Trying New Things, Eating More Healthy

This semester alone I’ve suffered through pneumonia, bronchitis, strep throat and also managed to catch every cold that circulated around Penn State’s campus. In an effort to not be sick anymore, I decided to eat healthier and hopefully (finally) feel better. I’ve never been the kind of person who ate anything and everything I wanted to. Except maybe when I was younger, but teaching kids not to mindlessly indulge in countless sugary snacks seems pointless and unnecessary because they inevitably work off all the calories anyway just from running around anyway but that’s besides the point. I eat a relatively good amount of fruit and vegetables, stay away from fried foods to the best of my ability and avoid eating too much gluten.

Side note: I avoid eating too much gluten because I am gluten intolerant, not because of any new health trend. If I eat too much gluten, I get very tired and my joints hurt, but as long as I don’t eat bread or pasta I’m usually good. Unfortunately that in and of is kind of hard to do at college, but South has really good sushi and salad places so I get by. Avoiding gluten for no apparent reason is not shown to help your health in any way and is really dumb because most gluten free products have a taste that resembles cardboard.

The two things that really trip me up are drinking enough water and staying away from sweets. I fill up my water bottle every single morning before I leave Atherton to go to class, but it stays relatively full as the day goes on. I try to remember to drink water throughout the day because I know how good it is for you. It helps cleanse the body of toxins, hydrate skin, keep you alert and a cornucopia of other benefits. My roommate can attest to the fact that most days I get back to the dorm at 7 or 8 p.m. with a water bottle three-quarters of the way full. Disappointed in how little water I drank throughout the day, I usually try to chug the rest of the water bottle. Regardless, I don’t ingest enough water throughout the day. I also have a really bad sweet tooth. I can’t leave the buffet at Redifer without getting at least one chocolate chip cookie, but more often than not that number is closer to two or three though. This also goes against the kind of gluten free rule.

So this week I decided to go completely gluten free to make up for the stray slices of pizza and pokey sticks I’ve been eating recently and also eat healthier in order to feel better. Although this is easier said than done, I’ve been doing pretty well. I haven’t eaten anything with gluten in it all week and I’ve stayed away from the sugar too, substituting in more fruit in order to appease my sweet tooth. I’ve worked hard to eat a balanced and pretty clean diet. I haven’t felt sick at all this week, which is (sadly) progress in regards to my health. Although I’m only a week into my new healthier lifestyle, I’ve been feeling good and I hope to keep this up.

Trying New Things, Breaking My Routine

This semester especially I have been extremely busy. I’m enrolled in 19 credits, rushing a sorority and writing full-time for The Daily Collegian among other things. With all of these academic requirements, time consuming extra curriculars and time to have a social life, I live by a pretty strict schedule. I plan out my days so tightly to make sure I actually accomplish everything I need to.  This can be problematic in some ways. First of all, it can be dull or boring to know exactly what I’m doing planned ahead all the time. Second of all, it causes me to say no to a lot of things that I would actually love doing. Usually this involves events with my sorority, which I often don’t have time to attend because of classwork and articles for The Daily Collegian. So this time, when the chance arose I decided to say “yes” and trust in myself that I would be able to accomplish the rest of the things on my schedule at a slightly different time then I originally planned.

My Collegian editors texted in my beat’s group chat asking who could run downtown to cover the opening of the new pizzeria, UR Pizza. I immediately agreed to take on the story. In news these kinds of articles are called web updates. The journalist needs to go to the source, get a quote and background information as quickly as possible and then write the story as quickly as humanly possible. It’s a stressful experience to say the least, but I was excited to take on the challenge, drop everything that I had planned and just go with it.

I couldn’t help but feel anxious putting myself in this position. I felt guilty, almost. I had meticulously planned out my entire day and I was throwing that plan away for a single article. It wasn’t even that important of a story, either, it was a simple news break. Regardless, I threw on my coat and sneakers and ran downtown to start interviewing.

I interviewed the owner of the new restaurant and took some pictures of the newly redesigned eatery. I recorded the interviews on my phone to ensure accurate quotes. As I quickly walked back to my dorm, I put my headphones in my ears and began to type direct quotes and information from the interview.

I wrote the article quickly and without much struggle as it didn’t have to be that long, but the time constraint was pretty stressful. My roommate walked into the room, wanting to get dinner and effectively adding more pressure to finish the article as quickly as possible. However, in the end, I was able to write an article quickly and accurately enough to be published within a half-hour of me even getting the story idea.

I really liked being able to deviate from a schedule and live more in the moment. It was a really cool way to broaden my experience writing for The Collegian and broaden my perspective in regards to how I live in my day-to-day life. I will definitely try to be more flexible in the future because it’s a lot more exciting.



Trying New Things, Becoming More Trusting

I have always been very hesitant in trusting others. I’m not sure if I got this trait from my parents or if I learned it on my own, but I always think before trusting another person. I’ve always debated whether or not this was a good way to be. On one hand, it’s probably smarter not to trust other people, but on the other hand I really just want to hold onto the pure belief that people are always good. Regardless of whether this is a nature or nurture issue, or a good or bad quality  I lost my key for about ten days and it forced me to trust everyone around me.
Waking up Sunday morning, I couldn’t find my key anywhere.  My roommate and I had come in the night before and we both distinctly remembered that I was the one who had unlocked the door. I didn’t leave at all again that night so that meant that my key had to be somewhere in the dorm. I brushed off the issue at first, getting ready for the day and claiming that I would look for it after brunch.
My roommate locked our door behind us and we set out, unaware that that would be the last time our door locked for the next ten days.
The next morning I woke up an hour before my class, got ready, packed my bag and then tore the room to pieces. I dumped out my laundry bin, moved my dressers and even sorted through the trash in what ended up being a day-long excavation to find my key. However, after 45 minutes, the first leg of the 24-hour search had to come to an end. I was going to be late for my class.
I was extremely hesitant to leave the room to go to my classes. My roommate and I are friendly with almost everyone in the hall, but I hated the idea of people just walking into our room when we weren’t there. Who knew what they would do? They could steal stuff, or trash the place or leave us weird notes and we wouldn’t be able to figure out who left them.
My roommate didn’t seem to care about the room being unlocked at all. I marveled at her ability to come and go without fear of what other people could be doing. She just trusted them. I had tried to tell her that she could just lock the door anytime she left the room and leave me locked out until she came back because afterall it was my fault that I just didn’t have a key, but again she didn’t really care.
For the first few days, every time I walked into the room, I checked everything. I made sure nothing was stolen, moved or damaged. Time after time, there were signs that no one had been in there. Everyone in the hall had the ability to steal from us, and word travels fast so I’m sure they were aware of the issue, however, they didn’t.
After losing my key for the past ten days, I got to try being more trusting of those around me and I think that the positive results I got will have a lasting impact on my ability to trust others.

Trying New Things, Making New Friends

All of my best friends in high school have been my friends since at least middle school. My two best friends I actually became close with in kindergarten, but for many of my other close friends, it started anywhere from fifth to eighth grade. Needless to say, we were all very close. We could practically read each other’s minds we were so in sync. I knew exactly what time to text Diana if I wanted to talk to her before her afternoon nap, exactly how late Amanda would be when she was picking me up or what song Katie would put on if I handed her the AUX cord. (It was unfortunately always High School Musical.)

These girls became so much more than just friends, they were like my sisters. We hung out in school, after school and on the weekends. I was as close with their families as I was with my own. We ate, worked out, shopped and slept together. We were inseparable.

Leaving to come to Penn State meant leaving my sisters back home. Luckily enough for me, I found a way to make even more sisters. Joining a sorority is something that I debated for a long time. Greek life has been highly criticized lately (for good reason), I didn’t really have the time to get involved with something else on campus because of schoolwork and The Collegian and I didn’t even understand how sororities and the whole process of rushing worked.

Rushing was a lot all at once and now that it’s over I’m very happy that I’ll never have to do it again. However, I am so so so happy with the end result. I’m a new member of Sigma Kappa and I’ve been loving all the new experiences that brings with it. The older members are warm and inviting, the other girls in my pledge class are funny and kind and overall I’m just really happy I ended up rushing.

Opening up my envelope on Bid Day and finding a bid from Sigma Kappa was beyond exciting. They were my first choice and I felt so lucky to get to run with the other members of my pledge class into the inviting arms of my new sorority. I felt immediately at home. In every conversation I had, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my sisters back in Carmel.

One girl that I talked to had the same witty sense of humor as Molly. Another new member had the same beautiful curly hair as Caitlin. Someone even slipped in the wet grass, reminding me of Katie’s clumsiness.

I’ve been hanging out with these girls a lot, which is fun and new in and of itself. We went to chapter together and got fro-yo together and we’ve been hanging out all over campus every day. It’s not very often that you immediately click with people, but I’ve felt a connection to almost every girl I’ve talked to in the sorority so far and that new and exciting feeling reminds me of what this blog is all about – the benefit of trying new things!

Trying New Things, Joining New Orgs

I never thought I would join a sorority. The process of rushing seemed tedious, Greek life has been getting a really bad name lately and I never pegged myself as a “sorority girl”. However, back home in Carmel I had a group of girl friends who I couldn’t live without and I have yet to find that same group of girls at Penn State. I have a bunch of friends here, but I truly believe you can never have too many friends and I’m intrigued by the idea of making friends who could become my “sisters for life” just like my high school friends have become.

Rushing started off easy enough. I signed up online and made a whole profile for myself. I then got a PNM (Potential New Member) number and a date to attend orientation. Once you go to orientation, you meet your Pi Chi group. This group is made up of about 40 girls who accompany you to all of your openhouses, which make up the first round of recruitment.

Openhouses take up the first two days of formal Panhellenic recruitment, or “rushing”. In this round, you and your Pi Chi group visit every sorority on campus for 15 minutes each. Here at Penn State that means 23 sororities in two days. Every one takes the same basic form, becoming a monotonous routine: they do their chant while you wait in the hall, you walk into the sorority suite and shake both the president and recruitment chairs’ hands, then you get paired with a sister to talk to for the duration of your visit. There can be some variations: sometimes you talk to one sister and then another walks over to split your time or other times you can have two PNM’s paired with one sister, but other than that it’s very much the same.

Openhouses almost killed me. I love talking to people, but these rooms aren’t meant for these many people so they get really hot and everyone sweats and you have to scream to be heard over every other conversation happening at the exact same time. Every sorority that you meet begins to mesh together after like the fourth one and most of the time you waste your 15 minutes in the sorority on trying so hard to be liked that you forget to even pay attention to if you liked the sorority.

After openhouses, you choose your bottom six sororities while the sororities also choose their bottom PNMs. The next day you report bright and early for first rounds, where you spend 30 minutes with each of the sororities that wanted to see you again. This round focuses on the philanthropy of each of the sororities. I liked this round better because it was a lot more laid back and rushed than openhouses.

Although I haven’t gotten to them yet, second rounds come next, then preference night and then finally bid day. I like the process of rushing. I love talking to new people and meeting all sorts of different individuals. I also love how I can picture some of these girls becoming my best friends. I love the way that sororities focus on giving back and maintaining friendships for life and I’m really excited to get involved. I just wish it didn’t take up all of my free time because the last week or so has had me in way over my head.

Trying New Things (Three Times Over)

This passion blog has been a long time coming.  My passion blog for this week is actually a collection of new things I tried in the past couple weeks.  Two of the new things I tried were for The Daily Collegian, meaning that they were career oriented, and the other new thing I tried I tried was just kind of random.

For my article this week, I decided to try something new.  Instead of writing a typical Thanksgiving article, where I would only need to interview three sources and cover a small topic, I decided to write a Thanksgiving feature.  Feature articles are longer, more all-encompassing news articles in which you interview more people and go more in depth than a normal article.

For the article, I interviewed three professors and two students about their Thanksgiving traditions.  Their responses ended up being really cute, ranging anywhere from picking blueberries to make blueberry pie to visiting Harry Potter World.

I immediately got going, eager to start my interviews since I would need to do five in one week.  I interviewed the BiSci professor during his office hours and talked to him about how he harvests fresh vegetables and sings classic American folksongs for Thanksgiving.

Next, I talked to Professor Wooten about how he travels with his wife for Thanksgiving every year because she’s from Thailand and he’s from Texas and they don’t have any family in the area.

Then I interviewed two students and learned about their traditions of integrating Japanese food into the typical Thanksgiving spread and picking blueberries in Northern Maine.

Finally, I interviewed a communications professor and he told me about how he invites students that don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving over to his house to eat dinner with him and his family.

The second new thing I tried was having a photoshoot.  The Daily Collegian has a whole photography department and, up until this point, I have never been present for the photography aspect of publishing the daily paper, but this past Tuesday I was.

After the interviews, one of the photographers for the Collegian had me set up a time and a place to do a photoshoot.  Then I had to get the two students, who had kindly agreed to have their photos taken, props that matched up with their traditions.  I bought blueberries and rice from Maclanahan’s and showed up to the photo shoot the next day.

After introducing the photographer to the two students, I didn’t do muchelse.  I gave my opinions on a couple of different shots when asked and the photoshoot ended up going really well, adding the perfect visual aspect to my article.

Lastly, I tried eating at a new place within Redifer dining hall.  I eat at Redifer every single day, but often find myself getting the same things.  I eat sushi, chicken fingers or a salad for lunch on any given day.  In the spirit of trying new things, I tried eating at the Mexican restaurant within Redifer and, just like how every other risk I’ve taken for this blog has gone, the results were great.  I got a burrito bowl and it was really good and now I have a new lunch place to visit.

Trying new things = success.


Trying New Things, Writing News Articles…

As a journalism major, writing for the fourth best college newspaper in the country is an opportunity that I simply could not pass up.  Penn State’s student run paper, The Daily Collegian, has always been highly regarded for the content it produces, but this past year was also given the spot between Columbia’s and Cornell’s papers when compared to all other college newspapers, according to the Princeton Review.

In order to make it onto staff for The Daily Collegian, you have to take a test.  At this stage you are an applicant and you are among over a hundred other Penn State students.  If you score high enough on the written exam, which consists of current events and ethics questions as well as being able to take a list of facts and craft a new article out of it in proper AP style, then you get the opportunity to book an interview.  If, after interviewing with one of the editors, you do well enough, then you are given the opportunity to become a candidate for The Daily Collegian – that’s when the fun starts.

Not only are you required to go to weekly meetings for training, which covers ever topic a journalist could ever possibly need to know, but you are also required to go to weekly meetings for your beat (section of the newspaper – news, sports or features and culture).  On top of walking all the way into town for these meetings twice a week, candidates must also complete twitter challenges every time Trudi (our news editor) gives them out, review articles via email or twitter, be an active supporter of The Daily Collegian’s twitter page, shadow our chief editor, multimedia editor and copyright editor for 2 hours each and complete paper pass outs.

Being a candidate for The Daily Collegian is a full-time job in and of itself, but so far I’m loving every minute of it.  Candidates must also have at least 2 stories published by October 20th and at least 4 stories published by December 1st.  Luckily, I made the cut so far and I have been published both in the actual paper and online.

My first story was actually an idea I came up with myself.  I thought it would be fun to debunk popular Penn State myths and rumors.  It was pretty easy to find a couple rumors and then from there I just had to start reaching out to people to get some quotes for each statement I was making.  You need at least 3 sources for something to be a legitimate article, but I wanted to do at least one interview for each rumor I was debunking.  For me, the best part about being a journalist is being able to meet new people that you never would’ve talked to before and learn new things.

In short, while writing this article I learned that sororities can have houses without being considered brothels, Berkey Creamery ice cream is totally FDA approved, if a student gets hit by a CATA bus then they don’t get their tuition paid for and, according to the President of Penn State’s Paranormal Research Society, the ghost of Atherton probably doesn’t haunt campus.  Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better “new thing” to try for my blog than writing for The Daily Collegian and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

Here’s the link if you want to check out my first article:

Or my second:

Trying New Things, Finding New Art…

In another attempt to try new things, Kyle and I travelled all the way to the North side of campus to the Palmer Art Museum.  Unfortunately, Palmer is closed on Mondays and we walked all the way over there for nothing.  Tuesday, we walked over to Palmer again.  We were invited into the big building by the paws of a nittany lion and were excited to actually make it into the building this time.


Living only an hour from New York City for my entire life, I have been to a fair share of art museums.  My favorite art museum is the Met.  In my opinion, the Met has the perfect ratio of modern and classical art.  The Met collects pieces from Renaissance artists like Michelangelo to surrealists like Salvador Dali and basically anything in between.  My favorite exhibit at the Met is the one displaying Claude Monet’s waterlily paintings.  It’s sad, but also fascinating to watch the blearily painted pictures get even hazier as Monet neared the end of his life and began to lose his sight.

I’ve also visited the Museum of Modern Art.  Although, modern art isn’t my favorite, this museum has quite a few standout pieces.  Covering artists from Andy Warhol to Van Gogh is very impressive, especially because the museum boasts itself as a modern art museum.  MOMA even showcases Van Gogh’s starry night, a favorite of any art enthusiast.

Having visited these two amazing art museums, I honestly had very low expectations for the Palmer Art Museum.  I know that sounds bad coming from someone who loves trying new things so much, but I just couldn’t see how a college art museum could be anywhere near as nice as New York City’s finest art galleries.

I am happy to report that I stand corrected.  Penn State’s art museum, as with most features at University Park, was really impressive!  I loved the contrast between pieces.  The art ranged from classic to modern, just like in the Met or MOMA and there was also a huge variety of mediums and art forms.  Inside the drawers of one of the galleries are a collection of charcoal sketches on paper.  The walls are filled with beautiful paintings.  Tables are decorated with glass blown pieces and clay pots.  Even outside the doors of the Palmer Art Museum is an entire sculpture garden filled with abstract and thought-provoking pieces.

All in all I am again so happy that I go to a school that provides me with so many new and exciting opportunities.  Visiting the art museum right here on campus gave me the chance to escape the worries of everyday life and do something a little bit less mundane.  Appreciating art helps you to appreciate life because it reminds you to look for beautiful things all around you.  Walking back from Palmer, I was even more grateful than usual to be at a college as beautiful as Penn State.

Not to mention, this experience made me realize that Kyle has an uncanny knack for mimicking artwork which could be a cool party trick.



Trying New Things, Hearing New People…

In the spirit of trying new things, I thought it’d be cool to hear some new opinions.  Listening to speeches can create an eye-opening experience without even having to leave campus.  Penn State hosts countless guest speakers during any given week so it wasn’t too hard to find one.  In Carnegie this past Wednesday, there was a free public lecture by Roy Harris, author of “Pulitzer’s Gold: A Century of Public Service Journalism”.  The event was co-sponsored by Department of Journalism and University Libraries and seemed like the perfect lecture for a journalism major to attend.  “Pulitzer’s Gold” focuses on the long and interesting history of the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.  The prize, which recognizes some of the media’s greatest achievements, is awarded annually to a news organization rather than to individuals, and takes the form of the Joseph Pulitzer Gold Medal.

It was really cool to learn more about this award that goes to an entire news organization rather than the typical Pulitzer that only one journalist can win.  I also really liked being able to hear about the history of journalism, something that I hadn’t thought about too much before this point.  Usually when you think about awards for these kinds of things you imagine one person taking home the prize, but I think it’s really cool to think about writing as a team activity.  Collaboration of thoughts amongst writers can be very beneficial to the writing process and to the pieces being written.  This idea of collaboration within the writing process reminded me a lot of our RCL and passion blogs because commenting on our peers’ work almost allows for the same kind of partnership that this team award suggests.  Feedback from other writers can really improve a piece of writing drastically in the same way that getting thoughtful and constructive blog comments can help us to write better in upcoming blog posts.

All in all, I really liked listening to Mr. Harris speak.  He knew the journalism industry very well and, being that that is one of the industries I’m strongly considering going into in the future, I really liked hearing his thoughts on journalism today.  I really appreciated his claim that the journalism from and about our country provides a brilliant portrait of America.  All too often, I feel like journalism is overlooked and not appreciated for how well it paints a picture of America as a whole.  This experience allowed me to realize how much I love to just sit and listen for a little while, too.  Listening to a guest speaker allows you to follow what they’re saying and drift somewhere else mentally.  It’s almost like traveling without having to move from your seat.  He talked a lot about how he worked for The Wall Street Journal for 23 years and as senior editor of CFO Magazine for 13 years.  Harris also served as the national president of the American Society of Business Publication Editors, which was very cool to me especially because I plan on double majoring between marketing and journalism.

Hello Penn State, Goodbye Comfort Zone (Passion Blog 1)

As everyone’s favorite mid 20th century Indian novelist, Anita Desai, once said, “wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow”.  Although I’m not exactly sure when I first heard this quote, it has always stuck with me. I have always loved traveling. The idea of submerging myself into new places or cultures has always been very exciting to me.  I can’t imagine anything that I am more passionate about than trying new things.  I love the feeling that comes with it and the fact that it is something I will be able to continue doing for the rest of my life.  Similar to how conflict photographer Linsey Addario feels when she is taking photographs, I feel alive when I’m doing something, meeting someone or going somewhere new.

Interestingly enough, I was born and raised in a town of just over 2,000 people.  There was never that much room for news experiences in Carmel, but I may do with what I had around me.  Adapting, I soon learned, is a very fun way to make something new out of nothing.  Even though I had already known everyone in my grade since elementary school, I made friends with students in other grades that I was less familiar with.  Carmel didn’t have all too many places to eat so it was hard to find new restaurants, but I could always try a new dish at some of my old favorites.  Against all odds, I made finding new experiences work.

One of the main reasons I was drawn to Penn State, even as a New Yorker, was the size.  With a big school comes some pretty big opportunities.  I love how diverse the student body at University Park is.  Another thing I love about Penn State is the town of State College.  I know that in my endeavors to find new things I will probably end up in State College for a lot of my blog posts.  Living in Atherton gives me the opportunity to leave the grand front doors of the Schreyer Honors College and immediately find myself leaving campus.  Traveling from the known to the unknown is what trying new things is all about.

The fun part about my blog is that “trying new things” is a very broad premise.  If I want to travel into State College and try a new place to eat then the obligation of writing a blog post encourages me to do so.  If I want to introduce myself to someone at random, my blog suggests I do so.  If I want to join a completely random club just because I wouldn’t have been able to do so back in Carmel, New York then my blog supports my random whims.  Essentially, I chose this premise for my blog so that I could ensure that I am making the most out of all the new and stimulating experiences Penn State has to offer and I’m really excited to leave the comfort zone that living in a small town my whole life has forced onto me.