Posts Tagged ‘Language’

NYC: On the Street

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

I’ve been in New York for about a month now, and what an overwhelming month it was. Between cramming everything I own into my tiny car and driving from Michigan, to meeting my ten (ten!) new housemates, to getting scammed, to getting scammed again by the stupid transit system, to navigating the New York University campus, to getting off at the wrong subway stop, to getting utterly lost while on a run– it’s been anything if not exciting.

One of the most immediately striking features of New York City is the swirl of languages, food, and dress on every corner. Of course, it would be silly for me to see this diversity as proof that NYC is post-racial or completely harmonious. New York has issues, as does every city.

A metaphor I’ve developed for thinking of the city’s culturescape is the subway. Essential yet hated by most New Yorkers, the subway is dirty, unreliable, and overall frustrating- but it’s most people’s only option. NYU is exactly 6.1 miles from my house in Brooklyn- it takes 50 minutes to commute into Manhattan, and that’s on a good day. After dodging drips from the sagging ceiling, I jump the gap between the platform and the train to squeeze in with the other haggard commuters. The subway is the great equalizer: in the dark damp, it’s hard to be superior to others when you’re lumped into a mass. Fancy clothes are at risk of being soiled, and uncomfortable shoes don’t lend themselves to the constant walking required to transverse the city.

One of the stations I frequent. Courtesy Tumblr

One of the stations I frequent. Courtesy Tumblr

 

In the subway, there are no barriers. The privileged cannot use tall gates, expensive cars, or newfangled security systems to distinguish themselves from the “rabble,” us common folk. We are the human condition, pressed into a small, shabby subway car together. We are all subjected to the same delays, the same discomfort, the same noises and smells. We all pay the same price (3 bucks a pop!) to push past the turnstile and descend.

The only method of separation available to subway passengers is a bit of flimsy plastic: earbuds that provide music, but also sound barriers against the din of the subway. Our earbuds denote a small pool of personal space- a little island of privacy in the dense crowds of people, not to mention the sometimes alarming squeal of the train on its tracks. This personal space, however, is an illusion- someone can sway into and bump you when the train jerks to a stop. Also, safety is at least at the back of each passenger’s mind- especially if the passenger happens to be of the female variation. At any point, the 1% of the crowd that harbors unsavory intent might slip a hand into a pocket or worse.

Every time I curse the faulty public transit system, I know I should remember that this is how most of the world travels- via feet, bicycle, bus, or creaky subway train. At the very least, I should take it as a reminder of privilege, and that my entitlement is as illusory as that personal space we try to claim when crushed in amongst the crowd.

By Anna Lindner


Anna is a Campus Clipper intern and a first-year Master’s student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication program. Her research interests include critical race and gender theory and their resultant intersectionality. When she’s not studying, Anna enjoys visiting friends, catching up on TV shows, and lifting weights. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.

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College Savings Experience by Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
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Photo op with some monks my friends and I met on the Great Wall of China.

I like chicken soup. Wǒ xǐhuān jītāng.

It’s probably one of the only phrases I learned to say correctly in Mandarin while studying abroad in China and it still makes me laugh one year later.

No matter what college you go to, even if it’s only a few psychology courses online, everyone should go on a study abroad program at least once in their lifetime. Study abroad is a rite of passage and the college discounts you get is worth the experience. It’s the ability to say that during your young adult life you did something different and learned about a new place. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go. What’s important is that you get out, see the world, and learn about a country that isn’t America.

One of the best benefits of studying abroad is that your early 20s is the best time to travel. Besides school, and maybe a part-time job, you don’t have that many obligations. Once you’re working the 9-5 grind you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to snag any vacation days right away. Studying abroad provides you with a way to get college credits without sitting in a classroom for an entire semester. Study abroad programs usually offer a variety of courses that range from common core classes to specific credits that can be used towards your major.

Studying abroad through your school is a great way to make friends that will be there after the trip. Most of the people that go on study abroad trips go to the same school. It’s very easy to form close friendships in a short amount of time on these trips. Walking across campus and seeing a familiar face is always a nice surprise in the middle of a hectic day.

 

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New friendships only grow stronger after hours of hiking the Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in the southern Anhui province in eastern China.

People don’t just travel because of the boredom from living in the same place. People travel because they thirst to see something new. It’s one thing to see a picture of a famous landmark; it’s quite another to actually see that landmark with your own eyes. Ask anyone that’s ever traveled anywhere, or ask anyone with a smartphone camera; no photo or Instagram filter can truly ever beat the real thing. When you go home and change your profile picture on Facebook to a picture of yourself standing on the Great Wall of China—that’s something to brag about.

To learn about a culture that is foreign from your own is a truly important experience. There are so many different cultures in the world that it is impossible to count. To go through life ignorant of the world around you is a foolish mistake. Hear a different language slide past your lips. Eat a food that you can’t identify. Engross yourself in a way of living that you’ve never experienced.

A study abroad trip is more than just a trip. It’s a chance to take an adventure, fill a scrapbook with memories, and tell stories to your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

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Group picture of the 2013 Summer CUNY China trip in front of the Monk Xuanzang statue in Xi’an, China.

-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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At the End of the Day

Monday, April 28th, 2014

In everything that I have thus far said about the experience of reading and my own experience of reading, there is only one notion that I want everyone to constantly bear in mind: this is only one possible potential of understanding reading. The analogy of understanding the world as a text may be understood in a plurality of contexts. All I offer is one possible method and whether or not this reader wishes to take it to heart depends on the heart of the reader.

 

“What is given form here is not the totality of life but the artist’s relationship with that totality, his approving or condemnatory attitude towards it; here, the artist enters the arena of artistic creation as the empirical subject in all its greatness but also with all its creaturely limitations.”

—György Lukács

 

The beauty of the analogy of a text is that it allows for the reader to choose between understanding the text as a thing created by a person, taking that person into consideration; or taking the text as its own entity, which only truly comes into becoming when engaged in participation with a reader. Regardless of which text appeals to one’s sensibilities more, both texts are created by language, which by itself calls for the most intricate plurality known. Language is the simplest whole that is simultaneously a multitude of disconnected parts. This idea can be traced back as far as Genesis. When God destroyed the Tower of Babel, he wasn’t destroying mankind’s creation of language and his achievements. He destroyed mankind’s attempt to unify all the languages, because language isn’t meant to be a perfect unification. It urges its own tension and to deny that is like denying one’s own self-awareness. What texts do is they take this language and utilize it in order to create a poetic rendering of the world. And despite the fact that by creating this rendering, this reflection, the image created is merely an appearance, a portrait of what is truly attempting to be represented, and we are able to get more from this image than from anything else.

 

“Why couldn’t the world that concerns us—be a fiction? And if somebody asked, “but to a fiction there surely belongs an author?” —couldn’t one answer simply: why? Doesn’t this “belongs” perhaps belong to the fiction to? Is it not permitted to be a bit ironical about the subject no less than the predicate and object?”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

 

A frequent topic of conversation these days is where the direction of literature is headed, especially printed literature, in this technological Internet age. But what is rarely considered is the fact that literature is merely one medium for language. Similar questions are also asked about poetry, which seems to be suffering a more brutal battle than prose. But at the end of the day, poetry and prose are merely forms for the content of language. If the Internet and technological age are as threatening to the mediums of poetry and prose as people are making them out to be, then what will merely happen is that language will find a new form, a new vehicle. The only reason it’s difficult to imagine the type of vehicle it would be is because we have lived in constant mediums of language since before the time of Homer.  Now we have the Internet, something maybe vaguely conceptualized before its time, and we have absolutely no idea what the potential form of language will be in relation to the world that the Internet has created for itself. We’ve already gone through the times of Leet speak and Internet shorthand (LOL, OMG); but that’s just the evolution of conversation. The evolution of the poetic rendering of the world in the world of the Internet is, for now, a difficult thing to conceive.

 

“A whole world will envelop you, the happiness, the abundance, the inconceivable vastness of a world. Live for a while in these books, learn from them what you feel is worth learning, but most of all love them.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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Marina Manoukian, Sarah Lawrence College

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