Category: Alyssa Schiff (page 1 of 2)

“That’s All Folks!” by Alyssa Schiff

And just like that, the spring semester of 2020 has come to a close. For some, this is the end of life at UD and in college. What would already be an incredibly bittersweet, exciting, and uncertain time has now been made more bittersweet and uncertain by the global pandemic. Seniors have not been able to say goodbye to professors, friends, and the campus as a whole. Closure for the end of this chapter will need to wait until we are able to have an in-person graduation at a later date.

Having said all of this, it seems the world really is sympathizing with seniors. In the past few days I watched as John Krasinski held a virtual graduation and commencement for graduating seniors on his YouTube show “Some Good News,” bringing together countless celebrities including Jon Stewart, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and even Malala Yousafzai. Then another virtual ceremony was held featuring the Obamas, LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Pharell Williams, and many many more.

What a strange time to be entering “the real world.” Despite the uncertainty and obvious disappointment in losing a typical senior spring, this is also a time of gratitude for me. I have been unbelievably fortunate through this period. I was able to continue living in Newark in a very comfortable apartment with my best friends where we have internet capable of supporting six computers all day. I have also remained healthy, and have been able to make the best of quarantine by being surrounded by wonderful friends.

My roommates and I have had countless movie nights, themed dinners, celebrated holidays, gone for social distancing picnics, take-out nights, drives blasting music, and we have even opened a home salon where several of us have had our hair cut or dyed (don’t worry, no bangs!). We have commiserated, but also shared our joy and gratitude for this time together.

Looking back on my time at UD, I have only endless gratitude. I owe so many thanks to the professors who have pushed and encouraged me, to the Honors program for being a support system and for providing countless opportunities, to the McNair Scholars program for facilitating my research and my path to graduate school, to the Writing Center for providing such a lovely work environment, and to all my fellow classmates, friends, and students who have changed and inspired me.

When I applied to UD and the Honors program, I wrote an essay on optimism. I wrote that I am optimistic because the beauty of humanity is that we are all constantly inspired and moved by each other. That people always change each other, sometimes for the better and sometimes not, and how wonderful that can be. While I cringe looking back on that essay, I feel the sentiment now more than ever. We may not be able to physically be together on campus for a graduation, but we will carry each other — friends, classmates, faculty, and staff alike — and UD with us for the rest of our lives. I would like to think as much as being a UD student has changed all of us, that we have also affected change to UD during our time by questioning the systems in place, furthering research, writing, performing, and more.

I think often on a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young. He writes, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”” And perhaps these last four years weren’t just “nice” but instead challenging, frustrating, difficult, joyous, and wonderful. We have been stressed and sleep-deprived, but also (hopefully) changed for the better, and if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

“Senior Year Struggles” by Alyssa Schiff

Time has already been flying by since the semester started up again, despite the summer dragging on for ages. Working on my own schedule for two months this summer made me appreciate the planned out schedule of class on a new and very deep level. For ten weeks I sat in the library, and almost every coffee shop on Main Street, working on my research for the McNair Program here at UD. Thankfully, I was doing this research on a topic I care very deeply about: environmental injustice, and so I felt like I was both gaining really important research experience and also diving deep into the topic I hope to go to grad school for. While I won’t spend forever on the topic, if you are considering pursuing a research experience: go for it.

Within the first day of class, I felt wholly relieved to be thrown back into a regular schedule of class and work. That is, until I realized that senior year is an entirely new beast that I might not be ready to face. Firstly, let me tell you, grad school applications are just simply unpleasant. Deciding the programs to apply to, asking for recommendations, and writing many, many essays, leaves one with a general sense of panic and a deep worry for the future. Secondly, I did not plan my schedule correctly whatsoever. Once again I have somehow made my schedule entirely overflowing with class, work, and meetings. People always say how they plan to take their easiest classes in senior year and reduce their workload, but I guess I just didn’t get that memo. After switching my minor in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies to a second major in the second week of senior year, I ensured that I would be taking a full course load for my second semester of senior year. And trust me, I know that may sound like a perfect way to add some more stress into the senior year equation, and I won’t disagree, but in my mind that stress is worth it in the end for classes I really enjoy (see my last post on classical studies).

My third issue with senior year is handling the nostalgia of it being the last year at UD. I have lived with my same roommates from freshman year in Redding all through college, and when we decided to move off-campus in junior year, we added our friends who lived only a few doors down from our corner room in section 3C. As I’m quickly realizing, I’ve been incredibly lucky to live with several of my best friends, and I really just don’t want that experience to end just yet. As much as every college student knows that they will need to move forward at the end of their four years, that fact really just hits a little different in senior year.

While my senior year is off to a very stressful start, the nostalgia of it being the last year (while sad and difficult to deal with) also kicks in to say, “hey, take a break and talk to your friends,” and for that, I am grateful. If you are a senior and reading this, and perhaps resonate with the stress rant I’ve laid out here: lean into the nostalgia, and let it motivate you to enjoy yourself a little bit more.

Hen’s Kitchen by Carly Patent

As college students, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing to help us get through long days, busy schedules, projects, assignments, tests, quizzes, homework, reading, meetings, relationships, and everything in between. And, no, sorry to say, but that one thing is not Netflix, puppies, or the Starbucks in Smith, instead, it’s food.

We never really pay much attention to the effect that food has on our overall happiness, but I’m here to say that there’s something quite magical about an ice cream cone rolled in rainbow sprinkles or a slice of ooey gooey pizza. Oftentimes, college students, myself included, take for granted how important it is to eat right – especially during those weeks when your professor decides to assign a fifty-page reading in the last five minutes of class, when your calendar looks like a game of tic tac toe, and when you can’t even remember what color the carpet in your room is. Focusing on the elements that you can control – such as how much sleep and exercise you get and what you put into your body – is a starting point.

Living on campus the past two years, I had the luxury of a meal plan. Whenever I was hungry, I could walk the fifteen or so feet to my nearest dining hall, head up to a station, grab a plate, sit down, and enjoy. I never had to think about meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation time, or washing dishes. Now, however, having moved into an apartment, I now must consider all of these things – on top of my schoolwork, commitments, and activities. Knowing that I am not alone in the boat of college students who came to college with experience making maybe one or two items – scrambled eggs and toast, anyone? I’m here to share what I have learned. And with that, let me present some tips and tricks to guide you when it comes to making healthy, satisfying meals that are not only easy on the wallet but will make you feel like Rachael Ray or Emeril…BAM!


Plan Ahead of Time

There’s nothing worse than going to the supermarket on an empty stomach. Anything and everything will be tempting, and anything and everything will make it into your cart and back home with you. The dinosaur chicken nuggets? A necessity. A jug of chocolate milk? Can’t live without it. A family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Ah, toss it in. If you write out a set list of exactly what you need for that week’s meals, you’re less likely to fall into the trap of a growling stomach. Before heading to the supermarket, look through your fridge and pantry to see what you have, what you need, and what you absolutely want. What really helps me, surprisingly, is having limited space to store my food. If I don’t have room for it, then I can’t buy it. Take a cue from Santa; make a list, and check it twice!


Make Healthy Choices

When living at home, it’s easy to eat healthy when your mom nags you to eat your vegetables! But, when you have the freedom to instead stock up on taquitos, waffles, and Easy Mac, getting your daily dose of greens might take the back burner unless you think wisely. First, read nutrition labels. I know that we were all taught how to do this in middle school health class and have most likely tried to forget about that time in our life – Juicy tracksuits, hair feathers, Axe, and Silly Bands. Knowing what to look for when shopping for ourselves, however, is important. Items that we consider “healthy” such as granola bars can actually be loaded with sugar. Taking the extra time to read the labels can help you prevent that Freshman – or Sophomore, Junior, and Senior – Fifteen. Second, sneak in your vegetables. We always hear of parents tricking their kids into eating mashed potatoes with cauliflower and zucchini in their muffins. So why not do the same? Throw a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie or add some veggies to your omelette. You can keep eating what you love, but with some simple switches, what you love will show the love in return!


Be Creative

While I consider myself to be a decent cook and an avid watcher of the Food Network, before coming to college, I had quite limited experience actually planning and making my meals. The first week or so, I resorted to making the same few dishes, and while they are still my favorites, as I got more comfortable cooking for myself, I began to branch out and try new things. There are literally millions of recipes out there to try so that you’re not stuck eating the same things every night. When I first made chicken – something that oddly enough freaks me out thanks to a not-so-pleasant experience with undercooked chicken – I felt like a true adult and rejoiced in my roommates’ praise for conquering such a task! I think it’s important to recognize that while the kitchen can be scary, coming from someone who has dealt with some minor burns and cuts, it can also be freeing. Trust yourself and your ability to try new things so that you can break free from the Ramen Noodles that are holding you back!


Treat Yourself

My final piece of advice for transitioning to the added responsibility of cooking for oneself is to value food for what it is: a story. Every time that we eat, we tell a story of where we are in life, who we are with, and what we value. We all have that one meal that is ingrained in our heads: a meal that we shared with someone we love, a meal that went terribly wrong, or a meal that we would pay millions of dollars to relive. Whether it is the taste of your mom’s caramel brownies or your favorite restaurant’s lobster macaroni and cheese, food has a transformative ability. It can help us connect with those around us. It can bring us back to a special moment. It can heighten our moods. The power of food should not be underestimated. And, for that reason, treating yourself to a nice meal – whether prepared by yours truly or picked up on Main Street – is a valuable act. I’m not sure that there’s anything a warm chocolate chip cookie can’t fix!

Food can take many forms, and not just literally! It can be a warm hug, a much-needed reward, a call home, and a memory. As college students juggling hectic lives and trying to balance everything that we’ve signed ourselves up for, food is one of the many things that we can control, and for that reason, it becomes much more important. For all of my fellow Blue Hens who have recently made the transition from meal plan to apartment kitchen, I hope this blog post has inspired you and made your stomach rumble. We have a lot on our plates, pun intended, so let’s at least make sure that we’re filling them up with something that would bring Guy Fieri straight to Flavortown! (Can you tell that my roommates and I have been watching too much Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives?)

Finding Joe Biden – A Series by Alyssa Schiff

For those of you who may have read my previous post about the famed Joe Biden: hold onto your hats for this second installment. For any coming to this post as the first story you may have read on this blog or by me, hello, and welcome to my tale of woe.

Joe Biden, hero of University of Delaware, has enjoyed several visits and talks here over the last several months. During spring semester last year, Joe sat down for a quick bite in our very own Caesar Rodney Dining Hall and was also the star speaker at his own event Biden is Back. In his speech on that cold, grey day in April he said, “When you see me walking down campus, don’t pretend you don’t know me.” Here enters my excitement, but today, my heartbreak.

During his meal in Caesar Rodney, I was blissfully unaware in Trabant – until I opened one Snapchat story, followed by another, and another. Next I opened Instagram and saw posts flow showing him shaking hands or hugging students. My heart shattered, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it as I had class shortly and I was also 5-7 minutes away and kids were already trying to bombard him with pictures. This makes one missed opportunity.

Then this semester, Joe led yet another presentation at Mitchell Hall. By the time I knew it was happening I also knew that I would be unable to attend. After this event, a friend tells me she just happened to walk by after the event and just happened to run into the ex Vice President of the United States of America and was able to meet him and get a picture. Another missed opportunity.

And finally we reach his last visit just a few days ago, November 16th, where he gave another presentation in Trabant. At 10:45, after my 9:30 class let out, I walked unknowingly through Trabant to reach my next class. As I left, I saw the Instagram stories, the Snapchat stories, and the Facebook post letting everyone know of Joe’s latest appearance. Yet another missed opportunity.

I leave for Thanksgiving break disappointed and disheartened. How could I have missed it all? How could I not have had my moment on campus with him when so many others had? When would my moment come? I vowed upon realizing my latest missed opportunity that I would meet him sometime in my four years here. Joe, if you are reading this, please make my four years complete and find me.

“Loving the Classics” by Alyssa Schiff

During high school I took four years of Latin, and then I assumed my love for ancient Rome would die a painless death and that would be the end of it. I assumed fairly incorrectly, as this semester I took up the classes HIST341 (Ancient Rome) and LATN102 (Latin 2). Though Latin 2 was more of a review for the four years, it reinvigorated my passion for Latin, and Ancient Rome supplied a newly found love for classical history. After planning my schedule for next semester I realized that there were only so many classes that I could realistically take that were outside of my major, minor, and concentration. This became an ongoing struggle for me and I made several schedules trying to map how I could sneak in a mythology class among the other required classes I need. Continue reading

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