Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

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The excitement of new environments

We all become so used to the environment we grow up in. We grow close to the people around us and we get to know the community we live in. It’s hard to think about one day packing up your bags and leaving it all for something completely new. One day, however, that time will come. For me, it’s coming up much sooner than expected.

As my American readers will know, nothing moves you away faster than college. It’s a sudden shock that you must decide what you want to do for the years to come and where you want to spend at least four years studying. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

I was recently accepted into my dream school: DePaul University in Chicago. As soon as I got my acceptance e-mail, I joined the Facebook page for accepted upcoming freshman. That’s where my story begins.

I have always been an outgoing person. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. So I became extremely excited when I was placed into a group with over 200 brand new people. I noticed quickly how open everyone seemed to be – everyone started introducing themselves and commenting on each others posts – connections were forming from nothing.

Those posts turned into a group chat, which led to even more connections. It is an amazing experience to make so many new friends in such a short period of time. It makes the transition of dependence to independence so much easier when you are joining hundreds of people in the same situation.

I didn’t understand how college could bring people so close together until now. I mean really, what’s a better way to push people together than throwing a huge group of 18 year olds out on their own? It’s a game of survival, and to thrive you must find a group of people that will support you through your struggles, as you will do for theirs. Which is exactly what college gives opportunity to. With this excitement, I have allowed my fear to dissipate because I know that I will not be alone in my journey.

My specific group has already talked about our support for all ethnicities, LGBT, and international students. We’ve talked about our similarities and differences and how crazy it is that some of us are in California and others are in Boston. We are slowly becoming a family as we all are tossed out into the unknown. I am grateful for this new environment and the relationships that will come out of it – I am for once excited to explore on my own.

Book idea

So I’ve been thinking more and more about what I want to do with my life.

So I’ve been pretty stressed out lately.

I think that I want to go into journalism. I enjoy writing quite a bit and I could see myself doing it for years ahead. Which is good, because I’ve been told to do what I love, and I love writing stories. I have also been thinking about what the one big thing is that I want to do.

I’ve decided that is to write a book.

I have a few ideas, but this one really stuck out to me, so I figured I’d share it with you.

I travel quite a bit, so I get to experience many different types of people and cultures. I was thinking that it would be interesting to really dive into these cultures and learn what makes them different and similar from my own. I would interview random people from around the world and ask them one simple question: “What’s your story?”

I would collect these interviews and put them all together in a book. People would be able to read all about how a man became homeless, or how a couple met, or how a store had been in a family for over 100 years. These stories would show the similarities and dissimilarities between cultures. It would prove how we are all powerful and how the simplest of people can still inspire others. It would be beautiful!

I’d love to know people’s thoughts on this idea – I love feedback.

Also if you feel like venting or sharing, comment your own story. Like I said, even the simplest of people can inspire others.

Growing up a writer

Growing up a writer isn’t easy. None of my parents (I have three – mother, father, stepfather) have an out-of-the-box thought process, they don’t have that creative mind. So it can be difficult to get across my points much of the time, because I will be using concepts they don’t quite grasp. Being a writer has also turned me into an extremely emotional person. Not in the sense that I am too sensitive, but in a way that I can feel all things around me, I can understand others emotions. It is a burden and a blessing all at once.

With my parents being business managers, engineers, and IT computer analyzers, they weren’t exactly too keen on the idea of me being a writer, nor were they very fond of the fact that I was absolutely atrocious at anything math related. They wanted a daughter with huge aspirations who would go farther than they did, a daughter who would be a lawyer or a doctor. Well, I know for a fact I won’t be practicing medicine anytime soon, but I did consider law for a while. That’s when the burden of being an emotional person came in – I realized that I would become much too attached to those I would be working for, and the job would emotionally ruin me. So that’s not happening either.

But writing, oh my, I cannot express enough my love for it. The way letters flow together to form words which in turn create sentences and then come together to form a story… it is the most beautiful concept. One that most people overlook. Writers, however, they understand it, they see the wonder in it and use it to build their own stories. That’s what I wanted to do.

No one really believed me when I said I would grow up to be an author. I was always pushed away from the idea, and was taught how to do jobs in business or communications. My love for writing intensified when I found journalism. It was amazing to me, to be able to get out other people’s stories with my own words. I loved it. Yet it was put down very quickly by my so-called “support system” because journalists are not known for making money.

Now, I understand that my family wants me to live a financially stable life like the one I grew up in, and be able to have a family without worrying about how dinner will be put on the table. I get it. But writing is my passion, my first true love, and I cannot live without it.

I don’t believe I will go into college dead set on being a writer. My mind is open to what my career path will be, especially in business fields. If I could just find a job which combines writing into it, then I am sure I could fall in love with it. I will not give up the one thing I have had since I was a young child for the social concept of money. That is just not how I want to live my life.

My college essay

Last year I met a boy named Jacob. No adjective is worthy enough to describe his personality, but if I had to pick a word I would choose “glowing.” He had a contagious energy; he could fill a room with laughter. He found a joke for everything and made sure everyone was smiling. His favorite hobby was dancing. Coincidentally, I met him at a National Honor Society sponsored dance in February.

Jacob was born with an extra chromosome. However, he would shake a finger at me and scold me if I classified him as disabled – because that is the opposite of how he sees himself. This dance had been held for kids enrolled in special education classes. I had never seen such a varied group of people before. Jacob stood out from them all, with a huge smile on his face, already starting to dance to the faint music behind the doors. When I had asked him how he was doing, he replied, “I can dance, I love it!”

Usually dancing in a room half filled with people wouldn’t be on the top of my list, but I couldn’t resist when he asked me to join him. I was just so fascinated with his optimism. I didn’t know what to expect when I first walked through the gym doors, and Jacob didn’t allow any time to absorb the set up. I was led smack dab into the middle of the dance floor. From there, I was taught to dance. He brought meaning and life into every step and twirl. It was as if the sun was shining through him in that dark room.

I was taught a multitude of other lessons too. One, don’t ever judge someone by their looks. Although Jacob was only 4’3”, he was the best dancer I’ve ever met. Two, start saying yes. If I had denied the opportunity to attend this dance, I would’ve missed out on Jacob, and I would’ve missed out on some of the best conversations I’d had in a long time. Conversations with true meaning, filled with laughter and wonder.

Lastly, no matter what’s happening, there’s always something positive. It so often happens that when something didn’t go as planned, I would get down on myself. Jacob taught me to look through the negatives and find the ray of light, because no matter what, something is always shining.

Schedule? What schedule?

Hey guys! I apologize for the delay of this post – catching up with school really kept me busy. Today I decided I’m just going to write a little bit on how to keep your schedule organized. A lot of us are completely booked each and every day with a million different things to do. So here’s how I personally time it all out: 

Use a planner for everything. I love my planner. I write everything I have to do in it, from assignments to upcoming meetings to football games. It keeps me on track for what I need to do that night and what I should do if I have time. I usually keep mine in my backpack so I have it with me most the time. 

Calendars are your friend. I have two calendars currently: a large one that sits on my desk and then I use Google Calendar. For the one I use on my desk, I usually put in test dates, meetings, appointments, if I’m doing something with friends or family, etc. Since I do most of my homework at my desk, I see it often and end up just remembering the dates and times. I also check my Google Calendar often. I am on my phone 24/7, so having everything I need to do linked to my phone just helps me even more. It also helps me remember my work schedule since it’ll remind me when I need to leave! 

Prioritize. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize your time. If you don’t do this, it inevitably leads to procrastination – something all of us need help avoiding. When I get home, I take a Post-it note and write out what is the most important thing I need to do today, and then I order it down to the least important. That way when the clock hits 1:30am and i’m still doing homework, I can decide whether or not I should stay up and finish more or head to bed. 

I know this post was short, but I hope it helps you out a little! I’d love your feedback. 

What Happened to Classic Textbooks?

Hey guys! So with classes starting up I thought I’d write a little bit about the transition from classic, big old textbooks to online sites or tablet devices. There has been so much controversy over this concept, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents. 

iPads are wonderful things. They really are. I currently have an iPad Mini and am planning on upgrading to the next one they put out! I’m also completely addicted to my MacBook Pro – I love it so much I put it in my blog name. However, when it comes to studying, I would much rather have a heavy book in front of me than my cute little iPad. Here’s my reasons why: 

Distractions, distractions, distractions. I can’t think of one time I’ve gone on my tablet or laptop without checking one of my many social media connections. It’s just so quick and easy, I just have to tap a little blue bird or type a “t” into the search bar and Twitter is up in front of me. And then I get to scrolling though my timeline, clicking on photos my best friend put up, and suddenly 20 minutes have gone by. And oh wait… what was I supposed to be doing again? Having textbooks only available online is just asking for students to get distracted. With everything flashing at our faces, how couldn’t we? 

What does this word mean? I don’t know, Google it. Google! What an absolutely amazing thing. I don’t know where I’d be without it. It makes life so easy… maybe a little too easy? When we’re in grade school we are taught all of these wonderful reading techniques. Those things you’re supposed to do when you don’t know what a word is, or you don’t understand a sentence, or something like that. Sure, when I’m outlining a textbook I easily could pick up my phone and google the definition, but it still leaves me the option of trying to figure it out myself. On the iPad, you can simply hold down your finger on a word and the option “Define” will come up – giving you the definition in a millisecond. You didn’t even have to open up Safari. How convenient. 

Hey did you read chapter 12? No, I Sparknoted it! If you walk into an english class and ask “How many of you have used Sparknotes instead of actually doing a reading assignment?” I would assume at LEAST 60% of the class would raise their hands. Sparknotes, along with Google, is another wonderful tool – but it is also another tool that is extremely taken advantage of. I’m guilty of it. I was NOT feeling like reading 1984, by George Orwell that night. Sparknotes worked sort of well for that class discussion. But the bottom line is, Sparknotes is not enough. Having our books online just makes sites such as Sparknotes or Cliffnotes more readily available. From articles I’ve been sent home with in my AP Psychology & Economics classes, studies have shown that online reading is making our generation unable to comprehend complex texts. A lot of that blame can be placed on devices such as iPads or Surfaces. 

So if it was up to me, we’d all be stuck with heavy old textbooks. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with using online tools for help. I just believe that to be well educated people, we cannot rely on technology.