Study Music

I can’t believe it is already April! Exams are just around the corner and finals are coming up faster than I would like. That means that it’s time to log out of Netflix and really get to work!

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I try to get as much work done as possible during the week and on weekends, but sometimes it is just so hard to concentrate when there are so many other things that I would rather be doing. For me, the right study music is essential for me to be able to get anything done. Here is what I listen to while trying to complete specific tasks:

*Disclaimer: I am a Disney fanatic, so most of the music that I use to study are Disney related 🙂

1. While Concentrating or Studying a Difficult Topic: Piano Music

When I am studying for something that requires a lot of concentration, I make sure not to play music with words in it. I also will not listen to music that is really epic or intense since sometimes that can distract me from reading the textbook or concentrating on a difficult topic. Instead, I listen to slow piano music. My personal favorite types to listen to are the Disney Piano instrumentals that you can find by typing in “Disney Piano” on YouTube. I like these because they are songs that both put me in a good mood and at the same time help me to stay focused on the tasks at hand.

If the piano music still seems to be distracting, sometimes I put on an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) video. I like to play Harry Potter white-noise videos that feature a crackling fireplace in the Gryffindor common room or the bubble of a potion boiling in Snape’s classroom. Hearing these noises help to calm me down if I am nervous and worried about an exam while I am trying to study.

4 hour Disney Piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3j0AdcNJpI

Harry Potter ASMR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyYB-txU6Jg&list=PLjFwUFnGRUqN9pIvCq6TS1FMaJNxX0KEv

2. Tasks that involve practice problems: Upbeat and Intense Soundtracks

If I am studying for a subject that involves doing practice problems, I find that it gets really boring and tedious very quickly. If I listen to slow piano music, that makes me feel tired and I lose motivation during a long study session. That is why I chose to listen to upbeat music instead! The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack or Game of Thrones soundtrack works best for me since they are intense and most of the songs are fast-paced. This helps me to keep up with my work and prevents me from daydreaming or losing interest in the topic I am studying.

Pirates of the Caribbean Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMQh-rhWaz8

Game of Thrones Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRd4ARUQkbQ

3. Getting work done: Various Instrumentals

When I am trying to write a paper or finish projects for my classes, I tend to get distracted quickly and procrastinate, and that leads to the task taking a lot longer than necessary! I need to listen to music that will keep me going and help me not get bored. Personally, I like listening to “themed” music, for lack of a better term. For example, I like to listen to music that transports me to a different place. For me, this music tends to be instrumentals, like Celtic or Japanese instrumentals. I also like listening to the themed Disney World area music, since I really like those themes.

Celtic Instrumental: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiwuQ6UHMQg

Japanese Instrumental: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyieFu7BnHE

Disney’s Expedition Everest Area Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrSWblCsAhk

 

Good luck on exams and finals, and I hope these music suggestions help you to be more productive too!

Reactions I Get to Being a Black Belt

So, if you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m a black belt. More specifically, I’m a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I started in first grade, took a hiatus in high school, and started up again by joining the Rutgers Tae Kwon Do team and their demonstration team. It’s definitely built up my strength, both physical and mental, from breaking cinder blocks to dealing with the frustration of mastering tricky kicks. Movies like The Karate Kid portray martial artists as total badass warriors, so naturally, when I, a short, Starbucks-drinking girl, reveal this fact about myself, people have some interesting reactions.

1. You can totally beat someone up!

Yeah, I know the right kicks to land depending on the way someone attacks me. Especially having sparred, I know how to defend myself. But a coached sparring match and an unexpected street fight are two totally different things. Believe me, I’d be just as scared to fight someone who messes with my squad as someone with absolutely no martial arts experience.

2. You’re so tough!

I’ve learned a lot through Tae Kwon Do, like demonstrating good sportsmanship and high spinning hook kicks. But even though I learned all that, I’m just like any other person, with fears, sensitivities, and even weaknesses. Being involved in Tae Kwon Do, for as long as I have been, has made me learn to overcome those things effectively, but has not necessarily eradicated them. So yeah, sometimes (a lot of times) I really need a night like this:

Rise In Collegiate Knowledge

I know I said I’d never write one of these, but midterms are happening for me (I have one that is literally tomorrow and I’ve barely studied for it beyond doing the homework for the class, but here I am writing an essay for the lovely, probably three total, people who read this. Yay procrastination) and I have literally nothing else to write. So, in the hopes that you won’t be a horrific procrastinator like me, let’s do….. A LIST OF STUDY TIPS!!!! Are ya quaking in your fricken boots from excitement? I know I sure am….. (hahah I’m dead inside let’s just get on with me attempting to tell you how to study).

  1. Never let yourself be caught by surprise by your exams. I’ve heard stories about people just, not knowing they had an exam until the day before. Don’t be like these people. That’s how stress happens. Also, make sure all of your equipment is with you for the actual exam. Pencils, calculators, formula sheets if you’re allowed them (again, I heard a story of a kid who forgot his formula sheet, went all the way back to his dorm to get it, then took the test in the remaining half period he had. #yolftch. (You only live for the cheat sheet, m8).
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  2. Gonna give yourself rewards for jobs well done. If I manage to focus on something for a full hour, I’ll  watch a youtube video. It makes life seem less depressing. You could reward yourself with food too; I’ll eat candy or something. The only reason I don’t usually reward myself with food is because I already eat like garbage anyway, so it’s really not much incentive to just eat more candy. Though a youtube video may be counter-productive, because then you get caught in the hell-hole that is youtube, never to be seen again until 10 minutes before your exam, but OH WELL.
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  3. Give yourself ample time to actually study. Maybe this is similar to bullet one, but I think it’s different in the sense that you know your exams are happening, yet you willingly let yourself procrastinate cause “Oh, I can make it.” My calculus grades may be questionable, but I’ve gotten so good at that crunch time study arithmetic, involving logarithms designed to take the time I have to get homework and studying done, plus time I have to ignore responsibilities — which increases exponentially as the day wears on — then again as the days (plural) pass. And I’ve calculated to the second the amount of sleep I can get if I study solidly through a few hours (plus goofing off on the internet time), at 3am the night before an exam. It’s honestly an art that only a college student (and possibly the particularly stressed out AP high school student) can perfect.
    math.jpgMy point: DON’T DO THIS. This is no way to live I hate myself when I’m taking an exam on exactly 1.5 hours of sleep, fueled only by my self-loathing (as caffeine doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried plenty.)  Just… just actually plan out your studying, please.
  4. You gotta be prepared for oddballs. My last intro level physics exam was weirdly hard. It wasn’t actually all that difficult (as I begrudgingly learned after I took the exam and realized a lot of stupid errors I made), but much harder than all the practice exams we were provided with prepared me for. So, I gritted my teeth during the exam, then whined like a child to my friends after the exam. What I SHOULD’VE DONE was plan for harder stuff. That way easy material would just come naturally. Don’t let yourself get shot in the foot, like my home boi harambe was shot down. He didn’t deserve it, he wasn’t ready. But you should be ready. After my pro tip article prepares you.
  5. Up-hold yourself to a high standard. I always tell my friends: aim super high. That way when you fall short, you haven’t plummeted into a ditch. Merely… face planted at ground level. Or the nicer saying: reach for the moon; if you miss you’ll still land among the stars (or something like that, though that honestly doesn’t sound that great as stars don’t seem all that comfortable to be on, no matter how glamorous they sound). If you can aim high and reach that high standard, power to you, you are a better person than I. However, I’m perfectly happy wallowing in the mud, so long as I haven’t dug myself into too deep a hole. I can always pick myself back up so long as I haven’t fallen too far.

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Or not.

So, there ya go. Study tips, a la Becky. Helpful? Possibly. Hopefully. If anything, I hope you hearing my failures and stories to try to study were at least amusing, and you can get a good “ahaha at least I’m not as bad as her” out of it. By the way….. notice anything about this post? Wanna….. read the first word of each of my pro-tips back for me?

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APRIL FOOLS, SUCKERS! While I do hope the post has been helpful, or comical at least, I have honestly been planning this elaborate Rick Roll for my April blog since, legit, I joined the blog. So…. since the summer I guess. I wanted to insert more memes in here but I honestly do have an exam I should study for, and therefore ran out of time to find the highest of quality memes to spam you with, but I hope this will do. Notice the title of this article, each first letter spells out RICK. That was my sister’s idea. Ah, foreshadowing. While you’re not reading this on April fools, let it be known I wrote this on April fools day, so I’m counting it. (If you’re interested, the best April Fools I received today was a friend telling me he loved me. What made it entertaining was my response, which I thought was solidly funny with a “#yikes.” Honestly, I’m a riot). Well, enjoy your day guys; safe studying.

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.”

Documentary Review: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

Perhaps it is because I am currently taking a class on documentary filmmaking, but I have never been so interested in watching documentaries as I am this semester. To continue the trend I started last month with my review of 13TH, I would like to recommend a second, equally important documentary. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry tells the story of the beginnings of second-wave feminism, a history I would know little about if I were not a Women and Gender Studies minor. The history of the feminist movement in the United States is often overlooked, without any explanation, in high school history classes. Speaking for myself, I would have loved to learn about important political figures involved in the movement, including Kate Millet, Muriel Fox Linda Burnham, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and a number of other strong women that are featured in the film. All of these women were important activists throughout the period, and are still fighting for women’s human rights and equality.

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The movie covers the wide range of activism throughout that time period, beginning with the formation of NOW (National Organization of Women), to the more radical and outrageous actions of groups such as W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!). Even with my own strong background knowledge about the movement, I could not help but learn from the histories the women shared. Hearing personal stories about rallies, protests, and organized groups from all across the spectrum of the fight for women’s liberation was enlightening. My favorite aspect of the film is the ways in which they use the older, archival footage along with the new interviews, showing how the women have changed and developed over time. It puts an active face to all of the women we see in photographs of the protests surrounding the era.

Another aspect of the film I really enjoyed is its acknowledgment of the issues that arose as the movement grew. The attempts to create an intersectional movement encompassing women of all races, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations often failed, and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry doesn’t try to hide it. The women are aware of the difficulties that they faced and sometimes created themselves, when expanding their movement. Only by acknowledging the past errors with intersectional feminism can we remedy them as we progress with today’s feminist movement.

Overall, I was inspired by the film. In the current political climate, it important to continue the fight for reproductive rights and true equality and against the normalization of sexual violence. However, we cannot move forward with progress unless we take a step back and recognize the incredible efforts of the women who came before, paving the way with activism that, though sometimes was extremely radical, helped us to achieve the position we are in today. I recommend She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry to anyone that ever wished they could learn more about the history of the women’s movement, or even just the current state of women in society today. The movie made me laugh and made me cry at other parts, and it is a really great way to begin to explore the rich history of feminism.

Six Classes I Think Everyone Should Take

After having been in school for a while, I can tell you this: there are certain classes I’ve taken that have changed my understanding of a wide variety of things.

I think this is why the core curriculum honestly exists. It fills in the gaps of your knowledge about specific things and helps you link together seemingly disparate phenomena or ideas. That is the basis of creativity, of groundbreaking research, inventions, etc.!

I never, ever understood why people would say things in school like, “Why are we learning this? It’s not going to help us in the future.” (Sometimes, though, I can honestly understand their point of views).

But, buddy.

That depends on what you want to get out of your future.

Some people are after the money, and that’s fine if that’s your thing. But I know what I’m after. And I know that a lot of you in the SAS Honors Program are after the same sort of thing: to be either a master or well-regarded in your field.

So to open up your mind, I suggest a few classes that I’ve taken here at Rutgers that honestly changed my outlook on things. Sometimes, you end up finding a career in a class you thought was completely unrelated. Sometimes, it makes you a healthier person. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun.

1. Physics

Oh, I can already hear the groans! I had to take this back when I was still a pre-med student, but I really don’t regret it. I made a lot of great friends in this class, but besides that, I learned about the concepts that govern our universe and learned about some concepts that don’t apply in the reality we exist in. Does it not make sense to understand the basics of the world we live in? I honestly think it does. You might think you’ll never need physics, but physics can be applied to everything from chemistry to fashion (density of a fabric may be responsible for how a fabric hangs on someone’s frame, etc). Learn about how the world you operate in works.

2. Sociology/Psychology

Both of these are an understanding of human nature and the bureaucracy or structure of that human nature works. This is just another way to understand the world we live in. This time, you’re learning how people operate here and, if you extrapolate,  you can learn how to operate to get ahead.

3. An Ethics Course

I was speaking to someone the other day–Tyler Farnsworth, our Assistant Director of Honors Media–about the importance of ethics. He told me how we all think we know the difference between right and wrong. I’m not going to lie; I thought I knew it pretty well. Then he said that that the ethical conundrums he was presented with were very difficult to answer. The right thing was very difficult or the line was very blurred. An ethics class will help you think about that difference between right and wrong, and where you stand morally. This is useful to know going into your career into the future.

4. A History Course

The usefulness of a history course has almost no bounds. This is where you get to learn what leaders and people in the past did when they were up against problems that were difficult to solve. It’s also a practical understanding of how people react to specific things. A history course provides examples for the principles you learn in sociology and psychology. It also gives you ideas for how to solve your own problems in the future. Life will never be a smooth boat ride; you’re going to hit rough waters at some point. Wouldn’t it be useful to know how to react to the water that’s about to come up and swallow your boat whole? I certainly think so!

5. Exercise Physiology and Exercise Physiology Lab

You know, we all learn that we should eat healthily and exercise. But we’re not always taught how to do it well. Our high school classes may have taught us a little, but health, as a class, is unfortunately never taken too seriously. Taking a class specifically about health is ideal.

I learned a lot about how the body uses energy and what systems of the body interact with what. This I mostly learned in class. I also learned when to eat what kinds of foods if I wanted to gain muscle or become toned or honestly just be healthy.

What was most useful for me was the lab. I learned how to perform tests to find out how fit I was and learned how I could improve my body that way.

These two classes made me start exercising a lot more. And I realized that I really enjoy working out.

6. Last but not least: An Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

I honestly love the idea of an interdisciplinary class, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it until I took Politics of Art and Poetry with Dean Nazario and Paul Blaney this past semester. I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life and learned so much about an intersection between two disparate fields. I also made a lot of great friends.

We did group projects, skits, readings aloud, and went on many field trips. The class had a very discussion-heavy focus. That’s where ideas are born: out of discussions.

 

It’s classes like all of these that help you make all those connections. It’s classes like these that make you think. There’s a lot of things you can do on this planet. There’s absolutely no way that everything has been invented or discovered. What if you were the person that discovered the next big thing? And what if it was a class like one of these that got you there?

I guess we’ll all find out on the Internet when you write a book, be a guest on a talk show, or just create something better than the Internet. Who knows?

English to Java?

I’m in Greece trying to tell my great aunt that I enjoy her hospitality, but my Greek’s a little rusty and I don’t know how to exactly articulate my thoughts.

Maybe, in broken Greek, I’ll indicate that her house looks beautiful or that her food tastes great, but none of these sentiments convey the same message as enjoying her cooking.

Oddly enough, writing a computer program in the Java language presents a similar dilemma. Much like communicating in a foreign language, I know what I want the program to do. Let’s say I want it to multiply two polynomials. Before writing the code in Java, the thought How do I go about telling the computer to do perform this operation in some lines of code in Java? will haunt me for hours, sometimes even days, before I attempt to write anything.

Much like attempting to convey a thought or feeling in Greek, I know exactly what I want to say in my native tongue, English, but the slightest slip-up in my words could result in something different from what I intended. If I write an inaccurate line of Java code, I could be instructing the program to subtract polynomials instead of multiplying them.

Writing my own programs reminds me of how challenging going from one language to another is, as well as the subtleties involved.

Just when I’ve thought that I wrote all my lines of code in a way that makes the program do what I want it to do, a test run frustratingly indicates that something is still off, or that there is a “bug” lurking somewhere: the code keeps running infinitely, the wrong equation may come out, or it may simply crash. A line-by-line search of the problem, which could be anything from a syntax error to misspelling a word, the error was simple, will typically reveal a simple error.

The same thing happens when I try to express myself in Greek.  Sometimes I’ll say something in a way that sounds sarcastic when I don’t mean it to or vice versa. Or just one letter can send a person to the table (trapezi) instead of to the bank (trapeza).

Even though communicating in different languages can have trying or amusing results, every blunder opens up my mind a bit more.

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.

 

 

Making Time for Reading

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first semester, it is that college is really hectic. Every day you have to get up, eat, run to catch the bus, and attend class. Then after studying and doing homework, it feels like you have no energy to do anything else! Last semester, I got caught up in that busy lifestyle, and I lost track of something that is really important to me–reading.

Although school may get really busy at times, and it might be hard to find time for fun, I have learned that it is really possible to make time for a hobby like reading! Here are some of the techniques that I have started using to incorporate reading into my daily schedule:

  1. Read an e-Book

Today, there are so many phone apps such as Nook, Kindle, or iBooks that make it really easy to take books with you wherever you go. I use these apps to add some reading into my day, either while I am either waiting for a class to start, waiting for a friend at the dining hall, or even while I am on the bus! Using a phone app means that there is a book waiting for you and it is literally a tap away. It is easy to use, and makes reading more convenient for the busy student and eager reader.

  1. When you make an agenda, add in reading time

As I make a list of all the tasks that I want to tackle for the day, I also make sure to include “Reading time” as one of them. Whether it be 10 mins, 30 mins or an hour, I make sure to remind myself to read each day so I don’t fall behind on my reading goals. Writing it down as a part of a daily schedule means that every time you look at your task list, you are reminded that reading is a part of your daily goals!

  1. Choose shorter books

During the semester, I choose short and exciting reads (mostly YA books). These books grab your attention very quickly and are usually very fast-paced, making it easier for you to stay interested in the book even while your head might be thinking about other things. Personally, I have noticed that if I try to start reading a long and dense book during the semester, I usually do not finish it. Sometimes I would forget what took place, or sometimes I would lose my emotional attachment to the characters and then have no motivation to continue reading the book. Also, reading shorter books means that you finish them more quickly. The more books I finish reading, the more motivated I get to read more!

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A hefty book like the Hamilton biography might be harder to read during school since it is so long and dense. A smaller book like Throne of Glass is a quick read and captures interest quickly!

 

I hope these tips are helpful for anyone who wants to incorporate a little more reading in their daily lives. At school, it is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of homework, exams, and extracurriculars, but it is always worthwhile to add in some “me-time” for something relaxing and fun!

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 Moonlight, Logan, 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.