Two Diverse Endeavors

I can’t believe it’s almost becoming time for me to graduate! I hardly even feel like a college student right now, so I am in serious wonder of how I will feel when I finally leave. One of the things I will miss about college is the ability to socialize and quickly make friends with people of different cultures and backgrounds. I’m not saying you won’t meet people of diverse upbringings after college, but it will not be as new and fresh an environment to make friends as in college, since later in life people start worrying about their work, how to start families, and other personal commitments. In college, basically everyone is trying to figure out where they are going, and a huge part of that journey entails meeting new people.

I myself have gotten to appreciate other cultures over the years, and below I list two of the ways I have explored backgrounds different from, but also including, my own.

One of my endeavors is attending cultural events at Marathi Vishwa Professional Association with my family during the fall season. Here, I travel with my parents on a weekend to any local NJ high school where the event is sponsored and get to socialize with family friends and make new ones, almost entirely in my first language, Marathi. There is great food (always the best part), dance performances, theatrical skits, and a great chance for me to stay connected to my Indian heritage. Best of all, it’s a great break from the academically stressful environment of the weekdays. Even if I have an exam to study for later in the day, I at least find it relaxing that I got to go to one of these events. Of course, the event is not only exclusive to people who speak Marathi, so it’s also nice to see people from all over India dressing up in traditional Marathi attire and connecting with their culture.

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Another way is that I spent two of my summers interning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, in which I described my experience volunteering in the waiting room of the pediatric clinics, almost entirely in Spanish. I had described my experience in a previous post titled “The NYPD – New York Presbyterian Department“, and I had the privilege of doing it again this past summer, this time as a paid intern! I even got academic credit for it at the Rutgers Internship and Co-op Program! I am glad to know that the initiative to address patients’ social determinants of health (non-biological factors such as occupation, education, and housing) is gaining ground at NYP, and I do hope it grows out to other healthcare institutions as well. The best part about this experience was that it introduced me firsthand to the Dominican culture in the Washington Heights region of New York City, and it thrilled me knowing I was part of an initiative to help the children and their families adjust to their living situations with support from local government-funded and private community resources. The sooner the problems are addressed, the better the lives of the family improves and the less of a chance they have of developing unhealthy eating habits or building up risk factors for chronic disorders. Speaking Spanish to these patients really made me feel like part of their lives and able to communicate what they may have been anxious or had not known about.

Those were two of the experiences I had that I considered as being the most diverse. One was for clinical experience, and the other was for pure family enjoyment. I am sure I have many more that I will talk about in my future posts, and I am sure many of my peers also have something to share regarding their diverse experiences. Whether you realize it or not, each one of us really does have an interesting experience that is worth writing or talking about. Engaging in free discussion was one of the ways I was able to build relationships in college and connect with other cultures. At the end of the day, nothing makes me feel more satisfied than walking away from a conversation where I learned something new about the person, the culture, or myself.

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Must-Read Final Exam Tips

Hey everyone! Fall 2018 semester is finally coming to an end. I feel like it flew by so fast! You know what that (unfortunately) means: finals are approaching. I thought I would share with you some tips for the dreadful exams.

Before the Exam

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  1. Go to the review sessions. I know this may sound a little “no-duh”, but trust me there are many of you who think staying in and studying instead of getting on the bus to go to the review session is smart. All the review sessions I have attended in the past 3 years (including for my last semester classes) were quite useful; the professor/TA’s always gave some sort of hint on what to focus my studying on, so do go if you can.
  2. Go to your Rutgers portal to see your final exam dates. You should have done this by now, but if you haven’t, then go do it right now. Plan out how your exam days are going to be. Which campus do you have to go to? Do you have enough time to commute? How far apart are your exams? Do you have a little extra time to wake up and study?
  3. Make a condensed note sheet of keynotes. On this list, it would be useful to write mechanisms, dates of key events, classifications of lipids, etc. Any piece of information that you keep forgetting, (after you have studied and reviewed all the material multiple times) put it on this note sheet. I find it helpful to limit my words and pages used for the keynotes because I don’t want to rewrite ALL my notes.
  4. While you go over your notes, use a red (or a color of your choice) pen to highlight/box/underline VERY important notes. Try to limit it to one color so the information really sticks out when you review the notes again.
  5. Make a questions list. You know those questions you have been waiting to ask your professor all semester? Well, now would probably be a good time to compile all the questions into a list on your phone (I do this using notepad), laptop, or a piece of paper.
  6. Speaking of questions, make it a goal to contact your professor at least once between now and two to three days before the exam to clarify material/answer your questions (from the list you have made of course). Notice I said contact and not that you HAVE to go to office hours.  I know time is of the essence right now, so see if you can email your questions to professors instead. I find this more helpful because the professors themselves take the time to write out more thorough answers than if you were to ask in person.
  7. Grab a friend (or make one first by exchanging contact information) from the class and quiz each other. I usually wait till I have gone over and am comfortable with all the material before I do this. This is so that you truly find out the really weak topics that you should look over in the last day or two (or few hours) before the exam.
  8. Try not to study the last hour before the exam. Trust me, it does NOT help at all. In fact, when I do study an hour before the exam, I get more anxious and feel like I don’t know any of the material ( I feel less prepared than I really am). Just relax this hour. Watch those 20-minute episodes of your favorite show. Listen to music. Hang out with your friends (obviously for fun and not to study together at this point).

Taking the Exam

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  1. Circle/underline keywords/terms in the exam questions (if you are allowed to write on the exams). These are usually the “NOT the answer”, “does NOT fit in”, important names/numbers, etc.  Be sure you know what the question is really asking you.
  2. Do not doubt yourself on the exam. I usually star the questions I REALLY have no clue about and then ONLY review those after making sure there is an answer for every question (even if this answer is doubtful). You can make sure your bubbled in answer matches the one you circled (if you are using a scantron), but other than this, do NOT go over questions you are not totally doubtful of.
  3. When reviewing doubtful questions, unless you know for sure (because you remembered an important piece of information or deduced the answer due to hidden clues from other questions on the exam), DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ANSWER.

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  1. You are free. Stop thinking about that one question you know you got wrong (even after I told you not to doubt yourself and change it for the tenth time).  You can’t change the past. Move on.

I hope these tips help! Good luck to everyone!!!!!

 

How to Make the Most of the Last Few Weeks of the Semester

Did you come back after Thanksgiving Break surprised that there are only a few weeks left of the semester? Me too. The first day of classes feels like it was just yesterday, and I still can’t believe how this semester’s flown by. If you’re thinking to yourself that you wish you’d joined more clubs or gone to more events, don’t panic! You still have some time left. Here are some ways to make the most of these last few weeks.

  1. Check out some pre-finals destress events, such as Midnight Breakfast and Twilight Yoga. Many student organizations host their own special events, too, so keep an eye out for them!!
  2. Go to a concert or musical performance. Many of the choirs, acapella groups, and instrumental ensembles have their end-of-the-semester performances coming up, and they’re the perfect fun break from hours of studying. For example, Cabaret Theatre’s production of Fun Home has performances tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday night, so that’s a perfect place to start.
  3. Try some new places to eat. Last year around this time, my roommate and I made it our mission to eat everywhere that took meal swipes that wasn’t Brower. There are a lot more than people realize – we went to so many different places and still didn’t eat at them all. If you’re getting sick of dining hall food, hop on a bus and check out a new place to eat on another campus.
  4. Spend time with your friends. Yes, finals week is coming up, but that doesn’t mean that you should hide in your room with only your notes and textbooks for company. Take some time to hang out with your friends before you have to say goodbye to them for a whole month. You could even study together and motivate each other, though make sure you can stay focused!!
  5. Treat Yo’ Self. While it’s great to try to accomplish as much as possible during these last few weeks, be sure to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show if you’re feeling burnt out, or buy yourself your favorite Starbucks drink. If it’ll make you smile even with final exams looming, it’s worth it.

The end of the semester can be overwhelming with final projects, exams, and getting ready to say goodbye to Rutgers for a month, so take a deep breath and enjoy the time that’s left. I wish you all the best of luck with your finals and I hope you all make the most of the remainder of your fall semester : )

What to Watch Next!!

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

1. Thursday night: YOU

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare Yourself

November is almost over and we all know what that means…FINALS 😦 Finals and the weeks leading up to them can be super stressful for most of us, so I thought I would compile a list of some ways to make it a little more bearable!

1. Make a list of everything you have to do

This one may seem really obvious, but it’s really easy to push things off until the last minute. I think the most helpful thing you can do for yourself is to create a list of ALL the assignments and important due dates you have coming up. I recently made one of these for myself, and though it was a little stressful seeing all of those assignments to complete, I felt so much better knowing that I (sort of) have everything under control. Plus, it’s so satisfying to cross things off of my list as I finish them.

2. Use Forest! (or a similar app)

I may have mentioned Forest in a post a while back, but this app is responsible for 90% of my productivity. Once you set the timer on your phone, you can’t use it until the time is up (otherwise you will kill the tree). I think this was a paid app (maybe $2?) but I’ve been using this for over a year now, and it has definitely been worth it. It’s is the perfect way to make sure that you can’t get distracted by your phone. I also recently discovered that there is a free forest chrome extension that allows you to choose websites to blacklist. I use this to block YouTube and Netflix while I am in the middle of a study session, but this might be also helpful for anyone who wants to use it to block social media!

3. Make a study playlist

Everyone is different, and some people like to study with music while others don’t. For me, it depends on how much concentration I need to do. So I have a bunch of playlists (really, I have too many), and I choose what I want to work to based on my mood. For example, I have one with soundtracks like Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones, and I have another playlist with classical music for when I want to feel calmer. I also find lofi hip-hop playlists on YouTube pretty relaxing to listen to. Music can help you feel better when you are feeling down!

4. Include breaks in your schedule–and make sure you take them!

I used to have this really bad habit of setting aside break times, only to end up ignoring them and continue studying. But I learned the hard way that this only makes you feel more tired and burnt out from work later on. Sometimes I read, sketch or do a little bit of yoga during a break–just anything that allows me to step away from the work for a few minutes. Although you may feel like you don’t need a break, your brain will thank you!

I know most of these tips are things you all know already, it helps to keep them in the back of your mind. Now, I just hope  will follow my own advice 🙂

Thanksgiving Food Ideas

Hello friends. So, I’m super excited about Thanksgiving. We get a few days to sleep which is great, I can hopefully get caught up on school work, also great. Senior year is super stressful, so I actually didn’t plan out what I wanted to cook well in advance this year, which is surprising. But I decided what I wanted to cook, now! So I figured I’d just say what I was gonna do. Then if you wanted to tell me what you plan to have, please do. I love hearing about food, like literally always.

1. Main course: Turkey Breast

My sister, if y’all remember, is vegan. We actually haven’t cooked a turkey in a few years, it was never my favorite part of the meal anyway. But this year my mom thought it would be nice to have, so I decided I’d try bringing a turkey breast. I guess it’s kind of like making pickles, but meat? It sounds gross, but it’s really one of only a few ways to get actual seasoning into the meat instead of just sitting on top. So I was gonna bring it in sugar, salt (duh),  apple cider/balsamic vinegar, spices like clove, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, anise, garlic, and onion. Then I was gonna roast garlic, mix it with olive oil and thyme, and smear that over the dried bird to crisp the skin in the oven. It’s actually bad practice to stuff the turkey with bread stuffing because you’ll have to cook it way longer to get the filling up to safe to eat temperatures. So I was gonna stuff it with herbs, garlic, onion, and oranges. So that’s that, should be fun.

2. Mashed potatoes.

These will be vegan, as they’re my sister’s only real request besides bread rolls and cranberry sauce. She really just wants copious amounts of those three things. She’ll probably season them tbh, she doesn’t trust anyone else with the coveted potato.

3. Cranberry sauce.

We make the same one each year, and it’s super easy to make. The primary things to add are fresh cranberries, a bunch of sugar, water, orange juice, and a cinnamon stick. Like literally, boil that for like an hour and you have a delicious sauce. We usually also add lime and a few fresh jalapenos, because it’s a nicer flavor to use (we like the bitterness of the lime and the heat of the pepper), but do whatever your heart desires. I’m sure you could add almost any citrus to make it delicious, you could probably make it more savory than sweet. The cranberry is your canvas.

4. Pumpkin pie.

I’m making this, one per my mother’s request, and two because my friend likes pumpkin pie and I said I’d give her one cause she bought me a pumpkin to smash on Halloween, I think it was? (a group had a sale on Busch where you could buy a small, medium, or large pumpkin to smash with a bat. Was very fun. Smashed a pumpkin in ten seconds flat. Good times). I want to try to make a slightly different take on the classic pumpkin pie. We have like a million cans of pumpkin puree in our house right now (my mom says they’re on sale, so she keeps buying them despite not using them. I’m holding her to her promise of making us a pumpkin soup over the week). So I’m gonna take a few of those cans, blend them with the classic pie spices (though hopefully I’ll freshly toast and grind them myself. I know it’s like, more money and time, but the smell is always so much nicer, my dudes). Then I’m gonna bake the pumpkin by itself, before putting it into its traditional custard filling. I saw a Tasty video do this, and it sounded like, so much nicer than just typical pumpkin pie. So imma try it.

5. Baklava.

Not super traditional, but I really like sweets, so two desserts. And I love baklava. It’s like a super syrupy dessert made with nuts and phyllo dough. If it’s fresh it’s crunchy and nice. Tbh I prefer it after it’s soaked a day; not as crunchy but I like the flavor a lot. The first time I made baklava was actually on a Thanksgiving when I was a kid, so it brings back a fond memory. So I’m making that too.

That’s basically it. I’m sure I’ll make a vegetable too, but I’m too lazy to think of that right now. Probably either a salad or just roasted veggies. So, what are y’all making/eating? I hope you enjoy your break!

 

Weekend Adventures

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College can seem like a trap. During the week, you are dragged to the classroom and when you are not in the classroom, you are tied down to a seat with a computer putting you in a trance. The routine of food, class, studying, and sleep becomes robotic, repetitive, and exhausting. That final day of routine breaks the cycle and presents a chance of freedom. Friday finally arrives as your savior and points you toward the sliver of light. The blazing white light that brings tears of joy to your eyes returns once again: the weekend. A supposed time of tranquility and Hakuna Matata. However, the heavenly two days that maintain your sanity can still seem like a drag. Students are either getting ahead or catching up in their school work as the upcoming week presents so much anxiety. Instead of being in a constant state of worry, we students must reclaim the weekend! Here are a variety of ways to have fun and make Rutgers memories you will never forget on the most precious days of the week.

Rutgers offers so many opportunities on campus that students are never far from a great experience. Keep an eye out for events sponsored by RUPA, the Rutgers University Planning Association. RUPA has featured Logic, Chance the Rapper, Khalid, and this year Amine at their once a semester Beats on the Banks shows. Show off your Scarlet Pride and support our very own Scarlet Knights as they take on the Big 10 Conference. Check out their schedules online to see when the Scarlet Knights are battling it out on the field, court, or in the pool. There is an endless number of events at Rutgers so students must keep an eye out. Follow Rutgers accounts on social media that sponsor events you would attend and check out the many bulletin boards featuring upcoming events.

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Off-campus presents just as many opportunities for students to expand their boundaries outside Rutgers. The convenient train station can launch any student into New York City in about an hour. Students can go sightseeing, grab some famous New York pizza, or just explore the city that never sleeps. Back in New Brunswick, downtown George Street has so many venues to try as well. There are some fantastic classics like Chipotle and unique restaurants like Teri Teri and Kasai. Plus, the State Theater of New Jersey and the newly refurbished George Street Playhouse are awesome destinations to catch a play, musical, or concert.

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Clearly, there are so many ways to stay busy on the weekends. Remember that you will not prize those days in the computer lab or library as much as the unforgettable memories made at an event, club, or just a relaxing movie night with your friends. Time management is the key to succeeding in school and allowing spare moments for special memories. Students, learn to balance your school work with your weekend adventures to truly maximize your Rutgers experience.

The Most Beautiful and Spectaclar Places to Visit During Fall!!

Hi everyone!

It’s finally Fall!!!! Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors; they make every cold day worth the walk outside. I thought this month I would share with you a list of the most beautiful places to see during fall. This is just a short list, so feel free to look up more if you would like. Enjoy!

1. Vermont Green Mountain Byway

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This colorful, scenic drive will absolutely blow your mind. You start the drive in Waterbury and keep driving along Route 100. Stare out your window on both sides, and you will feel as if you are entering a magical wonderland of hues of oranges, reds, and yellows.

2. Colorado Aspen Valley

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This little valley is filled with tall, yellow riverside cottonwoods that are towering over you as you hike through. Aspen Valley has many other activities you can do besides hiking. You can shop, eat, visit museums, go to shows, and much more.

3. Catskills in New York

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This is one is in our neighboring state! Catskills is filled with wooded hillsides and mountain peaks that are painted with vibrant colors in fall. From open-air rides on the Catskill Mountain Railroad to fly fishing, there are many opportunities to be with one with nature.

4. The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee

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Established in 1934, this park is one of the most popular national parks in America. If you love a mountain view, then this is the perfect place for you. The Appalachian Mountains are the epitome of mother nature.

While these places are all in America, I wish to fly you across the world for other spectacular fall views.

5. Bieszczady in Poland

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Okay, this is one is pretty cool. This is a Polish cordillera that is one of the rare places in which the night sky is pollution-free. That means you can finally stargaze; as you lay on your back and look up, a million glimmering diamonds are awaiting your gaze.

6.  Eurochocolate in Perugia, Italy

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Alright, this is one is a mouthwatering sweet delight! If you are a chocolate lover (totally me), then drop everything and go to this annual festival in late October! Seriously. This year, it is from October 19 to October 28th.  From chocolate sculptures to free chocolate chips for EVERYONE, things just keep getting better. The events are all free! Tell me a better way to make your sweet tooth tingle. I’ll wait.

7. The Megyer Mountain Tarn in Sarospatak, Hungary

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These mountains seem to be carved by nature herself. The lake meanders around the little islands of mountains. A tarn is a small mountain lake formed from a glacial erosion. Each island is splotched with colorful, vivacious trees. This is a great place for water lovers.

Well, I hope you enjoyed looking at these places. Now, go and actually look at them in person, either with a friend or with your family. These will definitely be on my bucket list (especially the Eurochocolate festival). Feel free to comment on your personal favorites below. Do you know of other places in which autumn manifest its colors (literally)?

Happy Halloween From All Your SASHP Bloggers!

Happy Halloween everyone! We hope you enjoy our thoughts on Halloween and stay spooky this season!!

5 Easy Halloween Costume Ideas- Nishita Patel

Some people starting planning out their Halloween costume(s) months in advance. The following three ideas are perfect for those who love to participate in Halloween festivities but aren’t invested think about them for longer than a day. These might not be the most brilliant costumes, but they’ll get the job done (especially if you don’t have witch hats, nerd glasses and fake blood lying around and just need to make do with what you have in your closet).

1. Ice cream

Just wear any solid-colored shirt and draw different colored lines all over it. If you don’t want to ruin your shirt, you can just cut out small rectangles out of paper and tape them onto your shirt. Then, just wear brown or tan-colored bottoms.

2. Formal apology

Wear a fancy dress or shirt and tape a piece of paper that reads “I’m sorry” onto your outfit. Done!

3. Cactus

Wear any green shirt and tape small pieces of folded white rectangles onto the shirt.

4. Popcorn

Take a few sheets of paper and color one side yellow. Crumple up the paper and tape the paper balls onto a shirt. Then, wear red pants.

5. Fork in the road

Take a piece of paper, cut out a few rectangles, and tape them to a black shirt to create the dashed lines of a road. Then, tape a plastic fork onto the shirt.

I hope these gave you some inspiration if you need to come up with a last-minute Halloween costume. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

 

Where’s Your Halloween Spirit? -Tanya Banerjee

Keep your spirits high this Halloween! I’m an adult age-wise–but never at heart, which is why I’m a sincerely dedicated, fully costumed trick-or-treater every single Halloween. And I mean this year, too. This will be my last Halloween as an (undergrad) college student, but so what?! There are many more Halloweens to come when I’ll be rocking a costume because who cares what age I am? What I’m trying to tell you is pretty much: never grow up. Embrace what you have loved in your youth and continue to love it. Part of that for me is keeping the Halloween tradition alive and going all out. So in twenty years, if you open your door on Halloween to find a lady dressed up as a witch asking for candy, know that it will probably be me, but ALSO that this woman isn’t afraid to keep her love for Halloween alive–no matter how old she is.

 

Funny Trick-or-Treating Experience- Aishwarya Madhikar

Hi, I thought I would share with you my funniest trick-or-treating experience. It was when I was around 11-12 years old. I went with my best friend, my brother, and my mom. At the time, we used to live in an apartment development, so trick-or-treating was actually quite fun because a lot of the residents who gave out good candy were nearby! As we were going door-to-door, my friend and I got to this one door on the ground floor; it was open just a crack. As I approached it, I could see it was dark. I wondered if anyone was even home. If they were, then why did they leave their door open?? As I knocked lightly (to not push the door completely open with my forceful knocking), I suddenly saw the door swing open and two greyhounds dashed out the door barking. My best friend and I screamed out loud and ran as fast as we could. We literally dispersed in two different directions because we had no clue where we each were going. My baby brother and my mom were shocked behind us. It was the funniest scene. I am pretty sure you could hear us screaming from a mile away. I will never forget that night. P.S. we each got a bucket full of candy.

 

Favorite Festive Fall Recipes- Becky Kowalski

I love cooking, so I figured I’d share a few of my favorite fall time recipes for the spooky season (the alliteration in my title is half the reason I’m writing about this…just so you know). One involves pumpkin, so it’s appropriate for Halloween, one was my favorite from when my family ate meat regularly, and I have such fond memories of it that I’m gonna share it anyway. The pumpkin recipe is a basic pumpkin soup that’s soup-er easy to make. Heat up some oil in a pot, cook garlic, onion, celery, and carrot until it’s soft. Then throw in vegetable stock and a whole can of pureed pumpkin (pls not pumpkin pie filling. You will have sugary soup). A bunch of salt and pepper, then you can throw in thyme, rosemary, a little cinnamon, and a little nutmeg if you want, or not if you don’t. Let that cook for like 20 minutes, then if you want you can add a splash of cream, I don’t usually just because we don’t have cream in our house often, but it’ll make for a more velvety soup. That’s it, easy as pumpkin pie.

The meat recipe is also simple, but obviously more expensive cause it like, has meat in it. It also takes time, but it’s easy and honestly so delicious. In a slow cooker (or like a pot if you don’t have one, you’d just leave your stove on super low for a really long time. Good for heating up the house in the fall) you add onions and apples that you cut up into big chunks, whole cloves of garlic, a sprig of rosemary, some cinnamon, pork chops, a little bit of vegetable or chicken broth for your food to cook in, and a bunch of salt and pepper. Just let that heat for forever, and it’s done when the pork is pulled apart with a spoon tender. It’s honestly really delicious (it’d probably be even better if you included a pat of butter into it), and you can serve it with like, roasted potatoes or orzo or something like that. Those are a few of my favorite fall time meals!  

 

Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Orlando

I do not like scary movies. Killers that pop out from behind a door, demons haunting a house, or loud shrieking sounds make me scream like a child in the middle of a movie theater. However, there is something so exhilarating about being scared to death in a simulated haunted house. From October 11th until October 14th, I visited Universal Studios Orlando for their annual Halloween Horror Nights where ‘Scare-acters,’ actual actors who were required to audition, are prepared as unimaginable monsters or your favorite horror movie characters to make guests jump. Guests are haunted in scare zones, where ghouls populate a certain walkway of the park, or haunted houses, where guests navigate a dark, narrow trail with loud noises and Scare-acters. Two scare zones were based off the strange 1980’s horror flick Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the famous killer doll Chucky from the original Child’s Play film. On the other hand, haunted houses were mostly based on famous movies or television shows like Stranger Things, Trick r Treat, Halloween, Poltergeist, The Purge, and Happy Death Day.

Halloween Horror Nights was truly a unique and unforgettable experience. The costumes of the Scare-acters, detail of the haunted houses, and the overall Halloween atmosphere was astonishing. Never before have I felt more in the spirit of Halloween than when I was screaming from Michael Myers slashing at me with his infamous knife. As a devoted Stranger Things fan, being scared to death by a Demogorgon in the Upside-Down was a surreal experience. Although I never saw some of the movies that a few haunted houses were based on, they nevertheless frightened me and probably frightened me even more. In the Trick r Treat house, I was clueless and had no idea what to expect. When I saw an entire werewolf pop out of thin air, I knew that I had to see this movie! If I was a huge fan or never even heard of the inspirational film, Halloween Horror Nights never failed to bring the spookies.

 

I’m Celebrating Halloween for the First Time This Year – Melanie Raush

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m nineteen years old, a sophomore in college, and I have never celebrated Halloween before. I’m Jewish, so growing up, my sister and I were never allowed to dress up or go trick-or-treating because my mom felt that the holiday wasn’t secular enough for us to be able to celebrate. Every year, while all of my friends wore their costumes to school and went out at night to trick-or-treat or, as we grew up, go to parties, I sat at home with my family, handing out candy at the door whenever the doorbell rang; my parents’ house is on a cul-de-sac, so we rarely even got to participate in the holiday that way. There’s a Jewish holiday called Purim that usually falls in early March during which we dress up and share junk food with friends (among other traditions), and celebrating that was always fun, but it could never hold a candle to the Halloween festivities.

When I started college last year, I decided that I wanted to dress up and celebrate Halloween. I didn’t end up actually putting together a costume or celebrating in any other way last year for whatever reason, so this year will finally be the year that I get to experience everything I’ve been watching from afar throughout my life. I have my costume all ready to go (I’m dressing up as Christine Canigula from the musical Be More Chill, in case you were curious) and I’m going to wear it all day on Wednesday while listening to Halloween-themed music, hanging out with friends, and simply enjoying the holiday. I can’t wait!! Happy Halloween, everyone : )

 

The Costumes That Made Me – K.C. Wittmaack

Halloween costumes, for a period of about 10 years, were a staple of my childhood. If I put as much effort into school as I did my costumes, I’d be at the top of my class. Every year, most of my time was spent subconsciously plotting my attire for that year, and looking back, each getup seamlessly pinpoints a specific phase of my life (spoiler alert; they’re all embarrassing).

There were three costumes that come to mind the quickest.

One year, I decided to take advantage of my scraggly haircut and be a werewolf, so I greased back my mop of hair and put in a set of fake teeth that gave me this massive underbite. My mom painted my face to look as though I had fur (because in truth, I was not able to grow a beard yet at nine years old), and she glued long stringy sideburns to the edge of my jawline. It was badass at the time, but looking back, I now understand why some moms who opened the door to me holding an outstretched candy bag were actually a bit taken aback; I looked like mid-puberty Chewbacca.

Then, a few years later, my Halloween writer’s block led me to put together a last-minute zombie baseball player. I basically just wore a tattered Yankees jersey and painted my face probably a little bit too pale, and I ended up coming off as a malnourished homeless child who just happened to like the Yankees.

A few years later, I really wanted to go all-out because my school announced that there would be a costume competition with prizes. My mom, who has now become a veteran make-up artist due to all her time spent painting faces every October, whipped out all her kits of face-paint and hairspray and fake teeth and went to work. We settled on Freddie Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. I had the fedora, the gnarly teeth and sweater, and my mom painted my face to really sell that I was some sort of demon with burnt skin– granted, a little dark for sixth grade. We also bought a pair of the Freddie Krueger claws that were spot-on. However, unbeknownst to me, my middle school had updated its costume policy and no “weapons” were allowed to be incorporated in costumes, so the claws sat in the front office while I walked around looking like a burn-victim with horrible fashion sense. I did win “Scariest Costume” though, complete with a piece of printer paper that had the word “Scariest” on it with a spooky font, but perhaps not for the right reasons; I don’t think anybody really knew who I was and was genuinely frightened of me.

Needless to say, I’m sure everyone has a Halloween costume that they can remember– even if they don’t necessarily want to remember it.

 

Halloweenie, Don’t be Scared- Neelay Inamdar

I have always loved horror movies! Who doesn’t want to see a killer clown run after a bunch of kids and portray each of their greatest fears! Today’s horror movies, although good, are not as thrilling as those slasher flicks from the ‘80s, like Friday the 13th or Graduation Day or Halloween. Those were suspenseful because they had actual human killers! Anyway, this year, I thought I would relive my mock fear of horror movies by watching IT. You might be thinking that once you watch a horror movie the first time, you know what to expect if you watch it again. That could not be further from the truth. When I watched IT for the first time, I was alone, and although I was a bit reluctant at first, I decided to give it another go at my friend’s house last week. There were 8 of us, and I was one of a couple who had already seen it but wanted to see it again.

Being with my friends allowed me to re-experience the thrills and horror at those points where I got really scared the first time, but when I watched them again, I could make fun of others who were more scared than me! I could even tickle them and make them jump out of their seat before the actual movie scare came. It’s a different experience watching horror movies with friends than when you are alone because you’re challenged to not be that guy who can’t handle the scare! You could easily turn on the lights or pause the movie if you are alone like I did, but with my friends, I didn’t have that option. They even threatened to rewind and replay the scary scenes! Honestly, though, it was still fun, and what made this Halloween special for me since I could learn to face any other fears in real life, a skill we all can use. Happy Halloween everybody! I can’t wait for the second chapter of IT. Hopefully, I can have my revenge on my friends when I watch that the second time at my house…

 

A Happy Ending Every Halloween- Shrusti Goswami

There are three things that excited me about Halloween when I was a kid: costumes, pumpkins, and candy. Costumes were, naturally, a big deal. Walking around Party City with wide eyes (and my mom reminding me that costumes were expensive) gave me a kind of rush I can’t even try to recreate today. But then October 31st would come and it would be 30 degrees and suddenly my dope ass princess warrior persona came with a jacket or one of those thermal undershirts that my mom pulled out of thin air.

Pumpkins were another big deal. I’d stare out the window on the bus ride home and see them lining houses throughout my neighborhood. Every year I’d wait to pick pumpkins and carve them. I would cut out the top and just stick my hands my hands in pumpkin guts for God knows how long. But nobody tells you that if you do that, you’ll smell like pumpkins for the next three days. And that the pumpkin guts get stuck under your nails and you still feel it even though you know it’s not there anymore. And nobody tells you that if you’re eight years old, your pumpkin is not really going to look okay. The whole process is actually quite morbid too if you really think about it.

Since costumes weren’t really visible and knifing pumpkins quickly became sad, the fate of my Halloween rested on candy. And it never let me down. Every year we’d drive to this huge complex of townhouses and apartments and lose our freakings minds. It didn’t matter if I was a fairy, or candy corn (yes, I was a piece of candy corn), or a ghost (aka a sheet), I could come home at the end of the night with 10 pounds of candy practically falling out of my overused plastic pumpkin basket. My sister and I would sit on the rug in front of our door and dump all our candy onto the ground. Then it was fair trade, and I had enough chocolate to last me the rest of the year. In all seriousness, it’s taught me the life lesson I carry with me every day: chocolate never disappoints.

 

Films That Actually Terrified Me- Rheana Reyes

I don’t really consider myself the type of person who watches or enjoys horror and supernatural films due to my sometimes excessive paranoia, but I admit that I like getting out of my comfort zone and watching a few during Halloween to get in the full spooky vibe for the season. Out of all the films I’ve seen so far, these two have been the only ones that have stuck in my memory for so long because of the fact that I was pretty terrified of dark places the next few nights after watching them.

The Ring (1998)

The Ring most of us all know has nothing on the original Japanese film. The dreary, cold tones of the movie paired with the unsettlingly, calm atmosphere of certain scenes are enough to make the watchers feel uncomfortable and uneasy. The plotline also draws one in to wait in anticipation for what is to come. And if the thought of Sadako Yamamura crawling out of a TV and into your living room doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what does.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Three film students document their search for the legendary Blair Witch in a familiar “vlog-style” format. The film is a bit slow in the beginning, but the suspense gradually builds up as the film crew begins to have disturbing encounters. However, the realistic way the film is shot almost makes it seem like the Blair Witch is coming for you next…

Although I still have a long way to go in the realm of horror and suspense, I definitely recommend these films if you would like to get an actually good scare. And if you’re like me, nothing’s better than watching a good old DCOM like Halloweentown or Twitches after with the lights on in the background.

TDLWTSD: To Do List for When Things Settle Down

Hey everyone,

I know you missed me, seeing as I posted last in July I believe! It’s great to be back writing, despite the loads of writing I did for my primary and secondary med school applications. I will spare you all the details, seeing as it was mostly

  1. Write an essay
  2. Pay for the essay
  3. Write another essay
  4. Pay for that essay
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 at least 15 times

I have a better list now, one that will allow me to do the fun activities I have always wanted to do but never got around to due to schools and extracurriculars. This list is called a “To Do List for When Things Settle Down” (TDLWTSD). I would recommend everyone to have a TDLWTSD, to keep your spirits and motivation up during the hardest times of the semester, especially during exams and for pre-meds, the interviews, as well as that time when you’re waiting for a response from any of the schools. Most importantly, a TDLWTSD will allow you to remember what you said you would do once the exams are over, or once Thanksgiving or Winter Break hits. If you were like me, during those times, you just wanted to sleep and forgot many of the things you promised yourself you would get around to doing. This disappointed me when I was in my room studying at 3 AM thinking “Wow, I just let that opportunity slip by and now I want to do those activities I suddenly remember”. Thus, the TDLWTSD was born.

Keep in mind that this is different from a traditional bucket list, which simply describes the activities you want to do before you die. But why does everything have to focus on before you die? Just focus on the short run for now. We’re all young. The TDLWTSD will get smaller and smaller as we get older, but will still allow us to push forward, even if there is only one thing on the list. A TDLWTSD should be constantly updated, rather than a bucket list, which one simply makes and then forgets about. I may still make a bucket list eventually, but starting out as a college senior, I believe it’s a bit early, so here is my first TDLWTSD, which I probably should have started during my hectic organic chemistry classes of my sophomore year. Hopefully this should inspire some of you to begin thinking about the (fun) things you want to do in between the times you are working hard during winter or summer break. Because I don’t want to bore you guys with unnecessary details (congrats on even getting this far in my post), I will only list 4 of the things I really want to do on my TDLWTSD.

 

1. Catch up on Game of Thrones

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This one I am sure relates with many. I am only on Season 5, and I try to close my ears off to any spoilers, but unfortunately, I do know of some unexpected deaths that occur later on, which will ruin the experience when I am watching it for the first time. How I wish my ears had a mute button…

2. Go on a road trip with friends

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Having missed my Costa Rica trip with my closest friends this past summer because of my applications, I have sought vengeance against this goal, as it has become personal. There is nothing like the horrible feeling that you missed out on a fun experience that your friends had. Ever since, I have clung onto the desire to go on a fun trip out of the country the next time break rolled around. If I let the stresses of my previous semester tire me out to the point where I would miss the opportunity to embark on such an incredible journey, I would not forgive myself. It does not even have to be a road trip, it just has to be somewhere else other than New Jersey. The best part about being busy is that when things settle down, I will make any effort to have fun in whatever I experience, with no expectations or inhibitions.

3. Read Sherlock Holmes books

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As a huge fan of mysteries, I had heard so much about the Netflix series about London’s greatest detective (which I should also add on this list) and am interested in the original character’s adventures created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and how the cultural and historical roots of Victorian-era England contributed to the establishment of such a profound and inquisitive fellow. Taking me back to that time period will be an interesting experience to see how crimes were solved and what logical deductions Sir Doyle had in mind for Mr. Holmes beneath that detached and stoic exterior, and how this never ceases to amaze his partner in crime, Dr. John Watson. The best way to go about it: crack open A Study in Scarlet, which marks the debut of the great detective that remains popular worldwide to this very day. Here is a fun fact: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a doctor before he became a writer. I’m starting to get ideas here.

4. Play games on Steam

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Haha! Pre-meds who play video games! Such babies! Shouldn’t you be studying!?

I had long thought I outgrew video games, which I stopped playing regularly after middle school. Everyone plays Fortnite, Heartstone, PokemonGo, the ones you find on your phone or console, but for me, the gaming journey was a bit different. This past summer, I was curious to know of the online platformer, Steam, that would allow me to download many PC games, including the ones I always wanted to play back when I was a regular gamer. After I finished my primary med school application, I downloaded the platform, which had no subscription fee, and bought the first game I had on my mind: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.

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I originally had this game for XBox, but the game kept freezing at one point and so I never got around to finishing it. But that was 6 years ago, so I’m ready to start the game over and hopefully get past it this time. This RPG is so relaxing, where you get to play a Jedi (or Sith) and go around completing fun mini-quests while simultaneously building up your skill set to defeat the Dark Lords of the Sith, or the Jedi. It’s similar to other games like Fable and Witcher. With many plot twists, unexpected allies, and unforeseen betrayals, this game I am saving for the end of the semester, with all my willpower, because once I start, I know I won’t be able to stop. For those of you wondering how I could possibly get hooked onto a Star Wars game, if you’re not a fan, think about what you really like, and how it is difficult to get off once you get hooked on. By the power unleashed in my four years here at Rutgers, I have resurrected my interest in video games! After I knock this one down, more will follow. Don’t worry, this will die down again, possibly permanently, once I enter med school…

The best part about platformer games is that the game won’t stop working if the CD has a scratch on it, or if I accidentally press the home button on my computer. For Steam games to stop, the internet has to stop.

That is all for my TDLWTSD, and stay tuned for more as the semester progresses. Life is short, and many things you wish you did will go past you if you don’t actively take the opportunity. So get on and make that list. Start off small, of course. The last thing you want is another checklist you can just cross off once you get one thing done and move onto the next like you would do with academics, exams, or applications.