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

Archive for March, 2014

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.

Education Systems Around the World

We live in a world where “No Child is Left Behind”. America’s education system has progressed greatly over the past ten years. From the ideas of George W. Bush to President Obama and to even our personal Mayor De Blasio, many people disagree with the way our system woks but what they don’t realize is that America is much more better off than countries around the world. Many of us are immigrants from third world countries and it came to my attention that there, kids who go to school for ten hours a day, only to pay extra money to out of school tutors for tuition.

Now, I know that there are various points that can be debated over NYC’s new PreK curriculum, or Mayor De Blasio’s choice to close off the charter schools. And while it is completely understandable to have differences of opinion, we should take a look at the ideas of parents who think that they’ve made the proper decision to send their children to charter schools. As I have heard from a teacher in the public school system, there has been recent changes and blocks that have made it almost impossible for teachers to individualize their lessons, and they must follow all protocols strictly. Is this a good or bad thing? I find that while certain guidelines should be followed, it is unfair to give every child the same type of education when each child thinks and carries out thoughts in a different manner. Because of this, charter schools are seen as more lenient. At the same time, they may be more beneficial to children.

Around the world, it has been found that Finland and South Korea top as the two highest ranking education systems. It has also been noticed that as the social status of teachers increase, the quality of education does as well. Students in Latvia, Chile, and Brazil have been moving to better grades and educational gains at three times the rate of American students. (This basically equates to 2 full years of American education).

The amount of money spent of each child’s education in American rounded off at about $15,000, whereas in Japan (#1 educator in 2013) paid only around $10,000.

So what do you guys think American is doing “wrong”? How can our standards of education be raised to from 18th rank, to #1?

Social Media In Today’s Culture

These days, it seems as if anyone and everyone can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. We define ourselves with the kind of pictures we post, and the number of likes we received on our last status. We have smartphones which we are constantly checking- whether we are in class, out to dinner, or about to sleep.

When did we become a society so ignorant to the real life and so dependent on the virtual life?

There was once a time when people were lucky to have cell phones: truly used for what they were made for, emergencies and only phone calls. Now, we have high tech phones which not only make calls, but also serve as our cameras, GPS’s, gaming device, internet access, and book reading device. With apps for basically everything, there is no reason, heaven forbid, to open up an actual dictionary to look up a word. There is no reason to go to the gym, because your fitness app tells you to do a certain exercise and even measures your accuracy. There is no reason to carry a key ring, because as now innovations advance, there are locks that are opened by the presence of your phone, and your phone can carry all the barcodes to every store card you own.

The way it may seem, this is great for society. It has made life easier for everyone and can keep people are their high speed movement.

But is it really without a cost?

What happened to the days when you would spend time to actually think about all the  important things you wanted to tell a friend who lived far away, and gathered your thoughts on pretty stationary? What happened to the feel of actual paper books in your hand, with the papers yellowing in the corners, showing that it has been used and resused? Whatever happened to the family nights gathered in the living room watching the latest Hollywood Blockbuster? Now, it seems as if the usage of Netflix, email, and e-readers have replaced some of the simplest pleasures of life.

Fitness Around the World

I know that a lot of you guys most likely have a schedule for the week. Monday, Class, then Lunch, then Work, and then drop by the closest gym to fit in a workout before heading home. I find it that the way that Americans are constantly advised on health and fitness has made it all the more possible for us to battle some of the worst epidemics, such as overeating and obesity.

I am not one to say that it is completely mitigated from our country, but it is helpful to know that some of the commercials we see in the middle of the last basketball game we watched questioned the effects that the sodas we grab on to without a second thought have on our bodies. There are definitely some people who resent these types of commercials with extreme hated, with comments ranging from, “Who are they to question my preference of beverage?” to “Maybe they should just stick to the drunk driving commercials.”

Nevertheless, America is one of the more privileged countries- where most middle class citizens are able to afford gym membership to get in shape. In other countries world wide, people are using social terms, food, and even games to get fit.

Bangladesh is big on badminton. The majority of gyms and fitness centers in Bangladesh are expensive and basically reserved for the richer parts of the community. Badminton is one of those sports that can be played in almost any time of area, weather permitting. Therefore, a lot of people form teams within the village, and also use this as a way to get together.

Britain believes that food comes over all. The usage of healthier foods are well observed, and this is considered their daily fitness! After all, eating food sure exercises your internal organs.

Cairo, Egypt is specially interested in weight training and lifting. Even the poorest neighborhoods have run down gyms with the basic equipment needed to keep in shape, so no one has an excuse there!

In China, the concept of exercise has much less to do with actual fitness, but a lot to do with socializing. Street sports and dancing in parks is not only free, but quite enjoyable as well. They also believe that slapping themselves in areas with low circulation is good for them, so they aren’t so crazy to be hitting themselves!

As you can probably tell, people have different ways of staying healthy throughout the world. So feel free to adapt any of these wonderful ways of staying healthy from other countries. 🙂

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