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Tuesday
04/11/17

Ooooh, this is an S.O.S

Posted by bostonki on April 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

Don’t wanna second guess

This is the bottom line

it’s true, I gave my all for you

Now my heart’s in two

And I can’t find the other half

This (really) old Jonas Brothers song is of course about love, but I think it applies pretty thoroughly to my school life right now.  Which leads me to today’s thought – HOW does one successfully adult in the face of a never-ending to-do list?

I have two papers for one class, worth in total about 60% of my final grade due within the next three weeks.  WHO DOES THIS??

I have to apply for my visa and begin planning my Australia/New Zealand excursions.

I have to figure out what I’m even taking next semester.

I should probably clean my room while I’m at it.  Disastrous room = disastrous life.

But I work and have class and readings to do.

Oh well.  Guess it’ll be another caffeine-induced night.

Did I shower yesterday?  Can’t remember.

Buzz buzz buzz.  My brain is everywhere.

I wish I still had time to go to the gym.  Time flies by every day.  I need more hours.

Yet I’m sitting here typing away, thinking about how I only have five weeks left in Greiner until I’m halfway done with college and I have no more excuses to not know what I want to do with my life.

This semester has been great, though.  I’ve loved my classes.  I know and feel that I’m in the right major/minor combination.  I have a job that I like.  This blog.  Netflix.

Changing my major hasn’t made my days any less exhausting or excruciating, but it makes them much more bearable.  I can at least be thankful that I’m not enrolled in Orgo II and utterly miserable like my floormates.

Seriously, I don’t know anybody who enjoys organic chemistry.

I would like to end this trainwreck of thoughts with a quote from Tina Belcher of Bob’s Burgers. 

“I’m no hero.  I put my bra on one (insert female secondary sex characteristic here) at a time like everyone else”.

 

 

 

Tuesday
04/04/17

Quinoa pancakes and frozen snakes

Posted by bostonki on April 4, 2017 in Australia, travel, Uncategorized

I’ve calculated it.  Eight planes.  I will be taking eight planes in my journey to and around Australia and New Zealand.

Buffalo to New York.  New York to LA.  LA to Brisbane.  Brisbane to Auckland.  Auckland to Sydney.  Sydney to LA.  LA to New York.  New York to Buffalo.

There aren’t many drawbacks to this trip, but the planes definitely are one.  Fourteen hours each way across the Pacific.  I hope Quantas offers good hourly wifi rates.

What am I going to do for fourteen hours?  Netflix, for sure.  Read a book? Maybe.  Facebook everybody back home and brag about what an awesome time I’m having? Definitely.  But there’s just a certain point where I imagine you begin to feel claustrophobic and pray that you don’t enter into a full panicked state.

Getting lost in JFK airport is another concern.  So is dying of dehydration in the middle of the Outback and being left to the poisonous snakes.  But this is a faculty-led study abroad trip, these sort of things don’t happen… right?

I’m sure anybody who has studied abroad before has felt this way.  Totally excited about their experience but also extremely nervous about being halfway around the world with people that you’ve literally just met.

Maybe it’s the mystique of Australia that’s making me feel this way.  Nobody I know has been there (while EVERYBODY I know has been to Italy, of course).  Nobody knows what kinds of secrets and surprises the land down under holds.

I had several dreams over the last several weeks about Australia that reinforced these fears.  In the first, I went to a diner for breakfast and had these repulsive pancakes.  When I asked the waitress what was in them, she answered “quinoa”.  Those repulsive little grains that are shaped like a certain contraceptive if you look at them really close up.  In the other, I was grocery shopping at a local supermarket.  Instead of frozen fish in their freezers, they sold frozen snakes.  ‘Nuff said.

So I have my fears and doubts alongside my excitements, but as the trips grows closer I find I need to shove those fears aside.

Scholarship applications are done, travel guides checked out from the library, books on Australian art rented, and orientation happening across the state this Saturday.

Hopefully they won’t serve pancakes with quinoa.

By the way, upon Googling a suitable picture of quinoa to include with this post, I came across this MONSTROSITY.  According to the recipe, they’re Coffee Quinoa Pancakes with Carrot Frosting.  I’m sorry, but I could have sworn that was meatloaf  with cheese-from-the-can dumped on top.  I wonder what level of Dante’s Inferno hell these are from?

 

Sunday
03/26/17

“Spring Break”

Posted by bostonki on March 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

Saturday: Nothing.  Bliss.

Sunday: Studying, papers, homework.

Monday: Required classroom observations at my old middle school.  *shivers*

Tuesday: Took the day off and went to Rochester with my boyfriend.  I’m not scared to admit that I dragged him along for the Museum of Play (which I have a feeling he enjoyed) and some awesome BBQ from Sticky Lips in Henrietta.

Wednesday:  More classroom observations.  Teacher had to explain to 7th graders why they couldn’t use ‘i’ as a variable.  The horrors of Algebra 2 may never cease to haunt me.

Thursday:  Full shift at work.  On the plus side, Beauty and the Beast (which was AWESOME, by the way).

Friday:  Stayed up until 3 in the morning to work on schoolwork so my weekend would be free, so I ended up working a half day and leaving because I felt sick beyond belief.

Saturday:  Grey’s day.  I think I hammered out six or seven episodes.  But I’m still only on season 7.  I may never finish.

Sunday:  Laundry, cleaning EVERYTHING, packing, and now writing this.  Will likely be forced to write a paper tonight since I have four due in the next week and a half.

The motto: Classifying something with the word “break” does not necessarily make it so.  Nonetheless, it’s been a good week and I hope everybody is ready to hammer out the next eight so we can go into that blissful thing called summer… and I can go to that blissful beach on Australia’s sunshine coast.

 

Tuesday
02/28/17

Why My Science Major Failed to Make Me Smarter

Posted by bostonki on February 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

I’ve been a decided psychology major/education minor since maybe November, but I’ve already heard my share of downgrading from others who presume their “hard science” choice is better than mine.  “Oh, so you’re taking the EASY route!”, was an actual statement out of somebody’s mouth.  No sir, I’m taking the route that’s ENJOYABLE for me.

Anyways, a third of the semester has already passed us by, and I am well aware of one fact.  The courses I’ll be taking from here until the end of my college career will make me so much smarter than any of my hard sciences courses (biology, chemistry, calculus) did the first year and a half.  I feel more intelligent, feel as though my brain is forming new synaptic connections.  I leave a study session with one of those good headaches.

This is not at all to downgrade any hard science course.  We need exposure to some of those rigorous ideas in our education at some point.  But continuing on with it felt stagnant.  It truly was rote memorization, and in many cases, formula application.  There really was no thinking on my own, no coming up with new ideas or questions.  In science courses (especially introductory ones), the professors feed you the information and you’re expected to churn them out on the exam.  Many important concepts from introductory chemistry and biology have been lost on me at this point.  There are some who love the ideas and do engage themselves fully in questioning and thinking logically, but it was not for me.

Flash forward to this semester, in particular my ‘Introduction to Education’ course.  There is a great deal more of reading, where we are exposed to multiple ideas and standpoints about a topic.  There are in-class and online discussions, where we have to think about an issue and identify potential problems, come up with possible solutions, and have working knowledge of a mass of phenomena in order to achieve this goal.  We juggle multiple variables and attempt to put them together to understand the big picture.  We apply these to real world settings through required classroom observation.  I present conflicting ideas in discussions that people may not have even considered.  We look at the evidence to decide if Common Core is really working or not.  We do so much thinking in that course, so much so that I had to ask if we could take a break after an hour and a half because my brain was frying up.  I leave class feeling like I’ve made some personal advancements and feeling like my brain’s grey matter actually grew a bit.

That’s a class that’s going to make me smarter.  Most classes this semester are like that.  And if they are that familiar lecture-style, the professors don’t post the notes online to ensure you’re coming to class and engaging.  Most of the science professors I had didn’t seem to hold the students too accountable.  They’d throw the slides online and half the class wouldn’t be showing up by week 5.

And this is why I believe that my psychology major and education minor will make me smarter.

 

 

Monday
02/20/17

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba

Posted by bostonki on February 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba”.  Sound familiar?  It’s Zulu for “here comes a lion, father”, and I’m going to use it to help describe why I love mornings.

Last night I had trouble sleeping.  I don’t think I entered REM sleep until 2:30 in the morning.  That was probably due to the extensive nap I ended up taking after dinner.  Nonetheless, I woke up around 5:45 wide awake and ready to grind the morning out at Starbucks (I succeeded with the help of a sweet cream cold brew).  So, I got to watch the sunrise from my bed.

It starts out as a thin orange glow at the line of the horizon, and as the Earth rotates the sky becomes a rainbow of dark sky, light blue, and yellow-orange.  A bright glow reminiscent of the “Circle of Life” scene from the Lion King pops up and glints off the windows of South Lake Village in the distance and the semifrozen lake.  Fog rises from the hills on the walk to Starbucks and the dew makes the grass nice and crunchy.  The air at this point in the year smells crisp, fresh, and sweet.  Like the flowers are slowing thawing and the spring air is almost here.  It provides a nice but not unbearable zing to your nose.  You arrive to an empty Starbucks and get some iced coffee and a hot croissant straight out of the oven.  The air smells of cocoa beans and sugar, inviting a morning of productivity.  Music twinkles in your ears.

I am much more a morning person than one of nighttime.  I hate the sunset – it means that night is setting in, and the dark invites unwanted anxiety and occasional depression.  The morning, though, is full of promise.  You can make the day how you want it.  It’s a fresh start, and it’s especially peaceful when you’re seemingly the only one up.  You feel as though you have the whole world to yourself, just for a little bit.  I think on the walk from my room to Starbucks at 6:30, I only saw one person and they were riding a bike.  You know you look at too many memes when you see that they’re wearing very loose black clothes and immediately think of this guy:

Well, Happy Monday folks.

 

Tuesday
02/14/17

Spring 2017: The Test of my Stress Resources

Posted by bostonki on February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

4 classes.  One which involves extensive paper writing and classroom shadowing on our own time.  11 hours of paid work every week.  7 or 8 study abroad scholarships to submit by the end of March.  An online Australia orientation, and masses of paperwork to fill out.  Fall 2017 academic and housing planning.  The next three months are promising to be a workout of all the stress coping-resources I’ve gained since the start of freshman year.

I’ve heard it gets worse.  Harder classes, grad school applications, research, actually living in an apartment and being responsible for your own cooking (the audacity), and probably much more that my fellow junior and senior friends can fill in the gaps with.  Point is, it never gets easier.  So now is the time to learn how to healthfully deal with stress.  Some of my favorites I’ve listed below – I’ll let you know at the end of the semester if I actually managed to follow through with them and if they helped keep my stress levels at bay (but so far in week #3, we’re looking good).

1.) UTILIZE THE GYM/FITNESS OPTIONS

UB has athletic facilities in alumni (which I don’t use) but I assume they have the standard treadmills and weights.  They also have a swimming pool and racquetball court (which I find very zen-like on its’ own).  At the Richmond gym, there’s cardio and weights.  The school offers so many different levels of free yoga classes at night.  And outdoor basketball and tennis courts.  And ice skating in the winter.  The campus is also extremely bike-friendly.  The point is, it’s so easy to get active and exercising is associated with lower stress levels, so do it.  Duh.

I mean seriously, it cannot get more zen than this.

2.) Hit up Edgy Veggies

You’ll want to here.  Just not the prepackaged ones unless they’re from Au Bon Pain.  Hit up Edgy Veggies every once in awhile, you’ll be glad you did (psst.. try the Seneca Apple Chicken Salad, please).  I’m also proud of Au Bon Pain’s soup offerings.  At least three different kinds of intense veggie soup and some heartwarming broccoli & cheddar for those that want to at least convince themselves they’re eating healthy.

3.) Get lost in the shelves of Lockwood

I’m the type of person who gets relaxed in the presence of books.  If you’re a fan of musty-smelling books and those on really obscure topics, try traipsing through the aisles of Lockwood.  All five floors are filled with books and it would take days to look through the collection thoroughly.  I could have sworn there was a section about the Walt Disney Company on the fifth floor.  Also, fiction novels like a community library.  And yes, you can check things out.  Pretty much forever as long as no one needs them.

Lockwood’s awesome but does not beat the Beast’s library. *sigh*

4.) Take advantage of tea

If you’re in the Honors College, come take advantage of the consistently free tea, coffee, and hot cocoa in the lounge.  Attend Elevenses if you’ve always wanted to raise your pinky in the air while you sip.  Also, the Health & Wellness Center (is that what it’s called) located by the UB theatre in the Union has a really nice dark lounge with tons of magazines and free tea.  I’ve heard there are massaging chairs and free massages, but I cannot confirm this.

I’m sure there are so many more things available to UB students to help with stress reduction, but my brain cells are fried so I’m going to log off and crack open Eat, Pray, Love.  After, you know, I do my readings for class tomorrow.

Tuesday
02/07/17

The Mid-College Crisis

Posted by bostonki on February 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

It’s a real thing – somewhere around the middle of a student’s sophomore year, they somehow manage to realize how much time has passed them by and how they have less than an opportune amount of time left to prepare themselves for the next step.  A.K.A, the mid-college crisis.  I’m the perfect example.

I spent the first year and a half of college exploring my interests and developing myself personally.  Doing this is inevitable, and it’s safe to assume that the first two years of college is a lot better time to discover yourself than when you’re almost thirty.  The disappointing part is that graduate schools don’t care about how much “self-actualization” or “character development” or “mental illness-overcoming” you’ve done, they care about the academic and community endeavors on that resume.  These are hard things to do when depressed, anxious, and unsure of yourself.  Now that I’ve finally settled into what I think is a major I want to complete and carry on with, I feel immense pressure to get the four-year experience in the five semesters I have left.

Why, even though I already have education-related work experience, the blog, a position in the Honors College, and the studying abroad I’m embarking on this summer, do I feel as if my resume is still flat?  There are so many things left that I want to accomplish before graduation – psychology research, being a teaching assistant, and joining a club, just to name a few.  I imagine I’m not the only one who has already begun to worry about grad school resume-loading.  You are not alone.

So, the question remains.  How can we combat this?  Social psychology’s Comparison Theory states that when we compare ourselves with somebody else who we perceive as inferior to us in whatever way, we feel better about ourselves.  The opposite is true for comparison to others that we feel are superior to us.  While listening to the guy sitting next to you in World Civilizations II claim that he “got all 20’s and 30’s on his tests last semester” makes us feel better about our lackluster resumes, we shouldn’t really go by this principle.  Try being positive.  Trust that you have been working hard and growing in your personal and career endeavors, and that your hard work will pay off.  Trust that you will end up where you’re supposed to be.  Keep up the hard work and try to get involved, but make sure to do so in ways that interest you (I, for, example, am writing this blog).  The benefits will be greater.  Just have faith, and watch your guilty pleasure TV show while binging on a comforting snack every once in a while.

These six people (or is it three?) have faith that you can do it.

 

Monday
01/30/17

Kangaroos and koalas

Posted by bostonki on January 30, 2017 in Australia, travel, Uncategorized

It’s crazy to be thinking about summer plans already considering that it’s only the first day of the spring semester.  But here I am, daydreaming away before my first class sucks me in like a tornado.  I did something huge this winter, something that I vowed to do before I graduated college.  I decided to study abroad.  My ideal location was Europe (isn’t that everyone’s dream destination, after all?  The history, the art, the architecture, the food…), but the program I was looking at in Italy fell through.  So I’m going to Australia.

I’ve never left the country except for Canada and a six-hour jaunt in Nassau via a cruise.  The longest plane ride I’ve taken was five hours.  I’ve never seen a snake except behind glass at a zoo.  And I’ve only used the phrase “shrimp on the barbie” to poke fun at a saying that probably isn’t used all that much anyways.  Now my longest plane ride will be twenty hours.  I’ll be an ocean away from everything that’s familiar to me.  I will be around animals that supposedly can kill me with one look.  Needless to say, I’m terrified.  But, I’m also excited beyond belief.  I’ll see koalas and kangaroos in their natural setting.  I’ll get to meet Australian aboriginal folks and learn about their way of life in the Outback.  I’ll get to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, for crying out loud.

Uluru (or Ayers Rock), a sacred site to the local aboriginal peoples.

The Great Barrier Reef.  Just a sampling of the wild diversity found under the clear, warm waters.

A kangaroo and her joey, added for this post’s cuteness factor.

Australia has always been on my bucket list, since I was a little kid and saw Finding Nemo (unfortunately, I don’t think 42 Wallaby Way exists).  It’s a location that seems so remote and otherworldly to Americans, so far away.  And while it is, it won’t be a complete culture shock the way that countries in Africa and Asia may be to us.  I wanted to go someplace that I felt safe and familiar going to, but one that also pushes me to the edge of my comfort zone.  I felt as if Italy did not do that for me, so now I’m packing up my bags to hang with the Aussies for a month.  What a rush.

Monday
01/16/17

What it’s like to work in an anatomy lab

Posted by bostonki on January 16, 2017 in biology, medicine, science

**Proceed with caution.  I won’t get too grotesque, but some details may leave readers with an uncomfortable knot in their stomach.**

Seventy year old organs, preserved in jars behind a locked glass door.  Some are more than organs.  There was a pair of conjoined twins and a multitude of fetuses at various stages of development.  I found out by cleaning off the glass jars once that these lids were not secure, and quickly changed tasks.  The smell of formaldehyde and antisocial coworkers hits you the minute you step through the doors.  All looks innocent upon first glance – just row after row of closed up lab tables, large doors lining one wall, and a roll-down metal door barrier along the other.  It’s only once you study or work here that you realize the large doors lining the wall are coolers to store cadavers and that behind that metal barricade is a complete embalming station and crematorium.

(mmm… brains)

I spent six months of my freshman year working in a gross anatomy lab.  It was extremely fascinating at some times, and utterly intolerable at others.

My coworker always had the ‘tour body’ on hand – the one we would show high schoolers who came through and marveled at it.  It was already completely dissected.  I remember coming here in my senior year of high school and seeing this very body, my class passing around the unattached limbs and marveling at the beautiful structure and complexity of it all.  I remember him peeling back the cadaver’s mesentery and small intestine and showing us the cadaver’s ovaries and fallopian tubes – how small they looked!  Now, I was on the other side of things.  We gave a tour, which thanks to the demanding teacher and obnoxious kids, resulted in them pushing and shoving their way into the restricted crematorium and embalming areas.  I think they were perpetually freaked out after that incident, considering there was an embalming in the process.

We did the famous work of the ancient Egyptians, without the cliché white wrap and with modern instrumentation.  The cadaver is to be placed on a clean table (all of the sudden, horrifying memories of being assigned to clean off a table post-dissection are flooding back).  They are rinsed down and their heads shaven.  A drill (yes, like the DeWalt in your basement) is used to make a small hole through their skull.  We go through the bone.  As the embalming fluid is pushed through the body via the femoral artery, blood exits through this hole (I know, I’m trying to be as least gross as possible), keeping the fluid pressure from getting too high.

I had a relatively high death tolerance.  I could take a group of students through a cadaver, rifle through it’s insides to find the stomach (which is actually quite hard to find when there is no food present, it’s just a thin sac with nothing in it).  I could drill the aforementioned hole and physically help push the embalming fluid into the further reaches of a body.  There were, however, my limitations.  The first time I ever assisted in cremation threw me for a loop.  So did the lab students’ last day in class, where we had to send various cadaver parts to schools around the city and state that requested them.  Or perhaps the week I spent transferring ashes from their metal tins to paper bags in anticipation of a mass burial for those who went unclaimed.  And many more experiences, which I choose to keep private both for the happiness level of this post and my personal reservoirs.

While working in an anatomy lab can be a (sort of) wonderful and educational experience, the death eventually overcame me like the dementors to Harry Potter.  Being employed there for an extended period of time can literally suck some of the happiness and life out of you.  My recommendation?  Stick to taking your fifteen-week required gross anatomy course, and then leave.  Being a student is much better and happier than seeing what goes on behind the scenes.  Trust me, I’ve experienced it both ways.

 

 

Friday
12/30/16

Contemplating winter break and an English PhD

Posted by bostonki on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

The exams have been taken, the dorm packed, the suitcase left laying on the floor in my room, the holidays celebrated, and the boredom beginning to kick in.

I always find winter break to be exceptionally painful post-New Year’s.  There’s nothing to be done unless you work part-time (which thank goodness will take up some of my January), and it’s not like there are too many outdoor activities going on in Buffalo.  A large chunk of my break is usually spent complaining about how at any second I could physically die of boredom, and then subsequently tearing through a 300-page novel in two days.

Yesterday, I finished the most delightful mystery/thriller novel (undoubtedly my favorite genre), You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott.  The plot follows elite competitive gymnast Devon, whose parents will do anything to see her realize what they think is her dream of someday reaching the Olympics.  The story is an unsuspiciously normal murder mystery, until the last 100 pages.

I’m not here to discuss the plot, however, but the author herself.  Her style of writing was something that I’ve never really encountered before in a novel.  She splits the pieces of the puzzle up into seemingly unimportant fragments, somehow managing to keep the cast of characters’ emotions and memories amazingly realistic as we travel through the story.  An emotion that a character displayed on page twenty three could come back to haunt us on page two hundred and twenty nine.  I also noticed how her interactions between characters are different.  There is less identification in the conversations as to who’s talking and more action.  The reader feels as if they are watching a conversation play out right before their eyes.  I’m not an English major, nor know much about what these differences could be, but I do know that they are there.

The author has a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University.  Is there something to this extra experience and education that results in the differences I felt reading her novels compared to others?  The change was certainly welcoming.  I may have to read around and figure this out for myself.