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Two Songs and Two Songs Only

Posted by caaponte on February 24, 2017 in Junior Year, Reflection

You’ve got two songs and that’s it.

If you could listen to 2 songs as you laid on your death bed, what would they be? I bet you’re thinking that it’s a ridiculous question and you’re partially right. But if you’re actually taking the time to think about what sweet sounds you’d want to hear, by now you have probably reached the point where you have realized how difficult it is.

Would you want to hear something that reminds you of when you were 5 on a road trip to your grandparents or the song you’d listen to while warming up for the big sectional finals in high school basketball? Is there a song that relaxes you or do you have a favorite song that you get ready to every morning that you couldn’t go without?

After asking my friends, it doesn’t seem like people usually choose a song based on the memory that it couples with. But, I do think your choice says a lot about you. For me, I would like to listen to “Island in the Sun” by Weezer and “A Wonderful World” by Israel ‘Iz.’  Why? Something about those two songs that put a smile on my face every time they come on. But…this isn’t a post about me. It is about YOU.

Music is universal and can reach out to us in ways we could have never imagined. It can make you feel motivated and discouraged and enlightened all at the same time. So, for the moments where you get to listen to your last two songs of choice…would would they be?


Carrying on Family Tradition

Posted by caaponte on February 15, 2017 in Family, Futuristic Thinking

For my grandfather, happiness was found in having the family all together. He and my Abuela spent their entire lives building not just a house, but a home. With the recent passing of my Abuelo, I worry how we will uphold tradition… and if we will at all.

I’m the youngest grandchild and so I almost feel as though I am obligated to continue what he worked his whole life to instill in all of us. Whether it was with a pot of rice, a salami and cheese tray, an ice cream cake, zucchini bread, pollo asado, or a pig roast, they had the power to bring people from all over together.

Walking into their living room, you would see the family dancing salsa and merengue. Going outside, you could pick cherries from their many cherry trees and pick grapes right from the vine. Their home embodied the fairytale-like home you read about in storybooks as a child.

I was born in Rochester, as was my father. As the second generation, I wonder if my kids will be able to understand what it means to be Puerto Rican. The fiestas and asados are fewer and farther in between and as that tradition dwindles, I feel as though I am doing the future generations of my family an injustice if I don’t work harder to carry on Puerto Rican traditions. It is not just the food (although it is delicious), nor is it just the music (although it will certainly get you on your feet). Being Puerto Rican is a combination of rich history, romantic Spanish language, a positive disposition, and an understanding that special occasions are meant to be spent gathered in a circle with family. BUT – Just because you may not share the same last name, does not mean you are not family. I would be here all day if I shared with you all the friends and neighbors my grandparents welcomed into their home.

In efforts to celebrate his life, I hope to continue spreading his message to work hard but to always make sure to set aside time to spend with mi familia. His legacy and his strength will live on.


The Definition of Free

Posted by caaponte on February 13, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, University Life

It makes no difference what I am being offered. If it is free, I will take it.


The end piece of a loaf of bread?

With a price tag of FREE, it looks like it also has my name on it.

We hate standing in lines, yet we have no problem doing so when it will get us something for FREE. Imagine that. You don’t have to take a $5 bill out of your pocket in exchange for a sandwich. Instead, you can donate time out of your life in order to get that sandwich. Isn’t it the same?

Maybe it’s just the sense of satisfaction you get when you didn’t technically have to pay for the sandwich. Duke professor Dan Ariely writes, “People appear to act as if zero pricing of a good not only decreases its cost but also adds to its benefits.” He states that getting something for free “gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”

Sound familiar? Or are you still wearing the t-shirt that says “Johnny Rockets” or “Kenmore High School” to all your most prestigious events? If you’re like me, you have t-shirts, pamphlets, bobbleheads, highlighters, pens, and pins from events you don’t even remember. “First 100 people get a free workbook!” Without even knowing what’s in the workbook, I’m running to be the first 100. I mean, I still have lanyards from college visits that remain untouched (Let me know if you need a lanyard).

I believe college students are extremely financially conscious. We have to be. When your full-time job is school, the money earned on the side must be spent sparingly and wisely. For some reason, a sandwich can taste so much better knowing that it was “free.” But, then I get to thinking about the big picture. Sure I’d prefer to spend less on lunch, but that tendency overlooks the value of the final product. Whether it’s a t-shirt from a blood drive, a dress from a discounted clothing store, or a haircut, we often disregard the resources used, the time taken to make the product, and the education to provide the service provided.

In a nation that is one of the top contenders in countries that donate to those in need, I question how often we stop to think how “free” or “discounted” a product really is. Personally, I know the times I have stopped to consider this are too few. And who pays the price for my lack of consideration? I can’t give you a specific name but I can tell you that it is not free.


The Buffalo Experience

Posted by caaponte on February 13, 2017 in Buffalo

I remember feeling guilty so guilty as I approached my first Thursday concert at Canalside. Less than 30 minutes away, every Thursday, was a free concert. Going into my sophomore year, I thought I at least had a pretty good idea of what it was like to live in Buffalo but apparently I was all wrong.

First off, if you’re planning on going to a chain restaurant for dinner, think again. Buffalo is home to a number of unique, diverse places to go out and eat. Buffalo gets the idea that it isn’t just about the food..but it is also about the experience as a whole.


If you’re looking to try a new burger..try Grover’s.


If you’re looking to go out and watch the game…head to the 716.


If you’re a cheese-fanatic…bring your friends to Chef’s.


If it’s the time of the week for tacos…La Casa Azul will be the place to go.


If you’re looking for quality breakfast and a nice cup of coffee…check out Sophia’s.


If you need your fill of chocolate…The Chocolate Bar is here to satisfy your craving.


If you can’t find parking for the Sabres game…park at the casino nearby (for free I should add).


If spring has begun and you’re still feeling the freshman fifteen as you’re about to finish your junior year…go online to see the free classes Canalside offers throughout the week (Zumba included).


AND if you have never been…one of the 7 wonders of the World is practically right around the corner and across the Peace Bridge. Even in the winter, as I have included, Niagara Falls is absolutely beautiful.


So for those of you who were like me and lived on campus, I advise you to spend one night every week/month/semester trying something new at a place unique to Buffalo. That way, upon graduation, you can honestly say you have truly experienced Buffalo (and four of its winters).


In the Midst of the Best Four Years of my Life (maybe)

Posted by caaponte on February 9, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year, University Life

Today I saw my friend post pictures from her Accepted Students Day. But this wasn’t your ordinary Accepted Students Day. She was accepted into UB’s School of Dental Medicine this past December and today, her and many others celebrated their achievement.

And then I got to thinking about upcoming deadlines. This will be my year to apply to dental school and it feels like just yesterday I was asking where the Student Union was.

Time is FLYING here at UB and it is crazy to me to think that next year at this time I will (hopefully) be sitting with my acceptance to my top choice dental school. But that story is not limited to me…where will YOU be a year from now? Putting into consideration how much can happen over the course of a year, I think it’s refreshing to imagine the possibilities a year can bring.

Whether you are looking forward to who you’ll meet, what new food you’ll try (foodie alert), or how far you learn you can go without your car running out of gas (proceed with caution on that one)… I sincerely hope you are enjoying how you are creating your experience at UB.

University Life is a love-hate relationship. There are some things I get very frustrated over but then there are others that I find myself missing over semester breaks. They say college will be the best four years of your life. Despite the fact I find myself reaching for a coffee more often than I know I should, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Especially considering these past three years have given me much more than I have expected.

I have met incredible people that have made me laugh, cry, and do some weird combination of the two. I was accepted into a fellowship that paid for me to work in a hospital during the week and had me flying over the Andes mountains on the weekends. I have increased my Spanish fluency to communicate with my relatives and I even bought a GoPro to give me an excuse to continue being a little more adventurous. I would not be doing the past three years at UB justice if I didn’t include all the negatives. We would be here all day if I told you how many dishes I’ve burnt, how many times I’ve lost my UB ID Card, or how I managed to get summer program applications in on the last day and paid for shipping in quarters. If you see me in the hall, I’d be happy to tell you about the time I went on and on about these “Cascaras de Niagara” as I explained to my Chilean friends the beauty of the Niagara Falls. At this point, I should probably mention that “waterfall” translates to cascaDAs…not cascaRas…..While I thought I was telling them about the 7th World Wonder, the Niagara Falls, they thought I was an overly proud American talking about some sort of Niagara Peel.


As we begin spring semester, I guess I am just curious to see what more university life will bring. Whatever it is, I am ready for the best years of my life to continue.


What Does it Mean to be American?

Posted by caaponte on February 1, 2017 in Future of the United States, Junior Year

The recent election has me questioning a lot of things. But the one question I keep asking myself is, “What does it mean to be American?”

This past winter break, I met a couple from Belgium and we started comparing life in Belgium to life in the United States. I asked for their perception of Americans and they confessed that they believed all Americans were blonde, blue-eyed, and lazy. Standing there before them as a brown-eyed, brunette (who is not lazy if I do say so myself), it became my personal mission to prove that every American is not the same. Yes – we have blondes and people with blue eyes. But, to couple those who are a bit lazier than others, we also have an entrepreneurial spirit that has driven us to be the first to travel to the moon.

They inquired further and asked what a typical dish in the United States would be. To that, I did not have a definitive answer. “Quite frankly, it depends on where you go.” The United States is flooded with such a wide range of cultures and aside from pizza (THANK YOU ITALY), there is no dish that I could guarantee every household serves.

Although that may be frustrating to incoming foreigners, I think it is a beautiful thing. Where else in the world can you turn to the person to your right, ask where their family immigrated from, and expect a response different from the person to your left. I hope in the upcoming years we continue to appreciate these differences in order to better understand each other’s perspective.

So, to answer my own question of what does it mean to be American…I still do not know. As a melting pot of ideas and customs from all over the world, what does that mean for the United States? How did we get the stereotype of lazy when my parents work long hours to make ends meet and when students work during the semester to finance their education? Was it our reality TV personalities that gave them this idea or was it the impression that we sit around eating McDonald’s all day? Maybe we are seen as lazy because the increasing percentage of first-generation college students are not highlighted in the media. Maybe that means that the voice of the media has a louder voice than we had predicted. If we care how we are seen by others, how can we modify what we display in order to ensure our strengths are highlighted rather than just our weaknesses?

I feel as though it is difficult to gain an understanding of other ways of life from inside the borders of the US and so I am a big fan of traveling to other countries. When I return, I’m often told to “act more American.’ But, again, what does that even mean? Traveling outside of the US is not me running away from problems in my own country. Rather, I am searching to see how similar problems are solved differently. I believe that as we teach others to solve their individual issues, there is also a lot to learn from them as well.


Mr. President – In the upcoming years, I hope that what it means to be American becomes more defined because I would like to know what is expected of me as a United States citizen.