The King's College Student Blog

The Patriotic Instagram

Eating that fourth donut. Pushing your mom into the swimming pool. Mirror selfies. These are all activities which our inner self yearns to do, but we must try to restrain ourselves from doing in civil society.

Going to school in New York City, with all its historic monuments and buildings and its mobile-saturated environment, produces a heightened national pride and, often times, an elevated narcissism. This can express itself through many different outlets, but a popular and seemingly harmless one is the Patriotic Instagram. I venture to add this to the list of forbidden acts above.

#OnTopOfTheWorld #Unstoppable #America #Love

#OnTopOfTheWorld #Unstoppable #America #Love

I have heard condescending remarks targeted at those individuals who shamelessly snap pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the Stock Exchange, adding their cheesy captions, thus committing the cardinal sin of social media: don't be cliche. Even the haters who promise that they will never stoop to such baseness, cave eventually. All it takes is a walk-home after an overly sentimental APTAP class. With thoughts of America's greatness still swimming through your head, you glance up at an american flag the size of a basketball court. You suddenly feel an urge rise within you to reach into your right pocket and capture this fleeting moment. Snap. Crop. Filter. A Jefferson quote and an #Americaoverall hashtag later, you have done it. You have succumbed to what you previously disdained. 

Look, I got 60 likes!

 

JG

New York's true pests

Cockroaches seem likely to be deemed as the peskiest beings that dwell in New York City. In my opinion, New York's true pests are people whose job it is to harass on the people on the streets. Everyone's already trying to sell you something or draw your attention in with ads on the subway, in the streets, online, in newspapers, and, oh yeah, in that little place called Times Square. So when I'm trying to walk from school to the 4/5 station, I don't need people asking me to join Greenpeace. 

I'm not talking about the people who hand out flyers--especially if they do so in silence. That's nothing like being yelled at and even touched by strangers who continue to talk to you even when you're clearly trying to get somewhere. It's also quite demeaning to be told to "smile" simply because I'm a woman, but that's a rant for another day.

I always wonder if it actually works. Most people, mainly tourists, probably aren't as rude as I am to people that are trying to sell stuff on the street. Maybe someone actually does join Greenpeace, maybe someone actually does become Mormon on the way to the train, and maybe someone does buy discount stand-up comedy tickets (my sister did once, and I went with her. It was mediocre). But I know that I've grown a tough skin that repels all human contact on the street. 

I actually enjoy talking to strangers sometimes. The other day I had to wait in line to get my passport for about an hour, and I made friends with the guy in front of me. It's nice to connect with people that are also struggling to be patient, leaning on one leg until it gets tired, and checking the time every now and then. 

There's something about strangers that's enjoyable, but I only find value in conversation that's somewhat balanced between both parties. We're both waiting in line. We're both sitting at the bar at Starbucks. We're in an elevator together. 

It's different when that stranger interrupts your own private time to pester you about something. It fits somewhere between the conversation with a stranger and the pushers on the street (I don't mean drug pushers, I mean flyer- or ticket-pushers). Somehow, being cornered into a conversation disguised as friendly is worse than being yelled at by someone on the street.

This happened to me the other day. I had just sat down on a rock in Central Park, ready to soak up the long-awaited and effervescent rays of sun, and some person came over and sat down next to me.

Oh, what a nice view. Until someone decides to harass you.

Oh, what a nice view. Until someone decides to harass you.


Now, like I said before, I'm okay talking to strangers. But I could just tell this guy had an agenda. He was holding an iPad and a flyer, and he had a backpack on. He was dressed weirdly nice. And I hated him immediately. He tried to talk to me, and I asked him what his agenda was. He denied that he had an agenda. Eventually (after asking me a bunch of personal questions that I didn't want to answer), he admitted that he works for a non-profit, and gave his spiel. The organization itself is probably legitimate and noble, but it surprised me that they send out people to corner people into hearing about it. Why must he creep on random people that are alone? I couldn't just walk away. I was there first, anyway. And he was a bit pushy.

After giving his lil' speech, I said I would think about it, and I wanted him to go away. He briefly abandoned his duty to raise awareness for this non-profit and decided to hit on me. I was more than slightly bothered by his advances, and tried to convert the conversation into a religious one, hoping that he would leave. He did leave, after a little while, to join his friend who was hovering nearby.

The whole thing was deceitful. I've been caught in a similar situation before, but the guy was trying to sell me a salon package on the street, and eventually I was able to walk away. This guy works for a non-profit. Why is it necessary for him to stoop to the level of street-pushers if he's just trying to help people? That's the point of the internet. You can spread awareness without wasting time talking to me, and convincing me that your non-profit isn't worthy of my donation, simply because the person who approached me was imposing and rude.

Although this guy annoyed me significantly, I learned something important from the situation. Even if they're yelling at you to buy tickets, get on their rickshaw, or visit their store, they are human beings, and they're just doing their job. I'm not saying that I will engage in the sidewalk-talk game in the future, but the least I can do is acknowledge that they're human beings, no matter how much they act like animals.

-Kristie Garrell

Coffee Thoughts.


If there is one thing I love more than books, it is the pleasure of a good cup of coffee while reading. The rich history of the coffee bean blends into the experience of sitting at a local café, awakening the tired mind to new flavors. Coffee, by nature, necessitates storytelling.

Whynot Coffee and Wine. A great study space, and if you get bored, there are pretty pictures to look at. 

Whynot Coffee and Wine. A great study space, and if you get bored, there are pretty pictures to look at. 

After a late night and six hours of class on a Monday in January, all I wanted was my bed. Thoughts of statistics homework and preparing dinner failed to entice me to desire otherwise. I entered my Herald Towers apartment, let the door creakily close behind me, and proceeded to change into my pajamas. Bedtime couldn’t come soon enough, but a nap would have to do for now. I pulled the curtains shut, and fell back onto my bed. Glorious sleep.

The nap, if I remember correctly, lasted a brief thirty minutes or less. In the other room, music from a band consisting of a bass, guitar, and cello brought me out of my nap coma. I awoke with a sore throat, puffy eyes, and a slight headache. Grumbling through some curses, I struggled to escape the tangling effect of my blanket. Eventually, I emerged victorious. It was 7:30pm.

I decided to go try a new café up near the Vogue. I had heard good things (mainly it being just loud enough to effectively study, but not be distracted). I got ready, which consisted of me taking off my pajamas, and putting on a hoodie and jeans. 

I arrived at Culture Espresso, and ordered a latte. Standing near the espresso machine, I watched as the barista ground the beans, measured it out into the portafilter, and tamped it down. Watching this process began a series of thoughts reaching back to the early history of coffee. 

Onoff Cafe at Urban Outfitters. Please tip.

Onoff Cafe at Urban Outfitters. Please tip.

The coffee bean finds its widespread enjoyment in the roots of globalization. However, it has a complex history of legends and stories. From the Legend of Kaldi to the cultural practices of Bedouins, coffee has become a drink of necessity and pleasure. A simple walk down a street attests to the fact that humanity has an infatuated relationship with this little bean. 

As a student, coffee has become a staple of my diet. One to two (and sometimes four) cups a day I sit down and enjoy the “wine of araby” while studying for an exam or writing a paper. As a person, coffee has become an aspect of my storytelling. Without it, there wouldn’t be coffee shops, or coffee talks, or happiness. Granted, the last one might be a slight hyperbole. The others, however, stand as an important part of many peoples lives on a social and economical level.

Coffee is remarkable.

Keep on keeping on,

Jared S. Umberger 

P.S. Here is a list of some of my favorite coffee spots around the city: Onoff Café at Urban Outfitters on Fifth Ave. (my place of employment), Bourbon Coffee, Whynot Coffee and Wine, Bluestone Lane (those bloody Aussies are a blessing), Culture Espresso, Toby’s Estate Café in Williamsburg, and Irving Farm.

P.P.S. If you want a lovely tea café, try Press Tea or Tea and Sympathy in the West Village.

P.P.P.S. Lastly, if you want an interesting read on the history and influence of coffee, check out Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Changed the World by Mark Pendergrast.

It Easy to Love Strangers

    It’s easy to love strangers—it’s the people you know that that demand a drag-out inward fight to love them. How else do you think Psychologists make their living? In part, of course, it is because they have training and insight, but I hold their popularity is primarily made possible through our culture’s lack of ability to communicate with those close to us. It is so much easier to tell a stranger your deepest hurts than to try and admit them to the people who may have even been the ones to cause the hurts—our mothers, our fathers, our siblings, even our “best” friends. After all, we have to then go on living beside those people, whereas a psychologist you can leave and treat as any other doctor appointment: unpleasant, but healing.

    But why is it so hard to tell the people close to us what we feel? Maybe it’s because we are so desperate for love that we fear by telling them what’s “wrong with us” we will give them reason to hate us, and reject us. But in keeping the hard conversations at a minimum, aren’t we ensuring what we fear in the first place? If you never have deep, difficult conversations with your dear ones, then you are in a way ensuring that those relations will never actually grow in depth and strength.

    Love is without a doubt the easiest and hardest virtue to pursue. This is because we feel it so deeply. When someone loves you, it is easy and natural to love them in return. When someone hates you, though, or, as is far more common in relationships, hurts you, it is incredibly difficult to keep on loving them. This is because love is not passive, as our culture so often tries to convince us, but rather demands intentionality. If someone close to you wounds you, you can’t step back and say “Ok then, I’ll just love you from way over here.” Rather, you have to talk to them. Have that hard conversation. And if they won’t talk, which so often is the case, try to understand them. Try to understand why they are behaving that way, and keep on loving.

    This “drag out fight” policy makes sense in the case of mothers and sisters, but I will grant can be far more difficult then I am acknowledging, say, in the case of an abusive husband. In that situation, I don’t pretend to be an authority on what proper love manifests as. All I can say is that we should all, as humans, be in control of our minds, hearts, and bodies. If someone is abusing any of those things, you always have the right to remove yourself from that person. You have no duty to submit to abuse—that is not a love we are required to give.

    I do propose, however, that in the case of a friend who is pushing you away, to keep on fighting. We all need love, and maybe they need it now more than ever. This is not to say that you can’t be investing in happier friendships too, because you can and you should! Loving people who hurt you is exhausting, and having good relationships in your life at the same time may be the only thing sustaining you. So keep on fighting! Love is never simple, but it is always worth it. Even if you can’t see the fruit of your labor, believe me, it’s worth it.

Mastering APTAP With John Green

Kings' American Political Thought and Practice I, II, & III, are key to the college's curriculum.  For many a student, they some difficult and time consuming courses.  Personally, I love the APTAP series, but I find myself needing extra help.  Kingsians can get the most out of their APTAP experience and attain that A with a little help from John Green.

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John Green is most known for his prize winning novels, Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, but he is also a YouTube super-vlogger.  John and his brother Hank, the VlogBrothers, launched the channel Crash Course in January 2012 as an original YouTube funded channel.  They also received a grant from Google for the educational show.  

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Crash Course US History, hosted by Green, offers an honest and non-Western view of American history.  Beginning with "The Black Legend, Native Americans, and Spaniards" and ending with the 47th episode "Obamanation," the video series offers an acurate, funny, catchy, and honest portrayal of American history in around 8-14 minutes per video.

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The series was intended for students taking AP US History, and lets be honest, the APTAP series is basically the same course but with an added semester.  King's history classes are superb, the assigned readings are intriguing and thought provoking, and the lectures are immensely informational.  Still, it can be hard to connect the readings and lectures if one does not fully understand all that took place during each period.  History is complex; John Green takes that complexity and serves it to viewers in a simple and exciting way.

I do not recommend watching the series as a substitute for the APTAP readings.  This would be counterproductive and would hurt one's grade.  Professor Parks and Professor Corbin have designed an intense and in depth course series, and I advise each student to immerse themselves in all readings and lectures.  What I believe John Green can do for Kingsians, is connecting the dots.  What may not always be clear to one in a class or reading, will become understood through watching Crash Course US History.

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My youngest brother's AP US History professor uses the videos, and they will soon become available for as a DVD series.  The Green brothers no longer fund the channel through YouTube and Google, which caused them financial and creative problems, but through their website Subbable.  The site helps fund videos and channels that viewers deem worth subscribing to.

Whether one needs extra help on a quiz, a preci writing, or if you just want to watch John Green get shocked by his pen for not answering the 'Mystery Document' correctly, then Crash Course US History will be a good fit.  Along with US History, there are also series on World History, Chemistry, Literature, Ecology, and Biology.  

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I believe that education should be exciting.  One should dive into a reading, a time period, or a philosophy with a feeling of desire and curiosity.  John Green can help Kingsians become excited about APTAP and enhance these amazing and rewarding classes at King's.  I hope this was helpful, and as John Green would say, "As we say in my hometown, don't forget to stay awesome."

 

By Sarah Buzzelli

 

"Spring" retreat

Recently, I have not experienced spring, even though "Spring" Break is supposed to be a month, and I just went on a "Spring" Retreat with my house. People decide to call things spring when they really aren't. Last year was the same way. It snowed all through spring break, when all I wanted was a jot of sunshine. 

This is going to sound cliche, but even just a bit of hope is enough to put a spring in your step. It's enough to put it in my step. This weekend, my family hosted about 30 girls at my home in New Jersey. I'm in the House of Corrie ten Boom, and since there's no school-wide spring retreat, we had one of our own. 

Epic sledding in my backyard.

Epic sledding in my backyard.


There was sledding. There were snowball fights. There were loud conversations and soft conversations. There was much-needed fellowship and solitude, sleep, relaxation, and roaring laughter heard throughout the house.

All weekend, people kept asking me, "Is it weird having so many people in your house?" or "Is it weird having us in your house?" I didn't want to offend anyone, but it really was weird having King's people in my home. I'm used to coming home to an almost-empty house, usually just to see my parents or my sister. But this time around, I was the last to arrive, and there were already 24 people in my house. I went upstairs to see my sister, and convinced her to come downstairs after we had caught up. We were standing in the kitchen with some girls from my house, just talking, but I kept looking back to my sister, confused. It's mildly disorienting coming home from the city, but bringing along a bunch of people from my school makes for a confusing disposition. 

By Saturday, I got used to having so many people at my house, but it still didn't feel like home. I'm not used to having my worlds collide so much, but it's definitely enlightening. I'm realizing how great my life is, and how great the people in my life are. It's not like I'm just getting compliments or attention; I'm feeling the warmth of my friends and family. I have a great community with my house, and my family is infinitely gracious and kind. I know these things, but the experiences I had this weekend showed me how true it is: I have a great life, and I'm blessed, and I'm not alone. And that's much better than a little spring.

-Kristie

The Scam Next Door

I may be a MCA major, but I still contemplate money, investing, gaining capitol, and my financial future.  I've had a full time job since high school, so working and saving are two of my strengths, but investing is a foreign idea.  I decided to educate myself on the matter and take a class.  This class happens to be on the same block as the King's College, at the Online Trading Academy (42 Broadway.)

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I went to the class expecting to be informed about the stock market, forex, futures, currency, and the likes.  I was, but they also used false information to get me to take future classes, which would no longer be free.  They explained how reading books is never helpful when it comes to learning how to invest (a lover of books, I HATE this statement.) They further noted that one needed around $2000-5000 dollars to begin investing in a smart matter.  This is a myth, for $500 will do just fine.  

Also, a very young man came and explained that he was the Dean and that he would be lowering the price of the class by around $1000.  Apparently he was from some nearby business that partnered with the school.  One can tell a lot from an individual's body language and tone of voice, and the young man was surely giving off the I'M-THE-INTERN vibe.

Since the information they did offer was highly informational, and their coffee was slightly addictive, I would say I enjoyed the class, but as for taking future paid classes, well that would be falling into their scam.  The school has a trading account.  Students use their money to practice live trading.  Due to the state of the market, they lowered the price for the class about $400 then they usually do (this I found out through student reviews.)  They need more students to offer money to their account and to help make trades.  Of course the school takes the hit if its a bad trade, but overall they make quite a lot of money off of the students beyond their class tuition.

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I soon learned that their are many other options then taking a sit in class.  Investopedia and a few other sites offer trading simulators and numerous videos and articles to help one educate themselves on how everything works.  I decided to sign up for one of these sites instead.

So here is my warning to King's students:  Online Trading Academy is a scam.  If you're interested in investing and learning how to minimize your losses, try an online site or read a book.  My best advice is to practice.  Just make sure you don't go running to 42 Broadway (unless you want some strangely good coffee.)

-  Sarah Buzzelli