5 Unconventional Things to be Thankful For

1. Fat Sandwiches

Our wonderful college cuisine is definitely a highlight of Rutgers, and while Tacoria, Stuff Yer Face, and Surf Tacos all contribute to the college experience, there is nothing quite as unique to the Rutgers experience as the fat sandwich. It is a gluttony of cheese, carbs, and sauces. It’s the sandwich where you don’t bother looking at the calories because there’s no point avoiding the truth – you’re about to gain some weight, but more importantly, you’re about to have the best food of your life.

2. The Rutgers Facebook Page

Among the poorly crafted memes, and the tears of students taking Data Structures and Organic Chemistry, there is also the magic that brings people together: losing things. If you were to lose your RUID anywhere on campus, a search by the FBI’s finest could not compete against the powers of the Rutgers Facebook page. Within minutes people will have plastered your lost ID across the Facebook walls, and all your problems – or rather one of your many – will be resolved.

3. Taco Bell Delivers

2017 may have been a rough year so far but it hasn’t been all bad, Taco Bell started delivering food this year. It just goes to show that miracles do happen. It helps for all those late night exams cramming sessions and 3AM cravings. Sometimes it helps to be thankful for the little things.

4. Being a Student

Being a college kid may be hard sometimes with upcoming deadlines, overwhelming responsibilities and never ending to do lists, but it has its perks. You may not realize this but by being a student you can get a discount on so many different things from great companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple, Spotify, and free entry to tons of museums! SO cheer up and be a little thankful that there are companies out there that understand your struggles and are willing to make your Netflix bingeing sessions a lot cheaper.

5. Cold Weather

The upcoming cold weather may make you not want to get out of bed, but there are actually many advantages to the dropping degrees. The first one being of course that winter fashion is the best. I personally love wearing knit scarfs, baggy sweaters, boots, and beanies. It’s comfortable, snuggly, yet chic. Also, colder weather means lazier people, so if you’re a coffee-holic like me that means shorter lines at the Starbucks truck, and buses don’t seem as crowded when the people around you serve as a warm barrier from the harsh winds of the outside world.

Good luck for the Semester and Remember to Stay Thankful!

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Winter Commuter Tips – Safety

Here in New Jersey (and I guess most of the Northeast region), the long, cold winter months are almost upon us. And while some weather websites are predicting a warm winter (please, oh please), we commuters need to prepare for these cold and shivering car rides we are about to face. These colder months, there are many risks that we need to be careful of. So here are a few tips that have helped me over the years:

  1. Start your car 10-15 min before you leave home. There is no worse feeling than sitting in a freezing car (okay maybe there are worse; I definitely would not want to be sitting in a car that just rear ended a police car). I have found out from many winters that 10-15 min is the optimal time of starting your car and heating it up before you leave.
  2. Pack a windshield de-icer and a snow brush. These come especially in handy when after a long day’s work at school, you come to the parking lot to find your car buried in snow and ice. Yeah you can use your hands…if you want to freeze them off!!
  3. Pack jumper cables or a jump starter. While at Rutgers, we are very lucky that the RUPD can come and jump-start your car if needed. But when you are off-campus, jumper cables or a jump starter will save you in the most unexpected times!
  4. Have enough gas! I admit I am one of those people who fill up the gas when I have only 5-10 miles left till empty. But in the winter, I try to make sure I have enough gas at all times. You do not want to experience pushing your car to the gas station in freezing temperatures!!!
  5. Always wear winter/ rain clothing or keep them in your car. Again I am one of those people who step out of my house at 1pm and say “Ah today is a warm day it seems. Don’t need my heavy jacket”. And then I find myself shivering to the bone at 6pm lolol. Learn from my mistake; pack warm clothing!!                             
  6. Always have a support system. It’s never a bad idea to let family or friends know that you are leaving school or home in bad weather. If anything goes wrong and you don’t have any communication (a dead phone for example), they will know something is wrong if they don’t hear from you.

I am really hoping we don’t have a horrible winter. A few inches snow here and there and cool weather I don’t mind. That’s my favorite kind of weather. But please, no below  zero temperatures and black ice (every commuter’s worst nightmare). After checking some more weather sites, it seems we will have a warmer winter than usual. But always keep these tips in mind whether you are facing snow, rain, or cold weather. And remember always keep your safety in mind. If you think you are having a hard time driving, just pull over and relax. Tensed driving can lead to worse problems.

I’m Never Going to Not be Excited for Thanksgiving Break

I feel like Rutgers should give more Fall Recesses, just saying. I love learning, don’t get me wrong, but I just want a nap.

Anyways, I’m excited for Thanksgiving. I think last year I wrote about a seitan turkey replacement my sister made, and how cool that was, because she essentially made a meat substitute out of a sponge. So, I’ll talk about the food I want to make this year, because I’m always super excited to cook for the holiday.

Now, I watch a lot of people cook on YouTube, which I mentioned a bit before (Maangchi is still the love of my life I promise). Recently I’ve started watching this channel called Hot for Food (here’s their blog link, because even though I’m not endorsing them, they do have a delightful bank of recipes that you guys can look at if you’re so inclined: https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/welcome” . This is a vegan cooking blog/channel, and honestly it’s the best one I’ve seen. I watch a bunch of others occasionally, and all the food they make looks so d u l l. It’s upsetting man. Like I saw someone make a fall “grain bowl” and it was literally a giant bowl of quinoa with some sad looking pan fried Brussels sprouts and a small amount of a mustard sauce they made, and no way can that actually be a tasty meal, Imma be real with you. That seems to be what a lot of people think vegan cooking is, but it can be really nice. Hot for Food does it really nice. My sister told me like months ago she trusts these people with her life (we make their macaroni and “cheese” recipe a lot and it’s amazing, it uses softened cashews and nutritional yeast as the sauce and it’s really good), and after watching them a bit, I have to say, same. These people seem to understand cooking and balancing flavors to maximize taste of a vegan dish, and it’s so fun to watch.

I say this b e c a u s e I’m going to make two dishes from them for Thanksgiving, and I’m super excited. Idk about you but honestly, the turkey was never my favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal, the sides always had much more flavor. So, we’re just doing away with that this year, and I’m going to make what Lauren (the women in their YouTube videos), calls a Thanksgiving Vegan Roast (here’s the video for this recipe if you’d like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SNEly05Nmg). This seems so cool because it’s like a leftover sandwich, as your meal. But instead of bread, they use puff pastry, so it’s fancy. I’m actually interested on what vegan puff pastry is, because traditionally it puffs due to a bunch of layers of butter in between a flour based dough, so when the butter melts and steams, it lifts and separates the layers, giving you a “puff”. But I know vegan versions exist because we’ve used them before, I just don’t know how they work. If someone does tell me, I’d think it’d be really cool. Anyway, yeah, fancy sandwich, filled with mashed, spiced sweet potato, a lentil and mushroom mix, and a cranberry apple sauce. I’m probably going to do the cranberry sauce differently, because we have a recipe we love that we’ve been using for years  (super easy, a bag of fresh cranberries, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, water, if you like a jalapeno, and a metric ton of sugar it’s crazy, and you just boil that forever until the cranberries open and it’s thick and delicious. I’ll just add chunks of apple to that). So I’m excited to try that.

We’re also making (from the same blog, because like I said I trust these people with my life), a “Hazelnut Torte” (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujNE1J_D9Kw), which is a cake made with more crushed hazelnuts than flour, and it has mocha flavors in it (mocha is coffee and chocolate, in case you’re not a coffee addict or something), with a coconut whipped cream as it’s icing. I think it’s fun cause it uses something called “aquafaba” as it’s rising agent, as opposed to eggs. What is aquafaba? It’s bean water. How crazy is that. Either cook chickpeas, and it’s the water you cooked the beans in, or drain a can of chickpeas and it’s that water you usually rinse down the sink cause of sodium. And it foams, how cool is that?! Like, I’ve used it for things and it looked exactly like meringue, it was the coolest thing of my life. I checked a few sources, and I’m notoriously bad at googling information so maybe I’m wrong and they do know, but from what I can t e l l they don’t exactly know why the aquafaba foams just like egg whites would. The water has plenty of protein after cooking the beans, much like an egg white, so that’s a fair bet, but what exactly in the substance makes it behave the way it does is unknown. Whatever it is, it’s cool though. So this cake is made with aquafaba and more nut than flour, and has coffee and chocolate and it looks delicious, so I’m making it.

Then the less interesting stuff, I’ll do a fresh spinach salad because it’ll be a meal of roasted vegetation, and freshness is nice. Probably mashed potato because my sister demands it (she’ll be the one making it anyway she does it better than me, the jerk), and what I’m actually a bit excited for is trying out a vegan brown gravy. I figure soy sauce will be the most prominent ingredient? Who knows though.

So yeah, guess that’s all I was excited about lately. I did well on my midterms so far, so that’s nice. Hope you guys did well too, have a fun break when it finally comes. If you make anything fun and want to tell me, please tell me, I like comments, they’re fun. Bye!

My Summer (A story told a little late)

Hi there!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, because life has been a little crazy (when isn’t it?). However, this one summer experience I had is one I’ve been meaning to share and now seems as good a time as any.

The Rutgers Institute of Women’s Leadership has many programs throughout the year to help female college students develop leadership skills they can bring to their careers and communities. This summer I took part in one of them,  the Community Leadership, Action and Service Program, otherwise known as CLASP. Through the program, students work in internships at local non-profits for five weeks. During that time, they also take a seminar on women’s leadership and responsible ways to help a community. For me, the experience was eye-opening and amazing.

The program placed me with the Sanar Wellness Institute, a non-profit in Newark that works with survivors of human trafficking. Specifically, they provide psychological support to survivors, mostly through yoga and art therapy.

Now, I didn’t work with clients, because I’m not a social work major, but I still learned a lot. My job consisted primarily of two things: social media and curriculum development. For the social media aspect, I managed their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, the more meaningful part came from the curriculum development.

The Institute had been chosen by Rutgers to rework the curriculum used to teach social workers about how to deal with survivors of human trafficking. My job was a combination of fact-checking, lesson arrangement, and secretarial duties(see: type, copy, paste). As far as the fact-checking went, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. For example, just this year Polaris published a new typology (see: listing different categories) of human trafficking: There are 21 types of Human Trafficking. Also, that big deal the news usually makes about human trafficking increasing around wherever the Super Bowl is happening? False. If you want more details, just ask and I can go through the PowerPoint.

In addition to this, the seminar also taught me a lot. It was an odd combo of Intro Race and Gender studies, Social Justice, and Community Building with the other volunteers from the program. Everyone there was really amazing and worked with organizations across New Brunswick like Unity Square, Youth Empowerment Services, and New Labor. If you’re interested in Women’s Leadership and/or helping out the community, be sure to check this out, as the applications will probably open soon.

 

 

 

 

 

RU struggling with choosing your classes next semester?

Many first year students are probably now not only considering what classes they want to take next semester, but also considering all of the other ones that they are about to sign up for within the next four years of undergrad as well. Although that could be a bit too much, it is quite often very normal, especially if you are an honors student.

Honors students have to figure out how many colloquiums they should take, what Honors sections/classes they want to sign up for, whether they should take interdisciplinary seminars instead, when they should start their honors thesis, and how to keep track of their SAS core requirements on top of all of that. Although that might seem a bit too much, I am about to inform you of a strategy known as the FUNNEL strategy ( I really want to believe that i came up with that on my own, but I probably didn’t) that made balancing all of my requirements feasible for me.

So, this extremely easy method is all about starting with the most important things first, then working your way down. In my case, that was placing the Honors program requirements in third place, with the SAS core requirements being in first place, my major in second place, and my minor in fourth place. This made the most sense to me because of the classes I personally have to take, but it is different for everyone. I hope you are still following!

Why am I placing the Honors program requirements in the third place? Simply because you do not know where life is going to take you a year or two from now. You might find that your major is really difficult to handle on top of the Honors program, and in that case, you might have to strategize your schedule differently, for example, by taking a class that fulfills both a major and an Honors requirement (there are so many Honors sections offered of classes!). Or you might experience some life-changing event that could delay your graduation date, so you would be better of getting all of the SAS core requirements out of the way first,right?. Of course, I am not saying to delay taking any of the Honors program sections until you are about to graduate. You should definitely take one or two honors requirement courses/sections a year…just do not overdo it.

To conclude, figure out what courses you want to take based on the order provided above, taking into consideration that amount of credits you think you can handle per semester, and the huge possibility that sections could close up very quickly so be ready for backups, and always ask for help from an Honors dean or mentor or any random upperclassman. There is always someone in RU that would love to help.

And congrats on making it half way through you freshman year…almost.

 

 

Last of Many WebRegs, First of Many Tears

Guys, it’s happening. The G-word is upon us…. Don’t make me say it. I’m not going to say it. I’ll just find a meme that says it for me instead.

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Last Sunday, I registered for the last time. It was such a bittersweet moment because I thought about the first time I scheduled and how I was in tears because as a freshman, I registered last, and believe it or not, I got none of the classes I wanted. But now, three years later, I changed my major twice, changed my minor twice, took classes that had nothing to do with my major just to explore different topics, and I am still finishing on time having completed every requirement from all 3 schools I am in (SAS, Bloustein, and SCI) on top of finishing my SAS Honors requirements. On top of it, I am interning at Robert Wood, working part-time, and reading….for fun… so listen up underclassmen, you can do it all, I promise you. Want to know how? Just breathe, prioritize, and plan. I’m not kidding. (And yes, in that order).

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BREATHE. 

One of the most important lessons I have learned from my last seven semesters here at Rutgers has been to always take a step back, breathe, and remember that it will all work out. Whatever that it is, I promise you, it will work out. I am an extremely busy person – I take 18 credits a semester, I intern, I work, I am a research assistant, I am a peer instructor, and I am very up-to-date on all my TV shows (yes, I know what I said). Sometimes, I feel like I am on a hamster wheel, never being able to get off. But I make sure I make time every single day to unwind, whether it be by napping, by FaceTiming my little brother, or just hanging out in the kitchen with my housemates. When I feel anxious about a deadline or an upcoming presentation, I forget about it. And by that I mean I literally forget about. I step away from whatever is making me nervous or anxious or worried and I do something else until I am ready to come back to it. Sometimes, you just need a little breather for you to look at something with fresh eyes. Whatever that breather is, yoga, ice-cream, Netflix, going on a run, a nice bubble bath, napping, or writing – take that breather. You can do anything you want if you remember to take care of your own sanity and health first. You come first.

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Prioritize. What do you want? When do you want it done by? First, figure out what you want. When it comes to your classes, explore different subject matters your freshman year. Just because you think you’re pre-med, it doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for Intro to Computer Science or Art History. Join clubs. Go to your professor’s office hours. Talk to someone on a different floor in your residence hall. When you explore, you broaden your horizons. And when you broaden your horizons, you learn what it is you really love. My freshman year, I took Biology, Computer Science, Calculus II, Greek Civilization, and a Public Health class. Some classes stuck…some didn’t. But I learned by taking those classes what I never wanted to do again (I’m talking about you partial derivatives) and what I could see myself spending the rest of my life learning about (Public Health).  So I prioritized. I had three priorities scheduled for myself second semester of freshman year: graduate with a B.S. in Public Health, complete all of my requirements, and get involved in the health care industry through internships and/or research. And that is exactly what I did. By focusing on what I wanted to do first, I was able to better plan the other aspects of my life… which brings me to….

plans

One tip I highly recommend is to plan out your next four years now in regards to classes. Open up Excel and create a schedule for all of the semesters you have left. I did this my sophomore year and I really wish I did it sooner because it really helped me figure out what classes were offered and when (as some classes are only Fall or Spring) or if two requirements overlapped in class meeting times, what was the best way to handle that. And best thing is, since it’s Excel, if you change your mind or change your major, you can just readjust your schedule and see if you’re still on track with your goals. Use Degree Navigator, the Honors Program website, Course Schedule planner, and your Honors advisors to figure out what classes you want to take and when. This will help you make sure you finish your requirements as well as give you opportunity to plan for studying abroad or internships.

You should also plan your future after college. No, I don’t mean you need to know exactly which graduate school you are going to go to or exactly what career path you want. Rather, I mean you should take advantage of the career-planning resources that are all over campus such as University Career Services or the Career Fair. Drop in and have your resume critiqued or sit with an advisor and learn about different post-grad options. Go to the career fair with an open mind and a pen – just expose yourself to the outside world, because unfortunately, we all have to face the G-word sooner or later.

 

Why Snapchat Is Making Us Crazy

Now before I begin, I should mention that I am a loyal Snapchat user, so I am guilty of being absorbed in this obsession as well.  I’ve been thinking about writing about this for weeks now, but I refrained because I did not want to be hypocritical.  Yet, the more I have thought about it, the sillier and more trivial Snapchat became.  To clarify, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to delete their Snapchats or even break their streaks (oh, the horror!), but I think it’s important for us, including me, to take a step back and consider the extent to which social media has taken over our lives.

Our obsession with Snapchat only works to the company’s advantage with each update becoming more and more exciting and tempting for the consumer.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Snapchat is a fun way to connect with people, share our lives through pictures, and even experience others’ lives (including celebrities) in a quick 10-second video and a five-word caption.  It’s also a simple way of interacting because it takes the pressure and effort from having a full conversation and typing things out.  However, some features on Snapchat which seem “fun” are actually quite problematic.

Here are 4 ways that Snapchat is making us all go crazy.

Streaks. 

Streaks are basically a challenge you have with another person, in which both people send one snap daily.  A fire emoji appears next to that person’s name after 3 consecutive days, with the number increasing every day.  When you approach the 100-day milestone, a 100 emoji appears to celebrate the achievement. Not going to lie, reaching this mark for the first time was pretty exciting!

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But, here is where the problem begins.  Once you start one streak, you are suddenly tempted to start more. It almost feels like an unofficial rule that once you reach a certain stage of a new friendship, a streak must be initiated.   As the number continues to increase, the pressure to maintain the streak increases.  It’s a commitment that I honestly did not sign up for.

Some of my streaks are with people that I barely talk to. If a daily snap back and forth is the only communication you hold with someone, why is so much value placed upon the streak? The truth is I’d rather have streaks feel exciting like they initially did rather than a daily task I have to complete.  Of course, I do have some friends and groups on Snapchat that I actually share meaningful things with.  Streaks that are built this way are totally awesome! But, if the only reasons I snap people daily is for the sake of the streak, then something is wrong.

Sending mass snaps or blank screens with “streak” written on it, asking my friends to take over my account when I’m on vacation or cannot use Snapchat, and attaching too much value to a streak are signs of the obsession. Can we just take a second to acknowledge how silly all of this is?! What’s worse is that the easy solution of breaking streaks is frankly not-so-easy.  After a certain point, breaking a streak feels like betrayal.  Like, why break it now after coming so far?  But, we really need to ask ourselves: if not now, when? 

Stories.

Stories are great ways of sharing memorable moments with all of your friends at once.  Even better, it lasts an entire day, so it’s cherished longer.  However, I think stories lose their purpose and value when people feel the need to share every moment of their lives without taking the time to put their phone away and really enjoy it.  Because, trust me, no one wants to go through 2 minutes worth of a concert that you are attending on his/her phone.  Instead of watching the whole thing through a screen, I bet you that being present in the moment is much more fulfilling.  And it’s okay, you can spare the rest of your friends the shaky footage and replace it with one or two pictures because they are probably tapping through it anyway.

But, I get it.  Some meals, moments and places are so aesthetic that they have to be captured. However, people who snap everything they eat, every place they visit, and every party they’re at are a bit concerning.  Stories are a lot more interesting to look through when they are something new and exciting.  Seeing my entire Snapchat flooded with the same old stories every day is honestly a bit depressing.

Snap Score.

Snapchat scores are a sum total of all the snaps that you have sent and received.  Like other social media websites, the higher the number, the more “authoritative”, “cool” or “popular” you seem.  Humans are naturally competitive. Increasing their scores can become a motivation to constantly add new people, send pointless snaps and keep loads of streaks.  In fact, the Internet has tons of websites on how to increase snap scores. Here’s an example:Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.47.24 PM

Just the fact that such websites exist is scary because it shows how deeply engrossed we are into social media.

Emojis.

Ah, the infamous best friend list on Snapchat.  The emojis next to people’s names code for so much, effectively ranking friendships and increasing paranoia everywhere. The fact that it’s so indirect makes it exciting and sneaky, but also super nervewracking.

In particular, the smirky face and gritting teeth emojis are prone to making people feel jealous and insecure.  Also, the hearts hold special value.  The red heart appears after 2 weeks of being each others #1 best friend, and the two pink hearts appear after 2 months.  Losing a heart is heartbreaking to some people, and can potentially lead to salty feelings.  The whole ordeal is stressful and worrisome.

Snapchat should not be about maintaining unnecessary commitments, but rather sharing and interacting with friends.  If once in a while, your best friend list changes around, it should not mean the end of the world.  Friendships on Snapchat are ranked according to the number of snaps you send people.  It’s impossible to send snaps to the same person for a prolonged time unless it’s done purposefully. Therefore, your best friend list is bound to change around and does not necessarily equate to your real-life friendships.  If not being your friend’s BFF on Snapchat is enough to get you paranoid, how strong is your friendship?

I have yet to break my streaks or even consider deleting my Snapchat because quite frankly, I’m weak and easily tempted. However, just realizing the extent of the obsession is important.  As they say, acceptance is the first step to change.  Personally, I’m taking little steps to step away from social media once in a while and really enjoy the moment.  Resisting the urge to snap everything, not adding all of my suggested friends, and not worrying about my best friend list are some ways I have addressed the problem.  At the end of the day, real-time interactions hold so much more value than a three-second snap.

FOMO: The Greatest of Halloween Horrors

Man, the semester has got me on a tight schedule. The most horrific thing about the great holiday Halloween is not the costumes, the movies, or the insane amount of decorations people put up around the streets at midnight, but rather the amount of work that we college kids are expected to do around a time of relaxation.

Remember the good ol’ days, similar to the scene below, where in elementary school, we kids could get away with eating all the cookies we wanted, pretending to be on top of the world with our costumes, impressing parents and fellow classmates alike, not caring about schoolwork or the tests that were coming up over a month from the date. Best part was, no homework on weekends! It seems like a utopia looking back.

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I can’t remember my last in-school Halloween party after 5th grade, since Halloween was just another normal day once I got to middle school.

Now that I’m in college, even though students do dress up, and can still go to those school night or “lit” Halloween parties, I find myself having to worry about how it impacts the rest of my schedule. I have two exams and an essay due next week as I sit here writing this, and had to cancel plans with friends multiple times in order to accommodate all these priorities. So I decide to reminisce of the days when we had little to no responsibilities, or have to worry about writing except for those cute little pumpkin cards I used to do in second grade.

I know I sound a bit overly nostalgic here, but keep in mind that I’m not saying these times are gone forever. Rather, they are simply present in a different form than the ones we experienced as children. Sure, I may have to work around a tight schedule, I might not go out as much as I’d like to, and I might have to settle for watching old-time horror classics like Friday the 13th or Halloween instead of the new Happy Death Day in theaters, but overall, I’m ok with that. It’s a compromise I have to make. I am happy with the career choice I am making in medicine, and I know it will all work out well for me in the end, so that is what I use to keep me going. The otherwise horrifying Halloween FOMO (fear of missing out) has little to no effect once I realize I am doing this for myself and my future. And it is not even true that I have missed out entirely, since I am actually planning to go trick-or-treating with friends by getting my work done sooner this weekend, and at the end of the day, I am a person who enjoys spending time with a few close friends rather than a big group (to avoid sounding cliche, I must point out that I also enjoy really big groups, and that’s why most of the time, when I am with friends, I insist on going to malls or football games).

I hope that this post finds everyone well in their studies, or if out partying or hanging with friends, having the time of their lives. It is true that college experience can never be replaced, so going out and having fun is no doubt a part of my schedule, but to incorporate both academics and fun into a single, balanced schedule, has no doubt been a daunting task at times, able to scare more than the jump scares in the Conjuring. Hopefully, when I’m out trick-or-treating, I get more energy to work productively from all the sugar in the candy…

A History of Halloween

I can’t believe Halloween is tomorrow! It seems as though this semester just started. Halloween is a great time to forget the stress of classes and midterms and to dress up and have fun for a weekend!

The Halloween traditions we know and love originated in the religious festival of Samhain (Nov 1). The Celtic festival of Samhain was a celebration marking the end of the Harvest season as people looked ahead towards and prepared for the cold months that were to come. The dark and cold winter was often associated with death because of the hardships (freezing to death, starvation, etc) that came with it. To the Celts that lived in what is now Ireland, the coming of winter meant a blurring of the line between life and death, and allowing spirits to pass through to the “living” world of people were not careful. To prevent this, Celtic priests lit huge bonfires which were then used to re-lit the hearths of everyone in the village. This fire would protect the residents of the house from the spirits of the dead. Many of the traditions that originated in the original All Saint’s Day celebration eventually led to the traditions and practices we follow on Halloween in the US now.

As the influence of Catholicism spread to Ireland, traditional festivals such as Samhain blended with Christian traditions such as All Saint’s Day, a day to celebrate all of the Saints in the Catholic church. To go along with this day, some of the Samhain traditions were adopted in a celebration called All Soul’s Day, which is still celebrated in the Catholic Church on November 2nd, and is a day to honor you friends and family members who have passed away. The combination of these traditions, as well as the All Hallow’s Eve night before All Saint’s Day, were brought to America by immigrants from Catholic countries, specifically to the American colony of Maryland. The immigration boom from Ireland during the years of the Irish potato famine helped to spread the ideas and traditions of Halloween across the states.

During the eighteenth century, Halloween shifted from a time to celebrate and fear the dead to the more fun, community oriented celebrations we know and love today. The tradition of trick or treating was inspired by English and Irish traditions, and partly because of this, there was an emphasis put on being neighborly and kind during Halloween. Eventually, Halloween in the United States lost many of the heavily religious undertones, and by the beginning of the twentieth century, it was just a fun celebration to dress up and get some extra treats!

The American tradition of Halloween, though it was born in Celtic religious traditions, does not really resemble the original Samhain festival. Now, Halloween is seen more of a commercial opportunity, as Americans spend an estimated $6 billion on the holiday! No matter what your thoughts on the religious and cultural history of Halloween, it’s fun to put on a cute outfit and treat yourself to something sweet!

Boo to You!

Halloween is just around the corner, and I can feel the excitement in the air! This year, I celebrated Halloween early in September when I went to Disney World. I attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for the first time, and it was amazing! Since it is almost Halloween, I thought that I would share my experience with all of you.

Disney is known for its elaborate holiday events. They have the Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring, The Food and Wine Festival in the Fall, the Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween party during September and October, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party during November and December. I have been to the Flower and Garden Festival many times and I have also been to Disney around Christmas multiple times, so I can confidently say that Disney goes all out when it comes to events. It has always been mine and my sister’s dream to attend the Halloween party, but we never visited Disney during that time period. This summer, we were there at the start of September, and Disney held their Halloween parties early, so we jumped at the opportunity to attend! And let me tell you, it was worth every penny.

The decorations in Magic Kingdom are truly beautiful. During the party, there were fog machines at the front of the park, and loud Halloween music was playing to set the mood. Also, most of the visitors and cast members are dressed in creative and elaborate costumes. It felt nothing like a normal day at the parks!

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At the Halloween party, there are many characters that you can line up to take pictures with that you normally cannot find at the parks: Jack and Sally, the Seven Dwarfs, Jack Sparrow and more! I have always wanted to meet Jack Sparrow, so that was the highlight of my night.

Since it is a Halloween party, I also got to trick-or-treat! I personally haven’t been trick or treating since middle school days, and it is something that I missed a lot! At Disney, they encourage everyone (yes, even the adults) to trick-or-treat! As soon as you get there, you are given a bag and a list of all of the candy stations around the park, where you can pick up some treats (and you can go back as many times as you’d like!).

Of course, Disney wouldn’t be Disney without a special parade and firework show. The parade is called “Boo to You” and the fireworks show is “Hallowishes”. During the firework show, there were projections on the castle that went went along with the music. It was so much fun to sing and scream along. The fireworks were great, but I think that the parade was even better. During the parade, you see characters that are not in the daytime parades, such as the hyenas from the lion king, Oogie boogie, a whole float full of villains, and so many ghouls from the Haunted Mansion!

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The Haunted Mansion performers had really beautiful costumes and their dancing was really good!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is an experience that I highly recommend to people of all ages. It’s so much fun to get dressed and see other people’s costumes. Also there are so many different things to do like meeting special characters, going trick-or-treating, and eating special treats that are only available during the party. It is something that I will never forget, and I really hope that I will be able to attend again one day!