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Amidst the Chaos of Finals

Despite this being my fourth time taking finals, I have consistently seemed to forget about them by the time the end of the semester rolls around. Especially at the end of the year, when the weather is finally nice and EC Beach is open again, (not really a beach, just the entire student body sitting on blankets out on the quad) everything speeds up. One week I’m trudging through snow with a syllabus in-hand and the next is filled with teasing sunshine and half-finished papers.

Finals week is stressful. The week leading up to finals week is stressful. Everyone, including me, is frantic, desperate to fit in one last weekend of fun with friends before the year is over. It’s an impossible feat when that once obsolete syllabus is burning a hole in your backpack with test dates.

I would offer suggestions on how to manage finals stress, such as breathing exercises and ways to effectively manage time, but to me, those tips are obvious and over shared. I know that getting a good night’s sleep will help me keep my stress levels low, but what about that heart racing in-the-moment stress? Read more

The Reality of Graduation

It’s been a hot second since I’ve made a post as this is a busy time of year (I just passed in a really fancy hypothetical grant proposal). I am also probably avoiding talking about my life because it feels like May 13th marks my impending doom. Let me be clear, I have no reason to feel this way about graduation, but transitional periods are difficult for everyone. For any senior in high school reading this blog, I know you may be feeling similarly. And yet, there’s a refreshing awareness of how exciting it will be to start fresh! There are so many new opportunities and experiences ahead of you. Whether you come to Emmanuel, attend another college or decide to end your academic career to pursue a professional one, there’s so much to look forward to.

I’m incredibly grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend running around my favorite city and connecting with the students, staff and faculty at Emmanuel. From singing every week with my favorite a cappella group, Acapocalypse, to learning a multitude of valuable skills working at the IT Helpdesk, to yelling at students in the cafeteria who still don’t how to compost, it’s hard to imagine the person I was before came to Boston to study Biology. Read more

Adulting and a Fenway Frank

FullSizeRenderIn the last month or so, I had become extremely invested in figuring my life out. I’m not sure why I felt the need to have every aspect of my future set – I’m twenty years old, I don’t need to start thinking about a 401k. But still, with sophomore pinning rounding the corner and an official major set, I decided that it was time to transition from college student into a functioning member of society.

My plan began with deciding to find a Real Adult Job. For years up until now, I worked as a waitress at a country club. It was perfect for those years; the tips were great, my hours were flexible, but I felt like it was time to move on. I had risen up the totem pole from new girl to the last remaining of the original staff. My parents, one a corporate director and the other the owner of a business, agreed wholeheartedly that yes! A Real Adult Job would be a great thing!

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Kazan – Istanbul of Russia

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East of Moscow lies the major city Kazan, the capital of the republic of Tatarstan. Many moons ago during the 12th-century Turkish people, referred to as Tatars, settled in Russia. They have their own language, tradition and republic within Russia, so I guess you could think of it as a state, where it has its own capital but within the same country.

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Going into Kazan, I knew there were two major things that needed to be accomplished: Gander at its unique architecture and eat Tatar food. Since Russian Tatars trace their roots to Turkey the religion of Islam is widely practiced in Kazan, which is why you see a lot of mosques in this city.

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One of the most famous mosques in all of Kazan is the Qolsarif mosque, which is located inside the kremlin walls (yes, there are more kremlins in Russia than the one in Moscow). Its beautiful exterior was breathtaking with its white bricked marble walls and glimmering deep blue domes on top. Simply standing before its presence keeps you in awe.

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It’s unique because Russia usually has such special buildings for churches, considering that a huge majority of Russians are eastern Orthodox. But to have a mosque within the kremlin walls displayed as a prestigious point of interest emphasizes the uniqueness of Kazan since it celebrates something that is non-Russian.

Aside from the mosque, other public and residential buildings within the city are more modern-Europeanized. The city’s architecture is accented with Italian and French designs that can also be found in Saint Petersburg. Of course, the entire city is not built like this—beautiful residential buildings are occupied by government officials or rich Tatars, while the average Russian still lives in the same old gray communistic apartment buildings.

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But enough about buildings—let’s talk food! Since Tatars have their own culture and traditions, it only makes sense that they have their own type of cuisine as well. Tatar cuisine is similar to Russian in terms of their baked goods, where they have different types of baked breads stuffed with savory meats, cheeses or potatoes. The variety of baked goods range from Echpochmak, Balesh, Baklavesh, Chak Chak, Peremyach and Kictibi.

Everything was delicious and unique on its own, but the one thing that really got me was their sweet snack called “Chak Chak.” Even popular among Russians, Chak Chak consists of chopped-up dough that is fried and then coated with honey. It actually reminded me of my childhood. because in Taiwan we have something very similar to Chak Chak called “Sachima.” It’s so addictive that you can just eat it like popcorn!

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Our time in Kazan was short-lived since we only had three nights to spend there. But it would be worth revisiting, especially in the summertime, when the weather is beautiful. This summer, the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Kazan!

Beyond the Super-fish-ial

Something that I’ve discovered about myself since I’ve come to Emmanuel is that I love helping people learn. Even in freshmen biology when my classmates were struggling with material, I found that I could usually explain the concepts to them with relative ease. As a preschool teaching assistant, I noted that kids especially learn best through sensory components. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I’ve adapted much of the way I speak with kiddos to 1) always ask them questions, and 2) show then tell. For example, one of the munchkins in my class asked me once what the detergent pods were that I was putting into the dishwasher. Simply telling him it was soap wasn’t going to make much sense from his perspective. So, I got him a cup of warm water and a spoon so we could see what happened when he dropped it in and stirred. I wafted it up to him and asked what it smelled like, to which he replied, “laundry.” Sometimes they get there.

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Celebrating the End of Winter with Pancakes

Every year, Russians celebrate the end of winter by stuffing themselves with thin pancakes (blini) for six whole days! And that’s just the beginning! You also get 4 days off from school and work. Known as “Maslenitsa”, everyone on this holiday prepares these pancakes at home all week, and then celebrates with a big festival on the last Sunday of February.

 

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A Day at the MFA

I’m an art person. My Mom was an art major in college so part of me thinks the interest in it was passed down from her own. Either way, I’ll forever identify as more right-brained (creativity, color, emotion) rather than left (logic, numbers, reasoning). Despite wishing I could paint the summer away instead of spending long hours waitressing, I had never been to an art museum. Places like the Met seemed too upscale and pricey for a girl who hated spending money even on gas.

Your Fenway Card gets you into the Museum of Fine Arts for free!” was what drew me out of a tired stare during Orientation Week at Emmanuel. I’d passed by the marbled, Colosseum-style building while exploring the Fenway neighborhood. My next task was to find someone who would actually want to spend an afternoon in an art gallery. Surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to find people. For the art or for the Instagram post, visiting the MFA was of high interest. Since my first trip freshman year, I’ve found that the long, impressive halls are a great place to relax and take your mind off of schoolwork for a bit, especially during midterms. (Hello to the upcoming week!) With the weather finally reaching out towards warmer days, the under ten minute walk was particularly easy to take today. With galleries filled with ancient sculptures larger than life, flashy neon signs, and Monet’s famous lily pads, it was a great way to ignore a seven page paper for a good hour or so.

Check out some of the pictures below of what’s right in Emmanuel’s backyard!

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