Taking a Break

School is stressful: there are constant exams, papers, and projects due, and with the beautiful spring weather it is difficult to concentrate on anything. I’m sure everyone knows this feeling. And so I had no trouble agreeing to take a week off to go on a trip with my family, to Italy nonetheless, as they all had spring break on the same week.

Not gonna lie, the idea of missing a week of school, while taking 19.5 credits, kind of worried me. This is a lot of school work to miss, and I did not want to have to do work throughout vacation. So I made sure to talk to all my professors ahead of time, fill out a self-reported absence form, get some homework out of the way, as well as mentally prepare for cramming that would happen post trip (which in fact, is happening). I only took two notebooks with me on the trip, so I could at least do some HW, but not overdo it. And then, I went on vacation.

Let me tell you, this was exactly the break I needed. Of course, the vacation itself was fun and amazing, but the fact that I was ‘on a break’ with college added even more to it. I think I was able to appreciate it and relax more. Needless to say, I didn’t have to bring those notebooks because once there I did not intend on doing homework. I saw great sights, ate (a lot of) great food, went shopping, hiking, sailing, slept eight hours every night. Essentially, it was as if I ‘recharged’ myself.

Now that I am back, it is back to usual with work and cramming. Truth be told, jet lag is currently my biggest advantage. I woke up at six this morning, feeling like it was one pm, and started to do work. And, since no one is awake yet, there are no distractions and it is easy to concentrate. Now I have a few more hours until I would normally wake up and am able to get more done! I would, without a doubt, urge anyone to take some sort of break every once in a while. You clear your mind and come back refreshed, and we all know weekends are not always enough.

SAS Core: Why, Why, Why??

Hi everyone! Summer is around the corner. The sun is finally coming out and it is beginning to look a lot like spring! This also means that a new semester will soon befall us. Class registrations have begun, and everyone is out to fulfill those beloved SAS core requirements. Am I right or am I right? We are looking for the classes that hit two birds with one stone, and by that, I mean classes that can fulfill two SAS core requirements in one go! I have been looking for some classes too, and so I thought, why not compile a list and share with you all as well? So here is a list of classes that might seem interesting and fulfill those SAS core requirements! Enjoy!

  1. Looking at 21st Century World History (01:082:118) (3 credits) (21C, HST)

In this class, you will take examine the history of Western Art from antiquity to medieval period. If you like to travel and look at art, then this might be the class for you because you will be seeing a wide array of artwork spanning from Egypt to Rome. This course has two hourly exams, a final, and three to five page paper on a topic chosen by the professor.

2. Global East Asia (01:098:250) (4 credits) (21C, HST, SCL)

This course is about the world’s most influential East Asian nations including China, Korea, and Japan. You will learn about each of the nation’s economy, culture, war, gender, politics, etc. You will have clicker questions and recitation for this class.

3. Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences (01:830:123) (3 credits) (21C, HST)

This is an interesting course about what the consequences of believing in souls are. You will get to explore topics such as self, mind and body dualism, culture, evolution, death, etc. You will have weekly readings. Your grade comprises of two midterms, a take-home final, assignments, and discussion posts.

4. Latino and Caribbean Cultural Studies (01:050:295) (3 credits) (Wcr, AHp)

In this class, you will analyze the culture, politics, society, and more about the Latino and Caribbean cultures. You will examine how these two cultures connect in various aspects such as gender, ethnicity, and populism.

5. Women and Contemporary Chinese Society (01:170:245) (3 credits) (21C, HST, WCr or WCd)

You will unravel the role of Chinese women after 1949 in Chinese economy, politics, entrepreneurship, education, science, social movements, religious revival, and much more! This course is offered in the Fall semesters. Your grade will constitute two term papers (five pages each), a final paper (eight to nine pages), an oral presentation, active attendance, participation, and homework assignments.

6. Introduction to Korean Culture, History and Society (01:574:210)  (3 credits) (HST, AHo, Wcr)

I believe the title speaks for itself. Nonetheless, this course will introduce you to Korean culture and society in a historical perspective. Your grade in this class will encompass quizzes, homework, a presentation, and class participation. You will have two midterms and a final paper.

7. Development of the Labor Movement I (37:575:201) (3 credits) (HST or SCL, WCr or WCd)

This is a course that delves into labor movements throughout the history of Americas. You will see what shaped the American concepts of slavery, work, free labor, industrialization, etc. The class will require two papers, a midterm, a final and also attendance.

Well, I hope that gives you some choices to think about! Good luck on your midterms and finals!

 

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.”

Noreen’s Top 10 List of Books I Wanted to Read Over Break but Didn’t

In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first.

I always have such ambitious plans going into breaks and honestly they’re not even really that ambitious.

As an English major, I read a lot of stuff and while I went into break wanting to read more stuff, I quickly realized that my brain wanted a break, rejecting any attempt to open a book that was written pre-1950 or had received some kind of literary award. Instead, my soul desired mindless entertainment and to consume internet garbage. It was spring break. I deserved this.

“But, Noreen” cry the people who know me in real life, “All you do is consume internet garbage.”

Fools! Never underestimate the amount of internet garbage I can welcome into my life, especially when I had one week of unlimited free time (which, now that I say it, isn’t really unlimited at all).

I spent the majority of my break sitting around my house watching TV shows on my laptop, having brief, yet intense moments of panic as I searched for a summer job, and being a general useless blob. I regret nothing.

So anyway, here is, in no particular order, my top ten list of books I wanted to read over break but didn’t:

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.”

I like Greek mythology. I like LGBT themes. I find the ongoing debate over whether or not Achilles and Patroclus were lovers both fascinating and kind of hilarious.

2. The Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany or Any book from the Harry Potter Series

“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

You’ll have to pry my at-times-illogical-desire to hold on to the Harry Potter series out of my cold dead hands.

3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.”

I’ve heard good things about this book and got it for free like a year ago and by God do I love things that are free.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by  Douglas Adams

“The story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

I read this quote somewhere I can’t remember and it hit every single one of my sense of humor bones and I decided I needed to read this series. This was five years ago.

5. Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.”

In my last blog post I talked about how I started to actually feel like I was growing older because I no longer like stuff I used to like when I was a kid. Well The Mysterious Benedict Society is a thing I used to like when I was a kid and I read a few pages of it and it looks like it holds up. I sure hope it holds up.

6. His Dark Materials series  by Philip Pullman

“In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first. “

So apparently the movie adaptation of this was terrible, an insult to the original series, and a blight upon this world as all book-to-movie adaptations tend to be, but I watched it and I enjoyed it. To be fair it came out when I was nine and nine year old me had terrible taste in everything. I’ve heard good things about the series though from Actual AdultsTM so I’m hoping this holds up too.

7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore.” 

I’ve read this before, but I wanted to read it again.If you like not knowing whether or not the narrator is time traveling or has PTSD, then this is the book for you. I love Kurt Vonnegut.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A storm is coming…

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.”

I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett so I know I like this guy’s style, I like the premise, and there’s a TV adaptation of it coming out at some point so I thought that I’d finally read it. Nope.

9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. ” – Goodreads 

I got this as a Christmas present and at the moment it has been sitting on my desk in my dorm room as decoration since then. Oops.

10. Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?” – Melissa de la Cruz 

Okay so I actually did go outside a couple times during break, you know, once the streets were no longer covered in snow and I ended up at the library, which I would say is typical me if I hadn’t just written 500+ words about how I didn’t read anything over break. I saw this, thought it was cool, realized I’d never actually seen a book with a Filipino protagonist, then put it on this list.

 

Anyway, I hope you take a page out of my book (hehehehe, I’m so funny) and add some of these books to your to-read list but, unlike me, actually read them.

 

 

Economical Entertainment: Cheap things to do as a Student

So this spring break I’ve been taking advantage of a lot of student discounts. However, I think the best deal I got was at RU Cinema. I got to see MoonlightLogan, and Get Out all on the same day for just $17. So I thought I’d list here some of the available cheap versions of entertainment available to Rutgers students.

  1. RU Cinema

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This is a really good deal, particularly if you bring your own snacks. It’s $5 per movie before 6 and $7 after 6, which is insane when considering how much tickets at a normal movie theater cost. Now granted, they only show 2-3 movies at a time, so you’re limited to what they have, but they’re mostly the good or popular movies, so it’ll satisfy most people.

2. Zimmerli Art Museum

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This is a great art gallery and admission is free! There’s always Art After Hours the first Tuesday of every month. My personal favorite is when, during the last reading day before finals, they stay open all night so you can study in the Art exhibits. It’s always really empty and is a really good change of scenery.

3. Performance Groups

Be it the many choirs on campus, dance groups, or theater companies, there’s always some sort of performance going on on campus. Not all are free, but a lot have free tickets available through the Honors Program if you keep your eye on the newsletter.

3. Honors Program Trips

People should really check the newsletters because there seems to be boundless opportunities for free entertainment, be it tickets to the symphony, trips to museums in NYC, or film screenings around campus.

4. RUPA Events

One of my favorite memories from my freshman year is of a friend and I going to a Mystery Dinner Theater run by RUPA. One person at every table was assigned a role and they had everyone go around introducing their character. When they go to the last table, they asked the character to stand up and this six foot guy just shouted back at the host, “I can’t stand, I’m Teddy Roosevelt,” leading to an uproar of laughter from everyone else in the room while his friend explained this was the other President Roosevelt. Outside of that they have a bunch of events every week ranging from quiz nights to broadway shows, it’s just a matter of signing up quickly enough to get a seat.

3. Rutgers Radio Stations

Available from Rutgers Radio and the Core both online and free, my favorite combination. They also provide a really diverse set of programming

4. The Library

I’m kind of mad at myself for not realizing this sooner, but you can borrow DVDs from the library. Not a lot, but as the kind of person who spent three months out of their childhood watching Rear Window every night, it’s nice to have access to them without having to pay for them on Amazon. Not to mention the number of films and plays that are available to stream from the libraries website. It’s useful for some classes and it’s just fun to see what they have if I can’t find it anywhere online that doesn’t cost money/is legal.

5. Cheap transportation

Now if you want to do something in NYC outside of a planned group trip, there are discount bus tickets available for $17(for reference a typical round trip train ticket from New Brunswick costs $28). If you’re going regularly, it’s probably better to get the monthly pass from NJ Transit, but I went to the Met Opera for the first time last week (in the cheap $27 seats on the top floor) and that was a real money saver.

Start Watching…Or Sleep

Spring break is finally here, sort of. With the snowstorm coming Tuesday, I figured why not sit down and talk about some of the TV shows that many others talk about, but that I personally never got the chance to watch due to exams, homework, family, friends, or just the conscience in my inner mind telling me to “get off that lazy couch and save the world”.  Many of these shows got good ratings, but growing up, I was mainly interested in watching the storylines of the characters and the overall setting more than the critical acclaim, since I don’t believe that all shows that gain good box office ratings may necessarily keep me captivated, personally. Other than TV shows, my other option is to sleep, but I don’t think I need to dedicate a whole post to that, since most of you are probably aware of where that would lead, and I most likely won’t be awake long enough to write it.

Anyway, academics and pre-med life aside, here are 4 of the shows that I need to continue, or start watching, before I have my genetics and neurobiology textbook in front of my eyes again (lord, help us). There will not be any major spoilers for those who still haven’t watched these shows.

 

  1. Game Of Thrones

 

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As I mentioned in my earlier post on the Fun Reads of 2016, I finished the first book of this medieval fantasy series last summer, and started watching the show before school started. This show, not surprisingly, delivers in its ability to keep audiences captivated with compelling storylines, plot twists, conspiracies, and romance. However, I often find myself watching over 4 episodes at a time, with no desire to sleep or time for anything other than the Starks and Lannisters, so I had to keep it under control for the duration of the semester. Hopefully, with Spring Break and the snowstorm, I can finally see what happens after (insert spoiler here) dies and (insert spoiler here) develops a relationship with (spoiler), if the power and electricity supply are still intact. Most of you probably saw this one coming, as Game of Thrones currently has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s good news, right? If tomatoes are rotten, is that good?

 

2. The Big Bang Theory

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What’s up, CBS fans? This show appeals both to my scientific and comedic sides. In the vast world of astrophysics and engineering and the unknown dimensions of the cosmos, there lies a group of socially awkward scientists who have Ph.Ds from prestigious institutions and know how to develop inventions and gadgets that go beyond the expectations of society and the US government, but don’t have the basic skills to talk to or approach women, even in normal conversations. As the series progresses, things get more drama and relationship-oriented, but watching the first episode this past semester just made me wonder how the guys ended up where they are now, through all the laughter and antics they went through during seasons 1-6. I have been watching the newer episodes, but I plan to go back and see just how Howard and Bernadette met, or how Raj got over his selective mutism with women and didn’t have to be drunk anymore when talking to them. Hopefully, I don’t get too hooked on to the scientific “facts” that are taught to the audience, and apply them to my own physics class I plan to take next semester, and I also hope neither do the engineering majors.

 

3. Breaking Bad

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Just when I thought I had seen enough of Bromine and Barium…

I guarantee that 99% of everyone on campus, and in society, knows the name Walter White. This show about a terminally ill chemistry teacher who develops a drug-dealing partnership with one of his fellow students to financially support himself and his family has no doubt been called “one of the greatest shows of all time”. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to crack open Netflix and enjoy the adventures that lie within this 2008-2013 AMC series, not even the first episode. Even my statistics professor said he and his wife were “glued to the television” when watching this show, which just poured salt on the wound of what I have missed out on. However, I fear not, for this show will be one of the most viewed by me while I still have the time, before I myself have to go back to teaching chemistry every week.

4. Malcolm in the Middle

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Oh, the nostalgia that many must feel! I started watching this in middle school, and now that I am legally a full grown adult, I can go back and watch some episodes with a better understanding of the comedy and social aspects that this show contains. Malcolm is a teenager with a genius level IQ who constantly faces hilarious situations as a result of his dysunctional family, consisting of his bully & dimwit brother Reese, the eldest and outcast Francis, and the little (not so little anymore) manipulative and artistically gifted Dewey. Lois, the mother, and Hal, the cowardly yet intelligent and improvisational father, never failed to give me good laughs the first time I watched this show, and I have no doubt they will do it again when I watch some of the episodes over again this break. Minor Spoiler Alert for those who haven’t seen it yet: The family doesn’t stop there. More are always coming, but are not always welcome.

Those are all my top priority shows that I hope to watch, but there are definitely more good ones I’ve heard about and would like to start watching, but only after I course through the struggles of the Seven Kingdoms, learn about the difference between a boson and a fermion particle, see how far the meth teacher makes it before the inevitable, and finally, wonder how a mother who yells so much could still have her voice fully intact.

 

Happy Spring Break, and enjoy it, because the next wave of exams is coming over us like Winter in the Seven Kingdoms (Game of Thrones reference, for those who don’t understand).

Applying for Internships: A Modern Symphony in Five Movements

I. The Search

LinkedIn, Internship, Indeed, LookSharp

They’re called the Dot-Coms (Doo-wop)

Honors Newsletter, Professors suggestions, family friends

Taking suggestions like a DJ (You can reach us at 732 . . .).

You bring them together, listen to their sounds, then list out their chords, harmonious and otherwise.

Go through deadlines. (Vader’s ominous boom)

Go through what is important. (A hopefully Hedwig’s tune)

List them out, heart beating out sixteenths. These aren’t everything (for the future, they’re everything).

Look at it again, think my qualifications are(so begins the motif).

My experiences show.

My interest in this is.

This will benefit me by (that last one’s mostly for you).

II. The Application

Look at descriptions again (They’re either Doo-wop or a random mix. The tunes all are opening deja vu).

Your heart is beating sixteenths. Closing your eyes, breathe. Start them one by one.

Fingers on the keys, start typing out a hybrid tune

My qualifications are (This always feels a little flat).

My experiences show (A memory of clarinet duck. Maybe it’ll be a swan).

My interest in this is (Bring in more flute, some viola, try to sound sweet).

This will benefit me by (that last one’s still mostly for you).

Each one’s a little different than the last, refined to match the specific memory (A little more bass here some more strings there).

The resume follows fast (or some days it comes first, depends on the audience).

Think again.My qualifications are. My experiences gave them to me.

Then the send-off (Sometimes hold out the last note, it give you time to add your samples or clips).

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

III.  The Wait

Keep sending out apps and searching for new (Doo-wop, calls to 732).

Search. Write. Send. The tunes now comforting, no longer new. (Softening each time, sinking into a lull).

Then you think: what about the others from before. You hear no no noise, no deja vu from them anymore.

You check again, maybe there you’ll see (No, it’s John Campbell, 4’33”).

All is still.

IV.

Then an offer: an interview (The cymbals give a celebratory boom)

Look at the descriptions again (This is doo-wop, but with more urgency, since they want you too!)

Now look more at the group. Where’d they start? What do they say? (Play it like you believe- like you have the knowledge to do so).

Once you’ve learned all you can, take it to the same things again.

My qualifications are (Tuned to a T).

My experiences show (Be prepared for small modifications based on the show).

My interest in this is (Short and sweet, with a little brass).

This will benefit me by (Now they want to hear it too).

Prep, then dress (Each note precise).

Make sure it’s all nice.

Quick, trip, done. Nice to meet you, thank you for your interest, thank you for your time, should hear from us in a couple weeks. (A short ferocious dream)

What’s done is done. Good or bad, can’t change the past.

So just continue on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Search. Write. Send. Pray to hear back.

V. Wait (Reprise)

Keep sending out apps and searching for new (Doo-wop, calls to 732).

Search. Write. Send. Prep Interview. Some in person, on screen, over the phone. Nice to meet you, thank you for your interest, thank you for your time, should hear from us in a couple weeks. Pray to hear back. The tunes now comforting, no longer new. (Softening each time, sinking into a lull).

The tune feels like nothing now, another routine (The melody is rising though, because it must).

Some nights you lay awake, heart beating out sixteenths, trying to tell yourself these aren’t everything (they feel like everything).

Look at your email once more or the dashboard on the sight (The music’s been stretched out too long, when will it be done?)

You reassure yourself. Someone will want you, they must.

My qualifications are (A dreaded refrain).

My experiences show (One more verse of the same).

My interest in this is (A catchy tune, now stuck to your core).

This will benefit me by (Bringing this to an end).

You check again, maybe there you’ll see (No, it’s John Campbell, 4’33”).

All is still.

An acceptance will come.

It will.

5 Things You’ll Only Find At the Honors Program Formal

1. A Button Making Station
Often times, a lot of Rutgers events will have dorky little arts and crafts type activities for people to do that no one usually ever does. At this event it seemed to be the button making station, or so everyone thought. At the formal, however, there was a long line of students all equally giddy to make buttons.

2. Guy in the horse head
During the dance, a random guy showed up on the dance floor wearing a horse head and had some pretty awesome dance moves. He definitely made the night a lot more interesting.

3. A whole new environment
The honors kids that you have seen hiding behind books at the library, staring at their laptops, and furiously entering numbers on their calculator all finally came out of their shell. I saw the people usually in Rutgers sweats and t-shirts with perfectly contoured cheekbones and crisply ironed dress shirts, all showing off their amazing dance moves.

4. Good Food
I’m not saying that the dining hall doesn’t have great food ;), but the food at the Heldrich was extraordinary. There were 3 types of dessert and all of them were amazing.

5. Dancing Deans
I think the best part was watching the Honors Deans bust a move. They all seemed so genuinely into it and were having a great time. They were also sweet enough to spare time to take cute Polaroids of us.

All in all, it was a classy event with some great food, great music, and great people. If you couldn’t make it this year I highly recommend you check it out next year!

The Ski Fall

Amidst the first round of exams this month, I decided to go back to a time when I didn’t have to worry, a time where I could learn without the repercussions and fear associated with a bad grade, and especially a time where I wouldn’t feel guilty stepping out of the study zone. This past Winter Break, at one point, met all those qualifications, so that’s where I’m headed.

Two months already into the new year, and my muscles still ache from all the activity of my skiing trip in Seattle which occurred in late December of 2016.

I quickly realized just how intense skiing can be, and that it is no walk in the park, especially since even walking is difficult with the skis on.

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If you were like me and never went skiing before, you probably thought that executing this kind of turn — in the above picture — would be as simple as changing a light bulb.
Fact: It’s not. It’s nowhere near simple.

Even standing on the skis, as said before, proved to be a difficult challenge, since the skis are vertical flat extensions worn on each foot designed to glide you through the snow smoothly. What do you do if you don’t want to move when wearing skis?
You prevent your skis from moving by placing them in a wedge-shaped pizza cut position, where vector forces cancel out in opposite directions (and a whole bunch of physics concepts I’m trying to get away from for the moment) and the friction keeps your skis when you want them in the thick snow. But sometimes, the rain can make the snow melt and turn it into ice. Flat ice with a friction coefficient of near zero.

Excited as I was, I convinced my dad to let me take a three-day course at the Snoqualmie Resort to give me a basic idea of how to get around on the skis. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t stay for all three days. The first day went pretty well, since we learned how to stand on the skis after putting them on, a process which took almost an hour (those boots were so thick I was afraid if I fell over, I’d break my tibia, or shin bone). Once the skis were attached, my instructor guided us onto the Magic Carpet, the simplest ski slope that was almost flat. The bunny slope got its name because of the platform that takes you back up the slope — you don’t have to take your skis off or waddle up like a penguin every time.

First off, we learned how to do the wedge-shaped pizza cut I mentioned earlier. It wasn’t too bad and my skis managed to stay put. Then we learned how to control ourselves while going down the slope — not so easy to maneuver. Even though this was more exciting, having an instructor spot me, me not having “studied” for this moment, and the all-too familiar fear of looking like a fool after screwing up loomed over me like an instructor during an exam. But I was determined to travel down the slope with excitement rather than fear. The first time, of course, didn’t go as planned, and I almost ended up knocking over a 10-year old learning how to snowboard, but managed to stop myself with the pizza cut just in time. The session ended after I practiced going down a few more times, feeling more in control and calmer with each step. I left feeling satisfied with a great first day and determined to make the next day better than the first.

Unfortunately, my childlike optimism was challenged with the course of reality, and I don’t feel the need to say out loud that it was different than what I envisioned it would be.

The second day of the lesson we had a different instructor, one who was much more enthusiastic and ready to teach a group of students like it was his lifelong goal. His excitement was contagious, and I brought the previous day’s determination with me along. I noticed that as I was going down, the snow was a lot flatter and more slippery than it had been the day before, due to the rain that had hit the local area that morning. The Magic Carpet was undoubtedly harder than it had been the day before, but I still managed to keep somewhat in control as I glided down.

After I came back up the bunny slope, my instructor told me and another student that we were ready to do the unthinkable: go up the ski lifts and down the green circle, supposedly the easiest ski slope with not too many sharp turns and hills. But looking back, the green circle might as well have been a red circle with the word “stop” in the middle, because I did not feel the least bit ready to come down one of those slopes, at least not yet. Getting on the ski lifts, according to my cousins, was itself quite a task.

I warily asked my instructor if I was ready for the lift. This is almost exactly how it turned out.

Me: Excuse me, but are you sure I’m ready for the lift? (I try to do the pizza cut to keep from going forward, but slip back and forth each time)

Instructor: Hey man, I wouldn’t be taking you up the lift if I didn’t think you were ready. It’s so easy! You’ll be fine, bro. Hey, where did you go?

Me: I’m over here. (near the line for the lift, pushed up against the pole, having been unable to keep myself from slipping)

Instructor: Hey man, the line’s over here!

Me: Coming. (As I attempt to turn around, my left ski comes off and I trip and fall into the cold pile of flat snow)

(My instructor helps me up and helps me get in line. The other student, age 39, shakes his head back and forth, completely dumbfounded by the whole scenario).

In what world did the instructor even begin to think I was ready for the lift? This was the equivalent of learning to drive for the first time and crashing into a tree while backing out of the driveway, and my driving instructor then telling me I was ready for the Garden State Parkway.

Still, I was curious to see what it’s like being on the lifts and coming down one of those slopes, so I didn’t try to forcefully impose onto him my inability to handle even flat ground, so I just did my best to stay put in line.

When it was our turn to get on the lift, I crouched down as instructed and managed to sit down on the chair with the right orientation. However, my right ski was positioned incorrectly and as the lift began its ascent, it came off, and my instructor yelled from behind that he got it and would return it to me once we got to the top.

If getting on the lift was the easy part, all the difficulty was compensated for by getting off. Because I only had one ski on my left foot, as I attempted to get off and slide down the small bank onto the top of the hill, my left ski went more forward than my right foot wanted to and I ended up skiing on only one foot, and falling into the pile of snow yet again. When my instructor finally came with the missing ski, I put it on and as I looked down the slope to the base, my whole body convulsed with fear and all of a sudden, I wished I was back in the safety of the library studying for neurobiology.

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This is how the green circle slope looks.

This was similar to the view I got from the top. While beautiful, at that time beauty was not at the top of my mind. This view seemed more appropriate, for me, to that of the double black diamond, the slope specifically designed for experts only.

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Even worse, my instructor told me and the other 39-year old student to do three turns back and forth as we were going down! We hadn’t even covered turns the previous day and here I was, on top of the world, which is quite terrifying for those who haven’t been there yet, frightened at the thought of going straight down at uncontrollably high speeds with no idea of how to stop.

After the other student completed his three turns, without incident, I was up next. But of course, the stopping problem came back and I almost went over a rather steep edge far on the left side of the slope, which was thankfully guarded by thin red rope, that I almost completely knocked over. The pizza cut seemed to make me go faster instead of slowing me down, and my instructor helped me back onto the track, and told me to try only one turn, seeing as how inexperienced I was. I looked around for the other student, who was nowhere to be found. He was probably long gone at that point, off to another slope that was more of his level, the hardest being the double black diamond. He was probably also wondering how I was ever going to get good at this.

I tried going down another time, but I couldn’t bring myself to look forward, which you’re actually supposed to do instead of looking down at the skis. But with the base of the hill waiting to swallow me up whole at speeds higher than I could even drive at, looking forward just made me more terrified, and I tried the pizza cut, and managed to turn 180 degrees around facing the upside of the hill, then, instead of stopping due to the wet snow, I turned back around to the downside, then back to the upside, then back down like a corkscrew, until I finally accepted my fate and allowed myself to fall over, with the skis coming off. I was thankful the skis could come off so easily. When my instructor again tried to help me up, I knocked him down and we were both tumbling as fellow skiers, elementary schoolers and graduates, glided past us, having the time of their lives, noticing the fiasco. One more time, I tried the pizza cut, which of course failed me yet again and off I was down the hill almost knocking over fellow skiers. At that point, I decided falling was the best, and easiest, course of action I could take. Embarrassed, I finally took my skis off and just walked down the hill, so relieved and thankful for being back in control of my feet. I was so glad when I got back to the base, and turned around and gulped at the sight of the slope. My instructor apologized for taking me up the lift too soon, and offered me a free lesson next time I came (which probably won’t be any time soon). Even though the slope didn’t turn out as well as I’d have hoped, even as a beginner, I still felt an odd thrill and excitement upon having experienced it, and survived. I went back to the beautifully flat Magic Carpet and practiced my turns with more confidence and determination, still falling a few times, but nowhere near scared as I was up on the slope. So, in a way, it all may have worked out for the best.

However, I decided that I needed a break and wanted to explore other parts of Seattle, and didn’t go back to the ski pass after that, but someday I do hope to ski again, this time with more control and awareness of my abilities and limitations.

Now back in the safety of Rutgers on a nice flat, solid surface, I look back and wonder how things might have turned out had my instructor insisted I go on the double black diamond!

A Semester of Shakespeare

If you’re in the honors program, you may or may not have heard about interdisciplinary honors seminars (if it doesn’t come across clearly, that is meant to be sarcastic). They’re really good for exploring different topics, interacting with interesting professors, and/or meeting honors requirements.

For a combination of the first and last reasons, I signed up to take ‘Shakespeare in the Now‘ this semester (though Professor Bartels is really awesome too!).

In regard to the first reason, I’ve always been really into Literary Inspired Web Series (LIWS), series on youtube that adapt works of classic literature. The trend started in 2012 with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and since then, many groups, almost all small clusters of passionate book nerds with cameras, have given it a try, adapting everything from Peter Pan to Jane Eyre to The Importance of Being Earnest, with mixed results (see a full list here). One of my favorite of these groups is The Candle Wasters, a group out of New Zealand. So far they’ve adapted Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour Lost, and Midsummer Night’s Dream, using the plays as a framework to explore many issues including sexism, gender identity, sexuality, dependency on technology, and climate change, all while still being incredibly entertaining and remaining surprisingly faithful to Shakespeare’s works. Because of this group, the idea of discussing the way Shakespeare can still be relevant today seems even more fascinating to me than it normally would.

As for the second reason: I need 3 more honors credits to stay in the program.

Anyway, the class is really interesting since we get to go and talk about reading and adapting Shakespeare for three hours every week and, even if LIWSes haven’t entered the conversation, it’s still an interesting way to frame discussions about modern issues.

Part of this is seeing different productions of Shakespeare’s works. In addition to assigned readings, we’re also supposed to watch different adaptations that are available from Rutgers’ Libraries, like Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. In addition to this, we got to go see a live performance of Hamlet at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, tickets and transportation paid for by the Honors Program.

And it was brilliant, fantastic, molto bene!

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The performance was by a group from NYC called the Bedlam Theater Troupe. In the production, 4 actors play all the roles in Hamlet. If you’re unaware, that’s 20+ roles, one of which has the largest number of lines for a role out there, bouncing between 4 people. Still, they managed to make it work with minimal sets and some audience participation. All the actors were amazing and their interpretation managed to make a tragedy seem comedic for a large majority of the time. It provided us with a lot of things to discuss in class the next day.

Beyond the performances, the class also gained a new dimension last week when we discussed King Richard III and fake news. This week we’re going to discuss Measure for Measure, which will definitely be an interesting discussion about power, surveillance, and forgiveness.

Towards the end of the semester, we’re supposed to do a group project where we use Shakespeare to explore a social issue that interests us. I’m hoping my group will find the idea of something like a LIWS as interesting as I do, because, while this class is great so far, making one of those series would be a dream come true.