing tradition in my family is to celebrate with the cousins on my dad’s side the weekend before, then with just my immediate family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and finally with relatives on my mom’s side the weekend after. We always joke that Christmas celebrations never end in my family, and it certainly feels like that. Now that I’m always so stressed during the time leading up to the holidays and miss out on a lot of the preparation, including tree decorating and baking. I appreciate how long my family’s actual celebrations last because it allows me to feel included in one of my favorite times of the year.
–Madeline Padner


With exams and assignments crawling all over as the semester ends, I feel it’s necessary to be connected and to constantly be assured that everyone is in this together, to provide motivation for me and others to do well. I feel like Christmas is that time of year that effectively brings to life the festive and outgoing spirit in many people, even during a tough time like finals. I honestly do not feel as close to my friends here at Rutgers, my friends back at home from high school, or even my family as much as I do come Christmas time, especially because I get to spend time with them in a less stressful setting when I don’t have any assignments due. Ending the semester with the people I feel close to and have known for a long time, and doing activities that I would not have time for otherwise is one of the best parts about Christmas. Christmas is also the perfect time for me to listen to my favorite music, holiday or non-holiday related, and sit down and watch movies, either new ones like Star Wars or my favorite holiday classics like Home Alone or Home Alone 2, all while eating my favorite foods, which of course include cookies and sweet treats. Whoever invented cookies and sweet treats was absolutely a genius.
–Neelay Inamdar

tumblr_mdhhck1cfb1qm4we9o1_1280I love the festive atmosphere that accompanies the Christmas season. As the temperature drops, it starts to feel like Christmas in more ways than one. Twinkling lights start appearing on houses, decorated Christmas trees glimmer through open windows, animatronic miniature Santa’s appear and “dance” on a shelf in the office. Christmas time opens the doors for a slew of themed activities to occur, such as the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, SantaCon bar crawls are planned on successive weekends leading up to Christmas, parks where you can drive/walk through the lighted displays open up, ugly sweater party RSVPs are sent out, and many more. While the cold makes me want to cuddle up under some blankets and watch Netflix all day, all these events are exciting and they motivate me to plan things to do (around finals) during this time of the year. There is this winter village in Bryant park that I want to go to; there’s ice skating and shopping there and it looks like a nice place to spend a few hours. Hopefully I make it out there instead of falling prey to the comforts of my bed!
–Stephanie Smyczek


One of my favorite things about the holiday season is how happy everyone seems to be. There’s something about this atmosphere of good cheer and high spirits that makes me feel like everything will be okay, even if I have papers to finish and finals to study for. I just have to keep reminding myself that as it gets colder, break gets nearer (:
–Meg Tsai


When I was a kid, the holiday season felt like a month long event. Marathon listening to Christmas music, watching a ton of claymation shorts, and going to look at every over-decorated house I could find. Unfortunately, as I got older, there was less time to do these things. I can still marathon listen to music, but there’s barely enough time to watch all my favorite shorts or go on a hunt for Christmas decorations. Yet, for the four days of the month when it’s wall to wall gatherings of family and friends, it still feels the way it did when I was a kid. That’s when I realized that, while I really enjoyed all the trappings and decked halls, my favorite part of the holidays is driving all over Jersey, overeating a ton of great homemade food, and, of course, seeing the relatives I don’t normally see. The older I get, the more I realize that’s what makes the holidays what they are.
–Kim Peterman


I hope this was a nice little study or work break for you.

From all the SASHP Bloggers, Good luck with finals, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Break!!

More Moana Please

Just like everyone, I was really looking forward to this break to relax a little yes, but more-so because I needed to catch-up on all the work I should have done earlier. However, procrastination was not about to disappear so easily, especially not during an extended weekend. I was not able to complete the ridiculous and unreasonable amount of work I had set out to do, but I got a decent amount done. Importantly, though, I did allow myself to relax. On Friday, after having a Thanksgiving Part II and feasting on all the leftovers from the previous night, my dad and I went to the movies.

We often went to the movies together when I was younger — my mom would be working the night shift in the ER, leaving me and my dad together at home. As I got older and became more busy with school, our trips to the movies came to a halt. Befitting a trip down memory lane to when I was younger, my dad and I went to see a Disney animated movie, typically targeted toward children. The type of movie alone reminded my dad of the movies we saw together in the past.

We went to see Moana.


And it was FANTASTIC. My dad and I are both suckers for these kinds of movies. The animation is absolutely stunning. It was so beautifully drawn.

Also, the story is very heartwarming. I honestly had to actively hold back my tears a few times throughout the movie. To balance out the feels, there were many scenes that prompted laughter.

Aside from the message and animation, the most important aspect about this movie is the main character, Moana, and the people she represents. She is the first disney “princess” (she insists that she is not an actual princess) to come from the South Pacific, and because of that, she represents the Pacific Islands and their people. While you can’t lump all those cultures together and call them the same, little boys and girls from that region of the world and descendants of people from there have a Disney heroine with whom they can identify; A brown-skinned girl who looks like them, more-so than Mulan, Jasmine, Pocahontas, or Tiana. In a similar fashion to the creation of a black barbie doll, Moana is a presence of those cultures who have not yet been represented in popular culture until the creation of this movie.

While acknowledging the meaning of this South Pacific representation, some people have criticized the design of the characters.


I don’t know how popular of an opinion the one above is, but I’m sure there are others who share the same view. In my eyes, the faces do not look the same. Moana’s features are distinct, and the cultural features becomes more evident in her family members’ faces.

Another critique was of Maui’s physique. He plays Moana’s Demi-God companion on her journey for most of the movie.


People voiced that they saw Maui as obese and his presence in the movie glorified obesity. In response to the criticism, this photo was released demonstrating the thought process behind his design. His size and build are meant to represent strength, which is how I saw him.

It’s nearly impossible for any movie to escape backlash. For me, Disney did a pretty good job. I am half Filipino and love Disney movies. When I was little, I used to identify with Mulan, because she was Chinese so geographically was the closest to the Philippines, as well as Pocahontas, because we shared the same skin tone. Now, with Moana, I have a Disney “princess” I can really identify with. I can only imagine how much she means and will mean to the countless children who see themselves in her. Full of history and culture, Moana transports you into another world.

Go see it. Moana is a movie for everyone. You won’t regret it.

The Library

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

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


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

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


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

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