Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vanderbilt=My Home?

There is one very important concept about religious faith and practice that I've come to realize today. Many religions are about how one practices their faith and not just what one believes about their faith. An exception to this would be Protestantism. Many Protestants believe if you believe in Jesus you're saved. Now, I sort of believe this, but I honestly feel that this concept is way too simple. When Jesus Christ was on this earth, he mostly wanted to spread and teach others about being a leader and caring for the poor. Sometimes, I feel that Christians forget this. This is why I believe your actions speak louder than your thoughts and beliefs to God. Yes, believing that Christ was your savior is essential, but Christians have to respect Jews and Muslims for how submissive they are to God and how charitable and peaceful they are in this world. Now, don't even say that not all Muslims are like this because of "terrorists". Like our Muslim feminist activist guest speaker, Remziya, said, I don't believe the people responsible for 9/11 were Muslim. No where in the Koran or in their beliefs does it say that one can murder another person.

Lately, I've been feeling a little home-sick, but this feeling isn't going to be anything compared to saying goodbye to all of my newly found friends here. It still amazes me how close you can become with others when you've only known them for a couple of weeks. Close bonds and making new friendships are never this easy in high school, and I honestly wish high school was just like VSA. It would be so much fun. And no homework, but instead, an intense 6 hours of class time? That's definitely a "plus".

I can definitely see myself living in a dorm like this, but most importantly, I can see myself living with and going to school with students like the VSA student body. These people are too sociable, too intellectual, too talented, and way too much fun for their own good. I just hope I can see them again. Well, one thing is for sure, if any of my VSA friends come to the Bay Area, or if I ever visit their areas, we're going to meet up and "hang out" with each other. Man, can VSA just last longer? Three weeks is nothing--just like how one week of college touring was nothing. Nothing good ever lasts long it seems.

Today the entire VSA went to the movies, and most of us watched the Dark Knight Rises. I was super excited for this, not just because I'm going with all my friends, but because I've waited four years--ever since 8th grade--for this movie to come to the big screen. Being in the theater, I forgot for a second that I was thousands of miles away from home and was in a Nashville movie theater. I felt like I was watching a movie in my town; so I guess I felt like I was home. It seems that I must be pretty comfortable in Nashville to forgot for a bit that I wasn't at Century 16 Hilltop (movie theater near my town). I don't want to give anything away about this movie, but let me just say that it was the best epic conclusion to a trilogy I've ever seen. I felt the biggest surge of energy leaving the theater, and watching Batman was definitely the best way possible to end my last Saturday at VSA.

This program is starting to make me realize how close I am to attending college. In just a few months, I will be done filling out those admission applications. I guess if I feel so much at home here, I should apply for Vanderbilt! Well, I think I'll know for sure by the end of this trip if I'm going to apply here or not. It seems I'll just leave it up to fate and my hard work to see what will happen in the next chapter of my life.

A Fun-Filled Saturday

Class on Saturdays is always very short. For one thing, we only have it for the morning, and it is much more relaxed than class on the weekdays. Since time was limited, we only finished up our lesson on marijuana. Before, all I knew about this drug was that it was bad, but I never knew why. Today though, I learned many of the negative effects this drug can cause. Although it is not nearly as horrible as Meth or Cocaine, it still has its faults. Like alcohol, it can impact your ability to function normally which makes it difficult for people to drive. Also, it can lead to permanent memory loss to anyone who uses marijuana before they finish puberty, which can be around the age of 16. One extraordinary thing I found out was that marijuana actually perfectly fits into our receptors in our brains perfectly. The details are a little sketchy since there hasn’t been enough research on it but its mind blowing how a natural plant product is essentially made for the receptors in our brains.

Today was also the time for S.O.F.T., one of my activities at VSA. Since we had a boatload of time (about 4 hours) I ultimately decided to hang out with a couple of my friends and explore the boundaries of 21st Street. I spent most of that time looking into many of the cute, small shops around. In all honesty, I wanted to buy at least one thing in every store, however everything was just so dang expensive. Seriously, there is no way I am paying for a 70 dollar tank top – no way. Besides, I am saving as much as I can for the mall tomorrow; I really would like to buy another pair of jeans since the only ones I brought over here mysteriously ripped. I never even got to wear them. I am sure I will be able to find nice ones tomorrow though.

Anna gives Batman two thumbs up!
Once S.O.F.T. was over, I started to get ready for the movie outing. Yes, tonight was finally the night we went to go see The Dark Knight Rises. After several cool previews for upcoming movies, (which included a new Superman) my heart raced, excited for the film I have been dying to see for the past couple of weeks. Now, I don’t want to give any spoilers away so let me just say this: It. Was. Incredible. I really get into movies like these so I admit I was one of those people that get really emotional and tear up when one of ‘those’ scenes come up. In the end, I was really satisfied with how my day went today. I really couldn’t have asked for it to go any better.
Now that I think about, I can’t believe VSA is almost over. It saddens me to think about leaving my new friends, but there is still one week left, and I know it will be the best of them all.

The Dark Knight Rises

Katherine ( a good friend of mine here) and I. 

I was tired and my feet were bloody from running barefoot through the streets. Tears blurred my vision and fell from my cheeks. I needed water; I needed to stop running, but I knew if I did I would lose my life. I ran as fast as I could until I came to a little village, where I ran to the nearest house and banged on the window. 
" Please, someone, answer the door!" I begged, banging my tiny fists on the oak door. No one answered. I turned around to run, but came face to face with a man instead. No, man was not the right word to describe this...creature. It was a monster. It loomed over me, pale as the snow beneath me, with silver hair pulled back into a low ponytail behind its neck. It wore a long, black cloak that concealed most of its body and carried a sword in its hand. He looked at me with blood-thirsty eyes and a smirk that made my blood curl. He hissed as he closed in on me. He raised his sword, and the tip gleamed in the moonlight. Slowly, the sharp edge came closer to my neck. 

That's when I woke up panting, with sweat dripping down my face. I looked around my room, only to see an empty bed across from me, and a few desks cluttered with various paraphernalia. I planted my hand to my heart, feeling the fast pace of my heartbeat underneath the thin fabric of my sleeping shirt. Thank God my roommate had left early to work out at the gym. I had been immersed in my writing last night; I must have fallen asleep as I brainstormed more ideas for my second short mystery story. 

I lay there in bed for a while, inhaling and exhaling excessively to try and calm myself. When my heart resumed its normal pace, I jumped out of bed and grabbed my notebook. I jotted down what I remembered from my dreams, and shoved my notebook back into my backpack before hurrying to the bathroom to ready myself for the day. 

After breakfast, I went to class with the usual pack I travel with. We spent the entire two hours of class talking about metaphors in mystery writing and how useful they can be. Then, we spent an hour writing a horrible love song from Sherlock to Watson, Watson to Sherlock, or Moriarty to Watson. I was a very interesting and fun day. 

When class was over, we had about four hours of free time. I read in a room for a while until a friend of mine texted me asking to accompany him CVS to buy some things. I gathered our usually group and signed out to go to CVS with my friends, where we had a little adventure looking for a soap container. 

Finally, after dinner, all of VSA went to see The Dark Knight Rises. It was by far one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. I must admit that I was slightly lost in some places because I have not seen the first one, and I saw the second one a long time ago so I forgot what happened. However, towards the middle of the film I was completely captivated in the plot. Everyone in the audience cheered with satisfaction when the movie ended. 

All in all it was a very jovial day. I had fun in class and outside of class. I can say with confidence that this summer camp at Vanderbilt is perhaps the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am thankful to the ILC for providing with the opportunity to participate in this program. My only regret is that I didn't do this last year. 

On our way to see The Dark Knight Rises. 

Expect The Unexpected

Today was relaxation Saturday. Sleeping in for an hour feels so good after all the endless weekdays. After a good breakfast I headed to class. We had a short lecture on marijuana, and I learned a lot about the health effects on your body. Marijuana has effects on your appetite, increases your heart rate, and you can suffer memory loss. If you smoke marijuana, it can be detected for the next 10 days due to its fat solubility. One interesting fact I learned was that it may affect fertility in adolescent boys. Additionally, not many die from marijuana, but 2000 people die of caffeine annually in the United States. We didn’t have time for a debate, but I’m glad that I learned more about this drug. We have finished two thirds of our Pharmacology class, and boy has my mind grown to new understandings. I used to know a tad about marijuana, but now I am fully aware of the controversy going on with it. Just being around many brilliant young people, it’s an amazing experience to share our thoughts with each other and it's great to be able to be exposed to different cultures.

Window shopping!

Rockin' those sunglasses!

The rest of this day was very laid-back. We had a SOFT afternoon; so some of my friends and I decided to check out the little shops near Vanderbilt. I enjoyed looking through all these antique shops and highly expensive, but cute clothing stores. Shopping is very tempting, especially if I see really pretty clothes. But, I need to save some money, because we’re going to the mall tomorrow!

After a quick dinner, we all rushed to the buses to get to the movie theaters on time. A couple of miles down the road we hit the theaters to watch The Dark Knight Rises. To be honest, I didn't know the story line or anything, and I have forgotten what happened in the previous movies. I'm really not good with movies however, I still won't give out any spoilers, but I must say it was a really good movie! Expect the unexpected! 
At the movies!
Throughout my stay here at VSA, I have learned to become more independent. Just with the responsibility of getting to class on time, doing my laundry, being prompt to activities, and exploring Nashville with just my friends, I realized that being on your own isn't too bad at all. Although I am getting a little homesick, I am beginning to overcome it, and our packed schedule is keeping my mind off of it. Last week of VSA, here I come!