An Interview to Remember

Today was a fairytale. A dream come true. An interview to remember – a college interview that is.

A few days ago, I received an email from Brown University inviting me to New York City for an interview. I was enthralled — even though pretty much everyone who applies is offered an interview. But it’s such an interesting experience to chat with an alumnus, as it allows me to get to know the university a little bit better.

Anyway, Brown University sent us to this very posh building in downtown Manhattan to conduct our interviews. I have to admit, I was surprised. I was hardly expecting to enter a college interview feeling like a pampered princess. The event was very well-organized, while the ambience was classy yet welcoming.

The entrance of the building was very inviting. There were balloons emblazoned with Brown’s logo everywhere, which I thought was a charming detail. When I arrived, the doorman of the building sent me to an upper floor, where I signed in and was greeted by the coordinator of the event. She gave me a name-tag (which I’m still wearing at the moment). I wish I had my camera and took one of those free Brown pens.

I actually got lost on the way to the interview session. I somehow ended up in a building on another street corner, that was coincidentally also conducting interviews for the day. However, the place reeked of cigarettes and everyone was twenty-five. I quickly left, and used a hotel’s computer to find the right building.

But back to the Brown interview. Like I said, it was in a very high-end office building. My interviewer informed me that it was the former headquarters of The New York Times, which came to me as no surprise. The atmosphere was elegant and décor was modern and sleek. After I signed in, I went into a spacious waiting area, where two Brown alumni led a very insightful Q & A session. One was a lawyer, while the other was working as a venture capitalist. Fancy.

They were very reminiscent about their time at Brown, and had nothing but enthusiasm for their alma matter. Most of the alumni I talked to mentioned having only positive experiences with Brown. At some points, one speaker actually slipped out a curse and even brushed upon some touchy topics. The conversation was all very open and relaxed. Overall, they were warm, sociable, and personable, and just exude happiness. 

Within the room, there were also about 60 other applicants – although I believe there were many more, as I arrived close to noon and the event started two hours earlier. And wow was I underdressed! I saw one boy outfitted in a full suit and tie ensemble. Most of the other students were very chic and stylish. The girls wore trendy dresses while the guys wore neat slacks. I’ll be sure to take notes for my next college interview.

And of course, there was no shortage of accomplished students. The alumni made us go around in a circle discussion our interests and activities. Many students played musical instruments (violin mainly), some  played soccer, one girl did poetry slam, and then another wrote a paper of femininity. These kids are going to go far! I know they will. The boy I was sitting next to was taking copious notes during the Q & A session. The speakers were quite impressed.

I was the only student who wanted to “concentrate” in French Studies, while the overwhelming majority of other students expressed interest in biology, economics, engineering, and political science. Two others were interested in literary arts and English.

Where it all begins!

In the interim, we were also served coffee and lots of sumptuous food — munchkins, bagels doughnuts, and other desserts. You could tell a lot of money and resources were funneled into the event. Brown definitely likes to keep its alumni connected.

Anyway, about an hour and half later, I was called in for my private interview.  There were interviewers of all ages/graduation years at the event. Mine had graduated several years ago, and studied American and Latin American History. She was a true scholar, on her way to earning her PhD to become a professor. I really liked her. To use an SAT vocabulary word, she was erudite.

I’m pleased to say that our conversation flowed like water. She was impressed that I wanted to major in French Studies, and proceeded to inform me about all the professors who would be of benefit me. We talked about immigration in France, affirmative action in the French constitution, literature, and Paris. We had a lengthly conversation, and sometimes she went off on intellectual tangents (it was entertaining!). She was hyper enthusiastic, and definitely exemplifies all the qualities of a Brown graduate.

I’m glad I met her. At Brown, she most appreciated her accessible, caring professors, and expressed admiration for Mrs. Ruth Simmons, the former president of the university.

Brown has a completely “Open Curriculum,” meaning that students can take whichever classes they want outside of their “concentration.” She said that the curriculum could be a potential drawback to students, as it could be too unrestrained. She ended up having to learn statistics/other mathematics at her current university. She then explained to me that at Brown, many of the students were from upper-crust society, and she was happy that the university was moving towards more diversity.

Providence, Rhode Island – Brown’s Hometown

In the end, I fell in love with Brown. Despite a few drawbacks, it sounds like a very positive, upbeat, and open institution, and I’m sure I would enjoy my experience.

True That

Coachella Lineup Released!

Comment Party: Who are you most excited to see?

I’m So Excited

I am looking forward to: Marina & the Diamonds, Stromae, Clean Bandit, Parquet Courts, FKA Twigs, Alt-J, Azealia Banks, Lykke Li, Kiesza,Fitz & the Tantrums, and Kasabian. I have diverse taste in music!

I’m not going to Coachella, however. I watch it on YouTube every year. I’m still in high school, so I can’t afford to go! And I know that if I went with my mother, she wouldn’t be able to deal with the camping, long lines, thick crowds, no showering, sweltering heat, and especially the illicit substances.

Are you going? Let me know about your festival experiences in the comments!

My Literary Paradise

A Favorite Quote

Greetings to all! The following post is my official college essay. It took months of perfection, and I hope you like it!

Common Application Topic: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Within ten minutes walking distance of my home is a sanctuary – a place of solitude, abundance, bliss, wonder, and repose. It is brown-and-white brick and “read” all over. And throughout the years, I – regrettably, yet for good reason – have contributed no less than one hundred dollars in penalties. Housing over one thousand books and tomes, that spot is my local library – a literary safe haven of my very own.

Almost since the day I was born, I have cherished the written word. I found joy in my mother reading aloud to me – anything from the story of Heidi to Judy B. Jones. With the turn of a page, I have voyaged 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, stayed In Touch with the latest celebrity gossip, and savored the haute cuisine of Eataly.

At the library, I am surrounded, swimming in a sea full of literature from five-thousand BC to the twenty-fifth century. But not only is the library a figurative escape from my everyday life. The books contained are timeless, powerful tools of change. They have been my outlets to adventure and shock. They have been instruments of transformation within my personal beliefs. Thanks to its sheer diversity, the library has allowed me to discover worlds unstudied and unknown, to expose me to the harshest realities that I seek to change. I carry what I’ve read throughout this journey of life.

I’ll never forget one day walking through the stacks, and stumbling into a section of food-and-drink. I scanned the selection, making sure to pick up The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, and even Eat This, Not That. Little did I realize that this seemingly random assortment of books would impact the way I eat, shop, think, and reflect. I quickly unearthed a horrifying reality.

I traced the journey of a fast food meal from farm to plate. I uncovered the plight of agricultural laborers, the treatment of livestock, and so much more. I discovered the hidden underbelly of the American food industry, a reality that I wished to change with my lifestyle. I began to shop and eat with a conscience, implementing the knowledge gained at trips to the farmers-market and grocery store. And thankfully, this change can all be attributed to the diversity and adventure of my local library.

But not only have the joys of books served to change the way I eat; they’ve also aided in my connection with relatives and friends. Nicole Kraus’s The Nanny Diaries is a hilarious favorite. My cousin Linseigh saw me reading it, and ended up devouring the work herself. And then there’s Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, a novel about the art of French parenting. I shared it with my beloved French “professeur” Madame Zuclich – and we often bring up the title to enliven our class discussions about French culture. I bond over books, and the many works I’ve discovered at my literary paradise have only served as sources of friendship, inquiry, laughter, and joy.

Above all, my favorite part of the literary hideaway is the travel section. So far, at the library, I have journeyed to the almost all two hundred nations on the planet. Through my beloved travel guides – from Lonely Planet to Berlitz – I’ve voyaged from Greenland to Antarctica, India, the Cook Islands, and ever beyond. I have discovered my favorite New York City restaurants – Burmese “Mingala” and Ethiopian “Awash” – thanks to a dogeared copy of Zagat. And issues of Time Out New York have driven me to visit the city’s dazzling array of art galleries and museums. I love to globe-trot and explore, and the library – with its infinite range of books and periodicals – piques my constant curiosity and rouses my desire to sightsee and travel.

The books of the literary hideout are outlets for my adventurous soul. No matter what the season or where I go, the written word is my mainstay, my second home.

Butler Library at my dream school Columbia University

And the College Application Process Comes to a Close….

Beebe Lake, Cornell University

Greetings to all my readers! And a Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I’ve been exploring New York City endlessly and enjoying the Christmas festivities, as well as finishing up my many college applications (which is what this post is all about!).

I submitted my college applications last night to seven extraordinary institutions (amongst others earlier) – and I’m thrilled with them all. I feel that the college application process is simultaneously daunting and fun. I generally love to write, but sometimes, it can be a struggle to come up with an articulate response to a question – and the word limits aren’t helpful either. But in the end, I was happy with what I produced. My essays are genuine and sincere, and they reflect who I am as an individual.

Columbia University – The Prettiest Campus Ever

I learned a lot about myself throughout this process. I figured out my loves, likes, and dislikes, along with what I really wanted to study. I actually kind of enjoyed it, dare I say.


At first, it was a struggle to write the main Common Application essay. It requires enormous amounts of time, editing, opinions, and precision. I think I wrote a total of three Common App essay samples, and I ended up submitting the one that was the truest to my heart. I first tried to rework a philosophical “Walden” paper that I wrote in AP English during my junior year, but it needed more personality, depth, and oomph. Then I wrote about my weight – but a few people, while telling me it was overall well-written, warned me that it may come across as cliché and a bit insignificant, shall I say.

Scenes from Cornell

I finally settled on a topic that was near and dear to my heart – reading. Yes, I wrote an essay about how much I liked going to the library. It’s my place of bliss, joy, and satisfaction. But I also talked about how books are a huge part of who I am today – how they’ve aided in my personal growth and developed my interests, and how they’ve helped me to connect with others. I knew that this was the right choice. So, I ended up submitting my library essay to my colleges. And I’m fully satisfied with it. It was simple; it was me.

A College or a Postcard?

I also had an overwhelming number of supplements to write – maybe about 20. Some short, one-sentence responses and some fleshed-out 650-word essays describing my intellectual interests. But in the end, I actually enjoyed the process of writing them. It took lots of rereading, rewriting, and editing, but ultimately, it was fun to express myself in new ways. I worked tirelessly on these things, and hopefully those admissions officers like what I wrote as much as I do.

An Image of Honfleur, France – To represent my major in French!

I her back from colleges in late March, and I have decided that I am going to wait to open all my application letters at the same time. I applied to a total of around 13 splendid schools, and I could see myself attending them all. It’s going to be hard to make a decision (provided that I get into my top choices, of course). Finding out where I get in is going to be a moment of shock and pure joy, and I want my friends and family there to watch and cheer, support and console.

I’m excited to hear back. I gives me chills just thinking about it. The waiting period should be the easiest part of this process, but I’m still agonizing at the same time. I guess I’m just going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Stanford University – So Pretty I Didn’t Apply


After I submitted my applications, I danced and danced and danced. I celebrated. I partied to my favorite songs. This is the song I listened to immediately as I was done. It’s called  “We Found Love” by the Palma Violets (hailing all the way from England). I love indie rock. And you should hear it. Here’s my favorite picture of them:

Palma Violets

 Au revoir et Bonne Année!

Lake Waban


Holiday Shopping in New York City


Happy Holidays to all!

Are you looking for the best places to shop and stroll in New York City this holiday season? Well look no further! Manhattan is one of the best places to shop for fashion, jewelry, art, trinkets, and other gifts in all the land. In New York City, unique shopping opportunites abound at one-of-a-kind holiday markets, chic boutiques, and elegant department stores. The selection is endless, and outlined below are some of New York City’s finest places to buy and browse for you and your loves ones.

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market

At 59th Street, straddling between the border of the Upper West Side and Midtown Manhattan, is one of New York’s most unique places to spend. And no, it’s not the nearby mecca of “The Shops at Columbus Circle.” Instead, it’s the annual winter Columbus Circle Holiday Market, a place of commerce for artisans, craftspeople, and gourmet food vendors from all over the world. From early December to Christmas Eve, visitors can sample sweets from designer chocolatiers, purchase local, handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry, or simply grab a bite at one of New York’s delectable food trucks. The Market is a maze of fashion, freshness, and fun, and you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Some of my personal favorite vendors: Avidgail Adam, an Israeli jeweler selling headpieces, bracelets, and rings, Savon de Provence, a manufacturer of sweet-smelling handmade French soaps, and Spices and Teas, which sells gourmet infusions from around the world!

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Winter Village at Bryant Park

Bryant Park’s very own Winter Village follows the same concept as the Columbus Circle Holiday Market outlined above. However, there is one major difference: Bryant Market has an incredible ice-skating rink. And who doesn’t love ice-skating – a storied winter tradition! The Winter Village is open until January 4th, giving visitors plenty of time to enjoy.

bry bryy

Bergdorf Goodman

Chanel, Saint Laurent, Dior, Céline, Prada, Balenciaga – the list flows on and on. If you’re looking for designer merchandise for you and your loves ones, look no further than Bergdorf Goodman.

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Bergdorf Goodman is – unarguably – New York City’s ritziest, glitziest department store. It’s Manhattan’s very own version of the UK’s Harrod’s (also one of the most memorable shops that I have ever visited). Posh, classy, sexy, elegant – Bergdorf Goodman is everything. As soon as you walk in, you feel like a celebrity. A pampered princess. Well-dressed salesladies shower you with attention, and your visit is their delight.

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On the first floor, you’ll find handbags and all-too-precious bijoux. Chloé, Judith Leiber, Van Cleef & Arpels, Proenza Schouler – if it’s on the runway, if it has graced the pages of Elle and Vogue, it’s here. On the upper floors, you’ll find fashion-forward clothing and the magnificent shoe department, featuring the likes of Christian Louboutin, Charlotte Olympia, and Prada.  

Bergdorf’s deserves a visit, even just a window shop.



Stay tuned! There’s more shops to come tomorrow!

All About Nicaragua!


Greetings to all, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays!

Todays blog posting is dedicated to my future trip to Nicaragua.

I realize that I haven’t blogged about travel for a while – which was meant to be the primary focus of this site. You see, at the moment, I am inundated with work – college essays, AP Biology worksheets, creative writing prompts, et cetera. But come January, I will be free as a bird when my college applications have been submitted. No worries until late March, when my college decisions arrive.

Anyway, it is now Christmas break, and I would like to update all my loyal readers on my future trip. I will be remaining in New York for the entire winter holiday (I haven’t vacationed over Christmas break since 10th grade in the Caribbean). But come February, I will journey to Nicaragua in Central America – a country that I couldn’t be more excited to visit.





Fun Facts about Nicaragua – Thanks to 

  • Population – 6 million
  • Currency – Gold Cordoba
  • Language – Spanish
  • President – Daniel Ortega
  • Ethnic Makeup – Mestizo 69%, White 17%, Black 9%, Amerindian 5%
  • Literacy Rate – 68%
  • Major Industries – food processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, textiles, clothing, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood
  • Natural Resources – gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
  • Religions – Roman Catholic 73%, Evangelical 15%, Moravian 2%, None 9%
  • Exports – coffee, beef, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts
  • Imports – consumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
  • Capital City – Managua
  • Arable Land – 15%


An Overview – From

“The largest but most sparsely populated of the Central American nations, Nicaragua borders Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. It is slightly larger than New York State. Nicaragua is mountainous in the west, with fertile valleys. Two big lakes, Nicaragua and Managua, are connected by the Tipitapa River. The Pacific coast is volcanic and very fertile. The swampy Caribbean coast is aptly called the ‘Mosquito Coast.’

“Nicaragua, which derives its name from the chief of the area’s leading Indian tribe at the time of the Spanish Conquest, was first settled by the Spanish in 1522. The country won independence in 1838.”


I traveled to Central America once in my lifetime – to Guatemala. And it was extraordinary. The country was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, and I can’t wait to see more of what Central America has to offer. In February, along with my classmates, I will be traveling to Nicaragua for a volunteer mission trip. There, we will be constructing sinks for the residents of a local village. I am sure where in Nicaragua I will be visiting, but we are going to start off the journey in Managua, the capital and largest city. I am so excited to go! I love exploring new countries. It just gives you a different perspective on life.



Lake Apoyo, Catarina, Nicaragua



The volunteer coordinator also recommended that I get malaria shots before I go, as there is a strong risk of the disease. I was also told by past volunteers to Nicaragua that the food served would be largely unvaried. One girl I spoke said that all she ate was rice and beans, and some local snacks and fruit. But I have no problem with that. I want to know how the locals eat, to truly experience their daily life.

Each volunteer in my group must bring an empty suitcase of supplies to donate to the locals – toothbrushes, toothpaste, crayons, markers, toys, shoes, and the like. This trip is going to be hard work, and I am excited to contribute.

Managua – The Capital



For fun, my group is going to hike up a volcano – something I wanted to do in Guatemala, but time did not permit – and do a beach visit. Which means I need a cute new bathing suit! 

Where will you travel next? Let me know in the comments below! I love hearing from my readers.

Columbia University – An Official Essay


Topic — Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why

Tucked away in quiet Morningside Heights is a little green haven I would like to call home for the next four years: Columbia University. Since my junior year tour, I have had a love affair with the institution, especially for its world-class academics. The Core Curriculum, the most celebrated aspect of the Columbia experience, provides the best mechanism to produce a diverse, well-rounded individual. And the ability to explore multiple disciplines in courses like “Frontiers of Science” and “Art Humanities” — even if they do not pertain to my major — is immensely appealing.

Another course I am eagerly anticipating is “Literature Humanities” – which typifies Columbia’s celebration of the art of literature. As an avid reader myself, I realize that at Columbia I would have the opportunity to not merely read some of history’s Great Books — Don Quixote, The Illiad, and more — but to engage in the incredible experience of discussing these revolutionary texts with a like-minded student community.


One of my prospective majors is “French and Francophone Studies,” and I believe that there is no better place to hone my language skills than Columbia University — a microcosm of the world! Columbia’s student body is bursting with international flavor, making it an extra special place to study a language. With Columbia’s emphasis on studying abroad, I would even have the option to perfect my skills at legendary French institutions, including the Sciences-Po or the Sorbonne — or on campus in unique courses like “Poesie Francophone D’Afrique.” And outside Columbia’s urban campus, the opportunities for French cultural interaction are endless at lectures, film screenings, and exhibitions at La Maison Française or the Alliance Française.


With Columbia University’s focus on structured learning, I know that I would graduate as an insightful, well-versed individual, equipped for life’s challenges. Columbia is truly an otherworldly institution, and I would be delighted to call it home for the next four plus years!

The Search for the Perfect College

There is a myth that senior year is supposed to be fun, relaxing, enjoyable, and carefree. Well, that myth that needs to be demystified. So far, senior year has equated to nothing but stress, agitation, piles of homework, sleep deprivation, and most importantly, an endless series of college applications. Senior year, for me, has been full of fear and worry about college. I fear rejection and failure, although I know I’ll end up somewhere I like.

Part of the reason I’m stressed is because I’m taking a whopping five AP courses. AP Biology, AP French, AP Microeconomics, AP English Literature, and AP Calculus AB. AP French is my favorite, and I have officially chosen French as my college major. There’s nothing quite as engrossing as learning a second language. AP English has been light and enjoyable, as I have always loved reading. AP Calc is difficult, and I have to study for it more than any of my other AP courses. But thankfully, I have a great grade in the class. I’m lost in AP Microeconomics. It’s pretty much all mathematics, and I had no idea that’s what I was signing up for. And then there’s AP Biology, the bane of my existence. I came into that class wanting to be a Biology major, and now, I have emerged as a French major. Quite a different path. This year, I have come to the realization that I do not like the sciences. Before, I wasn’t too sure, but now having studied biology in-depth in this course, I definitely do not like science. If I’m going to study one subject for the next four years, it better be something that I love.

Speaking of college, I have been working nonstop on my college applications since August 1st, the same day that the new Common Application was released. I rewrote my Common App essay two times, and even some of my writing supplements. I applied early decision to Columbia University (where I have been wanting to attend for several years) and every day, I am plagued with thoughts that I should just withdraw my application. Every day, I wonder if my essays could just be a little tighter, my SAT score a little higher. But I know Columbia University is my first choice of college, and I should just go for it. Columbia is a dream come true.

I’ve also planned on applying to Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. Too much choice. In addition, I will apply to Hunter College in NYC, CUNY Macaulay Honors program, New York University, University of Connecticut Fordham University, Drexel, UC Berkeley, and Stanford. I know I have way too many colleges on this list, but the thing is, some of the essays topics overlap, and I need to make sure I have enough safety options.

I quite like my Common Application. I’m extremely happy with the extracurriculars I’ve pursued, and I think that they highlight my passion for writing, journalism, dance, and health. I am slightly dissatisfied with my SAT score, but I can retake it in December (and the ACT too). I was torn between two main essay topics, but I think I went with one that was a little more touching and personal. I have completed many of my writing supplements, but not most. I still have a little more to go.

I’ll make sure to keep you updated on my college search. I’m going to hear back from Columbia on December 15, and I am praying for a positive result. Hopefully, you will be able to find me on 116th and Broadway real soon….


On a super random note, I would like to tell you how I destress. I love listening to music, and right now, my favorite musical acts are Pearls Negras (an all-girls rap trio from Brazil), F(x) (a Korean girl group), Beach Day, and Kiesza. I beg you to listen to them all!

Drexel University

image    I have yet to visit a college that I dislike. From Connecticut to New York City to Pennsylvania, each college that I tour has its own unique offerings that greatly detract from any potential flaws. Drexel University is just one of the many colleges that I am visiting this summer on my grand Northeastern tour, and it has certainly been one of my most memorable experiences to date.

Drexel University is a fast-paced urban academic institution of higher learning, situated in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an utterly charming city. Its student body comprises over 26,000 students, including 14,800 undergraduates, 4,600 graduates, and another 5,000 online students. It is a huge, thriving university. Approximately 200 degree programs are offered by the institution, and there are over 15 individual schools distinguished by the student’s choice of major. Almost every major under the sun is available for study at Drexel, but perhaps the school is most notable for its prominent science and engineering programs.

Drexel especially emphasizes the participation of the student in scientific research, as it pertains to his or her major. Over $110 million is donated in sponsor support each year toward research. This facet is just one of the highlights of the university’s offerings.

My Drexel University information session was led by an articulate and persuasive education major who was currently employed in Drexel’s admissions office. He demonstrated nothing but passion and enthusiasm toward his alma matter, which certainly left a positive impression upon the audience.

Firstly, Drexel offers top-notch academic programs that provide the student with hands-on learning outside of the classroom walls. Perhaps Drexel’s most notable program (which encouraged me to visit the university) is the co-op, a term that stands for cooperative education. A co-op is basically an internship opportunity available exclusively to Drexel students. The co-op can be paid or unpaid, depending upon the specifications of the companies at which the students intern. For companies such as MTV, there are just too many interns working that payment cannot be provided, whereas at smaller firms, payment is usually possible. Most internships average around $15,000 to $16,000 per year, which is quite a good sum of money for a college student. All students are required to participate in this particular program, which extends the traditional 4 years of college into a total of 5 years! I find that this is the ultimate educational experience, especially for someone who is looking to network in college to attain easier connections to jobs.

All Drexel students are required to co-op at three different time periods during their years at the university. The co-op will typically pertain to the student’s choice of major, so as to gain the student some experience in that particular field of study. For example, a pre-law student hailing from California spent her first year interning in her home state for Jails to Jobs, a pro-bono service that helps former prisoners in the search for employment. Another student (my tour guide), who was studying criminology, was taken by her professors to grisly crime scenes (a la CSI), murder trials, and even a functioning jail. After that firsthand experience, the student later traded criminology for the much less ghastly communications. This hands-on experience that Drexel University provides to its students is indispensible to helping students decide whether or not a certain major or career is right for them. It is this direct experience that urges me (and hopefully you too!) to apply to the college.

There are myriad subjects to study at Drexel University at each of their 15 individual colleges. A few of the institutions include the Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, the School of Education, LeBow College of Business, the School of Law, and the College of Medicine, amongst several others. I found that Drexel’s academics were comprehensive and diverse. Just imagine the cross section of people you will meet and the uncontrollable spread of ideas that will flow between you and other Drexel students! The possibilities are endless.

According to The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, there are about 136 extracurricular activities offered by Drexel, and of course, students can always start new ones (as long as they garner interest). The most popular activities at Drexel are the ones involving the fine arts: band, orchestra, dance, and musical theater. Music and dance are offered only as minors by Drexel, and theater is not offered by the university for study at all. But don’t let that stifle your creativity! Drexel’s extracurricular musical theater program is quite distinguished, and goes well beyond the college level. In fact, all fine arts professors and organizers are professionally trained in their fields. Students have even traveled as far as Singapore to perform in concerts, festivals, and shows!  


According to my tour guide, most sports offered by Drexel revolve around the school-wide intramural level rather than a national level. As I stated several times before, Drexel is mainly a science school, and most of the extracurriculars will revolve around that subject or the fine arts. Currently, Drexel University does not have a professional football team, but they do have most other sports, including cheerleading, basketball, and rowing. Athletics is not something emphasized by the institution, as it may be at many other colleges.

My final part of my Drexel adventure included a tour of the campus led by the aforementioned communications major. In truth, the campus is not exactly spectacular. There is no style of architecture unifying Drexel University; it’s more of a conglomerate of random buildings grouped together into one entity. The biology building was absolutely stunning, however! It was newly constructed and very contemporary, and featured a spiral wooden staircase modeled after DNA.

I had my first ever opportunity to visit a college dorm room, which was certainly eye opening. I had no picture in my head of what a dorm looked like, but it was quite small. Again, as with the university, the dorm rooms have no similar architectural structure. Roommates can be grouped my major, amongst other credentials. The particular dorm room that I visited was for honors students only. It was in a skyscraper-like building that provided for pretty fantastic views of Philadelphia! Overall, I felt that the dorm rooms were very basic housing arrangements. The showers were the size of a small closet, and the actual room was tiny. But I do understand that this is all a part of college living, and I’ll stay open-minded.

Despite its select drawbacks, I really do like Drexel. I still hold my views that their academics are top-notch, and will provide me with the tools that I need to hopefully become a registered dietitian. I like the idea of the co-op program and the invaluable firsthand experience that I can obtain outside of the classroom. The fact that there are over 15 schools at which I can study is enough for me to apply alone; there is much diversity in the academic realm. Drexel is a solid college for all students, because there is something to suit each and every person who applies. You can most definitely go above and beyond with your Drexel education.

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The Ugly Side of Pretty: The Untold Story of Chemicals & Cosmetics

Lip gloss, nail polish, mascara, eyeliner, and foundation, the list goes on and on; these are some of the myriad products girls and women use to enhance their beauty. This past year, Plano Senior High School in northern Texas held a special day where none of the school’s thousands of students wore makeup. The event was called Operation Beauty. Its goal was to boost the self-confidence of its female students, and it worked. The event received national attention, from ABC News to the online newspaper Huffington Post. But forgoing makeup does much more than promote self-worth. There is a hidden underbelly to the business of beauty – one that will frighten and even scar you. As it turns out, there’s an ugly side to pretty.

Ten thousand is the approximate number of chemical additives used in personal care products. One in five ingredients in your favorite cosmetic is a known carcinogen – a toxic, cancer-causing chemical.

You may be thinking, certainly if we just read the labels … but many cosmetic labels are known to be fallacious, and the beauty industry does not disclose certain ingredients for pecuniary reasons. Companies are well aware that consumers will not buy their products if they are known to contain certain chemical compounds. In addition, the cosmetics industry is plagued with corruption, feeding consumers misleading messages and deceptive advertising. Case in point, certain nail polish manufacturers are making products touted as free of the “toxic trio”: toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). These chemicals have been linked to asthma, cancer, and birth defects. Yet California state testing identified trace amounts of the toxic trio chemicals in some 25 products that were labeled “three free.”

The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be infamously slow at enforcing regulations that could ban these noxious ingredients. In fact, cosmetic companies are not always required to conduct safety tests on their products. And remarkably, personal care products are not required to be recalled.

In 2012, 2,350 American women participated in the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” conducted in Boston. Through analysis of urine samples, researchers sought to detect a family of chemicals known as phthalates, which add scent to various cosmetic products and household items. Phthalates are tied to increased risk of diabetes and obesity. The results were appalling. The study showed that women with the highest concentration of phthalates had a 70 percent increased risk of diabetes compared with women with the least amount of these chemicals in their bodies.

In 2008, another study, conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), found sixteen dangerous chemicals from four chemical families – including musks, parabens, triclosan, and phthalates – in the blood and urine samples of twenty adolescent females. How many potentially noxious ingredients are teenagers exposed to on a daily basis? Is anyone keeping track? In Europe and Canada, certain chemical compounds that are known to be hazardous to health are banned from personal care products, but in the United States these are not strictly regulated.

How can consumers avoid exposure to dangerous chemicals? Well, some changes are being made. In 2006, a public campaign put pressure on the $6 billion nail care industry to make necessary formula changes. When doing your nails, try brands like OPI and Sally Hansen, which have made significant efforts to eradicate highly toxic chemicals from their products. Or try water-based polishes, such as Acquarella. When in doubt about product formulations, contact the manufacturer.

Young women can join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, founded by Stacy Malkan and the Breast Council Fund. This group, which has garnered significant international attention, promotes the eradication of dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products. It has enlisted the help of organizations, businesses, and activists to demand better governmental oversight of chemicals in cosmetics. The Campaign has made several significant strides: it has reduced or removed phthalates from many products; it has forced major nail polish brands to remove the toxic trio of chemicals; most importantly, the Campaign has helped to create the online database Skin Deep.

Skin Deep, which is sponsored by the Environmental Working Group, educates consumers about the pernicious chemicals in over 60,000 cosmetic products. To use the Skin Deep database (, simply type the name of a beauty product into the search box, and – voilà – products are rated on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the absolute safest and 10 being the most toxic.

Everyone can also support H.R. 1385: “Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013.” Over 1,500 companies have voiced their support for it. Its goal is to replace harmful additives with safer alternatives. The act hopes to force the FDA to disclose the full list of ingredients in all cosmetic products. This legislation will ensure that the cosmetics industry is making the safest products. The law also hopes to find alternatives to animal testing. If the Safe Cosmetics Act passes, get ready to say good-bye to cancer-causing, birth-defecting, developmentally-harming chemicals. Girls (and guys), with your power, you can encourage local representatives to co-sponsor the Act. We must not let companies continue to hide the true ingredients in cosmetics. Spread awareness of this cause among friends and family. Hold a screening of the informative short film “The Story of Cosmetics,” hosted by Annie Leonard.

The best solution to protect yourself from chemical exposure? Go au naturel. Don’t wear makeup. While this might not appeal to everyone, at very least be sure you are informed about your personal chemical exposure. American women have the power to tell these cosmetics giants that beauty shouldn’t just be skin-deep.