Summer Series Part Two: Knitting!!!

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

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

knit purl

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

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

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

3-12-stockinette-right-sideknittingabbreviations

 

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

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

Seed-stitchrasp

Diamond honeycomb stitch.jpg

 

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A Lesson from Thor: Ragnarok

By the time this post is up, the release of Avengers’s Infinity War will be only a day away!

thor yes

Over the past few months I have been re-watching the Marvel movies in anticipation for the new Avengers, and one of my top favorite movies is Thor: Raganarok. I felt a connection to this movie not only because it was hilarious, but because I felt like I could relate to one of the central themes of the movie. I’m sure most of you have already watched this movie, but in case you haven’t, I will be discussing spoilers 🙂

In this movie, Thor lost his hammer, his hair, and his eye.  These were all physical things that he thought made him the powerful person he is (well, the eye is an extreme example, but you get the idea). He thought that without his hammer, he would have less strength and be less capable of doing what he was able to do with it. He initially felt lost without his hammer, as if a part of his identity was gone with it. At some point in the movie, while Thor is doubting his abilities sans hammer, Odin asks him “Are you the god of hammers?” It was at that moment that he really realized that the hammer is just an object. It does not solely give him strength or unique abilities, as he has power within him. And he is able to do incredible things even without the hammer!

thor spin.gif

This is what raw power looks like.

We all go through rough patches in life. Sometimes we are put in situations where we feel like we are disadvantaged or as if we are deprived, and are consequentially farther from reaching our goals. It is normal to feel less capable when we do not have the same resources as someone else has. But inside, we have the power to shape who we want to be. When we are placed into a tough situation, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects and on what is keeping us from moving forward, we should instead look at the positives. We all have the power to change a situation from bad to good, and half of that battle is our attitude toward the problem.

I think that this is important to remember as we approach finals well. I have noticed a lot of negativity swirling around in my classes (and I regret to admit that I also contribute to that cloud of sadness). We should all keep in mind that no matter lost we may feel, how many assignments may be piling up, or how many tests may be approaching, we do have some level of control over our outcomes. Instead of focusing our energy on negative things like how many days we have left before exams, or how many more topics we have to cover, its more worthwhile to find ways to boost our self-esteem and get things done. I realize that this is a stretch from the Thor lesson, but I believe that we all have strength within us. Negativity is like Thor’s hammer in the sense that it keeps us from recognizing our true potential. I feel like my thoughts were a little disorganized, but I really do think that Thor taught us a great lesson about taking advantage of our inner power!

 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Hi everyone! Spring has officially begun which means that Mother’s Day is almost here. I thought I would put together a list of four gifts that you can make or buy. They all leave room for a lot of creativity and personalization. Don’t worry! The DIY’s and the things you can buy will not be too expensive (unless you want them to be). Also, feel free to include more than one item from the list below; the more the merrier your mother will be! Hope you like this post and feel free to tell me your creative ideas because I am looking to get my mom something too!

  1. Cards

Image result for flower pop up cardHomemade Mother's Day Card Ideas | DIY Mother's Day GiftsImage result for mother's day cards

This can be a handmade card or something you buy from a store. I personally greatly enjoy making my own cards. Let me help you brainstorm some ideas for the cards. What I usually do is come up with a list of at least 3-4 things that my mom really likes that I could include as a component of the card. I encourage you to brainstorm these things even if you decide to buy the card. It will add a personalized touch that I am sure your mom will admire. So, let us get back to the brainstorming: favorite color(s), hobbies, movies, songs, food, season, place to visit, and more. Once you’re done brainstorming, try to construct or buy a card that includes at least 2 or more of these elements.

2.  Flowers in a Classy Vase

Image result for tissue paper flowersImage result for flowers in a vaseMason Jar Picture Frame Vase.

Now you can either make a tissue paper flower bouquet or buy beautiful, fresh flowers. As for the vase, if you wish to create your own vase or buy a classy vase, then see if you can still incorporate those things from your list you created in #1. If you want to make your own vase, then go to Walmart or Michaels and see if you can get a plain white or any other plain solid color vase upon which you could decorate and personalize! Pinterest suggests the far right one! If you are buying a vase, then try stores like Home Goods.

3. Handmade Jewelry

Image result for DIY mother's day handmade jewelryImage result for DIY handmade jewelry pressed flowersImage result for DIY mother's day handmade jewelry

This is exclusively a DIY project because I think it would be really thoughtful and creative to do this! Michaels has an amazing assortment of beads, jewels, and everything else you need to make your own jewelry, so do check it out! Some motifs that you can certainly use can, again, come from your brainstormed list! Other elements or themes that you can implement are flowers, geometric patterns, stars/planets theme, seashells or rocks you have collected, pressed plants, etc…

4. DIY Sign Decor

Image result for DIY mother's day plaques wall art pinterestImage result for DIY mother's day plaques wall art pinterestImage result for DIY mother's day plaques wall art pinterest

This is another DIY that your mom will surely love! Try to find a canvas or some sort of board (wooden, cardboard, or metal) that you can do this on! You have two options for this gift. You can either spell out the word “Mother” or “Mom” and make each letter signify an adjective describing your mother. The other option is even better; you can personalize it further by spelling out your mom’s actual name! Your call! Have fun with it and decorate the board or canvas as you please.

Thank you! Have fun!

St. Patrick’s Day History

Hi everyone! Since St. Patrick’s day was Saturday,  I thought it would be the perfect post to go over some history behind this holiday. So, here it is. I hope you have learned something new! Enjoy!

Image result for st. patrick

St. Patrick’s day is commemorating the death of St.Patrick, a patron saint.  Did you know that, in the 17th century, this commemoration involved a feast? Today, evidently, the celebratory practices have expanded far from a simple feast.  More interestingly, Marion Casey, a clinical assistant professor of Irish studies at New York University, claimed that St.Patrick was actually a Roman citizen who was kidnapped, enslaved, and brought to Ireland at age sixteen. St. Patrick escaped to a monastery in Gaul, France. It is said that Patrick may not have been the actual name of this man; he may have been born with the name Maewyn Succat. However, once he became a priest, Succat may have changed his name to Patricius which is “father figure” in Latin.  As a priest, he returned back to Ireland where he converted Druids to Christianity by terminating their pagan rites. Druids are a class of learned Celts that were often judges, priests, and teachers.

 

Image result for st patrick's day chicago

The next 35 years, St. Patrick day celebrations proliferated in amongst the Irish American immigrants. “Irish Aid” societies like Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society spurred up.

Image result for st patrick day

There are many symbols that we often associate with St.Patrick’s day. One of which is the well-known shamrock. Legend says that in his conversion endeavors, St. Patrick explained Christianity by using the shamrock. Chicago first dyed its river green in 1962. How did this bizarre idea even arise? Well, the Chicago city pollutant officers used dyes to track illegal sewage discharges, and soon realized that the green dye could actually be used to show a little bit of St. Patrick’s day spirit! That time, they dumped 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river to keep the river green for a week! Now, only 40 pounds is immersed in order to decrease the environmental damage. The river stays green for a couple hours. While Chicago may claim the dyeing was its original idea, Savannah, Georgia claims that it was their original idea. In 1961, a city restaurant owner named Tom Woolley convinced city officials to dye the Savannah River green. However, the river turned out to be only slightly green and didn’t really work out as planned. They never tried it again. Corn beef and cabbage also became a starring dish in the St.Patrick day celebrations. In the past, this was one of the staple foods the poor Irish could afford.  There are more than a hundred parades in America alone! New York and Boston are two of the most celebratory places in America!

Image result for st patrick's day parade new york

The most riveting fact is that the first parade ever held to celebrate St. Patrick’s day was in America, not Ireland! On March 17, 1762,  after the Revolutionary War, in New York, Irish soldiers celebrated St. Patrick’s day by hosting the first-ever parade. This was their method of connecting with their Irish heritage.

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

How to Get Work Done, Like Actually

A new year and a new semester has begun, so you know what that means. A new you! Just kidding. As someone who doesn’t believe in temporary new year resolutions, I try my best to set long-term goals for myself.  Specifically, I like taking tangible and practical steps to improve myself, rather than creating fluffy and whimsical hopes like “I will work hard this year!” for myself.

Keeping a clear goal of getting working done efficiently and without distraction in mind, I have come up with six ways that are actually effective when it’s time to be productive.  These are things I’ve picked up after years of experimenting which conditions work best for me. Keep in mind that they may not apply to everyone.  Without further ado, I present to you ways to actually get work done.

1. Self Control

The biggest hindrance to being productive is all the distractions that are present around us. Especially if the work involves using a computer or the Internet, social media, YouTube and texts are just waiting to interrupt your work ethic. I know it’s hard, but do yourself a favor and keep your phone on Airplane Mode or your Mac on Do Not Disturb when there’s a big assignment due.  Your notifications can wait. Also, resist the urge to keep checking your email or Facebook so often.  Just attempt to not click on those websites for a certain period of time. Not working? That’s okay.

Possible solutions include:

  • Delete bookmarks of distracting website so it is not so easy to reach them
  • Do not have them open in other tabs. Just close them.
  • If you still cannot control yourself, then the most effective solution is getting a website blocker. If you have a Mac, you can download Self-Control. It is one of the best ones I’ve ever used. Once you block the websites for x amount of time, you cannot undo that action.  You have to wait it out. Instead of crying out of regret, might as well use that time to work!

2. Organization

It is so important to keep your life organized to get work done.  This includes everything. Keep your work environment clean: a clean desk, a desktop with minimal apps and a clear state of mind. Most importantly, having a schedule and to-do list is a must. I never understood the point of planning out my day and writing down what assignments I have to complete in one place. I’d think it’s too tedious and extra. But, trust me- it helps so much. Instead of trying to memorize your tasks or logging them in ten different places on your phone, have a homework or reminder app that keeps it all in one place. I recommend iStudiez, myHomework Student Planner, and The Homework App. You can upload your entire schedule and class times on it. It’s a great way to mark your due dates and set priority for your assignments.

3. Determination

No matter how distraction-free and organized you become, it’s all useless if you don’t like what you are doing. And I get it, sometimes the task is mundane and uninteresting. So, if you have a list of tasks to complete, save the one you are most excited about until the end.  This way, you have something to look forward to.  Most often, the boring assignments are the ones that are the most time-consuming and take the most effort. Get them done first when you have the most energy. Leave the fun stuff for later.

4. Rewards

If you are doing something that takes a long time to complete, break it down into sections.  For example, if you have to read 50 pages, reward yourself after every 10-15 pages with a YouTube video.  If you have been working for 2 hours at a stretch, watch an episode of Parks and Rec on Netflix.  If you have a lot of tasks to complete, take a break after finishing two.  Try to manage your time well by either giving complete focus to your work or truly relaxing during your break time. Do not attempt to do both because it just slows everything down.

5. Be Excited

Time flies when you have fun, doesn’t it? Well, guess what? Work can actually be fun when you like what you are doing. Just think about. Say you are really passionate about biology. Anytime you do biology homework, you give it your complete attention and finish quickly. So, even if you are doing work that doesn’t excite you, try to find things that are exciting about it. For example, if you have to write a research paper to complete, and you hate finding sources, but love writing, look forward to that. If you are reading a history textbook and find it boring, try to formulate it as a story in your head to connect ideas and events. If you don’t understand a concept and are more of a visual learner, find videos and graphics online to clear your doubts. Even the dullest things become exciting when you understand them well!

6. Just do it.

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.” is pretty motivational. The best way to stop stressing about a task is to just do it and get it over with. Procrastination makes things worse. Instead of worrying about your workload and complaining about how much you are not looking forward to doing work, actually being productive is much more efficient. Once you start working, it becomes easy and you feel a burden lifted off of your shoulder.

Remember kids, it’s all about your motivation and prioritization. With just a little bit of self-control and a few rewards along the way, nothing can stop you from hustling hard.

 

Cool Websites

Hello everyone! It’s finally fall!! Yay! In this cold weather what better thing is there to do besides wrapping yourself in a blanket, sitting on the bed, and surfing the web? I thought this month I would share with you a compilation of websites that are weird, cool, and/or useful. Enjoy and be sure to check out the websites you find interesting!

    1. Brain Pickings

This is a blog run by an MIT Fellow student named Maria Popova. She basically amasses thought-provoking content in pretty much any subject you can think of including philosophy, art, history, politics, anthropology and more! She recently wrote about how the tale of Big Wolf & Little Wolf  teaches us about the importance of friendship and having a sense of belonging. If you would like delve into topics and love to ponder upon things in the world, then this is the site for you!

2. TED


I am sure, or at least I hope, most if not all of you have heard of TED. TED hosts many talks that are truly inspirational and amazing. From the newest breakthroughs in science to how to start a good habit, TED talks will keep you updated on the most innovative and enriching discoveries happening around the world. My personal favorite would be there inspirational videos. In particular, I loved “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” talk given by Mel Robbins, “Why 30 is not the new 20” by Dr. Meg Jay, and “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” given by Celeste Headlee.

3. The Useless Web

Okay, so this is when you are so terribly bored that you don’t really care about what website you want to go to. The Useless Web will take you to pointless, but somehow entertaining websites that might just cure your boredom. All you do is click the “Please” button and, voila, you’re directed to a unique site each time. Oh the places you’ll go. You’ll never know where you’ll be directed! Have fun. I definitely thought this site was perfect for when you have just taken a brutal midterm and don’t really want to start that episode of your show you’re obsessed with because you know you’ll end up watching for at least 3 hours

4. Giphy

Please embrace yourself for this one. This is a website filled with GIFs of every possible thing you can imagine. Not only can you search for endless GIFs, but also make one of your own!

5. Unplug the TV!

Even if no one might still watch TV, here is a website that gives you random, but informative videos to watch. The best part is you never know what video you’ll get! If you don’t want to watch something, then you can always skip to next random video. Just to show you the randomness: my first time I got a video about three moons that could be planets, then I got a video about the end of the Arctic, and just now I got one about what Cannabis does to your brain!

6. The Oatmeal

If you are looking to laugh, and who isn’t, then this comic website is your best choice. Matthew Inman’s illustrations are so funny, humorous, and will surely lighten your mood.  Most of the comics are relatively short and sweet, so you don’t have to worry about finishing pages of comics in the little free time you do manage to have. Do check this one out!

Conspiracy Theories!

Hello! I can not believe that summer is already over. Nevertheless, before we all know it, the year will whiz past us, and we will be taking the finals in spring and it’ll be summer all over again.

This semester I have taken an Honors seminar that I think is pretty cool. It is called “Conspiracies in a Global Context.” Professor Koerber teaches the class. I have only joined the class recently, and attended only one session, and I am already in love with it! We amassed a list of enigmatic conspiracies of all time and tried to categorize them. It was so fascinating. As a result, I have prepared for you a very brief list of some of the world’s most sought after conspiracies of all times. Now, keep in mind, I am not saying these are necessarily true; this is just for pure entertainment.  Feel free to comment on any other ones you know below. Enjoy 😀 !

    1. Codex Alimentarius

The Codex Alimentarius is a guidebook developed by the World Health Organization that delineates rules and regulations concerning food labeling safety.  The conspiracy goes that this codex might just end humankind. Apparently, there are peculiar titles in their agenda, which is available to the public through a simple Google search.  Some of these titles include “Population Control Under the Guise of Consumer Protection”, and “An Introduction to Soft Kill Eugenics.”

2.  Project Blue Beam

This is apparently a conspiracy involving NASA. It goes that NASA is trying to enforce New Age religion. This religion is centered around the belief of spirituality with great emphasis on individualism. It is also heavily influenced by Eastern cultures. In addition, the conspiracy theory states that NASA is working with the AntiChrist, an opponent of Jesus Christ who is supposedly to appear when it is the end of the world, to gain control of and run the world.

3. Aurora Aircraft

Aurora was said to be a reconnaissance aircraft. Reconnaissance aircraft is designed for various intelligence purposes including spying and intercepting communication via signal intelligence. However, the US government insists that Aurora was never built or flown.

4.  Project MKULTRA

This was allegedly a secret CIA project researching the role of drugs such as LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), barbiturates, and psilocybin (mushrooms) on mind control, interrogation methods, and psychological torture. The project went on from 1953 to about 1973. Also, a man named Frank Olson, who used to work for the CIA at the time of the project, died mysteriously. His death was believed to be staged by the CIA to look like a suicide when , in fact, the CIA might have assassinated him.

5.  ACORN


ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. This organization aimed to tackle issues such as voter registration, affordable housing, and other economic and social issues that the poor might be facing in neighborhoods. The conspiracy theory associated with this organization goes that Obama was working with this organization and it helped Obama win the election in 2008. The conspiracy theory also states that ACORN was hiding the fact that Obama was actually born in Kenya.

Anyone can Draw

One of my biggest goals this summer is to improve my drawing skills. Personally, drawing is something that calms me and makes me happy, even though I am not a very good artist. But I watched a bunch of videos recently of artists and their drawing progress over a period of time, and I realized that anyone can become a great artist if they are dedicated. Here are some of the tips that I am following to improve:

1. Watch YouTube Tutorials

Today, you can learn to do virtually anything just by watching a YouTube video. I have watched many YouTube videos over the past few weeks that have taught me how to shade more effectively, how to work with guidelines, and how to use colored pencils to create depth in a picture. I also watched videos to learn how to draw eyes and lips realistically. YouTube has proven to be a very important resource to me as I was able to learn so much from it and create drawings that I didn’t know were possible for me!

2. Use a Book

I went to the bookstore around two weeks ago and looked at what they had available for drawing. I flipped through many books, and I found one that I thought might be able to help me learn some of the basic techniques better. The book that I am currently using every day is called You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler. The book has so many different examples of people who used these methods to improve their art, which I find to be very inspiring. The book is split up into lessons, so it is easy to just do a lesson a day. It doesn’t take up much time, but I can already see a change in my skills when I flip through my sketchbook. If you are a person who wants to learn more about drawing techniques, but are too busy or find it hard to commit to learning for a big chunk of time each day, I think it is worthwhile to check out this book and see if it may help you.

3. Watch other people draw their drawings

I guess this could be under the YouTube category, but since I talked more about tutorials in that one, I will consider this a separate category. I like to watch pictures of other people’s artwork to get inspiration to keep drawing. I also like to see what other people do and gather ideas for my own work. Another thing that I think is helpful is watching speed drawings and seeing the process that artists use when they draw. When you look at the steps that other people take to get to their end product, you may want to try something new!

You could follow all of these steps but the most important step to becoming a better artist is…DRAW! Sometimes I fall into the trap of just sitting and watching video after video, but not actually trying anything that I have learned. The only way to improve is to take action. So pick up your pencil and sketchbook and just doodle away!

A Summer-Suspense-Must-Read!

Hi there everyone! Summer has officially (I mean the actual season) kick-started. For some of us that means days of contemplating  what to do, while for others it means research, volunteering, internships, etc. Either way, I think it is very important to consecrate a little bit of your time each day for reading. Therefore, I thought I would encourage you to read this really awesome book I have read this past month!

The book is titled Memory Man and is written by David Baldacci. If you are a sleuth and love unraveling mysteries, then this is definitely a book for you. The story is about an extraordinary man named Amos Decker who, after a gruesome concussion on the football field, suffers from a peculiar brain condition called hyperthemia and synesthesia. Hyperthemia is the ability to never, and this is no exaggeration, forget a single thing that has happened to the person. Synesthesia is the ability to use one sense of the body with another seemingly unconnected sense. For example, Amos is able to see everything in colors and numbers.

The story commences with Amos walking right into the murder of his entire family one night. Horrified and absolutely devestated, he doesn’t know what to do. The grisly murder scene leaves him abashed and grieving. He thinks about killing himself, but the police come just in time and talk him out of shooting himself. He later vows to find the killers and avenge his family and himself. Amos’ journey is one filled with countless shocks and surprises that will leave you ardent to find out what happens on the next page.

Amos, a retired detective, definitely has the brains to solve this case, and this is evident in every step of the story. With a little more help from a former partner named Lancaster, a journalist named Jamison, and an FBI agent named Bogart, Amos sets out to catch the merciless killer. To everyone’s, but Amos of course, surprise, the killer is no less intelligent than Amos himself.

A huge twist in the story comes when a shooting at Mansfield High School leaves few students and adults dead. At first, you may think that this may be an entire new mystery in itself, however, it turns out that the shooter was no other than the one who had shot Amos’ wife, strangled his daughter, and slit the throat of Amos’ brother-in-law.  These two interconnected cases elucidate that the killer has no boundaries. Why? Why is the killer is doing all of this? What did the shooting have to do with Amos and his family?

You will discover that each clue that Amos uncovers is carefully crafted to fit into the final puzzle. In the beginning, it may seem that the pieces are all random, but believe me, you will be awestruck as to how the entire mystery unfolds itself at the end.

I really hope you all take time this summer to definitely give this book a go. I promise you that it will not be a disappointment at all. Baldacci is an impeccable author who is meticulous in his vivid imagery; don’t be surprised if you get so engulfed in the words that you soon find yourself alongside Amos, deciphering the murder’s clever clues.

Being a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program

JUST DO IT.

This year was my first time as a Peer Mentor, through SASHP, for a first-year student, who I was paired up with based on similar academic studies and interests. We first met each other at the Peer Mentor/Mentee Summer Kick-Off event last June, which was really just the very beginning of our adventure together. As a Peer Mentor, I received the opportunity to guide my mentee through her first year here at Rutgers, helping her adjust to the transition from high school to a large university and to the many changes. We met at least once a month, and soon enough, we were friends! Here are my top three moments with my mentee, who we’ll call Melodia for this post:

3. The Awkward First Meeting

It’s always super awkward when you meet someone for the first time, isn’t it? Same case for when I had my first, official meeting of the year with Melodia! We met at Busch Campus Center, and even our initial greeting was awkward:

“Hiii!”

“Hiii!”

We walked to some couches in silence and then marched towards Moe’s to get Melodia some food. After we overcame the initial awkwardness, we proceeded to Phase 2: More Awkwardness. Most of this phase consisted of silence…awkward silence, during which we smiled at each other while carefully chewing on food. Phase 3: Some Conversation, began when we both realized that “people usually talk”; therefore, we…TALKED. We conversed about the first week of classes, our already busy schedules, the different classes we were registered for, and how we were liking them and our professors. It was clear that Melodia was sharp, excellent at time management, and adjusting well to the Rutgers environment. Our meeting ended with, “See you soon!” Overall, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be–not too much blood, sweat, or tears at all! Folks, here’s a lesson I learned from this first meeting: AWKWARD is NORMAL.

2. Session of Connection

For probably our second or third meeting, we decided to talk with each other at the new Starbucks at the Yard across from Scott Hall. This, my friends, was when we truly CONNECTED. By this time, the awkwardness had vanished, and we were already talking to each other with ease. That day, we were discussing how Melodia’s classes were coming along and any challenges she was facing. Somehow, we switched to the wonderful world of art and passionately lectured each other on literature, films, and creativity. Interesting lectures from both sides, I must say. Melodia exclaimed, “We have so much in common!” To that, I responded, “Can you believe that a whole hour has passed by?!” After some more chatting, I finished sipping my cappuccino (with three sugars) and we said, “See you soon!” I made my way to the train station, thinking to myself how awesome the day turned out to be. 

1. Never Say Goodbye

All stories come to an end. All things have an end. But still, “Never Say Goodbye,” as a Hayley Westenra (one of my most favorite singers in this world) song title indicates. Although that song describes a romantic relationship, I can say that it applies to friendships as well. Just last week, I had my last, official meeting with Melodia, this time in three places–we were moving around a lot–including the Livingston Student Center, the Livingston Starbucks, and Sixteen Handles. I congratulated her on finishing an entire year at Rutgers. Freshman year: done. In this meeting, we talked about how Melodia had grown and changed for the better. I told her how I was proud of her for beginning to overcome her fear of sharing her work with others, specifically in a Creative Writing class workshop, during which she bravely listened to her classmates’ critiques and constructive feedback. I also congratulated her on something else…

SHE GOT ACCEPTED TO BE A PEER MENTOR FOR THE HONORS PROGRAM FOR NEXT YEAR!

I was thrilled and so very proud that she chose to apply. It warmed my heart when she said she gave it a shot because I was an inspiration for her, and that she also wanted to help an incoming first-year just as I had helped her. After about an hour, before I hurried off to Tillett to tutor and Melodia crossed the street to the Plaza bus stop, we, of course, agreed to definitely meet up throughout next year, because the end of my official role as a mentor for Melodia didn’t mean the end of my friendship with her. We told each other, “See you soon!”

So folks, if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, choosing to be an Honors Peer Mentor is absolutely the way to go!

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–The Doctor