• lifestyle
  • Too Much TV

    I have watched some bad tv in my life.

    Honestly, in high school, some of my most watched shows followed the lives of spoiled pageant brats (Toddlers and Tiaras), creepy and manipulative teenage issues (Gossip Girl), and other bizarre stories of true life (anything on TLC really).

    Worse, I never got around to watching these shows while they were relevant. I watched them out of order and in random marathons.

    It didn’t bother me.

    Watching TV was an activity that could be substituted for another activity. Like reading a book, or talking on the phone, or riding my bike. Something you did with your time.

    But, something has changed in the past few years. Ever since I first used an (admittedly illegal) streaming site to watch tv on demand I’ve become irritable. I now own a Netflix subscription and I consume near constant media. In the last year alone I’ve watched every episode of That 70’s Show, all ten seasons of Friends, and what feels like more hours of Grey’s Anatomy than it would take to train as a doctor in real life!

    I didn’t just watch these shows. I relentlessly binged on them.

    I stayed up until the middle of the night to watch ‘just one more episode’. I brought my iPad to the gym to watch while I ran on the treadmill. I brought my laptop into the kitchen to watch while cooking, and into the dining room to watch while eating. Worse, I used a second screen to watch while writing papers or reading articles, probably resulting in homework taking at least twice as long as it should have.

    TV was no longer an activity. TV became a constant.

    I was experiencing fatigue, in my eyes, and in my brain. The drone of tv talk was overwhelming. I watched shows I wasn’t even sure I liked and my focus was always split.

    I’ve heard that the first step to fixing a problem is identifying that it exists so that’s what I’m doing here. I want to be more conscious about the media I consume and my reasons for consuming it. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste it all on watching television.

    ~ Emma

     

  • blog
  • Out Growing Friends in the Age of Social Media

    I have grown up with social media.

    In the fourth grade, I created my first email address.

    Sixth grade saw the rise of Myspace.

    Seventh was the introduction of Facebook (still going strong), ninth grade was graced with my ridiculous teenage tweets (thankfully abandoned now).

    By the time I was in twelfth grade and Instagram began to gain traction, it was beginning to be a bit much, but I’ve adopted that, and Snapchat, and everything else in between.

    These ever growing social networks have made it easier and easier to keep in contact with people from all different times and places in my life.

    But, they also pose a problem…

    How do you grow out of a friendship organically when the person in question is presented to you in a million different ways online? 

    Daily, I interact with people from all phases of my life, elementary school, high school, even daycare! All online. But, many, if not most, I haven’t seen in person in years.

    To many people, this is the value of social networks. There is all this opportunity to connect and reconnect with people in your life. To me, it can be exhausting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going offline anytime soon. But, I do have to wonder, at what point do I stop considering these online avatars of people I once knew, my friends?

    This conundrum is easily solved when the relationship was minor, simply delete and unfollow whenever the person’s posts become boring or unrelated to me. Easy.

    But, what do you do when the person in question once played a major part in your life?

    People often discuss the heartache that comes with a romantic breakup, but rarely, if ever, do people express that gut-wrenching feeling of losing a friend. It feels awkward and vaguely intrusive to watch as someone I was close with develops and grows into a different version of them self that I do not know at all. Not to mention the unnaturally isolating experience of virtually watching that person begin to develop that sort of closeness with someone else.

    It may sound strange but I wonder if that pit in the stomach feeling of losing a friend might be preferable to this pseudo-voyeur experience that comes with remaining connected to the friendships you have outgrown.

    What are your thoughts? Do you remain online friends with people you were once close with? How do you know a friendship is over with social media to keep you connected? 

    ~ Emma

     

     

  • blog
  • The Interview that Wasn’t…

    The phone rang and rang and then “I’m in a meeting” popped up on my screen as I was sent to voicemail.

    Oh no, I thought, I didn’t even get to speak and I blew it. Or, maybe, just maybe, I had the interview time wrong? With shaky (and sweaty) hands I tried to quickly pull up my outlook mailbox. But no, the first email that loaded showed me I was right, Friday 3:00 it read. And yet… Here I was, with no one on the line.

    I began to get nervous – what is the protocol when you get ditched for an interview? If I called again would it be viewed as annoying or intrusive? Or worse, I worried, if I did not call back I might be seen as someone who didn’t care about the job.

    The minutes ticked by in an agonising game of “should I call him” but with much higher stakes than a date to the middle school dance.

    Finally, I settled on sending an email apologising that the meeting had not taken place but assuring the interviewer that I was able to reschedule at his convenience. I sat there, phone in hand for the entire scheduled 30-minute interview time, just in case he called back.

    He didn’t.

    Later that day I received a reply to my email. It turned out fine. We rescheduled for the following Monday and he even apologised to me!

    However, that time in between those emails? That uncertainty was brutal.

    I understand that to him, this meeting was just one box to check on his to-do list, but to me? This moment was a big deal. To the interviewee? Well, it’s a moment you prepare for and worry about, and it’s asking your parents and friends for good luck and its clammy hands and planning a nap after when the ensuing adrenaline renders you useless.

    I hold no grudges; it was, in all honesty, a learning experience. But, that’s my story of the interview, that wasn’t.

    ~ Emma

  • blog
  • Online Learning Challenge – Duolingo

    September is here, and with it, the start of a new school year. However, this is the first time I will not be heading back to the classroom and I’ve decided that makes it a great time to try out a nontraditional form of learning.

    I’ve been a fan and occasional user of platforms like KhanAcademy, Team Treehouse, and Duolingo along with various MOOCs in the past. However, I’ve never given them a fair chance at teaching me much because I’ve never stuck with their courses or tracks for long enough. I’ve decided to try learning a new language with Duolingo over the next 4 months to give it a fair chance at teaching me.

    Rules:

    1. Use the platform a minimum of once a day (easily tracked on the online ‘daily streak’ feature.
    2. Do the program in the order suggested by the platform (learn colours before clothing items for example).
    3. Lastly, learn a new language I have no experience with – in this case, I’m choosing Spanish. (I figured it is close enough to French to provide a bit of an advantage without officially being a language I’ve studied before).
    4. By the end of the challenge, be able to write an entire blog post in the chosen language (Spanish)!!

    The program works like this, every day you log in from your computer or your smartphone – the homepage prompts you with a suggested next lesson. All the while, the platform’s signature owl smiles at you with a promise of a higher score or daily streak if you do well.

    The entire process is gamified to feel fun and accessible to any age or skill level. There is the ability to start with ‘basics 1’ if you are an absolute beginner or the chance to ‘test out’ of the current level and be placed at a higher skill level if you have experience. Additionally, there are ‘lingots’, a virtual currency that allow the user to purchase extras from the virtual store. The currency is obtained by levelling up, finishing skills, and maintaining extended day streaks (10 days = 1 lingot).

    I am starting at the beginning and I’ll keep you posted with how I do over the next approx 120 days. Click here if you would like to join me in learning a language! It’s free! Otherwise, wish me luck and let me know if you are using any online platforms to teach yourself something new!

    ~ Emma

  • lifestyle
  • I’m lucky enough to call my roommate my best friend

    My university roommate is my best friend in the whole world, and for that, I am so lucky.

    We’ve lived together for four years and unfortunately, that ends come September. So, for that reason, I decided to write this post dedicated to being and having good roommates.

    There are some people in the world who you know automatically that you could not live with; maybe they’re too messy, or always stay up until 3am and you’re a neat freak who goes to bed at 10 every night. That’s okay. Those people make fun friends and you don’t have to live with people you don’t want to.

    On the other hand, there are people who you know would be okay, probably even pleasant as a roommate. Maybe you share a schedule and can imagine yourself sharing the responsibilities of chores and picking up milk at the store.

    My roommate, Lynsee occupies a very rare, third tier.

    She is not only a roommate but my best friend. We exist in a perpetually hectic life. We attended the same university and yet have completely different lifestyles. She studied Life Sciences and I studied Computer Science and so we spent many nights having to explain even the most basic components of our field to each other. We work completely different hours with her 9-5 causing her to sleep on weekdays long before I finish my shifts as a waitress. Her belongings all have a home, a dedicated shelf and labelled container. My room fluctuates from organised chaos to absolute disaster zone. Somehow, we make it work.

    We’ve carved out a great life – one where she remembers Monday’s are garbage day and I kill all the spiders. I make dinner and she washes the dishes. Together we have turned even the most disgusting student houses into homes.

    Looking back over the past four years of living with Lynsee I’ve realised the reason we work so well is simple – we respect each other and each other’s space. And, there is trust – we trust each other to pay the bills, to borrow our clothes and not ruin them, and to do simple stuff like lock the door. Additionally, of course, we have fun together.

    So, how do you find yourself a great roommate? Think about the people in your life – who  would you call if you got sick and needed someone to make you a tea or some soup? Who would you invite to a party or on a night out? Is there someone you can imagine sitting in silence with for hours? Did someone come up in every one of those scenarios – because if so, it’s probably that person!

    Coming home should feel comfortable. Find someone you feel comfortable with and enjoy.

    Girl geek, if you’re lucky you will find your Lynsee, someone who is not only a roommate but a best friend and basically a sister.

    ~ Emma

  • blog
  • YOU are in Computer Science?

    “You don’t really look like a Computer Science student…”

    or

    “I would never have guessed you were in Computer Science”.

    These are two variations of the same sentiment I have heard for the past four years while completing my undergrad. I honestly believe that most of the time the comments are meant as compliments. Whoever I am talking to has thought that I, in some way am not ‘geeky’ enough to fit the stereotypes of my faculty. They see it as an anomaly and a good thing.

    I do not.

    Ultimately, there is a problem with those types of comments. They are rooted in an outdated idea that computers are for a certain subset of people. A subset that generally does not include girls, or outspoken people, or someone ‘like me’. Ridiculous. In our world computers are used by everyone and should be understood by everyone.

    That’s why I wanted to be a part of this blog. To showcase my personal struggles and triumphs with technology (and with life) and to encourage others to either enter or continue on their tech path.

    Three cheers for the girl geek!

    ~ Emma