Posts Tagged ‘moving’

Overture: New Musical Beginnings

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

The night before I was set to move out of the apartment I had been subletting for the fall  semester of my junior year, I found myself surrounded by boxes, bare walls and my two roommates. We were strangers upon moving in, but sharing a living space is a sure way to expedite friendship, and the three of us became very close almost instantly. In the corner of my empty closet, a violin case caught my roommate’s eye. “Lu, we’ve never heard you play violin before… will you play us something?” 

Her request made me hesitate. I hadn’t played violin in almost two years and couldn’t remember how to play anything off the top of my head. Suddenly, all the memories of dancing to our favorite songs in the kitchen came to mind, and I knew exactly what to do. 

“Here’s an idea – how about you pick your favorite songs and I’ll play them?”

“You can do that? Without looking up the sheet music or anything?”

“Sure thing,” I responded, thinking back to my years of sight reading, hundreds of hours of practice, and my carefully trained ear. I know my violin like an extension of my own body, and years of listening and playing have taught me how to instantaneously process a melody and bring it to life. 

Their dubious expressions turned dumbstruck as they started naming songs, and, one by one, watched me bring them to life by listening to a snippet of the song, bringing the violin to my neck, and using muscle memory to play it on the spot, adding harmonies and embellishments as I went.

“I can’t believe you were hiding a secret talent from us all this time!” they exclaimed. I wasn’t hiding it, exactly, but it’s true that my violin had been sitting at the back of my closet for almost two years.

An early snapshot of me playing violin.

I started playing violin at the age of five, driven to lessons and daily practice entirely by my mother’s volition. As a child, I dreaded the long hours and frustratingly slow progress, but with the help of my naturally musical ear I grew to embrace the hobby. As I entered high school, violin became one of the most central parts of my life. 

I loved the sense of community I found at music school, and cherished the feeling of playing in groups, the sense of being a part of something bigger than myself. And, of course, I loved the music itself. I was entranced by its sweeping declarations, its way of telling stories without words, conveying emotions that only music can. Living with parents who encouraged my musical pursuits, violin easily fell into my daily routine. Every day I came home from school and practiced for two hours a day, playing scales over and over again, picking apart notes and phrases, striving for perfection.

When I moved to Chicago for college, my violin came with me, and I kept up a daily practice routine. But without my parents looking over my shoulder, I began to question if I really wanted to continue spending time in the practice room, especially when I could be chipping away at an ever-growing mountain of homework or socializing with my new friends. I could feel my old routine of violin slipping out of my grasp, and it was scary. I wanted to hang onto this part of my life – hiding away in the practice room was my refuge from a sea of uncertainty that waited beyond the soundproof doors. But my time was too valuable, and I felt myself being pulled towards other things, new things. 

Just a couple of weeks into freshman year, I walked over to the club fair with a recent friend, recalling mishaps from our first few days on campus. The club fair was held in a huge room in the student center, and we followed a horde of fellow underclassmen up a wide staircase into a huge room of chaos. We were greeted by endless rows of tri-fold posters, folding tables, and streams of people walking up and down the aisles, each person talking a little louder than the person next to them. I lost my friend in the chaos and wandered down the aisles alone, totally lost, not sure how I would go about selecting between the five literary magazines and thirty volunteer groups. 

“There you are!” I was relieved to hear my friend’s voice, and even more relieved to hear that she was feeling similarly overwhelmed. Just as we were about to leave, we walked by a table in the corner with a notably more subdued vibe and a poster that said WNUR in huge letters. The seniors at the booth explained that the radio station was a great opportunity for music lovers to play music live on the air. I signed up, leaving with a sense of new beginnings. Although I didn’t know anything about working at a radio station, or rock music, I could envision myself being a part of the community. It was the first step I took outside of my comfort zone at college, and although I didn’t know it at the time, WNUR would become one of the most important parts of my life at Northwestern, a source of community and personal growth. 

It can be difficult to step away from something that has become such a large part of your life, especially when you aren’t exactly sure who you want to be or how to get there. By evaluating what aspects of my high school self fit into my life as I transitioned into college, I discovered that I needed to put my old hobbies aside to leave room to follow my instincts and see what I was drawn towards. In doing so, I chose to prioritize the person I wanted to become rather than preserving the person I already was. I didn’t know what lay ahead but I knew I was looking forward and envisioning the person I wanted to be. And that was all I needed to take that first step. 

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By Lu Poteshman

Lu is a rising senior at Northwestern University, where she studies English Literature with a minor in Art, Theory and Practice. She is passionate about all things music and art, and loves to paint, draw, design things, write creatively, cook and explore in her free time. She is currently working towards her dreams of being a book editor by day and DJ by night.

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 encourages 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.


So I Guess I Went North for the Winter

Monday, February 12th, 2018


So despite the fact that a textbook I read for a history class compared the “nationalism” of California to that of a community with nation status, no one I know from home stayed in California for college. I come from Oakland CA, the Bay Area, a fifteen-minute BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) ride from downtown San Francisco. Everyone I know who lives in that area, including my mother, who is from New York, and my friend, who is from China, loves the Bay Area with their whole soul, which makes it confusing why we would choose to leave. My personal theory is that all of us know we’re coming back. When people go to college, they might want to see how they like it and then decide where to live, but everyone I know is going to live in the Bay Area. They might visit other places or work in other places, but they will live in the Bay. Because the Bay is home.

So we all left. In preparation for this, my school librarian hosted a “how to dress for the winter” informational session during lunchtime after college acceptances had come out. It was widely attended. Said librarian, who is from Boulder, Colorado, instructed us in the use of hats, scarves, and gloves, items that I basically knew existed, but had never voluntarily owned. I’m still adjusting to the city, asking my roommate from Connecticut whether this is scarf weather. And today, fed up with the idea of “socks,” I elected to walk to the dining hall in flip flops. My feet got wet and cold and I slipped a few times, but I made it. The Californian has survived.

Besides the weather, there are other adjustments to make when coming from the West Coast to the East Coast. The East Coast is old blood, colonial revolutionary blood. That means the East has traditions. Standards. The West has none of that. I have friends whose family came over in the gold rush. They were opportunists looking for a “get rich quick” scheme.

If there’s one way I can sum up the Bay Area’s culture it’s this: the Bay hates formality. Anything you can do to take it away is good. Calling your teachers by surnames seems a little much, let’s go with first names, or even nicknames. Not being able to swear in class? Let’s get rid of that one too. We didn’t graduate in a cap and gown. We could wear whatever we want and some of the kids wore caps, some wore gowns, some wore both and some wore neither. We looked about as coordinated as a jamboree class. As a high school student, I spend some time on the Berkeley campus. Everyone on the Berkeley campus is wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts and flip flops. And because the temperature never gets below 50 or above 80, they look like this year round. This all conspired to mean that when I walked into my 8 am first year math lecture to see people in heels and makeup, I was confused. I looked down at my own legging-clad legs, shrugged, and went to sit down. My personal overture towards both coasts is the “leggings and heels” look, which gets across comfort without sacrificing too much dignity, though it’s very uncomfortable if you’re late to class.

My first impression of New York was that it’s a city of people going places on their way to other places. People in California are busy too, but they stand still for a second, sit down for a meal. New Yorkers are going to meetings on the way to their other meetings.

By Abigail McManus

Abigail McManus, a first year linguistics major, is interested in all things words and stories. In her abundant free time, she writes and thinks about language, as well as practicing Jiu Jistu and Karate. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area and she’ll tell you about it if you let her. 

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.


Late Night Creations

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Sabina Ashbaugh

We always substitute an egg with two tablespoons of vanilla soymilk—a slight variation that leaves the dough runny and easier to mix with the cracked wooden spoon. The timer is set for 12 minutes, not 14 as the cookbook suggests, with a reminder at the six-minute mark to switch the top and bottom trays in the oven. Despite these careful discrepancies, accumulated over countless nights, our creations are never completely predictable. We speculate whether it might be the heat of the dimly lit kitchen, and that volatile summer breeze that seeps in through the windows and seems to soften the contours of the room.
Despite our many trials, my sister and I never fully plan our baking efforts, or even carefully measure out the ingredients of our amended recipes. The soymilk substitution, now a permanent step in the cookie making process, came from a late realization that the egg carton was deceptively empty. As if to support this impulsiveness, the planned desserts baked for family dinners—the pumpkin or apple pies, the blueberry cobblers, the cinnamon buns, the madeleines—are never as good as the spontaneous endeavors to satisfy late night cravings. The immediate satisfaction of these creations quickly assuaged the worries and anxieties amassed during school or work. Tasks divided and ingredients laid out, my sister and I get to work setting right the wrongs of the day.
It has been a year now since I moved away from home. Some months have flown by while others have painstakingly inched to a close, with pangs of homesickness and late night baking cravings that seemed to arise out of nowhere. Family, a concept that had seemed so natural and tangible just a year ago, has slowly been abstracted to stand for that sense of place so radically reconfigured after leaving for school. In times of stress, I often caught myself about to call the house with a confused plea of “What should I do?”
With distance I have come to realize how often I unintentionally underappreciated this form of support. I cringe at the thought that the ease and spontaneity of those nights spent baking are a lost bridge between my sister and I—treasured memories to look back on fondly but ones impossible to recapture. And yet the removal of this crutch has also forced me to examine how I will right the wrongs of the day in my own way—not by baking, but through the careers and choices that lie ahead.
Moving away is an exciting step towards independence and deciding how and what one wants to change in the world. In the midst of so many choices, the advice offered by family is a means of grounding oneself in times of transformation. Finding a niche in college involves exploring how one will contribute to society and improve the lives of others, but it also requires the recognition of the debt owed to those at home.
Growing up compels us to accept these recipes, relationships, and plans for future change. Family rituals become memories as traditions are re-made. It is important to maintain ties with those that helped us get where we are, and continue to want to see us succeed. Helping others starts by looking out for and appreciating those at home, and paying tribute to those left behind.

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