Summer Series Part Two: Knitting!!!

Hello everyone! Summer has officially kick-started, although it is currently raining outside. I thought I would continue my summer series posts to update you on what I will be doing this summer. I am really ecstatic to tell you that, this summer, I will be learning knitting!

Why knitting? Well, my mom has always been a knitter and I had a ball of purple yarn and a pair of dark green knitting needles laying around, so I thought, hey, let me give it a shot! So, here I am knitting. I should tell you that it is quite addicting once you get the hang of it. I started off checking out some beginner level instructional books from my local library. Unfortunately, I personally found it a bit difficult to comprehend whether the needle goes under the yarn or over from merely looking at the diagrams. One thing that I did glean from these instructional books was ideas on patterns. Then, I turned to YouTube videos. The videos were much easier to follow. My favorite videos are from Knitting Stitch Patterns. These videos have step-by-step, detailed instructions that are quite helpful.

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Before we get into some patterns, I would like to share with you the basics. Any pattern that you will ever do will always comprise of knit stitches and purl stitches. The difference between these two is a matter of whether the needle goes under or over the yarn. Knit stitches look like braids and purl stitches look like beads (see image above). If you master knit and purl stitches, then you are set for doing any pattern; the patterns are merely omnifarious combinations of these two stitches.

Before starting the pattern right away, my mom taught me that laying a strong and neat foundation is key. Thus, consecrate at least one row to laying out the foundation. The term for knitting the foundation and putting the yarn onto the needle is called “casting on,” which is often abbreviated as CO.  Before casting on, you need to do a slip knot (this will technically be your first stitch), then you can start casting on more stitches along your needle. 

Each pattern has a specific number of stitches that need to be cast on and this information will often be mentioned right in the beginning. The foundation is considered Row 1. Knitting patterns are often addressed according to specific rows. Often, instructions will be abbreviated. For example, Row 2: K2 * P2, K1. Translated, the preceding statement would be interpreted as the following: in row 2, do two knit stitches, then do two purl stitches and one knit stitch, and then repeat (*) the two purl stitches and one knit stitch till the end of the row.  Some other examples of key abbreviations are listed.

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Now, let us get to the fun part: patterns! When knitting patterns, there are two sides: the wrong side and the right side. You can think of it as a shirt having a right side (the one shown on the outside) and a wrong side (the unseen side). Often, you would want to display the pattern on the right side. Some patterns that I have done so far include Moss stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, seed stitch, bamboo stitch, basket-weave stitch, and teardrop stitch. You can see seed stitch, raspberry stitch, diamond honeycomb stitch, and bamboo stitch examples, respectively, below!

Well, I hope you saw how cool knitting can be. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! Enjoy the rest of your summers!

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Don’t Be Afraid To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in college is to push my boundaries and explore new opportunities. After all, college is the perfect time to discover yourself! While my first semester, I was more reserved and hesitant to try new things, I decided to make a change for my spring semester. Here are a few ways I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone:

1. Try new classes

Throughout high school, I generally tended to stay away from history and literature classes because I was not a fan of the humanities. I was much better and interested in math and science, so I filled up my schedule with mostly STEM-related classes. Coming into college, I was set on taking classes related to my neuroscience major and pre-med. The thought of having a schedule only filled with classes I wanted was so exciting.

Only biology and genetics and no Spanish and Language Arts and history?!?! 

It was like a dream come true. Only I soon realized it wasn’t the best thing in the world. I missed the balance of STEM and humanities classes that I’d always had in high school and my schedule felt empty. So, I decided to explore outside my interests and take a history class, culture class, and several other humanities courses. And, I’m so glad that I did. I think it’s fantastic that Rutgers and most colleges have core requirements that make you take a few courses in all subject areas. Otherwise, we’d all just stick to our majors and miss the point of a liberal arts education.

While I still am not a fan of the humanities, I really appreciate the skills I got to take away from the courses I enrolled in. It’s a nice break from the analytical and abstract science classes I take. It has given me critical thinking skills and helped me form informed perspectives on current political and world issues.

2. Join new clubs.

In high school, I wasn’t much of an “extracurricular” person. Sure, I’d participated in a few clubs, but academics was always my main priority. I wanted to change that in college. The college admission process really opened my eyes because I realized that anyone can have a 4.0 GPA and a 1600 on the SAT. What really matters are your extracurriculars and your unique experiences that set you apart from the rest.

I was excited to get involved on campus, but as a commuter, I wasn’t quite sure how to. I didn’t know if I had the time commitment, I didn’t know if I would be able to socialize well, and I didn’t know if I had the guts to join clubs that I had no prior experience in. After a complete year in college, I can honestly say that all of that is irrelevant as long as you are willing to try something new.

One by one, I started looking up organizations online, reaching out to clubs, and joining organizations. Something that I’d always wanted to do was write and have people actually read my writing, but I was scared to put myself out there. But I finally decided to let go of that fear and I joined two blogs my freshman year. The experience has been so rewarding.  I also joined the Rutgers Commuter Student Association and it was the best decision I made so far! It’s given me a sense of community and family in a big school like Rutgers.

3. Look for leadership opportunities.

College is a great place to get a feel for the real world. There are so many opportunities available to help you gather all the skills you need to succeed, so don’t be afraid to take them!

This past semester, I would always see opportunities to become part of the E-Board for student organizations. At first, I’d think to myself: “This would look great on my resume!” But then I’d back down because I’d think I didn’t have enough experience or ability to apply for such positions. If there is anything I’ve learned so far, it is that you never know what will and can happen.

As Nike would say, JUST DO IT! Even if you don’t get the position, it’s still a great experience applying and interviewing. It refines your writing and public speaking skills.  Even though I didn’t get the first few positions I had applied for, I wasn’t disappointed. I just kept going. Soon enough, opportunities started lining up, and I found myself with five leadership positions just my first year here!

4. Make new friends.

This one is a little personal for me and not everyone might be able to relate. As an introvert and a commuter, I have a hard time making and maintaining new friends on campus. During my first semester, I found myself alone a lot of the time and relying on my high school friends. I came very close to accepting the fact that I’d be alone all of college and have no luck with friends.

But, then something changed. I decided I didn’t want to have that mentality anymore. I wasn’t having any luck because I wasn’t trying at all to meet new people. I had to remember that everyone in some way was struggling and lonely. I had to put myself out there. As soon as I started feeling positive and put a smile on, good things started happening. I started talking to more people, hanging out, going to more events, and letting go of only sticking to my high school friends.

Even though college doesn’t really allow for having constant friends, it’s still great for enjoying the moment with those that are around you and having good conversations. The more I joined clubs and got involved, the more people I got to know.

Freshman year was just the beginning. It was the first step outside my comfort zone in a long flight of stairs of unexplored terrains. I’m so excited about my next three years here at Rutgers and I’m eagerly anticipating what the future holds. College can be the best four years of your life if you are open to letting yourself loose!

Senior Year Reflection: Rebecca Padersky

As our amazing seniors get ready to graduate and take on the real world, they reflect on the marks they have made, the people they have connected with, and the experiences they have had during their time at Rutgers. Follow along for the highlights of their journey, as told in their own words. Congratulations Rutgers SASHP Class of 2018!


When asked to write this post, I knew I really wanted to reflect not just on my time at Rutgers, but specifically on my time with the Honors Program. I could talk about being an Ambassador with so many of you, about the amazing events and programs I’ve attended, or about surviving honors organic chemistry, although that is a time I’ve really tried to block from my memory. Instead I decided to go way back, to my very first taste of the Honors Program – my scholars day in 2014. It only feels fitting on my last few days with the honors program to remember the first, right? I remember a few things about that first day, being completely intimidated by how accomplished all the ambassadors were (but guess what, now we’re those people), awesome food for lunch, and a poem.

If you’ve ever been to scholars day you know exactly what I’m talking about – “Ithaka”. I remember sitting there completely confused as to why 1) we were getting a poem to end the day and 2) why no one gave me an explanation of what it meant? As I went to more scholars days over the past 4 years, always ending it with that poem, I realized that the deans don’t give us an explanation because that is for our interpretation. So here I am, four years later, finally able to tackle why we listen to this poem – at least from my perspective.

The poem has a very specific focus at first read, a story about epic journeys, battles with monsters and adventures in far off places. But, the way I see it, even though we don’t tackle cyclopses every day, this poem is just one big metaphor for college. We don’t have to be sailing to lands we don’t know or fighting things double our size, this poem has plenty of ways it can relate back to what we do every day. Without going into the whole poem, I wanted to pull out a few lines.

The first comes from the beginning – “hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery.” There’s no time in my life, and probably in the future that I will do more, learn more and see more than I have in college. Nothing has felt more adventurous to me than the trips I’ve taken during college. Freshman year, I took an honors seminar with 14 other lovely students about Ireland, leading us to a week of adventure in Ireland together. I had never flown out of the country, let alone with 14 people I only knew from 8 weeks of class! From castles to bike rides to cliffs bigger than you can imagine, it was a giant adventure, and certainly one I’ll never forget. Fast forward two years and I find myself in Israel on adventures with two of my best friends I would have never met without the honors program. Not only was this an opportunity to learn and discover about places where my family is from but also to discovery more about myself mentally, spiritually, and physically (some of those hikes made me realize how out of shape I really am!)

Moving further through the poem, we get to a line telling us – “keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare excitement, stirs your spirit and your body.” Even when the going is tough, as long as we keep our passions in mind we can push through whatever gets thrown at us. Since high school, I knew I wanted to do genetic counseling after graduate school (and if you don’t know what that is, find me after, I’ll tell you plenty). With that though, came lots of prerequisite classes that I either had no serious interest in or was just plain bad at. Half of these classes felt just like memorizing random facts that I’ll never use again (seriously, when will I need to know every organic chemistry reaction again) or I found myself completely frustrated or stuck on a concept. In these moments, I tried to keep my thoughts raised high and remember the thing that stirs my spirit – my passion for counseling. With that, clearly, I made it, but it wasn’t easy. None of us smoothly sailed through college, but we’re all here today because we kept that excitement alive and are ready to put it to use out in the real world.

The next line that catches my eye says that “you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;” While college didn’t teach me to sail a boat, we’ve had so many firsts that make college special. We had a sitting president speak at commencement for the first time, celebrating 250 years of success here at Rutgers. I presented a poster for the first time based on research that, you can probably guess, I did for the first time here at Rutgers. I had my first exposure to diversity that I never got at home, allowing me to learn more about the people and the world around me. I’ve learned about social justice issues and watched my peers fight for things that matter to them which has been incredible and something that has been unique to my college experience.

Another line I personally find special is – “don’t hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you’re old by the time you reach the island” I feel that we often get so caught up sometimes in the rush of the four years (or less for the over achievers) of college, but it has been so important to gain wisdom and really savor the entire journey.  It can be easy to come into college, completely focused on academics and preparing ourselves for “adulting,” but personally, I’ve really tried to make the most of this journey just like I know many of you have. I threw myself into sorority life, something I never thought I would do. I was the most amazing community and experience, although it definitely took off 10 years of my life and probably added a few gray hairs at times. I pushed myself to get involved with all aspects of the honors program from tutoring, peer mentoring to my personal favorite, being a senior ambassador. I realized halfway through junior year that technically, I could have graduated in three years, but I then realized how many things I would have missed out on if I tried to hurry the journey. I wouldn’t have been as active in my sorority, completed the honors program or even just enjoyed my senior year with the people I had spent the last three with. It’s easy to want to get out, but standing here makes me realize how grateful I am to have used these four years to their full potential.

And lastly, my favorite line: “Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.” I think Ithaka means something different to everyone, and that’s the beauty of this poem. Right now, I see it as the journey through college, but anyone sitting here could have their own interpretation. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ve reached that Ithaka yet, but that’s okay. Through everything we’ve done the past four years, we’ve become wiser, more experienced and ready to take on the world. We’re at a turning point, at the end of one journey, ready (or not) to take on the next, whether that be a job, grad school, or just some much deserved time off. Importantly, I think I’ve finally reached my first Ithaka, and now we are all ready for the next journey.

– Rebecca Padersky

 

 

Another Unprofessional Movie Review

I AM GOING TO TRY REALLY HARD NOT TO SPOIL INFINITY WAR BECAUSE I AM A DECENT HUMAN BEING, BUT HUMANS ARE FLAWED CREATURES SO FAIR WARNING.

Before I go into my thoughts about Infinity War, let me go back a couple of years.

It’s June of 2012. It’s the tail-end my freshman year of high school and I’m wandering around the halls, looking for something to do now that finals are over, but the school year hasn’t technically ended yet. On the second floor, I see my group of friends in the health classroom, so I walk in and one of the gym teachers is showing a movie. I stick around. The movie is blurry because it is a recording of a movie screen (in China, based on the subtitles), but the sound quality is good and you can more or less make out what’s going on at any given time, so as far as bootlegs go, it’s pretty high quality.

And that was the first time I watched The Avengers.

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I wouldn’t say it was a life-changing experience. I liked the movie enough to go back and rewatch all the ones I missed and I liked those movies enough to watch most of the new ones as they came out. After all, you can always trust Marvel to put out a good product. However, somewhere along the way, I got attached.

Fast-forward to 2018 and I’ve just watched Avengers: Infinity War with my group of friends at the Rutgers Cinema and already it’s a vastly improved first-viewing experience than the one I had almost six years ago.

(I’m not sponsored by Rutgers Cinema, but I should be. Call me and we’ll work something out! I’ll tell people that you’re movie theater is actually pretty good all day, every day.)   

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A lot has changed in the franchise since 2012, but at the same time, not much has changed either.

So, let’s this get out of the way:  

The visuals were awesome. The acting was great. It was two hours and forty minutes of the best six dollars I’d ever spent.

I’m most impressed with how the movie wasn’t a complete and utter trainwreck. It definitely had the potential to be one. The people making this film had the (un)enviable job of:

  • Juggling the 60+ Marvel characters that show up in this movie
  • Maintaining their characterization that was developed over multiple movies
  • Managing multiple, separate storylines that converge into one whole coherent plot that also fits within the overarching plot of the 18 other movies Marvel Studios has produced
  • Living up to the expectations of fans everywhere and they hype built up over the course of those aforementioned 18 movies
  • Making a lot of money. Like a stupid amount of money.
  • And just making a good movie

In my humble opinion, they succeeded.

My one complaint (which isn’t really a complaint at all, but I’ll get into all of that later) is that the movie never allows you to focus on a single character for too long. You’re never really just allowed to hold onto a single moment and process it. Something insane happened and then they cut to another completely insane thing. It’s miraculous that I was able to keep up with what was going on.

Maybe I’ve just gotten too used to the solo movies, where there’s one main character that we really got to focus on and know. In those movies, you really got a sense of who these characters are and what they were going through. I’m the kind of nerd that likes to see movies focus on the internal conflict as well as the external one and while there were definitely emotional moments, we weren’t really allowed to linger on them before something else demanded our attention. But maybe that’s the point of a cinematic universe.

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If you walked into Infinity War blind –  you’ve never watched a Marvel movie before, you don’t know who these characters are, you don’t know what they’ve been through, then what you got was a really entertaining movie. Maybe you were a little confused about who all of these people were and what their deal is, but after an hour in, you’ve more or less figured out enough to understand what was going on.

But the thing is, you’ve watched Marvel movies before (I’ve seen all of them except for Ant-Man and the second Thor movie), you know who these characters are and what they’ve been through. You know who they are, how they got here, how they’ve changed and grown. You know enough that you don’t just understand what’s going on in the movie, it means something to you. This movie is the pay off for the world that we’ve invested ourselves in for so many years. That’s why it can break our hearts. It took the shortcut that it created.

Also, the action was pretty cool and the Chrises, as usual, were very handsome.  Sebastian Stan was also very handsome.

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(My heart hurts. But it’s okay I’m fine. I’m fine.)

I didn’t really think about this until I sat down to write this post and I don’t mean to get my personal life all over this unprofessional movie review, but it says unprofessional in the title so you’re going to have to deal with it. I can’t help but think how much has changed since I first saw The Avengers.

I was a high school freshman in 2012, looking ahead to my future as if it was some sort of abstract concept. I was still in that happily ignorant bubble of “Well, I don’t have to decide anything now.” Now I’m a junior about to become a senior and (if you’ve talked to me at any point in the past two weeks, you’ve heard me say this, but for those of you who haven’t…) the future feels close now. It’s real now, I can see it, and if they’ve come up with a word that means “terrified and exhilarated and relieved and petrified at the same time”, I’m feeling just that.     

TLDR; I really enjoyed the movie, I was stressed out during the entirety of it, but I enjoyed it immensely and I literally can’t wait for the next Avengers movie to come out next year. Also, some stuff about me freaking out about the future. You know, the usual.