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.
One of the hardest parts of adjusting to Boston was getting used to the gloomy days. In Texas, I was so used to having constant sunshine. I didn’t realize how much the sun affects my mood until I experienced many days without sun. There is a direct correlation between sunshine and happiness. Sunlight increases serotonin levels, which makes you happier. This feeling could also be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The symptoms include constantly feeling depressed, having low energy, changes in appetite and/or weight, have difficulty concentrating, and low interest in the things you usually do. This is why during the dark winters, our moods may not be as great. After being exposed to constant sunlight in Texas, the lack of sun really has affected my overall mood and day to day life. I couldn’t exactly figure out why I felt this way so I have experimented different methods to make me feel happier. I have researched ways to get more Vitamin D, and I have found a few tips to brighten your mood on gloomy days.
Take vitamin D supplements & Eat foods with vitamin D- After having my mom constantly telling me to take my vitamins, I recently just started taking vitamin D supplements and I can already see a difference in my mood. I have more energy (without having caffeine) and I am in an overall better mood. All you have to do is take one to two supplements with food. They are so easy to find too. I personally bought mine on Amazon, but they are also available at drug stores or even some grocery stores. Here are just a few foods that are rich in vitamin D: fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), orange juice, soy milk, almond milk, yogurt, oatmeal, cheese, and egg yolks.
Buy a Happy Light- I still really, really want a Happy Light. I actually heard about this Happy Light from one of my fellow sun lovers from California. The Happy Light is made to mimic sunlight and enhance mood, energy, sleep, and focus. They start around $40. Personally, I think this is a great investment. Especially considering the weather in Boston. I am definitely going to be purchasing one for next year. For a basic light, you can buy it on Amazon, but for the more high end Happy Lights there are more specialized websites.
Take a walk- Even though the sun may not be out, a quick little walk can boost your mood. Being cooped up indoors all day is not beneficial to your mood. A little exercise is guaranteed to make your body happier. I love going on walks through the Boston Gardens and then I make my way to the Charles River. If I’m in a really good mood, then I go to Newbury.
Embrace the sun when it does come out- On the days that there is sun, take full advantage of it. Go for a run. Sit and do your homework outside at a cafe. Stroll the commons. Whatever you want to do, just make sure it is outdoors in the sun. I also am a huge believer in skipping class when the weather is nice. Of course, I have only done this one or two times. I am still a good student. But on the days when it is pretty out, just a few minutes outside can make a huge difference to your day.
I hope these few tips help you boost your mood. I know that I rely heavily on these during the winter and I take full advantage of any sunlight now. Although we can’t change the weather, there are so many steps we can take to boost our mood!
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:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
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!
I bleed black and gold.
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.
Walking out my front door to see a view of a Cul De Sac with suburban houses immediately makes me miss the city. I hear over and over again that “Austin IS a city.” Yes it is, but can I walk from my house to a Forever 21 in 10 minutes? Nope.
Moving from Austin to Boston was quite the adjustment for me. Not only is there a huge change of scenery, there is a huge chance of pace. In the city everything fast paced and high energy. I will literally plan my day by the hour in Boston. I didn’t always use to be this way. Before I moved here I didn’t even own a planner. Being immersed in this new culture has made me a much more productive person.
Grocery shopping is one of the worst activities in the world, and I am incredibly bad at it. I always put it off until the last possible minute, until my food stores are down to four baby carrots and a handful of animal crackers. I always end up shopping when I’m hungry, which is a baseline no-no. And I always get unbelievably bored while I’m doing it, ending up tossing things in my basket to speed up the process until my receipt looks like someone set an eleven-year-old loose in the cookie aisle.
In my endeavors to make this errand more tolerable, I have come up with a rubric for grocery store perfection. Here are six grocery stores in the Boston area, judged for price, location, snack selection, and overall vibe – on a scale where one is bad and five is utopian.