186 South College

grab your coffee, sit back and hang out with the UD Honors Program for a while

Category: Abhigna Rao

“Side Notes: So What’s the Tea on Coffee?” By Abhigna Rao

Back to school means back to the grind – in more ways than one! As the sun rises on a brand new semester, the annual return to campus comes with its own renaissance of caffeine-craving young adults withstanding long, arduous queues every morning for their fixes of various brews and blends. 

Although it may seem like just a mundane given number of classes starting up again, some of us coffee-lovers wait with bated breath until shops in the Scrounge, Smith Hall, and Trabant open for the year. In fact, finalizing my meal plan for the semester is a really exciting and crucial aspect of moving back on campus for me because – hello – POINTS! You can be sure that I spend way too much time during the first couple days of the semester evenly dividing up my meal points by week so that I know just how much I can allot for my own café appointments.

That being said, being a proud and true caffeinator is not without challenges. Indeed, while the smell of a fresh cappuccino never fails to wake me up, and though the whir of a milk frother does delight me to no end, there are certainly several inconveniences that come with being a routine coffee-drinker. 

The Dough: Although I consider myself an extreme cheapskate when it comes to everyday life, there’s something about buying coffee that turns me into an entirely different person. I will justify purchasing coffee for every possible reason: it’s been a long day, it’s my day off, it’s mid-week, it’s the weekend, it’s my study coffee before an exam, it’s my “you tried your best” coffee after one – you name the occasion, I’m probably getting something to celebrate.

I mean, I just had two mugs of café crema a la Caesar Rodney this morning – or like my old roommate like to call it, “battery acid” – then met up with a friend for a tall Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch around 2 PM, and yet here I am considering getting in the temptingly short line at the Perkins Dunkin’ Donuts for a Toasted Almond Frozen Coffee with extra whipped cream (don’t judge). By the way, all the baristas at DD know my go-to order by heart, and as lovely as that is, I feel like that might be indicative of a problem.

The Disaccharides: The sugar rush that accompanies my frequent expeditions to coffee shops is real and very dangerous because I never just get a coffee. I can make a coffee with my very own Keurig and frothing wand back in my dorm room. If I’m ordering coffee, you I’m getting the Supreme Delicioso Toffeenut Frappuccino 3000 on steroids.

The Diuretic: Alright, I feel like we are friends enough that we can talk about this. I recently had a conversation about this with a friend – every now and then, I have one mug too many, and the coffee just cuts right through me. My busy days are the worst, and as much as I love my daily morning dose, I’m not sure if an extra mug of Joe is worth 21 trips to the ladies’ room for the rest of the day.

Additional Downsides: Let’s talk about pumpkin spice for a hot second here. Pumpkin is a squash. Squash is a vegetable. Vegetables do NOT belong in my latte. No matter how much spice you are adding to make it sound cute. 

Also, I wonder why there are, like, 45 different varieties of coffee wherever I go. It’s very confusing. I just want a modest hazelnut macchiato. But now, I have the options of a breve, romano, freddo, and a cortado. Fun fact: most types of coffee have exactly the same ingredients, just with different ratios of espresso, milk, and foam. I think the coffee gods just got super excited and went to town one day. Correct me if I’m wrong, but half of them sound like names of fancy pastas, anyway. So, ristretto and affogato, you have my love, but feel free to make your way back to the Olive Garden.

But all roasts aside, coffee has certainly developed into an integral part of college culture. From late night cram sessions to chilling with friends on a lazy afternoon, caffeine has become a common thread through which we share laughs and create memories. And hey, I’m here for it all the way.  

This Month’s #CoffeeRoast

I met with a colleague at Brewed Awakenings (my personal favorite Main Street café) earlier today, and we both ordered a small cold brew with a flavor syrup of our choice. There was a considerably lengthy list hanging limply off the drip machine, with some fascinating flavor choices such as pineapple and eggnog, which I guess people like with their coffee nowadays? My colleague went for the banana, while I picked Irish cream, inspired by my favorite flavor of Bailey’s coffee creamer (concoction in question pictured above). The best way to describe this drink is “nice”. It definitely was not the most earth-shattering caffeine beverage I have ever had; the sweetness did overpower the bitterness of the espresso that I enjoy. But I have to admit, it was a simple, chilly comfort on an unexpectedly toasty day. To be honest, I really wouldn’t mind trying praline, English toffee, or macadamia nut on a return visit. In other words, not a high recommendation, but certainly a flexible menu item that lets you “espresso” yourself (sorry, I had to)!


Caffeinated Articles by Some Decent Human “Beans”

“What I Learned From Quitting Coffee After 15 Years of Daily Consumption” by Angelo Belardi:


“Here’s Some Money Advice: Just Buy the Coffee” by Tim Herrera:


“A Glossary of Coffee Terms” by Oliver Strand:


“Artes Vita: Setting the Stage” by Abhigna Rao

I don’t remember the first TED Talk I ever watched, mostly because I was fascinated with my dad’s fascination during my first ever TED Talk. Instead of looking at the screen, I would notice how his eyes would go wide at every interesting point made, every audience reaction. Each time the presenter mentioned something profound, he would instantly perk up and say, “Did you hear that?” I usually responded with a very convincing “yes,” but he would rewind the video anyway, this time pointing at the person’s face in rhythm with his words to make sure I understood. And under the façade of paying intense attention, I would chuckle under my breath at how passionate he was about the science rolling off the speaker’s tongue.

As I floated through middle school and entered high school, TED Talks began being used more and more as a teaching supplement. From Hugh Herr’s experience with bionic legs, to Amy Cuddy’s perspective on the effects of body language on confidence, and even further still to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce,” I was exposed to a variety of tastes based on the nature of the class as well as my teacher’s interests.

My all-time favorite talk in the entire world is “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator,” presented by popular long-form blogger Tim Urban. I find myself going back to this one time and time again, not just for the humor and the energy of the speaker, but to re-learn the life lessons he lays out for his audience. His message and his values resonate with me for different reasons every time I return to his video, and he really embodies the vision and purpose of TED. Continue reading

“Artes Vita: Touching Up Your Work Flow” By Abhigna Rao

HI EVERYONE! WELCOME BACK! I hope everyone had a lovely, restful Winter Break, whether you were taking a Winter Session, chilling at home, away on vacation, or studying abroad!

But now it’s back to the grind, and I can’t be the only one who’s feeling a tad bit overwhelmed with the impending hustle of the next twelve weeks. It’s only been three weeks into the spring semester, and I already feel like the rustic bricks of Old College are being thrown at me.

Nevertheless, how we handle the pressure of achieving a healthy work-life balance is fully within our control—if we develop the right mindset to do so. One of my objectives for personal growth this semester is to really work hard to stay on top of my academics and activities, and I want to share with you some of the strategies I have been using in order to do just that. Continue reading

“Artes Vita: The Intelligence Quotient” By Abhigna Rao

You know that feeling when you’re in a serious Zen writing mode and you’re not looking at the screen because the letters on the typewriter are all that matter right now but then you decide to take a quick peek to make sure that the cursor is still in the right place and you realize that somewhere along the way you accidentally HIT THE CAPS LOCK BUTTON INSTEAD OF THE SHIFT KEY AND NOW YOU’RE SCREAMING EVERYTHING THAT YOU’RE WRITING WHILE CONTEMPLATING IF IT’S REALLY WORTH IT TO GO BACK AND FIX EVERYTHING?

Yeah. Today was an aggressive Monday. Anyway.

So, I’ve calmed down slightly from my initial adrenaline rush, which was quite evident in my last post (and roughly 36 seconds ago), and I’m back with quite the riveting topic of discussion: intelligence. What exactly is intelligence? How is it defined? Are some people really “smarter” than others? Where does the distinction lie between feeling smart and being smart? Continue reading

“Artes Vita: A New Beginning” By Abhigna Rao

Attack life with abandon.

This is the first lesson I taught myself after high school. No more staring at the ground while walking, no more hiding out in the library during social hour, and absolutely no more avoiding the teacher’s eye contact during class discussion.

Approximately four weeks ago, I arrived on campus the same quiet and reserved girl I had been throughout grade school. But being included in orientations and icebreakers and group dinners by default during my first few days at UD literally forced me to turn over a new leaf. And I am so grateful that it did.

Quite honestly, after the initial uneasiness passed, I went nuts. I made fast friends with all the students in my residence hall section, as well as people across floors in my building. I applied to 186 South College (success!), ran for President of the Redding Hall Community Council (a bit less successful there, but that’s okay!), attended a City Council meeting, and signed up for twenty-three and a half RSOs with the full intention to commit to all of them. With even more exciting projects on my mind to work on in the weeks to come, starting college has been endlessly liberating and thrilling so far. Continue reading

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