The Buzz Fall 2021

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FALL 2021




Fall 2021 Editorial 5. Letter from the Editor

Campus 21. Belly of the Beast 17. Getting Back into the Social Groove

City 15. Fifteen Minutes Till Freedom

Food 20. TikTok Food Trends: The Best

and the Worst Ranked

65. Becoming That Girl: An Admirable

Aspiration or a Toxic Target? 26. Is Your Plant-Based Diet Really Changing the World?

Wellness 28. Workouts for Those Who Don’t

Know Where to Start 29. Caffeine Culture in College 31. The Inescapable Growing Pains of Life

Fashion 35. 34. 45. 47.

Fashion Photoshoot: Royalty Reimagined Fashion at BU Breaking the Pattern of Size Exclusion Why Sustainability and Fashion?

Travel 50. Abroad in America:

5 International Sensations in American Culture and Their Origins 51. Spotlight: Travel’s Effects on the Environment 53. Colonialism and Conquest: An Examination of the Effects of Travel on Cultural Monuments

Culture 59. Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

57. Why We Need Better

Representation in Literature

61. Through the Looking Glass

Opinion 67. Breaking the BU Bubble 64. Our Dwindling Attention Spans 70. Hindsight was 2020, and Now I Can’t Wait for 2022

Music 69. Music to Avoid Seasonal Depression 23. Inclusion in BU Acapella 73. Double Standards in Breakup Anthems

Fiction 76. The winning submission from the Buzz’s first ever campus-wide fiction contest, 2021 “Dinosaur”


Staff Executive Editors Editor-in-Chief Shai Mahajan Managing Editor Erica MacDonald Creative Director Emily Snisarenko Art Director Tamar Ponte Head Copy Editor Isabelle Durso Print Photography Director Chika Okoye Online Photography Director Samantha Grobman Web Director Allie Richter

Section Editors Campus Anna Cavallino City Kaylee Chin Culture Viktoria Popovska Fashion Alexandria Sharpley Food Anoushka Shah Music Kiara Tynan Opinion Jessica Stevens Travel Amille Bottom Wellness Andrea Lauritsen

Outreach Team Publisher Julia Kapusta Marketing Manager Isabelle Liao Social Media Manager Esha Raja

Creative Team Thalia Lauzon, Ava Vitiello, Macy Wilbur, Ting Wei Li, Lauren Had, Izzy Critchfield-Jain, Shelby Mitchell, Karoline Cunico, Jill O’Farrell, Lauren Had, Arden Grant, Abigail Jay, MC Hopper, Irene Chung

Photography Team Sophia Kysela, Amanda Schneider, Mark Michelini, Andrew Logue, Kathryn Cooney, Elizabeth Watson, Hui-En Lin, Bella Bohnsack, Alexandra Bradely


Contributors Our Fall 2021 issue would not have been possible without the help of many outside students and partners who shared their talents, insights and time. We would like to thank each and every new and existing relationship, and we look forward to our continued partnership in the future.

Supporters Dean John Battaglino Margaret Babson, Assistant Director of Student Activities Office, Boston University Student Activities Office, Boston University Study Abroad Office, Boston University Allocations Board, Boston University Anh Nhu Thuy Huynh, Business Share Accountant of Student Activities Office, Boston University Lovisa Jewellery WTBU Jailene Peralta Yasmeen Meek Anh Nyugen

On the Cover Luqing wears a black Reformation dress and Zara heels with a pearl necklace and hair clip.

Models Ananya Panchal (COM’22) Julia Kapusta (CAS’24) D.E.E. (CAS’24) Luqing Yin (COM’23) Mahira Duggal (CAS’24)


A Letter From The Editor 5

Written by Shai Mahajan Designed by Emily Snisarenko Photographed by Chika Okoye


With the turn of the pandemic, amongst

the chaos and turmoil of a fatal disease and the rise of social movements that woke society to its core, we watched life as we knew it transform forever. Terrified for humanity, itching for freedom. Shuttered away, we learned to cope with different methods and sought a new purpose: some of us delved into baking,


others into painting, or whipped dalgona coffees and gardening. For me, the Buzz became my banana bread and dalgona coffee, it found my heart amidst the chaos of the pandemic. Monumental in my growth, it subconsciously became a part of my identity. A year and a half later, we’ve come back as different individals. Matured, eager, and stronger.



The bustling sidewalk of Commonwealth Avenue fills a special place in my heart. As I watch the swath of students scurry to their classes, I am reminded of how Fall brings changes and chances. Thanks to the wonderful hardworking individuals of the largest team this publication has seen thus far, we have the chance to take risks, push boundaries, take a stand about causes we believe in, and explore topics we are passionate about. The Buzz is back, and it’s stronger than ever.


Shai wears a burnt orange velvet dress by Michael Costello from Revolve



The hope is to always get to the top of the ladder, for resume and professional reasons. But it’s when the work begins to feel like play, that things start to take shape. With the Buzz, the lines for me have always been blurred as I have come to live and breathe it every day. It became a release for me, a reality I could immerse myself into that I honestly can’t wait to live in for the rest of my life. This publication – my outlet and safe space – made me realize that this is my ikigai. What I’m getting at is, not that your journey should be anything like mine, but that I hope that it inspires you to find yours. Sincerely, Shai Mahajan, Editor-in-Chief


Shai wears a corset top from Pretty Little Thing and an off-white slip skirt from Aritzia


Fifteen Minutes ‘Till Freedom Students Share Their Favorite Spots in the City That Are Only a Fifteen-Minute Journey Off-Campus. Written by Talia Ralph Designed by Tamar Ponte Photographed by Alexandra Bradley

Endless hours of studying, attending lectures that seem to last a lifetime, and constantly looking at the same environment tends to destroy motivation within students. Study breaks are not always enough to re-energize the mind, nor are they long term solutions for the eventual burn-out. So what are some ways to avoid the dreaded study fatigue? Weekend or even post-class getaways! The most exciting locations can get on your radar if you ask fellow students where they like to unwind.

1. Newbury Street

Zen Phyu is a student in Sargent College. With a schedule filled with meetings and school (some days even featuring five separate classes), she is a busy woman. Yet, even with all of the stresses of a rigorous schedule, she has been able to explore the city and has found ways to let loose. One place she has grown to love is Newbury. “I love going shopping on Newbury Street and finding cool stuff. The other day there was an open market with a bunch of cool vintage stores and small boutiques! From handmade jewelry to posters, there


is a wide variety of stuff at such a reasonable price.” said Zen (SAR ‘25). Indeed, Newbury is a noteworthy place to spend the day. Seven minutes away by bike, students are able to explore this area any day—even with a busy STEM schedule similar to Zen’s.

2. Harvard Street Another area that is only a thirteen-minute bike ride from Central Campus is Harvard Street in Brookline. Simone Fishman loves to spend any free time she has walking down the street. “I like to go to Brookline on my weekends, especially Harvard Street where all of the Jewish bakeries are. It’s a good place to go by myself but also with a group of friends, since the area is safe but has many leisurely activities like books stores; and then there is this one little comic book store next to this thrift store,” said Simone (CAS ‘25). The specific locations she mentioned are only a few minutes from each other. Her favorite Jewish bakery is called Kupel’s Bakery. The comic store is called New England Comics and neighbors the popular thrift store, Buffalo Exchange. If a comic book, pastry, and thrifting-filled day sounds like your cup of tea, Harvard Street is a must stop spot on your upcoming tour of Boston.

3. Scoop N’ Scootery The final destination featured is Scoop N’ Scootery in Allston, an eleven-minute bike ride from Central Campus. Cooper Virta spoke on why he loves to frequent this sweet spot: “One thing I recently found near campus was the Scoop N’ Scootery… you will find huge portions of handmade ice cream and the best toppings ever!” In fact, he has a recommendation for those of you who would like to partake in the sweet treat yourselves. “My favorite fall classic is the Pumpkin Donut, a new flavor for this year! It’s so good, topped with pumpkin pie, doughy sugar cookie bites, donut glaze and pumpkin spice sauce!” Yum! That description could make anyone, even the busiest of students, want to take a trip down to Allston. Taking time to relax and enjoy the small things in life creates a well-deserved break. Allowing yourself to partake in the little treasures of the city is a treat you don’t want to miss out on. So whether you take a look at the Jewish bakeries scattering Harvard Street, check out the boutiques on Newbury, or grab a bowl of icecream in Allston, make sure to find time for your own 15-minute journey to freedom.

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Getting Back Into The Social Groove How Students are Adjusting to Being Back on Campus Written by Grace Hawkins Designed by Thalia Lauzon Photographed by Chika Okoye


For the past year and a half, the world has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that included most social gatherings, as well as BU’s entire campus. Students took classes online from their hometowns or remained on campus with intense restrictions in place. Many who usually spent copious amounts of time with friends, family, and colleagues were stuck at home, wishing for the times when in-person socialization was allowed. The pandemic affected almost all aspects of life, but for college students, the typically fun atmosphere of campus became isolating for many. During the 2020-2021 school year, even though students were again living on campus, strict social distancing guidelines were in place to try and keep COVID-19 cases to a minimum. Most classes and meetings were held on Zoom instead of in person, sporting events did not allow spectators, university buildings were closed, and overall, a sense of loneliness permeated the minds of many students. The college experience many had dreamed of—an experience of meeting new friends and making lasting connections—was far from reality. Transitioning from the extremely social environment of college life to the disconnecting experience of lockdown was a hard adjustment for almost everyone. Isolation and loneliness were felt by many. All students at BU, except current freshmen, experienced some aspects of the lockdown and restrictions of the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. Most students spent the majority of their time alone in their dorms with limited interactions with other students. “Even though I was on campus all last year and went to every in-person class I could, it was incredibly lonely and isolating to be in my room the majority of the time because nothing else was open or accessible,” said Hanna Huang (CAS ‘23). Some classes were able to be in-person last year, but it was not the experience most would envision when imagining their time in college. Large lecture halls were almost empty and discussions that were supposed to be full of meaningful conversations were relegated to the awkwardness of Zoom calls. “I was usually one of 10 or so students out of a 130-person lecture that would come to class in person,” said Huang, “It was also difficult to make connections or meet new people because every club organization was over Zoom, which made human interaction and bonding nearly impossible.” These challenging obstacles that defined lockdown and quarantine are starting to disappear since there is almost a 100% vaccination rate among BU faculty and students. While it is not yet complete, it is encouraging for many who want to see some sort of normalcy. BU has made vaccinations mandatory for both students and faculty in order to return to campus this semester, excluding some exceptions, allowing students to socialize more freely and without the restrictions that have dominated the past year and a half. Classes are entirely back in-person (with a few exceptions), academic and recreational buildings are open again, dining halls are full, and Commonwealth Avenue looks like it did before the pandemic, full of students going about their days.


Now, about a year and a half since BU moved classes online and closed campus residences due to the pandemic, a light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear, and a sense of normalcy is returning. Now, campus is (almost) back to normal, with various safety protocols in place to ensure that the student body remains safe and on-site, like weekly testing and mandatory mask-wearing in campus buildings. But, with so much time away from others, and with classes and activities held online for so long, how are students adjusting to getting back into a social mindset? Campus is feeling alive again after little activity during the pandemic with many signature aspects of BU returning to students’ lives. Clubs and organizations are back in person, kicked off by Splash on Nickerson Field on September 4th, and sporting events are allowing spectators again, with many attending the home hockey opener on October 8th. BU organized many social gatherings at the beginning of the semester in order to welcome new students to campus and returning ones back as a part of the Weeks of Welcome. Events like Beach Towel Yoga, Ice Cream Social, Drive-In Movie, and the Welcome Back Bash on the BU Beach allowed


students to adjust back to large-scale social gatherings before classes began. “I met one of my closest friends here at BU during the drive-in movie,” said Chantel Kardous (CAS ‘25). “It was good for meeting up with people you had previously talked to online and it was a guaranteed place to be able to socialize.” BU’s social calendar has allowed many to meet their peers and be surrounded by the most people since before the pandemic, but students have found other ways to meet people and be more social after so many months of isolation, especially in dorms. “Keeping my door open and exploring my dorm has been a great way to meet new people even with the awkwardness of starting a new year amidst Covid,” said Kardous. “The dorms have a very social atmosphere right now.” Other students agreed that BU’s residence halls have helped them adjust back to a more social lifestyle. “I’ve met most of my friends in my dorm,” said Caroline Faubert (COM ‘25). “We were very eager to meet and get to know each other.” Students are probably more social beings after being relegated to alone time for so much of the past year and a half due to the pandemic, and the college atmosphere is the perfect place to let that out, as long as proper protocols remain vigilantly followed.

One of the major adjustments for being back in person is going back to classes that are not held on Zoom. Lecture halls of hundreds of students are filled to capacity, and for some students, especially freshmen like Kardous who had their last semester of high school in person, the transition has been relatively easy. “It’s been easy to meet people in classes for me personally,” said Kardous. “Even with masks on, it hasn’t been that awkward.” But, for upperclassmen who had far more restrictions during their school years throughout the pandemic, the transition to constant socialization has been more difficult. After spending months talking through a computer screen and taking classes from home or their dorm, the large crowds of campus have been overwhelming. “When classes first started in September, I remember feeling really overwhelmed by the sheer number of people everywhere I went on campus,” said Huang. “I also remember being overwhelmed by the noise—all these students together in one space, like the dining hall.” It is an entirely different experience doing classes in person compared to online, and students have had to readjust to this, but it also is a benefit to many. “It makes me more motivated to learn and study when I am going to classes in person and getting to know my professors and classmates,” said Huang. Students were eager to join various activities on campus to get back into the social scene and get involved on campus, and Splash helped students find organizations that fit them and their various interests. “It was really helpful to join clubs,” said Faubert. “I was able to meet people with similar interests, and that made it less awkward.” With clubs and activities, residence halls, classes, and so many other opportunities for BU’s student body, readjusting to constant socialization like it was pre-pandemic has been mostly smooth, with a few bumps in the road at the beginning. After so many months of lockdowns and social distancing, campus is starting to look like itself again, and students are eager to return to the social lives they had before the pandemic, but all students have to remain vigilant to our safety protocols in place in order for us to stay on-campus with our peers. And hopefully, if BU’s students remain as safe as possible, the college experience they dreamed of having will be closer to reality.

TikTok Food Trends:

The Best and the Worst Worst Ranked Written by: Ariadna Sandoval Design by: Izzy Critchfield-Jain Photographed by: Juliette Stokes The 2020 lockdown brought a lot of changes into our lives. We became experts in Zoom learning, mastered the art of banana bread-baking, briefly did Chloe Ting’s ab challenge, and even took a detective role to figure out if Carole Baskin killed her husband. But nothing brought more change than TikTok, most importantly TikTok food trends. In a monotonous year, those TikTok food trends kept us entertained. But things swiftly spiraled out of control as those exciting new creations were quickly replaced with questionable and borderline weird trends. So below, we rank the best and the worst to let you know which trends to recreate and which to scratch from your cookbooks.

THE BEST: 1. Tortilla Wrap Fold: Unlimited filling options all wrapped up in the same tortilla? What’s not to love? This easy trend shows there are no limits when it comes to wrapping a tortilla. 2. Baked Oats: Three words. Healthy breakfast cake. Baked oats are as simple as they sound; just take a mug, oats, eggs, and baking powder, and you’re all set. 3. Dalgona Whipped Coffee: Decadent and smooth, this time-consuming trend is worth being late to class. Just combine your favorite coffee powder with some sugar and whip with hot water until creamy.

4. Crispy Roasted Potatoes: Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside; who doesn’t like crispy potatoes? First boiled until soft and then transferred to the oven with a coating of olive oil, these potatoes live up to their hype. 5. Baked Feta Pasta: A cheesy carb-filled wonderland. This trend just involves a heavenly block of cheese, pasta, your choice of vegetable, and some patience as you wait for the cheese to seamlessly coat your pasta.

THE WORST 1. Fruit Cereal: Fruit salad water. Why? This diet trend is just as it sounds: fruit with water in a cereal bowl. 2. Cloud Bread: Don’t do this; just eat normal carbs. A result of diet TikTok, this egg white, sugar, and cornstarch combination is a sad excuse for real bread. 3. Pancake Cereal: Spent 30 minutes shaping the perfect size pancakes just to put them in a bowl of milk. Don’t do it. 4. Cotton Candy Pickles: The name says it all. Why should these two ever be allowed to coexist? A pickle wrapped in cotton candy…why? 5. Cheetos mac’ n cheese: A crime against humanity. This flaming red hot soup should have never been created. Flaming hot Cheetos with mac’ n cheese, this toxic-looking combination looks more like a chemical solution than edible food. All in all, TikTok food trends entertained us with the good and the bad, bringing both mouthwatering food hacks as well as objectionable food choices. But given the trends’ popularity and wide reach among our generation, it’s evident that TikTok food trends will not die any time soon (even though some definitely should).


Belly of The Beast The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic Beyond the Physical Written by: Simone Crowder Design & Graphic by: Emily Snisarenko

COVID-19, a pandemic distinguishable by intense fear and tragedy, also shed light on a myriad of social injustices of the same caliber happening in our midst. In early 2020, for instance, the murder of George Floyd prompted a massive response from the Black Lives Matter movement, its impact still just as meaningful over a year later. Political divide during the 2020 Election later that year also emphasized the hunger of humanity for sweetness in a sour world, forcing us to consider our relationships with one another as a collective and how much we care for each other as human beings. These particular global events that characterized this time period, as well as many others, served as catalysts for similar social movements on our own campus. First: Allegations against Shiney James, BU’s Director of Orientation, were released, detailing how she severely emotionally abused students who worked alongside her. She ironically created an awful work environment while current BU students simultaneously welcomed new freshmen and transfer students into what is supposedly a safe space to learn. A plethora of students who worked under James repeatedly received extremely humiliating and demeaning comments from her as well as uncomfortable pressure to share personal information that would not have been disclosed otherwise. This inappropriate behavior from James, in turn, resulted in severe, negative impacts on her students’ mental health.


The Daily Press, BU’s independent student newspaper, received many comments underneath a Twitter post made on October 4th, 2021 notifying readers of the publication of an article about James and her allegations. Twitter user @natalie_gnzz, for example, commented: “Shiney mostly hired LGBTQ+, low income, and people of color. She was open about using her identity as a woman of color so we would view her as a safe person and make it even easier for her to abuse us.” Through their words, they revealed that being an employee in college is a vulnerable existence in itself. But, in the case of Shiney’s employees, the feeling of vulnerability is much more tangible, due to the fact that many of them are a part of marginalized groups. Second: Although BU had completely returned to in-person classes and retained a relatively normal semester, a few protocols remained, some of which were controversial. BU notified its students that professors were not allowed to record lectures they taught, which intensely frustrated the student body. Several students’ main concern was that quarantined students infected with or exposed to COVID-19 would fall behind in classes with little help to get back on their feet, which prompted a petition being created to gather other students’ support. Hilda Balderas (CAS ‘25) pointed out that “it is amazing how [BU takes] Covid seriously, but it is astonishing at how in keeping us safe, they prevent us from learning and make it difficult for everybody in quarantine to excel.”

Gina Ellis (Questrom ‘25), however, provides this rebuttal: “Although I do feel BU’s reluctance to allow professors to record lectures disregards people who happen to get infected with COVID-19, I do think it is important to limit Zoom recordings to a certain extent. If recordings are always accessible, then there will be a large decline in attendance and therefore a decline in class performance.” Each perspective, while completely different and valid, highlighted how resolving conflict and satisfying the entire BU community is not as simple as it sounds, which is why it is so important for students to verbalize their concerns. Being honest provides the best foundation for compromise. Third: Another poignant social conversation happening on campus regarded the many problems that BU LGBTQ+ individuals experience. There have without a doubt been many issues over the years, but during this semester in particular, students have been emphasizing frustrations with gender-neutral housing as well as trans and non-binary students not being able to update their legal sex as well as their birth names on school documents. Sam Magid (CAS ‘25), a nonbinary freshman, explains their personal experience with housing: “I chose to identify as my birth-assigned gender because it doesn’t make me particularly dysphoric, and I don’t want to deal with the housing complications. But, that isn’t the case for every, or even most, trans people.” Leo Austin-Spooner (Wheelock ‘25), a transgender

freshman, dealt with the complications Sam mentioned above. He described his ordeal with gender dysphoria at BU by saying: “My friends/roommate saw [my] old terrier card, so they know my deadname. Also, before I even got to college they saw my deadname because it was listed in the housing portal. Before they even met me. I haven’t used that name in over four years. They put my deadname on the front door of my room on the first day. So everyone saw it. It made me feel upset, so I scratched it off with a marker. I’ve been taught to always stay on guard with being open about my identity; What if people don’t like it? What if people will get mad or hate my transness? It’s scary to not have the autonomy to have that conversation myself.” It is clear that while we have become desensitized to serious events throughout the pandemic, this along with many other social issues are profoundly real and affect real people for a lifetime. In short, the pandemic not only taught us to appreciate our health, but it also taught us to be cognizant of the way in which we treat those around us. Being agents of positive change seems overwhelming and complicated when exposed to such important problems as these. Nevertheless, we rise. In Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb,” she writes: “Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”



Written by: Kiara Tynan | Designed by: Shelby Mitchell | Photographed by: Chika Okoye

BU Acapella Groups Address Rising Concerns on Diversity and Inclusion

As the nation develops in its awareness of diversity and inclusion, this concern has spread to all corners, including spaces as niche as Boston University’s own acapella community. Various acapella groups on campus have been forced to reckon with their own issues of biases affecting their members,


who have reported experiences of judgement during auditions based on appearance and race, in addition to various other exclusionary practices. In response to growing concerns, twelve groups pledged to dedicate themselves to new diversity efforts in a Diversity Statement issued this past spring. The declaration opens, “The Boston University A Cappella Community aims to create a safe space for all singers and musicians in the BU community, regardless of race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, ability, ethnicity, religion, or gender identity.” The statement dictated various resolutions they intend to commit to, as early as preliminary auditions to throughout their time as members. These pledges include the implementation of blind auditions in preliminary auditions

to “eliminate implicit bias”, making space for auditionees to express their pronouns, promoting their acceptance of non-binary and transgender auditionees, and gradually reaching a level of 50% of their repertoire coming from diverse artists. The statement also announced the establishment of a Diversity Committee, set to include one figurehead from each acapella group to ensure that the best interests of all of the BU acapella community are kept in mind. The committee has opened an anonymous tip forum for students to safely express their thoughts on the state of their acapella group, report any incidents, and give their thoughts on how their group can improve. There will be an annual conversation held for the entire community to attend “to hold each other

accountable for maintaining these guidelines.” There will also be new events set to promote inter-group diversity. Some groups have taken it upon themselves to expand inclusivity within their own team. Kol Echad, BU’s Jewish acapella group, have rebranded to become a multicultural group. Where before they primarily focused on interlacing traditional Israeli and Jewish music with contemporary hits, they now have opened up to include members and music of a broader range of cultures. While some may argue this threatens to minimize the voices, literally and figuratively, of BU’s Jewish community members, this change does not mean that the Jewish members will be forced to surrender any of their identity within the group. Rather, this

only allows for a space for all ethnicities to embrace their cultures more fervently. While the whole of the acapella community has the resolve to amplify diversity, the establishment of a group dedicated to being multicultural may attract those who do not just want to exist diversely, rather fully champion their diversity and culture on a public stage. Chordially Yours, BU’s all female acapella group, have also expanded upon their membership by explicit change to a “women and nonbinary group”. This change allows for those who may have previously felt uncomfortable in their approach to the gendered groups due to their own gender identity to feel that they have a place where they belong in the scene. While there are groups that are not gendered at all and have

pledged to be accepting of nonbinary people, the establishment of a group for nonbinary people allows for them to openly express themselves as nonbinary, while also giving them the opportunity to connect with other nonbinary people with a passion for acapella who they may not have been able to meet otherwise. By implementing these inclusive practices and self-policing measures to uphold them, the BU acapella groups set an excellent precedent for all groups at BU. The dedication to inclusivity allows for the members to focus on their passion without the worry that their identity may intwerfere. While there is still room for improvement, the establishment of a community banding together to improve conditions for their members sets the stage for a brighter future.”


During my junior year of highschool, after watching Food

Inc. in AP Environmental Science, I set off to become a vegetarian. Released in 2008, Food Inc. depicts the horrifying aspects and sad truth of what America’s food system is like. Many, like myself, were easily swayed by this unsettling message and took the only step they know: becoming vegan or vegetarian. Our society is easily moved by films depicting unknown and scary imagery, similar to Food Inc., and there is an immediate response of a band-aid solution rather than further research. I completely fell into this category. My response to the film was trying to find an “easy” and fast solution because I was so immediately shocked and had this sense of guilt. Not until after did I realize that the solution that I may have thought to be easiest was actually not necessarily the most effective nor that easy at all. This film showed me the impacts of my personal food consumption on the environment and honestly scared me into trying to help the only way that I knew how. With fear and guilt from the film, I tried cutting out all meat products, though I failed terribly. For only one week I survived and I was miserable the entire time. I found that I was always hungry and ended up just carb-loading, which was not a sustainable diet for my lifestyle. I am sure that if I hadn’t jumped into vegetarianism so quickly I probably could have found better supplements for meat, but at the time I was not well-prepared. After a miserable week, I could not resist the chicken nuggets in the dining hall. Still feeling guilty and unsure of what to do, I began to research other options. Food Inc. opened the door for a greater awareness of my food consumption and after my failed vegetarian attempt, I was forced to consider other ways I could reduce my food carbon footprint. I came to my AP Environmental Science teacher in defeat. She was a vegetarian at the time and I was honestly embarrassed to go to her because she made her experience look so easy. I was pleasantly surprised when I met with her; she comforted me and told me that there is not one direct path to fixing our food consumption problem. Luckily, she was able to point me in a direction that made more sense for my lifestyle and needs. After extensive research, I learned that fixing our food consumption problem is all about balance. If everyone were a vegan, vegetarian, or a carnivore, it would create new issues of sustainability. I went back to my teacher with this newfound knowledge and she agreed with me. We broke down my school population as an example; with 415 students, if everyone ate pure meat diets, our carbon emissions would be incredibly high, while if everyone were to be plant-based, we would have an issue with supply and demand. The supply and demand would be skewed


because there would be an oversupply of meat, but a limited amount of fruits and vegetables and the demand would lie with the plants, but the supplier would not be able to keep up with production. This is where the importance of balance and a diversity of diet comes in. Now take this analogy to a full scale environment, like the United States, there would be more harm than good done if society were all to follow a singular diet. In terms of a continued balance in production and economy, there needs to be a variety of diets in our population. Society does not completely understand the variety of diets and what each diet really consists of; There needs to be a greater involvement of education and research before making important decisions surrounding diet choices and lifestyles. The increased popularity of plant-based diets such as vegetarianism and veganism promotes a very interesting future for our environment. Some scientists suggest that if everyone were to adopt a plant-based diet it would not necessarily have a lower impact on the environment. Increased food shortages would occur because a higher amount of plant-based food would need to be consumed to replace calories and protein found in animal products. However, if everyone were to eat meat-heavy diets, carbon emissions would increase to concerningly high levels. The argument is also not just between carnivores and vegetarians; there is paleo, veganism, raw food diet, mediterranean diet, and many others that are not always considered. Our planet is built on a more complex system than just one specific diet; there needs to be diversity, but again that comes with a better understanding on how each person can make a positive impact on the environment in a way that is most convenient to their lifestyle. Ultimately, a plant-based diet could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water and land usage, and help tackle deforestation, but leads to possible shortages in supply and land. On the other hand, meat diets require less food consumption and are more cost effective, though meat produces high amounts of greenhouse gas. Balance of the two diets and many others is the most suitable option. Food systems are far more complex than just cutting out one type of food or forcing every person to eat the same. Sustainable food systems are made up of diverse food groups and diets. In the short run, plant-based diets have a smaller carbon footprint, though they require a significantly higher volume of food. If everyone were to eat similar diets, the system would be overrun, the quality of produce would diminish, and carbon emissions would rise because of the mass production.

Is Your Plant-Based Diet Really Changing the World? Written by: Sophia Pasquale Designed by: MC Hopper Photographed by Hui-En Lin


As Food Inc. points out, there is a serious issue with the food production and consumption in the United States, but it is important to remember that the solution is not so black and white. There are many factors to consider when making an adjustment to our diets: the economy, supply and demand, production possibility, carbon emissions, and personal lifestyles. The solution involves research and self-reflection on your personal needs and goals in order to make the most valuable impact on the future of the planet. It is okay to be scared and concerned, but it is important to take those emotions and channel them into educated action, not necessarily immediate action. The steps of protecting our planet starts with knowledge; we need to have a clear understanding of food production and have a wide variety in diets. With the diversity in diets comes a better future for our environment. Here are some recommendations for ways you can adjust your food impact that does not change your diet:


Find foods that are grown or produced closer to your home. The closer to your home, the less emissions produced to bring that food to you. Try to purchase organic or locally grown and sourced foods. This means foods that are in season and do not use pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. They are grown with healthy soil, vitamins, and minerals that are overall better for your personal health. Try to limit your food waste. Only cook what you plan to eat or save/reuse your leftovers. This is a super easy way to ensure that you are benefiting the environment and not negatively affecting the supply and demand chain. Plan your meals ahead of time. By planning your meals, you are more likely to have variety in what you consume to support a diversity in diet and you can make sure you are not over-consuming a certain category of food, such as red meat.

WORKOUTS FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START There are lots of stigmas around being fit—what “being fit looks like,” how to do it, why you do it. The gym is intimidating. At least I know it is for me. The weight machines look confusing, all the treadmills are full, and you don’t even know where to start. That’s totally okay! There is no one way to be fit and there is no one way to exercise. In this article, there will be four different ways to start your fitness journey if you are unsure where to begin. Go on a Walk This feels self-explanatory. However, walking is a form of cardio, and you can do it anywhere, at any time. Set a timer or a route you’d think would fill up 30 minutes (walking back and forth from East to West Campus will do just the trick). You can even stop in stores or walk down the Esplanade. Also, don’t be afraid to bring a friend! Soon enough, your timer will go off in no time! That’s 30 minutes of working out that you did! No machines needed— just your feet and some comfortable walking shoes. Work Your Way Up in Weights Like I mentioned before, the gym can be an intimidating place. When stepping in for the first time, make sure you don’t overdo yourself on the machines. Start with easy reps (two sets of 10) on a leg press machine, and chest press to work those muscles (but not overworking those muscles, of

Written by Jessica Shelton Designed by Ava Vitiello Graphic by Emily Snisarenko

course). One thing to remember is that everyone is at a different pace. So, if you see someone pushing 300 pounds, just remember you don’t have to. Dance a Little Whether this means taking a class at FitRec (which is offered both for credit and recreational use) or dancing around in your dorm room, dancing is a great way to break a sweat and have fun in the process. I know when I’ve been feeling stiff and wanting to work out without the weights, dancing is a good way to get your body moving and grooving. Do a YouTube Workout YouTube has changed my personal life when it comes to fitness. It even helps relieve bits of anxiety that come with going to the gym. YouTube workouts originate from a ton of different fitness creators and professionals. Pick a workout that you think would be best for you! I pick 15-minute HIIT workouts or a 20-minute full body. Also, these can be done with or without weights. Don’t want to do anything intense? Try yoga or a low-impact workout instead for a great alternative. Remember, starting something new can be scary (but also exciting!). When doing workouts, remember to drink lots of water and just try your best! Starting a routine takes time. However, starting at all deserves a pat on the back.


Caffeine Culture in College Written by: Anna Roberson Graphic by: Emily Snisarenko Design by: Shelby Mitchell Caffeine consumption is alive and well among college students. If you’ve entered any of the Starbucks on campus, you would know. The pick-up lines are overflowing with green and white bags and plastic drink lids. Additionally, if you look closely, you’ll find “mobile order” stickers littering the sidewalks of Commonwealth Avenue. It’s no surprise that college students enjoy caffeine. We have late nights and busy schedules that require increased energy and concentration. But could our caffeine habits be hurting us more than helping? It depends on what we’re drinking. Maxine Garbacz, a sophomore in the Questrom school of Business, said she has, on average, two coffees a day. Her go-to order is a grande latte with caramel syrup and oat milk. A grande latte has two shots of espresso in it, bringing her daily total to four shots, or 280 mg of caffeine. A lot of athletes take pre-workout caffeine for a boost of energy and focus. According to Cleveland Clinic, most brands range from 150 to 300 mg per serving, equivalent to three cups of coffee. And oftentimes, people are taking the pre-workout in the afternoon after their morning coffee. Energy drinks like Monster, Celsius, Redbull, and Bang can be found in BU’s vending machines and convenience stores. These brands range from 80 to 300 mg per serving, making up most of the average adult’s daily caffeine intake in just one can. The dangers of caffeine have a lot to do with the individual’s reason for consuming it. Most college students are drinking coffee or tea because they like the taste, it’s part of their routine, and/or they want a boost of energy in the morning. Energy drinks and pre-workout powders are used more so for getting a rush of alertness and energy for a specific purpose. This purpose could be a long day of studying, a workout, a sports game, a performance, etc. College students also consume caffeine with alcohol for pregaming parties, sports games, concerts, or nights out. For example, espresso martinis and vodka red bulls. Burnt out college students may think they need to “wake up” for a fun night out, but caffeine can mask the effects of alcohol leading to increased risk of injury, blacking out, drinking, and driving, etc.


Yes, caffeine helps us. Knowing I will have a coffee with breakfast helps get me out of bed and out the door to my morning lectures. For the average healthy adult, 400 mg is the limit of daily caffeine according to Mayo Clinic. While most students fall safely under that limit, it’s important to be aware of the potential negative effects of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant drug. Other types of stimulant drugs include nicotine, cocaine, crystal meth, and other dangerous substances. “There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk,” says the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Just like illegal, dangerous drugs, people’s bodies react differently to caffeine depending on their age, size, weight, and tolerance. It’s even possible to overdose on caffeine. Overdose symptoms include tremors,

nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart rate, confusion, panic attacks, and seizures. So, we can’t just drink iced coffee like its water. Although not as severe as an overdose, caffeine has come down with withdrawal symptoms. As an experienced coffee drinker, I have noticed the occasional crash of drowsiness after the caffeine in my body wears off. Sometimes that drowsiness is accompanied by a headache. Caffeine is not addictive, but one can become dependent on it and experience withdrawals when they stop. Withdrawals from caffeine can affect mood, energy levels, concentration, and cause headaches, constipation, muscle pains, and irritability. Normal caffeine consumption may interfere with calcium absorption and increase blood pressure, which can lead to upset stomach or heartburn. Too much caffeine can cause side effects like dizziness, insomnia, headaches, shakiness, dehydration, and anxiety (Medline Plus). Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate these side effects without going cold turkey since, let’s be real, I won’t be giving up coffee any time soon. Keep tabs to make sure you don’t exceed 400 mg a day. To avoid symptoms of dizziness and shakiness, don’t have too much caffeine on an empty stomach. Lastly, to prevent restlessness or insomnia, try to have your last dose before 3 p.m. Not only does caffeine carry physical and mental costs, but literal ones too. According to Forbes Magazine’s estimate from 2017, the average dollars spent on one beverage from

Starbucks is $6. Assuming most students buy coffee more than once a week, this can really add up. College students aren’t the most financially flexible demographic, so this takes a toll. Even if you don’t participate in coffee consumption, the culture of caffeine is everywhere in college. Where do we go to kill time and do work in between classes? For me and the hundreds of kids I never fail to see there, it’s the Questrom Starbucks, the Warren Starbucks, or the GSU Starbucks. Meetings and interviews are usually scheduled in coffee shops. When I want to catch up with a friend — new or old — we go get coffee. When I wake up on a Sunday morning with hours of work to do, I take myself to a local coffee shop to caffeinate and focus. A coffee shop is a social environment that facilitates productivity and collaboration and, well, caffeination. This idea goes beyond the actual consumption of coffee or caffeine. Being busy, burnt out, and exhausted is normalized and almost glamorized among college students. People love to tell you that they stayed up all night working on their final for Evolutionary Psychology Level 300 and just barely had time to get a coffee before class. Because saying you got a full eight hours and came to class on time because you didn’t need to stop for coffee just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I am certainly guilty of perpetuating this idea. But the truth is, we don’t need caffeine. We need sleep, rest, and balance, and we can make coffee in our dorms and apartments. Overall, caffeine culture will always persist. But college students should take better care of themselves and their wallets.




E At times, we define the absent feeling of belonging, regarding people, places, and intangible moments of life, as a calamity. Some thoughts and questions running through our minds during this longevity of confusion might include and are not limited to: “Why do I feel as if I’ve lost all connection with this person? Why does this place no longer serve me the way it once did? Why do a handful of memories not bring me the same joy and peace they once used to?” Additionally, society has proudly proclaimed the apocryphal belief that when something does not stay, it must be due to our own wrongdoings. That is not true. The three components that make us who we are (body, heart, and mind space) work in unison to make us the embodiment of the authentic person we are today, the person that we are meant to be at any given time, no matter who or what enters or leaves our life.

Written by: Andrea Lauritsen Graphic and Design by: Emily Snisarenko

For all intents and purposes, when we meet new people and discover new interests, we open more space for growth to take place. It can be compared to the physical process of growth in which our bones and muscles expand to help us become stronger individuals. However, ever so often, this development can sometimes feel painful because the exterior of our bodies is not aligned with the internal work our bodies are doing. Yet, this is a widely known phenomenon and when humans go through such rigmarole, we often refer to it as “growing pains.” However, we haven’t truly established a word to define the similar process in which the other two components that make us who we are go through. It is important to validate all the processes that make us who we are—especially the ones that are not talked about enough, such as the emotional growing pains residing in the heart and mind. Although these processes are inescapable, there are ways to navigate these complex feelings.


First, we should give credit where credit is due. It is not always easy to look back on the people, places, and memories you outgrew! Sometimes, these pieces of our lives helped shape us to be the person we currently are today. Acknowledging that reality and appreciating it for what it’s worth is oftentimes a challenge. For instance, do you ever feel like you no longer click with that lifelong friend you had since high school? And then you proceed to think, “Huh, I wonder why things just don’t feel the same anymore. We have always been on good terms, but the relationship doesn’t feel like it once used to.” In times like these, you are recognizing that there is some sort of change. Even if you are unable to figure out what it is right away, you are doing one of the hardest things—recognizing and not blaming. You are not blaming yourself for doing something wrong and you are not beating yourself up for the dissimilarity between you and that friend. That is quite possibly the hardest part of navigating the growing pains that reside in the heart and mind. So, you should feel proud of yourself for getting that far!

different for everyone. Reflecting could mean asking yourself, “Why do I feel bad about these changes?” It could also mean honoring those accomplishments by doing something nice—an act of self-love (i.e., grabbing coffee at a local coffee shop instead of making it yourself). Reflecting could also exist in the form of meditation. Since reflection is different for everyone, there is no “right” or “wrong” way, it is all valid!

It is so easy to blame ourselves for the changes that occur within relationships. If you are having a difficult time avoiding the guilt that sometimes comes along with these growing pains, think about how far you have come from the initial point you were in during that prior relationship. Often, you will notice that due to life events and or time, many things have changed. Returning to the previous example mentioned above, sometimes a relationship with a friend from high school may be different because you both entered new chapters of life like when you went to college for example. So, as a result, you end up meeting new people and finding new hobbies that make you feel like the best version of yourself—hobbies and interests that make you feel more like you. This transition may have been subtle, but when you allow yourself to look back in time, you realize how many things have changed and probably for the better. You wouldn’t expect a butterfly to fit into its old protective shell, would you? The ironic part about change is that it is the only constant in our life. If you think of the relationship in these terms, it makes it much easier to come to that realization that things have changed and accepting that change, while scary, is possible.

Changes in the various components of what makes us who we are can feel as if we are shedding old layers of skin and replacing them with new ones. Furthermore, the body, heart, and mind are all very fragile. It is vital to take care of yourself physically and mentally. When we are not feeling well in the components such as the heart and mind, it is important to realize and reflect. By doing so, we are doing ourselves right in the sense that we are properly giving ourselves the love we deserve in an effort to grow to continue to be our most authentic and genuine self.

However, realization is only the first part of navigating the growing pains of the heart and mind. To reach the destination of closure, one must be proud of the progress he or she has made thus far. Write down a list of things you have accomplished recently. Whether it is big or small, write it down! Remember, oftentimes it is the so-called “little things” that are the hardest (i.e., starting a new routine due to the new school year, balancing extracurriculars and academics, etc.). Once you write a list of things down, begin to reflect. Reflecting looks


While realizing and reflecting are both important tools to restore the mental wounds that come with the inescapable growing pains, it is crucial to restore peace of mind by appreciating the beauty of the people, places, and memories one is currently fostering in one’s day to day now. Whether it is telling that friend who walks with you to your early morning class that you appreciate their company, or going out to brunch to celebrate the new friendships and memories you created with a group of people you met this year, make sure you are actively doing something to give thanks. By appreciating the good (new people, places, and memories), you will soon feel joy both in your mind and heart.

By worrying less of the transformation of our pre-existing relationships, we can absorb the beauty in the ones we are currently fostering with the people around us. Change is inevitable and reminding yourself is no easy task. However, embrace who you are now. Embrace the changes that come with the new chapters of young adulthood. Honor yourself enough to give yourself that grace. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” says, “I’ve been afraid of changing…cause I’ve built my life around you. But time makes you bolder.” Essentially, young adulthood has so many new elements that take time adjusting to. The inescapable growing pain of life is only one example. Hopefully, with these tools, you can continue living your life as your most authentic self without sacrificing your physical and mental health.

FASHION AT BU How Students at Boston University Set Themselves Apart from the Crowd Through Fashion

Written by Alexandria Sharpley Design by Karoline Cunico Photographed by Andrew Logue Given a group of college students from all over the country, how would you pick out a Boston University Student? Could you? In the grand scheme of things, students at BU seem to be better dressed than the average college student. Is it the urban setting? The weather? Schedules? Regardless, something many of us quickly learned upon arriving at BU is that the norm of sweatpants everyday doesn’t apply here. I mean…we all have our days. “My schedule makes me think about my outfits more than most,” said Riley Holcomb (COM ‘22). “Depending on the day, I could have class, work on-campus, and need to go into the city.” For Holcomb, comfort also plays a role. Her outfits have to be versatile and work in multiple settings. For Holcomb, this often looks like a good pair of jeans, a classy top or tee, and a hoodie or jacket depending on the weather and occasion. Long walks to class along Comm. Ave also make practicality a priority. She recommends good walking shoes as a requirement for any outfit. For many students at BU, the key to building outfits is finding a balance between being cozy and looking put together. Cassie McKiernan (Questrom ‘22) finds this balance in coordinated sweatsuits. “Wearing a monochrome sweatsuit looks so much better than wearing any old pair of sweatpants and a hoodie,” McKiernan said. “Plus you get to be comfortable all day.” Being comfortable is important when you’re running around all day. In addition to classes, McKiernan keeps busy by serving as the president of her sorority and working as a Questrom Dean’s Assistant. McKiernan also swears by wearing her collection of gold rings and earrings everyday. “Accessorizing well elevates any outfit.” She also recommends buying colorful face masks that you can match with your outfits. The weather in Boston is another factor affecting how students dress. Hot days see students in biker shorts and sunnies, while the winter forces students into their puffy coats. Investing in a good jacket and boots is a must if you plan on going outside. Doc Martens are the versatile boot of choice for many BU students, as you can wear them in any season. A good pair of sneakers are also a must for long walks along Comm. Ave. Veja sneakers and platform Converse have been popular picks recently. As we head into the spring, it will be interesting to see how the fashion trends continue to develop on campus. With the university slowly returning to its preCOVID environment, students have more opportunities than ever to show off their personal style.


Written and Styled by Alexandria Sharpley Design by Emily Snisarenko Photographed by Chika Okoye


Royalty Reimagined The fashion world’s obsession with vintage doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As we stray further and further from minimalism, we wanted this shoot to lay the way for the next fashion trend. By embracing a European romantic look, we hope to convey that the clothing you choose can reassure and heighten your self confidence. Tapping into traditional silhouettes, we added our own twist to each look, resulting in style that commands respect and exudes confidence.

D.E.E. (CAS ‘24) is pictured wearing a corset from Retro Fairy, trouser from New York & Company, and shoes from Marc Fisher. Ananya Panchal (COM ‘22) is pictured wearing printed pants from Princess Polly and a slip top from Audrey 3+1.


D.E.E. (CAS '24) is pictured wearing a corset from Retro Fairy, trouser from New York & Company, and shoes from Marc Fisher.





Julia Kapusta (CAS ‘24) is pictured wearing a dress from Free People and a necklace from Juicy Couture.


Luqing Yin (COM ‘23) is pictured wearing a black dress from Reformation and shoes from Zara.



Luqing Yin (COM '23) is pictured wearing a black dress from Reformation and shoes from Zara. Ananya Panchal (COM '22) is pictured wearing printed pants from Princess Polly and a tufted long sleeve from & Other Stories. Mahira Duggal (CAS '24) is pictured wearing leather pants from Princess Polly and a pink silk button down which was thrifted.



How the Global Pandemic Transformed and Re-affirmed Our Perception of Plus-Sized Fashion

Written by Autumn Moon | Designed by Jill O’Farrell Photographed by Bella Bohnsack

In recent months, so much has changed and fluctuated in the world of fashion. Quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic not only allowed for the growth of many new trends, it also produced a new fearless spirit in consumer fashion choices. Social media apps, including Instagram and TikTok, allowed for the spread of exciting new fashion ideals— normalizing what was once perceived as less desirable. One positive transformation reflected on social media platforms was the rise of plus-sized and bigger women reforming fashion and how we


perceive it, digest it, and interact with it. For a very long time, plus-sized women were not represented in mainstream fashion media, from the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, to the standardization of petite Instagram models, to billboard ads. This led to an unspoken ideal in our culture—that to be bigger was to be unfashionable. However, with quarantine came change. People began to share videos and images of themselves fearlessly online. They began wearing what they wanted, not necessarily what was considered socially acceptable within our cultural norms. These online pioneers, paired with the representation of icons such as Ashley Graham and Lizzo in mainstream media, demonstrated on a global scale that bigger is certainly as beautiful. Additionally, there were influencers online like Victoria Garrick who simply were out to prove that you don’t need to be “perfect,” or a size zero, to be beautiful, lovable, and incredible. These messages began to infiltrate our world, leading to the rise of many new

fashion campaigns featuring diverse people of all looks, sizes, skin tones, gender identities, and sexual orientations. However, although we have seen incredible changes in the past few months, the world of fashion is still quite resistant to change, and we have a lot of work to do in terms of reforming what is considered “beautiful” or “fashionable.” The perception that “skinny is better” when it comes to fashion is a hard ideal to kill, as it is so deeply rooted in celebrity life, social media, our daily lives, and social culture. We are seeing positive changes, but are they enough? A large part of fashion TikTok continues to only represent slender, wealthy, white women showing off how “fashionable” they are, leaving the impression upon young minds that to be beautiful is to be thin. This perceived ideal, for some women, can be attributed to biological predispositions and vice versa; healthy habits in food and exercise don’t always result in being super skinny. However, with these TikTok models, all we see is their outward appearance, which is highly fashionable, put together, and thriving. Young women are taught to strive for the same, which, often, is simply unachievable. Today, many clothing manufacturers still subscribe to the “skinny is better” mentality. I remember entering Brandy Melville as a pre-teen, and feeling struck by the fact that everything was one size. How would I fit into the same pair of jeans as my much smaller friend? It was evident that one size did not fit all. This kind of size exclusivity can impress upon young women that they are not “worthy” or “attractive” enough until they are a certain size.

Zara is another store that has risen to fame during the pandemic and often fashion TikTokers do “hauls” of Zara items. Many of the clothes they try on are clothes that are impossible to wear if you have breasts, hips, or any belly fat—all features of a female body that are completely normal, beautiful, natural, and healthy. There are also creators and influencers who are considered “fashionable” simply because they are thin. User @senorapattinson recently pointed this trend out in an online series called “skinny or fashionable”: she posted photos of celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin in T-shirts and mom jeans and asked the question of whether their outfits were actually “fashionable,” or whether they were simply thin. We shouldn’t feel pressure to shrink to fit into clothes. Bodies fluctuate and change through life, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up every time we notice a change in the way our jeans fit. If the history of fashion has taught us anything, it’s that body types which are considered “beautiful” constantly fluctuate. Ancient Greece used to worship women with curves, extra plumpness, and shape; the French Revolution saw the rise of paleness, thinness, and fragility as beauty ideals. In 2021, we are merely in another phase of what is considered “beautiful” in fashion. However, this phase might just be the one in which we’ll finally break the pattern of size exclusion. The need for societal validation is hard to overcome, but once we do, we realize that beauty lies in loving eyes. The beholder never had anything to do with it.


WHY SUSTAINABILITY AND FASHION? Written by: Cady Ghandour | Design by: Izzy Critchfield-Jain | Photographed by: Kathryn Cooney


How to Dress Sustainably While Still Looking Good and Keeping Your Bank Account in the Positive

A quick glance back through history shows us that humans most likely began wearing clothing after the most recent ice age—animal skins and furs were used as protection from the cold climate. Eventually humans learned to weave, knit, and spin to create textiles and fabrics. As evolution goes on, ways of dressing became more and more intricate and complex. As civilizations began developing, access to certain fabrics and clothing styles became associated with wealth or poverty, and dress evolved from being a means of survival to a symbol of status. The ancient Chinese story of silk tells it best: in 2460 B.C., the Chinese empress Xi Ling Shi was playing in the garden of her palace where there were many Mulberry trees. By way of pure coincidence, she drops a cocoon into hot water and finds she can unwind the “shimmering thread.” Hundreds of years passed until someone outside of the royal family was allowed to wear silk. This story may have occurred hundreds of years ago, but the concept of using clothing to create visual distinguishers of wealth remains prevalent.

ever-increasing amounts,” took off with the industrial revolution as goods began being produced at a faster rate than customer demand. This left manufacturers with many products, and consumers who had no need for them. To combat this, manufacturers used advertising to manipulate consumers into believing they have a need for more products (the basis of consumerism), as well as planned obsolescence, which is purposely producing low-quality products or things that become obsolete, thus ensuring re-purchasing. These sales techniques are easy to spot even today, with a new iPhone emerging every September and consistent “updates” rendering our current phones obsolete—it makes perfect sense that an Apple customer should want to “upgrade” to the new release. Clearly, the advertising agents of the 20th century struck gold; advertising content which attaches positive connotations to products or services make us intrinsically believe that the product will somehow improve our life—but we are dissatisfied customers. Hence the need for more and newer, regardless of what we own. Similar to the rat race on which capitalism feeds, is the fact that with consumerism you will always be chasing to fill a void. The act of constantly adhering to new trends, and purchasing new

clothes to stay with the times is never ending. New trends will always appear, in fact, with the emergence of social media trends regenerating at a quicker rate than ever. All Kendall Jenner has to do is wear a claw clip, and suddenly we’re all sold and the mass production of plastic claw clips surges. Like life and most things in existence, fashion operates in a cyclical nature. If 70s Bell Bottom pants and corduroys, 1800s puff sleeves, chunky sneakers from the 80s, or silk scarves from the 50s trending today doesn’t tell you this enough, now more than ever we find ourselves digging through our parents’ and grandparents’ old clothes to find 2021’s “vintage” treasure. At surface level, old clothes becoming relevant seems like a path towards sustainability—we could envision ourselves stocking our wardrobes with vintage clothing and family hand-me-downs. But the reality is that most consumers’ purchasing habits are keeping up with the constant new developments of the fashion industry. As a result, in 2018, almost 17 million tons of textile waste ended up in landfills, taking over 200 years to decompose. Unsurprisingly, the clothing waste issue has gotten worse over time—just in the last 20 years the amount of clothing waste Americans throw away has doubled from 7 to 14 million tons.

Luxury fashion brands persist with their high price points because they are aware that a huge part of their products’ allure is the aspect of exclusivity. The consumer of such designer brands is made to feel that purchasing products at higher price points will set them apart from lower-paying consumers, that the brand’s product will signal to society that the customer is wealthier than others. Why else would the fake-designer product industry remain afloat? Everyone wants to achieve the look of being rich; after all, it is the image the media tells us is attractive. But not everyone wants to or is able to pay the price. It all comes down to wanting to fit the status quo. A feeling we don’t all admit to, but nonetheless is automatically embedded into our mindsets. Consumerism, which is defined as “a social and economic order that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in


The trigger behind this? Fast fashion. With its catchy alliteration, the term is straightforward and addresses the issue behind the industry: production at a faster rate and lower quality, meaning less durability and thus shorter product lifespans. Inevitably leading to more clothes being thrown away. Moreover, what happens when such large volumes of clothing are being produced at very low costs? Labor is likely to be exploited by underpaying workers, and human rights are violated with unethical working conditions. As customers, it is satisfying to purchase a product for a low cost which achieves your desired look; however, once you understand the origins of your new buy, you may be looking for eco-friendly alternatives. The over 6.3 billion dollar sustainable and ethical market might be your place. Centered around the concept of producing fashion which “is kinder to us and the earth,” sustainable fashion means clothes that are made with ethically sourced materials, low to zero waste production processes, fairly paid workers, and more. An example of what ethically sourced fabrics means: organic cotton as opposed to regular cotton. Organic cotton can be grown using 98%


less water than non-organic cotton, and this is because organic cotton is rain-fed, not irrigated. This means that there won’t be any strains on local water supplies; the benefits of organic cotton are plentiful, as are the positives of shopping ethical fashion. Before you begin purchasing, the first step to crafting a more sustainable wardrobe is to really understand and assess what you already own. The best option is to work with what you have, getting creative with re-imagining your clothing, and seeing how you can get more wear out of it. If once you’ve had a thorough look through, you conclude that you’re in need of some items, you now have the ability to be a more intentional shopper. While it may seem like any regular task, shopping is an emotional experience. Some people are impulsive buyers, some love the momentary relief of retail therapy, whereas others may restrict themselves and be careful shoppers. At the root of it, how you approach shopping stems from your mindset in life and how you view material items. There are times when we enjoy treating ourselves, and other times when shopping is a necessity—regardless of the reason, purchasing isn’t leaving society anytime soon. Consumers

are constantly targeted by advertisers to fall into their agendas, but, as the saying goes, ‘we vote with our dollar.’ Essentially, we can make statements with our spending—in real life terms, this means, if able to, contributing to clothing waste and exploitation by investing in good-quality, ethically-made pieces. They may cost slightly more, but their craftsmanship means that they will last longer than any fast fashion piece, and thus save you more money over time by eliminating the need to repurchase items. Another tip: look into the origins of your pieces, do research into where they come from, and verify what the story is. With entrepreneurship on the rise, there is a huge amount of small businesses and minority-owned businesses, which not only create more unique pieces, but invest more time and attention into their products. If you’re ready to start shopping sustainably, our online article "Dressing Sustainably and Fashionably” offers a variety of options, and if you’re looking for an even more personalized experience, doing your own research and finding a brand that’s mission resonates with you, is part of the shopping process that is unique to ethical and sustainable brands. It’s important to highlight that dressing sustainably should not mean sacrificing a love for fashion. Style is a form of expression for many of us, while for others it’s about feeling one with society and blending in. Staying up to date with your clothes can seem to represent your part as a functioning member of society. But what happens when our desire to fit in overshadows our awareness about the effects of our needs? What happens when we prioritize our own wants over the health of our planet? The growing awareness surrounding issues like climate change and labor exploitation offers hope for the fashion industry; there are certainly designers and forward-thinkers who are working tirelessly to give options for those who are open to positive change. Change can begin with a simple shift in perspective and growth in awareness. These are more than enough to plant a seed towards a more considerate future for the planet and for ourselves.


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5 International Sensations in American Culture and Their Origins America: the great melting pot where cultures from all over the world can merge and flourish. Though this country was founded on international customs and immigrants, over the centuries the United States has come to develop its own distinct culture. Things like football and beer are deemed “so American,” but many bits and pieces of American culture have international roots. Here are five things people in the United States go crazy for that are derived from other parts of the world. Matcha This delicious and healthier alternative to coffee has a hold on the health and wellness-crazed population of Americans who also rely on their daily dose of caffeine. Even chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ have begun to offer their own variations of matcha in recent years. The drink originally comes from ancient China, where it was so rare it was considered an item of luxury. The popularity of matcha tea quickly spread all over the continent of Asia, and then spread all over the world, reaching the U.S.

Marathons Marathons are one of the most popular and intensive sports in the U.S. The training, fundraising, and actual events take months or even years to gain participation in a single marathon. Races are held in virtually every corner of the United States, with some of the biggest races being the Boston, New York, and Chicago marathons. These triumphant events date back to ancient Greece, where the first marathon was run in the small town of Marathon (hence the name), outside of Athens. Hot Dogs Hot dogs are one of the most stereotypical American foods. They can be found at pretty much any patriotic holiday, such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, or at any American barbeque. This grilling essential is actually an American version of the popular German dish of frankfurters, which were brought over to the U.S. by German immigrants in the nineteenth century. Yoga The practice of yoga is deeply integrated into American culture. Used for athletic reasons, de-stressing, or to improve flexibility, it is a very popular form of exercise, and is even sometimes offered in public education across the country. Yoga is an ancient Indian practice and can be traced back from over 5,000 years ago. While modern yoga in the U.S. typically doesn’t have any secular ties, its origins come from Hinduism. Amusement Parks Amusement parks in America attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, both domestic and international. They are a hub for thrilling rides, comfort food, and fascinating attractions. While these parks draw influence from the many fairs and parades that could be found all over mid-century Europe, the first amusement park was reportedly opened in Denmark in the sixteenth century. In America, we all benefit from learning something from people of different cultures and backgrounds. It makes us better citizens, neighbors, and people. Our country was founded on the ambition and ideas of immigrants, and those roots can still be found here today. So next time you go to grab a matcha latte at Starbucks or grill up some hot dogs for a Memorial Day barbeque, notice how deeply America’s customs are connected to the rest of the world.

Written by Caroline Faubert | Graphic by Emily Snisarenko | Designed by Thalia Lauzon


Spotlight: Travel’s Effects On The Environment Written by Olivia Chamberlain | Designed by Jill O’Farrel | Photographed by Mark Michelini

With flying becoming more accessible nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every American is looking forward to traveling again. However, does traveling help or hurt the slowly but surely polluted environment? When travel ceased at the beginning of the pandemic, popular nature spots across the country were flourishing due to the lack of travelers coming to visit. It’s safe to say that the lack of travel during Covid-19 did not hurt the flora and fauna of the world, but with vaccine mandates and mask enforcement in airports across the nation, the idea of traveling again is becoming more tangible. While many car brands are creating hybrid models, which have the option to be charged electrically instead of using gasoline, there aren’t many similar options available for airplanes. What’s the issue with flying? According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Flights are energy-intensive and


depend on fossil fuels. Emissions from flights stay in the atmosphere and will warm it for several centuries.” It’s believed that almost a quarter of fossil fuel emissions by 2050 will be caused by flying. With the number of people traveling by plane having doubled over the past two decades, it’s no wonder that the environmental impact on the atmosphere is so high. Because airplane emissions are released in the upper atmosphere, the damage is rapid and vast compared to emissions at ground level. Eurostar, a transport operator based in Europe, held a research study about the effects traveling by train has on fossil fuel emissions compared to traveling by plane. It was concluded that traveling to Paris via a London-Paris Eurostar journey effectively cut passenger emissions by 90% when compared to flying. It seems like many other countries besides the United States are making an effort

to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while contributing more emissions at the same time. China, for example, is expanding its high-speed rail network while simultaneously building hundreds of new airports. While America doesn’t yet have the infrastructure for a rail network like Europe and China’s, there are efforts to include it as a part of the Green New Deal (BBC). Despite hearing about these emissions, there hasn’t been a huge effort by individuals in reducing travel. The New York Times points out that it’s very difficult to consider how our own behavior can impact climate change. There isn’t a single face responsible for the climate-induced wildfires in California, nor the rising sea levels that threaten Miami’s livelihood. But with this comes what we call the “bystander effect,” which is when one feels less influenced to help a situation when there are others around. This is

definitely applicable here: even though we don’t mean any harm, why should we have to travel less when others aren’t? It’s important to think about the effects just one trip can have on the environment. “One return flight from Montreal to London emits as much carbon emissions as heating a European home for an entire year” (Suzuki). Moreover, the total carbon impact of just one flight is so high that missing a single flight would be equivalent to going car-free (gasoline-free) for a year! When you think about it in those terms, traveling by plane doesn’t sound as appealing, does it? When one considers the emissions of jet-setting, it doesn’t seem like there could be any worse way to travel. But unfortunately, cruise ships emit around three to four times as much carbon dioxide per passenger mile as do jets. And according to The New York Times, that’s just from greenhouse gases.

Some studies have shown that the air onboard is much dirtier than it is on nearby shores and in some of the most polluted cities, like Shanghai. Realistically, there isn’t much we average travelers can do to influence the airlines to use more eco-friendly methods. However, we can make some changes to our own methods of traveling by plane. Firstly, try to find direct flights. High emissions occur during takeoff and landing, and direct flights can avoid that. Secondly, flying in economy class actually allows airlines to fit more people into the plane, decreasing the average emission per person. Moreover, some airlines are making efforts to completely fill their flights and fly more environmentally-friendly and efficient planes, so doing research on which airlines to fly with is important as well.

do! Carbon offsets can be purchased to get rid of the effects one flight may have on the atmosphere. Carbon offsetting is a process in which money donated will go to an organization that will make an effort to decrease greenhouse gases, whether it be by planting trees or capturing methane. While many consider this an unsustainable solution for a seemingly endless problem, purchasing the right amount of carbon offsets can erase the effect you had on the environment when you fly by plane. We’re all looking forward to traveling again. Let’s face it, everyone needs a vacation after these last two stressful years. But it’s important that we be aware of the steps we can take to enjoy our vacations while simultaneously considering the effects our actions have on the health of our Earth.

Even if you aren’t able to utilize these options, there’s still more that you can


Colonialism and Conquest: An Examination of the Effects of Travel on Cultural Monuments

When we think of travel, the visions in our minds are typically of jet-setting across the globe, passports in hand and museum tickets purchased. The modern day idea of voyaging is not where humanity’s traveling started, though. For thousands of years, humans have been traversing the lands of Earth, discovering new cultures, languages, and environments along the way. The journey of homo sapiens took a turn for the worse, however, in the time of colonialism. Gone were the days of survival as explorers conquered the Western World, as history changed forevermore. It comes as no surprise that the effects of colonialism on the hundreds of cultures across the globe have been a hot topic over the last few decades; what is surprising, however, is that this issue has been widely discussed for centuries. In his pinnacle work, originally published in 1814, Baron de Vastey, a strict advocate for Haitian independence from the colonization of France, stated to colonists: “Take up your history book, read the story of your origins, observe the customs of your ancestors.” His goal was to make colonists see the degradation they had wrought on cultural monuments and systems around the world. Vastey’s sentiment is echoed in countless other narratives of colonial conquest and its effects on cultural structures. In her novel, Among the White Moon Faces, Malaysian author Shirley Geok-lin Lim acknowledges that “corruption is inherent in every culture, if we think of corruption as a will to break out… and thus to change.” This idea is simultaneously reflected in the recipient of the International Booker Prize, Chinua Achebe’s, novel There Was a Country, in which he writes: “A long-standing clash of Western and African civilizations had generated deep conversations and struggles between their respective languages, religions, and cultures.” But what does all of this scholarly text mean, exactly, in the context of colonialism, culture, and travel? Essentially, it means that “people from different parts of the world can respond


to the same story if it says something to them about their own history and their own experience.” While that sounds like a positive opportunity for growth, it isn’t always the case. While Achebe is correct in his statement that one can learn and grow from the experience of a “story,” or cultural phenomenon, that same person can regress and take advantage of the situation. Take the Parthenon for example. This ancient temple is the pinnacle of Greece’s history; a remnant of the Golden Age of Athens and the famed commission of Pericles in response to the politics of fifth century Greece, the Parthenon is one of the most well-known cultural monuments in modern day. However, does one truly know the complete history of the Parthenon? The building may have started out as a temple to Athena, but it has lived through many different lives in many different cultures. According to the British Museum, the Parthenon “has been a temple, a church, a mosque and is now an archaeological site.” Upon learning this fact, readers may question where the remnants of Christianity and Islam are in this Greek temple. The answer lies in the classic war over territory that is colonialism. According to PBS, after Greece fell to the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century, the Parthenon underwent key structural changes in order to be converted into a Christian church. Moreover, with the conquering by the Ottoman Empire in 1458, the building was transformed into a Muslim mosque, resulting in more artistic additions to the structure. These modifications to the ancient structure were not the end, however. The Parthenon underwent bombings, looting, and failed rebuildings in the next few centuries, leading to the important ethical question: when is inteference with ancient history and its cultural monuments an overstep? Some would return to the words of Lim, in which she states that “corruption is inherent in every culture,” and that changes, whether morally good or bad, will happen. Others, on the opposite side of the

Written by Amille Bottom Designed by Emily Snisarenko Photographed by Elizabeth Watson


argument, insist that any interference with these cultural monuments is a negative circumstance. In terms of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires conquerings, there is no right answer, for those are a part of history itself. In other cases, however, the answer becomes more clear. The most famous instance of cultural degradation comes in the case of the Parthenon’s Elgin Marbles. According to PBS, between the years 1801 and 1812, at the same time that Vastey was arguing for the end of colonization in Haiti, Lord Elgin of the British Empire was facilitating the removal of sections of the Parthenon to England. The British Museum’s collection features “different types of marble architectural decoration from the temple of Athena,” including “a frieze which shows the procession of the Panathenaic festival,” a “series of metopes,” and “figures of the gods and legendary heroes of the temple’s pediments.” Each and every structure obtained by the British Museum from the Parthenon contains images of key cultural importance to Greek culture in the fifth century. The ethics of Lord Elgin’s sale of the Athenian marbles to the British Museum is a continuously hot-button topic, and cannot be solved in the course of one article. Despite the muddle of the topic and the thousands of claims in support of the British Museum’s continual ownership of the ruins, one thing can be safely assumed: most cultures would not be happy about the break up and sale of their most significant cultural monument. It is this moment in the argument surrounding colonialism, travel, and cultural degradation that one may begin to question why this matters in a modern context. After all, if the destruction of the Parthenon and other cultural sites occurred centuries ago in the midst of colonization, why would it matter in the year 2021? The answer lies in the continued ruination of cultural monuments around the globe. According to The Baltimore Sun, archaeologists have discovered that “the moisture exhaled by the mounting number of tourists exploring the poorly ventilated chambers” of Egypt’s great pyramids has “raised humidity to dangerous levels, despoiling the structure[s].” Moreover, “visitors have used the burial chambers as lavatories” and left “cigarette butts, graffiti, and even condom wrappers” throughout the interiors of these monuments of history. In light of this, it is clear that human beings have begun a new form of colonization––one that is defined by the devastation of the physical testaments of history


through litter, vandalism, and disrespect. In the same manner as the colonial forebears, cultural corruption is the mark left by the current generation. So what can one do to help stop the spread of pseudo-colonial ideals when it comes to cultural monuments and travel? The most obvious answer is as such: don’t leave “cigarette butts, graffiti,” and “condom wrappers” at famous historical landmarks. For a longer-lasting effect on the history of colonialism and culture, one can research the existing monuments to colonialism around the world. As human beings who are fascinated by the ancient, we have a tendency to glamorize monuments like the Parthenon and the pyramids of Egypt. While these places are certainly important, it may be simpler to start in one’s home country. For example, residents of the United States or other countries with a deeply-rooted history of colonial control, fostering a greater sense of awareness about colonialism’s impact is key. The average reader may not know that there is a wide discrepancy between statues for white settlers and statues for Native American leaders in the United States. According to the Smithsonian Institution, “there are nearly ninety Christopher Columbus statues across the country, nearly forty monuments to Lewis and Clark, and another ninety memorials to ‘explorers.’” In contrast, there are 258 statues that “represent American Indian history,” two-thirds of which “feature Indians within groups of white settlers.” Moreover, according to the National Council on Public History, in 2017, the Bear Ears National Monument was decreased by 85%, alongside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which was reduced by 47%. These two monuments “include cultural landscapes that remain sacred to numerous Native nations,” some of which include the “Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni.” The reduction of these monuments is a prime example of modern-day colonization in the works, and sheds light on the continued corruption that Vastey, Lim, and Achebe speak of in their works. The issue of modern-day colonization in the context of cultural monuments is a vastly confusing and complex matter, but there are ways to make it more clear. Through careful examination of the past effects of colonization on cultural monuments, as well as through sustainable and respectful travel, journeyers across the globe can both learn about various cultures and raise awareness for the respect they deserve. As travel begins anew, one must keep in mind that awareness, education, and an open mind are the most important aspects of being a prepared traveler in the year 2021 and beyond.

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YA NOVELS WITH A PURPOSE Why We Need Better Representation in Literature Written by Avery Hellberg | Designed by MC Hopper | Photographed by Sophia Kysela



hat would you define as good representation? Now, where do you think good representation is most important? Film? Television? Books? The answer is all of the above, but the world has been talking about good representation in film and television a lot lately, so it’s time to put a little more focus on representation in literature. Arguably, where representation is most important is in Children’s and Young Adult literature. The great classics of children’s literature—the Charlotte Webs, and Goodnight Moons—have withstood the test of time, having been passed down from generation to generation. But, like many other classics, they only include predominantly white characters. When you are a kid, you want to be able to open a book and see a superhero or a princess that looks like you. When children of color are constantly reading about white characters, their perception of someone who can save the world or rule over a kingdom is distorted. Research from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center showed that according to 2019 statistics, in children’s books, 11.9% of main characters are Black/African, 1% are Native/First Natwions, 5.3% are Latinx, 8.7% are Asian/Asian American, 0.05% are Pacific Islander, 41.8% are white, and 29.2% are animal/other. This doesn’t take into account how many of those characters were written by people of the same race. The importance of diverse characters extends past children seeing themselves as superheroes or princesses. Cultural differences are often not taken into account when these stories are written. More often than not, a white child and a child of color are going to have drastically different cultural experiences even if they live in the same country, live in the same state, or even attend the same school. Furthermore, an Asian child is not going to feel represented if a book is marketed as racially diverse and the diversity comes in the form of a Black character. This goes the other way around as well. The way that many of us connect to characters is through shared experiences. It makes the reading experience that much more enjoyable if we can see part of ourselves in our favorite characters. Even in works of fiction, we understand characters as extensions and reflections of real people. The way that POC, specifically Black people, are villainized in mass media creates false stereotypes for people who are not exposed to racial diversity in their everyday lives. Nancy Wang Yuen, author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism,” told Forbes, “Studies show that audiences substitute stereotypes they see on screen for reality when they have not had any direct interactions with particular racial groups.”

We consume hours and hours of media every single day. Our very perceptions of the world are shaped by the media. When the media doesn’t accurately portray POC or fails to portray them at all, the lives of POC are put at risk. Another important aspect of this problem is how these characters are being represented. If a character of color is included in a story, the chance of them being the main character is slim to none. Characters like the funny Black best friend/sidekick to the main white character are not sufficient forms of representation. Along with this, if a story does focus around a person of color, it is a story of sadness and pain. The Hate You Give is often cited as a YA novel with good representation. While I agree with this and loved the book, it focuses on the effects of police brutality on the Black community. These stories are essential to share, but people of color shouldn’t constantly be subjected to reading stories that solely highlight the pain they endure. We are in need of more romantic comedies with POC leads that simply go through the trials and tribulations of asking their crush out on a date. We need more fantasy novels where POC main characters are forced to go on a journey to slay the dragon and leave victorious. Representation is nothing without well thoughtout characters and meaningful storylines. Although they are still far and few between, there are still some books that achieve a high level of thoughtful representation. Luster, one of my favorite mid-20s complex female coming of age stories, follows Edie, who is simply trying to figure out who she is. Readers get an insight into the realities of being a young Black woman in America laced with Edie’s sharp and pointed outlooks on life. The Wrath and the Dawn is a modern-day Arabian Nights retelling filled with scandal, lust, tension, but most importantly, an incredibly rich and diverse cast of enticing characters. The eighteen year-old king Khalid weds a new wife every night, but by dawn, he has her executed. Shahrzad, determined to be the first wife to see the light of day, volunteers to be Khalid’s next wife with no intention of falling in love. For the hopeless romantics, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a touching novel following two love-sick Mexican American high school students navigating a world where they struggle for being both Mexican and gay. The dangers of inaccurate representation of POC further dangerous stereotypes that create inequalities and unsafe spaces for POC. In order for people of color to feel seen in the stories they are reading, we need to make a conscious effort to change the way characters are written and uplift the stories and voices of those who have been silenced for too long.




Written by Anamaria Popovska | Design by Ting Wei Li | Graphic by Emily Snisarenko

After 13 years of production and 24 movies later, Marvel Studios has finally released its first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie, released on September 3, has smashed box office records, gaining $71.4 million the weekend of its release. One of the reasons for this success is Marvel fans’ excitement to see Asian representation in the new film, finally! After I went with a few friends to watch the film on the Friday premiere, I fell in love, not only with Simu Liu and Awkwafina’s chemistry, but also with the story, ranking it as one of my top Marvel favorites. Among activists and movie critics, Shang-Chi received excellent reviews in terms of Asian representation. Kat Moon says it perfectly in her article for Time, stating that “it wasn’t a profound scene in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that made me feel instantly connected to the film—not the Mandarin narration that opened the movie or even the early references to customs specific to Chinese culture like eating zhou, or congee, for breakfast and tomb-sweeping on the annual Qingming Festival…. But it was a moment around 30 minutes in that let me know for certain I was watching my life experiences reflected on the big screen in a way Hollywood has rarely done: when Ronny Chieng’s character, Jon Jon, exclaims, “Waka!”’ Writer and Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s inclusion of such scenes brought a more realistic, relatable light towards Asian culture. This is a big step in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because it shows that films about and including Asian characters can and should be made without falling to horrific stereotypes. The beauty of the film doesn’t just stop at actor representation, but also cultural representation. Martial arts weapons, guardian lions, and the language are just some examples of Chinese culture

included within the movie. The film does a great job of including and giving audiences a look into some Chinese cultural aspects. This is significant as it gives audiences, and those who have not yet been exposed to Chinese culture, an accurate representation of the different cultural aspects, rather than past non-accurate stereotypical movie representations. Since Shang-Chi grew up in China, much of the film takes place at his father’s home, where his army trained. There, we see martial arts weapons used and the sculptures of the guardian lions, which are traditional Chinese ornaments. Throughout the film, we hear Mandarin being used, allowing audiences to connect even deeper with Chinese culture. The use of Mandarin could also be interpreted as a refusal to cater completely to Western audiences and instead assert that the film is showing depth of culture, not just surface-level representation. It gives audiences a direct look into the language that Shang-Chi speaks and doesn’t just adapt to English. If it were to all be in English, it would not be as realistic and impactful. With this, director Crettons was able to properly and respectfully represent a culture in a block-buster film, an area where many directors fall short. When watching the film, the scene that stuck with me most was the one where Shang-Chi began his training with his father’s army at such a young age. The way the scenes were shot, with the soldiers in the back, the dim lighting, and the martial arts props used, I felt connected to the important cultural parts of the movie. Shang-Chi gave us a look into a different lifestyle, one that we haven’t seen in the Marvel Universe. Hopefully in the future we will be exposed to more beautiful and unique stories. Shang-Chi should just be a stepping stone in a path to a Hollywood where representation is the standard.



written by darcy gallagher designed by karoline cunico photographed by katey cooney

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Written by Darcy Gallagher | Designed by Karoline Cunico | Photographed by Kathryn Cooney

Quiet is not a word in the vocabulary of those who have been affected by the patriarchy. The white, heterosexual male continues to control our society, and we need to further our efforts in using our voices to overturn this all-encompassing power. Many have seen the trends on Tik Tok discerning the “male gaze.” It’s a term some are unfamiliar with, but the fad on social media has resurfaced the hideous truth that our world is still controlled by the male. The male gaze is a topic that originated in the film industry but applies to today’s culture. Used in film to portray women through an objectified lens, the male gaze has infiltrated its way into other aspects of our society. It not only upholds our world’s patriarchal values and structures, but it also controls the perspectives people view themselves through — perspectives based on the male’s ideals of beauty, intellect, status, and experience.


How, then, are we supposed to view our identity or life through anything other than the male perspective? The male gaze holds power over societal norms and shapes how we view our roles in today’s culture. To overthrow the gaze of the male, we must first discover our own.

who feel suppressed by male-dominated culture and values. She uses her poetry to expose the vulnerability, hardship, strength, intimacy, power, and sexual parts of the female experience that a male gaze could never grasp. The woman in the female gaze is both the creator and viewer.

The female gaze is a term coined against that of the male gaze. This version aims to portray women in realistic ways. It focuses on empathy, humanity, identity, and empowerment, as well as the “presence and depth of character” of its subject (TheArtGorgeous). It depicts the social, professional, individual, and sexual female experience in ways that are true to her.

An additional alternative gaze, the queer gaze (also a term originating in the film industry), is separate from mainstream LGBTQIA+ cinema, which is sculpted by the “heteronormative framework” (3:AMMagazine). The queer gaze embraces uniqueness and inclusion. It is not bound by any binary constraints and does not aim to fit into any particular societal mold or category.

A great example of the female gaze is Rupi Kaur. As a poet, she utilizes her writing and live performances to tell the story of the female. She uplifts those

LGBTQIA+ individuals are still underrepresented in the workplace and the media. The queer gaze aims to create its own rules and

perspectives by recognizing different experiences. It separates itself from the “straight gaze” by focusing on telling LGBTQIA+ people’s stories from their own perspectives and not from the voice of the white heterosexual male. Tessa Thompson, a queer actress, advocates for more LGBTQIA+ inclusion in Hollywood. She championed her bisexual “Avengers” character by insisting the directors portray them as bisexual onscreen. What society deems as unusual, the queer gaze accepts. It is a lens that allows oneself to create their own identity based on who one truly is or wants to become. It challenges society’s gender norms by commending individuality. How can we push past the male gaze society continues to hold and begin living through the lens we create for ourselves? We must first grapple with our own experiences. Empathizing with ourselves and others humanizes and adds depth to our story. Through moments of intimacy and vulnerability with ourselves, we might gain better awareness. Social media has given the male gaze an even larger platform. We are fixated on portraying ourselves across social accounts in ways that only empower society’s standard of attractiveness or intrigue. People have begun to follow the Instagram trend “Make IG Casual Again,” an idea that adapts a more authentic approach to creative expression. This concept can help us move away from the male gaze’s hold over social media. The “pick me girl” has garnered attention from its popularization on social media. An example of internalized misogyny, this female craves male attention and essentially will aim to prove to her male interest she is unlike “other girls.” Social media can be used to counteract the male gaze, but only if we share the content we appreciate. Instead of showcasing the infamous “Instagram highlight reel,” expressions that humanize us can bring the female, queer, and individual gaze into social media. In finding ways to uniquely communicate our experience, we can form our own “gaze,” which empowers us and others. The female and queer gazes are great examples of perspectives to view today’s culture and society through. Each gaze is different but emphasizes similar messages—self-expression and empathy.


The queer gaze offers a more inclusive outlook on life. It can help us respect experiences different from our own in ways that lend recognition to everyone’s individual story. Stories we haven’t lived ourselves, but should value all the same. This gaze advocates for accepting and celebrating differences. Ashlee Marie Preston is an influential cultural commentator, media personality, social impact strategist, activist, and a great example of the queer gaze. She was the first trans woman editorin-chief of the national publication, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and the first trans woman to publicly run for California’s state office in 2018. Preston has become a powerful voice for the LGBTQIA+ community on representation, humanization, and intersectionality. She is a role model to anyone looking to shift their perspective from the male gaze and challenge societal norms. Adapting the queer gaze can help us recognize not everyone fits into the same mold and that people should have the right and ability to be themselves.


It’s hard to try and be who you are when the world teaches you to constantly validate comparison. Women are accustomed to comparing themselves to other women due to the male gaze. As females, society has taught us from a young age to dress for the man, act certain ways to impress the man, and compete against each other for the man. The world seems to revolve around the needs of “the man.” This idea applies to sexuality as well— our culture has predominantly defined sex through a “heterosexual norm.” The female gaze separates itself from this concept. It highlights the realistic female experience. Instead of perceiving the woman as the object of attention, it positions the woman in the center of the conversation in a different way. Here, the woman is both the producer and receiver of the message in the female gaze. She has control over the narrative. Emma Chamberlain is an additional example of someone in today’s pop culture that exemplifies the female gaze. Chamberlain rose to fame as a teenage YouTuber because of her unique approach to film and editing and has since become

an international icon. Her videos feature her authentic lifestyle and personality. What sets Chamberlain apart is that she does not conform to society’s idea of femininity. She is simply herself and does not aim to portray the “perfect life” or pretend to be anyone else. Chamberlain’s YouTube and social media reflect her values of realistic and relatable content. Whether she is burping on camera, speaking openly about her mental health, or podcasting about how she has never stuck to the ideal version of “feminine,” Chamberlain actively chooses to defy the male gaze. We can learn a lot from both the female and queer gaze. However, it is also important to identify our own gaze. We can learn to appreciate ourselves and the experiences that have shaped us into who we are today through this customized gaze. Forging a new path beside the male gaze takes effort to discover the style and inspiration that defines our own lens. Through the looking glass of the female and queer gaze, let’s hope we can see ourselves in the light of our own choosing.


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Written by Hannah Bohn | Designed by Ting Wei-Li | Graphic by Emily Snisarenko

We live in a fast-paced society that rotates in a ceaseless cycle of new technological enhancements, building more ways to connect to infinite outputs of news and entertainment. Of course, technology makes things quicker and easier; it maximizes productivity and functionality while limiting barriers to carrying out tasks and communicating. We’ve all heard conversations about how today’s culture is saturated with excessive screen time, especially when it comes to social media use. We are a people united by our shared access to a boundless online world. I can remember when the debate about the dangers of abundant phone use first entered my life. It was sometime around high school, and social media was far past its infancy stage. My peers and I were totally immersed in the maintenance of our online identities, interacting in an artificial bubble of likes and comments. As teens, it’s easy to get caught up in a glossy virtual world that endlessly spins in a feedback loop of content and validation. Since then, I’ve developed a deep awareness of the various consequences attached to excessive time spent plugged-in, and I learned a lot about how essential it is to not only moderate my phone use but to be deliberate about how I use technology. As| our dependence on technology to occupy our by Hannah Bohn designed by Ting Wei Li | graphic by Jo Doe mind grows stronger, we become less aware of how much of our time is actually being drained. The “in-between” moments of our daily lives, when we wait for the train or ride an elevator, are easily ripped from us by these simple decisions to disengage from our surroundings and tap into something less real. We need to be cautious of constantly filling in the calm moments life grants us. Those are the ones that ultimately make up much of what our lives really are. More than ever, we are prompted to continually

distract ourselves through our devices. Technology offers so many built-in methods to stay stimulated while disassociating from the present. Consequently, our attention spans are withering away, and our cognitive capacity is jeopardized. Our ability to concentrate has reduced to an eight second period on average, which is lower than the range of a goldfish, according to a new study by Microsoft Corp. to reveal the impact of our digitized lifestyle on the brain. While sitting on the train last week for a mere five minutes, I found myself locating a to-do list in my mind of productive activities I could execute when in a public space. I quickly ran through the available items—check my email, respond to overdue texts, organize my spotify playlists, call a loved one—just to realize how much pressure I put on maximizing every snippet of free time to be “efficient.” I am perpetually, and helplessly, in motion. As a society, we have normalized the behavior of seeking out something external to alter our minds’ current emotional condition and temporarily change the way we feel. American culture leans more and more toward the glorification of immediate and short-term pleasure and accelerates a process of fleeting satisfaction, followed by disappointment and the need for more. We fixate on these small adrenaline rushes and immediate rewards received through our phones, crowding our thoughts with outside input. Modern life plays out to the sound of technology, and this impacts our ability to exist in the absence of constant entertainment and preoccupation. Simply sitting with ourselves, granting our minds the space to be still, is an overlooked skill that we’ve been socialized out of. We should turn to our phones with intention, engaging with technology purposefully, rather than using it as a meaningless filler to pull us away from what’s around us.


Becoming That Girl

An Admirable Aspiration or a Toxic Target? Written by Mia Parker | Designed by Ava Vitiello | Photographed by Bella Bohnsack

She wakes up at 5:30 in the morning to watch the sunrise from her bedroom window as she partakes in a daily meditation practice. After, she participates in the perfect skincare routine to nourish her already clear and glowing skin. Then, she throws together a kale smoothie and makes avocado toast before sitting down to write in her journal. Who is she? She is “That Girl”—and it’s not just her morning routine that’s perfect. Everything about “That Girl’s” existence is centered around wellness, self-care, and the overall romanticization of life. Other traits, characteristics, and habits include a flawless “no-makeup” makeup look, manicured nails, the trendiest collection of clothing, polished jewelry and accessories, clean eating, a regular workout routine, a vitamin regimen, and reading, among other things. Essentially, being “That Girl” is about looking, and feeling, your best. Becoming “That Girl” is really about becoming the living embodiment of the vision board for your life. The idea, which was mostly popularized on Tik Tok, garnered attention earlier in the year when several videos on the platform regarding the trend blew up. The hashtag #thatgirl has amassed over 1.3 billion views, with thousands of app users posting videos about their “That Girl” morning or night routines. The trend then began to spread to other social media platforms, such as YouTube. “Guides to Becoming That Girl” videos are all over the app, many of them with millions of views. The thumbnails of these videos play into the self-care aesthetic, often featuring images of healthy meals, girls with “perfect” bodies, and skincare. Besides this, many creators have posted videos featuring their attempts at becoming “That Girl” as well. It’s easy to understand why the trend is so appealing. Videos that promote becoming the best version of yourself can be extremely motivating! For some, perhaps the trend gave them the push they needed to begin waking up earlier, or go to the gym, or eat healthier. I’ll even admit it myself––every time one of these videos popped up on my feed, they inspired me to make the changes that I’ve always been meaning to make in my own life. And yet, I’ve since given up the idea of trying to become her. After a long summer of attempts to catch the sunrise, attempts to do morning yoga, and attempts to spend my days reading romance novels in the park while wearing an effortlessly stylish outfit, I realized that the aspirations surrounding becoming

“That Girl” are more harmful than they are helpful. The reality is, there is no certain image or ideal of wellness that we should aspire to achieve. In fact, wellness manifests itself in a variety of different ways. One of the things that stuck out to me about the trend was how it promoted healthy eating. As someone who has always pushed myself to eat cleaner and healthier, I at first saw these videos of salads, green smoothies, and other healthy meals as a great representation of the diet I should strive to have. But then, on the other hand, was I not “That Girl” if I ate fast food or some other stereotypically “unhealthy” meal for dinner that night? In this way, the trend not only promotes a possibly unattainable and unnecessary eating routine, but it also unhealthily promotes comparison. Everyone’s bodies and dietary needs are different––and so when we’re promoting one specific image of “healthy” eating on the internet, this can prove harmful for those whose ideas and realities of health do not align with what they see on the screen. Like many others, food is something that brings me joy because of its flavors. And while I do try to incorporate healthy meals into my diet, I have found that some of the meals I enjoy the most may not necessarily be the healthiest. So, not only are the diets depicted under the trend unrealistic, but they also fail to acknowledge that there is more to happiness than being physically healthy. Furthermore, the idea of clean eating is also often rooted in extreme privilege. Several research studies, such as one from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have found strong correlations between healthy eating and higher socioeconomic standing. For many, purchasing fruits, vegetables, and other nurturing foods is harder to do than purchasing meals with less nutritional value. Some “That Girl” videos even promote things like juice cleanses or various vitamins, which are possibly unnecessary to achieve a healthy lifestyle anyways. Trends like “That Girl” will continue to manifest themself on social media for the rest of time. And while there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to live a better and more healthy lifestyle, it is important that we take a step back and acknowledge that the idea of wellness means something different to everyone. The moral of the story is that becoming “That Girl” is all about becoming the best version of yourself—not a version of the girl you see on your screen.


Breaking the BU Bubble Written by Caitlin Haviland | Designed by Thalia Lauzon | Photographed by Chika Okoye

Boston is widely regarded as one of the most historic, idyllic cities in the country, especially when concerning collegiate prospects. Home to more than 150,000 college students, academia is ingrained into the essence of Boston. When I first visited the city, I was enamored with the brutalist architecture, the picturesque college lawns, and the urban streets sprawling with students and young professionals alike. Boston seemed like the perfect college town, a scene straight from my beloved “coming-of-age” movies. After only one weekend in town, I eagerly applied to as many universities in the area as possible, certain that I couldn’t go wrong in such a perfect place. Two years later, I found myself a freshman at Boston University, determined to conquer the city that I had so deeply romanticized. I began exploring any chance I could get, often walking aimlessly, breathing in my newfound freedom. Every time I hopped on the T, I felt an immense sense of independence and pride, navigating the city like a true Bostonian. While my love for the city has never faded, I now realize how deafeningly naive I was. I thought that dark academia and brownstone mansions were all that Boston had to offer, or at least, it didn’t occur to me to even consider what might be beyond my idealistic vision. I was a true victim to the BU Bubble, and I had no idea. I thought I had been everywhere to be, and my experience (limited, in retrospect) only reaffirmed the picturesque ideal I had when I first visited nearly four years prior.


The truth was, while I thought I was being adventurous and enlightened, I had spent two years only investing in the romanticized version of the city I had created. My sophomore year, I spent the summer in Boston and began dating a city native. Nearly immediately, he identified my inexperience and made it his mission to show me all of Boston. Day by day, he stripped me away from my Commonwealth Avenue bubble, showing me the city, good and bad. Over the course of the summer, one thing became abundantly clear: Boston is not an academic oasis. There is so much more to the city than bouncing from classes on campus to parties in Allston; so much more than sipping Dunkin’ on my stroll to Back Bay to hit the Prudential Center. Ubering to brunch in Seaport is not “exploring.” Walking to shop on Newbury Street did not make me a “city girl.” Living in a Brookline apartment as a nineteen-year-old did not make me “experienced.” I was living in a collegiate illusion, naive to the harsh realities laying right around the corner. Throughout those three months, I learned more about Boston than I had over the course of two years. Suddenly, I was seeing the city for what it really was: a beautiful place with an effervescent spirit, but also harboring an abundance of flaws. While the experience was enlightening, much of what I learned was both shocking and depressing. While I was moved by everything I learned, one area of the city truly opened my eyes like no other. Boston’s Methadone Mile, the epicenter of Boston’s indigent, is a one-mile stretch filled with struggling addicts, veterans, and the disabled, and it’s only 20 minutes from campus.

At the Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard intersection, hundreds of homeless people line the streets in tents and camping chairs, desperate for a warm meal. While there is misfortune across Boston, Meth Mile attracts addicts and transients from around the city due to the area’s concentration of resources, as well as a correctional facility. In the one-mile stretch, there are two methadone clinics, two homeless shelters, a hospital, and the Suffolk County jail. The intersection is an open-air drug market, where addicts go to recover and relapse, cycling through the streets and institutions repeatedly. Just driving through the area, I was scared and heartbroken. How could I have lived two whole years completely naive to what was happening right around the corner? How did I spend every day prancing around Brookline, with no idea hundreds of people were living in squalor just a few blocks away? I felt immensely privileged, but also, quite frankly, beyond idiotic. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that while I slept soundly in my cushy bedroom, just 20 minutes away were hundreds of addicts lining up for their morning dose from the Methadone Clinic. Or that as I scrolled through Uber Eats options, men and women were cycling from hospital, to prison, to shelter, praying to score one of the few hot meals available. If nothing else, my time this summer taught me to open my eyes to the world around me. There is nothing wrong with romanticizing your life, but there is a problem with going about life blindly. By learning about the world around you, you gain so much knowledge, perspective, and humility. All of a sudden, I could see life clearly, and I can only wish it had happened sooner. I implore you: get out there, learn about your surroundings, escape your bubble. You won’t regret it.


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“Blood Bank” by Bon Iver The husky timbre of Justin Vernon’s voice perfectly sets the tone for winter, with sweet, loving lyrics. The track details little sweet moments in a relationship, painting a romantic image of being trapped in your truck in the snow and kissing your lover. The instrumentation mimics the relief of warmth in your hands on a cold winter night. “Cherry Wine” by Hozier This song creates contrasting imagery of ice and fire throughout to detail the intense passion of a relationship. Hozier’s vocals crawl slowly through the body as you listen to the track, keeping you warm in the dead of winter. The contrast of the dark subject matter of the lyrics with the soft acoustics and vocals creates a reflection of the sweetness you may try to inject into those dark, cold nights.

“Angel in the Snow” by Elliott Smith As tragic as much of Elliott Smith’s discography is, the soft acoustic guitar relays a sense of comfort on the listener. With the image of laying beside a lover in the snow, you can feel the cold surrounding you as the snowflakes fall gently. “Hackensack” by Fountains of Wayne This track was included in the 2005 Christmas rom-com Just Friends, in which Ryan Reynolds returns to his New Jersey hometown for Christmas for the first time in 10 years, forced to face all of the locals—including his high school lost love. As college students return home for the holidays, Hackensack stirs those feelings of returning to your hometown and seeing all the familiar faces and places that either made your upbringing heaven or hell. This song is the perfect backdrop for reminiscing on those you used to know, and reflecting on the way things have changed since you’ve been gone. “Sleigh Ride” by The Carpenters For the classic holiday mood, Sleigh Ride is the ultimate, lighthearted music for the season. It instantly transports you to a childlike feeling of giddiness for the holidays, no matter how basic it may appear on surface level.


Hindsight was 2020, and Now I Can’t Wait for 2022

Written and Photographed by Chika Okoye | Designed by Tamar Ponte

My home in Vegas smells like the scented purple Airwick you get in bulk at Costco. It smells like semi burnt pots and sweet perfume. It smells like my mom cooking soup as she blasts Nigerian music through the house. It smells like comfort; that is until you move away, and you can’t smell home anymore. I missed home halfway through my freshman year of college, and coincidentally enough, the pandemic hit, and not only did it send me home with my crushed dreams of ever attending Marathon Monday, but it shut me into the house I missed so dearly, surrounded by the smells I can’t ever replicate. COVID-19, the virus itself, didn’t alter my life but it forced

me indoors and the things that happened behind those closed doors transformed me. The beginning of the pandemic was odd. I was attending college classes from my childhood bedroom while simultaneously cringing at Gal Gadot and Millie Bobby Brown as they sang “Imagine” in their million-dollar homes. As Americans shut their doors from the outside world, America also closed their borders, confining us all into one of the most transformative modern day civil rights movement the country has seen in decades. During early summer of 2020, we heard the stories and names of Breonna Taylor. Of George Floyd. Of Elijah McClain. Summer

of 2020 was grief, and I decided to take a much-needed break from social media as I wanted to dodge the performative infographics that were plaguing my Instagram feed. Through the month of June, I got to hang out with my mom more than ever before and was once again intoxicated by the smell of her sweet perfume. I stayed indoors and because I was now completely locked away from the outside world, I was finding a newfound appreciation for family. Finally, June 21 —my birthday came quickly. I sat at my kitchen table grateful that my family was all there and taking in the smell of home. One thing to note about my family is that every occasion


calls for a gathering at my kitchen table. My mom and dad give their speeches about how far me and my twin brother have come and break out into the story of our dramatic, premature birth. “Chika, I remember the night I had to rush to the hospital, since your brother wasn’t breathing like it was yesterday,” my mom says after we all say grace and recite 2 Corinthians 13:14. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. I remember my birthday dinners vividly because they are always the same, except for that year. I recall my dad speaking very quietly and I thought there was nothing to worry about. “People in my family start speaking softly at my age,” my dad said before we cut the cake. After my birthday, my dad lost his voice and weeks passed. On August 6th, about two months of speaking softly later, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The only reason we caught it so early was because his lymph nodes were swollen, which caused him to lose his voice. In retrospect, I’m so glad he lost his voice. I had to fly back to school the next week as my dad wanted me to continue classes in-person. My sister’s school was online, so she stayed home for the semester, and my twin brother goes to school close to home, so all was well. My dad started immunotherapy and I was across the country missing the smell of home once. My sophomore year was damaging. Recovering from quarantining for half a year and then going back to school to nearly equal isolation was not fun. Factoring in that you’re to endure the Boston winter, with nowhere to hang out with friends indoors on BU’s campus, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Isolation during most of 2020 affected my mental health in ways I did not anticipate. I spent so much time paving highways in my own mind that I forgot what it felt like to live outside of it. To add to my mental distress, the first month of school had a treat for me. I realized a little too late that my roommate at the time did not want what was best for me, and even worse, tried to manipulate me into opening up about things I did not want to talk about. Because of this, my sophomore year of college was full of panic attacks, vividly intoxicating nightmares, and missed therapy sessions. I want to say that I’m better now, but I push through—the smell of home grounding me because it brings me comfort. Sooner rather than later, January of 2021 came and we said goodbye to an awful year and christened the new year with tentative hope. COVID vaccinations were around the corner, and I geared up for the second half of the Boston winter. The second semester came and went quickly; to say I was excited to go home for summer vacation


was an understatement. Fresh off the plane in May, I was eager to take a whiff of home, but my comfort soon turned to a sense of uneasiness. On Mother’s Day, my dad didn’t feel well and the very next day we were rushing to the hospital because he couldn’t feel his legs. The doctors found another tumor, but this time, in his spine. It was pressing up against something it shouldn’t have been, and it was affecting his mobility. The day after, the tumor was removed, but there was a long road ahead. I was terrified. I kept worrying about what would happen if something were to go wrong. My summer consisted of hospital visits and tear-filled nights. I gained lessons I never imagined I would gain: knowing what to do when you drive your dad to the emergency room, and what it means to

come together as a family. COVID helped me understand the importance of family and the forced togetherness meant so much more than I could have imagined. My dad is still recovering, but he is going to be fine. As much as things are hard, I always remember I have people standing behind me. Shut behind closed doors, I went through a lot of tough times and needed a way to distract myself. The only thing consistent was my need for academic validation. I didn’t waste any time, using COVID as a unique opportunity to expand internship horizons, and so I applied to internships that were offered remotely since nothing was confined to the city in which it physically operated. I had the pleasure of interning for the company behind The Maze Runner, and the PR company that basically started

Lana Del Rey’s career. Even more exciting, I achieved my dream of interning for this amazing company, where I had a first look into the world of all things entertainment. The company represents my favorite talent from Olivia Rodrigo to Jeremy Strong; a real dream come true. I am now interning for The Tonight Show, and I couldn’t be more content. Looking back at the last two years, quarantine, and the pandemic that changed us all, I can’t help but want to feel angry. Angry at the world for all that it had thrown at me...but I survived, and for that I am grateful. Up until recently, I had spent my time building caution signs around the first indications of fear, but now I can rip them down knowing that the worst has come. Quarantine pulled me by the hair and required me to be okay with being alone—to be okay with being

alone with my thoughts and the changing environment around me. It taught me that all I really have, at the end of the day, is me. Additionally, because I experienced so many life-changing events in a place I used to find comfort in, I got used to dealing with trauma surrounded by the scents of security. I had to overcome that, too. I won’t always have that feeling of security, that sense of home, so I learned notW to depend upon it entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I can still miss it occasionally, but I need to start finding comfort in myself. The home that I am building for myself may still smell like the scented purple Airwick plugin you get in bulk at Costco. And my mom cooking soup as she blasts her Nigerian music through the house. But now it also smells like the changing Boston air in early September, or my millionth

Redbull of the day. Wherever I am, I know now that home is where I make it and I know that my family will always be there, even if they aren’t right next to me. At some points, things got dark, but after this hard year, I still believe all is possible. Maybe I am childish and boring and naïve and hopeful and dangerously optimistic, but it beats accepting the idea that life isn’t worth it. I will find burrows of happiness in the most barren pockets of this world if it means one day, I can say I lived a life worth repeating. COVID taught me that. The takeaway is this: we all learned something during this pandemic and one way or another, your life changed. Learn from it. Use it. Because we all walked into early 2020 with one idea of how life could go, and we were all surprised. I don’t know about you, but even after months of uncertainty, there can still be something attractive about the unknown.







The Sexism of Breakup Songs, Plaguing Women and Empowering Men Written by Talia Zakalik | Designed by Macy Wilbur Photographed by Samantha Grobman

Breakup songs are not a new phenomenon. Everyone from The Beatles to Beyonce seems to have a hit song that deals with the trials and tribulations of heartbreak. Many tears have been shed to “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston (a staple in the genre), and newcomers such as Olivia Rodrigo have already captured the hearts of young members of Gen Z through their relatable take on 21st century romance. Yet, there seems to be a double standard when it comes to who exactly is producing breakup music. Ed Sheeran has been praised for his vulnerability while female artists, such as Taylor Swift, have and continue to be torn apart for it. A common label placed on Swift is “serial dater.” Pop culture fans tend to critique the way Swift seemingly goes through men and then proceeds to write music about them. What Swift does is no different from what all artists do. Painters, poets, and musicians all draw inspiration from failed relationships. Swift has spent her formative years in the public eye. She entered the music industry at age 14, and has built a brand around being relatable, which means producing lots of music about heartbreak. It is unfair to hold Swift below all other male musicians such as Bruno Mars, Frank Ocean, Drake, and Justin Timberlake, who have also made careers out of heartbreak. When one sits and listens to their albums from start to finish, the themes in each song parallel Swift's music. But, because they are men, they are applauded for having the courage to be so open while female artists are referred to as “overemotional.” What many people also fail to understand is that Swift writes almost all of her own music. It truly is her choosing to publicize a lived experience. When artists make this

conscious decision, it is unfair to turn around and judge them for it. Swift is not trying to present a distorted image of herself, on the contrary, she is trying to be as candid as possible, even if that means being met with backlash. The response she receives is rooted in sexism. It is easier to label Swift as a “whore” and engage in slut-shaming, which is all too common in dating culture, than to admit there is some merit behind the story she is trying to tell through her lyrics. Much of Swift's criticism comes from Millennials and older generations. Gen Z seems to have a different take on basing a career around heartbreak. Olivia Rodrigo has been able to tap into that. After her very public split from Joshua Bassett, Rodrigo released “Driver's License.” The song became the new greatest heartbreak anthem. The public was in awe that someone who was only a teenager could so beautifully capture how it feels to be let down by the person you love. Rodrigo has explained that much of her musical inspiration comes from Swift. Both artists write their own music, and much of it consists of tales of relationships ending. When Rodrigo finally followed up with her first album Sour, it was clear that the public was on her side and not Bassett’s. Another female artist who is met with lots of criticism when it comes to the music she produces about past relationships is Lana Del Rey. Much of her music is focussed on dating older men who tend to be wealthy, and Del Rey at times sounds submissive to them. Many people say that she is setting a bad example for young girls and should explore different topics in her music. But just like Swift, these are Del Rey's lived experiences. She is choosing to consciously place herself in

a position where she could be ridiculed, yet chooses to because of how important these topics are to her. Fans of Del Rey argue that if one has a problem with the topics in Del Rey's music, they should direct their frustration at the men who groom and prey on young girls, and not at the woman who has lived through it. Her breakup music tends to be much darker, since it deals with more mature topics. The tide has turned when it comes to the perception of female artists and their emotions. Gen Z has a tendency to celebrate openness and vulnerability, so it is no surprise that they as a generation would be proud of Rodrigo. Many of Swift's “haters” tend to be older women who were taught not to share their feelings about men in fear of looking weak or promiscuous. Yet, Rodrigo has broken this stereotype with the help of young people who find it powerful to speak their mind and share their emotions. The reason Gen Z is able to be very candid is because of social media. The power of being able to connect randomly with people online and find common ground with them is extremely impactful. The rise of TikTok is the main reason breakup songs by artists such as Swift and Rodrigo have become much more popular. Currently, there is a trend on TikTok where people will use a sound that contains an iconic lyric from one of Swift's most heartbreaking songs, “Last Kiss,” from her 2010 Speak Now album. The sound goes, “So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep. And I feel you forgetting me like I used to feel you breathe.” Those who use this


sound have been using it to describe what it's like to miss your ex, your siblings, or even your dog who you now live far away from. The creativity behind this trend proves how versatile breakup music can be. There isn’t necessarily a need for one song to be about one specific type of heartbreak. The end of a friendship can hurt just as much as the end of a love affair. Another trend is with her song “Begin Again” from the 2021 album Red. The lyric from the song being used is, “You pull my chair out and help me in, and you don’t know how nice that is, but I do.” This song is about receiving a second chance at love, yet for this trend, this line is used in a humorous way. People used the sound in the background of themselves saying things such as “When he knows that you get distracted from assignments easily so he doesn’t text you.” All of these trends further demonstrate how versatile Swift's music can be. A commonly forgotten fact is that many of Swift's songs deal with other issues in addition to breakups. The breakup songs are traditionally focused on because they are the most marketed by her team since she has


built a brand around this. Those types of songs also draw in lots of media attention because Swift has such high profile heartbreaks. However, “Soon You’ll Get Better” from Swift's 2019 album Lover deals with her mom's journey with cancer. It is a slow song, with guitar strums reminiscent of Swift's days as a country singer. Swift sings, “I know delusion when I see it in the mirror. You like the nicer nurses. You make the best out of a bad deal. I just pretend it isn't real.” This song is Swift being vulnerable about a difficult and frightening time of her life, however, only a select group of people really know this song exists. “Never Grow Up” from Speak Now (2010) also deals with a different subject matter. “To you everything is funny. You got nothing to regret. I give all I had honey, if you could stay like that. Oh, darling don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow, just stay this little,” sings Swift. This song examines how difficult it is to watch yourself or someone else age over time and become a less innocent and more tainted version of themselves. Yet when people think of Speak Now, this is not the song that comes to their minds.

They are most likely to remember “Dear John” or “Back To December.” In Rodrigo's debut album SOUR (2021), 10 out of 11 of the songs were breakup songs. However, there has been no backlash over this. This is because of how sympathetic Gen Z has been to Rodrigo's split from Bassett. In many of Swift's relationships, the men she has dated are also beloved by the same audience that might enjoy her music. John Mayer, Harry Styles, and Jake Gyllenhaal have been the inspiration for some classic anthems, however these celebrities also have large fan bases. This escalates the drama. But in Rodrigo's case, the public saw Bassett as a slightly older guy who took advantage of Rodrigo and then left her for Sabrina Carpenter. This created a more nuanced love triangle, which is very different from Swift's break ups, where only what she shares in her music is what is ultimately known about her relationships. These types of songs are not going away any time soon. Breakup music is therapeutic and much needed as a way to cope with the loss of someone in your life. However, it is important to maintain the same level of judgment when listening to male and female artists’ heartbreaks. Thankfully, it seems that the industry is slowly but surely moving in the right direction.

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The winning submission from the Buzz’s first ever campus-wide fiction contest, 2021 Written by Melissa Boberg

June was always cold. When she was the first student to arrive for Astronomy 101 on her first day of college, she hardly even questioned where she would sit. Naturally, there was the crusade of her anxious mind against her mobile body, and the whirlwind of temporally unextended paralysis as she stood in the doorway, bracing herself as she was penetrated by a forceful procession of seconds. Otherwise, it was simple. She chose the left of two desks paired in the back right corner of the room because they were the farthest from the window. Her body, trained to feel warm in whatever situation was the least cold, was relieved. When June realized the legs of the desk she had chosen were uneven, she considered moving seats. She decided instead to sit with intentional stillness so as not to make noise. When Menna sat next to June, June instinctively assumed that Menna had a crush on her. It was not that June was trying to be presumptuous. It was just that Menna walked around everyday wearing collared tee shirts, with a ring pierced through the septum of her nose, so what did she want people to think? What was surprising about Menna was how quickly she became June’s friend. June had lived enough life to learn that friendship required careful preservation, so she never mentioned anything about her original diagnosis of Menna as a lesbian. In exchange, Menna never mentioned anything about sex. Initially, June had assumed that this meant Menna was a virgin or a prude or something. Then, Menna had shown up to class one day with a faint red bruise on her neck. June was keen enough to recognize what that meant. Nonetheless, she took no issue in following suit. Mutually maintained silences were nothing new to her. They were practically her craft. Plus, June liked sex, but she did not love it. Anytime she talked about it with her other friends, the conversation consisted mostly of embellishments, and the truths she told always ventured off into lies. Selective silence was a better alternative, a method by which June and Menna never had to lie to each other. When Victor and Will sat in the two desks directly behind her and June, Menna thought nothing of it. Meanwhile, June was trying to determine which of the two boys had a crush on her. What was annoying about

June thinking that everyone had crushes on her was that she was not always, or even usually, wrong. It was not until Victor repeatedly struck up conversation between every line of the syllabus as the professor read it out loud that Menna realized what she was in for. She tried not to hate people, but had a hard time locating the humanity in men who never shut up. And not for nothing, she found it a bit much that Victor had to initiate every conversation by tapping on June’s shoulder. Menna felt bad for Will, who she assumed was Victor’s best friend, because he always seemed uncomfortable. Everytime the professor asked a question, Menna could tell that Will really wanted to raise his hand, but only about a third of the time did he do it. This was partly because he was visibly shy, but also because he basically sat next to a circus clown. Victor was always trying to orchestrate some grandiose distraction. Luckily for the rest of the class, Astronomy 101 was packed to the brim with college freshmen, and the professor wore on his face the years he had spent trying to lasso students into respecting him. There was nothing Victor could have done that would have interrupted the professor’s motive to plow through the material. With little in common between them, June, Menna, Victor, and Will did not talk much at first. The awareness that it was their first year of college contaminated all of their conversations with a unique pressure. It seemed like your college friends were your lifelong friends, and thus your future identity was confirmed by who you decided to hang out with. Will was especially hesitant towards the group. For one thing, he assumed that he was the only one of the four who had actually studied for the SAT. Plus, with time, he was only growing more tired of Victor’s antics. Still, deep down, he felt a certain conviction that Victor was a good guy. He knew this in the distinct way that men can recognize goodness in other men, a type of goodness invisible to women. He supposed that it was pity which tethered him to Victor, which was ironic, because Victor felt the same way about Will. Victor had charged himself with the responsibility of elevating Will beyond a life of doing homework and wearing seatbelts. Pity was sticky, like a two sided tape.


Menna was not one to call her loneliness what it was, so her process of platonically wooing June was subtle. She complimented June’s outfits, which usually consisted of sweatshirts over dresses, and offered her the answers to every homework assignment, until June finally asked to hang out outside of class. The first time June came over, Menna asked if she smoked weed. Though she had never done it before, June said yes. There was something special about their rituals: laying on Menna’s dorm room floor together, passing a joint back and forth, and blowing its smoke through the window screen. But Menna knew that the room was not a locked box outside of the consequentialism of time, as much as she wanted it to be. One thing she had learned quickly about June was that it was not in her blood to say no to being liked, so she knew that when Victor started to pester her into coming over, it was only a matter of time until June would say yes. Menna thought that Victor’s palpable jealousy of her closeness to June had something to do with June. Victor thought so, too. Victor made a regular performance of asking June to come over, to which she always said, “I’ll go if Menna goes.” This made Menna beam, but she usually covered it up by grabbing a tissue from her backpack and pretending to blow her nose. Victor grew so accustomed to June rejecting his advances that he asked more for the sake of consistency than anything else. When he asked her on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, when Menna had already left campus for the break, he had not even considered that her answer might be different. “Fine,” was June’s response. “Where do you live again?” Victor’s veins were suddenly composed of electric wires. He stammered the name of his dorm and tried not to be shocked. In the hours which preceded June’s arrival to his room, Victor felt his skin turn into a site for red, rashy inflammation. A bummer, he thought, and especially poor timing. He scrubbed himself abrasively in the communal dorm bathrooms, wearing flip flops. Afterwards, he stood, wrapped in a towel, at the bathroom mirror, trying to figure out what to do with his hair. He suffered from chronic and perpetual coldness in any temperature, and always wore knitted hats in class. He hoped that June would still recognize him without one. June had never taken anyone’s virginity before. With each knock on the door of Victor’s dorm room, this was on its way to no longer being true. She showed up twenty minutes late and was greeted by walls more bare than she had anticipated. Victor did not have a roommate, and this surprised June, who had assumed that he was not the type of guy who spent much time alone. When he told her it was his first time, a part of her warmed up to him. This allowed her to look at him during sex. Typically, she hated mid-stroke eye contact. When June got naked, Victor grew concerned for her health. It was visibly evident that the relationship between her skin and ribs was one of desperation, her ribcage like a traveller clinging to poles on a moving train. Without words, Victor tried to convey his apprehension. June was not a novice at receiving this look, and nearly a professional at translating it into a compliment. She pressed her body to his and Victor worried that he would break her. He did not know whether or not she would forgive him. June intermittently told Victor that he was doing a good job. It was a virtue of hers that she tried not to lie to people, so she first had to coax herself into meaning it. Still, he was certainly not doing poorly. Most of the men she slept with were much more aggressive and allowed her to breathe much less. Victor thanked her for the compliments, though it was awkward to say thank you so often during sex without the whole thing feeling like a transactional sham. Plus, it was patronizing. He noticed June wince at sporadic intervals, like she was bracing herself for something. He wondered if she thought he


was too immature to hit her. Though it would not have been easy for him, he would have done it had she asked. When they were finished, Victor debated whether or not June would ever tell her future husband about him. He concluded that she likely would not. The first time you had sex was supposed to stay with you forever. The second and third and fourth times did not matter at all. He asked June if she wanted to go to the dining hall. This was how they ended up sitting across from each other at eleven at night, both of them eating Lucky Charms from white plaster bowls. “I hope you have a good Thanksgiving,” Victor offered. He wondered if he would get to kiss her again when they left. “Menna can never know about this,” June replied. The bowl of Lucky Charms was the first time she had eaten all day. She let milk disintegrate the marshmallows on her tongue and felt ravenous. It was finally time for uncontrollable weakness, the moment with which most of June’s nights began. Her days consisted of self-inflicted starvation. Victor took June’s eating to mean that she was someone who regularly ate, and was relieved. He was only seeing such vulnerability because he was no longer much of an audience, given that the only sexual experience June planned to have with Victor had already ended. It was not that she regretted the sex. She would not even have been particularly concerned about keeping it a secret, were it not for the overlap between Victor’s mouth and Menna’s ears. Victor nodded to signal his understanding. June decided that she respected him. He resigned himself to the idea that he was not going to kiss June again, which was a bummer, but it was better than never having kissed her at all. When they all returned from Thanksgiving break, it was time for the final unit of Astronomy 101, which veered into philosophical territory. This was a relief to June, who was ready to never look at a calculator again, and a source of nervousness to Will, who felt more comfortable when the components of a situation could be substituted for ingredients to an equation. Still, all four of them found some interest in Einstein’s theory of relativity. The professor walked them through the concepts: Time was entirely dependent on the frame of reference of the observer. The linear progression of time mattered only to those who were entrenched in it, but to those people, it meant everything. Beyond the threshold of spacetime perceivable from earth, everything was happening at once. Victor choked back a comment in which he would call the professor a dinosaur. It was not supposed to be mean. It was an earnest attempt to address comedically what everyone was thinking. What was he supposed to do: lie? The professor was practically decaying at the lecture podium. Victor looked to his left and saw that Will was authentically engaged, and then looked forward and saw that Menna and June were taking notes. He knew that he would not get laughs, so he sighed, and the lecture dragged onwards. In a different situation, the joke would have killed. “I just got a new bag of edibles,” Victor whispered, once the class was wrapping up. Will had never consumed marijuana before. “Anyone want to come over?” “I’ll go if Menna goes,” said June. Menna was looking to be more adventurous. “If there’s free weed, I’ll go,” she said. Victor and June both snapped up their heads in surprise. June’s skin started to heat up when she thought about being in Victor’s dorm with Menna there. Her fingers meandered over to the baggy denim on top of Menna’s kneecap, and before she retracted her hand, she squeezed. Upon feeling the touch, Menna

turned to face June, but June was already packing up to leave. Victor watched the small act of intimacy unfold before him, and he knew it was the perfect opportunity for an excited comment, but he was too busy trying to process the acceptances to his invitation. “Alright, then,” he said. His shock was accompanied by nervousness. When it was only him and June in his room, at least the audience had been smaller, and wearing fewer clothes. “Will, come on,” he said. “Now it’s the whole squad. You’ve got to come.” Will was trying to pack up his backpack, and was growing increasingly annoyed. The lecture ended at two, and he had a class at two fifteen to get to, not that Victor ever seemed even remotely concerned about that. He let a momentary thought about how selfish Victor could be travel from his brain into his jaw, then he swallowed it. “Alright, alright,” he said. He sidestepped around everyone else’s desks on his way out the door. “Alright, then,” Victor repeated. He had gotten what he wanted. His palms were sweaty. June went over to Menna’s before they went to Victor’s that night, because it was obvious to each of them that they would arrive together. June mentally prepared how she would react to seeing Victor’s dorm room in order to pretend it was her first time seeing it. She planned to whisper to Menna: “Someone has definitely died in this room.” Menna was wearing sweatpants when June got there. June was wearing jeans and was therefore afraid that Menna might think she was trying too hard. “I’ve been so busy all evening,” she explained, though she had not been asked. “I didn’t have time to change.” An opened bag of tortilla chips sat on Menna’s nightstand, and June moved through the doorway and towards them. She gave herself permission to waft the salt-flavored air. “What did you think of the lecture today?” Menna asked, in lieu of a greeting. “I don’t really understand it,” June admitted. “How could nothing have consequences, when it feels like everything does? It feels like there’s always minutes going by. We aren’t wired to understand anything other than that.” “Technically,” Menna responded, “it means we’re the same age as our parents.” She slowly lowered herself to the floor and laid on her back. June mimicked Menna’s movement. They laid beside one another on the carpet, the strands of their hair becoming tangled in each other’s. “Or that we’re the same age as our professor,” June added. “That’s weird,” Menna said. “And also kind of gross.” They both laughed. About twenty minutes after the time they had told Victor they would show up, Menna and June found it appropriate to head over. Victor answered his door, and Will sat behind him, cross-legged on the carpet floor. “Hey, you guys,” Will called out, leaning over to make himself visible to the girls. This was an act of social bravery for him, and he was proud of himself. “Hi,” Menna said. She pushed past Victor, who was still trying to process the fact that everyone had said yes to his invitation and actually meant it. It was raining outside, and June placed the umbrella she and Menna had carried next to Victor’s front door. Victor smiled at June, and she smiled back with her mouth closed. Victor closed the door behind everyone, kicking himself for not having prepared a one-liner to open the evening. Creating jokes on the fly was always a challenge for him. His mom had always known what to say, and he wished fleetingly that he was more like her. He had not seen her in three years. This was an absence for which she was preemptively forgiven, no apology required. Victor never turned his cell phone off before he went to sleep, just in case she called. He was sure that she would. It was only a matter of time.

“Don’t forget your umbrella when you leave,” Victor said, “or else I’ll steal it.” Immediately, Victor was disappointed in himself. He recognized that this was an objectively weird thing to say. Menna tuned out nearly everything Victor said, and Will was wrapped up in trying to configure a way to pretend to be high without actually consuming the edible, so the only person who had heard it was June. She sat down on the floor next to Will and said to Victor, “An umbrella is a real mean thing to take from a person.” June could not have known how personally relevant such a statement was to Victor. Victor’s dad, the only person with whom he lived at home, owned and operated a food stand in Manhattan. This meant that when it rained, the stand and his dad both got wet. One day, in high school, Victor had made the short trek from their apartment to the food stand in order to drop off an umbrella to his father, who replied to the gesture with a nod instead of saying thank you. Naturally, Victor was surprised later that night when his dad arrived home in a soaked shirt, with his beard pressed to his neck in individual, wet strands. When Victor asked what had happened, his dad only laughed and said, “Some bastard stole my umbrella. Must have needed it more than I did.” Victor stood up immediately off the couch and offered to track the thief down as an act of familial retribution. His dad still only laughed. Victor’s hands fidgeted in and out of fists. “I stole someone’s umbrella, once,” Victor said in response to June. His tongue collided with the back of his two front teeth to pronounce the L sound and almost got stuck in the gap. He was not sure where the urge to lie to June came from, but he thought it might have had something to do with a lifelong desire to live up to his name. Menna rolled her eyes. “Seriously?” she asked. “You suck.” “Hey,” Victor contested. “I needed it more than they did.” Will bit his tongue, trying to minimize any outward expression of a reaction, but he knew no one was looking at him anyway. Umbrellas were not that big of a deal, sure, but Victor’s behavior was growing increasingly difficult to justify. Still, he knew that Victor had a single dad, and he did not know how hard that could be. Will had a notably difficult time squaring his experience of the world, with two extremely married parents and two extremely alive sets of grandparents, against the knowledge that this was itself a privilege. He was not sure how much of his guilt was overkill and how much was owed. June looked anxiously at Menna, who was standing up, evaluating the undecorated walls of Victor’s room. “Where are the edibles?” June asked. “I like the way you think,” Menna said, approvingly, sitting down next to June. This irritated Victor, because now June was sandwiched between Will and Menna, but he kept his annoyance to himself. He knew that the umbrella theft made him seem like an asshole. Victor opened one of the drawers in his dresser and pulled out a small sandwich bag from beneath a pair of socks. In the bag were four small gummies, shaped like watermelons. He popped one into his mouth before handing over the bag to Menna. In a sporadic burst of confidence, Will leaned over to June and asked in a hushed voice if she would mind


taking two edibles so that he would not have to take any. June felt as though she was being trusted with an important mission. She discreetly took both watermelons from the package. “I can’t stop thinking about how time is an illusion,” Menna announced after chewing the gummy. June was mid-chew on her second. “Just linear time,” Will corrected, but he realized after saying it that this had probably been implied, and he was embarrassed for having assumed he was the only one who had understood the class lecture. After all, he reminded himself, they were all at the same college. In an attempt to smooth over this potentially annoying thing he had said, he continued, “but you’re right. We think time is a line, when it’s really just a gaping black hole.” June heard this and understood it, so she assumed she was not yet high. Relieved, she blinked, but when she opened her eyes after this split second, her surroundings had changed. Music had somehow started playing, and Menna was standing up and dancing. Menna was a talented dancer, and June had learned this about her, but now that Victor and Will knew it, too, she felt territorial over the information. June looked around the room to try to discern how long she had blinked for and how much had changed in that time. Victor was perched on the edge of his bed, which was on top of not only the bed frame, but also bed risers, so when he sat up straight his head almost brushed the ceiling of his room. Victor and Will were both watching Menna dance, and she was not even trying to be seductive, but Victor was seeing her in a whole new light. He wondered why he had been so entranced by June, and why he had let it blind him. “You are so money,” Victor said to Menna. “She’s not an object,” Will replied. “You think I look green?” Menna responded to Victor, attempting to antagonize him, even though she blushed a little at the idea that she was being noticed the way June always was. “I was thinking like a coin.” Victor rolled his eyes. “I just meant that you look pretty.” “Money is not usually pretty,” Will said. “But I guess it’s only a concept anyway.” June thought she was going to be sick. Not only was the room moving at a much faster speed than she was, but also, watching Victor talk to Menna felt like watching her dad flirt with her teacher. She was disgusted, and also she felt like she had the right to be pretty pissed off, but she did not know who to be more mad at. She felt the distance between Victor and Menna losing way into a pangea, and she wanted to lay a flag in that distance, to preserve it, to own it. Home was a townhouse in suburban Connecticut, and this she knew, but right now June felt home lodged in her chest, threatening to erupt volcanically onto the floor of the dorm room. She remembered how when she was in the third grade, she had seen her mother and her school principal kiss in the parking lot. In the car, she had asked whether this meant that her mother was in love. What did this mean for her dad? Her mother assured her it was nothing. June’s parents were still married, but in the way that meant they only wore their rings when they saw their friends, and her mom usually slept in the living room. June had been happy to leave home, to watch the minivan in which her parents had carted all of her belongings to campus pull away. Now, she wished she had asked her parents more questions. There were so many things that she did not know. “I don’t understand Menna,” June whispered to Will. She was surprised at the ability of her voice to be stable. She was also surprised at the words which came out. She was not sure whether or not she meant them. “It’s like she doesn’t want boys to flirt with her.”


Will was surprised by this statement. He presumed his own opinion of Menna was the obvious, universally accepted fact. “It’s not confusing,” he whispered back to June. “She doesn’t.” “You know, Victor,” Menna said, still dancing while everyone watched, “usually I hate you. And next week in class, I’ll probably hate you again.” Hearing this felt to Victor like listening to a smoke alarm gradually increase in volume. His ears were ringing so intensely he thought they may implode. “Alright, alright,” he replied, loudly, repeating it over Menna’s voice so that he could drown her out. “That’s enough.” “No,” Menna protested, her hands above her head and her hips swaying in circles, from left to right, then right to left, then left to right. “I wasn’t finished. I was going to say that right now, I like you. I think you’ve got it in you to be nice.” June was sure that she was going to throw up. “I feel sick,” she whispered to Will. She knew his sobriety would enable him to help, and she wanted him to feel guilty that he had forced her to get so high. Unfortunately, her ability to gage the volume of her speech had been lost. “Are you okay, June?” Victor asked. “She’s fine,” Will declared, because he did not want anyone to worry, since he knew he could take care of her. Unfortunately, he realized after he said it that it sounded like he was downplaying the issue, or that he did not care. He wondered why tonight of all nights he just could not get his mouth to align with his heart. “I’ll take you home, June,” Menna announced, and once she said this, everyone knew that it was the best idea. It was pushing midnight anyways, not that June had any clue what time it was. She had never been so high before in her life. June raised her arms above her head and Menna grabbed her hands, pulling her to her feet. Once standing up, June’s face fell nose-first into Menna’s collarbone. Both of their knees momentarily buckled in response to this, but luckily, neither one fell down. “I slipped,” June said loudly to Menna, her face still engulfed in Menna’s skin. Even though everyone was watching her and listening, she did not think anyone besides Menna could hear. “I was trying to kiss you.” “Jesus,” Victor said. “Shut up, Victor,” Menna responded. “Let’s go home, June.” “Get home safe,” Will offered. Menna put her arm around June’s waist and stabilized her as they walked out of Victor’s front door. They left their umbrella behind. “Tonight went by so fast,” Victor said aloud to Will, who was already preparing to leave. Victor found a certain degree of comfort in this: the familiarity of people leaving, the reliability of linear time to keep trudging. The procession of time took people away from him, sure, but it also gave him a second to catch his breath. For all the grief it caused, it birthed its own healing. Victor was used to marching through his grief the way time marched through him, the way ages marched through his body. This was what made him a man, and that itself was a godsend. He thought back to Astronomy 101 class and wished that he had just gone for it and made the joke about the professor. Not everyone would agree with him, sure, but no one could tell him it was not funny when he said that the professor was as old and decrepit as the fossilized remains of a dinosaur.

Study Abroad


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