Ah, the city school. There are so many upsides to attending a college in the heart of downtown: the exciting nearby events; the discounted access to museums and fancy cultural stuff; the jaw-dropping number of CVS franchises in a one-block radius. (It is truly mystifying that so many identical retail pharmacies can exist in such close proximity to each other without any threat to business whatsoever.)
However, with all upsides come downsides. Such is the way of the universe. There are two exceptions to this rule: the film Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, which is perfect, and the food known as the buttered popcorn jelly bean, which is one hundred percent downside and so unabashedly evil it is concrete evidence of the existence of the devil.
Going to college in the city has a downside, and it is this: it is expensive to live in a city, so unless you live on campus, you might have to move to the outskirts. And moving to the outskirts means spending a lot of time on transit. Here are some of my hard-won strategies to surviving my time on the train.
You type in “room decor” into your search engine and once you’ve scrolled down it directs you through pages of Pinterest ideas and YouTube videos. It’s always the cute and trendy images and videos that pop up, with the aesthetically pleasing frames for your posters that cost hundreds of dollars or the Polaroid photos that require a polaroid camera. When it comes to decorating for a room, you want to be able to incorporate these trends and styles – but the price of it is just too much – especially for a college student. Well, there are some creative and cheap ways to make your room look like it was straight out of a Pinterest post, so read on.
I spend most of my money on two things: Chipotle and skincare products. Considering my three tacos with a side of chips costs only $9, my cash mostly goes towards making my face as clear and flawless as possible.
I’ve struggled with oily, acne-prone skin ever since I was a young kid. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through a lot of costly experimenting to find products that work with my temperamental skin. Just when I think I’ve found a product that works, my face decides to give me a big middle finger and break out all over the place. Then, it’s back to the drawing board.
Recently, however, I’ve found a group of products that keep my skin in a sort of balance. While I still get the occasional hormonal breakout or two, these products keep the oil on my face under control, preventing further breakouts.
Marathon Monday was by no means the way I imagined it. First of all, I thought the weather would be warm-ish at least and I didn’t think it would be pouring rain. Second of all, I thought I would actually watch the race. With team brunch, housing selection for next year, and unexpected job training, I was busy all day long.
The people that you surround yourself with and your environment can truly impact you, and bring out parts of yourself that you never knew were there. Something similar happened to me when I came to Emerson college. As soon as I got here, I realized that there was soooo much more diversity than there was in my small, very white, financially comfortable hometown in Norfolk, MA. For the first time I was speaking with people from countries all over the world, and I had the freedom to truly find myself and discover what really matters to me.
Recently, I’ve become incredibly interested in reading more diverse literature, having just finished reading If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. After all, it’s 2018, people–about time that there’s greater representation in books, whether it’s in Young Adult fiction or in higher literature. For some other great Diverse YA recommendations, check out this post.
I’ve been intentionally branching out in an attempt to discover and read more diverse literature, whether it be regarding topics about feminism, queerness, or cultures other than mine. I feel like literature is the perfect gateway through which we can better understand human experiences apart from our own.
Yet, I still find myself grossly attached to the largely white/white male dominated realm of classical literature. I’m talking like I will fight you if you come after my baby boy Holden Caulfield grossly attached. I’m proud to say one of my favorite books of all-time is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I can also quote all of George Orwell’s 1984 in my sleep. “’If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.’”
The definition of classical literature, per Encyclopedia Britannica, is “the literature of any language in a period notable for the excellence and enduring quality of its writers’ works.” Some people might argue that this means that classical literature is only from periods such as the Golden Age or the Renaissance. However, I once had an English teacher who told me that classical literature is a category for any piece of authorial work that’s relevance and excellence has endured far past its publication date. I wholeheartedly subscribe to her definition, hence why I consider works such as The Catcher in the Rye and 1984 as classical literature.
While there’s no angry mob coming after me because I tend to favor classical lit (keep those pitchforks locked up, please), I do still feel people’s scornful eyes on me when I declare my love for the novels of day’s past. How can you possibly revere those stories when they totally lack diversity? people ask me. Trust me, I understand the frustration. I myself wonder if there’s any way that classical literature can still be #relevant when the world is so different than it was back then regarding representation of minorities.
Take the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee as an example. Though originally praised for its diversity in showing the struggle of blacks in the 1960s, a time of severe racial division, many nowadays claim that the novel, in light of today’s world, isn’t so diverse at all. Character Atticus Finch, who is required to defend Tom Robison in court, feels as though the only way he can win the case is if he convinces the jury ofhishonor instead of the innocence of Robinson. We learn nothing of who Robinson is as a character and are instead forced to focus on the trope of the white savior (for more on this, check out this great article by The New Republic).
So why are we still teaching these novels, and countless others like them, to kids in schools? How are they still pertinent to our society? For one thing, the prose is excellent (that’s the writing student coming out in me). But, more importantly, for me, the answer lies in the way that classical literature acts as a time-capsule. Reading stories like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace give us a glimpse into what the world was like twenty, fifty, sometimes even hundreds of years ago. Novels, just like your history class textbooks, capture the lives of the people from our world’s past. While these people may be fictional, the environment they are a product of is very real. Just because the characters didn’t actually live doesn’t mean they can’t tell us something about the world from which they were brought to life in.
From these novels, we can learn not only what our world was like then, but how to better our world today. From these novels, we basically learn what not to do. Reading the actions of characters from classical literature reminds us how we must never be as small-minded as some of them. If we want to change today, maybe we should start by looking back a few chapters to the works of the popular writers of yesterday.
Classical literature is still relevant in the sense that reading it is a learning experience. While we may not support the views and sentiments expressed in the work, we may instead use such views and sentiments as a tool to teach the world how to be more inclusive and accepting.
If you’re looking to get into reading some classical literature for fun, I recommend all of the works mentioned throughout this post, as well as:
Since coming to school at Emerson, I have gradually been trying to switch over many of my beauty products to healthier alternatives that do not contain sulfates, aluminum, phthalates, silicone, and more. If you want to read more about the harmful effects of these ingredients, click here!I made this decision because I felt that in college I have more control over what I put on and in my body, so why not start making healthier choices now? This process has been difficult because of both price and the way my body has reacted to some of these products. However, I don’t regret my efforts because I am doing something positive for my body.
I used to think that everyone’s tonsils were as large as mine. I’ll save you all the scarring mental images, but they are pretty large. Large enough to the point where if they get infected, it’s hard for me to swallow food. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to enjoy my favorite sandwich because I have to drink a whole glass of water just to swallow one bite. This had to end.
I am terrible at making playlists. I have weird (or nonexistent) taste in music, so it’s useless to craft anything more specific than the seven-hour “songs I like” playlist that is practically the only thing in my Spotify. Also, it’s boring to me to sort songs, which is why my sole playlist still contains songs I liked in 2015. And why I spend more time skipping songs than listening to them. Luckily, there is no need for me to force myself to be better at the fine art of playlist-making, because movie soundtracks exist.
Movie soundtracks make for a better-curated, more aesthetic-y, overall more fulfilling and inventive music listening experience than any playlist you could make yourself. To prove this point, I have collected here some of my absolute favorite movie soundtracks. Click the album art for a link to the music!
Before you call 911 on me, hold the phone. No, I don’t actually bleed black and gold. No, I’m not going to prove it to you. Take my word for it. What I mean by that is I am a diehard fan of the Boston Bruins, the hockey team of the greater Boston area/New England. Bruins hockey (metaphorically!) runs through my veins.