Senior Year

February 18th, 2020

Senior year. What a weird time in someone’s life. Your senior year of college is so many things: it’s exciting, different, stressful, and of course sentimental. As I have begun my last semester ever as a college student, I have felt every feeling known to man. As I begin my job search I am excited; I am also nervous and scared. I am excited because of the idea of being able to fend for myself and starting the next chapter of life is riveting. But I am also scared. I have to put myself out there; I have to be confident and fight for the career that I want. That can be scary. What if I try my hardest but still don’t get the job I want? 

As I am just beginning this process, I am realizing that I am going to get rejected but that is okay. The company that rejects me wasn’t meant to be the company I work for. If it was, they would want me back. I could compare this to what I learned about relationships. If the guy you like does not show or tell you that he wants you back, then brush it off and move on. There is no point in fighting for someone who doesn’t want you. Just like if after interviewing for a position you want and trying the best you possibly can, you don’t get another call-back, then it’s okay, brush it off and move on. Your career is out there you just have to find its beginning point.

Besides starting the job hunt, I am realizing how much my perspective of college has changed in my senior year. I used to walk around campus feeling so small. As I have made many connections over the years the campus began to feel smaller and smaller. Now I feel at home. I feel as though I found my people and my confidence has skyrocketed. I believe in myself just as much as my friends and family do and that is something that took working on but it became easier once I began to grow and learn here at James Madison University. I walk around campus today feeling as though I know what to expect. As a senior, I cherish all the memories I have made here. I have not only been taught academics; I have grown up here. I have learned how to be on my own. I have learned how to make connections that will last a lifetime. And I have learned how to be happy on my own. College is not only about learning what is taught in your classes. It’s about setting you up for the real world and I believe this school has done that for me and I hope it does that for all of you.

College is a special place with special opportunities. If I were to give any advice to the underclassmen and incoming freshmen, it would be to take all of those opportunities. Colleges offer so much and it is all to better your life and your career. If you spend 4 years just trying to pass and get by that’s okay, but if you take your four years and jump on any and all opportunity presented to you, you will come out of school with a stable head on your shoulders, ready to take on the real world. Be excited, be scared, be nervous; but senior year is pretty cool.

 

By Hannah Sternberg

Hannah is a rising Senior at James Madison University majoring in the School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration of Broadcast Journalism. She works for her schools weekly newscast called Breeze TV as a reporter. Her dream is to become a reporter but she also enjoys the entertainment production industry. One of her favorite things to do to relieve stress is dancing. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

You are Not Alone

December 30th, 2019

Students attend college to graduate with a degree. Why do we do this? Well because society tells us this is the way to make a good living for yourself. The reality seems to be that there is a very small amount of decent-paying jobs that will hire someone without a degree. And if you don’t attend college and get a degree, people tend to look down on you or judge you. So what are young adults supposed to do? Some may feel there are too many pressures and not even attend school. But for those who do, the pressures grow as they get closer to their senior year. As I senior myself, I am currently feeling these pressures from every angle.

Although I am lucky to have parents who support me in every choice that I make, there are some students who feel that if they don’t get a 4.0 grade-point-average that they have failed their parents. Some may feel that if they had changed their major, they have failed at something. Others feel that if they choose an uncommon path that they are a disappointment. What we as young adults need to realize is that this is exactly what college is about.

College is for learning how to grow. It’s learning how to live on your own, and it’s learning how to fail and pick yourself right back up. Yes of course college is for getting a degree. But now as a 22-year-old about to enter the last semester of my college career, I have learned way more than how to succeed as a journalist. I’ve learned that it is okay to choose a career path that, maybe not everyone agrees with. It’s also okay to be a senior and not know 100% what you want to do when you graduate. I have a friend who recently shared that she has decided to take a gap year before going to law school. For four years now, she has had a set plan of graduating with a pre-law, justices-studies degree and then attending law school. Now that we are seniors, she has decided to take a gap year to focus on herself rather than just her school. I share this because I want to make it clear that it is totally normal and okay to change your mind. It’s okay to take some time to yourself to figure out what you really want. If you can’t find a job right away that is okay.

Do not get discouraged because there are so many people going through the same exact thing. This is just life. It may get harder, but that is why you must be happy. Because if you aren’t happy with what you are doing, it will be harder to face the many obstacles that may come your way.

It is very common for students to go into a career that has nothing to do with their major. Students do not have to feel like they MUST have it all figured out. I will say, while in you’re in school, you should try to use all the resources you can while you have so many right at your fingertips. In the end, most students who graduate will end up with a job one way or another. You will figure it out. The important thing is to make sure you are happy with what you are doing and where you are going. It is clear that entering the workforce at 22 is not easy but there are thousands of 22-year-olds entering the workforce right along with you and each and every one of them will be okay. Just know you are not alone.


By Hannah Sternberg

Hannah is a rising Senior at James Madison University majoring in the School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration of Broadcast Journalism. She works for her schools weekly newscast called Breeze TV as a reporter. Her dream is to become a reporter but she also enjoys the entertainment production industry. One of her favorite things to do to relieve stress is dancing. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get Disney+ (Or Any New Streaming)

November 10th, 2019

Who here can’t get enough of streaming films and tv shows? Who here is a Netflix binger? Who here routinely swipe aside the textbook to get your diet of streaming movies and TV?

Many of you are excited about the arrival of Disney+. Some of you are Star Wars fans looking forward to The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars show. Or some are cinephiles who want to access a treasure trove of old Disney classics. Or you’re a Marvel lover who wants some more superheroes.

As a student, navigating your streaming pleasures is an exercise in budgeting as well as viewing discipline.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself:

If you can’t afford another streaming service, are you ready to sacrifice another streaming? 

Society is streaming-saturated! So, unfortunately, I have to consolidate what I want to watch. Some students may have more than one streaming service to catch original shows that can’t be found on TV. I want to watch my Handmaid’s Tale? I get Hulu. I want to watch my Marvel shows like Daredevil or Jessica Jones? Netflix. I want Game of Thrones? HBO! I want The Expanse? Amazon Video.

Depending on what streaming you have, it could be a great discipline to get go of at least one streaming service if you are using them sparingly. For example, if I only use my Hulu once or twice a month, that’s a sign I shouldn’t be subscribing and my money should go elsewhere.

Are you gonna commit to viewing?

So you paid for your streaming and you’re telling yourself “I’m gonna watch EVERYTHING.” Are you really?

Some of your schedules may be really funky. As a freelancer, it’s hard for me to predict my break periods. It’s hard for me to see if I have a window of hours where I could get a movie or episode down.

And just as people procrastinate with their studies, it’s also possible to procrastinate on planned pleasures.

Are you gonna keep that binging in check?

Hate to whip out the obvious, but addiction to streaming is unhealthy. Yes, schedule time to make the best use of your streaming service, but mind your habits. Dr. Michael J Breus warns that binge-watching will ruin your sleep. Research shows that being overloaded with programming–stories, action, images–will stimulate your brain activity. If you have been watching this show for five hours, pinch yourself and stop. Bring your eyes to the books or the outdoors.

Happy streaming! Happy viewing!

By Caroline Cao


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

Drawing at the NYC Museums: From Stick-Figures to Sketches

October 30th, 2019

I used to draw stick figures. I’m not what anyone would call a professional artist, or even a good amateur artist. During English and Literature lectures in my undergrad years, I would see my peers doodling away. Whenever I couldn’t process the professor’s droning word, I would entertain myself by watching my desk mates scribble stars, flowers, and people, envious that I could not do what they did.

I am finding new hobbies at age 25. I am a writer by nature. But I decided to expand my horizon. Instead of staying cooped up in my apartment, I made it my goal to step outside more often. Last week, I attended the Museum of Moving Images. I flashed my student ID and received the student discount. (They have free enties on Friday, 4-8pm).

I wandered the Jim Henson Exhibition, out of a love for the recent 2019 The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance series. I saw Henson’s doodly character sketches for Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.

I had a sketchbook in my bag. So I whipped it out. And I sought to imitate Henson’s sketches and some of artist Brian Froud.

These are the results. Not stick-people, but shapes.

View this post on Instagram

Sometimes you see something you want to draw so badly.

A post shared by Carol Cao (@maximininalist) on

 

By Caroline Cao

See also:


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

What To Do For Low Cost Entertainment Around NYC

October 15th, 2019

You know what’s the best break from your studies? Watching something cool! Or maybe something that makes you tear up. It’s not hard to entertain yourself in the Big Apple. Look around you, there is entertainment all around you.

If your pockets are low, check out these free or low-cost forms of entertainment or respite from your studying.

See Galleries

The mere act of drinking in sites and art is a relaxing form of entertainment. There are some free exhibitions you can find in NYC.

Walk the Park

As the studies say, access to trees reduces depression. So you might want to find your nearest NYC park and drink the fresh air. The famous Central Park is an ideal walkthrough.

Walking the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has an $8 discount for students.

Your Nearest Library

Yeah, books, magazine, comics are entertainment! Do not take for granted the power of a library card, which can bring you a bunch of NYC benefits. Find the Brooklyn Public Library or your New York Public Library.

Street Performers

People dance and play on the streets or subways of New York City. If you stop to watch on the streets or bother to look up from your subway seat, do spare a dollar for them.

The most fruitful site of entertainment can be found around Time Square. Follow the big crowd of people surrounding street dancers.

Streaming (And not just Netflix)

Yeah, I guess sometimes you just gotta stay at home and watch your Russian Doll, The Good Place, or Raising Dion. 

It’s just recommended you don’t spiral into binge-watching entire series in one sitting. Try to proportion your streaming consumption by studying in between episodes.

Also, you got a student email? Use it! A student email can allow you to access classic films on Kanopy streaming.

By Caroline Cao


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

 

 

Share

Study Burnout: How To Charge Your Brain (Without Netflix)

September 18th, 2019

Have you ever stared at the cards on your vocabulary sheet and it looked like mumbo jumble? Have you groaned when the teacher piles on more study assignments on you? Has your eyes averted your homework in favor of staring down at your phone? Have you lied in bed and stared at the ceilings for hours when you had something to do.

You could be having burnout. And that’s totally normal. What can you do about it (that doesn’t involve your WiFi and Netflix)?

Take a walk to the park

NYC has many wonderful parks. My personal favorite is the Central Park with its green expense and rustling trees, If you have a bike, go bike here.

Take a walk around the city

Walking around green park is good, but the noisy Big Apple buildings. You can examine the NYC structure. You might discover fascinating places. For example, I somehow ran into the free American Gangster Museum while on a walk.

Throw yourself into a college activity

College is hard but it is also great at spoiling you with free swag and social events. Solana Joan Suazo wrote previously about how NYU orientation events lead to new friends.

Call your distant friend

A lot of you probably left behind close friendships when you left for college. It pains me that some friends fade away, not from memory, but from time. If you can, find that distant friend that does have time and call-in (or Skype-in) on them once in a while. Ask them how their lives are doing.

Great, so you refreshed yourself. And you did it without Netflix!

By Caroline Cao


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

You are Important Too

August 15th, 2019

You Are Important Too

I have come a long way in the past year. I have healed, learned, and I have knocked down most of my insecurities. Since my “non-relationship” ended a little over a year ago, I have taken every step to become the person I really want to be. I love myself for who I am and I am finally okay with being single. For the longest time, all I wanted was a boyfriend; someone to love me the way my friends’ boyfriends loved them. I questioned why I was one of very few of my friends who had never been in a serious relationship. I convinced myself that there was something wrong with me and I began to overthink every situation. Any connection I had with someone, I would become so excited and in the end, I would try and force something that wasn’t there. Along with going for the wrong guys, the fact that I was always looking for someone is what would ultimately ruin any situation I would get into. I have a pattern of letting guys lead me on even though I was aware of multiple red flags. I was just happy to get attention from someone because it reassured me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. After continuously accepting the attention from people I shouldn’t have, I began to feel unwanted. Even though I knew guys wanted me, I believed that they wanted me for the wrong reasons and I would be self destructive with every connection. I pushed people away without realizing it. 

About a month after fully cutting ties with the guy from sophomore year, I began casually seeing someone. It was refreshing and exciting. He seemed excited about me and I for sure was excited about him. We talked every moment we could. And for once, I wasn’t initiating it. I felt like he wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see him. Being around him would automatically put me in a better mood. The way he treated me was such a drastic change from my past and I believe that is why I felt so strongly so fast. That was the issue, we moved way too fast. We had no idea what was actually going on but all we knew as that we enjoyed each other’s company. As time went on, he stopped calling and texting me as much as he normally would. He stopped trying to see me as often. It was clear that he just wasn’t interested in pursuing me anymore. After basically ghosting me, I decided to text him and end whatever we had. He responded by telling me that he was just too busy and had to focus on his career; again, that is 100% an understandable excuse, but there were so many different ways to handle the situation that would have caused less pain. From the beginning, he was not clear about what his intentions were; but neither was I. In the end, it just was not the right timing for either of us and it didn’t work out. He was focusing on his career and himself and I’ve realized that I didn’t love myself the way I do now. I wanted it to work so badly that I ignored the signs again. I find myself still caring about him because that is just who I am. Once I care about someone, I never stop. But I am finally at a point in my life where I am okay with being alone and I have realized that if it is meant to be then maybe one day it will work out, but that does not mean that I am going to wait around for him. I am happy where I am in life and if someone else comes along, I will not hold back. 

Fast forwarding to right now, I am so content. I started focusing on bettering my health, I began taking dance classes again — which is the one thing that can change my mood in a second — and I realized that there is nothing wrong with who I am. I am who I am and I’m confident about that. This past year, I studied abroad and learned that there is so much more to experience. I have so many years left to find someone who loves me for me and right now it’s okay to be single. Since learning to love myself, I have learned to casually date. I’ve met so many new people this summer and have been pursued by a few. Being asked on dates has been shocking to me. My generation is definitely not known for getting into relationships but going on a few dates this summer has shown me that there are genuine people out there. I just have to be open to letting new people in. Again, this is not what I am focusing on but it has helped me get to a good place. 

Don’t let people who aren’t ready for you get under your skin. It is not worth the time thinking about someone who doesn’t think about you. Think about yourself; make sure you are happy with who you are and when you are ready, put yourself out there. For all you know, you could meet someone out of the blue who could potentially surprise you. Love yourself, endlessly. 


By Hannah Sternberg

Hannah is a rising Senior at James Madison University majoring in the School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration of Broadcast Journalism. She works for her schools weekly newscast called Breeze TV as a reporter in training and this year will become a full time reporter. Her dream is to become a reporter but she also enjoys the entertainment production industry. One of her favorite things to do to relieve stress is dancing. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

Love, or Lust?

August 10th, 2019

For the longest time I thought I loved him. I thought I loved this person who treated me as if I was some toy he could play with whenever it pleased him. I let him treat me this way for a majority of our “non-relationship.” I was aware of everything he was doing but I continued to go back to him. I am not blaming myself for how he treated me. In the moment I thought I loved him, when it is clear that it was fully lust. I will admit, that even in those moments when we “weren’t together” — if we can even call it that — and I would daydream about the good times we shared, I mostly thought about sleeping with him. As hard as it is to hear from even myself, I craved him for one reason and one reason only: sex. It took me about a full year to recognize that all my feelings I had felt towards him, were completely and utterly lust. Yes I cared about him and deep down I will always care about him because that is just who I am. But as I sit here and think about the time we spent together sophomore year, I realize that there was never any real substance to our conversations; they consisted of flirting and bantering back and forth; they consisted of me expressing my feelings and fighting with him because he clearly didn’t feel the same but pretended to. At the time, it was entertaining and fun and he was all I thought about. The lust blinded me. It is not love when you have to defend someone’s actions to your friends; it is not love when you feel guilty even seeing him — having to hide it from everyone you know; and it is not love when you have to question whether or not the connection you have with him is real. 

No one should blame themselves in a situation like this. He was a liar and a manipulator and I fell for it. He took advantage of my feelings and didn’t have a problem with it. Yes he was cruel and unfair, but I fell in lust with him and that was a huge factor in the demise of our “non-relationship.” I had never felt this type of easy going, comfortable connection with anyone else before. The way he smiled at me, the way he laughed with me, and the way he cuddled me was different. I’m sure now, that he acted this way with every girl he was with but I convinced myself that he treated me differently. He would tell me that I’m different. He would tell me that he cared about me a lot — and I am sure that was partly true. For someone to string another person along throughout a seven month period and not care for the other person at all seems inhumane to me. So I do believe he cared for me; but I just believe he did not know what to do with that. He was not in a place to accept the feelings he was having and frankly, neither was I. 


By Hannah Sternberg

Hannah is a rising Senior at James Madison University majoring in the School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration of Broadcast Journalism. She works for her schools weekly newscast called Breeze TV as a reporter in training and this year will become a full time reporter. Her dream is to become a reporter but she also enjoys the entertainment production industry. One of her favorite things to do to relieve stress is dancing. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

Share

I’ll Be Back

July 31st, 2019

I don’t pretend to have myself or the world figured out. There are still many aspects of my life I am unsure about; I have always identified as bisexual but I recently realized I might only be attracted to girls, sometimes I get an overwhelming urge to call my mother and just ask her to put all of this behind us so she can hold me again, and I occasionally wonder if I should even be putting time and energy into journalism when creative writing is my true passion… but that is the beauty of life. I don’t think we ever really figure it all out. It’s impossible to know and understand everything. But I do think it’s important to continue to grow, because that is something we will always have room for.

One of the most important skills I developed this last year was self-awareness. For a while, I lied to myself about many things; I lied to the people I love too. I was scared of the truthterrified of what it implied. As a result of the multiple life altering experiences I’ve gone through this year, I realized that I have to be honest with myself and others if I ever want to be my truest self. The truth is scary, but it’s almost always worth it. For the majority of my life I had this overwhelming desire to please everyone and not be an inconvenience. I believed this stemmed from years of living in other people’s houses and always feeling like a burden in a home that was not my own. I didn’t feel comfortable taking up spacelet alone explaining how I was feeling. So for a long time, I let others take advantage of me. In an old journal entry of mine, I wrote:

 

they take and they use and they break and i let them. i let them because i have convinced myself that if i allow them to take enough pieces of me, they will eventually fill my missing parts with their own. they never do.

 

I love to give. That is a piece of myself that will never change, but I’ve learned that I can’t give to the point where I stretch myself too thin, like a bed sheet too small for a mattress, desperately clinging on to the corners, hoping to fill the holes with over kindness. I can’t talk to every single guy that comes up to me on the street asking for my number and make it seem like I’m interested just because I’m too scared to hurt their feelings by rejecting them. I can’t listen vehemently to my friends when they point out my flaws that affect them, but never point out their own that affect me. I can’t get in these non-relationships anymore when I know they don’t work for me. And I can’t let people think it’s okay to be with me and be with others at the same time. I need to be honest about what I want, because what I want is just as valid as the desires of others. 

I think a lot of us devote our lives to othersleaving no time nor space for ourselves. Growing up, we are never taught to think of ourselves as a person. We would never tell others that they are not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, but we whisper those hurtful words into the mirror. And we carve out time into our day to hang out with others, but we don’t do the same for ourselves. Why don’t we view ourselves as highly as we view others? Why do we bend over backwards doing everything for everyone, but struggle doing things for ourselves? We are definitely deserving of it. It is not selfish to take care of one’s self. By being loving and giving toward ourselves, our hearts open wider for others. 

In society and many cultures, mental health is not something that is taken seriously. Therapy is viewed negatively and is only supposed to be utilized by those with severe mental illnesses. They treat it as if it should be kept a secret when we are suffering. None of this is true though. Society has shaped an atmosphere in which it is taboo to talk about our suffering and our trauma. But I believe if we open ourselves up and create safe spaces to have these conversations, we will learn that many people have had similar experiences. So many people struggle on a daily basis with anxiety and depression. So many people grew up poor and abused by their parents and have been sexually assaulted. I created a perzine last semester that showcased the majority of my trauma. I utilized poetry and letters that I’ve written as far back as when I was in middle school. Creating the perzine was both a cathartic and painful experience. Sharing it in front of my class was terrifying. But the three people that came up to me separately afterward and told me they experienced similar trauma growing up made it all worth it. They knew that they were no longer alone. I was no longer alone.

We have to open ourselves up to be vulnerable more often. It is not strong to bottle up emotions so that you never cry, that is weak. It is also hazardous to your mental health and the people around you that you’ll subsequently take that out on. I think real strength and bravery is found in vulnerability. It can be terrifying to share how we’re actually feeling. The fear of judgement is overwhelming sometimes. But it’s worth it. When you realize that you are enough and your own feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s, nothing else matters. Others opinions can’t bother you when you love yourself entirely. Once you find your own validation, no one can take that away from you. 

Another beautiful process that aids in returning to one’s truest self is returning to one’s culture. Being Latina played such a large role in shaping who I was when I was younger. It is a part of that naked and bare version of myselfmy honest self. It is also a reason I face adversity, but accepting and loving my culture combined with the immense pride I feel for it makes it all worth it. Now, I would never want to be anyone or from anywhere else. I love myselfwholeheartedly. And I love Puerto Rico and Cubadeeply. 

My eyes opened to the reality of the world far too young. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a close family member once told me, as morbid as it sounds, there was beauty to be found in that chaos. While going through the storm, it almost feels too difficult to live. But sometimes, I think you have to see just how dark life can get before you truly want to live. I never want to go back to that dark place, so everyday I strive to share light. The world is fucked up, but if I can leave an impact on just one person’s life, it all feels worth it. 

I think we often chase younger versions of ourselves. I long to be a small child again, with my two front teeth simultaneously missing, clinging onto my father’s legsbefore the pain. When my mom and dad were still together, when my sister lived with us and my brother was in diapers. When we lived in the stunning yellow house my father helped build in Puerto Rico. I look back at the very few pictures of the five us and my heart aches. I yearn for those times still. But I know they are over now. The days of waking up to the smell of Papi’s food and salsa blasting through his speakers have dissipated. The realist in me wants to say that all that remains of him are the bones in his grave. But the poet, and the dreamer in me says that I am left, and so is my brother. He and I resurrect our father. We keep his memory alive by being our truthful selves.

~~~

I once had a dream that continues to haunt me in the most beautiful way. I was walking through the forest. I couldn’t tell where I was or why I was there, but I knew that I had to keep walking. I knew I was moving toward something. It was almost as if I was being pulled. I walked for what felt like hours in the dream world, but I never grew weary. Suddenly, the trees cleared and I felt like my breath had been knocked out of me. 

I had made it. There was a lake that went out as far as the eye could see; it went out so far that it wrapped itself in the sky. And the sky, it was unreal. It was full of the most vibrant shades of pink I had ever seen in my entire life. The water reflected the sky. Everything was pink in the most beautiful way. I felt warm. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. How could this much beauty exist? I had also figured out it was a dream at that point, but I never wanted it to end. I didn’t want my eyes to open. I didn’t want to leave the pink.

A hand grabbed mine. I looked down and I could see every hair and vein. I could see the scars on his wrist I spent my childhood tracingtrying to heal. I could see my father’s gold watch. My eyes met his. Papi. He wiped my tears with his free hand. 

“I don’t want to go back Papi.” I grabbed his hand on my face and held it there.

“It’s going to be okay Chispy. You’ll be back. Until then, make me proud.”

 

I hope this makes him proud. 

———————

By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

Share

Existing in Two Spheres

July 31st, 2019

Maintaining a connection with one’s culture whilst living in America is an arduous task. It is easy to lose touch when we are surrounded by whiteness and racism, but it is crucial that we continue to embrace ourselves fully despite the adversity we will face.

I conducted interviews with three Latinx students at NYU, two who are first generation. They are currently taking Spanish classes because they don’t speak the language well enough to fulfill the requirement. While they each have had different experiences, they all shared that as their ability to speak the language increased, so did the level of connection they felt to their family and their culture. One of the students described this as an “empowering process.” I don’t believe that people need to be able to speak their native languages in order to be close to their culture, but I think having the ability to is helpful. As a result of increased language skills, there is an increase in connection to people within the family that only or primarily speak that language.

I know this is true for many cultures, but especially for Latinx culture, it is frowned upon to be incapable of speaking the language. We are called gringas and gringos by our own families which is confusing considering the fact that they are the ones who were unsuccessful at teaching us the languagea point that one of my interviewees made. He is Puerto Rican and said that whenever he visits the island he “always felt out of place. Like an outsider because [he] couldn’t speak the language of [his] culture.” We already experience various forms of oppression and marginalization, we can’t do the same to our own people. That same student explained that because of the color of his skin, he is targeted by others, especially the police. He shared stories of how on several occasions he has been subjected to “random bag checks” on the train; he takes the same route to school every single day. My heart broke hearing his story. This is the reality of many of our lived experiences.

It is so difficult to exist in both spheres. My first semester of college I wrote a short story titled Too Spanish for White People, Too White for Spanish People. My understanding of what being Spanish means and who that represents has changed since then, but the point remains. Many of us feel we are not enough for our families, but too much for America. We struggle to find our niche. I have been fighting my way back to my culture, but I think that as a people, we need to be more accepting of each other.

It’s also an arduous task to relearn the language, especially in a classroom setting. Two of the interviewees pointed out that the Spanish we learn in class is quite different from the Spanish spoken at home. We are taught the “proper” way, meanwhile many of our families speak in Spanglish or with slang they don’t teach in a textbook. Even if we take the classes in school, we still stick out because it is easy to tell we learned it from the book. For many, it begins to feel like we’re trying to win a stuffed animal from one of those rigged claw machines we’re playing a game we can’t win.  This is why we need to be more supportive of each other. Reclaiming our language and culture is an empowering process and we must aid others in it.

The three students I interviewed still don’t speak Spanish perfectly, but they all said that even the minor improvements in their ability to speak it have increased their levels of confidence and happiness. A Puerto Rican and Dominican student said she “feel[s] more connected talking to [her] mom because she loves to hear [her] try.” Having support while learning the language often means the difference between success and failure. When our family and friends support us speaking Spanish and tell us how to fix our mistakes instead of laughing or ridiculing us, it creates a safe space to practice and ultimately better our skills.

But of course there’s more to being Latinx than just our language; we have our music, our dances, our food, our myths. I grew up listening to salsa, bachata and merengue and being spun around by my father as he taught me the dances. I ate arroz con gandules y tostones with mayoketchup and I had Café Cubano afterwards. I was scared of the dark because I thought the Coco was going to get me and I believed that saying sana sana colita de rana si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana would heal any wound. I had this stripped away from me in secondary school, but through family, friends and education I am taking it back.

College often exposes us to more than we have ever seen. Two of the interviewees explained how through this exposure, they learned more about other cultures as well as their own. None of them knew the difference between identifying as Latinx and Hispanic until I told them; I didn’t even know until this last year. An Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican interviewee described this learning process as both touching and joyful. I think it’s been empowering. 

Once I arrived at college, I realized how colonized our history truly is. I went to El Museo Del Barrio during the second semester as a trip with our mentees from the World Changers Program. I stood in front of a lithographic print titled Felicidades – El Museo Del Barrio by Dominigo Garcia. The Statue of Liberty’s face stared right back at me with a Puerto Rican flag wrapped around its head. I smiled and thought how powerful. Then I read the blurb next to it and it shook me to my core. In 1977, thirty Puerto Rican nationalists protested at the Statue for the freedom of four militant nationalists. They actually draped the Puerto Rican flag on the Statue of Liberty’s head. How did we never learn about this? We learned about Christopher Columbus for years in a row and put on plays celebrating him in school, but we didn’t learn about this? Los Desaparecidos was another collection in the museum that told the story of the lost onesthe thousands of people who were kidnapped, tortured, killed and “vanished” in Latin America from the 1950s to the 1980s. I was able to visualize the torment they experienced… that I had never once learned about. I realized the intensity of the vast history that has been untold on that dayour history that has been stripped away from us. I vowed then to avidly learn as much as I could about our people and our history and to share our stories. 

 

 

Finding my way back to my culture has been a powerful process. I and two other interviewees have experienced increased levels of confidence. I stand up for myself now, and I love my culture. I love my skin and our history. I love my language and our food. I love and accept everything that makes us different. The Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican student expressed this passion for his culture as well. He said:

I love everything about myself unconditionally. Having pride in what I am is something I will never feel ashamed of, no matter how many people are against it. I will admit that it is disappointing and discouraging to know that there are people in this world who choose to hate and make others uncomfortable by shaming their culture. The one thing that gets me through is the constant reminder to myself that love has to win in all forms because I refuse to believe that the hatred that floods the American systems will be dominant.

We instead must flood American systems with acceptance, love, and knowledge. And we must begin to share these with ourselves. I don’t have a physical home, but I have found one now in my culture.

————————————-

By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

Share