The Many Important Life-Lessons "Degrassi" Taught Me

The Many Important Life-Lessons "Degrassi" Taught Me

From racism and rape, to transgender and teen pregnancy.
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"Degrassi: The Next Generation" was one of the most vital parts of my childhood. As a fifth grader and beyond, watching it on Noggin, The N or the Teen Nick was both entertaining and informative. Throughout many, many seasons of Degrassi, most other people of my generation and I were taught life-lessons that parents, schools, and society were too afraid to, or didn't even know how to teach us.

That being gay isn't wrong, and that it's important to treat those who are with the utmost respect.

That suicide and depression are severe issues that plague our society.

What it means to be transgender, and how to safely integrate those who are into high schools so they can have the most normal experience possible.

That bullying should not be taken lightly.

The importance of making sure you are ready to have sex, and to use protection when you are ready, because you never know exactly where that person has been.

That some relationships can be unsafe and toxic, and that you need to get as far away from them as possible.

The ins and out of what drugs are present in our society, and how to address those who have problems with them.

What rape is, and how crucial it is to understand that it is never the victim's fault.

That mental illness is real, and some of the symptoms to recognize them.

That self-harm is something many struggle with.

What it means to have an abortion, raise a child, or give your child up for adoption if teen pregnancy occurs. And how to understand that it is a woman's choice — whether you agree with it or not.

That body insecurity is normal, but recognizing when it manifests into something more serious.

How to deal with death and tragedy.


That racy pictures, such as sexting, never stay private.

That it is okay to not have your entire future mapped out.


How sexual curiosity is normal.

That severe violence can happen to anyone at any time, so you need to be prepared.

That questioning your sexuality is okay, and you shouldn't feel the need to define yourself at such a young age if you don't what to.

That racism is still a very real problem today.

How you shouldn't be embarrassed by your period, and that no one should make you feel embarrassed by your period.

That you should be with a significant other who makes you better.

That it is not a teenager's responsibility to raise his or her parents.

How to know when you need to ask for help.

How to own up to your mistakes and have the courage to learn from them.

That even teenagers can be diagnosed with cancer, so keep an eye out for anything unusual going on with your body.

That some kids come from broken homes where they are abused, and reporting it may save their life.

Real friends will be with you every single step of the way, and if they aren't, that leaves space for someone who will.

Overall, I think we, as a generation, owe a huge "thank you" to the writers of "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Though it was, at times, too mature and heavy, it addressed very real societal topics that needed to be talked about among our generation when no one else would. I am a much better person for having grown up watching "Degrassi," as most of my willingness to accept others, understanding of differences, and knowledge of taboo issues is from the education it provided for me. Thank you, "Degrassi" for all of the lessons you taught me that I continue to refer to today.

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

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Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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