If You're Ever In Atlanta, Georgia

If You're Ever In Atlanta, Georgia

Wisdom, Justice, Moderation
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As sung by the infamous Ray Charles, “Georgia on my mind,” the peach state treated me well as I was on an academic conference. For five days I was lucky enough to spend time in Atlanta, explore the city, and see what it had to offer.

The World of Coke

Although I am not much of a soda drinker, I felt that it was necessary to try the variety of Coke products; when traveling to somewhere new, it’s important to immerse yourself in the culture, which is why I felt that it was important to drink the sparkling beverage.

CNN

If you are interested in communication and media, journalism, or broadcasting, this is the place to tour. For about an hour, I learned the history of CNN, took a tour of the entire center, saw eye-grabbing images taken by CNN photojournalists, and saw where the CNN employees work, which is essentially in a room with about one hundred computers. From the looks of it, they are constantly looking for news. When they find enough information, it’s likely it will be discussed on TV. Additionally, I saw where the broadcasters are filmed; the room contained large pieces of equipment such as cameras, microphones, and of course, the green screen! Fun fact about this tour: I went up the longest freestanding escalator- 196 feet long!

Civil Rights Museum

Unfortunately, I was not able to visit the museum because we ran out of time. I know, how could you visit anywhere in the South without going to a civil or human rights museum?? Anyway, I have heard wonderful things about the center, ranging from the art pieces, personal stories, and artifacts. If I am ever in Atlanta again, I will make sure I take a tour.

SkyView Atlanta


Ferris wheels are kinda my thing. So when I saw the ride as I was exploring the city, I knew I had to go on. A group of us went on in the evening, and needless to say, it was breathtaking. With the Centennial Olympic park lit up, the bright buildings, the luminous Bank of America, and the fast-paced nightlife, the ferris wheel gave me the opportunity to view the entire city.

Take An Uber

If you’re traveling in Atlanta, whether that be for work or just for a weekend to get away, it’s likely that you didn’t bring your car. This is where an Uber comes into play. I have taken many Ubers while being at college, but the ten minute car ride I had with my group of friends compared nothing to being back at school. We got to know the driver pretty quickly into the ride. We talked about where we are from and why we were visiting Atlanta. He eventually opened up about himself and later claimed that he is a songwriter. Not just a songwriter, though. A songwriter for Mariah Carey! We were all blown away. As we exchanged goodbyes, we weren’t sure if he was bluffing. We looked up his name, and come to find out, he was the real deal!

Long story short, always take an Uber. Who knows who you’ll encounter in the short car ride.

Cover Image Credit: Ian Schneider

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

Taking a year off between high school and college was the best thing I could have done for so many reasons.

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Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement about their acceptances to their dream university and I didn't feel the same. I was accepted to every school I applied to, but none of them felt right. At my high school, if you didn't go to college, you would have been deemed a failure and that is not what I wanted my reputation to be. When the day came, I sat down at a computer to accept my admission to a college. I was in a panic mode, and I knew that's not what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had no idea if that was where I wanted to be, so I exited the website and came up with a plan.

After graduation, I boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado. I was alone on a plane going 1,000 miles west to a place I've never been. In a short amount of time, I knew I had made the right decision.

I spent eight months in the Rocky Mountains learning how to do the "adult thing." I worked 40+ hours a week in freezing temperatures and a ton of snow, making ten dollars an hour. In a resort town, ten dollars is not a lot of money. I lived on Wonder bread and eggs, I cooked on my hotplate on the top of my mini fridge. I was shown what it's like to work for the things I want, and it taught me to appreciate everything I've always been handed so easily, and that was something I really needed.

Throughout my adventure, I met so many different people in all different stages of life. I think that's the most important aspect of my entire trip. By working and living with people young and old, I learned different skills, living habits, and ways of life which I am forever grateful for. These people had shown me more about life in eight months than I had learned in my entire life, and without this experience, I would have never been introduced to half of the things I was introduced to.

I hiked 14,000-foot mountains, watched the X-Games in Aspen, attended endless concerts, and became a better snowboarder by having the chance to do it every day. Without my friends and taking this leap, I would have been sitting in a classroom wondering what I could have been doing instead. Because of taking time off, I am now back in class, able to focus on my work and doing better than I ever have before.

The most important part of my gap year was finding myself. I proved to myself that I am strong and independent, and I can achieve any goal I set as long as I work hard and have fun along the way. Before I left, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. Upon my return home, I realized I needed to go to college to receive a higher education to better myself. Having a full-time job and being out in the real world helped me to narrow down what I really want to be and what I want to achieve for myself. I learned how to truly live and that there is no set path I need to take because this is my own life to create.

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