Cynical Cornellian: A+ Smartphone Apps

January 16, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Love, Tech

As I often state, “College is the time to be an adult!” By that, I don’t mean that college is the time to make long-term decisions or even mature ones. Rather, college is the time to learn how to live like a starving artist in a low-rent apartment, in which your dinners consist of ramen noodles and saltine crackers and your daily routines consist of perusing your Tumblr dashboard and posting ironic Facebook statuses to hide the fact that you truly despise where your life has headed. All cynical college student jokes aside, being an adult in college means being broke and bored (still cynical, but hey, I’m a college kid).  So here’s a list of wonderful, life-improving/life-altering phone apps and websites that might make you just a tad bit less cynical about your slowly degrading adult life.

"Seamless is an online food ordering application through which college students can find dining locations in the vicinity, and place an order for either delivery or pick up."

“Seamless is an online food ordering application through which college students can find dining locations in the vicinity, and place an order for either delivery or pick up.”

Seamless/Grubhub: This is the pinnacle of foodie heaven (I’m a foodie, so you can trust me on this one). Seamless is an online food ordering application through which college students can find dining locations in the vicinity, and place an order for either delivery or pick up. The application has the added function of dividing restaurants into food categories/genres (Pizza, Chinese, Sushi, Indian, etc.). Personally, I love the app because it categorizes restaurants based on distance and customer ratings. Moreover, I love having access to the menus in an organized fashion—I have a legitimate phobia to entering a dining establishment only to be bombarded with a huge menu and an impatient waiter/cashier. Seamless gives me the options with an unlimited supply of time to think about, and research/find pictures of, the food that I’m about to use my limited supply of money to purchase (as a cynical, broke college kid, you have to be economical). Use the app for any meal of the day—or late night, if you’re about that all-nighter life.

Tinder: Dating is tough. Dating in college is tougher. It’s true that college is probably going to be the time of your life in which you have the largest supply of potential life partners. From that perspective, you would assume that finding a date and, eventually, a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner would be as easy as reading a children’s pop up book (sans the people who are illiterate or have a phobia to paper that unfolds and pops out at you when you turn the page). Unfortunately, dating in college is not that simple—for reasons unbeknownst to me. Tinder makes everything so much easier! You make an account by linking your Facebook to the Tinder app, your Facebook profile photos sync to the app and become your main photo stream, you write a witty and provocative description, and you swipe right to all of the cuties! If you get matched, you send an awkward and slightly inappropriate greeting and cross your fingers that you’ll get lucky tonight. I met my boyfriend this way and will never regret sending that inappropriately objectifying message to him the moment we matched. Thank you Tinder!

"I met my boyfriend this way and will never regret sending that inappropriately objectifying message to him the moment we matched. Thank you Tinder!"

“I met my boyfriend this way and will never regret sending that inappropriately objectifying message to him the moment we matched. Thank you Tinder!”

Yik Yak: Imagine seeing Regina George’s burn book but with names kept out of the hateful messages and the pages being short, electronic posts. Once you can conceptualize this, you’ve conceptualized Yik Yak. An anonymous social media app, YY allows users to upload rude, comedic, or somewhere in-between posts that get disseminated to an audience in a 10-mile radius. So if you’re bored and absolutely hate that girl listening to Iggy Azalea on her iPhone at maximum volume in an incredibly silent library, post a status about that girl listening to Iggy Azalea on her iPhone at maximum volume in an incredibly silent library and hope that people in that incredibly silent library give you a thumbs up—also hope that the girl listening to Iggy Azalea on her iPhone at maximum volume in an incredibly silent library reads the post and turns off that garbage that she calls music.

And there you have it: three apps that I consider to be A+ material for college kids struggling to be adults in a world where being an adult is a massively depressing ordeal that requires a trust fund or sugar daddy to truly be happy. Am I cynical? Yes. Are these apps A+? Absolutely.

STOP: A Brief List of What Not to Do at Cornell

January 11, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Love

"I want to offer some words of wisdom about what NOT to do during these four years."

“I want to offer some words of wisdom about what NOT to do during these four years.”

College is often advertised as the time for the most life experiments; we’re brought up to think of college as those four years to smoke your first blunt, to kiss someone of the same gender identity, or to black out from a wild night of drinking and dancing at a party to which you were not invited. For most students, college is the first time that they’ll be away from parental supervision, and, as such, I want to offer some words of wisdom about what NOT to do during these four years…trust me:

(For First-years) DO NOT declare your major straight away:
You will come to Cornell with a naïve mentality that you are an expert in a given field just because your entire high school resume-building existence has centered around said field (i.e. Hard Sciences applicants thinking that being a science Olympiad high school student means a pre-med track is the only route, or a debate/mock trial/Model United Nations high school student thinking that a pre-law track is mandatory). It’s true, you most likely did get accepted to Cornell because you’ve shown a proficiency in a certain academic field, but that doesn’t mean that your college education should be narrowed down before you’ve even stepped foot on campus. More often than not, high schools will not have offered a course in anthropology, gender studies, or philosophy. As is often the case, students miss out on the opportunity to explore new options because habits and perceptions of one’s capabilities have already been formed. Do yourself a favor and spend your first semester taking at least two random courses in bizarre departments—you might regret it, but you might also end up finding a passion.

(For single people) DO NOT take a random course because of a cute guy/girl/individual:
When I said to spend your first semester taking at least two random courses in bizarre departments, I meant to do it for academic enrichment. Speaking from experience, adding a class to your schedule for the sole purpose of spending some quality time with a crush is one of the worst ideas you could ever possibly come up with. Not only are you wasting your tuition money on a class that you will probably end up failing because “Hey, who cares about this class anyway?” but you will most likely not even have time to sit next to your crush, let alone flirt with them. Save the flirting for a café or a “chance” encounter (emphasis on chance, because let’s be real).

(For all students) DO NOT sleep with your professor/teaching assistant:
Cornell has a list of 161 things to do before you graduate. That list includes explicit instructions to sleep with your professor and TA. Firstly, no. Secondly, no. This is a joke of a list and should not be taken seriously. In any case, if professors and TAs did, in fact, sleep with every student at Cornell, than STIs and AIDS would be spreading like wildfire. Don’t fall prey to the ridiculousness of this list. Furthermore, you are a student with a possible professional future. Do not let a hook up with an academic ruin your future! Stick to your schoolmates or Tinder.

Relationship (and Sex?) Advice for a Queer Ivy Leaguer

December 27, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Love, Top 10 Lists

My parents, married for 35 years, met at a high school pep rally. My sister and her husband first encountered one another while being squished together during a chance encounter on a crowded New York City subway. Several of my close friends and their significant others have romantic “this is how we met” stories that involve a shared English class, a wild night at a fraternity party, or an accidental beverage mix-up at a cafe. The queer* dating world, on the other hand, is more complicated.

"Gay bars, gay parties, gay college organizations, gay anything are really the most viable real world options for finding a partner, besides digital applications."

“Gay bars, gay parties, gay college organizations, gay anything are really the most viable real world options for finding a partner, besides digital applications.”

“We met through an app” is the new “We met at a coffee shop.”

While sitting at a cafe, my gay friend once said, “I wish I could ask any cute guy in here out on a date.” Granted, it’s not as if a straight person could just waltz into a busy café and expect a date with anyone, but the option to ask around is present. The same cannot be said for members of the queer community—whether the option is absent due to safety, health, or privacy concerns. As such, smartphone apps—specifically Grindr and Tinder—play tremendously important roles in one’s dating life. I used to mock the “desperate women” in romcoms who would devour a tub of ice cream while browsing through eHarmony for a worthy man. Now, I am that desperate romcom character (though my life has far fewer slapstick moments). It’s a difficult truth to handle, but the queer sphere makes dating a more arduous task. Queer bars, queer parties, queer college clubs, queer anything are really the most viable real world options for finding a partner, besides smartphone apps (so get a smartphone!)

Grindr tribes & queer lingo (gay men-specific)

If you’re going to use applications similar in theme and function to Grindr, grow accustomed to terms such as: Bear, otter, twink, discreet, cleancut, and poz. The gay world has its own language. Unfortunately, we don’t have Rosetta Stone to help us with the finer details. Instead, we have Google.

Don’t be an “Outer.”

Visibility is a major dilemma in the queer dating world, more so in the college queer dating world. There are plenty of people who are “out of the closet,” but there are even more who are stuck in hiding—something with which to not mock, but rather, to sympathize. If you are “out of the closet” and are dating someone who isn’t, please—I beg of you—do not jeopardize their safety or emotional stability by forcing them out of it. Do not be selfish. Everyone should have the ability to come to terms with their sexuality if and when they choose to do so.

Don’t date the “Outer.”

On a similar note, if you are on the other side of the situation and are not yet “out of the closet,” do not date someone who is forcing you out (major emphasis on FORCING). Break free of their disgustingly heavy clutch and find someone who understands your situation and respects your personal decisions. As with all healthy relationships, we should always strive to be with someone who makes us happy, and who enjoys our company–our genuine selves.

IvyQ: The Pan-Ivy Queer Conference

Cornell's IvyQ Planning Committee (2014-2015)

Cornell’s IvyQ Planning Committee (2014-2015)

As a Cornellian, you have the privilege of calling yourself an Ivy Leaguer, and as such, have the privilege of the numerous queer-specific resources of the Ivy League. One such resource is the annual IvyQ conference—a Pan-Ivy League queer conference hosted by one of the eight educational institutions. Mornings and afternoons are littered with panels, workshops, and presentations by world-renowned queer activists and scholars, while nights are full of…”fun.” While some may argue that IvyQ is “one big orgy full of elitist scum,” I will argue that it’s a conference that’s designed for whatever it is that the individual wants it to be. I, for one, see it as the conference that introduced me to notion of social superstructures, that helped me to network with queers from other Ivies, and that changed my perspective on my body–body positivity.

“You’re gay, he’s gay. Let me introduce you two.”

Whenever I’m single, I often run into the common situation in which my straight friends introduce me to another one of their gay acquaintances. The logic: You’re gay, he’s gay, and so you two MUST click. If only it were that simple. Gay people, like everyone else, are people. Sexual orientation—for most, at least—is not a queer individual’s defining feature. Please remember this when you’re going out to find a hook up, a date, or a partner. (Also, quick side note for masculine gay men: Do not laugh at effeminate gay men for portraying their sexual and gender identities in a certain way. Sure, you may be incredibly buff and love outdoor activities, whereas they love dieting and show tunes. However, at the end of the day, you both like penis, so end the internalized hatred!)

Queers come in all shapes and sizes #BodyPositivity

As I mentioned earlier, IvyQ was a conference that changed my perception of my body. I have a layer of fat covering my abdomen; I have a terribly slow metabolism; when I was ten years old, I weighed over 200 pounds. After nine years of dieting, struggling through a period of eating disorders, and surviving a brief stint in which I exercised to the point of excess, I am now down to 130 pounds and couldn’t care less about the remaining body fat sitting atop my abdomen. It’s because I was introduced to a notion called body positivity, something that the gay porn industry seems to disregard. In a fabricated universe where all gay men are tall, white, maintain luscious hair, have pearly white teeth, and rock a solid six-pack, a gay man like myself would represent all that is wrong in society (or be nonexistent). However, the real world hosts people of all different shapes and sizes. Please respect that notion when you’re looking for a date or a partner.

Sex is NOT everything!

Don’t get me wrong, sex is great. I’m all about sex positivity. In fact, I was known as Haven Whore during my first year at Cornell (Haven being the name of the queer organization on campus, and whore being…well…). However, as with all healthy relationships, sex is not the only component. Be romantic (sorry, I’m a hopeless romantic); buy that bouquet of tulips (because roses are SO last century), go to a hole-in-the-wall café and order the most pretentious sounding beverage and share the overpriced concoction, go ice skating at Central Park during winter wonderland, fall asleep in each other’s arms after a long night of discussing your childhoods. Sensual is just as important as sexual, regardless of the media’s portrayal of queer hyper sexuality.

Haven: Cornell's LGBTQ+ Umbrella Organization

Haven: Cornell’s LGBTQ+ Umbrella Organization

“Relationships either end in marriage or a break up” (FALSE)

I’ll preface by stating that I’ve dated my fair share of “radical queers” (i.e. the nonconformists). My pessimistic straight friends constantly say, “Relationships only have two paths: Together or not together.” This sentiment doesn’t necessarily ring true for all queer relationships. I once dated an individual who was so against the hetero-patriarchy that he rebuked the very notion of marriage as it is a “hetero-privileged institution and [he] refuse[s] to become complicit in a process that was designed for, and privileges, the elitist hetero-community.” Point here being that not everyone you date will want to either break up or get married. Maybe figure out their priorities and political views before purchasing that promise ring?

Sometimes, Netflix is just as good as a wild night out.

I once dated a newly-out male. His perception of the gay community was completely fabricated by shows like Queer as Folk and 90210. Granted, the gay community is full of hyper sexualized individuals, but it’s also full of people who’d much rather spend their Friday night cuddling on the couch while binge-watching a full season of New Girl than taking six shots of tequila and dry humping on top of the bar’s countertop.

*It may seem as if I use the words “queer” and “gay” interchangeably. However, when I say “queer,” I am making a statement about the general LGBTQ+ community. When I say “gay,” I am referring to the cis-gendered gay male community, of which I am a member.

University Primetime

November 3, 2014 in Admissions, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Events, Health, Infographics, Love, Reviews, Sports, Style, Top 10 Lists, Travel, Videos

University Primetime is a blogging website designed to specifically target college students.  This website covers all aspects of college life such as dating, relationships, lifestyle, and information about colleges all around the country.  Aspects of this blog include top ten lists, student reviews, and other commentary from current college students.

One interesting thing about this website is that all of the content is submitted only by college students.  In a way, this blog is the nucleolus for college students to come together and compare their notes.   All of the articles are written by students, for students.  This is a great way to make college kids feel like they have a way to express themselves.  This blog also serves as a source of information for college students as well. While yes, most of these articles are written for the purpose of entertaining college students, there are other types of articles written.  There are articles about music, television, sports, politics, movies, etc.  There are a wide variety of categories for readers to choose from.

One thing that stands out about this website is the layout/design of the page.  The University Primetime logo is clearly printed at the top left corner of the page.  Next to that logo is a drop down menu for readers so they can easily navigate throughout the page.  The three main things that this website contains are articles with lists, advice, and campus life, which is what they first three drop down menus are.  There’s also a submit content tab which gives the reader the option to write in to the website.

Right under this drop down menu, there is a mix of the most recently published/most popular articles plastered in the center of the page.  These include the main picture in the article, and the article title. Underneath that, there is a section called “what’s new”,” which continuously updates as new articles are posted.

The overall page design is actually quite simple.  It’s very pleasing to the eye, as it’s design is made so that it will not be too overwhelming.  The color scheme is very bland, using blacks whites and a salmon coloring for the University Primetime logo.   The only pop of color the reader gets is from the pictures that are in the articles.

This website is successful because it’s writing specifically for things that college students care about.  There’s articles about money, fashion, movies, pets, things that people want to see.  There’s a fun, humorous side, and there’s a realistic, serious side.  The key is that University Primetime has found that balance of both sides.

It’s also successful because it’s well known.  When University Primetime first started out, the promotion that went around and the buzz that was created for it was very over the top.  There were links posted all over Facebook and Twitter, and the owner of the company even gave students the chance to become University Primetime Campus Representatives, which made students feel like they were a part of something.  The amount of marketing that went into the creation of this website was astounding.

University Primetime is definitely a front-runner for college blogging websites.  It’s simple, it’s modern, and it’s entertaining, which is exactly what college students want to see in the media nowadays.  I’m sure it will continue to be successful in the future.

Experience Boston and the Dating Scene

October 30, 2014 in Colleges, Events, Love

Remember those moments in middle school when holding hands and instant messaging every few days equated to being in a “relationship?” Or in high school when eating lunch together and kissing during sports games meant that you were committed? Here comes college with all its randomness and casual hookups, and we begin to wonder, how serious can dating possibly be during school?

With lively times at parties and unexpected encounters at social events, high expectations of finding love and a “soulmate” shouldn’t be set, at least not freshman year. Instead, living in the moment with friends and having rememberable, no-strings-attached flings will be widely seen.

Speaking for myself and the first-year Emerson community, serious relationships are rarely seen on-campus, especially two months into the school year. Although I have seen my Emerson friends “tie the knot” and commit to each other, the level and the maturity of the relationship depends entirely on the person. Some students are individualistic and simply want to experience Boston while focusing on themselves, while other students are ready for dedication, romance, and emotional attachment.

To accommodate both parties, below is a list of serious and not so serious date-like settings or hangout spots where it’s easy to meet new faces and form countless memories.

The Esplanade

This is the essential meet-up spot on Friday and Saturday nights. The Esplanade, a park and “Adult Playground” located on the Charles River and just a few blocks from Emerson College, is where Emerson, Northeastern, BU, and other surrounding college students meet and greet. They gather together by the dock, which overlooks the river and the city of Cambridge, make a few mistakes, and create memories.

Students and locals soak up the sun and enjoy Boston’s quaint charm on the dock, overlooking the Charles River.

Although this spot doesn’t have to be for informal, laid-back nights. It’s perfect for a first date or romantic encounter: playing Disclosure beats or The Beatles tunes, having a picnic at the park, taking advantage of the playground, or watching boats sail along the sparkling water make for a lovely evening.

The Common and Public Garden

Being positioned directly across from Emerson, these two parks are perfect for not only first dates but group hangouts, social events, guitar jams, or homework/study spots. Some students get takeout from a cafe and have picnics overlooking the duck pond. This can also be a romantic midnight setting of wandering aimlessly through the parks and listening to spooky music (especially during Halloween time).

Late night strolls can be perfect in the garden for spending date nights or time with friends.

Emerson students aren’t the only ones who take advantage of the parks. They’re public and home to all Bostonians, foreigners, and visitors. You never know what’s bound to happen in Boston. The city is a haven for unexpected possibilities, opportunities, and meetings with genuine strangers. Sometimes I sit in the park on warm days, write poetry while eating a burrito from Bolocco, and am approached randomly by people who were admiring my aesthetic or simply asking for directions. Fate is real, and it’s possible in a city like Boston.


Speaking of fate, meeting complete strangers at concerts cannot be prevented. Being a music writer for Emertainment Monthly, I attend shows around Boston at least once a week, constantly meeting people from all over New England, and even outside of the country. Students at Emerson take pride in the expressive arts and communications, thus they’re bound to be part of mosh pits at punk shows, dancing wildly to electronic beats, or peacefully absorbing the sounds of jazz and folk bands at cafes. Either way, meeting new faces and having various conversations are expected.

Students, locals, and music enthusiasts having fun during a Chrome Sparks concert.

From listening to my friend’s experiences, they’ve met 20-something-year-olds at venues like Paradise Rock Club, The Middle East, and The House of Blues. Although most of those encounters ended up being “one night stands” or hookups, great memories were formed, adding to the overall college experience and urban lifestyle. I suppose Carrie Bradshaw was right. “People come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know that some are in your heart.”

Experience ALL of Boston

That’s the best advice I can give to incoming college students or visitors. Experience, experience, experience! Walk around outside, talk to strangers (obviously not creepy people lingering in dark alleyways), go to concerts, relax at the park, go for a run at The Esplanade, get a mocha at Thinking Cup Cafe or discover your own eccentric coffee shop, ride the train to Cambridge and other surrounding towns. Personalize the city and make it yours to cherish; four years will zoom by before you know it.

Stepping outside and exploring the city are great ways to meet people and spend beautiful days.

Love won’t always be knocking at your door, but patience is virtue and dating shouldn’t always be taken seriously, especially at a young age. In a city like [Boston], with its infinite possibilities, monogamy has become too much to expect. Well said Bradshaw, well said.

A popular quote from “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw — one that most college students live by.