CULTURE SHOCK

Life in Queens (the Most Diverse Borough of the Most Diverse City in the World)

Exoticism of Culture

Whether you are white, black, brown, a person of color, mixed race, or any other classification of race, you’ve most likely experienced the exoticism of a culture. The thing is, you most likely took it in as a compliment. The truth to the matter is, when one is “exotifying” a culture, they are actually placing a barrier against two races. Living in 21st century America, this is something that should not be accepted, and as time goes on, we are visibly experiencing the riots caused by such actions.

For example, I recently read on another blog of how a woman was called “exotic” because of her skin tone and hair. After she was asked where she was from, the “compliment” was taken a step further; calling “her people” exotic and mystifying as well.

Read this here: http://atriptothemorg.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/post-the-sixty-ninth/

This type of misconception, exoticism, and racism can be accounted for in today’s media as well. For example, last year, when Selena Gomez’s Come & Get It music video came out, a lot of controversy was sparked. Although it was not her intent, she sexualized an important concept of Indian culture; the third eye. For Hindu’s this is an extremely religious concept, leading back to Lord Shiva and his “power”.

^That’s a modern kimono styled cardigan.

Another example of this is the up and coming fashion of Kimonos. Although now H&M, Forever 21 and almost any major department store carries a wide variety of them, it is belittling to the Japanese culture and the ceremonies and events they are made for. A black kimono (mofuku), was once known to be for funerals as a sign of respect towards the diseased. Now, you see people wearing the “stylish” versions of them as everyday wear.

 

^That’s an actual kimono.

Whilst it is not anyone’s “fault” that along with the assimilation of cultures come a mixing (sometimes an offensive type) of two cultures, it is important to keep in mind the background behind the clothing we wear, the music we listen to, and the words we speak.

Conformed Behavior of Girls in NYC (and basically everywhere else!)

We live in a city where girls are taught at a young age that it is okay to verbally abuse others. When petty fights are started because of unrealistic rumors (even at the age of 5), adults tend to automatically divert their attention from it, saying, “Girls will be girls”. But where does this double standard come in? Why is it a problem when a physical fight is started, but verbal abuse is tolerated? We’ve come to accept that girls crying in the bathroom and facing humiliation at the cost of their friends is simply something under the norm. It’s normal to be singled out by friends, because “of course they will fight”.

If this is learned at a young age, the same people grow up to follow the same understanding. This understanding is, “In order to rise, you crush others”. It is seen in the work force, in white collar jobs and blue collar jobs alike. Instead of helping each other up, it is “human nature” to step on each other instead. New York City is not always the kindest city. While it holds the golden pot of opportunity, it doesn’t come free. So, if people are constantly facing being put down by other, shutting out important opinions without fully comprehending what the individual is saying, or hiding progressive ideas purely to avoid being put down, how will the people in this city grow as individuals?

The most common version of these types of misconceptions and arguments begin when someone who doesn’t even know an individual begins to form an inaccurate image of them in their minds. As they say, the first impression is the last impression, so this type of image sticks, and therefore, starts rumors. I can’t say that I haven’t been one to do this, but I’ve also been on the other side of it. It makes you think, “How often have I been a hypocrite?”, or “How much of the blame can be put on me?”.

Us “90’s kids” had experienced a wide range of T.V shows, movies, and media news that highlighted that this behavior is “okay”. “Mean Girls” exemplifies this with the constant humor found in situations that cause others to feel uncomfortable or belittled. It gives an image of what a popular girl should be like, and how to become that girl. Of course, young girls would strive towards this image and follow these “instructions”. Meg Cabot’s How to Be Popular connotes a popular girl as someone who parties all the time and is mean to others who aren’t “up to her level”, while remaining friendly to those who seem to be “worthy”.

Animal Testing Today

A few days ago, I was questioned on my views on animal testing. While it may be assumed that I would simply claim to be against it, backing up my views on vegetarianism, I actually feel as if animal testing is a necessity to a certain extent.

With the help of animals, scientists and medics today have the ability to help create new cures and methods of preventing diseases. Today, all vaccines are tested on animals to prove the efficiency of the medication that is being given to a human by his or her doctor. Many may agree with animal testing, after all, the testing on animals saved the lives of millions of sick humans all around the world and has advanced human knowledge.

Although some may think animal testing is cruel and inhumane, they should keep in mind how much it has benefited millions of people and the world throughout the last century. With the help of animal testing, chemists were able to discover new ways to help doctors perform things such as bypass surgery, joint replacement, and organ transplants and also advance in chemotherapy. Animal testing has also been used for food. This ensures that our meats are safe to consume and that any illness occurring in the livestock is less likely to spread.

Animal testing led to the advancement of science. The two things animals are used for is find out if the vaccine or cure is safe and efficient. Whether the product is helpful or not is looked at while doing animal testing. The purpose to use it on animals is to know how the products affect the living system. Various animals have different responses to the product. Some products could be helpful to humans and not to animals such as Aspirin or chocolate.

Scientists have been doing these experiments and testing for over 60 years. The testing is usually done on rodents or mice. Mice’s having a short life span makes it easy for the scientist to see the results on the new generations. The animal that has the most common organ or part as the human is tested. For example the cat’s neurological system is the most common as the human. Both pigs and dogs have the most common cardiovascular system as the human. Scientists search hard and work hard in finding the best animal to mimic the human body.

Through animal testing, the ability for medical procedures to be run safely and efficiently on humans has become possible. Open-heart surgery, which is now the most common form of cardiac surgery in the U.S, required twenty years of animal testing, is just one of these procedures. In the past, many diseases like polio and diabetes, which killed hundreds of thousands of humans, seemed unstoppable. The only way scientists were able to overcome these diseases successfully was through animal testing. One of the best accomplishments made with animal experimentation was the vaccine for polio developed in 1955, an epidemic that killed about 60,000 people a year. Today, people take the wellness and life span of diabetes patients for granted. Before 1969, the fear of severe diabetes was much, much greater. Patients back then with severe diabetes were only spared a few more years by following extreme diets and undergoing constant pain. The insulin was discovered from experimenting on dogs.

It is also very important to keep in mind that guidelines and laws keep laboratory animals in minimal pain and distress when being used as subjects for experiments.

Some may say it is inhumane to use animals in experiments. It would just as inhumane to test new drugs on children or adults. Even if it were possible, it would also take much longer to see potential effects because of the length of time we live compared to laboratory animals. For those who are against animal testing, a majority of them also eat meat or wear leather or make up without any guilt so why should their opinion change when it comes to animal testing when it also benefits human?

Although I am saying it is necessary to test our medications, vaccines, and necessities, I still don’t believe that animals should be tested on for things like make up. Cosmetics are not a necessity and therefore, it is not humane to place an innocent animal in that position.

This is just one view on this controversial subject! I would love to hear if you agree or disagree and why!

 

 

 

 

“If you could go back to any time period, when are where would it be?”

We live in a world of material items. The 21st Century, where nothing matters but where you are. Everyone owns a computer, cell phone, iPod, and TV. We live in a world where playing games involve a handheld contraption, not going out into the sunshine. But thinking back to the 20th Century, I see what progress we have made. I have always wanted to live a life, whether it is for only a few days, in a world where we are not bothered by such technology.

Ever since I was about six years old, the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder amazed me (as you can tell from my past post). The way her family was always closely knit, and the way that they tried to make the most out of the least showed me that material items were not all that mattered; they actually mattered the least for Laura and her family. In the 1900’s, people didn’t have to worry about things like laptops, and cell phones. Everyone had time for their families, and even in the worst of times, you pulled through with the ones you loved. Living in 2014, I realize how I seldom I see my family. Something always comes up, whether it is work, a social life, or them being locked up in a room with a laptop and cell phone. The few minutes we are together during dinnertime are quickly consumed by the roaring of the television, and soon, everyone is gone into their own rooms.

If I were able to go back to any time period, I would choose the 1900’s. Although it is only a century ago, I am easily able to see the great changes between then and now. Through my childhood of reading “The Little House” books, I realized how important it is for our generation to place aside our electronics and close our eyes and realize how much we have been missing out on, simply due our everyday routines. Even if it is only for a few days, I would love to realize the fun in soaking in the sun all day, and coming home to a night of telling stories to your family about the great adventures you’ve had that day.

They say that ignorance is bliss. You may believe that back then, people were ignorant to what was going on around the world, WWI, the Great Depression. But, it truly is bliss to continue life with no worries. In today’s world, a simple click to the internet icon would lead to you finding out about the problems and worries everywhere. I would rather live in the 1900’s where bliss was achieved by simply living life the way it is.

The 21st Century has gone through much advance in technology, which is a good thing, but it also comes with demerits. Going back to the 20th Century would give me a chance to experience life without such high-leveled technology. If I could go to any time period, I would definitely choose the 1900’s.

Follow-up of Media in Today’s Culture

For those of you who remember my post a few weeks ago on how we’ve all lost touch with our true selves among the massive technological advances, here’s just a quick video I found that will move you to your  bones. It shows how much you miss when you’re looking down at a screen instead of up at the world.

Video on Technology Ruining our Relationships

Once you see this video, please leave comments on how it has affected you, and how you will try to change this epidemic of smart phones and dumb people from ruling the world we live in.

I personally was caught by surprise by this video. Although it is made quite obvious that we are basically controlled by our phones, iPads, and laptops, the extent to which it deprives us of human experiences that seem completely basic and normal are detrimental to our way of life. It takes an eye opener to really notice that, and I believe this video is exactly that.

Culture in the times of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Anyone whose known me as a child can vouch for the fact that I was utterly memorized and obsessed with the way of life described in the little house books. As a young child, I didn’t really understand that gas, indoor bathrooms, and heating were commodities that only recently became available to all. Living in the middle of the woods or the prairie with nothing surrounding you but nature seemed something almost unattainable in today’s world.

The first “little house” book started off when Laura was four years old: that was the same age I was when I begin reading it. She spoke of the excitement and longing to go into town and visit a small store and receive candy. Today, a simple walk down the street to the local deli would result in the same outcome but with a large lack of excitement from what was shown then. In the same way, a small family function of everyone gathering in a small house for dinner or a dance caused the same type of ruckus as it does today, but with a completely different reasoning. Our ice cream has no power over their creative desserts of maple syrup drizzled over clean, white snow.

I read the little house books without any hiatus. I quickly realized the double standard held for females versus males. Laura was an exception; she worked to help support her family, and even left school early to start teaching. She didn’t mind the grunt work that other women of the time claimed would “hurt their clear white skin” or “risk losing a bonnet”. At the age of 16, she was engaged. This baffled me, because at the age of sixteen, I was still quite childish (and still am!) I was in school at that time, and if I suggested to my parents that I live school to get married, I would’ve been in it for quite a lecture.

Regardless in the differences in culture, I actually wish that I had the chance to live and experience that time period: when food was not processed or artificially grown, when simple things resulted in real joy, and when nature was truly at your fingertips.

Vegetarian Culture

People choose to be vegetarian for various reasons. Common misconceptions confuse people about the reasons behind the choice to be vegetarian or vegan, and therefore, I have decided to clear some of these confusions.

I have been a vegetarian for all my life and I choose to, not because of religious reasons, but because I don’t believe that harm should be done to innocent animals. I plan on one day converting to veganism as well, because the way dairy farms use animals is entirely inhumane. A couple of days ago, I was at a restaurant in the city. I asked for tomato basil soup, and when told that they were out of it, I asked if I could just buy the salad by itself. It was a combo meal and because of this, the man behind the counter kept pushing for me to try their chicken soup. I explained several times that I do not eat meat, and he continuously responded with, “Can’t you just eat meat for today?”

This is the biggest misconception people have about vegetarianism. Many people believe it can be an on and off thing, but there is no switch in my mind that can allow me to flip back and forth. Yes, it can be difficult finding meals at restaurants that aren’t completely vegan or vegetarian, but at the same time, I would not allow for that to be a reason to eat meat.

Most vegetarians eat fish and seafood. Personally, I never understood this, because they are still living breathing creatures, so why don’t they classify as meat? I don’t eat them because anything with a face should probably be called an animal.

Now, to speak about the religious views on vegetarianism. Many people assume that because I am Indian and a vegetarian, I am Hindu. Whilst it is true that I come from a Hindu family, not all Hindu’s are vegetarian. Actually, only 20-30% of them are. Hinduism does not say to be a vegetarian, but rather to respect animals (especially the cow- because it is sacred) and live a humane life. It is actually Jainism that says that all should be vegetarian. Most Jain’s are considered lacto-vegetarians or vegans, because they do not consumes eggs or any animal product other than milk. Both Hinduism and Jainism say that non-violence to animals is key to the religion.

Other religions, such as Sikhism and Judaism, have guidelines on the extent to which animals can be harmed for food. Each varies slightly, but in the end, the basic ideas remain the same: to have respect for these animals.

For some more information on vegetarianism and veganism, you can visit http://www.peta.org/living/food/vegetarian-101/.

Pre- Summer Travelling Guide

Now that it’s April and we only have a few more weeks of school ahead of us, many people have started planning their trips to places all around the work. So no matter whether you are visiting family in your birthplace or travelling in anticipation of a new cultural experience, a good Travel Guide is definitely necessary!

Packing

Pack light! I shouldn’t be the one saying this, considering I insist that I need to bring my entire closet along with me on every trip, but this small piece of advice can really help you out. In some European countries, 2 and 3 star hotels are not always accommodating with elevators. So, instead of having to lug three suitcases up four flights of stairs, it’s simply more convenient to pack light. Snacks, toiletries, and last minute supplies can always be purchased in the country you are visiting. Taking more clothing than you need will only make you spend more time deciding what to wear! So, this summer, I will definitely be listening to this advice.

Plan out Your Trip

While surprise adventures are always fun, you don’t want to waste too much time looking at travel guides and maps when you’re finally in the country you’re visiting. You want to make the most of your visit, so it’s better to plan out some key places you want to check out. If you have family or friends that have been there before, ask for advice on great eateries and sites. I assure you, these reviews will be more in-depth and truthful than anything you will find off of Yelp!

Enjoy the Experience

One of the things I regret of my trip to Greece last year is that I didn’t take enough pictures. Yes, I came home with >200 shots of my face next to some statue I don’t even remember the name of anymore. But what I missed out on is the dozens of fun moments spent with my friends; the late night trips to get gelato, and the games nights we created in our hotel rooms after a long day of travelling. Not just the sites are something to remember; the whole experience is. Don’t forget extra memory cards and chargers for your camera! The prices of these things are always hiked up near tourist sites, so to avoid the inconvenience, come prepared!

If you’re going somewhere this summer, comment below with the place and the expectations you have for your journey!

Easter Around the World

Now that we’ve said goodbye to the harsh winter and welcomed Spring with open arms, we can start all the Easter decorations, egg hunts, and filling our Easter egg baskets. Easter is a holiday celebrated by Christians commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. The 40 days leading up to Easter is known as Lent- during which observers give up something they enjoy as a symbol of their religious devotion. Americans celebrate Easter both for spiritual reasons and for the fun. Games are planned for the children such as the Easter egg roll or the egg hunt. The Easter bunny is a symbol for this holiday first brought by the settlers of German descent. Later on, Americans accepted the traditions as a main part of their Easter celebrations.

America is not the only country that celebrates Easter in a traditional way. Bermudians celebrate   Good Friday- two days before Easter- by making and flying home-made kites, and eating hot cross buns. In Norway, there is a tradition known as “Easter-Crime”. During Easter, people around Norway, read crime books or watch crime based television shows. No holiday tradition is complete in Norway without a big family meal. The meal table is covered with daffodils and other decorations. Another big Easter tradition for Norwegians is mountain trip and skiing. Norwegians head up to the mountains to celebrate this holiday while skiing, eating oranges and Kvikk Lunsj- a chocolate bar consisting of crunchy wafer and milk chocolate.

 

In Greece, the “pot throwing” ceremony takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday. Pots and pans are thrown across everywhere, being smashed on the streets. This unique custom is said to be derived from the Venetians. Some say that this custom welcomes Spring, and shows meaning for the new crops that are to be planted in the new pots. In France, on Easter Monday, a big omelet is served not the main square of the town. More than 4,500 eggs are used and can be fed up to 1,000 people.

 

While it is fascinating to see all these different cultures and customs, what’s important for any holiday is to be surrounded by family and friends.

 

 

Public Transportation in NYC: Are Shuttles Necessary?

I was five years old the first time I took New York City’s MTA bus and subway. I still remember thinking how cool it was to look out the window and see the city I live in fly by. I felt grown up, surrounded by businessmen in suits talking rapidly in their cell phones. I felt as if I was one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes New York City. There are literally bus and subway routes taking you to any place in NYC with a 2-2.5 hour span. As New Yorkers, we are taught from an early age that, yes, you should run for the first open seat near you, but also to be considerate of the elderly and disabled when they board the bus.

One experience I had that made me realize how much NYC MTA has had an effect on me was on my trip to Greece. In Athens, they have a similar train program, and of course, us from NYC knew to run for the open seats and to place our tickets into the automatic scanner. I thought this was all common sense, until the students from Illinois  came on (mind you, they came in our group) and stopped with puzzled faces, wondering why they were unable to get a seat. Of course, there have been quite a number of mornings when I get agitated to an extreme with the MTA. When the Q88 is a half hour late, and I am most likely missing my first class, I say to myself, “I am going to go home and write a *strongly worded* letter to the MTA!” But even then, I know for a fact that the MTA is something that makes this city individualized. It is something that allows NYC residents to have individuality. I’m sure that there aren’t many places in the world where there are free shows coming to you, whether it be a card trick or a jazz performance, asking for change as a payment. You can’t get this experience elsewhere.

So what am I trying to prove here? Personally, I don’t believe that Queens College needs shuttle buses. My reasons for this, along with everything I’ve said above, is that I am already one of the hundreds of commuter students living over an hour away paying for a metro card.  The $115 monthly isn’t cheap, and adding another $40 per semester to pay for a shuttle that is not beneficial to me, nor necessary, is something that I simply cannot agree to. Also, many of the commuter students to QC drive- they have to pay for their parking permits as well as gas. I do not think they should be forced into paying for a service that they will not be using. Lastly, there are those that simply do not need to use the public transportation services frequently. A simple bus ride to Main street leading to the 7 train will get you into the city in just under $3.00.

Just my view!

So, if you disagree with me on this issue, let me know! Comment below and see what others have to say about this.


Spam prevention powered by Akismet