Book PostsCulture

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite reads from and about this unique and awesome country. Each year on September 16th Mexico celebrates its independence with parades, parties, delicious food, and family and friends. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Mexico and its culture, take a look through our book suggestions below.

mexico books

  1. The Years with Laura Diaz
  2. Mexico: Democracy Interrupted
  3. Pedro Páramo
  4. Frida: A Biography of Frida Khalo
  5. History of the Conquest of Mexico

What is your favorite book? Is there one specifically related to Mexico’s history? Let us know @carpejuvenis on Twitter!

Cover Image: Flickr

 

CultureLearn

Today is National Pi Day, and we want to celebrate by highlighting some of history’s most amazing mathematicians (in addition to eating a big slice of pie!).

Some cool facts about Pi:

  • It has been represented using the Greek letter “π” for the past 250 years.
  • It is a mathematical constant that’s special, unique, and significant in its own way.
  • It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
  • It never ends or settles into a repeating pattern.
  • It is the most recognized mathematical constant.
  • Computing the value of Pi is a stress test for computers.

Five of history’s most interesting mathematicians:

DN-SC-84-05971Grace Hopper (aka “Amazing Grace”) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. As a child Hopper would dismantle household gadgets, specifically alarm clocks, to figure out how they worked. During WWII Hopper decided to take a leave of absence from Vassar where she was working as an associate professor of math and was sown into the U.S. Navy Reserve as a volunteer. A pioneer in her field, she worked at Harvard University for the navy and was one of the first programmers to work on a computer called Harvard Mark I that was used in the war effort. On top of it all, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

 

williamplayfairWilliam Playfair was the founder of graphical methods of statistics, in other words charts and diagrams. He was a Sottish engineer and political economist who invented four types of diagrams: the line graph, the car chart, the pie chart, and the circle graph. Born during the Enlightenment – a Golden Age when the arts, sciences, industry, and commerce were all thriving – Playfair was involved in many different careers. He was an engineer, accountant, inventor, silversmith, merchant, investment broker, economist, publicist, land speculator, editor, journalist, the list goes on.

adalovelace

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. She earned this title after working on one of the earliest mechanical general-purpose computers called the Analytical Engine. The notes she took on this project are recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. This has earned her the title of “first computer programmer.” As a young child Lovelace showed signs of being highly influence by math and science, and her parents pushed her to pursue this talent.

 

 

 

isaacnewton

Isaac Newton is best known for having developed the theory of gravity and physics, but he also invented calculus (as did Gottfried Leibniz, who he had many disputes with over this topic during his life). This Englishman formulated laws of motion and universal gravitation using mathematical processes. Born on Christmas Day, Newton was known to be an independent person who never married. His work in science and math are some of the core foundations on which many other developments were made.

 

 

 

sofiamath

Sofia Kovalevskaya was the first major Russian female mathematician. She contributed major original advances to analysis, differential equations, and mechanics. She was the first woman to ever be appointed to full professorship in Northern Europe and was one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor. Born in Moscow, Kovalevskaya studied in Germany by auditing courses at a German university. For a long time she tried to build up her career but because she was a woman she was unable to. Finally she was accepted as a professor in Stockholm, Sweden.

 

 

Which leaders in math and science inspire you?

Image: Flickr, Grace Hopper, William Playfair, Ada LovelaceIsaac Newton, Sofia Kovalevskaya

Culture

It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air, but you don’t have to save it all for your significant other. Parks and Recreation had its ladies gather on February 13th for a “Galentine’s” Day celebration. While the show is a comedy and depicts the holiday in a comedic way, embracing the idea is a great opportunity for you to take a break from your love life to hang out with your girl friends. My friends decided that the day following Valentine’s Day worked better for us – it’s all about finding time to appreciate your friends and spend time together. Here are some ways you can enjoy your own celebration:

Brunch

Who doesn’t love brunch? You get a wide variety of food because of the hybrid morning/afternoon time. It’s the perfect time to catch up with your pals and hear what kind of Valentine’s Day they had. This is a good way to squeeze in some time with your friends if you’ve all been busy at work and haven’t had time to see each other. Save your breaks and take a long lunch!

Candy and Gifts

You don’t have to get your friends a gift. However, the day after Valentine’s Day provides a lot of sales. You can get a lot of discounted candy to munch on or a nice movie to watch with your friends.

Relaxation

Holidays can be stressful but hanging out with your friends never has to be. My friends and I are movie fiends, so we do romantic comedy movie marathons. If your significant other refuses to sit through Sleepless In Seattle with you, you can watch it with your friends the next day. Another option is a group spa day. Do what you like and enjoy yourself.

These are just a few ways you can celebrate. You can do a book trade or a shopping trip together. It doesn’t have to be just your friends – your coworkers or family members can join in! The point is to show love for everyone in your life.

Image: Flickr

Culture

There are plenty of things to celebrate in the world which is why there are so many holidays and special events on the calendar. The Super Bowl has quickly become its own event even though some may think of it simply as an annual football game. So why has it become so important these days?

The Super Bowl is the championship game of the professional football season. It is the highest honor in professional football. The Super Bowl has been around for decades and has not lost any steam. Last year, more than 111 million people watched the Super Bowl, showing how much its popularity has grown. As a child, I watched the game with my father who loves sports. As I got older, I realized I enjoyed the big game for all it has to offer (which is more than just the sport!).

The Super Bowl has become an event that has something to offer for everyone. For the sports fan, there is football itself. For the music fan, there is the glamorous half time show. There are also the Super Bowl commercials, known for their inventiveness, humor and heart. By combining all those factors, almost anyone can sit down and find something to be entertained by. There is no adult content that many people can take offense to. It is programming for all ages and everyone in the family. Because of this, tons of people can gather around the television and binge on their favorite junk food. Watching television has basically become a party during these few hours of the year.

The Super Bowl has evolved into a national event. That said, it is not necessarily a bad thing. While it is a major production that generates a huge amount of money and draws millions of viewers in, it is also a wonderful event because it brings people together. Here’s how you can make Super Bowl Sunday special:

  1. Join a group of people for a viewing party. This could be your family or anyone who is important to you.
  2. Pick out your favorite recipes. Thanksgiving has turkey. The Super Bowl is junk food heaven. Find your recipe and indulge or share a healthier recipe with your loved ones.
  3. Be willing to stop what you’re doing for awhile. You may be tempted to text or do something else during the parts of the game that you are not interested in. By doing that, you might miss some of the excitement. Be part of the moment.
  4. Enjoy yourself. This event isn’t steeped in meaning like some. The point is to make memories with those you are close to. Don’t miss the chance to bond with those you love.

Image: Unsplash

Culture

Though Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated during this time of the year, it is one that seems to spur the creation of some of the most heartfelt and sentimental films ever made. I have already delved into some of my favorite Christmas movies of all time – all classics in their own right – but those are not the only flicks that utilize the cheer and spirit of this holiday. There are quite a few lesser known films that exhibit the same emotions during this time of the year through touching stories. So, without revealing too much, here are some indie films to satiate your Christmas movie appetite!

Joyeux Noel

In short, Joyeux Noel explores a fictionalized version of the Christmas Truce of 1914 in which the Scots, Frenchmen, and Germans involved in fighting one another decided to cease fire during Christmas Eve and Day. I enjoy this film around the holidays not only because it is cinematically gorgeous, but also because it reaffirms the notion of putting ones differences aside to celebrate something larger than everyone. Whether you believe in Christianity, Judaism, or no religion at all, I believe people can appreciate the sentiment of hope for peace cross-culturally that is evident in this movie.

A Midnight Clear

Like Joyeux Noel, A Midnight Clear expounds upon similar ideas of peace amidst violence by retelling how at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 Germans were willing to surrender over Christmas. Unlike the other film, however, this one ended with a ton more bloodshed and more of introspective view of how humanities xenophobia and inability to accept and atone for their indiscretions can ruin even the most intelligent plans geared towards peace. Tie that in with the fact that this is a time of the year for forgiveness, I hope this film helps people to learn to be more tolerant- this film definitely showed my own flaws in regards to this.

Mon Oncle Antoine

In this 1971 French-Canadian film, the Christmastime set storyline explores the Maurice Duplessis region of Quebec preceding the Asbestos Strike of the late 1940s. Benoît, a fifteen year old boy, is the prime character of the film, and as the viewer’s watch his coming of age story in this mining town simultaneously linking up with the move towards the encroaching political revolution, this film forces you to look at how we treat people in society; how we belittle and oppress others. Not the cheeriest of Christmas films, but definitely one to bring you to reality and teach you similar lessons to that learned from A Midnight Clear. It also cannot hurt that Roger Ebert also put this on his Great Movies list, if you need more convincing to look this up.

Which holiday movies do you always go back to?

Image: Unsplash

Culture

There is a mountain of holiday entertainment out there, including movies, specials, music or books. Casey McAnarney listed Popular Christmas Movies for 2014. The popular movies are very beloved, but there are also films that are off the beaten path that people still include in their Christmas rituals. If you’re looking for something new to add to your Christmas viewing, here are some other holiday films that you may have missed over the years:

Romantic Comedy Recommendation: The Shop Around The Corner

Based on the same source material as You’ve Got Mail, this is a film about two coworkers who can’t stand each other but are unknowingly falling in love with each other through letters. The legendary Jimmy Stewart is a great romantic lead. You may have missed this movie because you have already seen You’ve Got Mail. If you would like to give your You’ve Got Mail or Love Actually DVDs a break, this is worth your time.

Honorable Mention: While You Were Sleeping.

Musical Recommendation: White Christmas

In this story, two army buddies use their fame to help their old superior officer during the holidays. They also try to find love with a musical duo along the way. This film lightly touches on the war genre but is very uplifting. Bing Crosby sings his famous version of “White Christmas.” You may have missed this because it’s not the first film to use Bing Crosby’s rendition of the song.  It’s streaming on Netflix now so take the time to watch it.

Honorable Mention: Nativity!

Action Recommendation: Die Hard

This is the favorite Christmas film of many action movie fans. John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to come home to see his family for the holidays and ends up trying to save an entire building from a hostage situation. This is a film beloved all year but also works as holiday viewing. You may have missed this because you didn’t know it was related to Christmas. It is very barely related to Christmas but it’s there.

Honorable Mention: Lethal Weapon.

Comedy Recommendation: The Ref

This is a dark holiday comedy. Denis Leary plays a thief who takes a family hostage on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t seem like comedy material but it is. You may have missed it because it was not a big hit but it is still a good film.

Honorable Mention: Bad Santa.

Animation Recommendation: Arthur Christmas

Christmas cartoons are a holiday staple. This feature is a good example of exciting animation as Santa’s son, Arthur, races against time to make sure a child isn’t forgotten on Christmas. While very funny, it also gives the lesson that technology and gifts are no replacement for optimism and Christmas spirit. You may have missed it if you felt like you had grown out of animation by the time this movie came out. Treat yourself.

Honorable Mention: The Polar Express.

Drama Recommendation: Happy Christmas

Anna Kendrick stars as a woman who goes to stay with her brother and his family. Though she begins to get closer to them, her destructive behavior could cost her what she has. This also has comedy elements and a mumblecore style. You may have missed it because it just came out this year. Try it.

Honorable Mention: The Family Stone.

Science Fiction/Fantasy Recommendation: Gremlins

In this tale, a father buys an unusual creature as a Christmas gift for his son. There are unexpected and violent consequences. This film can get pretty dark so be careful of watching it with little kids. For adults it can be pretty entertaining. You may have missed this if you didn’t know it was a Christmas movie. Enjoy it.

Honorable Mention: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

These are just some of the many films out there this holiday season.  I admit that the first film I watch after Thanksgiving is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and all the popular movies on Casey McAnarney’s list. That still gives you a month to explore something new!  

What are your holiday movie favorites?

Image: Laura Ashley

CultureSkills

No matter what you are celebrating this holiday season, a party is a great opportunity to see those closest to you. The task of setting up a party is easier than you think. Here are some ideas to make sure your party is a success:

1. Decorate

There is a time to decorate and this is it. Your residence doesn’t have to be all holiday themed if you have guests of more than one faith. Snowflakes, snowmen, or other seasonal themed decorations are appropriate. Decorations that you have collected over the years can be charming. If you don’t have those on hand, homemade or new decorations could be just the thing to make your place seem like a home. ‘Tis The Season: DIY Christmas” by Nicolette Pezza will give you some simple tips to make homemade decorations.

2. Make A Holiday Playlist

There are lots of Christmas albums out there these days. Mix and match your favorite tracks to give your party some background music. It’s a great way to set the mood.

3. Watch Holiday Movies

There are tons of holiday movies out right now which is a great opportunity for a holiday movie marathon. Channels like the Hallmark Channel play holiday films pretty much continuously. Dig up some good holiday flicks or tell your guests to bring their favorites. You may learn to love something new.

4. Get Holiday Themed Food and Drinks

Holidays are a great time for making treats and distributing them to friends and neighbors. At my holiday parties, I let my friends help in the creation and design of their cookies. It’s a good way to be creative and productive when making your party spread. Think of some seasonal items for the rest of the menu. Take a look at “3 Easy To Make Holiday Beverages” by Marian Rose Bagamaspad for drink ideas.

5. Hand Out Party Favors

The point is to get your friends something to remember their time.  Holiday baking would count as a party favor. There are a lot of sales going on now. Find something small for the people in your life. This could also be a time to pass out Christmas cards.

6. Do What Works For You

Do whatever you feel comfortable with.  I know many people who bought themselves Christmas sweaters this year. Have a Christmas sweater party! Share a holiday tradition with your friends or create a new one. It’s a good way to get to know people better. The important thing is to have fun with what you have.

These are just a few suggestions for throwing the ideal holiday party. Use what is around and available to you. The holiday season is a great time to see all those people you miss the rest of the year. You’ll want everyone to have a good time.

What are your holiday party must haves?

Image: Daniel Ramirez

Culture

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated among all sorts of families from all walks of life. The moment they came to America, my family resolved to understand how the culture and holidays work here as part of their immigration process. I’m from a Chinese family, and with that comes its own values. One of them, like many cultures, is to be thankful for the good that has come, and to hope that there is good in the future.

The way my family celebrates Thanksgiving isn’t too different from other families. We put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast on our television. Over the years, the television went from a big bulky block that sat on our table to a nice flat screen. Sometimes it would be the sound of the Nintendo Wii, and me kicking my cousin’s butt on Super Smash. While the sounds of trumpets and music and the voice of an announcer cheerfully declares the coming float, the sounds of metal clanking comes from the kitchen.

Our family has turkey like many others. We also have rice and fish, salads and cooked dishes of vegetables. The important thing is that everyone is happy and eating what they want, so having both turkey and chicken wasn’t unusual on some Thanksgivings. I always liked my little bowl of cranberry sauce, and my dad makes a great mixed salad, and my mom orchestrates the way the extended oval table, with its orange and white Hawaiian flower cover, is arranged.

We did prayer every year, with my grandparents leading, and this year is special. The prayers involve incense and a neat arrangement of oranges, meats, sweets, and vegetables by the window. The prayer is to the spirits, ancestors or gods or what have you, to thank them for protecting us and that we would appreciate their protection in the future. Any deaths in the family, especially any within the past year, would especially be remembered, as the spirits of those people are most close to us. This year, we indeed have one of these close spirits, so the prayer will not be without deep contemplation.

The fun comes after the food is done, after the prayers said. That’s when we get to eat, and my family, as well as extended family from all over NYC, come to one household. It’s a loud event with a lot of noise and clattering and energy, but there is a lot of love. More than anything else, this love, not the food or the parade or the incense, is what makes Thanksgiving so lovely.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?

Image: martha_chapa95

Culture

We’re so excited that one of our favorite holidays is just around the corner. While delicious food is a major perk of Thanksgiving, it is also a great time to remember what you are grateful for. We’ve talked about ways to show your gratitude throughout the year, Spotlighted a guy who started a company that encourages sending thank you cards, the power of random acts of kindness, and have offered tips on different ways to say thank you.

Thanksgiving is a time to count your lucky stars, appreciate your family, and give back to those you love. It is also a perfect time to share with friends and show how much you care about one another. A fantastic way to do this is by hosting a Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving is the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends, and it usually happens the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Whether you plan a Friendsgiving a couple of days before Thanksgiving or if it replaces actual Thanksgiving (since you might not be able to make it home for the holiday), there’s no better way to spend time with friends.

These are the 6 benefits of hosting a Friendsgiving:

  1. Experiment with new recipes.

Have you been waiting for the perfect event to make those mini pumpkin pies? Here it is, your perfect moment has arrived. Since you’ll be cooking or baking for a crowd, you can try multiple recipes and show off those kitchen skills.

  1. Experience different traditions.

Encourage those attending to incorporate their family traditions – does your best friend play football with his family before the feasting begins (hello Friends!)?, does your other friend watch football on TV afterwards? Is there a movie that one of your friends watches every Thanksgiving? Does someone love playing board games post-meal? Perhaps your family goes around the table before eating to say what they are grateful for?

Include these fun and new traditions into your Friendsgiving. By kicking off Friendsgiving, you and your friends will be starting a tradition of your very own.

  1. Try your friends’ favorite foods.

Make your Friendsgiving a potluck and tell everyone to bring their favorite dish (you’ll want to coordinate this so you don’t have four types of mashed potatoes). Through the variety of foods, you will experience the different flavors that your friends have enjoyed and celebrated over the years.

  1. You’ll get two days to focus on being thankful!

While being grateful every day of the year is important, this year you’ll get two days to focus on what you are thankful for – Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving. Lucky you!

  1. Start celebrating Christmas early without judgment.

So you and your friends want to start listening to Christmas music without being judged for it? This is the safest environment to do it in! Blast those Christmas carols and holiday tunes and make a dance party out of it. Who better to rock out to Jingle Bells with than your best friends who love the holidays just as much as you?

  1. Cleaning has never been faster.

Once the meal is over, there are multiple hands to make the clean-up process move much faster. For a stress-free post-meal experience, clean before you eat dessert. This way there won’t be that huge task looming over you. The job gets done sooner when everyone helps out.

Happy Friendsgiving!

Image: Friends Season 10

Culture

These days, Thanksgiving is known for its big meal and is otherwise swallowed up by the rest of the holiday season. However, when we think of it like that, we miss a lot of joy that comes from the holiday itself. It is a day that brings family and friends together and makes them take stock of the goodness in their lives. Everyone has their own role to play in this. Even if Thanksgiving is not your favorite holiday, it has values you can celebrate all year long.

1. The holiday motivates us to keep in touch.

With social media, it’s easy to see what your loved ones are up to throughout the year, but it’s hard to make plans to see each other. People really make the effort to be together on holidays but you don’t need a holiday as an excuse to get together. When you miss someone you love, make a plan to see them. I know work and school can be hectic. However, in the last year, I’ve made the effort to spend more time with my extended family and I’m grateful for it. We know each other in a new way now and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

2. Thanksgiving allows you to forge a bond through food.

We all know everyone has to eat. Thanksgiving is a food holiday, but also one steeped in tradition. People work together in their kitchens to keep old traditions alive or create some new concoction. I love to eat and to cook. Throughout my childhood, I was a last minute helper. I had to contribute in my own small way. Now that I am adult, I do most of the cooking myself. On Thanksgiving, preparing food is not just cooking, it is carrying on tradition. Everyone contributes to the meal. We are brought up on recipes that we learn to make ourselves. It’s a group bonding activity that does not have to be one day of the year. I frequently help my family cook. It takes away some of the work after a long day. Take some time throughout the year to share recipes with others or to cook together. It is a fun way to pass the time with people you care about.

3. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest volunteering days of the year.

Remembering what we have now reminds us to help others less fortunate. A lot of charities put out food for families and the ill on this holiday but people need to eat all year round. Why wait to volunteer one day of the year? There are many worthy causes looking for help during the year. Try one.

4. Think about what you are thankful for.

We are in the ‘now generation.’ We tweet, Instagram, and Facebook to talk about what we are doing in the moment. Most of the time, it’s important to keep moving forward and be present. That said, it does not hurt to realize all that you have going for you. It also never hurts to remember all the people in your life who make your life better. Let them know what they do for you. Again, this doesn’t have to happen one day of the year. When you appreciate someone in your life, tell him or her.

Holidays are a time to celebrate events that happen year after year. However, we don’t have to only bring out these values one day of the year. We can get closer to our loved ones, work together, give back, and appreciate all that life has to offer. All you have to do is remember to try. I told you some ways that I celebrate. Think of how you want to contribute this year.

What Thanksgiving lessons do you implement throughout the year? Share in the comments below or tweet to us!

Image: Lee

Culture

The young-adult Halloween conundrum: you’re too old to go trick-or-treating, too bored with crazy parties, and too young to afford the really cool Halloween festivities. I know your pain. For those of us who want to lay low this Halloweekend, I’ve compiled a list of seasonally spooky films for you to watch.

Disclaimer: I am not including slashers on this list, even though I love them dearly. This list is for those of us who want to join in on the holiday fun but want to forego hangovers and/or nightmares. So grab some pumpkin ale, apple cider, candy corn, and popcorn and snuggle up on the couch for some frightening, but awesome, Halloween films.

1. Death Becomes Her (1992) stars Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep as the original “frenemies.” Streep plays narcissistic actress Madeline Ashton who’ll do anything to one-up Hawn’s Helen Sharp in her love life, career, or beauty. When you throw a magic potion guaranteeing eternal life and beauty into the mix, disaster will surely ensue! Bonus: Bruce Willis plays a bumbling, nerdy, idiot who is, strangely enough, the focus of Madeline and Helen’s romantic ambition.

Death Becomes Her IMDB / Death Becomes Her YouTube

2. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films, The Birds (1963) will probably freak you out. Based on the story by British suspense queen Daphne Du Maurier, the film focuses on a northern California town as it is bombarded by violent, freakish birds and all hell breaks loose. What’s most remarkable, perhaps, is how awesome Tippi Hedren’s hair looks up until the very end of the film. You may be scared of pigeons for a while after watching The Birds, but just remember that it’s a classic for a reason!

The Birds IMDB / The Birds YouTube

3. Watching Hocus Pocus (1993) on The Disney Channel was the highlight of my childhood Halloweens – and I still watch it every year. While some of the humor is fairly adult in nature, this film is great for kids and those of us who are horror-averse. Hocus Pocus follows Max Dennison (Omri Katz) the new kid in his small New England town who tries to impress his crush, protect his sister, and fight off the evil, child-killing witches, the Sanderson Sisters, all in one night! I’ve also always had a soft spot for Mary and Sarah Sanderson (Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) because Winnie (Bette Midler) was so mean to them!

Hocus Pocus IMDB / Hocus Pocus YouTube

4. I know I promised that no slashers would be on this list, but Shaun of the Dead (2004) is just too good to pass up. This horror-comedy hybrid may be gory, but it will make you roll on the floor laughing! Shaun is not having a good week: his girlfriend breaks up with him, his relationship with his mom isn’t going well, he’s stuck in a dead-end job, one of his roommates hates him, and there’s a zombie apocalypse going on. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart or those with delicate senses of humor, but watching it will give you a “what not to do during a zombie apocalypse” guide.

Shaun of the Dead IMDB / Shaun of the Dead YouTube

5. The final film on my list is Beetlejuice (1988) which, in all of its ‘80s glory, is one of Tim Burton’s best. Beetlejuice tells the story of a ghostly married couple (Geena Davis and a dreamy Alec Baldwin) who hire the services of a “bio-exorcist” to rid their home of its new – and living – tenants. The best parts of this film are Winona Ryder as an angsty, goth, teenager and a couple of impromptu dance routines to Harry Belafonte hits.

Beetlejuice IMDB / Beetlejuice YouTube

For those of you who want even more choices, honorable mention goes out to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Practical Magic, Rosemary’s Baby, Young Frankenstein, Donnie Darko and Ghostbusters.

Make yourself comfortable and enjoy your Halloween movie marathon!

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight

Culture

Halloween is a night of fun, and of mischief. Whether you’re on campus or at a party in the city, it’s always good to have some safety tips in mind.

1. Do stuff with friends. Your friends take care of you and you take care of your friends.

2. Have a breathe­able and walk­able costume. Have back up shoes. If it’s cold, have some layering possibilities.

3. Avoid having a seance. Avoid all attempts to talk to spirits or bring back the dead.

4. Eat before drinking. Don’t leave your drink lying around. Don’t drink too much.

5. Know your surroundings when you’re going to a place. Know the people at the place. When you arrive somewhere, locate the bathroom and know your escape routes.

6. Charge your phone and keep it with you. Also have all of your emergency contacts in your phone, as well as your friend’s numbers.

7. Stay if it’s fun, don’t if it’s lame. No stress.

8. Follow your this-­is-­sketchy gut.

9. Have a way to get home or have a place to crash (friends from rule #1).

10. Carry a mini-flashlight or glowsticks with you to provide light when it gets too dark.

11. Have fun and be smart!

How will you be staying safe tomorrow? Happy Halloween!

Image: James Lee

CultureMusic

Welcome to Carpe Juvenis’ creepy-spooky-groovy Halloween playlist! Whether all of your closest friends are coming over for a costume party, or you’re getting ready for a night on the town, these songs will get you in the Halloween mood. This playlist is best enjoyed with candy corn, apple cider (spiked, for those of us over 21), and good friends. Here’s a quick guide to our spooky soundtrack:

The playlist starts out slowly with “Fresh Blood” by Eels – a favorite I picked up from True Blood’s second season soundtrack – and eases in to “My Moon My Man” by Feist. These early songs aren’t too overpowering while you put the finishing decorations up on your wall and your friends start rolling through the door. And, of course, no Halloween playlist is complete without “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone!

By now your friends should be showing up and you want some higher energy tunes to go with the beginning-of-the-party buzz. The next few songs, from “Aphrodisiac” by Bow Wow Wow to “Normal Person” by Arcade Fire will set the mood and give you and your friends ample opportunity to make small talk, check out each other’s costumes and get grooving!

“Monster Mash” by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett is another Halloween classic – and is the perfect time for everyone to show off their best Dracula dance moves! You’ll recognize some of the songs during the next part of the playlist – because who can resist singing along to “She Wolf” and “Spice Up Your Life”? – so let loose and have a good time with your friends! Halloween is all about having a good time, for the undead and their living counterparts.

As your party goes on, monsters, demons, classmates, and friends will be rolling in and you want to greet them with appropriately funky and spooky songs. “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen and The Black Keys’ “Howlin’ for You” are just right for a packed party. We also threw in a couple of songs by supernatural songstresses Florence and the Machine and Bat For Lashes, both of which would make great costume ideas for next year! Play some Halloween-themed games and munch on seasonal snacks – the night is still young!

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is an old, groovy, song that fits the undead themes of your fete. By now you and your friends are probably getting tired and some of them are probably moving on to the next stage of their night. But you don’t get too bummed towards the end of your party, I’ve put some fun and dance-worthy songs by Ryan Gosling’s band Dead Man’s Bones in the latter part of the playlist.

Jam out to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” while you clean up from your party and have a safe, fun, and spooky Halloween!

What songs are you listening to this Halloween?

Image: Drew Patrick

CultureExplore

Halloween, second only to Christmas in popularity, has its origins in a pagan holiday known as All Hollows Eve which honors the dead. Halloween precedes All Saints Day, which was created by Christians in order to convert said pagans, and in a few religious sects is viewed as an evil holiday. However, Halloween is usually celebrated with no association to pagan rituals or the occult.

Halloween, like most holidays, influences each and every one of us in some way or another. Holidays serve the purpose of celebrating or honoring aspects of culture. For example, with Christmas you either celebrate the religious or material facets of the day – both topics being heavily tied into a person’s culture and values. With Halloween being only a few days from now, look at the cultural aspects of All Hollows Eve. Whether you are getting dressed up for a theme party or watching scary movies and eating sweets with friends, like other holidays, the cultural aspects of Halloween influence everyone. In honor of Halloween looming around the corner, here are some of the staples of Halloween culture that influence people worldwide:

1. Trick-or-Treating

Everyone can remember the excitement they felt as a child when getting into their Halloween costumes and running up their neighbors’ front steps, orange plastic jack-o-lantern in hand, prepared for the treasure trove of sugary sweets they would devour later that night. But trick-or-treating did not always exist. For North America, the act of trick-or-treating popped up in the 1920’s and 1930’s; however, the act of “souling” predates to the Middle Ages. Most historians believe that “souling” inspired future acts like trick-or-treating. “Souling” occurred when poor people in Middle Age England would go door-to-door on Hallowmas – November 1st- and would receive food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day – November 2nd. Over time, this transformed into the modern charade of trick-or-treating: dressing up as dead creatures and monsters in return for candy.

2. Monsters, Demons, & Scary Movies

Halloween used to be associated with the mourning of loved ones who had passed on, but, today, Halloween is a night when we can dress as our greatest fears or favorite fictional characters. This came from the Celtics who believes that by guising as frightening beings, they could ward off evil spirits on a night historically set aside for the dead. The Celtics’ decision to integrate monsters and evil creatures into a holiday originally centered on mourning incorporated the idea of evil and supernaturalism to Halloween. We can thank the Celts for our need to dress as Freddy Krueger and go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween.

3 Pumpkin Carving and Jack-O-Lanterns

We can thank immigrants for this tradition. When coming over to America, immigrants brought the tale of Jack O’Lantern with them. In the tale, Jack, a drunk, relished in playing practical jokes on innocent villagers until, one day, Jack made the huge mistake of playing a practical joke on the Devil himself. Jack convinced the Devil to climb up a tree and then trapped him by encircling the tree with crosses. He made a deal with the Devil to release him only if the Devil swears to never claim his soul and the Devil accepted. However, this backfired because when Jack died, he was deemed too evil to go to Heaven, but the Devil kept his promise of keeping Jack out of Hell. Thus, Jack was doomed to roam the Earth for eternity with a forever-burning ember inside of a carved out turnip that served to light Jack’s eternal wandering. Initially, carving turnips was the tradition, but when pumpkins became more accessible and easier to carve, pumpkins became the primary source of Jack’s eternal light inflamed on doorsteps every year.

Halloween is heavily rooted in culture and is responsible for meshing a lot of cultures and ideas, so this Halloween, go out and experience what the early Christians, pagans, Celts, and American immigrants created through this cultural amalgamation.

Image: William Warby

SkillsTravel

Last week I talked about choosing a study abroad location. Choosing where in the world to go is exciting, but nothing can kill a study abroad dream quite like a look at the program price tag. Money doesn’t have to be your deciding factor, though. There are some things you can do to get funding and minimize – even eliminate – what you’ll have to spend on your program.

1. Scholarships

Study abroad scholarships are offered in a variety of capacities, including merit-based, student-specific (i.e. minority scholarships), destination-specific, program-specific (your home or destination school or program may offer scholarship options), and subject-specific (very common for language study, but also available for almost any area of study).

Studyabroad.com offers an extensive database of study abroad scholarships, and the Institute of International Education offers good search options for destination and subject-specific scholarships.

It’s important to pay attention to deadlines; many study abroad scholarships require early action. There are, of course, some that you can apply for on a rolling basis, with little time before you leave.

2. Study Abroad Loans

You can find a database of study abroad student loans here. The great thing about study abroad loans is that transportation and cultural excursions are eligible expenses.

3. Crowdfunding Websites

GoFundMe – This website is amazing. It allows you to quickly and easily set up a fundraising page with a goal, photo and description, and makes it easy for people to donate to the page. Another great crowdfunding website is GoGetFunding.com. Once you’ve created your page, share it via social media and email to all your family and friends, asking them to support you in your dream to study abroad.

In your email, it will help to lay out what exactly your expenses are, what their donations will be funding, and your study abroad goals/things you want to experience. Providing a suggested amount (keep it low so people aren’t deterred), and list what exactly that amount will cover (i.e. a week of groceries, an unlimited train pass, etc.) And of course, be sure to thank everyone and offer the option to pass on donating. You can even request that they share it with other friends.

You can select either a personal funding campaign or an all-or-nothing campaign. The all-or-nothing contains a goal and time limit, while the personal funding does not. With all-or-nothing, you only get donations if you reach your goal, whereas you get all donations from a personal funding campaign.

4. Find an exchange program

I did this, meaning my school exchanged me for a student from the school at which I studied. The reason this option rocked so much was that I had no added costs to my university tuition (besides my flight); my costs actually were lower because I didn’t have to pay my university’s housing or meal plan, plus all of my regular university scholarships still applied in addition to an extra study abroad one. Check with your university to see whether it has exchange programs, and how fees are allocated.

5. Holiday Gift Requests

Send out a mass email, e-card or letter to all family members and friends who typically give you birthday or Christmas gifts. Let them know that in lieu of gifts, you’re asking for funds to go abroad.

Like GoFundMe, list your expenses and goals, and why it’s so important to you to go abroad. You could even list interesting facts about your university and location; that gets people excited.

6. Local fundraising

This works well in smaller towns or suburbs. Ask local restaurants or businesses, particularly those that you spend time at often, to place a donation jar at the counter. While this won’t earn you outrageous amounts of cash, it is an effortless way to earn some extra spending money.

Be sure to leave an info sheet by the jar or can explaining what the fundraising is for and why it’s important to you.

7. Garage sale

Any type of sale is great, but I hosted a garage sale before my trip and made $600 from it. That paid for two months’ rent (my student housing was cheap) and it also helped me de-clutter, so it was a win-win. Hosting various sales, like art sales, bake sales, book sales etc. may, again, not earn you mass sums of money but can get you some good spending money.

If you really have a lot of stuff and your sales do well, you can even earn enough to cover your round-trip flight to and from your host country and more.

8. Odd jobs

Walk dogs, mow lawns, photograph events, babysit… anything you’re good at that can bring in some extra cash. All it takes is a little simple networking and some flyers.

So, between scholarships, loans and personal fundraising, you may be able to raise enough to study completely cost-free.

What tips do you have for funding a study abroad experience? Any creative ways to make money?

Image: Kristina Zuidema, Flickr

Culture

Happy 4th of July! Take a moment out of your day BBQ-ing, laughing with friends, parades, and watching fireworks to truly remember why this day is celebrated. July 4th is about patriotism and honoring the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, a day when our country’s founders declared independence from Great Britain. These powerful quotes remind us why we are proud to be Americans.

1. “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus 

2. “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

3. “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” – Maya Angelou

4. “Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

5. “The magic of America is that we’re a free and open society with a mixed population. Part of our security is our freedom.” – Madeleine Albright

 6. “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” — William Faulkner

 7. “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” – Albert Einstein

8. “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

9. “In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Image: Timo Kohlenberg, Flickr