Don’t Shit Where You Eat

by Brittany Tedesco

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There are some people who can take other people’s advice and learn from their mistakes. But there are some of us who have to touch the fire and get burned to learn. I am one of those people.

From the moment I moved into my student accommodation and saw my beautiful (male) flatmates, I knew I was about to be playing with fire. All my friends told me that handy little piece of advice, “Don’t Shit Where You Eat.” And I probably should’ve listened. But when the most beautiful boy you’ve ever seen knocks on your door at three in the morning while you’re both intoxicated and says in the most beautiful British accent you’ve ever heard, “Can I kiss you?” how can you possibly say no?

After that night, I thought nothing of it. Shit happens. But I barely saw him for a while after that. Maybe he’s avoiding me, maybe things are awkward now. Until eventually we crossed each other’s paths again. And eventually he was knocking on my door again. And before I knew what was going on, he had moved into my room– toothbrush, skateboard, clothes, and all.

And still, my friends kept warning me, “You need to kick him out” and “This isn’t going to turn out well.” But I refused to listen, even though I knew they were right. He would eat all my food, use all my shampoo, hog all the blankets, and play loud music in the morning even if I was still asleep. But I was in complete denial. I enjoyed his company. And maybe it was just convenience, sure. We’d watch Netflix, hook up, and go to sleep. There was honestly nothing else that I wanted.  (I mean, have I mentioned how beautiful and British he was?)

But we were never exclusive. And we never wanted to be. Or at least he never wanted to be. And I never admitted that I wanted to be. But nothing burned worse than the night we went out to a club together, and he left with another girl instead of me. And my bed felt empty, and I couldn’t sleep. Things were always subtly awkward after that.  He still stayed over a few more times, but we both knew it had to end. His lease ended and he not only moved out of my room, but out of the apartment. And he slowly faded out of my life, so now we don’t even speak.

But I still wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. I had fun with him, and sure I got hurt and used, but I had to. I couldn’t have listened to anyone else, no matter how many times they tried to warn me. So as much as I’d like to stop you from making my mistakes and tell you not to hook up with your roommates, no matter how beautiful and British they are, I know you probably won’t listen. And I don’t blame you.  But if there’s one piece of advice you should actually take, it’s this: If you want to play with fire, expect to get burnt. But don’t let that stop you. Fire is a beautiful thing. What’s worse than getting burnt is how cold you will feel when the fire goes out. But only for a little while. Only until you realize you now have the entire blanket to yourself.

Photo credit: http://blueascookiemonster.tumblr.com/post/87232338084

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How (Not) to Study Abroad

by Ian Agnew

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Warning #1: Slightly less humor, slightly more advice. Buckle up, friends.

Warning #2: A lot of what I say here runs counter to many firmly-held opinions and beliefs, and maybe even those in other articles here. This is just my take on things.

I mean, obviously.

Now, I don’t know about you folks, but if I had a dollar for every article, handout, pamphlet, guidebook, bathroom stall poster, and travel/”young people” blog that I’ve come across espousing the magical wonders of studying abroad in a different country, I’d have enough money to purchase my own fleet of yachts (of course, I would only buy the first one; the rest I’d commandeer). Your college, your parents, your friends—everyone tells you what a good idea it is and how much fun you’ll have. After all, college is the best time of your life, right? What better way to spend that time than having all sorts of adventures and life-altering experiences in another culture far away from everything and everyone you know and love?

Look, I’m not going to lie to you; it’s a pretty damn good time.

BUT, there are right and wrong reasons to do it, like with most things. If you want to learn about a new country or culture and be exposed to it (and all that entails) for a semester or two, go for it. If you want to take some time away from your life back home to figure some things out about you, awesome. But if you’re primarily looking to go crazy on the sauce and bang every attractive foreign person you come across, I might suggest you go back to freshman year and rethink your choices a bit.

Still with me? Here, have a bit of a break: “A priest opens up a gym for Christians; he calls it ‘Jehovah’s Fitness.’” Nicely re-humored? Excellent; carry on.

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, you’re going to have a lot of people telling you a lot of things. My advice (since you’re clearly here to hear it) would be this:

DO NOT SIMPLY TAKE OTHERS’ ADVICE.

I realize that seems a tad (completely) contradictory, but hear me out; too often I see people telling others to, when they go abroad, “Do everything, go everywhere, never say no, go crazy at bars, do things you would never do, live dangerously, never be content with sitting around doing nothing, you must always be doing things.” Honestly, for some people that works (clearly; I’ve seen them at it), but it is by no means the ONLY way to live while abroad.

I don’t think you should actively go out of our way to “do something crazy;” if you feel like doing something crazy, then by all means, you should. But there is nothing wrong with spending a weekend in your flat, writing a story or just laying on your bed with absolutely no outside stimulation at all and just letting your mind wander and have thoughts on its own. I believe that studying abroad should not be treated as a second take on people’s freshman year at college (unless you were a completely rational human being at that point; if you were, I applaud your parents); it should be you, living your life, but in a new place and context where you get to do different and fun things. Seriously, how much fun are you having if you’re doing things just because you feel you should, as opposed to things you want to do, regardless of where you are?

I had the opportunity to go bungee jumping in Queenstown (not really; I had nowhere near enough money) but I didn’t, because I really did not want to and it is something that is way too far out of my comfort zone (also the money thing). We should be comfortable from time to time, even when studying abroad. Content and happy is a perfectly valid way to live, and don’t you let anyone try to tell you you’re wrong for living that way. If they do, I’ll Cage them so hard, they won’t pee for a year (feel free to ask me if you want to know what Caging is).

Lastly, you should not expect studying abroad to change your life/worldview forever. Sure, some people come back changed for the better (or weirder), but having some massive revelation about life or your “grand purpose” is nowhere near the norm. I think that’s a very American thing to believe; we (especially college students) believe the world outside to be so much more informed and culturally superior to our closed-minded America when, in reality, most of the world’s people behave pretty much the same way, barring language and some more efficient governmental practices. There’s no need to feel bad if, upon return home, someone asks, “Did studying in [COUNTRY NAME], y’know, change you?” and you can’t honestly answer “Yes.” You look them in the eyes (eye, if they’re that kind of pirate) and say, “No, bugger off.”

Everyone studies abroad in his or her own way; advice can hurt as much as it can help. At the end of the day, it’s got to come down to who you are as a person and what you want and need to get out of your experience. Don’t let anyone else shape how you spend your time abroad for you, not even me.

But if you do let me, be sure to cite your sources.

Stop Calling Me “Entitled”

by: Kara Mendez

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It seems like the generation that raised us are so desperate to prove we are a problem. We constantly see articles about young people not being educated, being dependent on electronics, or being a generation of hoodlums. Shaming about teen pregnancy or female promiscuity is all over the internet. Shaming young people about being on social media too much or texting too much or not being able to have a conversation because we have too much internet time. Everywhere I look there’s a journalist in his/her 50s telling me that my generation is fucked.

Well, I have a problem with this. I am a woman in her early 20s who attends college, who is an activist, a vegetarian, a reader, a writer, a theatrical professional, and I don’t appreciate anyone telling me that I am the downfall. I go on job interviews all the time- and more often than not, I am offered the job. I am a junior in college and already working in my field. I am a feminist. I am an animal rights activist. I am a functioning member of society. I work two different part-time jobs and I intern part-time. (All in my chosen field, might I add). I have wonderful pets who are more spoiled more than most children. I pay for most of my own things- my parents help with transportation costs, some clothing, and food. So please tell me again that I am a waste to society.

Most people in my age bracket are exactly like me. They are going to school and working extremely hard at their craft. They are most likely receiving help from their parents. However, if you chose to bring a child into this world then you are signing up for all of this. I had no choice about whether I wanted to be born. That was out of my hands. My parents understand that in 2014 you cannot graduate from high school and be okay. You cannot get a job that pays enough to live. You cannot work full time and attend school full time and do all your extracurriculars unless you plan on not sleeping and having a mental breakdown by age 22. Even if you are working full-time, most jobs you get right out of high school are not going to pay you enough to cover tuition. My parents understand that they chose to bring me into this world, so they are going to do all they can to make sure I succeed. There is nothing wrong with receiving any kind of help from your parents.

Okay, so now I’ve proved that I am a hardworking, functioning, important member of society who isn’t mooching off her parents and just getting by. This is where the “social media” dependent argument comes in. Yes, I have a facebook, an instagram, and a twitter. Yes I use them daily. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with tons of old friends and family members who do not live close. It allows me to upload pictures of things I am doing, of my pets, of my boyfriend, etc. and my family members who I haven’t seen in two years can feel connected to my life. It allows me to promote tons of awesome things in my life. My upcoming productions, causes I’m serious about, etc. It allows me to get my opinion out there. It’s my space. Twitter is more for fun, at least for me- and contrary to the popular belief we are allowed to have fun. Finally, instagram is awesome. I have gotten so many food recipes, clothing suggestions, and confidence boosters from instagram. And guess what? I do love uploading pictures of my food. I eat a gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian diet and I love sharing great food with people. It’s not exactly easy to find restaurants that cater to people like me so when I do and it tastes good, you better believe I’m going to share it. Same with food I made myself. I’m proud of what I’ve made and what I’m putting into my body. I am allowed to share that with people.

Finally, cellphones/computers are great inventions. The internet allows me to learn so much more than I ever could without it. In seconds I can know all about theater all over the world. I can find job listings and send out my resume. I can find a restaurant in the area of NY that I will be working in tomorrow. For my last term paper I found a book from 1906 that I never would have found in the public library. I found books that I could only find in museums. I have read so many ebooks that I would never have read without it. Yes, the internet can be used for terrible things. However, terrible things happened before the internet. Terrible things will happen whether the internet exists or not. I love my cellphone. I can quickly text my father and let him know I am safe when I’m working late. If I make a wrong turn, my phone tells me in a matter of seconds where I need to go to get to my destination. If I am hungry, I have apps on my phone that tell me the closest gluten-free/dairy-free safe restaurant. I have an app that tells me when trains come, so I never miss my train or end up waiting at the station for an hour. My cellphone makes me safer. I can call the police if I am trouble. I can let my parents know where I am. I can use my maps application to get me to my destination and assure I never get lost. I can call my mom and talk to her while I’m walking to the train station at midnight in the dark streets of Chelsea. I can feel safer and have access to programs that make me safer.

Making a broad generalized stereotype about my generation, IE: The Entitlement Generation, is the same thing as making a broad generalized stereotype about anything. If I wrote an article about black people being lazy, white people being snobby and rude, asian people being smart, old people being annoying/rude/hard to handle then I would get nothing but hate and bad criticism. So why is it okay for anyone to write an article stereotyping my generation? Especially since you’re the ones who raised us.

Tell me again that I a mooching 20 year old who doesn’t understand the importance of hard work or education and is just glued to an over priced piece of electronic crap. 

I dare you. 

 

Photo Credit: Difei Li via creative commons.