Friday, May 25, 2012

Formspring Question: What's your major and how did you choose it? As an incoming freshmen it's something I am kind of nervous about because there are so many choices!! smile

My majors are Anthro and Bio... and choosing this combination was a process haha. My first semester Freshman year I took an Anthro class for fun and found that I loved it, so I took another class the next semester and finally declared. As far as the Bio, it's actually kind of funny that I decided on that because before that, it had been French and then Environmental Studies. But I eventually chose Bio because it gives me the background I want in order to pursue a few different courses of study for Grad School (what I'm thinking right now is Environmental Anthropology, which is essentially how humans interact with the environment and the implications of our actions). Also, Anthro and Bio just go nicely together ;) Hope that helps!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trip to France, a Recap.

My sister Katie and friend Tarah at the Louvre.
So I just got back from a week-long trip to France with my older sister, which you might have seen in my last post. Although the original plan was to see Paris and Toulouse, we ended up the whole week in Paris for cost reasons (not that anyone is complaining), because we didn't realize that France had a holiday when we had been planning to take the train down south. Since we didn't already have tickets, the price was about triple what we had anticipated (approx. $500 round trip), so for a little less than that cost we found a hotel for three more nights in Paris (which was way nicer than the hostel we had been in at the beginning of the week), and spent that time hanging out and doing all the things we thought we wouldn't be able to!

We covered a ton of ground. Day one, we got there around midday and took the train from Aéroport Charles de Gaulles to our hostel, which was by Gare du Nord (North Train Station). Like good travelers, we tried to get out and see some stuff that first day, and we even met up with a friend, Tarah, for lunch. But after walking around, we realized sleep was imminent, and went back to crash. 

Katie and I behind Notre Dame.
The next day, we were up before eight, and walking towards Galleries LaFayette by twenty-after. That morning, we walked by Place de la République, La Bastille, Sorbonne, the Panthéon (and so much more) and went inside Notre Dame. We stopped for lunch with Tarah by the Panthéon, and then headed over to the Eiffel Tower through Luxembourg Gardens, and finally the Arc de Triomphe, before we quit for dinner. 
Being at the Eiffel Tower was kind of nuts. Aside from the usual ocean of tourists waiting to go up, it was storming out and we only had one rain jacket. We ducked into a cafe for a minute to see when it would pass, and when it did we finally bought our tickets and went up. My sister and I joke that we have the best timing, because literally the minute after we came down, it started storming again, harder. So despite the unfavorable weather, we still had a positive Eiffel Tower experience!

Sacre Coeur.
The next day, and the last full day we were expecting to stay in Paris, we saw Sacre Coeur in the morning, and then went to the Louvre all day with Tarah. The Louvre, my friends, is truly overwhelming. I would go back to Paris for two weeks to do nothing but go through the Louvre. I'm no art buff by any means, but there's so much to look at, and I suppose I enjoy looking. In another life, I was a cultured art critic in New York.
At Musée d'Orsay for the Night of Museums.

The next day, Wednesday, was when we found out about the train, and we were lucky enough to find an hotel last-minute online. While we were bummed at first, it turned out to be great, because we spent the remainder of the week shopping, eating lots of good food, finding souvenirs, taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower at night, and on Saturday night we went to Musée d'Orsay for the European Night of Museums (La Nuit Européenne des Musées), which was free!

Overall it was a fantastic trip, we learned a ton and I was able to practice my French (which needs all the help it can get). Tomorrow morning at seven I start my summer job, so it's back to the real world for me (at least for the summer), although I do have my bagnin' internship to look forward to (which you can plan on hearing more about here as the summer progresses ;p)! Speaking of internships, if you're looking for info, advice or anything related, definitely check out Gabbi's blog. She wrote a lot last summer about interning in LA, and I believe she's back at it this year! 

Eiffel Tower at night.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Préparation d'un voyage en France !

This past week was the last of my freshman year, and now that finals are over, summer has finally begun! My plans include an internship at Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR), working... somewhere, and overall just hanging with the fam. But to kick it all off, my sister and I are taking a week-long trip to France!

I've been to Paris once before, but only for a day, and my sister has never been, so we're both extremely excited. We're also going to visit Toulouse, a city in the south-west of France, in order to see some place besides the capital; and hopefully visit with an acquaintance we met in Prague.

One thing that my sister and I have avoided so far is actually planning the trip. We just booked a hostel in Paris last night and have yet to do the same for Toulouse. Maybe we're busy, maybe we're procrastinators; either way, trips take planning, and whether you do it weeks in advance or just a few days, here are a few things to look out for.
  1. Passports, make sure you know where yours is. Also, always check if you need a visa, because although American citizens don't need them in most places (especially for short trips like this), I know for example that Russia always requires a visa for travel.
  2. Be aware of how you pack, because you probably need less than you think you do. I always pack twice: once to see what I think I need, and then a second time to figure out what I actually need (which tends to be about half).
  3. Be prepared, I speak two semesters worth of French, and once I get going I get pretty comfortable (but with lots of mistakes). If you have some proficiency in your destination's language, brush up and bring some language books or phrasebooks. Also, find out where your airport is with respect to the city you're staying in, because Paris-Charles de Gaulle is about a half hour from the city (that's some steep cab fare). So it's best to know if there's an alternative, like a train (like there is from CDG).
  4. Know what you want to see. It's easy to get somewhere and be so overwhelmed that all you want to do is sit in a cafe and drink coffee, watching the city go by. As great as that is, it's better after a full day of sight-seeing, so be prepared with a list of things you want to see, and how much they'll cost. That being said, it's also good to be flexible; traveling stinks when someone on the trip can't stand to deviate from the itinerary. In short, be prepared, but own your trip!
  5. Budget your money, because you'll want to know approximately how much you need in cash, how much you should plan to spend on a card, etc. For example, at least one of the hostels we're staying in requires payment in cash upon departure (I've actually stayed at quite a few like this). Also, I recommend spending the least amount of money on lodging so that you can spend more on things like food, sightseeing, and other things your destination has to offer.
Again, I'm pretty excited! Watch out for a follow-up post, and then I'll be posting about my internship after that!

Merci de lire!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dos and Don'ts for the End of Spring Semester.

Spring Semester is almost definitely the harder semester. It could be any combination of things that causes it, but among my friends and most college students I know, the Spring drags. For me, after winter's over I can't stand the bum weather, plus while half your time goes to school (presumably), the other half goes to making work plans for the summer, or trying to make sure you can meet up with friends from school, and the whole thing is a bit of a bummer. But there are some things you can do to alleviate the lameness, or even prevent it in some situations. I give you, the dos and don'ts of Spring Semester...

  1. Don't sit on facebook, because we all know you'll spend most of your time scrolling rather than studying.
  2. Do get outside, even if the weather isn't great. But if the weather is great, take advantage of it! There was a week of summer weather here in March and I'm pretty sure no one was inside, ever. I know my friends and I tried to study on the lawn every day that week, until we realized it was too beautiful, so we just enjoyed the weather instead.
  3. Don't slack, because even though we all do it, putting off work can build up and become stressful, which is no fun. So, the real lesson here is procrastinate in moderation.
  4. Do work consistently, rather than work hard. It's better to work consistently at 80% output consistently than to slack off normally and pull the occasional all-nighter. In the end, this will help you anyway, because you'll have a more solid base of knowledge from learning the material all semester, and wont have to cram the night before your final.
  5. Don't spend all your money on take-out. I did, and although it was worth it at the time, I now have no money (the last batch of Chinese I bought was paid for mostly in quarters).
  6. Do spend time with friends. It's important to study, especially at the end of the semester. But the best memories you have from college are when you're hanging out with your friends and having fun. It's good to have a balance, too much of one or the either will stress you out (either 'cause you've studied so much or so little).
  7. Do relax, because you can only do so much, and there's no sense in worrying about things you can't get done.
I can't believe my freshman year is over, it flew! To those who still have finals, good luck, and I hope everyone has a great summer!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Finals Lull.

Finals are here, which means a lot of studying, stress and focus (or no studying, stressing from not studying, and complete lack of focus). As a result, I've gone through a bit of a lull, trying to stay on top of all my classes, packing up to go home, and hanging out with my friends that I won't see all summer!

But just because I've been lulling here doesn't mean there's been a lull on campus! This past weekend I went to the 350 rally with Green Up, which Mike wrote about here. Anyway, I have a paper to finish and a Final to study for, but look forward to a full-length post about something useful either later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading!