The Ebony Quill

Thoughts, reflections, and whimsies as I experience life

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

For the Love of Halloween

Ah, autumn.  Leaves in hues of red, orange, yellow, and brown crinkle under my feet, acorns crunch as my bicycle tires roll over them, the sweet smell of intermittent rain fills my nose.  Slightly reminiscent of “To Autumn” by John Keats?  Yes, autumn, “thou hast thy music too!”

My birthday month (November, arguably the best month of the year) approaches, and with it a deluge of fantasy and adventure movies (but no more Harry Potter–*wipes tear*).  Nineteen isn’t the most exciting age, not only because it’s one step closer to twenty–which is frightening–but because it’s just a strange number, like fourteen.  I didn’t like turning fourteen.

And Halloween is this coming Wednesday (which, I believe it kind of pathetic; Halloween should always be on a weekend.  How many parents are going to let their kids wander around dark streets on a weekday?)  I remember trick-or-treating with my brother as a kid.  I usually dressed up as a witch or a princess, and, later, as a ghoul/dementor/creepy person in a long cloak with a hood and the weird, feigned raspy voice.  Hey, it was fun.  My brother also opted for the scary costumes, and thus we frequently had to remove our masks to assure younger kids that we were really human (or were we?).

I miss those days.  I could feel the excitement and joy in the air.  I loved decorating the house in the days leading up to Halloween.  I loved scaring the throngs of kids that came to our driveway by using our candy bowl with a motion-sensor hand that clamped down on whoever reached inside.  I loved eating hot pizza outside in the chilly air.

Now that I’m in college, I remember those days with a deep sense of nostalgia.  My brother’s “too old” to trick-or-treat now, and I’m not even going to be home for Halloween.  So if you have a younger sibling or if you’re a parent, cherish these days with that child and make it as special as you can.  Believe me, they’ll remember.

Why I enjoy studying International Relations

I recently decided to double-major in International Studies at my university because I figured I may as well take my interest in learning about different cultures and countries and turn it into a degree.

I’ve been interested in international studies for since high school, where I was severely disappointed with the lack of globally-focused classes I took as part of the International Baccalaureate Program (it’s International, ya’ll).  My World History class was a joke.  My American History class focused on World War I, World War II, and the Cold War from the perspective of only… guess who?  America.

There was a world out there, and I wanted to learn about it.  About the many different cultures, languages, and traditions of its people.  Of the way international organizations like the UN, NATO, and the World Bank operated.  And what I could do to get involved and make a lasting impact.

Can I help construct foreign policy?  Respond to international crises?  Promote cross-cultural connections and understanding between peoples with different religions, governments, and values?  I don’t know, but I’d sure like to.  With a major in International Studies, I take classes about the politics of the global economy, U.S. and world affairs, international institutions, and even the correlation between gender and international relations.  Reading the works of great IR thinkers, writing thoughtful papers that apply theoretical and abstract concepts to real-world events, and discussing all of this in class with experienced teachers and other passionate students?  Just thinking about it makes me tingle with pleasure.

But what can I do with this love of all things international?  Surely, all you can be is an academic or a professor?  Well, my friends, I have researched this as well.  Not only are there amazing graduate programs in International Relations/Foreign Affairs/Public Policy, what have you, but there are fellowships that will pay for me to go study what I already love!  And then, I can apply for a job in the U.S. Department of State, primarily as a Foreign Service Officer, traveling around the world to different embassies and promoting U.S. policies abroad.

Nevertheless, no matter where this degree takes me, I’ll know that I’m doing what I love to do most: learn, learn, learn.

Ah, those cell phones

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in (exactly) one month!  I apologize; I was busy with college… and I couldn’t think up any ideas on what to post.

However, I wanted to talk about cell phones in awkward social situations.  Something I’ve noticed–and am perhaps guilty of on occasion–is that people (high school and college students in particular) tend to whip out their cell phones and start fiddling with apps and text messages when they’re in an uncomfortable or boring situation.  Specifically, when waiting in line for something.

Before, one would make conversation with his/her neighbor or even stand around and people-watch.  You know, take in one’s surroundings and appreciate people’s oddities and pick up tidbits about their lives.  Think about what one has to accomplish that day.  Think about what you’d rather be doing.  Ponder unanswerable questions.  Search for the meaning of life.

But answers to these questions can’t arise when you’re distracted by updating your status rather than experiencing it, what’s going on in your friends’ lives, how many people “liked” the photo you just posted, etc.  Sure, you may be being “productive,” checking your email or doing other work-related things, but I firmly believe that there’s a time and place for everything.  Ultimately, it’s like you’re creating your own mental block.

Now as I stare at the line of people slowly edging towards the cash register, all with their phones out, I feel awkward staring at them… and I take my phone out, too.

Have you ever noticed people using their cell phones in line, or are you guilty of the same?  What do you think about it?

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