The Problem with Emerson Attendance Policy

We’ve all been there. You open your eyes at 9:20 am, knowing full well you have your elective at 10. But you also know that your head is pounding, your throat is drier than the Sahara, your nose is running faster than your legs ever could and you feel like ten bricks were just chucked at your body. Nope, you’re not hungover; you’re sick. But you also know you only have one unexcused absence left and…there are two months left of the semester. Groaning, aching and melting in your own skin, you reluctantly roll your limbs out of bed and begin your routine.

Emerson’s attendance policy is, needless to say, strict. It’s said that most professors assign a policy of 3 unexcused absences and unlimited excused absences. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve had professors only allow 2, 1, or even no unexcused absences for the entirety of the semester. And when the pool of reasons from which excused absences can be drawn is so small, it becomes increasingly difficult for Emerson students to maintain a good grade in class while still tending to their physical and mental needs.

I have never before experienced such a hard-working, dedicated environment of students who will go to class through so much. I myself have sat through classes even with treacherous stomach bugs and eye infections. The scary part to me is that it seems the school would prefer we come to class with our contagious illnesses than stay home and rest. It’s clear the quality of our work in class is greatly diminished during these instances, and yet, we still push through.

I find it absurd the inconsistency between professors’ policies. I’ve had professors who have excused people for public transportation issues, colds and picking up extra shifts at work, as well as professors who have refused to grant excused absences for family deaths, funerals and weddings. As adults between the ages of 18 and 22, students should be given enough responsibility and respect to come to class on their own terms. With such strict attendance policies, it feels like the college doesn’t trust us to manage our own educations. And it’s saddening that professors will often assume dishonesty or laziness, no matter the excuse a student gives.

When a professor once addressed my class on the first day with “You will be given no excused absences. You are adults, and if you want to come to class, you will,” it was unbelievable to me. Being absent from class is so much more than merely not wanting to come. We as adults understand the economic toll our education has on our lives, and we know to take it very seriously. Yes, there are days when we are tired, bored or hungry and don’t feel like going to class, but professors need to start taking our health more seriously. Nothing, no not even your hour-and-45-minute-long seminar, matters more than our health.

At the end of the day, students are in control of their education. They will take as much, or as little, from it as they desire. It is not a professor’s job to force students into their classroom; if a professor is being respectful and fair, then students will naturally want to come to class. It’s as simple as that. Health is wealth, and us Emerson students are going to be needing some major wealth if we dream of funding our expensive undergraduate educations.

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The Life of a Homeschooler

  Okay, I’ll admit it, I was homeschooled.

I know what you’re thinking, but I was not homeschooled in the antisocial-god fearing-I only wear sandals-sort of way. In fact, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided to be homeschooled at the age of ten. I was raised by a single mom who worked as a school teacher. My mom, bless her heart, has always put 110 percent into everything that she does. It didn’t come as a surprise when she was a favorite among students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary school. However, growing up as an only child, and attending the school where my mom taught was not a great experience from my young perspective. For me, it meant waking up at 5 am and getting to school before the sun came up. It meant eating cheese danishes from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for breakfast. It meant sharpening pencils for my mom’s classroom every morning. It meant re-watching every VHS from the school library (I might scream if someone ever makes me watch the animated Hobbit movie again). However, in most people’s eyes, I was the shy girl who read all the time and had an amazing teacher as a mom.

So, in third grade, when I started dreading school and straight up refused to go, it came as a surprise to many people. My mom hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years, a result of traumatic brain injury. I was struggling socially and academically throughout third and fourth grade. I didn’t get bad grades, but I had a hard time sitting at a desk all day. I excelled in reading but was average at math and was skimmed over in a class of 35 kids. I was not only bored but I was a weird kid. I was obsessed with horror from a young age, loved to read at lunch and had crushes on girls and boys (I didn’t connect this idea until I was 14). None of these things helped me to make friends and I remember being mortified when I realized that many people in my grade would talk about me behind my back. Secret conversations and laughter ending abruptly with eyes averted whenever I walked past. Even my “best friend” in third grade told me she had to be my secret friend at school even though we had sleepovers every weekend. All of these things resulted in tears before school and refusal to go. Eventually, my mom sat me down and had me make a list of everything I wanted in a school.

      Addy’s Dream School

  • More reading time
  • Pets at school
  • Help with math
  • More field trips
  • Wearing PJs whenever I want

After making the list, homeschooling was an obvious option. My mom and I only knew one other family that homeschooled, so it was a mostly unknown option to us. Still, we started this strange and exciting endeavor at the beginning of my 5th-grade year.  My mom used her teaching background and resources to create general lesson plans and we eventually found local homeschool groups to join. I continued with homeschooling all the way through high school. I took community college classes from age twelve, graduated with double the credit needed for high school graduation, performed Shakespeare, volunteered with multiple organizations and traveled extensively with my mother.

Despite all the weird looks when I told people I was homeschooled, the probing questions about my social life and college plans, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a homeschooler anymore. It has brought me academic challenges and travel opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, but more importantly, it introduced me to a group of friends that taught me self-confidence and accepted all of my weird quirks. I was immersed by people who wore whatever they wanted, studied everything from music theory to Latin and valued treating each other with respect. This has shaped me in numerous ways, but most obviously brought me to Emerson College where I continue to be surrounded by creative, weird and passionate people.

The Best Ways to Soothe Your Sunburn

For anyone that’s as pale as me, going to the beach can sometimes turn into a nightmare. What starts as a fun day hanging out with friends by the water can quickly turn into a week of looking like a lobster, which is something I always dread come summer. Besides the fact that a sunburn can look super embarrassing, it can also damage your skin. The best trick I could give you to avoid the redness is to not get burnt at all (carrying around a bottle of SPF 30 is always the way to go,) but we are all guilty of neglecting our skin until it’s too late. So, if you’re like me and are constantly in denial about how easily you burn and are now regretting it, here are some tricks I’ve picked up for soothing your sunburn as soon as possible:

Whip out the aloe vera

I know this is a basic tip that (hopefully) everyone knows by now, but that’s because it’s so effective. One of the worst parts of a sunburn is feeling like you are radiating heat and an aloe vera ointment (a cooling agent) combats that. It’s important to stay as cool as possible when you have a burn without drying your skin (which could irritate it further.) Aloe vera is the best of both worlds in this case, and I would recommend always having a bottle laying around your bathroom. Alternatively, holding a cold  compress against affected areas can also be very soothing.

Take a cold shower or bath

This tip is similar to the first one, since it’s all about keeping yourself cool. The water doesn’t have to be freezing, but should be slightly colder than you’re used to in order to take the extra body heat into account. Nothing can be worse on a sunburn than continued exposure to heat, whether it comes in the form of sunlight or shower water, so try your best to switch up your regular shower routine to soothe the pain.

Take an OTC pain reliever or anti-inflammatory if pain is extreme

Although this is only really necessary in situations where the pain is unbearable, an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen can be extremely helpful in easing the pain of a bad burn. In addition to relieving pain, an anti-inflammatory can also take down some of the swelling and push the healing process of a sunburn. Do not be fooled, though; medication can only do so much, and you have to give the skin time to heal at its own pace. A sunburn is a sunburn, and there isn’t a magic pill that can change that.

Stay out of the sun!

This is perhaps the most important point I can make. You don’t have to become a hermit or anything, but if you have a bad sunburn, you should keep it out of the sun for as long as possible. More exposure to the sun could only serve to irritate the affected spots and either worsen the existing burn, or burn you in a different place. If you must go outside, wear loose, long clothing that covers the burns. In this case, your go-to of leggings and skinny jeans are a definite no.

The Power of Wonder Woman

I’ll be the first to say that I thought I was Wonder Woman when I was younger. In preschool I had a red velvet ribbon that I would wave around as my Lasso of Truth. Nowadays, anyone who knows me knows how big of a Marvel fangirl I am. However, if you asked me which superhero movie has had the biggest impact on me, the honor goes to DC’s latest Wonder Woman.

I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series and the Justice League Animated Series, so I’ve been waiting for a good adaptation for a while. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman didn’t do it for me. My worst fear was that these same filmmakers would ruin my Wonder Woman as well. However, with female director Patty Jenkins, I instead found myself crying three separate times during the movie.

From the start, Diana is a girl who wants to kick ass and take names. She wants to be able to fight alongside her people and protect those she loves. As she grows, her goals never change. She changes, seeing what the outside world is like once she leaves her homeland, but always her mission has been peace and protecting humans. The opening scene she runs from the cozy plan laid out for her and heads to the training grounds to imitate the warrior women she looks up to. Watching young Diana throw punches at the air like she’s one of the great women of Themyscira made me tear up. I could see her drive and her desire to be just as strong as everyone else.

What I thought was the most telling about Diana and how inspirational she is had nothing to do with her badass fighting. The first time Diana is exposed to the bombs and bullets of our modern world, her first instinct isn’t to take up arms and fight. Instead she tries to stop Steve, Chris Pine’s character, and insist that she help every single person she passes. The crying civilians and wounded soldiers clearly affect her and inspire her to fight to protect them from any more pain. Gal Gadot really brings this empathy to life and convinces the viewer that Diana has an investment in the lives of others. It hurts her to see suffering and she’s willing to lay down her life and leave her comfortable homeland to save the world.

Diana is the hero I need, the one who doesn’t give up even when the world seems to be a terrible place. The DC Universe right now is too dark and hopeless about the state of the world. The Marvel Universe is a bit lighter but there aren’t any female characters I can really look up to and say “That’s who I want to be like” (sorry Black Widow). The first female led superhero movie in some time has given me a woman with emotional intelligence and physical prowess. Personally, I can’t wait to see how she takes the Justice League to new heights and saves the world yet again.

Being a Second Generation WOC in America

“Where are you from?” 

“Born and raised in Shrewsbury, Mass.” 

“No, where are you really from?”

It is difficult being of Indian descent having grown up in the United States. It’s like being caught between two different worlds, forever being pulled and shoved back and forth between two nations. I’ve always felt like I was having an identity crisis: am I Indian or am I American? Can I be both when it feels like people always need me to just make a decision? It’s like the whole nature vs. nurture conversation we’ve all had at least once in a high school science class. Are we defined more by our genes and roots or by our environment and upbringing?

My parents grew up in India, raised in the colorful, vibrant culture of our homeland. They had an arranged marriage when my mother was 21 and my father was 28 and moved to America a few years later to start a new life. I always wonder what that must feel like: leaving behind everything and everyone you know, packing up your entire life, and moving to a foreign country with a person you just met. Terrifying, confusing, and… thrilling.

Both my sister and I were born in Framingham, Massachusetts. I have always felt like we were raised in different ways. When my sister was born, my parents were still very attached to their Indian culture. She grew up only speaking our native language Tamil and didn’t hear English until she started going to school. I think my parents felt that they hadn’t assimilated her into America properly. That was what it was always about for people moving from India to America; it was about assimilating into the new culture and fitting in, not bringing in a taste of an old culture to a new world. So, when I was born, things were different. I was raised on an eclectic mix of Tamil phrases and English sentences. I could’ve grown up to be fluently bilingual but my parents stressed English with me much more than they did Tamil. I’ve grown up understanding Tamil almost fluently, and being able to speak it pretty well, but viewing Tamil texts as meaningless, confusing symbols.

As I got older, into middle school, that’s when I started realizing I was inevitably “different.” I had skin as tan as roasted almonds, eyes darker than twilight and a head of black waves. I didn’t look like most of my friends, who were pale-skinned and blue-eyed. This is when I started recognizing the pressures of society to “choose” a side. And as most tweens and teens, I chose the side of fitting in with my friends. From late middle school to high school, I found myself doing as much as I could to dig out my Indian roots and conform to my American culture. I stopped watching Tamil movies and listening to Tamil music with my parents. I ate Indian food at home, but would never have done so in front of friends. I wore scandalous clothing, fought with my parents and spent as much time as I could with friends. I donned the reputation as “the whitest Indian girl” at school, and it filled me with immense pride. Finally, finally, I was cool and wasn’t known as just another Indian girl. I was special because I fit in with my white friends. I had chosen my side and that side was America.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how wrong I was. Emerson has taught me so much about embracing your culture, your roots and who you truly are. I had never been in such a welcoming, diverse environment that celebrated each other’s differences. I had never been appreciated for being Indian by non-Indian friends. This is where I have finally embraced my title of a woman of color. And ever since coming to school here, I have made efforts to speak in Tamil more often with my parents, talk about my culture with friends and enjoy the rich traits and lifestyles of my homeland.

Being a woman of color in America is hard because your family is constantly reminding you to stay true to your roots, while your friends are reminding you that you are in a different world. As if being a woman isn’t already difficult in this world, being a woman of color means less opportunities, less rights, and being taken less seriously. It means picking and choosing which aspects of your life you want to remain true to which culture, and making sense of how your heritage and environment coincide and have worked together to create the individual you are. I know I would be a completely different person if I wasn’t raised embracing two different cultures, and for that, I am thankful. But, most of all, I am thankful to come from parents who have never once pushed me to do one thing or another, but have let me make mistakes, forget and remember what is important and finally understand who I am all by myself.

Cry More, it’s Good for You

Photo by: Christian Franke

Crying does not correlate to weakness. Navigating your own emotions is not an easy feat and it takes time to understand what you are feeling. There are some things you feel that you may never be able to explain. Though sometimes it can be difficult to feel like your tears are validated, crying is always worth it and necessary.

Obviously everyone cries, but I think the more crying the better. I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately because I am a very emotional person and I have learned not to think too much when my emotions get the best of me. If I am holding back tears, my stomach starts to turn and I feel my chest getting heavy.  As stated by an article on AgingCare, crying is a natural response to negative emotions and a natural way to reduce emotional stress. There is a reason you feel more relaxed after a good cry! I can understand some people not wanting to let their guard down in front of others, but sometimes it is necessary. No matter how stupid you may think your crying is, it is not stupid. Your emotions don’t lie and you should listen to what they are saying. Crying is a good way to relieve stress and stay aware of yourself and what your body needs to recover from the tears to get to a happier mindset.

Another reason to let the tears flow, it’s good for your eyesight! According to an article on MedBroadcast, the moisture caused from crying helps keep your vision clear because it lubricates your eyes. Studies have also been done that show some people are more prone to crying than others if you are empathetic and relate to other people’s suffering. I am 100% a part of this category and there are pros and cons to being this type of person. Being emotional is not a flaw and I accept that quality with open arms and if you are like me, you should learn to love it to. Crying a lot is something that I wasn’t always comfortable with, but I realized that it made me feel good so why should I fight it? It feels so good to let all of the tension in your body go and be content with being upset. Even the happiest person has to let out the tears.

Keeping your sadness bottled up inside creates more tension and can lead to a bigger blow up in the future. Whether you feel tears coming on in public or when you’re alone, don’t be scared to let it out. When I am with someone who is upset I encourage them to just cry it out because it will help them feel better. No one should feel embarrassed or scared to cry when they feel that intense emotion no matter where they are or who they are with. If you haven’t cried on the T at least once….do you even live in Boston?

It may take one cry, two cries or thirty to feel better. However many tears it takes to help you feel better. Don’t question how you feel, but learn how to recover from the sadness. Listening to music may help calm you down, going for a walk in the fresh air, talking to someone you trust, or maybe just being alone and winding down. Find what makes you feel good and run with it. Though no one likes seeing anyone cry, it is important to encourage the tears if someone is holding back so they can experience the relief that follows. Crying is therapeutic, amazing, helpful, and emotional all at once.

The next time you feel tears welling up, welcome them with open arms. Happy tears, angry tears, sad tears…whatever it might be, let it flow and you will feel a lot better afterwards.  

The Art of Tinder

Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left. Pause. Click. Scroll. Swipe right. Match. Swipe left. Swipe left.

We’ve all been there. You’re bored, and you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed. Then all of a sudden, you close out and click on that orange fire icon and start swiping. It’s mindless entertainment, and we can’t deny the rush it gives us to literally rate people based on a single photo. But, why?

For me, the Tinder journey has been just that: a journey. I end up going through phases in which I cover months without touching the app. And then, suddenly, I’ll see a friend swiping, and I realize I kind of miss it. Then begins the brief phase, lasting between one week and one month, where I’m back on the app, semi-regularly. No matter what prompted my return, I must admit it always stems from some level of boredom. That, I believe, is a commonality of our generation; with a constant stream of information being thrown in our faces, we’re always looking for ways to be entertained. For most, that’s spending hours each day tagging friends in memes and flipping through people’s Snapchat Stories. But, when that gets old, the best way to uncover some new content is through Tinder, since you’re always being shown new faces.

In my opinion, Tinder doubles as a dating (or hookup) app and a self-validation app. We can’t deny the little ray of pride we feel when we match with someone we find pretty attractive. Even more so when that person messages us. In this day and age, it’s hard to get that kind of validation in person. Face-to-face human interaction has spiraled downwards as we’ve become consumed by our devices at all times of day. It seems to be getting more and more difficult to meet someone in person and have them actually ask you out on a date. Some might say that chivalry is dead; I say that direct conversation is dead. If I’m being honest, I would probably find it very strange and uncomfortable if any stranger approached me and tried to strike up a conversation. So, to get that same feeling in a much safer and more comfortable environment (a.k.a our phones), Tinder can often be that outlet. You get to talk to people you find attractive, to whom you’d never typically speak, and feel validated by their attraction to you. And, if all fails, you can just stop responding or delete them and move on with your life. It’s as simple as that.

The problem with Tinder for me, though, is the varying levels of involvement each individual on the app has. There are some people who live by Tinder as if it’s a religious text; there are others, like me, who go on it once in awhile and often forget about their matches. There are some who are on the app solely to find one-night stands and meaningless hookups; there are others who are looking for relationships or even just friendships. This is a flaw in the app for me; it’s very difficult to find someone who’s on the same page as you. While I myself am not searching for my future husband on Tinder, it does get a bit tiring when most of the men with whom I match seem to only want to hook up once and then move on. It would be a lot better for me if Tinder added a couple more settings to their Discovery Settings. Since you can edit the gender, age range, and location range you’re looking for, I believe you should also be able to edit “what” you’re looking for (ex. relationship, friendship, regular hook-up, one-night stand) and only match with people who are on the same page as you.

However, what’s most interesting to me about Tinder is the emphasis we place on photos and bios. There are settings on Tinder that can place your photos in order of how attractive people will find them. There are articles and studies done on what types of photos receive the most right swipes. To many, Tinder is truly an art form; a lot of thought goes behind the making of a Tinder profile. Just as it is with any other social media platform, we are given the power to control how others view us. And, in creating this image, a lot of thought is involved. You can give as much or as little as you want, and in return, also get as much or as little as you want. That is truly the art of Tinder.

I will end with 5 of the most ridiculous messages I have received from recent Tinder guys:

  1. That’s funny.. My second girlfriend had the name Swetha too!! But the thing is I only had one girlfriend
  2. U like bad boys?
  3. if you were a flower you’d be a dammmmmnedelion
  4. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll set you up with my bunny if you set me up with your tall blond friend in the fourth pic?
  5. hey

Why Yoga is the Key

Exercising doesn’t necessarily mean running ten miles to feel good about yourself. Why run when you can do yoga to feel just as good physically and mentally? Yoga is one of the greatest forms of exercise because it is both physically and mentally satisfying. The intense focus on mentality is why I love yoga so much. I feel rejuvenated after, not exhausted. I want to go to yoga, I don’t dread this type of exercise. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise and yoga is a wonderful outlet to strengthen your brain.

Anchor Point animation yoga exercise peace GIF
Giphy.com

You may only be at downward dog right now, but pretty soon you could be bending like a pretzel.

Yoga is all about focus. Forgetting about work, relationships and any other responsibilities to focus on your body and mind. Yoga is the only time I am allowed to focus on just myself, how my body is moving and allowing my mind to focus on keeping my breathing deep and steady to relax my mind. It is also a great technique to help sleeping problems because the breathing techniques can be implied if there is trouble falling asleep. Yoga breathing has helped me many,many times with sleep when my mind is too cluttered to think about resting.

 sleepy duck cute animals duckling falling asleep GIF
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Yoga allows you to relax your body and mind to create a better you. What I love about yoga is how breathing is a centric part of all classes. Deep breathing is an amazing tool to use in times of stress, pain, anger, fear…the list goes on. Once I began practicing yoga regularly, it became easier to apply the breathing techniques and notice a change in how I handled tense situations. You don’t realize how many benefits there are to yoga until you find yourself in public stretching out your shoulders or letting out a deep breath.

Flickr.com

Another great aspect of yoga is stress relief. The breathing paired with stretching will wash all the stress away and allow you to relax your body and mind. Yoga moves tend to focus on relieving tension from the shoulders and back, which is where stress builds up in your body. Stress can build up quickly in your body without you even realizing it. This can lead to pulled muscles and other health complications like chronic stress which is more serious. Yoga allows you to stretch out all of your muscles and replace any pain caused by stress with soothing relief and comfort.

 

More experienced yogis can do intense backbends and splits but don’t feel pressured to match their expertise right away. It takes time to increase flexibility, but it is possible for you to get there! Dancers tend to have impeccable posture because they are stretching and increasing their flexibility constantly. Yoga can have the same results!! Weekly stretches and poses will strengthen the muscles in your back and shoulders, which will lead to better posture. This could take a few weeks, or maybe a couple of months. The benefits of breathing techniques will be present almost immediately, but don’t give up on the physical benefits which will take some more time. Consistency is key! Whether that means five minutes of breathing everyday, or 20 minutes of new poses and stretching, it is all positive for your mind and soul. Letting out stress while increasing flexibility…double benefit!

The BEST part about yoga?? You can be your own teacher! There are dozens of YouTube tutorials and apps you can download that will guide you through stretches and breathing techniques to get you started. Once you get the hang of it, you can start doing it alone! Just 10-15 minutes every day can do a world of difference for your body and mind. I can say all I want about yoga, but you have to try it yourself to experience the benefits.

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Giphy.com

Good luck and namaste!

Reading in Strange Places

“Addelynn Rose please come to the checkout desk. Your mother is looking for you. Thank you.”

I’ve heard my name called out over the Barnes and Noble speaker countless times. I would climb out from behind whatever shelf or display I was reading behind and go to the checkout desk, a sheepish grin on my face. My mom would take a breath of relief, then smile warmly and ask, “Was the book really good?”

As a kid, I never sat in the chairs at bookstores. I know; it’s weird. I preferred to find a small corner, a nook between bookshelves, anything that was slightly hidden. I must have gotten weird looks from the few people that walked past me, but I was too absorbed in my book to care. It wasn’t just bookstores though. I’ve always managed to find odd places to read. Staircases, boat cuddies and playground castles have all served as reading nooks. I attribute a lot of this, particularly when I was younger, to being shy. They say that cats like to sit in boxes because it gives them the illusion that they can’t be seen which dramatically lowers their stress levels. Finding hidden places for me to read did the same thing for me as a kid. I’ve never felt comfortable in a large group of people. Reading was my escape so I figured that it made sense to literally hide as well. Each corner or crevice becoming my own secret place where I could experience other worlds without distraction. If you’re doubting me you should go watch The NeverEnding Story again.

As I got older it became less about hiding and more about forming attachments to a place. I started to notice that I would associate a particular place with what I read there. I can walk through the park near my childhood home and name places after what I read at each one. A small hill slopes down parallel to my cul-de-sac, Judy Blume hill. I remember filling my afternoons, stretched out on a picnic blanket on this hill, reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Superfudge. The Eucalyptus by the park is Book Thief. The pine next to it is A Wrinkle in Time. The top of the playground tower is Stargirl tower. I’ve read multiple books in each place, but usually there’s one book that sticks out in my memory.

Every time I read somewhere it was like I was leaving a bit of myself there too. The more I read in a place the more I felt comfortable in it. For me going to a new place was like getting to know a new friend. There’s always one conversation where you share a secret, a part of yourself, and that’s when you become really close with them. Reading somewhere new was like sharing a secret with that place; it would become mine in a sense. It was comforting to know that no matter where I went I could find somewhere to read, to feel safe.

Reading in strange places wasn’t always a solo activity for me. My love of reading is definitely influenced by my mom. She not only encouraged reading by filling our house with books but by reading with me. We use to read out loud together, switching off every page or two. We would read whenever we got the chance like on the public bus or at our favorite restaurant. I have a pretty distinct memory of starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at The House of Egg Roll. Although I’m pretty sure we read in a tree at least once or twice. I’m extremely grateful that she not only inspired my love of reading, but my love of reading outdoors or wherever I feel comfortable. I often felt like an outsider growing up and being able to read where I felt safe was so important to me.
I’ll admit that I sometimes read in chairs or semi-normal places now, but having somewhere that I don’t associate with anything besides reading is important to me. I’m in love with the idea of spending hours alone with a book, completely transfixed by another world filled with complex characters and stories. They say the best books are the ones where you can forget you’re reading a book, and I agree with that wholeheartedly.

For me, a strange reading place, whether it be underneath a tree, inside a cuddy, or in a blanket fort, only enhances the experience of a good book. There’s something that just makes it feel right. The same way you feel when you find the perfect sleeping position or have a really good first kiss with someone. I might not hide in Barnes and Nobles anymore, but I still find my own hidden places whenever I can. My current favorite? Graveyards.

What Sophomore Year Has Taught Me

College is quite a wild ride. I never expected to learn, change, and grow as much as I did. Sometimes, I feel like a completely different person. Other times, I feel merely like a more mature version of my high school self. Regardless of the impact college has left on you thus far, it’s inevitable that its going to teach you a few important lessons: some in the classroom and some in the broader sense of life.

Friendships are hard to maintain, but so valuable.

What everyone always told me about college is true: you do meet people who completely change your life, for the better. One of the absolute best parts about Emerson for me so far is the opportunities I’ve gotten to befriend some extraordinary people. It’s so rare to meet people who make you feel loved, supported, and cherished, but that’s what Emerson has done for me. However, I’ve also learned that friendships are hard. It’s easy to call someone your friend when you cross paths with them every day during the semester and can easily meet up at the DH after class or run down two flights of stairs to their room in LB. But, as soon as it hits summer, it honestly gets so difficult to see a lot of those people you still call “friends.” When you have to really go out of your way to make plans and schedule times to meet up with someone off-campus, those friendships might face a four-month hiatus. It’s disappointing, but I think it really proves to you, deep down, who your best friends really are. They are the people who you genuinely want to see and with whom it’s never a hassle to make plans. They’re the gems that college has given you.

Never take family for granted.

Family can mean something different for everyone. It’s not just the conventional family that we all expect; families can come from friends and organizations, too. Regardless of who it is you call “family,” college has taught me that those are so rare and meaningful. Family is the people who you know will support and love you unconditionally. And, as a college student when life is turned upside down often, it’s nice to have something like that. As most other high school people at that time, I hated being at home during high school. I was constantly out of the house and rolling my eyes about my parents. Now, I often can’t wait to go home and just lay around the house with my parents and sister, reliving old memories and laughing about things only we’d understand. Having a constant in my life has been such a breath of fresh air in the swirling vortex that can be Emerson. I’ve come to appreciate my rich culture and the caring parents who raised me in it. I feel wiser, stronger, and more independent because of my family.

Putting yourself out there is everything.

My first semester of college was, to be brief, a tragic mess. I, someone who was a social butterfly my entire life, finally felt like my wings had been clipped off. Starting fresh in a completely different environment was a major stress on my life. I didn’t know how to make new best friends when I’d known my best friends from home since the sixth grade. It wasn’t like I was holed up in my room alone every night; I just only really spent time with my roommates and went home every other weekend. I owed that solitude to the fact that all I did was go to class and come back to my enclosed dorm. I wasn’t a part of any organizations and didn’t have any opportunities to make friends. That simple idea of not putting myself out there by joining any new organizations and clubs almost led me to transferring from Emerson. However, second semester rolled around, and I got accepted into Emerson Noteworthy, an a cappella group. Finally having a group of people outside of class to see regularly and be myself around changed everything for me. Because that’s all it took: having an outlet where I could do something I was passionate about and also have people with whom to share it. That slowly led me to opening myself up more. And here I am now, a member of 6 different organizations and thriving (in most ways).

Nothing is certain, and that’s something you just have to embrace.

It’s really terrifying looking into the future and having absolutely no idea what it holds. That future for most college students is in the post-grad life; for me, it also includes the next two years of my life at Emerson. Since coming here, I’ve changed my major, made and lost friends, and had so many of my perspectives on life questioned and completely flipped around. I thought that I was going to graduate with a degree in Journalism to go on and pursue a career at a news station as an anchor. Now, I’m working towards a degree in Marketing Communications, hoping to someday be on a marketing team for one of my favorite brands (maybe even a CMO someday, or at least that’s the ultimate dream). I’ve had some best friends come and go with semesters and others remain permanently rooted in my life. I came into college extremely skeptical and uninterested in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and I am now a proud member of Zeta Phi Eta. It’s truly impossible to predict your every move in college. As you shift and grow, your likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions will shift and grow, too. I used to be the kind of person who needed to know exactly what was happening, when it was happening, and where it was happening. While I’m still like that at times, I’m learning to recognize that there are just some things that cannot be controlled. And while it can be disappointing and heartbreaking to lose people who meant the world to you once and have your entire future plans halted and turned on their heads, it’s also exciting. It’s thrilling that life can take so many twists and turns and that every decision can lead to a million wonderful things you never expected. Life is so moldable, and that’s quite beautiful (especially for an arts student).

So, regardless of if you absolutely love college or if you’re dying to get that diploma, it’s obvious that where you go to college, the classes you take, and the people you meet can have a huge impact on your life. It has an eerie mystery to it, yet that mystery holds so many unseen opportunities. It teaches you to exemplify your strengths and improve your weaknesses, making you a stronger and wiser human being. In the end, college is a brief time in your life, but it’s a special time that can really influence your path in the future.