Archive for March, 2011

Resisting Temptations

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

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I remember the first time I decided to eat vegan for 49 days from the beginning of March until Easter in 2009, as my religion required to. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but whenever I went to eat at students cafeteria at my college, my friends would always feel bad because they thought they were tempting me with their food. However, I was not bothered by smells and looks of their meals. There were other, stronger temptations I had to worry about at that time. Here are four types of temptation that you may have trouble dealing with:

1. “Easy temptations.” These are the provocations that tell you to switch from an activity you are reluctant to busy yourself with to a more appealing one. For example, going out with your friends instead of studying, or miss a class to see a movie. I call them “easy” because people usually don’t take long to give in to these temptations, especially if they don’t realize in what consequences going for the desirable may result.

Strategy: learn how to plan your time properly. Know what homework you have to do and when your friends expect to see you. Try to fit both pleasure and necessity into your schedule. Leave enough time for your studies and chores to make sure you complete them and still be able to spend the rest of the day having fun with your peers.

2. Temptations that grow on temptations. To make this clear, think of the last time you stayed out late and had a hard time waking up next morning. First, you knew that you had an early class the following day, but couldn’t resist the attractiveness of continuing your evening past your usual bedtime. Secondly, you were aware of the time you should have woken up, but you still didn’t, and therefore, you were late for class, or even didn’t show up at all, in some cases. Temptations tend to pile up, and as they do, it’s harder to deal with them.

Strategy: avoid collecting problems. Deal with one at a time. Plan your late getaways for the weekends or for the days when you don’t have to be up early next morning. And if you couldn’t resist it, then make yourself face consequences and wake up earlier than you would like to. Be responsible for your mistakes and weaknesses. You’re losing your sleep, but you keep the work going, and maybe next time you’d think twice if the night out is worth feeling tired for the whole following day.

3. Silly temptations with long-term consequences. For instance, wearing light clothes on a cold day with catching a cold and staying in bed for several days with a high fever. Yeah, you wanted to look cool, but there will be a warmer day soon, so wait for it and put up with layers for the time. Wearing high-heeled shoes on a day when you know you will have to walk a lot (for ladies) is in the same category as well. It looks pretty, but is it worth hurting your feet and limping for the next couple of days?

Strategy: try to predict what consequences you can face and listen to the voice of your logical thinking. You know that the day is cold and you may get sick, therefore, you should dress appropriately. Anyway, the impression you’re trying to make will be spoiled by the fact that you’re being silly wearing a jacket and no hat when it’s below zero, and you’re walking or taking a train. Reflect what is more important: to look good that one day or being healthy for the week, and try to find ways to compromise (warmer jacket in combination with a fashionable hat someone will definitely compliment you on).

4. Temptations based on misjudgment. These are the hardest to deal with, as you sometimes don’t realize that they are provocations and not the things you can’t get without. For example, there is a difference between “I need a new purse because the old one is worn out and I feel ashamed to bring it to school,” and “I want a new purse that will match the color of my new shoes, even though I have about ten more purses that I rarely use kept in the closet.”

Strategy: distinguish “need” and “want.” As a college girl or guy, you spend all your time worrying about student savings on food and clothing, skip a meal to go to the movie and walk extra twenty or thirty blocks to avoid paying the bus fare, so why would you waste your limited funds on a caprice? The good thing is: you are still young, and you will eventually grow to see the difference. Just remember: you should start leaning right now.

Overall, managing your temptations and staying in control is a useful skill that will help you get through your college years and your whole life as well. Have fun, but don’t create problems by doing so and keep in mind that if you do have time to hang out with friends and see a movie without a burden of guilt over your unfinished homework or a missed class, it spares you extra stress and allows your grades to stay at desirable level.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at Check out for amazing deals and coupons for students and follow us on Twitter @CampusClipper and Fan us on Facebook.


The Cuisine of Northern India on the Upper West Side

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

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Located on the Upper West Side, “Indus Valley,” a cozy place that has been in business since the end of 2003, brings not only the food, but also the spirit of Northern India to New York City. A cute addition to authentic Northern Indian cuisine, which is, by the way, the most popular in India, the name of the restaurant shows good taste as well . Apparently, Indus Valley was the place where one of the earliest civilizations in the world was formed, with its own language, traditions and of course, food.

Besides the name, what pleases the guests right upon entering “Indus Valley” is warm and pleasant fine dining atmosphere. You can sit by the entrance looking out to the street from large glass windows, or proceed to the dining room, chic and especially bright in sun light, although it is also animated by candles later in the evenings. The tables are covered with snow-white tablecloths, and there are brass cups for water on the tables, which creates an impression that we are not in a restaurant in Manhattan, but in a modern and large Indian house.

Speaking of that, the staff makes the customers feel at home as well, with professional smiles and kind answers to any questions those who are not knowledgeable about Indian cuisine may ask. Believing that hospitality is the key to great service, the wait staff does a great job and encourages guests to come back for dinner some other day.

Since the food is essentially something everyone goes to a restaurant for, “Indus Valley” has a lot of things for you to try. Both chefs who run the kitchen are originally from Northern India, and the food they are making is something they grew up with, and it tastes a lot like homemade. The restaurant is therefore perfect for local families who don’t cook every day and tourists who stay in the hotels in the area, as you get a delicious meal for an affordable price (the cheapest entree is $11.95, and the most expensive is $20.95).

When ready to give it a shot and have a dinner at “Indus Valley,” you may choose to start with a soup, a salad, or an appetizer. Ask for the lentil soup, as this is the most favorite one of the restaurant’s customers (find out why when you try). You could get a Kuchumber salad with it as well. Despite its odd name, it’s really what it sounds like, a Julienne of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lime juice. The salad is light and refreshing, and it’s a great beginning of the meal.

Tandoor at "indus Valley"

Another thing on the menu that you shouldn’t miss is the variety of home baked breads that are made in a traditional clay oven, Tandoor. A pancake-like piece of bread is put on the wall of the oven, and is being baked there for two or three minutes until it’s taken out, browned and mouth-watering, by means of a metal poke. With the choice of whole wheat and white breads, you can have yours with dry fruits and nuts, garlic, or even lamb. The breads can be served with a dip as an appetizer (yogurt, mint and cilantro, tamarind and onion relish dips are available upon request), or as an addition to your meal.

As bread is not the only thing that is made in Tandoor, you may also go for Tandoori specialties with chicken, lamb, halibut or sea bass. Vegetarian tandooris are also served if you fancy one. The average price for those dishes is $15, which isn’t bad for a dinner in a fine dining place, and the taste makes it worth it.

If your choice is not a tandoori, you have probably set your mind on having a curry, which means “gravy.” Meats or vegetables are cooked slowly with various spices, herbs and nuts, filling the gravy with distinctive flavors. The most popular choices in this category are Chicken Tikka Masala, boneless cubes of Chicken marinated and grilled in clay oven and simmered in a tangy sauce or light cream and tomatoes, and Kashmiri Roganjosh, lamb cubes in an exotic sauce of green and cardamoms, Kashmiri chilies, cloves, cinnamon leaves, mace, coriander, ginger, garlic, onion, yogurt and fennel. Try those or discover your own favorite.

To complete the meal in a pleasurable way, spoil yourself with one of the homemade desserts or a Lassi, a yogurt-based drink (mango flavored one is recommended as the most delicious).

Not satisfied with that? Ask a server for everyday specials. Also, if you stop for lunch, there is a prix fixe menu, which includes a soup, a salad or a samosa with vegetables of the day and a dessert. On the weekends, there is a buffet for $13.95, so you can pay one price and eat whatever you want. And if you are in college, there is a student discount for you, so check out the coupon at the end of the post and save yourself some money.

With affordable prices and authentic dishes, stopping by “Indus Valley” should not hurt even the tightest student savings plan, so check it out and see if this will be your “must-go” spot on the Upper West Side, worth a train ride even from Downtown Manhattan.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at Check out for amazing deals and coupons for students and follow us on Twitter @CampusClipper and “Like” us on Facebook.


Knowledge Saves Lives

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

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Emergency situations take place every day; however, we are often not ready for them. Knowing how to protect yourself or even save someone else’s life is essential. Based oh his experience as the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team (ARTI), Doug Copp wrote an article on “The Triangle of Life” advising people what not to do during an earthquake, and Campus Clipper team would like to share his simple but crucial for life-saving tips.

First of all, you should know that “The Triangle of Life” is a space near a large object that you can use to hide. The object itself will be crashed, but there will be a void next to it, and that’s where you should be during an earthquake (God forbid).

Here is where you shouldn’t be if you want to survive:

1. Under objects. When buildings collapse, you will be crashed together with an object you’re hiding under. Next to large objects, like cars, sofas and desks, there is always a space that will keep you untouched. Therefore, curl into a position of a fetus next to such objects, not under them.

2. Under a doorway. If you do, you will be either crushed by the ceiling above, or cut in half by the doorway, in most cases.

3. Near the stairs. People who get on stairs are usually “chopped up by the stair treads. The stairs are the most likely part of the building to be destroyed, even if the building doesn’t collapse, so avoid them, if possible.

4. Far inside the building. Try to stay closer to the outer walls of the space, as your escape will be easier in this case. While you way from further rooms may be blocked by collapsed objects, you may quickly leave the building if you are near the exit.

5. Inside a vehicle. Same logic as with being under objects. Stay outside next to the car, in fetal position, and you’ll have more chances to survive.

This is just a brief summary, simple things that everyone has to know in case of emergency. If you’d like to get more information, or listen to 1 hour interview with Doug Copp about “the triangle of life,” go to

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at And check out for amazing deals and coupons for students.


Cooking at Home Saves Money and Not Only

Monday, March 21st, 2011

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Last week there was a question on “Family Feud,” “What increases in the US every year?” As a college girl concerned with student savings, I immediately thought, “food prices.” They do go up every year, month by month, and not only in the United States, but all over the world. To fight the battle “empty stomach” vs “your skinny wallet,” you should learn simple home-cooking recipe in order to save some money on groceries.

And I am not going to give you any recipes, as everyone is different and our food preferences may have nothing in common. I love to have farina for breakfast, and I know many people hate it, especially if it’s made with water instead of milk. As for me, I can make it with water, and I enjoy it. It’s filling, it’s healthy and it tastes even better if you drop some fresh fruit into the bowl once the cereal is ready to be served.

What I am going to do, though, is to give you five reasons why cooking at home is a useful skill for anybody, no matter if you are a woman or a man, if you are rich and can afford eating at new restaurants every day or poor feeding at McDonalds seven days a week.

Reason 1. When you cook, you know what you are eating. With homemade food, you don’t have to worry about food allergies. You know exactly what you drop in that pot, and the most pleasant thing is: you can make things that you like. If you are a fan of beets, put them into everything you eat, and you will enjoy everything you eat. Yes, it’s as simple as that.

For that reason, I believe that one day when I become rich and famous (hopefully, for my writing), I will get a cook to make great food for me at home. I don’t care if the cook will spoil me with fancy dishes or simply serve me spaghetti and meatballs or grilled cheese sandwiches, food that I can get in any diner, as long as there will always be fresh ingredients and the dishes of my choice.

Reason 2. It does save money. If restaurants would not use same ingredients for many dishes, they would have long gone out of business. It’s cheaper to buy one lobster and make a dinner for two than to order your meal from a nearby diner, even if they offer a student discount for their lunch or dinner. A five-pound bag of potatoes costs you $3-4 on average, same as a side of French fries made from frozen. However, you can cook at least two meals from the five-pound bag (if you eat a lot), and French fries are only good for the minute they are served until they cool off.

Reason 3. Cooking encourages you to socialize. I hate to cook for myself. I seldom make meals for one person. I prefer to get some friends over or to share my food with my roommate. Therefore, when there is nobody to split my dinner with, I order take out and eat fattening and unhealthy pizza, paninis and what not. Therefore, organize other people to eat with you. If you have roommates, cook together. It helps to generate original ideas and to become closer with them. If you live alone, talk to other students from your college about taking turns and getting together to cook and eat. You can even use these evenings to study for the common classes you have and to gather useful information from your peers.

Reason 4. There are no germs but your own ones when you cook at home. We had a class discussion on food once, and someone mentioned seeing a cook checking the temperature of the soup by means of dipping his finger into it. Most of my classmates were disgusted by it, but the teacher objected that everyone uses hands when cooking (meaning at home). As far as I’m concerned, I would like to know where he put his finger before he dipped it into the soup, and in home cooking you know exactly how clean your hands were and how long that chicken stayed out of the refrigerator. I don’t remember any time when I got food poisoning eating at home. Do you?

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Reason 5. Learning how to cook prepares you for having your own family. And this is not only for women. I remember oily and juicy “potato chips” my grandfather used to make for me and my little cousin when we were kids. My grandfather died in 2004, and in addition to my childhood memories and all the warm feelings I have for him, there is also the mouth-watering taste of “potato chips” that reminds me how well he could cook. One day you would be that mom or dad, grandpa or grandma, who cooks the most authentic… you name it!

So when the question comes up again on “Family Feud,” I’d like someone to answer, “What increases every year in the United States is the amount of people cooking at home,” and hopefully, the obesity amongst adults and children in this country will, on the contrary, decrease.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at And check out for amazing deals and coupons for students.


Don’t Miss a Morning

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

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College years are the most exciting, as this is the time you usually socialize with a lot of different people, make new friends and establish important connections. Sometimes social part of the experience even prevails over the academic one. With the variety of student discounts in New York City, there are plenty of places to go and spend an evening. However, remember, if you stay out late, you miss an important part of your day: your morning.

“What’s so special about a morning?” you may wonder. Well, here are several things that you miss if you don’t get enough sleep and crawl out of the bed with your eyes half closed:

1. Breakfast. I have blogged about how important it is to have a breakfast every morning, and if you’d like to see that post, you can go to The point is: your first meal of the day should charge you with the energy you need for your classes and extracurricular activities. If you wake up late, you are rushing to school or job (whatever comes first), and you often swallow a coffee with a donut (so fattening and tasty). As a result, your stomach is empty, your energy is low, you are still sleepy and uneager to leave the house.

2. Exercise. Here you will probably say that no one does exercise in the morning anymore. Sure, for the same reason people don’t eat breakfast every day. Exercising in the morning is a good start. Just as having breakfast, it boosts your energy and prepares your body for the day. You don’t have to run or go to the gym in the morning unless you want to. What’s good to do is to find a routine that you enjoy and don’t mind repeating every morning. The exercise you choose doesn’t have to take a lot of your time; you can spend just 10-15 minutes on it, and you will see the difference yourself. I love doing some stretches. It helps me to wake up and keep my body fit.

3. Stress-free ride to school or job. When you wake up late, you have to hurry up to get to your destination on time. As it usually happens, there are service changes or train traffic on your way. Worried that you won’t make it to your first class, you are biting your lips regretting that you didn’t wake up just 10 minutes earlier. If you did, you would have had extra time for your commute, and it could have been less stressful. If you are late for your job, it’s even worse. If you are often untimely, you may be eventually fired, so it is crucial that you learn to organize yourself. College prepares you for a career, so treat your classes just as seriously as you would your work.

4. Material you could review for your class. As far as I’m concerned, I remember things I reviewed in the morning longer than extracts I read in the evening. Therefore, I love to review for my exams before I go to school. It stays fresh in my memory for the whole day, and I usually get excellent grades. Try doing that, maybe it works for you,  too.

5. Professional appearance. Walking to college from the bus stop, I often see students who are dressed in sweat pants or pajamas, and it looks like they just got out of the bed. Even though your college mates don’t always care what your appearance is like, you never know whom you will meet during the day. Maybe, there will be an unexpected meeting with prospectivee employers or an interview for an internship. If you don’t look presentable, you will not be chosen. Being professional is not necessarily wearing a suit; you can wear a nice shirt in neutral colors with suitable pants or a skirt. When you meet new people, they don’t know who you are. All they see is your pajamas at the moment. In many cases, first impression is also the last one, so spend some time in the morning thinking about what you are going to wear.

6. Make-up. This is not as important as the clothes you wear, but if you have dark circles under your eyes, you can try masking them a little bit. It will give you a fresher look. Moreover, when I look beautiful, I tend to accomlish more throughout the day, so I prefer to put light make-up every morning, even if I have to do it standing up in a bus (it takes practice, but it’s doable).

7. Planning of the day. I like to lay in bed for about 5-10 minutes before getting up and think what I am going to do. This includes what I will wear, what I should bring with me, what I will do after school etc. Taking the time to do that helps me avoid forgetting things I need and missing appointments. In addition, my mind clears from the dreams I had and prepares for the new day.

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8.  Energy that you would have had if you slept enough. This doesn’t need any comment. If you sleep 4-5 hours a night (as a rule, not as an exception), you will drag your feet through the day, and all you can think about is your soft and comfortable bed. Do you think, you can learn a lot being in a mood like that?

Therefore, when you are planning to spend an evening with your friends, consider what time you have to get up next morning and how late you can stay out. There are always weekends when you don’t have to be at school, so spend your weekday evenings studying and leave the fun time for Fridays and Saturdays, which will be completely free considering all th homework that was done during the week.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at And check out for amazing deals and coupons for students.


Vegetarian Soul Food Does Exist

Monday, March 14th, 2011

view from the street

Proudly calling itself  “All American Vegetarian,” “Kate’s Joint” located at 58 Avenue B (on the corner with East 4 street) is truly a place where a vegetarian and even a vegan can enjoy the food he or she is eating. Skillfully created dishes imitate favorite American food and are called accordingly, “Philly Not-Steak,” “Meatless Loaf Hero” and TLT (Tofu, Lettuce and Tomato). And the good thing is that these vegetarian variants taste just as good as the regular food we are all used to.

Walking into the restaurant, a diner enters a spacious room that resembles a veranda of a large summer house. There are huge open windows that bring sunlight to the rows of tables and green plants, some of which are as tall as a human of a medium height. Only the brick walls remind the clients that they are actually in a closed space. The welcoming atmosphere encourages the diner to sit down by one of these enourmous windows to the world, relax and enjoy the food or a drink, depending on what one is looking for there.

The idea for “Kate’s Joint,” which opened in 1996, was to cater delicious and affordable ($8-13 for a dish, on average)comfort food to vegetarian customers. It is amusing that the owner of the place, Kate, who created the menu, is not vegetarian herself, even though she admits that she tried several times and never succeded in giving up meat, while her restaurant serves meatless food to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian clientele.  As far as I, not normally a vegan eater, am concerned, when I tried several plates at the joint, which were appetizing, filling and didn’t make my stomach feel at risk of explosion, I seriously thought that I could go vegan for more than just until Easter.

Indeed, with Kate’s homebaked bread, choice of dairy or non-dairy cheeses, mashed potatoes made with soy milk, non-steak, un-sausage and fakin’bacon, one doesn’t lose much giving up meat.

Have Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, a delicious plate of Mexican-style crispy flour tortilla filled with fried organic eggs, beans, cheese, a side of salsa and hash browns. If you are a vegan, you can have tofu scrambled as a substitute for eggs (a good option for those who are not vegan but want to try soemthing different as well).

While the breakfast menu is only available until 4pm, lunch can be served at any time. The most brilliant appetizer is a plate of Buffalo Un-Chicken Wings. As tofu is a product that takes in any flavor, like a sponge, it is absolutely savory with spicy buffalo sauce. The snack tastes exactly like those boneless chicken wings with some sauce served in many restaurants around the city, only the sauce here is jucier and the “meat” is tenderer and not over-filling. Along with traditional carrots and celery sticks and a side of a non-dairy ranch dressing, they are a great way to start a meal.

As for the main course, the all-time favorite is an Un-Turkey Club with un-turkey (made of deli-sliced texturized soy protein), “fakin” (crispy and salty non-bacon, the restaurant’s secret homemade recipe), lettuce, tomato and dairy or non-dairy mayo served with either potatoes or a salad.  Bread lovers will definitely appreciate the fresh baked base for the sandwich spiced up by the unusual taste of the mayonnaise which is spread generously over the bread. If you try the un-turkey by itself, it doesn’t taste great, but in the combination with lettuce, tomato and mayo, the sandwich is the dish that will quickly disappear in your mouth with not even crumbs left on the plate.

one of the joint's specials

Adding up to the regular menu, there are day-to-day specials you should always ask about. A nurtitious meal with luscious portobello mushrooms, spinach, artichokes and mashed potatoes is a great dinner plate, but it’s not on the menu and is not available every day, so don’t you miss it.

With the culinary inventions that satisfy not only vegetarians, “Kate’s Joint” proves two myths wrong. First, yes, vegetarian food can be flavorful. And secondly, no matter how delicious it is, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Moreover, if you go to college, here is a student discount for you: come any time before 8pm on Mon-Fri, bring the coupon attached in the end of the post and receive a 20% discount with your ID, so if there had ever been a myth that there are no student savings on vegetarian food, it is now proved wrong as well.

Ekaterina Lalo

Visit my blog at And check out for amazing deals and coupons for students.


Eating Out and Vegan: Incompatible?

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

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New York City: a going out paradise with lots of student discounts on food, entertainment, books and clothing. If you wish, you can try different cuisine every day. There is such a great variety of cultures here: Italian, Thai, Cuban, Dominican, Moroccan and what not. However, where do you go if you are strictly vegan?

Always being a passionate carnivore, I have never faced this problem. However, I suddenly decided to take on a challenge: Christian Orthodox religious fasting that I was always supposed to do, but never cared to limit my diet to vegan only. Eating is just one part of the fasting, but it seemed overwhelming to cut back on milk products especially, as I love them so much.

But the time came, and I felt like doing it for the first time in March of 2009. I enjoyed it a lot, as fasting made me feel healthy and energetic, and my favorite part was that I had to cook for myself all the time because I didn’t trust food from outside (who knows if it’s really vegan).

There came the problem: I had a hard time going out with my friends and my boyfriend. I have experience working in restaurants, and I didn’t want to be a pain in the neck for the waiters asking, “Is there cheese in my spaghetti?” Once my boyfriend persuaded me to eat at a small Chinese-Latin (what a combination) restaurant, and I ordered a plate that was specified on the menu as “rice, lettuce, tomato and fried plantains.” When I actually got my food, there were pieces of pork and shrimps in it (I never eat either of them even when I’m not fasting), and I felt bad. When I complained, the waiter replied that the dish comes with it, took it back and brought it within 2-3 minutes, which made me come to the conclusion that the kitchen staff merely took out the meat and send the plate to me (did they use gloves, at least?). I didn’t eat anything there but plain white rice that came with my boyfriend’s dish, and I never went out while fasting again.

The whole experience was embarrassing. There are a lot of products that I refuse to eat because I don’t like them, for instance, seafood and yellow cheeses (sounds crazy, right?), but I’m not used to being extremely picky while ordering a meal at a restaurant. There always happen to be a steak with mashed potatoes on the menu for me. I rarely ask for more. But with the fasting in mind, this choice is automatically excluded. I was at a loss about where to go and I felt terrible for the people who have to (due to allergies or something else) or choose to eat vegan all the time.

The most difficult thing was to get around my sweet tooth, as most pastries contain eggs and dairy. I would wander around my college cafeteria studying the labels and always finding “eggs” there. The good thing was that I learned how to make pancakes from just flour, yeast, water and vegetable oil. They were delicious, even though people who tried them said they were “too healthy.” The bad thing was I didn’t have time to make them often.

But as the fasting continued, I started hearing about different vegan places in the city, and I talked to a couple of people who gave me useful advices on where to find those products I could eat. I realized that it was so difficult because it was my first time and I had no clue about vegan culture in the city. Now I feel more confident about going out and I learned to like salads a lot more than during my first fasting session, and I found out that a lot of vegan places also offer student savings menus or give discounts to those in college.

There I was yesterday, my Easter fasting 2011 day one, sitting at Whole Foods cafeteria drinking a fresh squeezed orange juice and munching on vegan cookies (no eggs and no dairy, hurray!), feeling happy and wholesome. Therefore, if you are a vegan like me (whether temporarily or permanently), life in the city is a little bit more difficult for you (if do your research, though, it will become easier), but not impossible.

Ekaterina Lalo

For more about my experience with Christian Orthodox fasting, read

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How to Get Through Your Reading Assignment

Monday, March 7th, 2011

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Another reading assignment. Boring as hell, worse than the one you have just finished the day before. It took you three weeks to complete the previous novel, and you feel that the book wasn’t worth spending time on it. Ok, it is not an exciting detective story that makes you rush towards the end anticipating who committed the crime. It is not a fluffy love story about two people who finally found each other and will be happy forever, either. However, you still have to read it, as your grade and the content of your essays depend on it. No matter how expensive the food is and whether or not the supermarket you shop at has student savings deals, you still have to eat. Similarly, you still need to read novels you are assigned, no matter how intimidating and useless they seem to you. Here are some tips that may help you get through the assignment:

1. Don’t be seduced by cliff notes. They will kill the reading process for you. Why bother going through every page if you already know what happened? The only time you are allowed to use cliff notes is when you have only one day before the final on the book and you have no idea what happened. This way, you’ll at least, have a slightest clue. Otherwise, read it, and you’ll definitely find something (there has to be) interesting for you, whether the style, or the language, or maybe, even plot.

2. Learn a little bit about the author first. It helps when reading the book, and this is the reason why many professors give a lecture on authors’  biographies and tell students what literary movements they belonged to. Knowing details about the author allows you to fill the book with an additional meaning.

First thing that is important here is the time when the author lived. It restores the atmosphere of the century. There may have been different moods and goals in the United States 200 years ago as compared to now. What was going on in history at the time may be implied in the text, so the plot is not only a story of Mister Smith and Miss Evans (or anyone other), but it is a relationship that took place in certain surroundings under particular historical circumstances. For instance, such a simple plot as “two people love each other, but the man is married” may have a happy ending if the married man gets a divorce (if action takes place in the 21 st century), or an unhappy ending because his wife may sue him for unfaithfulness and leave him bankrupt. If the events occur at the time when divorce was a sin and the only way one could get out of marriage was the spouse’s death, then it’s a comletely different story and different struggle. You get the point.

Secondly, it helps to learn what the author’s personal experience was. Writers often use the stories they lived through or observed for their pieces. Pondering about what really happened and what the novelist imagined may be a thrilling puzzle for you to solve, so try to get all the information your time and resources allow you to gather. This includes the author’s family, upbringing, jobs, romances, etc. The more you know, the better the reading will seem to you.

Third, literary influences and movements reveal a lot about an author. If you research on what writers he or she admired and who was the novelist’s mentor, you will clearly see where the style and ideas of the book are coming from. Belonging to a literary movement often explains “why this book is so weird,” and accordingly, you will appreciate the piece of fiction more if you find how the ideology of the movement came alive in your assigned writer’s work.

Remember that all this information and also the interpretation of the book can be found in articles written by critics. Therefore, it is useful to read those, too.

3. Imagine that the situation described in the book happened to someone you know. Some books, unlike other ones, don’t need any context or a setting. Most classical stories are relevant for any generation because they can apply to anyone at any country at any given time period. What would you suggest the characters do if they were your acquaintances? Using your imagination spices up the process of reading, and it’s a completely free and available tool waiting to be exploited.

4. Discuss the book with other students. In the same conversation they share their information about new student discounts local restaurants offer, they may give you a hint that regards your reading. If you don’t understand some words, or a character’s behavior, or the idea of the book, ask your peers. They may be more knowledgeable than you are, and they may even relieve you of doing research on your own if you ask the right questions and they know the right answers. Note that if they tell you something about the author that you didn’t know, clarify where they got that information from. If they say that they “think so,” you shouldn’t use it in your essay as a stated fact. If they give you a particular source, make sure to check it out before you use it in your classwork. This way you won’t steal their idea completely and may get a different interpretation of the text, not mentioning that next day you will have a lot more to discuss.

By the way, you can also ask your professors about anything that is unclear. The majority of them are always willing to give explanations or to share their knowledge. Doing this is a brilliant strategy: the professors will be happy that you are interested in the subject they are teaching and you will get a lot of material for your essays and class discussions.

Even though all this may appear overwhelming when you take into consideration how many other homework assignments you have to do, but think about it in the long run: once you gather information necessary, you won’t have to work so hard on it anymore. You will know where to get the ideas and sources for your essay, you will be more interested in the book itself and you are likely to get a good grade for your class (sometimes professors give you an “A” just for doing all this extra work not required by the course, for trying hard, even if your knowledge is not profound enough for the excellent grade). And of course, the more you read, the better your writing gets. Sometimes you don’t notice it, but you pick up grammatical structures and new vocabulary from the literature you read. The novels that you are assigned may not be the most exciting thing you’ve ever come across, but they are well-written and meaningul; otherwise, why would your professor pick them for the class?

The moral is: if something is unknown, it is always scary, so learn a lot about the “boring” assignment you are given, and watch you fear disappearing and your confidence boosting. College years are the time to challenge yourself, overcome the difficulties and grow to find a likable aspect in any work that you loathe.

Ekaterina Lalo

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Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

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The French expression for falling in love translates to “falling into apples,” which I correlate to sweet, but painful. Dropping the “L” bomb is a bit of a sticky situation. There are the blurters, the stagers, the first daters, the long termers, the constant reminders, the special occasioners, the whisperers, the shout it from the roof topers, whatever you’re style, the tricky part is figuring out whether your beau shares your sentiments or not. If one of you feels it first, it’s not the end of the world, nor is it necessarily the end of the relationship, but if you have to get it out there here are some pointers for not overwhelming (or underwhelming) your significant other.

You’re Ready, They’re Not: You’re most likely in a terrified state, with a candy coat of bubbling excitement. Hold onto that, don’t let it fester and rot the roots of your courtship. If you’re certain that your beau isn’t in the same place, feel them out a bit. If you’ve been dating for more than four months, and they’re still a bit frigid toward the idea of professing statements of affection, it’s okay to say it as long as you preface the statement with something along the lines of, “You don’t have to say it back, I just need to tell you how I feel.” This will give them the out, relieving a little pressure. A wedge can be stuffed between you if you push the idea too much. I know, it’s taxing, but if you care about the person (well, you say you love them) you should be considerate of where they are in the relationship. Not everyone moves at the same pace. Maybe they need more time to get there, they mean serious business when they say it, or maybe they’ve been badly burned in the past. Sometimes the people who are reluctant to love are so because of a painful past.  Give them time. Don’t use breaking up as an ultimatum, because then you’re pushing them to leave you when they want to stay, or they’re saying something they don’t mean because they’re afraid to lose you. Granted, losing you may snap them into realizing something, but that’s not fair, that’s making the relationship a game.

Signs They’re Not Ready: You gaze at them lovingly, they look away. You make plans for the future; they make plans for dinner instead. Holding hands, even when you’re alone is a no-no. If you’re not in bed, there’s no affection. Take these as subtle hits, and to use the oh-so-popular phrase: maybe they’re just not that into you.

Signs They’re Ready: Take the situations above and reverse them.

They Said It, You Didn’t: You haven’t been together that long, this is your first date, or you’re just not feeling it, but you’re happy in the relationship so far. The first point should be that if you’re just in it to be in a relationship (you know who you are), that’s fine, but when the other person is serious about a long term commitment and you’re not, you need to let them know. It won’t get better, they won’t learn to feel less or make it more casual. Once they have the heart throb, it’s only going to end in pain, so don’t augment this by dangling a carrot in front of them. Remind them of how wonderful they are, how undeserving you are, and break it off nice and clean.

If you think that you may feel this way, just not yet, explain this to them. You can do this without being harsh. Explain your sentiments, but don’t give reasons for why you don’t love them yet. This can be used against you for the entirety of your relationship. Every fight will be about this, even if it’s masked as something else.

First Times That Don’t Count:

– After being intimate, during, or before. After you’ve already said it, go ahead and shout it at the top of your lungs (or whisper loudly if you have roommates), but don’t say it for the first time in while snuggling with your honey. 

– As a form of apology. If you’re in the middle of a fight, unless it’s due to a romantic comedy-esque misunderstanding, this kills the sentiment. If you did something to cause pain, grief, or anger, don’t pull the L-card to get yourself out of the dog house. This taints it, makes it jaded.

Saying it: Think about it this way: after the excitement, shock, what have you, of the sacred words, they’re going to tell their friends, especially the ladies. Do you really want them to have to explain that you said it to get out of trouble, or in an inappropriate moment? My personal recommendation is to say it when you feel it. It will mean that much more if you’re in the moment, not in some rehearsed set up. Sure, flowers and violins are nice, but they amp up the anxiety and create a sensation of false sentiments. This isn’t Hollywood. If you’re brushing you’re teeth together one morning, or they pick up a treat for you just because, and you feel a rushing sensation, tell them. You can tell when someone really means it when they’re in the moment.

Alternatives to Love: Neither of you is ready for the commitment that accompanies saying I love you, but you still have strong feelings for one another. Use these carefully, as they can irritate if the other person has said I Love You and you respond with a luke warm declaration.

-I adore you (see Stranger Than Fiction)

-I covet you

-You’re my happy thought

– I’m crazy about you

– I think you’re the greatest thing since the wheel (make up your own)

– I’m so glad you exist

Love is a wonderful thing, and once you get the words out you can say it almost whenever you want. There is also a sweetness to the period before you express this, a time when the tension of affection, of the unsaid words, is palpable and being together creates an electrical charge of potential energy. Savor the beginning, people, don’t push it. You’ll get to the next stage, but remember that you’ll never have a beginning with this person again, so quit chomping at the bit. If you’re going to say it, think carefully and tread cautiously.

Written by Ashley Teal, Campus Clipper Blogger

See my blog: or twitter @amteal

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10 Things I Do on My Blackberry

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

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When cell phones first appeared, they were nothing more but the means of communicating with people while you are not at home. Now that more and more of us get smartphones, a mobile device is not only for calling and texting; it serves as a portable computer with variety of functions. Here are 10 things I use my Blackberry Bold 9700 for:

  1. Writing papers. Sometimes I have an hour between my classes, and I usually try to spend it wisely, so I got used to typing my papers on my cell phone. When I come home, I e-mail the text to myself, copy and paste it into a document, format it and read it over before printing it out. I usually find a lot of mistakes, but the most part of my job is done here, and it often takes less than 30 minutes to complete the paper if it’s already typed.
  2. Taking photos. Even though I have a digital camera, it is not always with me. Once I was doing a restaurant review, and my editor e-mailed me asking for a picture. Luckily, I was in the city, not too far from the place where the restaurant was located. Unluckily, the camera wasn’t in my bag, so I took pictures on my cell phone, which I hadn’t done before, as I didn’t think that the quality will be good. Let me reassure you, though, that pictures came out nice, and my editor got them via e-mail in the following five minutes.
  3. Listening to music. A big I-pod fan, I recently found out that it’s easier to put music on my Blackberry than on my I-pod (no I-tunes required for my phone). Moreover, with Pandora Internet radio I can listen to my favorite songs wherever I am, and the only thing I need is 3G network (which I have with T-mobile) and good reception (doesn’t work on the subway inside the tunnel).
  4. Looking up words. The best application I have ever got is the one from Wherever I am, I can check the meaning of any word and find synonyms for it through the thesaurus, which is also on my cell phone. It saves me space, as I don’t have to carry my paperback dictionary with me, and it makes finding words easier, as you only have to type them in. Sometimes I am not sure how a word is spelled, so I usually check it out. If I make mistakes, the dictionary gives me suggestions, and I get the correct spelling. This is perhaps the most useful free application for me as a writer, and I am glad I found out about it.
  5. Checking the weather for the day. I used to put on channel 12 with local news and weather, but I am often in a hurry, and I don’t have time to wait for the weather forecast to appear on my TV screen. With a Blackberry application, “The Weather Channel,” I can quickly find out what the weather is like, how it will change later and even what to expect for the next day. It is free, quick and helpful, as it saves you a trip back if you forget an umbrella, and it starts drizzling.
  6. Locating places on the map and getting directions. With my Google Maps application, I can make sure where any local business is and how to get to it by car, walking or public transportation. It also helps to go to to get updates on service changes, as the Google app does not have information on that, and since many bus routes were changed last year, I prefer to double check the information I get from Google. As far as local businesses are concerned, I can always check their reviews before I go there, and even call them to ask if they offer any student discounts or specials.
  7. Staying in touch with my social networks. I hardly ever use Facebook on my computer. All messages and invitations I get are coming to my cell phone, and I check them. I also registered for Twitter on my Blackberry, and it took me about six months to actually start using it on my laptop. It’s just so easy to update my status and check my page on the go that I go to the actual web page on the computer only to see pictures more clearly, as on my cell phone they appear small and unclear.
  8. Talking to my friends on ICQ. When I moved to New York from Russia, most of my friends were left behind in my country, and I don’t get to talk to them too often. But I found a way to connect with them through my cell phone, as it is always with me, and I can exchange short messages with people I care about every day. With the time difference (eight hours), it is so convenient to say hi to them while I’m in the train going to school or in a cab coming back from a club, the times I would not normally be able to get to my computer.
  9. Recording appointments and birthdays. This can be done on any cell phone; however, due to the connection with Facebook, I often find out about birthdays of my Facebook friends through my Blackberry calendar (I would never know otherwise), in addition to the actual page. Last year, in July, I was reminded of my boyfriend’s birthday three times: once through Facebook, once through my cell phone calendar (thanks to Facebook) and once through the same calendar (I put his birthday on his contact information). With so many reminders I would never forget the date even if I tried hard.
  10. Ordering books on Amazon. Getting textbooks became easier. I like to compare prices before I buy a textbook, so before I had my Blackberry, I would always go to my school bookstore to find out how much they asked for the book I needed. Then I would come home and check If the price was better, I ordered online, which added up a lot to my student savings. If it was cheaper or about the same in the bookstore, I came back next day and purchased books in the bookstore. Now I check Amazon’s prices during my breaks after each class, so when I get to the bookstore at the end of the day, I know if I should buy it there or not.

Ekaterina Lalo

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