By Fiona Rose Beyerle

Entering university gives many students the opportunity to do something they have not been able to do before: pick classes that interest them.  Although this can be daunting considering how few electives you can take, especially in majors that often require a lot of classes, consider taking a class you most likely have not considered before, I recommend Art History: the study of art movements, and works across time in relation to society, history and politics.  Taking Art History classes can be a special way to expand your horizons academically and in life.  Personally, taking Art History classes has taught me to dig deeper into how things are, such as why buildings look a certain way, why people want to portray themselves a certain way, and why we should pay attention.  

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

How Does Art History Relate to my STEM Major? 

Art is the intersection of science and math.  As a biology major, I take a lot of physics, calculus, chemistry, biology, etc. As unrelated as the subjects seem at first, science and math have influenced art for centuries (Fibonacci sequence anyone?!).  Having a background knowledge in math and science has given me new appreciation for several works of art.  On top of that, Art History provides me with an excellent education in skills you do not necessarily get to practice in a STEM course such as writing, visual analysis and creativity.  These skills will no doubt prove to be an asset to your STEM education as it can help you stand out among your peers as a well-rounded person.

What do you do in Art History classes? 

Generally, Art History courses are organized by movements such as Impressionism, Baroque, Classicism, etc.  You will then study key artists, pieces and history surrounding the time period and region where it primarily took place.  The best way that I have ever heard Art History classes described was by a friend’s sister.  Art History class was, to her, “like going to a museum every day”.  As beautiful as it is to look at a class this way, I find this to be incredibly true.  Art History gives you the opportunity to analyze and discuss art works every day, which isn’t very prevalent in other courses.  As far as the workload goes, you will generally write a few papers, have lots and lots of reading, and have a few exams.  However, as long as you do the readings and plan out your essays ahead of time, Art History classes are generally quite manageable, and can be a nice way to balance out a STEM heavy schedule. 

Photo by Deeana Creates on Pexels.com

Why is Art History Important?

There is so much more to Art History than just looking at paintings in old museums.  Art History is crucial for learning about historical events and cultures, and provides a framework to be able to think critically about the endless amounts of images we see every day, from ads to art itself.  By studying Art History, you will not only gain skills valuable for the workplace, but also be able to look at your own coursework in a new way itself.  

Where do I begin learning about Art History?

If you are interested in taking an Art History class but are not too sure yet if you want to dedicate a few months of your life taking a class, I recommend looking into Khan Academy’s Art History lessons.  These videos and articles provide an excellent starting structure for those desiring to begin learning about Art History.  From there, I would recommend starting with an Art History survey class to gain an overview into the Art History world.  Learning Art History can be a fun way to familiarize yourself with the art and architecture around us and gain new appreciation for the world!  

By Eleanor Kelman:

One thing that Instagram has made abundantly clear to me is that everyone I know is baking delicious goods these days except for me. It seems like the whole world has acquired a passion for baking all at once, but the end product of baking has always appealed to me more than the process. It’s just so time-consuming, and my mile-a-minute brain is not suited for labors of love. However, there is something I have found time for myself to experiment with: beverages.

Like any good twenty-something, I miss being able to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus (Boston really does run on Dunkin’) and pick up a large decaf soy latte with raspberry shot whenever I needed something to sip on while doing homework. Even now, with Starbucks opening up slowly but surely, I’ve been sorely missing having fancy coffee and tea drinks at my disposal. The only solution I’ve come up with was making my own (without the methodical ratios required of a real cafe to label a drink a “latte”, an overly pedantic term that I like to use to refer to all milk-and-other stuff hybrids), and that quickly transformed from a necessity to one of my favorite things to do everyday.

So, here is a quick introduction to one area of study I’ve devoted quite a bit of research and a whole lot of passion to.

The easier beverage to master would be coffee, so if you already have a taste for it, I’d recommend starting your latte journey there. There are a hundred different ways to brew a cup of coffee, but the simplest method is just… use a coffee maker. Although it’s one thing I cannot wait to purchase, I don’t have an espresso machine or even a french press, so I make do with my dad’s coffee maker. Simply take some ground coffee beans (we have owned this one grinder for about as long as I’ve been alive), pack them into the machine, and turn it on. You might have to fiddle around with the ratios, but I’ve found that just following the most basic of directions brews a pretty decent cup of joe. And, voila! Your coffee base.

[Sometimes I’ll decorate my drinks with a sprinkling of cinnamon or another spice for some flair.]

Tea, on the other hand, is a bit less forgiving. First and foremost, there are different types of teas and tisanes (the latter being herbal mixtures not from the tea leaf, Camellia sinensis1). All “tea” (white, oolong, green, etc.) come from the same plant at different levels of oxidation. While the actual process behind tea harvesting is fascinating, the most important information is more based in trial-and-error. While all tea is wonderful in different uses, more robust teas, such as green or black tea, tends to handle additions better, and that includes the necessary milk to create a latte. They also just so happen to be more convenient to find in the United States, although the other types are certainly worth seeking out if you want to sip tea in its unadulterated form! Unless you want to invest in a tea strainer (mine looks like the Loch Ness Monster sticking out of the hot water; I call her Nessie), tea bags are your best bet. Black teas and tisanes such as rooibos or chamomile are hardest to mess up; just stick one in a cup with boiling water and let it steep for four or five minutes. Green teas require a bit more finesse, with slightly cooler water, and should not steep for longer than two-ish minutes. You’ll know instantly if it is overstepped, as it will taste incredibly bitter! Matcha is a slightly different beast, being powdered green tea rather than whole leaves and requiring frothing in a small cup of water, but there are a host of videos online showing how to create matcha in the most beautiful settings that just writing it in a blog would not do the process justice. Whether you prefer the strong bergamot notes of earl grey or the delicate nuttiness of genmaicha, making a latte with a tea base is a worthy meditative process.

[Nessie the Loch Ness tea strainer in her natural habitat.]

Now that you have your caffeinated (or decaffeinated, if that’s more your style) component prepped, it’s time to pick your milk. I prefer soy milk, as I enjoy the environmentally-friendliness of non-dairy milk, but will use the skim milk the rest of my family drinks in a pinch. In all honesty, milk is entirely up to personal preference: Maybe you like the creaminess of coconut milk, the nostalgic texture of whole milk, or the trendiness of oat milk. Different milks have different strengths, and whichever you choose (or if you forgo milk and just use a creamer) is going to turn out delicious. As a slight word of caution: If you want to froth your milk (an optional step I sometimes do for the aesthetics), dairy milk is going to work a bit better. I’ve found that whereas some dairy milk whipped for a few seconds with my milk frother then microwaved for twenty seconds to stabilize it will hold an insane amount of foam for what seems like hours, soy milk just doesn’t have the same “soapy” ability, although it does make a lovely foam in and of itself. The microwave step is essential to really increase the longevity of the milk foam, but obviously I skip it entirely when making an iced latte. As well, while I use a handheld frother, anything from a devoted machine to just shaking some milk in a covered jar for a while will make a snazzy display.

Finally, we have reached the moment to finish our latte! Just take your coffee or tea and add your milk. If it’s just too hot out, add some ice before your other ingredients. If you’re a rebel, add your milk first then stir in the rest. If you want beautiful latte art, me too. I haven’t unlocked that level of barista yet.

Although most days I just make a simple drink, sometimes I like to spend more time working on my lattes. It becomes a creative outlet for me, and while not every creation is particularly successful, all give me a sense of accomplishment. I have two Torani flavored syrups at home, unsweetened vanilla and unsweetened raspberry, and I plan to purchase more when these are used up. Both go great in coffee and I’ve found some good combinations with teas. An earl grey latte with some vanilla makes a delicious London fog, one of my go-tos. Any warming spices, such as ginger or cinnamon, play very nicely with coffee and black tea (there’s a reason masala chai is so popular!). I finagled the Turkish coffee my dad is always making on the stovetop into a latte, albeit a very assertive one. I’ve stopped getting the side-eye when icing it down and throwing in a ton of soy milk, despite it being a very, very Americanized take on my Middle Eastern roots. Once I even made a tangentially-related drink, horchata, a Latin American dessert drink made from rice, milk, and some spices. I could only drink a bit at a time (it’s so sweet), but I was very proud of myself for devoting an afternoon to it! On the other hand, my attempt at bubble tea didn’t turn out nearly as tasty as what I would buy from a cafe, but learning that tapioca starch and water make a sticky non-Newtonian fluid was a fun experience. I also quickly found that the fluffiness of dalgona coffee, despite being very popular online and stunning to look at, simply cannot be mixed into milk. It sits as a pretty layer of mediocre-tasting foam atop plain milk. I also discovered that the medicinal smell of almond extract is a lot to overcome, even when I balanced it with a good squirt of honey. And mixing hibiscus tea and milk is an absolutely horrid experience. Just… learn from my mistake with that one.

[Did you know that boba pearls are naturally white? I was surprised to find out!]

The best part of making a latte for me isn’t even always drinking it. While it is, of course, nice to reap the rewards of my labor, putzing around in the kitchen thinking of new and creative ways to make a drink or finally getting around to that recipe that had been saved in my bookmarks for a while feels really good. While the sense of accomplishment when a drink turns out cafe-worthy can make my entire day leagues better, making lattes is such a low-stakes game that even when I mess up three times over I still feel like I’ve been productive. So what if the latte of the day is quasi-inedible and I’m just drinking it out of spite? I still put time and effort into something, and that’s worthy of applause in and of itself.


1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

by Nicole Mattson

Like many people who have seen the video of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, you might be wondering what you can do to be actively anti-racist. You might show your support by protesting on the streets, by donating money to organizations who need it, or by donating supplies such as food and toiletries to those on the frontlines who are protesting. If you are unable to protest, or don’t feel safe leaving your house during the pandemic, an easy way that you can begin becoming anti-racist is by educating yourself. This is a key component of being anti-racist, and putting yourself in the shoes of black, indigenous, and people of color. When you acknowledge that racism exists and is harmful, as well as that everyone has an implicit bias of some sort, helps to promote change in your own community. To be anti-racist means that you recognize people’s differences and you actively seek to change past beliefs–it is more than just being sympathetic. One way you can educate yourself is through reading. Reading can shine a new light on your perspective of what has been happening–not only the past week or past decade–but the past couple hundred years in the United States. Listed below are five books to consider reading to help you better understand what marginalized people have been through.

  1. A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, edited by Sun Yung Shin (2016), is a collection of essays that explore the infamous “Minnesota Nice” and how a culture of passive-aggressiveness can hurt black, indigenous and people of color. Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, it is worth the read, since chances are, you have experienced passive-aggressiveness at one point in your life or in your community, or have been passive-aggressive.

Link to purchase: https://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/good-time-truth

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017) is a well-known young adult book that even older adults should read. It is about a black teenager, Starr Carter, who attends a white high school, who also experiences her friend getting shot. It garners perspective as to what it is like to grow up as a person of color in the United States in the modern era. It was even made into a film in 2018 starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter.

Link to purchase the book: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062498533/the-hate-u-give/

Link to The Hate U Give film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MM8OkVT0hw

  1. Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? By Alicia Garza, Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré, and Alana Yu-lan Price (2016) is another collection of essays about the history of police brutality in the United States, with its origins going back to slavery. It talks about the effect on families these killings have. It discusses the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also mentions that the media is starting to focus on police violence this past decade. It questions why police exist and what their purpose is- do they just protect white people? 

Link to purchase: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/941-who-do-you-serve-who-do-you-protect

*Free e-book download until June 5, 2020!

  1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018), has a pretty straightforward title: why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism? Are they afraid to stand up to racist family members? How do we fix that? It dissects why racism exists through media representation, daily life, and more. It is important to have a conversation about race, and DiAngelo’s book will help with that by discussing racial justice.

Link to purchase: https://robindiangelo.com/publications/

  1. The Bluest Eye by award-winning author Toni Morrison (1970) is the oldest book listed here. It’s about Pecola Breedlove who is a young black girl in the Great Depression. Pecola thinks she isn’t pretty enough because she doesn’t have blue eyes, and thinks having blue eyes will make her life better. It does not help when people make fun of her too. Morrison’s fictional book discusses white beauty standards and how hurtful they are to society as a whole, and readers (especially white readers) will be able to gain a perspective on the effects of these standards. Although this story is fifty years old, it is still relevant to readers today.

Link to purchase: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/117662/the-bluest-eye-by-toni-morrison/

*Most of these books can also be checked out for free at your local library–or you can ask a friend to borrow their copy!

Of course, these are just a few books that can give you a different perspective. There are many more out there that you can explore. Some of my favorite black authors are Toni Morrison, who has written many books such as Sula, Beloved, and Song of Solomon, and James Baldwin, who wrote If Beale Street Could Talk and Sonny’s Blues. Reading books by black, indigenous, and people of color opens up a whole new perspective on racism and what they have gone through all these years, and by educating yourself through these pieces of literature can give you a foundation for standing up for others in your community.

In light of the recent events that have shaken the United States and the rest of the world, we at Beyond the Pandemic want to give our full support to the Black Lives Matter movement and people of color, as well as to the frontline workers who have been battling the coronavirus since the beginning. We aim to put a spotlight on what’s occurring and to pass the mic to important voices, and highlight stories and topics that should have been told and talked about a long time ago.

To practice what we preach, Beyond the Pandemic will zero in on the topics of the protests, racism, and the pandemic, and we will give writers of color another platform to write (at least until June 17th, but we will update you if plans change). Additionally, we will be sending out a newsletter shortly with petitions that you can sign so that you can participate in activism that is a force for change and for good–not solely for the sake of proving to the public that you’re “not racist” or anti-racist.

We will post content for the time being when we receive relevant content that amplifies and/or supports voices of color–especially for our black peers. We hope that you will do the same.

The burden falls squarely on each of your shoulders to make as much change as you can, however you can. You do not have to protest (or even donate or post) to make an impact, but by remaining inactive, you are siding against the prosperity of your fellow black Americans.

Below, you will find the websites of a mere few incredible organizations that are a force for change; click the links below to find out more about them (there are simply too many to list!).

Black Lives Matter; NAACP; The Bail Project; EatOkra

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Warmly,

S. I. Phillips, head of Beyond the Pandemic

by Eleanor Kelman

When I first received news that my campus would be shutting down and classes would move to remote instruction due to COVID-19, my initial fear wasn’t directed at how I personally would adapt to the change; rather, I worried how my dad would fare. I had been living at my university in Boston, which quickly became one of the hot zones of the virus; however, once it became apparent that I would need to leave the bubble of my university housing, I only worried about the possibility of catching the virus. Though it does seem a bit shortsighted in hindsight, I truly believed I would be absolutely safe from catching the virus. At the time, the news was reporting that younger and otherwise healthy people would simply catch the equivalence of the common cold and recover without issue; therefore, I shrugged off the prospect of becoming gravely ill in the event I would become infected. However, once I realized I would need to head back home, I began to panic.

Like many others, despite not being in the at-risk group for COVID-19, I have family members who are. I’m living with my family at home, and my dad is immunocompromised. Even simply coming home from school made me nervous. Parties were thrown every night, and since I lived in a popular upperclassmen-only area of campus, these parties occurred directly outside my front door. I was at the crossroads of wanting to enjoy the final days of my college experience and not wanting to put myself, and subsequently my dad, at risk. I even considered trying to remain on campus or staying with my boyfriend’s family to avoid any chance of passing on the virus. Neither option would prove particularly feasible, and on top of that, my parents wanted me to come home so I could maintain a sense of normalcy.

My family is doing its best to act like we have the freedom to move around, but our need to be hypervigilant reigns supreme. My parents go shopping once every two weeks when the supermarkets open in the morning. We wear masks every time we leave the house to go on walks around the neighborhood. I’ve been keeping connected with friends via messages and video calls. At first, I found this to be a suitable substitute for actually living on campus close to my friends at all times, but lately, I’ve been feeling more and more antsy and fidgety. I have felt completely lost within my own thoughts for what seems like hours every day. The one time I got some reprieve when I drove to stay at my boyfriend’s house for a few days, I never left the car until I was at his house and reinstated my entire quarantine routine while there. When I returned home, I quarantined inside my bedroom for a week (with my parents placing food outside my door that I ordered by calling our home phone). My parents will crack the occasional joke about paranoia, but we understand that it’s something we all have to do in order to keep my dad safe.

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[Each of us has our own personal mask in my family. I got the groutfit one.]

It’s been difficult, to say the least. When I see friends posting on social media about going grocery shopping, I feel a pang of jealousy — my parents don’t allow my siblings and me to go to the store with them. I got plenty of messages like “Oh, that’s stupid!” when I documented my in-room quarantine to my Snapchat streaks, but it wasn’t stupid in my household. Sometimes I want to hop into my car and drive to the local hiking trail or shopping center just to get out of my head for a while, but I know that I shouldn’t. Maintaining safe quarantine practices isn’t all that essential for me, but it could be literally lifesaving for my family. I still can’t help those feelings of lamenting having to be so tightly-wound from sneaking in, though, no matter how much I know they are selfish. 

Whenever I get caught up in jealousy and a weird new-age type of FOMO I thought I had left behind at college, I find people in similar situations to mine. One of my best friends from childhood is severely immunocompromised and, for months, found themselves unable to leave the house just to take a walk. Many of my friends live with elderly family members and have been more worried than myself. Some people I know have even caught the virus themselves, know people who have caught it, or have come in contact with someone who caught it. I also know some people who are in the exact same boat I am with an immunocompromised member of the family.

In all honesty, it’s been a tough time for everyone. That being said, hearing how I’m not alone in my fears has made it a lot easier to handle. If I need to, I can call up a friend who understands my frustrations perfectly and just vent for an hour without feeling guilty. My support network has truly strengthened during quarantine, which was something I was not at all expecting when I said my “final” goodbyes to my friends before beginning the long drive from Boston. My friends and family have been there for me in a way I’m eternally grateful for, especially given that this has really challenged how close we are!
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[My beloved Google Calendar even has some standing friendship dates!]

Whereas remote learning was, pretty objectively, absolutely terrible, remote socialization has been lovely. People who I hadn’t seen in a while and had accidentally fallen off my radar (sorry!) due to my hectic pre-COVID day-to-day life have become my close friends again. I’ve been more inspired to reach out and initiate conversations, something I have always struggled with, due to the fact that there are no longer any real ramifications. After all, who is going to be too busy to video call? We’re all stuck here with too much time on our hands! And no one has lamented me being more active on social media; in fact, I’ve started commenting on posts of people I haven’t seen since high school who have found themselves elated to reinvigorate our friendships. Navigating and mastering social media to stay happy definitely had a bit of a learning curve for me at the start, but it’s allowed me to focus my energy on the people I really care about and fully nurture those friendships.

This isn’t to say that everything has been rainbows and sparkly unicorns and I love having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay home and relax. I’ve been terrified to leave my house, but I am equally afraid of the ramifications that come with staying inside. I miss my friends dearly and wish I could say I am too busy rather than too bored. That being said, the resilience I’ve seen in everyone, including myself in a way I don’t feel uncomfortable bragging about, has been inspiring. Quarantine has had its fair share of negative side effects, but I think it has presented a feeling of “we’re all in this together” that I have never felt before. When I chat with my friends for the umpteenth time about my problems and see them listen intently, it makes everything feel just a little bit better.

   This change is easy to make, but very impactful. When recycling, make sure you rinse out jars and other recyclable food containers. The rinse does not have to be perfect, but anything with excessive food residue cannot be recycled. Dirty items also risk contaminating other recyclables, so one dirty item has the potential to ruin a recycling bin, forcing it all to go to the landfill. But, as I said, this is an easy fix, so there’s nothing to worry about!

     To clean your recyclables, you can put water in it and swish it around until the majority of the food residue is gone. If it is a sticky residue, such as honey or jam, I like to fill the container with water and let it soak for a bit. 

     That’s it! Rinsing your recyclables is such a simple change, but it is so impactful. By making it a habit, we can greatly increase the percentage of successfully recycled items.

Especially with this pandemic going on, people are running out of ideas on what to do at home. Besides baking banana bread, oversleeping and engaging in heavy exercise, what many individuals decide to do is online shop. There’s essentially no drawback to online shopping. You can make fun purchases while also maybe supporting a small business. That being said, your finances can also suffer if you shop too much. Here are some of my favorite tactics to use when I shop in order to buy what I want but not spend too much money.

1. Use reputable and reliable websites.

  • This is not crucial since most websites that have good clothing may not be known, and sometimes small businesses are not known, so they are seen as not reputable. With that being said, be sure to do your research and find a good website that seems legitimate. 

2. Try not to impulse buy. 

  • Whenever I shop online, I really try to think about whether or not I absolutely want or need this clothing. I often leave the stuff in my shopping cart for a day or so, which gives me enough time to decide if I really want this top or these shoes. Another thing that helps me is to envision myself wearing said item; if I am not sure that I will like it, I won’t get it. Sometimes you’re surprised, but your intuition is usually correct; it’s often not worth buying something you’re not 100% sure about. 

3. Consider thrifting! 

  • Some websites are super expensive and people can’t justify spending so much money on certain items. Thrifting is a great way to save money on nice clothing. Now, it is very hit or miss, and you can’t really expect to find something. You also can’t really expect to come back and find it, because it might not be there. One time I went to a thrift store in Santa Barbara and found a cute pair of shoes but didn’t buy them because I was a few dollars short; when I came back, they were gone. You might have to expect this to happen. With that being said, thrifting saves a ton of money, helps the environment, and is a wonderful way to spend a day. You can also thrift online if you look hard enough; Instagram is all the rage to find thrifting accounts. 

4. Know your size.

  • Before you buy, MAKE SURE TO KNOW YOUR SIZE! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought clothes that don’t fit because I didn’t know my size. It’s hard to plan for clothes that have different sizing, but be sure to utilize size charts and use your best judgment. Don’t buy something that won’t fit because it’s the only size; it’s better to try your luck somewhere else.  

5. Familiarize yourself with return policies. 

  • If something happens where you don’t like the clothing or if it doesn’t fit, it’s important that you know how to return or exchange it. Nobody wants to keep something that doesn’t work for them. You can always donate or sell your clothing, but it’s often best to try to return the item so that you can get your money back or purchase the style or size you desire once you find it. Sometimes it’s hard to find return policies, and some companies have none. Just make sure to do your research!

6. Use coupons.

  • If you’re the type who often shops online, you might find that your bank account is being drained quickly. The best way to keep yourself from spending too much is to use coupons/cashback services. Honey and Ebates are some that I use. They find coupons for me and give me cash back on purchases respectably. Credit cards also do this too, depending on the card you have. This is a given that you will save money, and you don’t have to do too much work! Make sure to install Honey on your browser and connect Ebates to your bank and get to saving! 🙂

By Marieli Rubio

As appealing as working and studying from home seemed, it has posed various obstacles for college students. Adapting to virtual learning has taught young adults to be flexible, and above all, deal with ambiguity. As uncertainty continues to prevail with internships, an on-campus fall quarter, study abroad, and so much more, students are faced with elevated levels of stress and frustration.

young couple wearing medical masks with laptop and smartphone on city street
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

The global pandemic has made it difficult to focus and seek out opportunities that were once there. We are fortunate that technological advances have allowed us to continue with the pursuit of knowledge, yet we realize it is difficult to replace face-to-face learning and communication. Here are a couple pros and cons I have observed and experienced as a rising college senior studying engineering. 

CON – Loss of sense of independence 

College is viewed as a place where students are responsible for self-regulating their time, health, and money. It is a time of exploration, adventure, and learning about one’s passions and goals. Moving back home, after developing a routine on one’s college campus, is challenging.

We became accustomed to eating with our friends at the dining hall, staying up studying at the library, and going to our weekly club meetings. While those activities have transitioned online as well, we now have to align our schedules with family dinner time and responsibilities at home. Our parents and siblings are constantly asking us if we have finished assignments and at times invading our personal space. 

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

PRO – Family time and Home-cooked meals

You have to admit nothing beats a home cooked meal after eating lots of hamburgers, pizzas, and the not so nutritious food offered at dining halls. We no longer have to swipe our cards to eat, but are instead provided with the food available at home. You are also now required to participate in family movie nights, board games, and best of all, household chores. 

people around a table with food
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

CON – Screen time and Focusing Challenges 

Most college students are described as sitting in front of a computer screen at a coffee shop, at the library, or under a tree. While college students access their textbooks online and complete the majority of their schoolwork on an electronic device, lectures on-campus were a time of the day where students were able to engage in class discussions or manually take notes from the chalkboard in the front of the room.

Now that lectures are all online, screen time has significantly increased and students have found that their majority of their day is spent sitting and staring at the computer screens. This has unfortunately led to a more mundane schedule, where students robotically complete assignments online and are left with strained eyesight at the end of the day. 

man working using a laptop
Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

PRO – Learning at one’s own pace and independent learning 

As an engineering student, I have been accustomed to solving challenging problems in small groups and constantly swinging by my professor’s office to ask pending questions. With virtual learning, this is not the same dynamic. It is now required for students to email and constantly communicate with professors, whether it is providing feedback about how the material is being presented, the amount of workload given, and overall expectations.

Pre-recorded lectures allow students to watch the videos at any time of the day, helping students to complete their schoolwork at their peak energy, and are held more accountable for submitting assignments on time. We no longer can depend on our classmates to re-teach us a lesson, but rather have to figure out our most effective note-taking and studying strategies. 

gray double bell clock
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Many students across the globe have very different circumstances, and the transition to online learning varies across educational levels. My experience as a college student during this time does not apply to everyone, but only offers a glimpse of the benefits and difficulties I have experienced thus far. 

This transition to virtual learning has truly been a learning curve for both professors and students. The biggest takeaway is to be patient and appreciative of the opportunity to still pursue one’s degree and being able to communicate with classmates. As we know, this too shall pass. Our college experience may be cut short, but we are becoming more resilient and adaptable to the coming changes.

high angle photo of boy using imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

For more of Marieli’s work, head to her blog here

By Andy Chau

Soon, I will return to Isla Vista with only one goal in mind: to move out. Once everything is packed up and I am ready for my journey home, I will have basically ended my academic career. I would say the class of 2020 was reluctantly forced to “retire” or graduate early after only two years. No more late night library sessions, no more drunken runs at Freebirds or International, definitely no commencement and concerts on bucket lists. Everything is on hiatus until this virus is miraculously eradicated. How did 2020 become the first leap year to leap into BS? 

A part of me is relieved that I can rescue the rest of my dust collecting belongings but a part of me knows I will long for IV for a long time. I guess I fell for the common pitfall of taking things for granted. As surreal as it is, I can’t believe I’m saying this. 

I’m sad that I didn’t get to leave UCSB on my terms. The string of events were slowly becoming a separate chapter that defines the two years of my presence. I know it’s not too late and coming back as an alumni is always an option, yet this whole ordeal with the coronavirus has made it bittersweet. Despite the short duration, I had many aspirations to finish my journey with a bang. Now, I will be moving forward with plenty of “what ifs” and regrets about not doing enough. 

While things won’t return back to a certain “normal,” I’m happy to know that there were at least a good amount of memories I can reflect back on. Besides, two years can fly by so it’s only fair to be involved! The more I think about it, the more I figure out how many experiences I will leave hanging. Likewise, I can’t control what’s beyond my capability. Maybe I can extend my college career by one more year, who knows (it’s expensive though). 

Although this isn’t an official goodbye, I would like to dedicate my gratitude to the following: Alpha Phi Omega [Psi Chapter, Pi Class of Fall 19,’ and Jenny C. (my big)]; Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) [James H. (my big), TUF Fam]; Santa Barbara local photographers; healthcare + frontline workers; my parents; the UCSB Transfer Center; my best friend Michael; UCSB’s Davidson Library; and the entire IV community. Without them all, my college experience would have a lot of missing pieces. It would be absolutely boring but it was not. Obviously, I feel a need to finish what I started but I would rather be safe than sorry. 

To UCSB, I have no clue where to begin. Over the past two years, it has been a literal roller coaster of character development and mistakes. It would be an understatement to admit that I wanted to drop/transfer out and experienced multiple panic attacks because I thought I made the biggest mistake of my life. I lost a part of my identity, became confused, dug myself a deep hole and slowly crawled my way out. The process wasn’t easy and for a while I felt constantly trapped. Did I fail? Yes. Was it painful? Indeed. Somehow, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I fought everyday to redeem myself. The repetition of schoolwork and responsibilities challenged me but after every quarter, I stood firm. Santa Barbara, I haven’t scratched the surface of my potential. After all the suffering, I have much more to accomplish. For now, I will be content with ending it in June but I promise I will be back. Farewell UCSB, and until next time.

Photo courtesy of Sam Phelps

My acoustic guitar is older than I am; a gift passed down from my aunt during the summer I turned fifteen. I spent hours sitting at my desk, teaching myself with Google, manipulating my fingers to stretch just right to get the trickier chords. I was never great at guitar, but that was fine by me; I just liked to sing in my room, strumming along to my favourite songs with chords that might not have been entirely correct. 

As high school wore on, my guitar sat untouched for months, and then years. It was only once I was nearly 21 and the pandemic hit that I had reason to give my hobby another try. This time, I would be better. This time, I had help. 

Max Kerman, frontman of Canadian rock band Arkells, has taken to flattening the curve in his own way. Every day at 1 pm EDT, he takes to Instagram live with his guitar to teach viewers how to play different Arkells songs, before allowing fans to join him on the livestream to ask questions or make requests. 

I first saw Arkells in concert in Calgary, February 2019. My long-distance friend Kira flew in from Vancouver on a whim; we had both heard their most recent album and rather enjoyed it, so we figured, why not? What we didn’t know was that we were about to see the best live performance of our young lives. From that night on, we were hooked. The experience both strengthened our connection as friends, but solidified Arkells as one of Canada’s best musical talents, in my humble opinion. From there, Kira and I went on to see them at One Weekend Only, an intimate win-to-get-in show unlike anything we had ever seen before – or ever would again.

Kira (left) and I from the front row at One Weekend Only. Photo courtesy of Sam Phelps. 

Arkells, named after Arkell Street in their hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, is made up of vocalist Max Kerman, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bass player Nick Dika, drummer Tim Oxford and keyboardist Anthony Carone. They’ve been on the music scene since 2006, releasing their first album, Jackson Square, in 2008. Like many first albums, Jackson Square packs a punch with classic rock influences in the raw vocals of “Oh, The Boss is Coming!” and songs like “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez” sprinkling in a touch of Motown (And yes, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez is about the Venezuelan President as a political prisoner.) Since then, Arkells have released a total of five albums: 2014’s High Noon won them the Juno Award for both Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year, and their most recent release, Rally Cry, has taken them on a Canadian Tour that featured their largest performance to date at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

But it isn’t just their well-crafted lyrics and performance energy that make Arkells special. They are known for their fantastic fan interaction. With nearly 100k followers on Instagram and 75k followers on Twitter, it would be easy for fan messages and tweets to be lost to the void of the internet, but they like and respond as often as they can. And, with COVID-19, are taking these interactions one step further with their online music classes. 

The first class was on March 14th and followed a simple layout: Kerman taught the chords to And Then Some, which had also been put to paper and posted to Instagram by Carone, and from there he nervously opened the livestream for questions. 

“Okay guys, I’m really trusting you here,” he said, evidently nervous. 

But the live question segment went fine, and continued to go fine because when Max Kerman asks you to behave on Instagram live, you don’t want to let him down. 

I was a lucky viewer who got to ask Max a question. I asked if they let people know when their names end up in songs. He told me that nothing they write is scathing enough that they have ever had to.

The next few days covered some of the big hits like Leather Jacket, People’s Champ, and recent single Years in the Making, and as time went on, fans were treated to deeper cuts such as Making Due, Heart of the City and Hangs the Moon. Another added treat is that Kerman began inviting special guests to join in that he himself would interview. A particular highlight was Tessa Virtue, who inadvertently confirmed her relationship with hockey player Morgan Reilly, and child fashion icon Dylan, who managed to upstage Kerman with his impeccable style and confidence.  

Kerman is also using his influence to make social change. Arkells partnered with RBC to raise money for Food Banks Canada. Fans were encouraged to upload a picture or video of their creative endeavours from quarantine with the hashtag #ftcmusicclass, and RBC would donate $100 for each tag, up to $25,000. The money was raised within days. The band has also released a limited edition Arkells x YMCA T-shirt, from which all proceeds will go to the agency’s online programs. 

My days don’t have much structure anymore. I’ve been laid off from my job, and my university classes are done for the semester. Just a few months ago, I barely had time to sit down and breathe and now I have all the free time in the world. It has been a peculiar adjustment, to say the least. But it’s comforting to know that every day, without fail, I can pick up my guitar and learn something new from my favourite band. 

By Jay Abdella

When gyms are closed and working out with your friends is not an option, what do you do? For myself and other students at my university, twice a week, we are treated to Zoom Yoga by my friend Melanie Adams. Adams, a certified instructor-led a power hour yoga class every Monday while school was still in session. Melanie’s goal is, “to provide yoga to other people in a high quality and accessible way.” Her classes are often the first time a student is exposed to a structured yoga regiment. For those who do not have access to a structured fitness program, yoga is a great way to dip your toe into exercising.  

Many college students are drawn to yoga because of its accessibility and lack of equipment. Many people equate exercising with using big fancy machines or running for miles on end. With yoga, all you need is yourself and a small amount of space around you. Due to this, yoga is a highly accessible recreational and athletic option for many students and adults!

 Melanie’s classes allow students both new and old to stretch out, relax, and become one with the universe. As someone who flexibility is close to zero, having a chance to stretch out each week was a great weight off my shoulders. In addition to taking the weight off my shoulders,yoga has strengthened both my muscles and my endurance, traits that are important for my primary sport; Karate.. For those still in school, yoga has benefits between different athletic fields. For instance yoga promotes flexibility in your muscles which are beneficial to those who are involved in projectile sports such as throwing basketballs, baseballs or any sort of flying object.

Melanie Adams’ class poses for a picture before class lets out for Spring Break. Adams (Front and center) has been leading classes at Clark University since September. (Photo Credits to Melanie Adams)

Adams began her yoga journey, taking her first yoga class in high school. It was there where she found herself connecting with her teacher Casey on a deep level. [add some description]“My teacher, her name was Casey and I have been practicing with her for almost five years now. She has really inspired me over the years through her teachings and having a relationship with her,” said Adams. Through her relationship with her teacher, Adams began to think about her future in yoga. The summer before Freshman year, she found herself hunting for opportunities for certification. Eventually, after surfing the web, Melanie took the biggest leap of her life so far; investing $3,000 of her own money into becoming certified as a yoga instructor. 200 hours of yoga training later, Adams walks out with her own certification to teach.

When students received the notice that Clark University was moving online and all athletic programming was being suspended, Melanie sensed a problem. Many students that attended her class throughout the school year had no access to yoga from home. In addition, she was concerned that the connections she had made with her yoga students throughout the year would fade away “I had certain student relationships with the people who came to my classes every week, and I was worried about when school was closed having those relationships put on hold, so I started teaching the classes on zoom so that I could still have a weekly connection and still be a part of those peoples wellness routines even though it is in a much different way,” said Adams

Now, Melanie hosts yoga sessions twice a week for students who are interested in continuing their weekly stretch-out. On Mondays, it’s Happy Hour Flow (Destressing), and on Wednesdays, it’s Rest and Restore (Finding Your Inner Self). 

As she has transitioned to online yoga, Adams has found that it helps her keep a connection to those who have attended her classes in the past. While zoom powers this connection, online classes only go so far. Adams laments that some participants have their cameras and microphones muted so that she can’t make sure they are properly following along. She also has found that she can’t be as emotionally invested in her classes as she was back in school. 

“I feel like I can’t get as emotionally themed in my classes because I don’t know whether people have a place to work it out after class is over. I have to find the balance between talking about real issues and knowing it could trigger someone to have a worse experience after class and not being able to help,” said Adams

Adams leads a free yoga class near her home in Massachusetts. (Photo credits to Melanie Adams)
For now, as we all sit in isolation, at least for a few days a week, we can stretch out, relax, and pretend that the entire world isn’t falling to pieces around us. If you are interested in joining Melanie’s class, it is every Monday at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time and Wednesdays at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time. For those who want to get their stretch on, here is the link to the classes! Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/9697543823 and the access code for the room is  969-754-3823.

By Mia Foster

   It is easy to feel lost and powerless during this shut-down, as we derived purpose from the daily routines we structured, the work we did, and the social lives we tended to. Without these identifying factors to cling to, a majority of us, myself included, have had difficulty reshaping our identities and finding the motivation to work on something new. However, we must adapt to this new format of our lives. As the world we knew came to a stop, so did many of our dreams, aspirations, and projects–but it doesn’t have to stay that way. American professor Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky said it best; “some of us may wonder whether it is feasible or even possible to continue striving toward our goals during times of crisis…but commitment to goals during such times may help us cope better with problems” (Lyubomirsky 207-208). If you are feeling purposeless, lost, or sluggish, you are not alone. Feel what you feel–your feelings and emotions are valid. Once you are ready to take action and begin to feel better, creating goals that truly interest you can reignite a fire and provide a sense of purpose. We are going to take the leap from thought to action and start our own Passion Projects!

What is a Passion Project?

     Simply put, a Passion Project is a project that you do because you want to. This want is not the desire for the instant gratification of a piece of chocolate or the purchase of a luxury item; it is, as Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. explained, a goal “we pursue out of deep personal conviction and/or a strong interest” (Ben-Shahar 72). A Passion Project is enjoyable during the process of completion, and the project, most importantly, is meaningful to you. Getting started on work that energizes you and matters to you personally can be a daunting but extremely rewarding process. The hardest part is leaping from thought to action, but it is entirely doable with guidance, support, and the bravery that you’ve been saving for “someday.”

Thought to Action

     I have recently had an experience I’m sure many of you can relate to. It was nighttime and I couldn’t settle on something I wanted to do, so I resorted to scrolling through Twitter. I read the Tweets of politicians I felt were blatantly lying about the state of coronavirus in the United States, and their supporters simply lapped up the lies without a second thought. My rage consumed me– in a government where the truth was not valued, how could I manage to make a difference through logic and reason? I felt unrepresented and powerless, like nothing I did would allow me to share my ideas and be listened to by politicians with differing viewpoints. I felt that the partisan divide in our country barred me from having legitimate discussions with half of the population. I wondered why I felt so powerless, and then it hit me: I had all these passionate beliefs inside of me and did nothing with them but leave them to fester. I never did anything about the things that upset me, but I expected my ideas to be considered nonetheless. If you need a kick in the butt to get started, like I did, author Mike Dooley phrased it perfectly: “Intent, or thought without action, is not enough” (Dooley 80). It’s time to act!

     Passion Projects are a way to pursue something that brings you joy while restoring a sense of purpose. As Coronavirus cases slowly skyrocketed in my home state of Washington, I began fundraising for Washington Youth for Masks, a nonprofit focused on purchasing masks for hospitals in Washington, a few weeks back. I fell in love with the project because I found its mission compelling and mainly because it provided the purpose I had been lacking. There was work to be done, and I refused to be complacent as I watched others in my community fight the virus on the front lines. Fundraising might not be your cup of tea, which is ok; this is something that excited me. Your Passion Project will be tailored to you and your interests. A direct benefit of having a long-term goal is that its “pursuit provides us a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives” (Lyubomirsky 206). To regain footing in the new lifestyle of a world in lockdown, a personalized goal is necessary.

How to Craft a Passion Project

     Your Passion Project is yours–you have total autonomy. I am providing suggestions I believe are helpful for success and fulfillment, but ultimately, you have the power, and I’m excited to see what you do with it!

     Here are some tips for creating a project you find inspiring and fulfilling:

  • Think about issues or areas of interest that truly excite you. Do you like writing? Gardening? Music? Math? When watching politicians, what issues do you really care about? What policies do you support? What do you wish was different about your community? What do you enjoy that you want to share with others?
  • Choose your project based on what you want.
  • “Your priority should be to discern which goals will make you happy in the long term and to follow them” (Lyubomirsky 206). 
  • Find a project you will enjoy working on- “when goals facilitate the enjoyment of our present experience, they indirectly lead to an increase in our levels of well-being each step of the way, as opposed to a temporary spike that comes with the attainment of a goal” (Ben-Shahar 70-71). 
  • Take your interests and the thoughts that ping around in your head at night and brainstorm ways to put them into action. Avoid self-judgement here- we seem to have taken the “why not try?” approach with our hair during quarantine. Let’s apply this ambition to new, courageous projects! We’ve all got time, nothing to lose, and so much to gain. There’s no better time to go for it!

Making Abstract Concepts Concrete

     At this point in the process, you have thought of something or multiple things that you care about that energize you. Hopefully you have some ideas forming about how to act on these interests. If you don’t, it’s ok! Back up a little, continue brainstorming, and be gentle with yourself. If you do, it’s time to pull the concepts out of your imagination and put them in a tangible form; tell someone you trust, type it out, make a list. I personally enjoy using whiteboards for organizing my thoughts. By being able to physically see them, I can focus on the logistics of bringing my ideas to fruition instead of focusing my energy on trying to remember my ideas. Most importantly, by taking your thoughts and putting them into some format outside of your head, they feel real. A Passion Project involves goals, not daydreams. Your ideas deserve to be actualized!

     Once you’ve finished moving your thoughts out of your head and into the physical world, you can begin to plan the physical actions you will take to bring your project to life. Focus on the small steps so it isn’t overwhelming! All you need is a few small ideas to get you started. Trust that you will continue to find new ways to further your intentions as you go. I find that writing this part out is beneficial as well, but do whatever works for you! Here is an example of how I am currently pursuing a Passion Project:

My interest: Politics and Government

My desire: To be able to make a positive impact on the lives of Americans through government

How: Get involved in local government

Getting started: Email a state senator and see if internships are available

Future: Who knows? It is ok to not have the entire project planned perfectly. By giving myself the freedom to continue planning and inventing as I go, I can enter the internship with an open mind and make the most of the opportunities I find. 

     Of course, this is easier said than done. It took a tremendous amount of courage to step out of my comfort zone, which is talking about what I care about but never doing anything. Taking the step of sending that email was the hardest part. I had to believe in the validity of my goals and my ability to achieve them. This type of step is much easier with someone beside you!

Involving Loved Ones

     We are social beings. The support of those we love is important to us–so ask for it! Tell those close to you about your plans so they can provide encouragement and hold you accountable for following through. They can celebrate with you when you hit ‘send’ on the email and remind you why the project matters when you are feeling down. Don’t skip this step, it is so important!

Taking the First Step

     This is truly the hardest part of the process. Remember why you want to do this. Write it where you can see it. There’s nothing to soften this–take the plunge! By doing this, you become the driver of the car instead of the passenger. You no longer wait to see where life takes you, but choose the destination yourself and drive. You have so many wonderful things to accomplish. Your future self is looking back at you and smiling, grateful for the day you took the leap and took action. Let’s go!

Conclusion

     Before doing any work on your Passion Project, make it a habit to remind yourself why the work matters to you. When you care deeply, you will find an unbreakable dedication. The people who make a difference and experience fulfilling success are just as human as you and me. There is nothing holding you back from making a positive impact on the world! Remind yourself this: the work you do matters, and you matter. It is much easier to follow through on a plan when you approach it with love instead of fear. Do it because you love it, and always remember that love. 

By Mia Foster

A rubber band on a glass to mark whose glass it is.

     The concept of a wine-marker is quite logical; as all glasses look the same, a person puts an attachment on their glass so they know which one is theirs when they put it down. I have taken to applying this principle to water glasses. In my family and many other families, all our water glasses look the same. This leads to an excessive number of glasses in the dishwasher since no one remembers which belonged to them, so they grab a new glass from the cabinet instead of continuing to use the same one. Some may also grab a random used glass, not knowing who drank from it previously, and use that. In a global pandemic, that is incredibly unsafe. By simply making your glass identifiable, you can reduce the number of dishes you have to wash and the spread of germs within your family. I guess you could say it’s killing two birds with one stone (my mom would say petting two bunnies with one hand because the other saying makes her sad). 

Marking your glass is extremely simple- grab a rubber band and place it around your glass. It is of no cost to you! I will use my glass for a week or so before washing it- you can choose how long you go, but since it’s just water, you can reuse it for at least a few days. This is a very simple way to reduce your dishwasher use, saving water, electricity, and time!

By Sophie Phillips and Kendall Bistretzan 

A global pandemic is sweeping the globe, and what else do you have to do while sitting at home, besides work? Luckily for you, you have the entire internet, cable, and streaming services like Netflix at your disposal. Now, one question remains: what do you watch when the danger of contracting SARS-CoV-2 lurks just outside your doorstep? Continue reading to find out. Below, you’ll find some recommendations and reviews from some survey respondents, and your favorite blogging team (that’s us, we hope!) on some well-known, and up-and-coming shows that you can binge on while you’re quarantined.

To start, 39 people were surveyed and asked to tell us some of their favorite TV shows. Here are their top 5 picks, with their thoughts on why they’re worth watching:

  1. Brooklyn 99

“Brooklyn 99 because it’s comedy driven with a slight plot. I like how all the characters foil each other and the humor.” — Rhiannon, 21

It’s “funny, lighthearted, and extremely bingeable.” — Amy, 21

“Brooklyn 99 is such a great feel- good comedy show! It has a very diverse cast that has tons of genuine friendship and the jokes and comedic timing is brilliant!” — Cynthia, 21

“This show is “straight up addicting, and it never fails to make me smile.” — Kaitlyn, 21

  1. The Good Place

“The show revolves around what it means to be a good person, and that everybody has the potential to be good. The writing is amazing and absolutely so funny, and the message is really deep and beautiful. Mike Schur (the writer and creator of the show) studied ethics, which led him to making this show: as they say in commercials, it’s the smartest dumb show. The jokes are amazing, but you also learn a valuable lesson every episode. There are only 4 seasons and each episode is ~25 minutes, so it’s super easy to binge. If you’re looking for a show that’s funny and uplifting/hopeful, this is the show for you.” — Sofia, 19

“It’s beautiful and perfect and honestly hilarious with some surprises.” — Kaitlyn, 21

  1. Grey’s Anatomy

“It has so much drama and an interesting story line which keeps you engaged.” — Meagan, 21

“It’s what got me interested in medicine and the show is so good and addicting.” –Shawna, 19

  1. Jane the Virgin

“Diverse, funny, heartwarming and THE BEST NARRATOR” — Georgia, 19

“Jane the Virgin because it is everything. It is funny, dramatic, romantic, mysterious, and so much more! I cry probably every episode. It talks about real things: depression, anxiety, family, immigration. Even accidental artificial insemination. And the characters are sometimes despicable but also always so lovable. IT’S JUST SO GOOD, OKAY.” — Lelani, 22

  1. Parks and Recreation

“I love the character interactions and story.” — Haley, 21

“Characters are relatable to the audience and they engage in funny interactions with one another” — Joseph, 19

“As someone who studies government, I love it because it is light hearted and not too dramatic. Everyone in it is hilarious and every season ends on a sweet note. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are amazing, though all the supporting actors have their time to shine. It’s a classic that I never get bored of rewatching. Definitely better than The Office.” — Eleanor, 19

“High-key better than the office, with a fun environment.” — Kaitlyn, 21

Although almost all of the shows that earned the special spot of being their favorites, two of the hottest shows right now–the Tiger King and Love is Blind–were not on the respondents’ list. However, here is what they had to say about both shows, with a summary of their ratings out of 10:

Tiger King is a docu-series about a man, Joe Exotic, who collects a mass amount of big cats, and his enthralling battle to keep his “sanctuary” alive, despite some challenges. The show also explores two other big cat “sanctuaries” across the country, and the collection of big cats in general. Below is what the respondents had to say about it:

“I think people like the drama, but the show does not focus on tigers as much as the tensions between the characters. Also, Joe’s fans are not focused on the bigger picture of the animal abuse. However, it is very entertaining.” — Jennifer, 22 

“It’s a gripping story and reminds me that there really are people like that who exist out there. Also I like how, despite it being a documentary, it’s really more of an dramatic, episodic documentary because of the cliffhangers at the end of each one.” — Rhiannon, 21 

“Makes for really good television. Clearly eye grabbing, but ultimately, has it changed me? Has it pushed me to do something different? No. Also the people who made it are just as sketchy as the people it’s about.” –Anya, 19

“The documentary 100% uses tactics to skew your opinions as you watch it to view certain people as bad and to favor others, but [it’s] interesting.” — Amy, 21

Love is Blind is a reality show that attempts to answer the question: is love really blind? The show follows 30 singles whose goal is to marry their future spouse, but must decide who to propose to–and ultimately end up with–without ever seeing their face. This show is full of all of the drama, twists, and turns that you would expect from a reality TV show, but with a dash of wholesomeness.

“This is like 90 Day Fiancé. It is very dramatic and over exaggerated. It is corny but I am here for the drama.” –Jennifer, 22

“Very satisfying watching the drama unfold from the experiment while seeing characters’ relationships change from the time in the pods [spaces where the show contestants talk to their could-be spouses without seeing their face] to when they walk down the aisle.” — Emily, 20 

“I really liked this show–much more than the bachelor! I didn’t realize all the different steps the couples were going to have to go through, I thought they just stayed in the pods, so that definitely made it more entertaining. Overall, it was super interesting to see someone fall in love with a personality and voice, and then a whole human person.” — Sofia, 19

“Reality shows are like junk food, they make you feel good for a moment–they’re a guilty pleasure. While I love a good love story, this is a show that more so made me cringe and laugh in the best of ways.” — Amy, 17

Although you’ve heard from others about what their favorites are, you might be wondering, what are we at Beyond the Pandemic watching during these trying times? The world can feel like a scary place these days, so we have catered our top five binge-worthy shows to series that will make you feel good.

  1. Anne with an E 

Why Netflix allows its lovely Canadian content to slip through the cracks into obscurity I will never understand. Anne with an E is the same story you’ve always known; fiery orphan Anne is sent to live with the Cuthbert siblings. The Cuthbert’s, however, are expecting a boy. Anne with an E is a beautiful coming of age story that follows Anne as she deals with being an outsider, navigating new relationships, and growing up in the late 1800’s. You wouldn’t expect a show of this time period to deal with issues of sexism, consent, racism and homophobia, but Anne with an E pulls it off with a grace that does not feel forced. Anne is a strange child, and yet her story is surprisingly relatable to anyone who has ever been considered “different.”

  1. Derry Girls 

With just two seasons and short episodes, Derry Girls can be finished in a day or two, and trust us, you’ll want to. Derry Girls takes place in Derry, Ireland, during the later years of the Northern Ireland conflict, and follows the lives of four girls and a “wee English fella” as they navigate friendship, family, and Catholic high school. The cast has fantastic chemistry and the situations their characters find themselves in are so ridiculous, yet so true to the obscurity of young adulthood. But a little pro-tip: you might want to watch it with subtitles. 

  1. Atypical 

Atypical is about Sam, an 18-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who wants to start dating. This is the catalyst of the story, launching his well-meaning but often misguided family into mayhem as they deal with the changes that accompany growing up. The show’s first season was well-received, but garnered criticism for its portrayal of some aspects of autism. So, for the second season the show hired more actors and writers on the spectrum. A particular stand-out of Atypical is Brigette Lundy-Paine, the non-binary actor who plays Sam’s younger sister, Casey. Casey is head-strong and snarky, but Lundy-Paine flawlessly portrays Casey’s subtle moments of loneliness and insecurity, and in later seasons, her struggle to come to terms with her sexuality. Atypical is a show that promotes love and acceptance, and the world could always use just a little bit more of that. 

  1. Sex Education  

Socially awkward Otis doesn’t have much experience in the sex department, but thanks to his overbearing sex therapist mother, he knows more than he ever bargained for. When misfit Maeve realizes that their classmates are not so educated, the two team up to become the school’s underground “sex therapists.” With a diverse and hilarious cast, this British comedy has been praised for its representation of sexuality and sexual orientations, and you just might learn a thing or two! It also has this fantastic aesthetic that transcends the rules of era-based fashion and borders. 

  1. Big Mouth 

Disclaimer: this show is SUPER raunchy, but absolutely hysterical when it isn’t bombarding you with flashbacks of your own pre-teen horrors. Big Mouth follows best friends Andrew and Nick as they enter puberty. Nick is self-conscious of being a late bloomer, while Andrew has to deal with a randy hormone monster named Maury that is the physical embodiment of the intrusive thoughts that come along with growing up. Along for the ride are Jessi, a headstrong girl who struggles with her parents divorce, Jay, a lonely boy with ADHD who slowly comes to terms with his sexuality, and Missy, a nerdy, awkward late-bloomer who struggles to manage her strong emotions. Yes, there are a lot of dirty jokes and animated penises, but the show also looks at the nitty gritty of growing up; first periods, consent, shame, sexism, and mental illness. And yes, the animation is kind of hideous, but it also stars John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele and more pillars of comedy. So, you win some you lose some. 

There is an infinity of different shows to binge on when you’re stuck in your home during quarantine, and although television is far from solving any of the myriad of what’s going on in and outside your home, it sure can provide some comfort, humor, and distraction from the pandemic outside of your doorstep.

  By Molly Rosenfeld

You might have seen the “10 Day Performer/Artist Challenge” circling on Social Media. “Every day, select an image from a day in the life of a Performer/Artist: A photo from a day you felt fierce or a memorable moment you’ve had during a practice/performance/show, or anything else meaningful to you. Be active, be positive, be passionate… Raise Awareness of the Arts!” The idea was that you nominate a person a day, but no one ever nominated me. 

When my college, San Jose State University, canceled classes due to COVID-19 in early March, my parents decided I’d be better off at home in Southern California sooner rather than later. I changed my flight back to Long Beach to two weeks earlier than planned. Stuck at home in parent-imposed isolation, I was more than a little bored, so I was trying to find productive things to do. I had access to old photos, and I decided to nominate myself.

Music has been an important part of my life since I did “Music Together” classes with my mom as a toddler. I started violin lessons at school in third grade, and switched to cello seven years later, at the end of ninth grade, my freshman year of high school. 

Molly holding a violin, March 2012.

I had a lot of fun picking out photos, ranging from a shot of me sitting at my grandmother’s piano when I was two, to the yearbook photo of one of my school orchestras. For the tenth and final day, I wanted to do something to tie it all together. With a lightbulb moment of inspiration, I pulled all of the paper concert programs I had saved. There were a lot! I was able to fit a decade’s worth on the family coffee table, 2007 to 2017. They represent my growth as a musician,  and the journey of a lifetime.

Programs for talent shows at Emerson Parkside Academy Charter School, held in the Millikan High School auditorium, to performances as an intermediate “All Star” and Chamber Orchestra Violin III at Leland Stanford Middle School. Then to my one concert as an eighth grade second violinist in the Ohlendorf Orchestra, the middle school Honor Orchestra for the Long Beach Unified School District. It was the first, last, and only time I received city-wide recognition. I was too busy to audition for the high school honor orchestra in ninth grade and tenth grade, not invited to participate in eleventh grade, and was an alternate as a senior, so I wasn’t able to rehearse or perform.

From programs for concerts of original scores of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, before I thought I’d ever have a chance to play music at that level, to accompanying Zigeunerweisen, violinist Christina Eastman’s Senior Solo, to my grand cello debut at fifteen. To the conspicuously absent year that was 2014, the darkest year of my young life. For reasons beyond my control, I was forced to stop playing, and it was devastating. To my comeback at seventeen. This collection ends with programs from the first three shows of Orchestra at the Beach, the long awaited official second orchestra at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. I had the honor and privilege of being a founding member during my early years of college. 

I didn’t include programs from choir concerts or studio recitals where I performed solo pieces. Honestly, they’re not as important to me. Singing has always been more of a hobby, and I take more pride in the music I’ve played collaboratively.

Without orchestra, I’d have a giant hole in my life and heart. I’d feel unfulfilled and almost empty. As a tiny and eager eight year-old with a half size violin, I never imagined that a decade later I’d be a cellist in a university orchestra, but I never stopped doing what I loved; sharing my musical gifts with anyone willing to listen. 

Last April, all of my figurative blood, literal sweat, and occasional tears of frustration tangibly paid off. I was accepted to the undergraduate music program at the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University. I’m currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in behavioral science and music. Sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around that. I’ve felt pure shock and disbelief, and awe. I’ve been proud, angry, and sad. I’ve waited, persevered, and triumphed.

I find myself spending a lot of time reflecting on my experiences in orchestra, but rarely appreciating the whirlwind they have proved to be. COVID-19 has forced me to stop and think about how lucky I really am. I found my greatest passion in grade school and held on to it. I’ve been so fortunate, in all but one year since, the only things that have stood in the way are my own feelings of “Maybe there’s a better way to spend my time” “This isn’t worth the work I’ll have to put in” and “I’ll never be good enough”. I’ve pushed through. I’ve spent nearly two-thirds of my life as a true musician, and there’s not a chance I’m stopping now. I’ve decided to pursue a career in music therapy. I can’t wait to combine two of the things I love the most: music and helping others become their best self. 

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey. As always, to Cecilia Tsan, my cello inspiration. The first performance of Kol Nidre was all that it took for me to fall in love with cello, even though my brain needed time to catch up with my heart. To my classmates and fellow ensemble members who have become some of my dearest friends, and all of my teachers over the years, and to my family, for the unwavering support you’ve given me. I love each and every one of you, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. I always have, and I always will.

Molly holding a cello, May 2017

By Mia Foster

 As we are constantly inundated with news about imminent climate change, Greenhouse Gas emissions, and waste, it is often easy to feel hopeless in aiding the fight against climate change. While it can feel like we are the victims of the corruption of corporations and government inaction on the climate crisis, we each have the opportunity everyday to reclaim the story and put forward our own efforts towards leading more sustainable lives and lessening our impact on the environment. 

     The purpose of this thread is not to convince you of the reality of climate change. If you do not believe in it, I suggest doing an independent study. Make sure to consume information on the issue from many different sources so you may form your own opinion after getting a comprehensive overview of the science and arguments made by all. Reading the opinions of those you don’t agree with can never harm you! There will be a list of links at the bottom to begin your reading.

     Sustainability Saturdays is a weekly publication that will include small tips on how to make your everyday life more sustainable along with the occasional recommendation of books or studies to read. Who knows, I might even do a weekly challenge every once in a while! By making small changes in your lifestyle, your impact on the environment can significantly decrease over time. To chip away at climate change, we must collectively change our way of living; but collectivism must start with the individual. Join me as I learn new ways to make my life more sustainable! 

Climate Change Information Station:

Climate Change: How Do We Know?

The UN on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

EPA: Climate Action Benefits Report

By the Numbers: How the U.S. Economy Can Benefit from Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainability Sector Provides 4.5 Million Jobs in US

How fortunate is it that I am still allowed to go to work during this pandemic? I am deemed an ‘essential employee’ – laughs – in this time of crisis, though I am nothing more than a barista at my local drive-thru only coffee shop. Fortunately, my risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. I get to come to work and see my friends, talk with my favorite customers, share a cup of joe with those who need it most, and fill my day with smiles, laughs and, most importantly, caffeine.  

If I am so fortunate, though, why do I feel so cheated by the CERB?  

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is absolutely necessary during COVID-19. $2000 every four weeks will help Canadians pay for the necessities of life and will lead to a faster economic recovery once the pandemic settles down. The importance of this plan cannot be understated, and the speed and efficiency that the CERB has been implemented is remarkable. However, for essential employees who continue to put themselves in harm’s way during this pandemic, the lack of benefits received is truly unfortunate. 

                       

Take grocery store workers. The tireless work of these employees has been a sight to behold since the pandemic started, and how important they are to the community has been exposed in full. Heaps of praise for their hard work has been rightfully given, but the fact remains that they are overworked and overexposed to COVID-19. They are in desperate need of more help, as ads plastered over social media social-media saying “Join Our Team” indicate, but ask yourself this: would you really want to work for $2500 a month while risking serious exposure to a terrible disease when you could stay home and earn $2000 a month? Countless Canadians are currently at home, able to work, but the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can hardly justify earning an extra $500 a month. There may be those who disagree, and that is entirely their judgement call to make, but I know personally that such an offer would not entice me towards applying.

These are essential employees, among countless others, who are facing the pandemic head-on and providing the best services they can at the time when we need them the most. And while praise and thanks are absolutely necessary (and thankfully being given out by millions of gracious Canadians), these people deserve more. 

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has proposed that the eligibility criteria be dropped for those applying to the CERB so that everyone who needs help will get access to the CERB (Campbell, 2020). His proposal included recently-graduated students, previously unemployed Canadians and people who earned less than the $5000 application minimum over the previous 12 months (Campbell, 2020). While I agree with all these above, I also believe that the CERB should be available to those who are still working. I think it is safe to say that those who are putting themselves on the frontlines of this pandemic everyday deserve more than just heartfelt thanks from Canadians; they deserve financial support during this time. Allowing a universal application for the CERB would provide every Canadian a hand up in this trying time while providing a financial incentive for those of us who are fortunate enough to continue being employed. Every Canadian would stay financially afloat, and those who can work would be incentivized to do so. While unquestionably costly to the Canadian government, it is a cost that would keep the economy going, help to build a stronger foundation for the post-COVID recovery and, most importantly, would help those who deserve it the most. 

Reference: 

Campbell, C. (April 11, 2020). Burnaby’s Jagmeet Singh demands Trudeau ‘scrap’ CERB criteria. Burnabynow. https://www.burnabynow.com/news/burnaby-s-jagmeet-singh-demands-trudeau-scrap-cerb-criteria-1.24116538

P.C: kc0uvb

COVID-19 has had disastrous impacts on college students’ mental health. Students now must figure out the next five months of their lives as colleges have forced people to return home or stay in one place. For many people, just being isolated can exacerbate anxiety and depression. For myself, I handle my anxiety by talking to and helping other people with their own mental health struggles. One of my favorite things to do to help people is, simply, to hug them. Whenever I hug someone, I imagine hugging out the negativity and self-doubt of my friends and absorbing those emotions into myself. Like kidneys filtering out blood, I like to think I can filter out my friend’s negative emotions without weighing myself down. Sadly, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to isolate, hugs are impossible. Now, whenever I see a post from a friend who is having a bad day, my heart aches for them as I want to hug the sadness out of them. All I can do is message them and let them know I am here for them. Texting them, unfortunately, only does so much. Words help, but the act of hugging goes so much further, especially when it takes days for people to answer. Without being with my friends in person, I feel powerless to help my friends, and through that my anxiety is slowly edging back to my periphery. While I feel this, I have found a new way to help other people through text.

One thing that I found to be helpful during this time is to reach out to those who are younger than us. I have reached out to people I know who are still in high school who are probably just as terrified of their future as we are. High school seniors who have worked for three and a half years and have made it to the fabled Senior Spring, only to have it ripped away from them two and a half months before they would be finished. At my high school, the seniors would perform a show during senior spring, all run and produced by the students themselves. As of now, the show is postponed until late May, but at this point, it is a major possibility that students will not go back to school this year. The implications of that are massive. No walking across the stage at graduation, no saying goodbye to your teachers, no smoking cigars with friends after graduating, nothing. To come all this way and not being able to be rewarded for your success is nothing short of heartbreaking. While we are mourning the loss of our spring semesters and time that we could be spending with our friends, seniors have lost their final hurrah of high school (I’m not forgetting college seniors either, you guys deserve everything too), and they need someone who will comfort them in their time of need.

-My friend and I during a highlight of senior spring: The Senior Cruise

By being a figure in these people’s lives, either older or younger, it provides meaning in our lives despite us not being there in person. For myself, in addition to staying in touch with my college friends, I had a long talk with a camp co-worker until five in the morning. While I did not interact with her as much in high school or at camp, it felt good to be able to talk and be hopeful towards the future. While COVID-19 has changed the dynamics of how friends can help friends, you can always get in touch with those who are younger than you. If you do, you might find yourself making a difference in their lives! 

By Colleen Boken:

If you have ever traveled on the train between Boston and New York, chances are you have stopped briefly in the small city of New London, Connecticut. Located on the glistening shores of Long Island Sound, New London is home to the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut College, Mitchell College, and a whole host of small-town businesses. It is a town rich in nautical history, and is the kind of place that would seem right at home in a Stephen King novel.

I have been serving here as an Americorps member with the New England Science and Sailing Foundation, serving in the schools and getting an understanding of the integral structure that makes up the city of the sea. Therefore, when the coronavirus came, it forced us all to reexamine what it was about living in a small town that made it so much more different from other places around. 

It is important to note that I love everything that makes up a great, small town.  Walking down Bank Street, the main commercial hub, the variety of businesses making it their own is undoubtedly what makes it a town like no other. The two-story buildings that line the river and the railway tracks are usually bustling, with all sorts of emporiums plying their wares. There is a gay bar, a cute little coffee shop with memories of times once past, a few barbershops, a museum in the oldest operating customs house, and even a number of tattoo parlors.  On a usual Saturday, from nighttime to daytime, these places are bustling. Students, locals, people who came in on the train, and the occasional submariner from the nearby base turn bank street into a party alley.

It was right before Saint Patrick’s Day when the coronavirus pandemic became serious enough to the point that the governor of the state had no choice but to order all businesses closed.  It was a day that the town had been anxiously preparing for, with parades and all sorts of events planned, only for it to suddenly come to naught. I live downtown, not far from Bank Street, and with a view that tells a story of its own

I took time to walk down Bank Street that night, and what I found summed up many of the feelings that are being reflected in towns across the nation. Bars and restaurants that should have been bustling with people eating corned beef and listening to Irish pub music were instead graced with only the sound of the sea breeze and the occasional “toot toot” of the train. No lights were on, and a few places were doing take-out, but not many. In many ways, it felt like the town had become a ghost of itself, and it was quite easy to wonder if it was the end of the small town as we knew it.

Yet there is something to small towns that many people do not realize. When things like this happen, towns like New London do not just disappear. Instead, the people that make up a place like this find ways to remain positive. They bring forth a reminder of the good we can do if we just remember that we as a whole are a community–a community that needs to stand tall together.

I have had the great fortune of becoming friends with the local event planner extraordinaire. She is one amazing lady, and she embodies so much of what makes a small town wonderful. She recently began posting signs around New London: little reminders to thank the first responders who were helping everyone get through these unpredictable times. 

In addition, a firefighter who was back in New London decided to share some happy music with the good people on the street he was on by playing his bagpipes loud enough so that everyone could hear: a welcome surprise it was, and a needed one at a time when the sound of happy music was a welcomed addition.  

I have spent many years in small towns: growing up in one, going to college in another, and now serving for a year here. The small town is more than just a small gathering of people. Rather, it is a solid community that is built so strong that even when something like the coronavirus threatens the fabric of the town as a whole, it fights back even stronger. It may not be the biggest town in the world, but what is critical about the whole endeavor is that like many small towns, New London is built in such a way so as to thrive in the good times and show its strength when the going gets rough. 

On a personal note, I did not know what this town would be like. I had never even been to Connecticut before I took this position. What I have found is a place that does not care who you are, but instead on what you can do. It is a town full of pride and filled with hope. As you go on with your day today, think about your community–and how every place, big or small, has a chance to thrive even on its darkest days. 

Because when this whole thing is over, and when everything returns to some sort of normal, the communities we built will show us just what we can become. 

By Madison Kirkpatrick

When you’re a young kid in grade or middle school, you probably don’t realize the value of a dollar. My parents weren’t rich, but they were comfortable enough so that I didn’t have to work to get most of what I wanted. Even when my mom lost her job, she was able to bounce back into another completely different field. She ended up quitting that and now works in sales and makes more than we ever have before. I watched her struggle but didn’t really have to experience it. I felt bad at times when I’d watch my stepsisters juggle school and work because their mom is a teacher and couldn’t really afford to give them a lot of money. If they wanted money, they earned it. I never realized that my life wasn’t really like that when I was younger. 

When I got to college, things changed a bit. I finally decided I wanted to work because I had the schedule and I felt like I was ready for the next step. I’d wanted to work in high school but hadn’t had a lot of luck, which ironically was like a trend for my older brother and I. We were both interested in working but it just didn’t work out due to a lack of time, and my brother never heard back from the job he applied to. I applied for a job at a grocery store and got it. I didn’t really know how to start; I wasn’t used to working or a constant discipline. I was horrible back then and sometimes I hated myself for not getting work right away. There was some pressure to be good at the job, and even though I tried to give myself credit for being new, it didn’t get better for a while. However, I got better over time and eventually decided to work for my friends’ parents’ yogurt shop in the same plaza. This is where I feel like I started learning the value of a dollar. I saw my money slipping away because I didn’t know how to work with my money. After I left the grocery job, I stayed with the yogurt shop for a few more months. I was able to keep my routine of trying to save money, and though it wasn’t perfect, I stopped wasting a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. I was able to save my money and prepare for an emergency, almost like I finally knew how to deal with the economy.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I had planned to start at UCSB, thyroid cancer caused me to go into treatment and defer a quarter. I didn’t work during that time or during my first UCSB quarter. To be honest, I hated it. I was bored and hated asking my parents for money. When I got a new job as a cashier I became happier; I craved the independence of working, as making my own money is so rewarding to me. I worked two jobs again for a while until I left the cashier job to focus on school and other commitments. Recently, I found out they were laying off my department at my job at the mall because the mall closed. I was already home but fully expecting to go back and it threw a wrench in my plans, making coming back to SB almost unnecessary. 

I didn’t know what to do. I was back home and had no money coming in. I only had school to look forward to. I’m glad I don’t work now because I wouldn’t have the time, but a few weeks ago it was a hard adjustment. I was used to working. I filed for unemployment and was luckily approved, and although I was grateful for the government help, I miss the independence that comes with leaving the house and going to work, talking with people, making friends you wouldn’t know otherwise, and being able to learn new things about the workforce. For me, the ability to work equals the ability to have independence. You can make new friends and people rely on you for something, but you can decide what sort of job you do. Also, when you make your own money, people can’t tell you how to spend it.

One thing I noticed, though, is that I’ve actually been pretty good with my money. Ironically, I’m trying to be careful because I don’t get a stimulus check and I want to prepare for an emergency. I have a lot saved and am trying to not spend too much, save what I spent for my laptop which was a necessity. I’m shocked at how well I’m doing. When I least expect it, I’m dealing with the economy pretty well and I’m as ready as I can be if an emergency arises. I hope I can keep going when this is all over. 

This is just part of my perspective regarding the COVID outbreak and its impact on the economy. I realize, though, that plenty of people, including students, will be in my position. I can offer three tips to people based off my experience. The first is to save. People are concerned with buying the newest items and not thinking about the future, but in times like this, savings can go a long way. The second tip I can give is to prepare for the worst; that is, prepare for not working. I didn’t think about not working and it was a huge change; I could’ve had a backup in case something fell through. Having something to do during this time can keep your sanity and make you think less about working. The last tip I can offer is to be patient. It’s hard right now and these times are unprecedented, but don’t stress! Everything will be okay, and you too can find relief during this time if you remain optimistic. It seems like a tall order but it’s possible!

By Rebecca Goldfarb

Growing up, I felt so trapped socially. I went to school with the same 150 people since kindergarten and was always looked at as “quiet, shy, and boring” by high school classmates, no matter how much I tried to lose that image. Day after day, I felt like I was constantly living in a bubble. Being socially contained like this for 13 years urged my drive to get out of Orange, Ohio. While I was in high school, I went on two school trips to Europe. I made so many meaningful friendships on these trips with people from all over the place. These experiences were life changing and from those moments, I knew I wanted to study abroad for a whole semester in college, as the best experiences are the international ones. 

In college, I was finally able to shave my whole high school image off and create a new identity. Going to college in Boston certainly helped, and I was also able to build a solid foundation of so many different friend groups, that I left high school completely behind. I worked so hard for the past two and half years to become an extrovert, to build this social circle, and to finally live life and enjoy being young. 

Junior year was the year of the unexpected. Both semesters turned into something completely different than I thought it was going to be, especially my semester abroad. It has been a few weeks since getting sent back from the United Kingdom due to the coronavirus. Even now, it is still so complicated to process the idea of having been abroad during a pandemic; the time where no one is allowed to travel. Yet, I still did managed to travel all over Europe during the time COVID-19 was slowly emerging. 

I still was able to get a solid two months abroad while traveling all over Europe, even with this crisis on the rise. These were the few months I set aside to do significant traveling and a once-every-one hundred year pandemic just had to come about during the three months I had selected to embark on this adventure. That being said, there are both upsides and downsides for having been abroad during this pandemic, mostly downsides obviously, but let me explain the true overall impact coronavirus left on my study abroad experience. 

Being abroad during this crisis allowed me to understand the situation in multiple international perspectives, especially in the way various European businesses and governments were reacting to the crisis. Had I just been in the United States, I would have only stuck to the knowledge of what my home state and the state that I went to college in was doing. Being abroad during an international pandemic allowed me to really integrate myself in seeing how these countries dealt with an international crisis. Having been abroad in London, I now follow updates in the U.K. and all over Europe to see what they’re doing to handle all of this, even when I’m no longer there. I probably would not have done that otherwise. 

Overall, my knowledge and interest in international politics has increased immensely due to the fact that I was abroad during this pandemic. I got to be experiencing the action, and compare the way the citizens of both the United Kingdom and the United States took precautions. Even when my program got cancelled, I still had to embark on an international flight home. Traveling internationally itself during this pandemic allowed me to brave it out, which enhanced the intensity of my journey home, as I embraced myself for the six hour customs line at the United States border. 

I still had other international trips within Europe planned for the remainder of my abroad semester that I knew I couldn’t go on. The European airline companies canceled these booked flights due to COVID-19. This was not only a relief, as it guaranteed I could get my money back, but it also provided me more with an international perspective of this crisis. It is unbelievable that I traveled to Italy on the last possible weekend I could have done it, right before coronavirus exploded there. It all sucks right now, but years from now when we look back at this pandemic, I can talk about how I was studying abroad during this crisis, I took risks in international travel and got to be in multiple different countries and see their perspectives on the issue. I can share this cool and unique story to others about the pandemic that many people wonder about. If I had to find any benefit of being abroad during coronavirus, this is what I can pinpoint. 

I was in Italy from February 20-23, the last calm weekend in the country before the virus took over. 

Granted, I still got two months in England and got to travel to five other countries, for which I am extremely grateful. I still feel as though I got the full study abroad experience despite being sent home a month early. I am also grateful that I was able to get home in time before travel restrictions were made, that I could be home with my family during quarantine, and that they’re healthy. 

I’m so thankful for what I did get to do while I was abroad. I absolutely loved living in South Kensington. From seeing 7 shows on the West End to watching the BAFTAs red carpet across the street from where I have class, it already feels like I have been living here for months already. While traveling, I was able to meet so many new people from all over the world in the most unexpected circumstances. From being stuck in the Budapest airport for two extra days to a random person coming up to my friends and I at a pub, asking us to guess a riddle about expired yogurt, these random situations turned into the most memorable ones. I went from being scared of staying in a hostel, to absolutely loving it. I loved meeting people my age and learning about why they were travelling and where they were coming from. I’m so thankful that I was able to travel to these places and get these experiences before the CV situation got bad in Europe.

That being said, I hate the fact that I had to get sent home from abroad and that this crisis had to happen right now. I went from living my best life to living no life at all. I came about many frustrations during my quarantine because I looked back at how amazing these experiences were and I was craving more. I wanted more experiences like these in my upcoming trips. I wanted to travel to the other places I was supposed to go to, so I could meet more new people from all over the world and see more new places. The more I started thinking about what I could have done if there was no pandemic, the more I wanted the original full amount of abroad time I was anticipating. I think what bothers me the most is the feeling that the universe just wants me stuck and isolated in Ohio forever.

Being sent home and into social isolation, I feel as though I am back at square one. Back to feeling stuck and trapped like I was in high school. Except this time, if I try to get out and be social and live life and have fun, I risk getting myself and my family sick, which is the most messed up part about this whole situation. This isn’t just my early 20’s, this is OUR early 20’s. We’re supposed to be traveling, going out for drinks, going to concerts and clubs, and making crucial social connections and friends that are supposed to last a lifetime. We’re supposed to be getting critical, career defining internships. We’re being deprived of precious college moments, some of the best moments of our lives so far. We’re only in college for so long, so who knows when we will have the opportunity to have experiences like these again? 

Tea and Scones at Wimbledon Tennis Stadium 

Everyone in the world is being screwed over in some sort of way or from some type of experience, from unemployment to a high school prom. It sucks for everyone. However, the pandemic has shown us the various ways things can be made up for. Soon, we’ll be out of quarantine and we will be able to get back the experiences that coronavirus ripped away from us. I will get out of Ohio and I will get the chance to see the rest of the world. And that’s what’s getting me through, to know that I can get back and finish what I started. I now have a greater motivation to make this a reality. Who knows how motivated I would have been to go back to Europe immediately if I was able to get a full semester. The idea of my travels getting cancelled increases my itch to get back into the world as soon as possible (and also my hostel vouchers expire in a year, so I have to go back anyways). 

This pandemic has also taught me to take advantage of any opportunities that interest you while you can, because you never know when another obstacle will sneak up on you and stop you from being able to do something. Be grateful for every moment you get to experience. 

Soon enough, the world will be operational again. If we want to make this a reality, it is crucial that we continue to stay at home and do our part to get life back running, so we can go back to living our early 20’s sooner than we think. A couple months on pause won’t seem like a big deal in the long run.

By Carmiya Baskin

It’s springtime in Florence, Italy. Rays of sunlight peek out from behind the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Arno River sways peacefully in the light breeze, and the typically bustling Piazza Signoria is void of human activity. This year, the atmosphere is charged not with the serenity that comes before the inevitable flocking of summer crowds but with the anxiety about a highly contagious virus that is rapidly traversing borders.

In the safety of her apartment, Danielle Cohen, a UCSB alum who moved to Florence in January to begin her new job, reveals how her life has changed since the virus took hold. She has just finished recording an episode of “Quarantine in the Kitchen,” a series she invented in which she documents what she is cooking that day and posts it on her Instagram story to keep both herself and her followers entertained — and sane.

“I feel more safe in my apartment here than back home in the States,” Cohen says, gesturing to her surroundings that fill the screen on Zoom. As of three weeks ago, private hospitals in Italy have begun offering free medical care to people who have contracted COVID-19. Cohen notes that returning to California would pose a greater risk as, throughout the whole nation, testing kits and proper treatment are scarce and safety measures are not being enforced. 

While rules for quarantining have been announced in the U.S., there are no centralized regulations. As Cohen states, “it’s all happening state by state, city by city, beach by beach.” She feels that the U.S. should initiate a full lockdown immediately and learn from Italy’s initial mistakes; at first, people in Italy were not taking the quarantine seriously, much like many folks in the U.S. aren’t now.


Further, Cohen claims that social distancing does not work. “It’s frustrating to watch the U.S. follow in Italy’s footsteps because we didn’t know what was going on a few weeks ago. Now, America has a country to look to for guidance — which Italy didn’t have — and it’s not encouraging a countrywide shutdown.” Although she admits she is lonely in her apartment at times, she feels that staying inside and away from people is the best way to protect herself and those around her.

“Italy’s numbers are finally going down and it’s because we’ve been on lockdown for a month,” Cohen declares. According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough and a fever. Coronavirus spreads mainly through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze or when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

“Italian people care about their communities and appreciate the safety measures that are in place,” Cohen says. Venturing outside one’s home in Italy is strictly prohibited and accompanied by a hefty fine of €3,000 if one gets caught. When asked what tactics she uses to cope with mental health issues (as fresh air is no longer an option), she describes her daily routine which involves dancing along to online Zumba videos, piecing together puzzles featuring Italian art, and video chatting with friends and family from home.

She has two white boards on the fridge in which she writes her daily to-do list on one and her overall goals on another. She adds, “allowing yourself to have bad days is important. It’s asking too much of yourself to assume that everyday is going to be productive. The first week was really hard — I went from working a full-time job and having housemates to not having any of that.”

Despite the hardships, Cohen notes that there are positive aspects to this pandemic that is quickly making its way around the world. “We’re letting our world heal and we’re letting ourselves grow.” As everyone is staying inside, the air pollution has decreased, the amount of fish in the Venice canals has increased, and wildlife has begun to thrive again. While it’s unrealistic to remain in quarantine forever, Cohen reminds people that they must be more aware of their footprint. This is especially important as the Environmental Protection Agency has suspended the enforcement of environmental rules due to the coronavirus outbreak.

She encourages people to take this time to learn a new hobby, rekindle old skills, and connect with loved ones. She says, “I’ve never been alone or inside for this long in my life… it’s kind of freeing. Going home would’ve been the easy way out but this [situation] is a new challenge for me and I’m learning a lot about myself.”

Cohen sums it up by saying, “I hope the rest of the world starts listening so this quarantine can end soon.”

Citations

Cohen, Danielle. Personal interview. 2 April 2020.

Kraft, Ariana. “EPA Suspends Enforcement of Environmental Laws in Response to COVID-19.” WNCT, 30 Mar. 2020.

Parodi, Emilio. “Special Report: ‘All Is Well’. In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 16 Mar. 2020.

“Here Are Italy’s New Quarantine Rules on Jogging, Walking and Taking Kids Outside.” Thelocal.it, 1 Apr. 2020.

“Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization.

We come together in creative ways.  At the beginning of this pandemic, I had no perspective.  The only image I was ever able to create in my mind was this broken unrecognizable reality.  Globally, nothing was the way it was, and there was a major shift in everyday reality for everyday people.  Simultaneously, all of our lives were disrupted. As a community, we lost a lot. There was a period of time when we all started to pay attention to all the things we were going to miss out on.  Proms were canceled, graduations were destroyed, and people were physically getting kicked out of dorm rooms. Times were really dark for a while. As we began to settle in, our new profound realities scattered.  It got worse. Society was shutting down and the world was turning really dark.

It goes without saying that most of us took to social media—pain was felt and noticed on all platforms.  Frustrated by the lack of stability, we all fell into a vast global grieving process.  Anger from the lack of toilet paper. Anxiety by not being able to go outside. Fear from catching COVID-19.  It was terrifying. 

But something I noticed was that we didn’t stay there for very long.  Once we allowed ourselves to have an adjustment period for our new worlds of self-isolation, most of us got creative.  With the new and sudden boost of content on the internet, we tried to make the most out of it.

We came together in creative ways.  All across the planet, everyone was trying to help with this pandemic in every way possible.  We got fashion designers making masks and Shakira making hand sanitizer. My new favorite notification on my phone shows when people throw dance parties in their front yard.  The world is pretty cool. We’re doing some pretty cool things. I’m actively prioritizing my time to be here with all of you. 

I’m a 2nd-year college student from UCSB, so I live in Isla Vista—the most compassionate and united community I’ve ever had the chance to live in.  It astonishes me how other places aren’t like it. There is a standard of respect in the community.  We understand that everyone has their difficulties that life throws at them, meaning there’s no reason for why we can’t help them out.  They need to only ask, and usually they’ll find a helping hand. It’s a pretty cool place to live. 

I hope we continue to care for one another after all of this.  I don’t want the immediate response after COVID-19 to be a reversion to the hateful world that we were.  I want to see lasting change in the function of our societies. I want us to notice each other’s presence and respect them without question. That is what society should look like.  We have to get there. We have to use this to our advantage and plan and promote the societies we want to live in.  The only way through this all is together.  We got this. I love you guys.  – OG

by Mia Foster

As of April 10th, 19 states have extended school closures through the end of the school year, and all 50 states have currently mandated school closures, but not all have been extended through the spring (Nagel). These closures are imperative to efforts to flatten the curve, but the impacts on students’ academic progress and emotional wellbeing must be addressed. As a senior in high school, I have experienced this loss quite acutely. I can only speak to my experience, so I intend to inform you on how the closure affects the typical American coming-of-age experiences, how to support high school seniors around you, and ways to best replicate these quintessential experiences at home. 

chairs-classroom-college-desks-289740

What is Lost

I remember watching High School Musical 3 on repeat as a kid, imagining my own prom dance and graduation. I knew it wouldn’t be exactly as it was portrayed in the movies, but I didn’t care; I just knew that a similar experience was waiting for me. Growing up in America, those experiences are universal and anticipated. I used to try on my mom’s prom dress. I was so little that the heavy, peach-colored fabric drowned me. I put on her too-large heels and she curled my hair. I was a princess. My mom looked at me through the mirror and smiled. I always assumed I would have a dress in my closet that my daughter could try on one day, dreaming of her prom and feeling like a princess. 

Maybe it was presumptuous, but I just assumed I would get ready with my friends, put on my own princess dress, and dance. I assumed I would experience Senior Assassins and the All-Night Grad Party, which are traditions at my school. I assumed I would walk across the stage to receive my diploma as I saw at my brother’s graduation two years prior. And, mainly, I assumed I would live these experiences with my friends at my side. The losses experienced by the senior class are not insignificant. I know that I am not alone in my loss because many others are experiencing extremely debilitating losses during the pandemic, such as the loss of a job or a loved one. However, through some reflection on this tendency of mine, I realized that comparing my loss to others did not help my emotional state or that of others suffering. Seniors, your loss is significant. You have every right to grieve; it wasn’t just a loss of these ceremonies, but also a loss of their symbolic significance in the journey to adulthood in America. It is OK to be upset.

How to Support Graduating Seniors

  • Listen. Even if you don’t understand why this is so upsetting for the high school senior you are talking to, recognize that they did experience a loss and often want an outlet to vent their grief. 
  • Remind them that you are proud of the accomplishments they have made in high school. Often, a graduation ceremony is a way of congratulating and celebrating the hard work of students. Without that, students may feel a lack of closure and genuine accomplishment. Kind words can make a huge difference.
  • Validate their experiences. I personally have felt guilty for feeling this loss, and many of my friends have expressed the same feeling. Giving the person space and permission to feel what they feel can be very liberating.

Coming-of-Age: Quarantine Edition

The events that have been canceled cannot be perfectly replicated, but I believe that we should do our best to have our own ceremonies and celebrations to help fill that hole and provide some closure. My school has scheduled a virtual commencement ceremony, and when my family told me they wanted to make a party out of it (with just our family), I started to cry. They plan to make my favorite foods and spend the evening together. This is a simple, powerful, and attainable way of celebrating graduation. It obviously isn’t the same, but by treating it as a unique event instead of dreading it because of how different it will be, it feels a bit better. Some schools or private organizations are also trying to plan prom dances for summertime, should large gatherings be permitted. Another idea is to make graduation parties prom-themed, assuming that smaller gatherings are permitted before the fall. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I was mainly sad about not getting my own prom dress and the experience of getting ready with my friends. This option fulfills that desire!

Graduation, prom, and other senior-year events are part of the quintessential high school experience in America. While we cannot fix the loss entirely, by respecting the emotions of graduating seniors and doing what we can to replicate these experiences, we can hopefully provide some of the closure and encouragement most of us yearn for. 

accomplishment-ceremony-education-graduation-267885

Works Cited

Nagel, David. “Updated List of Statewide School Closures with Closure Dates.” THE Journal, 10 Apr. 2020, thejournal.com/articles/2020/03/17/list-of-states-shutting-down-all-their-schools-grows-to-36.aspx?m=1.

I have a distaste for the smell of spring. 

I know there was a time when it was different, and I cling to these memories with all my might. Wearing wind pants and blue rubber boots and sloshing about in the puddles that overtook the path behind my childhood home. Marveling at the consistency of mud, how there was truly no color so pure as it. Even in my older years, driving with the windows down just enough to offset the endless winter I was accustomed to, but not so far that a passing car would accidentally splash my interior. 

The springs of my adulthood have been far less magical. In March 2019, shortly before I turned 20, I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life (which seemed to be a record I broke every year). I don’t remember why, and perhaps it’s because I’ve simply chosen to forget. But I’ll never forget how I felt. Every step felt like a marathon. The inside of my head was blurry, I didn’t eat, and I cried nearly every day. Tasks like getting off of my couch for a cup of tea felt insurmountable, so I finally stopped trying. There were, of course, the terrible thoughts and breakdowns that come with all bouts of mental health problems, but I had never felt so physically ill before. 

I got bloodwork done, desperate for an answer. A nurse called me a few days later. By this point, I was completely bedridden and had long since called in sick to work. I answered the phone from my daze, not bothering to sit up. 

“Did you know you have mono,” the nurse asked after the exchange of pleasantries. In spite of myself, I laughed, relieved to have a reason for my misery beyond my usual mental health problems. 

For the remainder of the school year, I practically lived on my couch. I would interval studying for finals and taking naps. I begged my boyfriend to get tested, but he refused. My antagonizing roommate would not even bring me a glass of water on the days I was too dizzy to walk down the stairs. I had never been so miserable in my life. The only things that had managed to bring me some sort of comfort were cracking a window to breathe in the fresh spring air, which once brought me so much solace, and drinking cups of tea to replace most meals. 

beverage-blur-breakfast-cup-370018

One year later, everything is exactly the opposite. 

It was a winter of change; I broke up with my boyfriend and my mood improved immensely. I live with three roommates, all of whom I love, in a beautiful house that we rent. My writing is being published more than ever (frequently), and I am finally being paid. I secured a coveted summer internship. I am excelling in my classes. 

And then I don’t get sick, but the rest of the world does. 

In February, I will admit that I was part of the group of people who wondered if the mass panic around COVID-19 was being blown out of proportion. At this time, Canadian cases were sparse. I wasn’t vocal about my bewilderment, but I did silently resent that I couldn’t use my to-go cups at coffee shops and that my upcoming work event might be canceled. 

Within weeks, I didn’t have a job. I canceled my upcoming trip to Europe that I had spent months saving for. My parents weren’t allowed to leave Saskatchewan to come see me in Alberta. I wasn’t allowed to go five blocks over to see my baby cousin. 

I now know that the mass panic was not blown out of proportion. I wash my hands whenever I touch something new. I bleach every surface of our house relentlessly and only leave for the essentials. I am one of the millions of Canadians who have applied for Employment Insurance (EI). I am trying to make the best of it, but the world remains so uncertain. This is not how I imagined my twenties. 

I know I am fortunate in many ways, but in times of loneliness, I can’t help but mourn not what I lost, but what was just within reach. And as a snowy Alberta winter melts away, I am once more trapped inside my house, with only the smell of tea and a hesitant spring to tether me to reality.

Seemingly overnight, the American academic system shifted for the worse due to COVID. Classes moved to fully remote instruction and students were forced to use their resources in order to succeed. Not everybody has the necessary resources, though. My laptop doesn’t work anymore and my best friend doesn’t have a laptop. It seems like this is the best route to go but this situation seems to favor students who have resources. I’m definitely fortunate in that I’m able to afford another laptop because of my financial aid check, but not everybody is so lucky, and resources are dwindling.

Online classes are certainly not optimal for most students. The likelihood that you have a concern with the material and can’t get in contact with a professor is high. I was waitlisted for a class and never heard from the professor, only to learn that the school wasn’t in contact with her about the waitlist. For students with learning disabilities, like another friend of mine, it can be even harder to succeed in an online setting. I wish there was a way to make online more accessible, but there’s unfortunately not, and students are suffering from this pandemic.

Financial aid and rent are also something I think about. I’m trying to sublease my apartment until June, but with the pandemic, people unfortunately aren’t interested in moving. I feel bad for the people that absolutely cannot afford rent due to being laid off from jobs or other personal circumstances, but it’s hard to get out of rent without breaching some sort of legality issues. I’d rather not pay rent for a place I’m not staying in, so I might just go back to Isla Vista for a month and a half. I really love my apartment and my roommate (it’s my stepsister!) but I also like the lowkey life I have in my hometown. Financial aid is important because students are paying to essentially teach themselves class material and still have money put towards on-campus resources (at UCSB, this includes the Rec Center and the library) that aren’t being used because they’ve closed down until further notice. A student at my school started a petition calling on the administration to reconsider charging students these on-campus fees, but no progress has been made. However, the petition has a lot of traction so I’m confident that the administration will rethink their charging habits. 

You might be wondering, how does this affect my academics? Well, it’s mostly about the uncertainty of the situation. I don’t know when I’m going back to Isla Vista and that makes me nervous. My new laptop is on the way, and I need to be able to use that in order to access my classes since propping my iPad up on my laptop in order to see the screen just isn’t cutting it LOL. The issue is, I don’t know when it’s coming.  It makes me nervous that I might have to go back and not have the new laptop I’ve been looking forward to buying since I was 20. In addition, it can sometimes be hard to focus because my dad often calls me when I’m in class and gets angry when I don’t respond. My brother plays loud music, and my mom is definitely a lot more polite about it but sometimes she doesn’t understand the concept of my education as well. It’s hard to make people realize that this is not a vacation for college students, and some people maybe never will.

Finally, because I didn’t want to take classes after I walked, I realized this quarter that I had to take 20 units in order to be ready for graduation.  I was afraid I’d lose that motivation. However, with graduation being postponed, it came to me that I didn’t have to take 20 units this quarter.  Rather, I’m now essentially stuck with these classes. I guess it’s my fault for failing a class last quarter, but I learned my lesson. With online courses, stress seems to increase and teachers don’t account for the change in instruction. They’re doing their best but some just don’t really care and it makes me sad.

Overall, I’m really not trying to blame anyone. This is a national pandemic that nobody could have prevented. It’s just unfortunate that so many students are suffering. I just wish there was a better way. 

By Mia Foster

     Teenagers are often characterized as apathetic and self-interested, and this generalization has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. TikTok videos of teens licking toilets or making racist jokes about the virus took the internet by storm, as well as infuriating reports of irresponsible teens treating school closures as an opportunity to spend time with friends despite social distancing and stay-at-home orders. These events spark anger, as they should, but the overwhelming response to the selfish actions of a minority of teenagers overshadows the selfless dedication of many teens to be a part of the solution to the pandemic. 

  A prime example of selfless acts by teenage activists is Washington Youth for Masks, a fundraiser founded by four young women attending Issaquah High School. This nonprofit, grassroots initiative began in Issaquah, a suburb outside of Seattle that has been hit particularly hard by the virus. The founders, Angelina Chin, Claire Kang, Faith Lee, and Isha Rudramurthy, saw the initial impacts of COVID-19 through their extended family in China, Korea, and India and felt personally compelled to take immediate action. The mission of the initiative they created is to raise $25,000 to order 50,000 masks for 4 hospitals in Washington State, all while promoting youth advocacy and involvement in the fight against COVID-19. In a time of heightened anxiety and distrust, Washington Youth for Masks is an agent of unification for passionate teens as well as a reminder of the undying determination of the next generation to take action to make the changes they desire to see.

What is Washington Youth for Masks?

Washington Youth for Masks is a nonprofit started by and run by teens who are working diligently to provide masks for healthcare workers faced with an alarming shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). A MultiCare hospital nurse in Tacoma “said an ICU nurse will often go through 36 masks in a 12-hour shift and is now being asked to use a single one through the same span of time” (Crowe). Without the essential PPE to follow typical sanitation procedures, healthcare workers on the front lines are at a direct risk of contracting COVID-19. This creates both technical and ethical problems. If healthcare workers get sick, there would be no one to care for them or the other patients. Most importantly, healthcare providers are sacrificing their time and safety. The least we can do to thank them is provide them with protection. 

Masks being distributed

     On April 1st, Governor Inslee announced that “we rather urgently need to increase the stocks of personal protective equipment” (KING 5 Staff). This is the exact goal of Washington Youth for Masks. Donations are used to purchase FDA-approved masks through the Well Klein factory in China. As explained by the founders of WA Youth for masks, “international business export of masks is very difficult and unsteady, but China does allow shipping via FedEx or DHL in small packages to any US residential address for personal or small donation usage,” which is why independent organizations are necessary to procure PPE. Additionally, this initiative allows for the timely delivery of PPE, avoiding the often excruciating wait for a government response when there is no time to waste. The first shipment of 10,000 masks was sent out on April 1st, and will be delivered to Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, EvergreenHealth Medical Center, and Swedish Hospital in Issaquah. This organization was founded on March 28th, 2020, and by midday April 1st, it raised around $8,600 and had over 170 members from across Washington, with no sign of it slowing down. 

Accountability

Donating any sum of money to a nonprofit means putting your trust in the good will and organization of its members. When I first found the GoFundMe for WA Youth for Masks, like all others interested in donating, I wanted to ensure that the money I gave would go to use. The founders, also known as board members, anticipated this desire for information and have included proof of FDA certification, receipts from orders, and pictures of the delivered masks on the GoFundMe, Facebook, Instagram, and website as a way for those who donate to ensure their money is put to use. The connection with factories in China was secured by Board Member Angelina Chin, who had connections with them previously through the Issaquah Highlands Chinese Heritage Club. After becoming a team member, I have become even more sure of the dedication and genuine intentions of the teens in the project. They are working around the clock to cover all bases, from the technicalities of ordering masks to the recruitment of new members to email updates to members with essential information. I received one of my first informational emails at 1:30 am, which is a small testament to the tireless board members who are putting all of their time and energy into this initiative. 

FDA Certification for MG Surgical Masks

Q&A With Founder/Board Member Angelina Chin

Mia: How was the concept for this initiative conceived? 

Angelina: Ever since school closed, I’ve been working alongside my mom and the Issaquah Highlands Chinese Heritage Club (which I have been part of since I was like 9 because my mom founded it) to secure and deliver masks from China. The club coordinated the donation of 1000 surgical masks, 1080 N95 masks, 50 coveralls & 200 goggles to Swedish Hospital’s Issaquah campus on March 19. The majority of this was coordinated by adults in the community, but it inspired me to get a group of young people together to show that the youth can make a difference too. I’ve also been privileged enough to sit around in my room binge-watching Netflix shows and scrolling through TikTok the entire day while our front line healthcare workers were struggling and were in desperate need of PPE. So instead of lounging around and doing nothing, I wanted to use my loads of free time to give back to those people in any way I could (very cheesy but true), and I knew many other people wanted to as well. 

Mia: What sets WA Youth for Masks apart from other nonprofits?

Angelina: While I’ve seen many nonprofit organizations and fundraisers raise money to supply masks, I’ve never seen a completely youth-led effort in Washington. With the power of social media among other things, it’s surprising to see the impact our generation can have if we all work together and commit to a cause. And so far it’s working! In just 4 days, we’ve expanded to over 140 representatives from all over Washington and we expect to see a lot more people joining the effort. Each member is sharing the campaign with their family and friends, making the number of donations grow day by day. 

Mia: Why is it necessary for individual citizens to fund and procure masks instead of relying on local and federal governments?

Angelina: Due to supply chain limitations and the global scale of the virus, Washington hospitals are currently experiencing extreme shortages and very slow processing times for equipment sourcing. Also, according to many news sources,  many hospital workers have gotten in trouble for speaking out about the shortage of PPE. It is up to public initiative now – our campaign can get masks to hospital workers faster than local and federal governments can.

Mia: And lastly, why is this project important to you?

Angelina: I’m extremely passionate about giving back to the community and have great respect and admiration for health professionals who are sacrificing their well-being to help others. With my extended family living in China, I have a deep understanding of the concerns and fears that our community is going through right now – and the frustration surrounding the lack of PPE for health care workers. I am fortunate enough to have connections with large medical supply manufacturing companies and instead of doing nothing about it, I want to use the resources I have to help with whatever is needed. We are all in this together (again cheesy but true).

Conclusion

Washington Youth for Masks is a one-of-a-kind initiative that is spreading awareness to other teens, uniting them under a common purpose, and empowering the next generation to take action in the face of uncertainty. It is a direct means of supplying hospitals with the masks it desperately needs. Most importantly, it is a community created by the commonality of those who care deeply about this situation and want to be able to do something about it.

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved:

  1. Make a donation to this GoFundMe directly. $5=10 masks!
  1. Become a team member/representative! This is only open to youth, as this is a youth-run operation. Responsibilities include fundraising, recruiting 1 new team member, and applying your passion and creativity to forming your own type of fundraiser or marketing format as you see fit. To become a team member, fill out this form.
  2. Whether or not you are able to be a representative/team member, we would still love your help spreading the word. Share the project with family, friends, and colleagues. Each donation has a major impact!
  3. Utilize your talents to fundraise. Some team members have been making and selling friendship bracelets. My project was this article!
  4. Educate for a cause. We have partnered with TeamUnited, an organization that offers tutoring services. They have requested donations to Washington Youth for Masks in exchange for tutoring sessions. Offer your time as a tutor or utilize their services for tutoring to support Washington Youth for Masks while promoting educational continuity during school closures. Facebook and email address below!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/T.E.A.M.Uniteds/ 

Email: teamunitedihs@gmail.com 

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/washington-youth-for-masks-covid19-support-fund 

Website: https://wayouthformasks.wixsite.com/website 

Facebook page

Instagram: @wayouthformasks

By Sumner Lewis

Every summer I’ve experienced has a soundtrack that goes with it. Whether it’s Dog Days Are Over during the summer of 2011 or Golden Boy during Summer 2017, there has always been a summer theme song. Pop radio also participates in the “song of the summer” phenomenon, anxiously waiting to see which song will go viral with the masses. 

Even though most of us in Summer 2020 aren’t doing what we originally planned, the summer still deserves an awesome soundtrack. I’ve discovered a new sound in my Spotify mixes during my time spent alone at home and, may I say, they’re all bops. Here are my picks:

Album:

~how i’m feeling~ by Lauv

Lauv’s sophomore album is the equivalent of a deep breath for your ears. The entire album is easy to listen to, fun, and hits those seldom discussed emotions everyone feels. He teams up with multiple artists for duets including Alessia Cara on Canada and Anne-Marie on fuck, i’m lonely

Two standout songs off the album are Modern Loneliness and Billy. Billy is a buoyant song where the protagonist leaves behind a past where he was bullied, taking that negative energy to fuel him to strive for better things in life. The beat behind it is infectious, and paired with the dual level of synths underneath, it makes for a song that is often stuck in one’s head.

Modern Loneliness is the final song on the album and serves as a thesis statement for the intersection of Lauv’s internal feelings and how the current generation interacts with each other. The song begins morosely, just Lauv and a piano reflecting on how he’s become the person he is. It gets an uplifting injection of guitar after the first chorus, opening up into an enveloping sound by the second. He, and the gang vocals behind him, very aptly state that the current generation is “never alone, but always depressed.” The song is comforting, reflective, and saddening for the listener and the artist alike.

Artist:

Quinn XCII

Quinn XCII has been a mainstay of my summer listening. His orchestrations are diverse: in a single song, he has soaring strings incorporated with a pan flute as the main percussive beat and even adds accents from a harp. The acoustic instruments blend seamlessly into the otherwise electronic landscape of Flare Guns

If musical experimentation isn’t your cup of tea, try Stacy, the lead single off his newest album A Letter To My Younger Self. The gentle keys draw you in for a peaceful yet intriguing listening experience. Notice the multiple guitar effects to create layers under the poppy drums and back vocals. The sound is enveloping and fun, as with the rest of Quinn XCII’s music. 

His music is beautiful. Above and below the surface, there is so much depth to his songs. One can listen actively or passively and still gain value because of how well constructed his songs are, but I suggest truly listening in to the extra touches that are meticulously placed throughout every song.

Song:

Level of Concern by Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots is pretty well-known across the radio waves. I haven’t been the largest fan of their music post-Blurryface, but Level of Concern is a certified quarantine bop. 

The song is written during and for the experience of quarantine. The overall story of the lyrics don’t seem cohesive, but separate bits make sense. Musically, each part of the song effortlessly melts into the next. The electric guitars set a static chord progression throughout except for the bridge. The piano leading the bridge into the final chorus is the aural version of twinkling stars. Listen for similar piano notes during the second chorus to tie the song together.

Playlist:

Playlist Radio

This playlist is Spotify specific because it’s automatically generated by them. It has the perfect spread of good summer vibes from Bryce Vine to AJR, The Band CAMINO, and PEABOD. 

The lead song the playlist is based off of, Playlist by Kid Quill, is a jubilant nod to the club music of the early 2000’s. If you need a theme song for your socially distant beach trip, this is the song you should be blasting. The three chord repetition in the keys keeps a peppy thread throughout the song, leading into the outro which samples OutKast’s So Fresh, So Clean and Nelly’s Ride Wit Me among others.

Other notable songs on the playlist include 100 Bad Days by AJR and La La Land by Bryce Vine. The throbbing bass uniquely creates almost a ‘negative soundscape’ during the verse of La La Land under the light guitars which is contrasted by the full sound of the chorus. The song is done with tact, ensuring the chorus does not accost the listener, then returning to the bass line of the verse in anticipation of the bridge.

If you’re wondering why a pop/rock band such as AJR belongs on a playlist with easy summer hip hop jams, look no further than the first fifteen seconds of 100 Bad Days. The synths throughout the song seamlessly integrate it with the rest of the playlist. The horns and the bass in the swell of the chorus remind the listener of the previous song on the playlist, La La Land, proving that good vibes are not confined to a single genre.

The playlist rounds itself out with the complex sound of Jon Bellion. Stupid Deep acts as an equalizer that calms the listener from some of the more sprightly songs, while still maintaining the simple, positive energy that this playlist invokes. 

Most of these songs aren’t within a genre I would normally listen to. My music taste mainly focuses around alternative rock, musicals, and male British singer/songwriters. However, I love all these new music finds, and I’ve discovered that they aren’t too far away from music I already listen to. It juxtaposes Summer 2020: even though I’m not doing what I originally planned, I’ve still found happiness in the different and unusual. With this new music, let’s all find the silver lining in our lives and listen to some good vibes.

By Catherine Duffy

Sending a quick “on my way” text, checking a notification or changing the song on our phones while driving is something most of us can unfortunately admit to having done in the past. But what kind of risks do these behaviors evoke? Between having lost people in my life due to collisions and having experienced a rear-end collision myself just two weeks ago, I vowed long ago to never use my phone while driving. But how can we convince other drivers, notably those in the younger demographic, to leave their devices aside while driving? Does it really take a tragedy to show phone users just how distracting these behaviors can be? If we put our phone away while commuting, the National Safety Council might have 1.6 million less crashes to report annually.

Back in July, my friend and I were hit from behind at full speed. Strangely enough, the crash occurred in broad daylight, on a straight road as we stopped for a pedestrian. It was clear to us the driver of the other vehicle must have been distracted in some way. Though using one’s phone remains the most common distraction, behaviors such as eating and self-grooming can be just as dangerous. In Saskatchewan in Canada, where I live, using your phone while driving or driving without “due care” poses a $580 ticket and four demerits on one’s license. Should this person reoffend, their second charge will be $1400 and their car will be impounded for a week (SGI).

So with such serious charges, why does the use of phones while driving remain such a big issue? I decided to do some research into the matter and used the Canadian Automobile Association’s website as my main source.

CAA shared in 2018 that phone use while driving remains one of the biggest threats to the safety of Canadians. This point is further justified by the National Collision Database’s statistics that share that 310 deaths and 32.213 injuries occur every year in Canada simply because of the use of phones while driving. As my high school driving instructor once said, all of these could be avoided and lives would be saved if everyone committed to putting their phones away while on the road. Many of you reading this might already know how dangerous this can be. CBC news reported in 2014 that though 95 % of drivers surveyed know and have been taught the dangers of using your phone on the road, 73 % of people still admit to having done it. So why can’t people resist the urge of sending a quick text?

CAA reports that phone addiction may be to blame. 93 % of phone users continue their use on the road to “stay connected” while another 28% have anxiety and worry about “missing out” should they put their phone away on their journey between point A and point B. 25 % are so confident in their driving that they don’t believe the use of phones will affect their driving skills. Another 14 % are anxious to keep their friends waiting on an answer and 6 % of phone users simply blame their addiction to texting.

Though I am sure that a great portion of the younger population are guilty of phone use, older adults have their fair share of distractions on the road as well. The CAA shares that GPS is the most distracting task while driving and even devices deemed “safer” such as hands-free systems are still involved in 26 % of all vehicle crashes. 

So next time you wish to answer a friend’s text, or share a quick photo of your drive home, remember you’re raising your risks of a crash by 23 times. Though it’s been said in millions of anti-phone use campaigns, I’ll be cliché and say it one more time: is sending a text really worth your life?

Works Cited:

CAA National. (n.d.). Distracted Driving. Retrieved July 30th, 2020, from https://www.caa.ca/distracted-driving/statistics/

SGI. (n.d.). Distracted driving penalties. Retrieved July 25, 2020, from https://www.sgi.sk.ca/distracted-driving-penalties

Images source: Pexels

An Athlete’s Guide to Self-Sufficiency and Mental Resilience

With Angelo Rossetti

by Abigail Roth and Angelo Rossetti

Lockdown has undoubtedly been a difficult time for everyone, especially those who have been prohibited from doing what they love. Athletes, specifically, and those who enjoy sports just for fun, have been unable to join together with their teammates and friends, and have had to put their athletic development and goals on hold. Now, as athletic centers begin to open and gatherings are increasingly permitted across the U.S., sports lovers will be able to get back out there and work on their skills. It is during this time of reopening that I was able to speak with the greatest influence in my athletic endeavors, tennis instructor and author extraordinaire, Angelo Rossetti. An inspirational man on and off the court, Angelo has been developing a teaching method that helps athletes get in the best mental shape to perform on the court, field, or track. He has named it The 3-2-1 Method, and it encourages an athlete to self-coach as they work on different tasks, promoting mental and emotional resiliency. I asked him about his new book, Tennacity: The Tenacious Mindset On & Off the Court, and how his methods can be applicable to people like you and me who are looking to get back out and play. 

Q: Hi there, Angelo. Tell me a bit about yourself. 

A: I was certified over 25 years ago as a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Elite as well as a Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) High Performance & Mental Skills certified teaching professional. I am a 2X Guinness World Records™ titleholder of two different tennis titles; the Longest Tennis Rally (25,944 strokes lasting 14 hours and 31 minutes) and the Longest Tennis Volley Rally (30,576 volleys lasting 5 hours and 28 minutes), both of which acted as fundraisers for charity. I studied to be a Dale Carnegie instructor, as I wanted to learn and teach the best ways to learn! I was elected in 2017 as one of the youngest Presidents of USTA Connecticut (2018-2020). I was a Division 1 player at the University of Connecticut, where I earned a B.S. degree in Sports Science with a concentration in Sports Marketing. I have been awarded multiple prestigious awards by the USTA; the one I am most proud of is the 2005 USTA Sportsmanship Award. In 2007, my identical twin brother, Ettore, and I were ranked #1 in New England Men’s Open Doubles and I was top 10 in singles. One of my other proud accomplishments was earning the National 2016 USPTA Lessons for Life Award by helping raise over $112,000 for the nonprofit organization Save the Children. I’ve coached women’s teams and captained and played on 5.0 and Open USTA men’s teams. I have a passion for speaking, having done so five times at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI, as well as at the Connecticut Invention Convention at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion. I am philanthropic-minded and still raise money for causes I care about, most recently helping to generate close to 3,000 petition signatures and going on a media tour to help save UConn tennis. I have coached not only tennis but basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. I live in Hamden with my wife and two children, a daughter, Madison (Maddie) and son, Andrew (Andy). I have a passion for caring for and inspiring people at every age, on and off the court. I believe strongly in the 4 Gs: Get a Dream, Goal Set, Goal Get, and Give Back, which leads to success in tennis and in life. I love sharing ideas via the written word.

Q: What is the 3-2-1 Method and how did you come up with it? How has it been helpful to you as a coach during lessons? 

A: The 3-2-1 method is a way to learn quicker, more effectively, from the inside out rather than the outside in. It allows the student to be more aware of what’s happening so that they can coach themselves in matches. It was originally inspired by Tim Gallwey, author of the Inner Game of Tennis, and then crystallized while getting to know and hit with Sean Brawley, who was mentored by Tim. I have read the Inner Game of Tennis several times as the mental aspect was the strongest part of my game according to my coach and teammates when I played at UConn. I  was interested in learning and teaching others to be mentally strong and resilient, especially under pressure. Mental strength and emotional resilience is something extremely important now with the “new normal” of dealing with COVID-19.

The key to coaching or teaching athletes is having them learn to “control the controllables;” which leads to stronger skill acquisition and retention. What’s important is not doing everything right but focusing on the right things. But what are the right things? If someone isn’t aware of something, then it doesn’t exist in their mind’s eye. Just like a magician uses misdirection to set the audience up for their trick, we as tennis coaches must have our players avoid the pitfalls of focusing on the wrong things, that is, technique or the result. 

As an example, let’s discuss the point of contact (P.O.C.), or the placement of the tennis ball on the strings of the racquet. When you hit the ball on the sweet spot call out “3.” When you hit the ball just off the center of the sweet spot call out “2.” When you hit the ball on any part of the frame then call out “1”. I make players promise that they won’t use the result (whether the ball was hit in the net or out) as a bias for their number. A solid 3 hit into the bottom of the net is still a 3. The two goals are the accuracy of awareness and improvement of the number of point-of-contact hits. If you hit the frame and call out “3,” then something needs to be adjusted and if you hit the sweet spot and call out “1,” something was awry as well. Over time you want to get more 3s and 2s, and less 2s and 1s. Every hit should have a number called out to ensure that the player is focused on every shot. Have them call it out as soon as they know. This is helpful because the sooner you know the quality of your shot in competition, the earlier your anticipation, which helps with improved preparation for your next shot. Try not to have the players call it out too early; that is, guess. Also, try not to have them call it out too late; that is, delayed awareness or reaction. 

You are removing opinion and replacing it with fact and perception. A “1” shot isn’t bad; it just is a “1” or it just is, what it is. Keep in mind that you are not correcting if the number is incorrect. This is not about “fixing” anything; nothing is broken. It is about a sense of being, mindfulness, fine-tuning, refining and honing your awareness. Not correcting, refining. Not fixing, fine-tuning. Remove “good,” “bad,” “wrong,” or “right.” It just is what it is.

Next, ask these crucial questions:

1. Was it easy or difficult to call out the number?

2. Did you remember to always call out the number?

3. How were you able to call out the number? (visual, auditory,

or kinesthetic awareness)

4. Were the numbers increasing over time? If they did, they improved.

The beautiful thing about this method is that you can apply 3-2-1 to any shot, strategy, or circumstance. Your game, whatever it may be, will improve once you refine your awareness. In addition, you aren’t focusing on the many things that would be negative distractions; who is watching you, what the score is, how poorly your doubles partner is playing, if your opponent is being coached, bad line calls, etc. In other words, if you focus on 3-2-1, you can’t focus on the negative things that would deteriorate your game. This gradually removes counter-productive emotions and replaces them with logical thinking and fact.

Q: Tell me a bit about tennacity.org and your book! How and when did you decide to focus on these projects? 

A: Over ten years ago I told my brother Ettore that I wanted to write a book. He said,  “Well if you set a world record first, then you can write your book.” We set the U.S. record for the longest tennis rally in 2007 but it wasn’t until August of 2008 when we set our second record did I know that a book was inevitable. It took me a while to make the commitment to it but once I did it took me about four years to finish my book, Tennacity: The Tenacious Mindset On & Off the Court, which is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. I would like to give thanks, also, to USA Olympic Gold Medalist Laura Wilkinson, whose course, “The Confident Competitor” helped me get over the last hurdle toward publishing the book. I also purposely started a blog, www.tennacity.org, to force myself to regularly put my thoughts, insights, and inspirations into writing. I wrote about one new article per month, which typically represented a new chapter in the book. I will be launching an online course named after the book that will stem from the blog, so definitely check it out!

Q: In these strange coronavirus times, how can athletes stay mentally sharp and strong even when they may not be able to get out and play/practice? 

A: Athletes can journal every day to be aware of what they are thinking. Monitoring positive self-talk and rephrasing negative, counter-productive thoughts to positive ones is key to strengthening any athlete’s mental game. I actually created the “10 Coronavirus Controllables” (below) to help athletes with being both positive and productive during these challenging times. I believe that people should focus on improving themselves and comparing themselves with only themselves. You won’t have time to worry about others, but rather, you’ll stay focused on being the best that you can be on the field or court and off.

The 10 Coronavirus Controllables

#1. BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Ask yourself when you start to feel anxious or worried “Is there something that I can do RIGHT NOW to remedy this?” If not, then it’s an uncontrollable. It is what it is, shift your focus to your controllables.

#2. CONTROL YOUR CONTROLLABLES

Once you know what your controllables are, control them. You can control your attitude, effort, grit, resilience, joy, and being present. Be aware of the world around you but don’t control others. Focus on controlling what you can – YOU.

#3. PROCRASTINATE YOUR WORRY

Use natural procrastination to your advantage. Put off your worry of your uncontrollables to a future date … and maybe that date will never come.

#4. BE PRODUCTIVE

If you can structure your day you’ll be in a better mindset. Small successes and accomplishments will lead to positive energy and emotions. Create daily routines and stick to a daily schedule, even though it may be drastically different than what it was in the past.

#5. PRACTICE GRATITUDE & FORGIVENESS

It’s scientifically proven that expressing gratitude puts you in a better mindset. Come up with at least one specific thing that you are grateful for and write it down or act on it like sending a thank you note, checking up on someone, or just being thoughtful. Life is too short to hold grudges or worry about what people think of you. Forgive others for something that may be festering. It will not only make them feel better but it will make you feel better.

#6. BE EMPATHETIC

Ask others how you can help them. This is a great way to hone your listening skills. Be PRESENT for others and for yourself. The best way to help yourself is to help others. We are all in this together. Together we make each other better.

#7. READ MORE

This is the ideal time to finish the book you’re on or pick up a new book to dive into. Time block at least 10 minutes per day for reading or listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

#8. MAKE JOURNALING A HABIT

Having a daily journal can help with jotting down ideas, inspirational quotes, reflections, how you can reinvent yourself and how to become a better and stronger you. Even if it’s using it as a way to meditate, reflect, or express gratitude, journaling is a positive habit to continue to develop.

#9. REFOCUS

You can be aware of what’s going on with COVID-19 but don’t focus on it (unless you are a doctor or healthcare professional). Focus on your purpose and what’s really important to you now more than ever, even if you have to reinvent yourself. Become the best YOU that you can be.

#10. FIND YOUR JOY – LIVE ON PURPOSE WITH PURPOSE

Stay focused on what’s unique about you. Double-down on your purpose and inspire others in the process. Reflect on how your purpose in life helps others. Be present to allow yourself to enjoy every moment, no matter how difficult.

10 CORONAVIRUS CONTROLLABLES

© 2020 Angelo A. Rossetti, http://www.tennacity.org. For additional helpful information see Control My

Controllables During Competition on page 129 of the book TENNACITY: The Tenacious Mindset

Q: How can athletes become involved with you and your coaching methods? How can they stay in touch/be updated, etc.? 

A: The best way is to visit www.tennacity.org or find me on social media. Web: www.Tennacity.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Please feel free to email angelo@tennacity.org with suggestions, feedback, or your own inspirational stories. I welcome your goals, success stories, inspirational quotes, or challenges.

By Sumner Lewis

Dating is, in the simplest term, weird. It’s exhausting, exhilarating, confusing, and so much more. I’m a freshly 21-year-old woman and I am filled with questions; it’s overwhelming.

Why does the world focus on the ideal romance instead of a solid partnership? The everyday love and respect that makes up a good partnership doesn’t sell books or movies. Therefore, all we are fed through the media is the thrill of a new relationship: the honeymoon period. 

It’s the all-encompassing bliss that lasts anywhere between 6 months and a year at the beginning of a relationship. Once it wears away, the real life of the relationship begins and people typically either fall into a routine or fight and part ways.

Romance stories still have an audience (myself included) even if they do not fully reflect reality. They keep us on the edge of our seats, comfort us, and give us something to aspire to. Those of us who haven’t experienced running into the love of our lives at a coffee shop eat it up. 

Why do people believe that the right person “fixes” someone? People don’t fix other people; people fix themselves. Maybe someone comes along who helps them or inadvertently teaches them a lesson, but it’s the person in question doing the work to better themselves. 

A good partner can inspire someone to be the best person they can be. They can question comfort zones or destructive behavior. But it is up to the person to change themselves, and only if they want to. It also isn’t only romantic partners who can inspire change. It could be a friend, boss, therapist, parent, or anyone. Romantic partners don’t have the monopoly on inspiring self-improvement.

What is up with the sentiment that people become “whole” when they are with the right person? Comedian Daniel Sloss has an incredible monologue during his Jigsaw stand-up special that has broken up multiple couples. It makes the viewer assess their relationships and where they want to be in life. He uses an analogy where the core of one’s being is a jigsaw puzzle. 

No one has the image of what the puzzle is supposed to look like, so we start out with the edges: simple things that make up who we are such as family, friends, hobbies, etc. Once the edges are in place, most people think that the missing middle piece is a partner. They’ll be complete once they get that perfect person.

People believe this so much that they try to jam just anyone into that middle spot when their piece is the wrong shape. When it doesn’t fit, one has to acquiesce and change some part of their edge pieces, the foundation of who they are as a person, in order to fit that ‘perfect’ partner into their lives and finally be whole.

I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that a partner will be the center of my jigsaw puzzle. My future spouse won’t define who I am as a person, nor will they ‘complete’ me. I am already whole.

What’s the goal of dating? Society dictates that dating leads to a relationship, which leads to marriage. Using the transitive property, the goal of dating must be to find someone to marry.

Choosing who you are going to legally tie yourself to is a huge life decision. It’s not just about love; you have to think about who would be a good parent to your possible future children, who you can stand to cohabitate with. Are they good with finances? That question answers whether or not you’ll get a joint account together. If you do get a joint account, do they have student debt that you’ll now be paying off too?

The first couple of dates can test compatibility through similar likes, dislikes, and how easily you settle on an activity or restaurant. After that, time together should obviously be enjoyable, but it should also be spent exploring shared values and how you could feasibly live life together.

What about casual dates and official relationships? I don’t see the point of dating someone I won’t marry, but I also want diverse dating experiences so I can form my own first-hand opinions of relationships. Also, going on dates is super fun. You get to know new people, share experiences, and learn about what you do and don’t want in a future partner.

I enjoy the casual date and getting to know a person. I just don’t think I want to be in an official relationship until I’m sure that I’m vetting them for marriage. 

Entering an official relationship is a big decision to make. You have to want a life with the person you’re entering it with, not just to have them in your life. You have to want to do the work with them, to be a team against the problems in the world. It’s significant to be committed to someone even if there isn’t a legal document binding you together. No matter your age, having a significant other should be treated with gravity.

Why am I asking these questions? I have unpopular opinions about how we view dating as a society. I prefer to be a realist about it: whoever you marry will set the course for the rest of your life, and who you date will wind up being who you marry. 

Date smart. Figure out what you do and don’t want in a relationship and then only date those who fit the bill. In my case, it’s important to me that my spouse is also Jewish, so I only seriously date Jewish guys. Remember that your values and who you are as a person should not be compromised for anyone. A spouse should complement you (and compliment you, because we all love some good positive reinforcement).

It does seem daunting to be looking for a spouse in your early twenties. But if you analyze your dating life early, there might be less heartbreak involved in the future. I hope you find what you’re looking for out there in the dating world. I know someday I will.

By Fiona Rose Beyerle

Perhaps the best PBS Kids show on air in the early 2000’s was Arthur.  Who could not love the fun characters, cute storylines and life lessons taught on Arthur?  Although each character had their own unique personality, they all showed us what true friendship was, while going to the Sugar Bowl after school or hanging out in the treehouse.  Even though they do not age in the show, it is fun to imagine what Arthur characters would pursue in college.  After all, if this bunch survived being in Mr. Ratburn’s class, they would definitely survive university. 

Arthur: Sociology

As the protagonist, we saw a lot of Arthur’s inner thoughts about everything going on in Elwood city.  Almost all of the show’s intros are him introducing the big question of the episode and analyzing interactions among the characters.  On top of his sociology degree, Arthur would likely keep up his piano skills by minoring in Music. 

Buster: Video Game Design

Buster was the quirky friend who would definitely be the guy at college parties trying to convince you of his alien spotting stories.  Besides that however, Buster was a huge video game fan.  Combined with his knowledge of video games and fun personality, Buster would study video game design to create all the wackiest video games to be on the market. 

Muffy: Business

We all know how much Muffy loves money.  During college, Muffy would study business in preparation to take over her dad’s business: Crosswire Motors.  Muffy would also be that person who gets an iced coffee every single day on the way to class.

Francine: Sports Medicine

Francine was always putting the other characters in their place in any sporting event.  While studying sports medicine, Francine would also play on the university soccer team and be a well-known athlete on campus. 

The Brain: Physics

Although The Brain would be incredible at almost any STEM major, physics takes the cake.  The Brain was always doing science experiments, solving math problems and reading about science.  As a physics major, he would do undergraduate research and publish a ton of scientific papers, on top of being president of the physics club.  The Brain is also definitely the person who would ruin the curve for the rest of the class.

Fern: English (concentration in Poetry)

Fern was quiet, but you always knew when she said something, it would be important.  It would be difficult to picture Fern as anything besides an English major, with an emphasis in poetry.  Some may remember the episode when Fern wrote poems which Muffy essentially forced her to sell as “Fernlets.”  Fern did not care about selling her poetry, it came from the heart and was a way to express herself authentically.  As an English major, Fern would also get a chance to study some of her favorite authors like Agatha Christie and Mary Shelley. 

Sue Ellen: International Relations

Sue Ellen was a world traveler and not afraid to take the road less traveled.  She always stood up for what she believed in and did not care about what others thought.  As a lover of traveling, Sue Ellen would choose a degree in International Relations, after a long gap year traveling and volunteering at animal shelters of course.  With her degree in International Relations, she would be ready to fight for human rights, the environment and many other key issues the world faces.

George: Psychology

George may not have been in every episode, but he is definitely one of the most memorable characters on the show, especially due to added entertainment by his ventriloquist dummy, Wally.  George was extremely thoughtful and was always there to help his friends.  As a psychology major, George would be taking the first step to becoming a licensed therapist and helping others.   

Thank you to PBS Kids and Marc Brown for creating such a fun show to watch growing up and for teaching us that having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card (if you know, you know). 

by Eleanor Kelman

I recently listened to a talk by Dr. Michael J. Breus, also known as “the Sleep Doctor,” in which he discussed the science of sleep. He was one of the featured speakers on an externship I (and thousands of other people trapped in limbo between school and not being able to find work) have been participating in, and his talk really resonated with me in a way few talks do. Typically, when I listen to a presentation I’m constantly fidgeting and attempting to keep myself from multitasking–well, distracting myself by scrolling through my Instagram feed or perusing Reddit forums. Listening to Dr. Breus speak was different. I was fully, wholeheartedly engaged in what he was telling me to do to improve my sleep schedule, and not once did I think about turning on my phone. I was so surprised at my own sustained focus that I attempted to figure out why I was able to pay attention for the full hour.

Maybe it was just his manner of speaking, but that’s never really been much of a factor for me. Other than once falling asleep while a beautiful voice slowly lulled me into dreamland while discussing the rather un-dreamlike topic of physics, I’ve never noticed the tone of voice in talks. Perhaps he was just a wonderful orator in general? Well, yes, but even the most passionate of speakers can still make me lose focus (of absolutely no fault of their own, mind you!). No, I finally came to the conclusion that what he was talking about was simply so fascinating and pertinent to me.

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[My newest idol… who also looks quite a bit like one of my favorite college professors?]

Sleep has been a point of contention for me for a long time. I sustained myself on a solid 4-5 hours during weekdays in high school, which led to a lot of dozing off in class and some lunch hours devoted to a quick power nap. In college, my quality of sleep improved ever-so-slightly but still negligibly. A roommate freshman year took to letting her alarm sound for two hours straight every morning, which always gave me a very rude awakening with zero reprieve. I never established a true sleep routine, even during my sophomore year while living with my boyfriend at the time who turned off the lights at midnight each night (while I toiled away on the computer next to him). Senior year I made a valiant effort to go to bed at the same time every night, but that was squandered by two suitemates who would be up yelling and playing music until two or three in the morning much to my chagrin. I never really got that coveted “sleep schedule” thing down pat.

I no longer had any excuse once quarantine started due to the fact that my house is a couple hundred decibels quieter at 9pm than my suite on campus was at 3am, but I still managed to finagle an excuse or two in there. I was going to bed at around 12 am and waking up around 8am to 8:30am depending on how many times I hit snooze, but I still couldn’t shake that desire to get up earlier and truly spend the morning being productive. I am certainly my most productive prior to lunchtime so I wanted to prioritize that time. Unfortunately, a lack of drive got in the way of those well-laid plans, but I still continuously wished I could be a bit better in a number of regards. From drinking caffeine at 8pm to rolling out of bed at a snail’s pace, I kept avoiding achieving my personal goals of maintaining a true sleep schedule and becoming a certifiable morning person.

Listening to Dr. Breus’s presentation lit a fire under me so to speak. I suppose it wasn’t actually the presentation at all, but hearing someone else say, “Do this thing,” made me want to do that thing, the thing I had been putting off for so long because it was solely a “me” thing. I dove in headfirst.

Instead of trying the recommended method of moving your alarm back 15 minutes every week until you reach your desired wake-up time, I went all in and jumped it to 7am and figured I would deal with the jetlag later. I also ended up setting two alarms: a digital alarm clock and my phone. With this, I had to jump out of bed to turn off the second alarm after the first one sounded. In addition, I made a pledge to myself to not just lie back down and fall asleep. I spend the first couple of minutes every morning in a hazy stupor but I allow myself to go back to sleep if I’m still tired half an hour after I wake up. Interestingly, I’m no longer tired by that point.

Returning to the Sleep Doctor, I’m supposed to fall asleep at 11:10pm to wake up at 7am every night. While I do attempt to fall asleep at 11pm, I ensure that I’m up and making my bed at 7am no matter when I fall asleep–thankfully, it’s never crossed 12:30am, a terribly late bedtime for me now that I’ve ascended to being a grandma. I’ve also stopped drinking a latte too early in the morning, which is an easier task than expected because I’ve replaced it with chugging water while I work out (I need to drink a concerning amount of water during the summer).

Who knew that presentations could be useful outside of getting participation credit for a class?

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[Herbal teas have replaced my nightly latte habit, a worthy companion to my bedtime routine.]

I won’t pretend that I’m not browsing the web at night or that I no longer engage in any unsavory nighttime habit, especially as nearly every night I’m on a video call with a friend, but I’ve been able to do just enough to achieve a goal I never thought really possible for me. On a very small level, waking up at 7am and not bemoaning my situation is amazing. It has represented for me such strong discipline that allows everything else to fall into place once I’ve gotten out of bed and started to get moving. On top of that, I can finally say with utmost certainty that I know I’m getting enough sleep, something I couldn’t say without crossing my fingers behind my back for most of my life.

Sleep may be for the weak, but I’ve got a real weakness for it.

 

 

by Jay Abdella

With summer in full swing, many people have watched their summer plans dry up. For some, summer camp was their work destination. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many camps were forced to close because of state, federal, and local regulations. My summer camp, which is a day camp in my old hometown, was one of few camps in the area that was able to stay open. Over the last few weeks, it was a whirlwind of running around, improvisation, and a sense of uncertainty regarding what “camp” will look like. To say the least, camp under COVID-19 is a different experience than what it was before.

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(A campfire represents the calming moments of camp. Due to COVID-19, many sleepaway camps were canceled for the summer due to concerns of the virus. Source: Photopin)

Imagine this: a camp experience where campers can’t make contact with counselors or their friends. In addition, you are not allowed to go swimming, to the beach, or on field trips which make camp what it should be. That is the cornerstone of how camp was being operated this year, with the number one goal of keeping campers and staff safe. For counselors, this meant being temperature checked, ensuring that kids were being socially distanced from one another, and jumping into an environment many of us have never experienced before.

For the first week of camp, I got assigned to five kids and my co-counselor got assigned to five different kids. This was what became our group for the week. Our group could not interact with any other groups or any other counselors in the camp. This meant no camp-wide activities, no collaborating with other groups for games, no sharing of materials, and being on our own for games and activities. Even discipline was placed in a grey area. We couldn’t send a misbehaving child to the director’s office as we could in past summers because the head of the camp was not allowed to interact with other campers. While this may seem daunting for many counselors, the small-group style of camp has shown itself to be a good blueprint for creating crucial relationships with campers. 

I was placed with 9 and 10-year-old campers. While I spent the previous summer with 10-year-olds, this would be an entirely new type of experience with working with them. To be completely transparent, I was worried about how to keep them entertained all day long with only myself and my co-counselor. Any fears were assuaged after the first few hours. It turns out that my campers were some of the most go-with-the-flow kids I have ever seen. So far, we have spent hours chilling in a circle talking about regular life, jamming out to tunes while playing four-square, and being run ragged by being outside in blistering heat for eight hours a day. 

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(Despite summer camp being changed through many different regulations, so far, the magic and thrill of seeing campers happy are worth all of the work that was put into making camp happen. Source: Creative Commons, J_villegas)

Despite being required to wear masks almost 100% of the time at camp and being forced to separate from other campers, being a camp counselor during COVID-19 still has the same shine it did when I first started working at this camp. Hopefully, for the next five weeks, we are able to navigate through this tense and tumultuous time of figuring out the next steps on how to keep campers entertained and safe at the same time. The camp is starting to feel like old times despite being in a whole new world.

 

 

By Catherine Duffy

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an event like no other for the present population. The three-month isolation period changed life as we know it as plans were cancelled and a new way of life surfaced. But did everyone have the same general experience? It is known that there are two big personality types in our world: the introverts and the extroverts. Some people even identify as a mixture of both. The quarantine has allowed these two personality types to peer into the other’s way of life. What unique emotional changes have introverts and extroverts experienced in 2020? 

Merriam Webster defines an extrovert as “a gregarious and unreserved person” whereas an introvert is known as “a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone”.

The beginning of isolation back in March provided a major life change to extroverts around the world. The social beings began to feel trapped knowing that seeing friends and family was officially against the law, and that social calls to cafes were strictly prohibited. Social media and video calls filled their days at home and helped them put their social energy to use.

While staying at home reading books and making puzzles made the extroverts stir crazy, the introverts were extremely delighted. There was so much time to recharge now that time alone was just part of every day routine. New solitary hobbies were adopted and their anxieties may have begun to vanish. As an introvert myself, I discovered that I had much more energy to call friends and family at the end of the day having had so much quiet time to recharge on my own. 

While the extroverts counting down the days to freedom, the introverts may have taken every as a blessing. The social anxieties of big group gatherings, presentations and hours of interacting with others as they worked became a thing of the past.

Now that many restrictions have been lifted, a bit of the opposite has happened. Extroverts rejoice as they return to work. They have been finally granted the opportunity to socialize and talk to their hearts content once again. Introverts, on the contrary, have been reintroduced to the stress and social anxiety they knew before the quarantine.

Though this year has been filled with disappointment and tragedy, it seems as though both introverts and extroverts have gained insight into the other’s way of life. Whether it be being forced inside or forced to return to the outside world again, perhaps both personalities have gained a certain appreciation for the other’s routines as they have had the opportunity to explore them. Perhaps with this new insight, both personalities will be able to live in harmony, or at least show understanding when the other isn’t emotionally content.

On July 9th, 2020 I had the opportunity to attend a webinar entitled Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Youth Employment. This event was hosted by TakingITGlobal and the United Nations Association of Canada. The webinar focused on the potential impacts that COVID-19 will have on youth seeking employment in the near future, as and offered tangible and accessible tips to stand out in a job application.

Dr. Alina Turner, the co-founder and CEO of HelpSeeker, explains that due to COVID-19, there has been an “increase in demand for mental health support but the inability to always meet such demands”. As such, many youth seeking employment, as well as those already holding steady jobs, find it increasingly difficult to obtain the mental health support that is needed. COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges and difficulties which has increased the need for mental health resources and support. However, there has simultaneously been a push to move mental health to the backburner as physical health concerns have grown. Dr. Turner explains that such mental health challenges have made it even more difficult for youth to find employment.

Despite the challenges that have formed as a result of the pandemic, youth continue to display resilience and motivation in the face of disruption. While it is not easy to enter the job market with an uncertain economy or a lack of mental health support, many youth continue to demonstrate resilience and strength despite it all. Dr. Turner admits that the job hunt in the time of a pandemic and economic uncertainty is not easy but that youth are innovative and are “finding ways to support adaptation to destruction”. As such, youth continue to advocate for one another and are sharing their resilience with the world.

Image: Prexels

Although there are countless negatives of COVID-19, Kylie Hurst, a manager of You.i TV and an employment branding specialist, shares some of the positive workplace changes that have resulted due to COVID-19. These positive changes include:

– Diversity and inclusion call-out

– Location barriers removed with the increase in remote jobs and education

– Personal barriers removed with the increase in remote jobs and education (childcare, time of day, cost)

– Embracing individuality

These changes are all important and allow for increased access to employment, inclusion, and involvement that may have been lacking prior to COVID-19. With the rise of ZOOM meetings and online classes, education and employment are becoming more accessible to more individuals across the country.

In addition to the positive changes that may help youth in regards to employment, Hurst also shares some tips on how to standout in the job market. These tips include:

– Everything is an online business card, so make your online presence accessible and engaging (Portfolio, LinkedIn, etc.)

– Looking for a job is a full-time job: make a plan, organize, track, and update regularly

– Socialize on social: use social media platforms to connect with individuals who may help you (alumni networks, virtual events, etc.)

–  Build your resume: If you are fortunate and have been given additional free time as a result of COVID-19, use that time wisely to gain new credentials and experiences

Searching for a job can be intimidating and challenging, particularly with the lack of mental health support, the uncertainty of the economy, and for youth just entering the workforce. However, these tips should help to point you in the right direction. Resiliency is critical when searching for employment and embracing your individuality will set you on the right path for your future career.