Spring Break “travel abroad”

A little late, but I wanted to describe my spring break experiences traveling to Amsterdam (for 3 days) and Paris (for 5 days).

First and foremost, the inhabitants of the small, canal based city of Amsterdam were some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I have experienced in my travels to foreign countries.  This probably has something to do with the fact that almost all Dutch people are fluent speakers of English.  Not having any sort of language barrier enabled my family and I to travel conveniently, with the aide of many friendly natives and to experience as much of authentic Dutch culture as possible.  Naturally, we did engage in a few EXTREMELY touristy activities; taking a canal tour of the city, visiting Anne Frank’s house throughout the holocaust, as well as visit the infamous I AMsterdam letters.  These activities were amongst my least favorite of the trip.

The most enjoyable moments of my trip were wandering the local streets, away from the overly commercial areas; far from tourists snapping photos of every object and structure in sight.  We wandered into local, low-key art galleries, small dutch pubs, as well as tried a variety of different native cuisines off the beaten path.

I had a much different experience in my few days traveling through Paris.  In a city with so much culture and art, it was hard to avoid the overly tourist destinations considering it was my first time exploring the city.  This is not to say the sites I saw were not remarkable; I frequented various museums housing priceless pieces of art, the daunting Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as the Lourve.  While each day was packed with walking through different neighborhoods visiting all these neighborhoods, my family and I experienced a much different culture in Paris.

The native Parisians were extremely direct with their requests which was interesting and refreshing, but at times came off as rude.  Moreover, many native parisians were utterly dismissive or condescending to us traveling Americans.  No doubt, this had something to do with the language barrier between the natives and my family.  Even the simplest monetary transactions proved immensely difficult.

Whereas the dutch embraced our American nature, the Parisians were decidedly defective.  Presumably this has something to do with the global perception of Americans as rude, fat elitists.  Maybe next time I travel abroad I’ll brush up on the local languages – perhaps that’ll improve my experience.

Despite this observation, Paris and Amsterdam were both amazing places to travel to.  Both cities contain hundreds of years of visible history; noted in the preservation of art a well as the antiquated architecture.

Alternative Spring Break 2013 (B-ham, AL)

Heres to ASB 2013!!! I know I’m a little late, but who doesn’t want to know how much fun my org (Sister 2 Sister) had on this year’s ASB trip? We went to Birmingham AL where we explored the city life, did community service through the hills of B-ham, and bonded like never before. We volunteered with Meals on Wheels, planted trees and colored murals with Better Basics, and participated in teen night & WarBall with the Boys & Girls cLUB OF Alabama. All amazing experiences. I can honestly say that I’m in love with all of the new members, learned so much while on the trip, and would sincerely enjoy going back one day. Until next time……




Give me a break. Give me a break. (No, seriously professors, give me a break)

In contemplation of the last two years on campus, I was astounded by the amount of work that I’ve been assigned leading up to, during, and immediately after breaks.  One would expect, at least at UofM (slight pompous jab at all other schools who aren’t as academic as us), to be continuously assigned work during the semester leading up to school-sanctioned breaks.  And that immediately upon releasing that last final or essay to your instructor, the break would commence and one’s brain could essentially be turned off until classes resume.

Evidently this is not the case.  For example, the two weeks leading up this spring break (even though we all know it’s definitely not spring), my professors plagued me with seemingly endless readings, essays, and in class exams.  Prior to break, I accepted the fact that my life would suck for a week or two, but that it was worth it for I would soon be on break: my brain could be in a vegetated state, I would be able to normalize my sleeping habits as well as indulge in a luxury I had yearned for for many months – REAL FOOD!!!

Feb. 28th came and went, my final essay submitted with pride, yet I was unable to turn my brain off.  After driving home to New Jersey (and pumping my own gas on the way), within the first hour I had realized the amount of outstanding assignments and work that still remained.  Despite taking an exam a mere week prior, I had been assigned a Philosophy paper due the Monday classes resumed.  Fair enough, I can handle one 4-6 page paper over the entire break – I am minoring in writing after all.  So I mark that assignment down on my planner and continue through my other syllabi.  A few novels for a history class, a couple hundred pages of assigned astronomy readings, it kept adding up.

My “break” had quickly turned into another typical week of endless work.  I don’t really understand what possesses professors to assign work during breaks, as it seems fairly counterintuitive to me.  Perhaps they think that because it’s break, no other professor would ever dream of assigning work, and therefore the student could devote their free time to the one subject in particular.  However, seeing as just about all professors do this, “break” has become a foreign concept to me.  Regardless of the reason for assigning the work, I believe this injustice must be stopped.  Let us put an end to this madness and take back the breaks that we’ve earned!

#SB2013.

Hellllllllo. I’m coming to you live from Spring Break 2013 here in the wintry wonderland that is Ann Arbor. Haven’t you heard…it’s lovely this time of year.

Today, I’m not dipping my feet in the ocean blue. I’m not sipping on something fruity with a pretty umbrella. I’m not letting the sun’s rays warm my skin. I’m not flipping through a novel poolside. (Boooooooo.)

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing will be worthwhile when I leave this town. Am I wasting my four years on this?

I’m taking a gender and sport class this semester – talking about the objectification of the female body, earning 0.75 cents to the male dollar, wondering if things someday will change. Every Monday and Wednesday morning, I walk out of the class feeling totally defeated (excuse the sport pun). I feel beat down and offended by exaggerated generalizations about women in sports.

Yet here I am, defending myself on a daily basis in a male-dominated sphere, giving all I am to this cause, incredibly tired and worn.  

This afternoon, a person that I am supposed to respect said one of the most demeaning things to me, the only girl in the building. What hurt the most was that this person found nothing wrong with this comment – he was just an alpha male saying what alpha males say. And there I was again, on the floor feeling defeated.

Why do we fight so hard when just a few, ignorantly chosen words can push us back in our place? While I realize that I blog a similar sentiment often, it’s never seemed so true: words are powerful. And sometimes, words really hurt.

What do you do after a day like today? Personally, I endorse a spring break trip to the U.S. of A. commercialism utopia, Target. Purchase a minmum of three new colors of nail polish, Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, a pair of hot pink earrings, and a new calculator watch to make your heart happy again.